Greetings from the Chair


Welcome to the Writing Program and our new Writing Program (WP) website. This new site provides the opportunity to better understand who we really are, which is informed by scholarship in Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition, Applied Linguistics, and related fields.

You may not know that in our discipline, there has been debate over whether writing courses should be required. On the one hand, it’s a no-brainer: writing is the bedrock of many university (and life) activities, so students should receive training and support in this area. The other side, as famously explained by Sharon Crowley in “Composition’s Ethic of Service, The Universal Requirement, and the Discourse of Student Need,” is that we should “abandon the institutional discourse of student need, abandon the service ethic of remediation, and abandon the universal requirement” (238). Doing so may shift “composition” from a course students aren’t always excited to “have to take” to a course students choose to take, while recognizing that students simply need to develop as writers (not be “remediated”), as all writers do.

I am somewhat convinced by Crowley’s arguments, and at the same time, I have consistently watched students flourish in my 20+ years teaching required writing courses. And of course, our faculty devote significant time to reading and responding to student writing, meeting with students individually or in small groups, and asking students to write to multiple audiences in multiple genres. Our students succeed because, within, and despite our writing requirements.

But one thing is surely true about these “requirements,” which is that when a writing program is primarily defined by them, it is rarely perceived as meaningful or worthwhile beyond those requirements. This is the case at UCSC, where unlike all other UCs in the system – which offer substantive coursework in writing beyond required classes, an undergraduate minor, a communication or writing major, a graduate certificate, and/or PhD in Writing – the Writing Program at UCSC has been almost entirely limited to required courses. There are exceptions, as the WP teaches courses for tutors and for graduate students, in addition to our tutoring program and other opportunities.

Such exceptions are not enough: UCSC students are not receiving the education in writing that they could be if we were teaching to the broad range of our abilities and our disciplinary expertise in the Writing Program. As such, the Writing Program is in the process of reclaiming and revising its previous minor, and hopefully one day, a major and graduate program. (The previous minor was named “Communication and Rhetoric,”; the new one will simply be named “Writing.”) You can see the inklings of these improvements here on our site.

There will be more, which we will build equitably and thoughtfully, as the Writing Program always has.

please stay tuned,

Amy Vidali
Chair; Associate Teaching Professor

Last modified: Sep 18, 2023