The Society for Critical Exchange
Current Projects
Cultures of Writing


The Cultures of Writing Project is devoted to the study of writing in all of its aspects, including its material basis--its diverse technologies, sites, and economies, its pedagogies, forms, conventions, practices, and uses both contemporary and historical. "Writing," thus understood, includes, but is not limited to "literature" in the traditional sense.

The project was inaugurated in the Spring of 1997 when Andrea Lunsford, Larry Needham and Martha Woodmansee convened a conference on Cultures of Writing: Places, Spaces, and Interfaces of Writing and Writing Technologies. The success of that conference has continued, as SCE members have pursued and expanded the research project. ("Cultures of Writing: Inscription, Implementation, Sites" at the 1997 MMLA; "Digital Humanities" at the 1999 MMLA, and "New Histories of Writing" at both the 2000 and 2003 MMLA)  

     The Cultures of Writing and New Economic Criticism projects sponsored two linked panels on "Economies of Writing" at the 2000 MLA in Washington, DC. Participants presented papers investigating text production and distribution with special emphasis on changing technologies, sites, and social arrangements. Response to the call for papers for these panels was so strong that we organized a "mini-conference" on the topic for the 2000 MMLA meeting, November 2-4, in Kansas City. An additional "mini-conference" on New Histories of Writing took place at the 2003 MMLA meeting in Chicago. Two panels on "Writing Empires" at the 2007 MLA addressed the relation of composition studies and composition programs to the expansion of English departments, and explored the histories and theories of forms of writing instruction that accompanied the growth of geopolitical empires.

The most recent phase of the Cultures of Writing Project has resulted in a forthcoming special issue of Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture, with a focus on New Histories of Writing: Remediating English.
The editors, Lisa Maruca and Martha Woodmansee, sought out essays that as a group would "situate the multitude of individual writing practices - whether rooted in canonical literature, student papers, or new media - as part of the larger matrix of material communication."

In all of this recent programming, as in the initial phase of the Cultures of Writing Project, a broader objective remains that of fostering more productive interaction between Literary and Composition Studies--in the interest of better preparing students, especially graduate students, for employment in and outside academia, as the role of the humanities continues to be redefined.



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