Call for Papers: Anti-Oppressive Composition Pedagogies

Anti-Oppressive Composition Pedagogies: Teaching Writing with Urgency toward Refusal, Justice, and Transformation

“At its best, teaching is definitely a community accountable intellectual project. It is also a community-building project and a community-transforming project. But that depends on whether or not we do what it takes to create a context within which folks (including ourselves as teachers) can actually commune.” - Interview with Alexis Pauline Gumbs in Feminist Teacher

This CFP is a call for community-building and community transformation: to build tools, resources, and spaces for transforming our classrooms, specifically our writing classrooms; and to approach the teaching of composition in community, with accountability, and with urgency. Such a project requires that we situate ourselves with respect to Critical Pedagogy as an academic field. Critical Pedagogy, as it has become canonized, is often traced to the publication of Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed in 1970, followed by Freire’s intellectual descendants. While many radical educators have drawn deep inspiration from the insights of these thinkers and activists, the canon of Critical Pedagogy has also been critiqued for its tendency towards abstract generalizations and universalisms (Biesta, 2010; Weiler, 1996); failing to fully problematize the nation-state, limiting its “project of anti-system” (Cho, 2010); and asking why for so many people this academic theorizing of radical-ness does not feel empowering or applicable to localized projects (Ellsworth, 1989).

In 1978, Barbara Smith published the essay “Towards A Black Feminist Criticism” in Issue 7 of Radical Teacher Magazine. Smith outlines principles to engage with writing that will simply not comply with traditional legacies of critical pedagogy, and instead desires to understand “our political reality and the literature we must invent.” Smith offered the intervention of a black feminist critical consciousness via the platform of Radical Teacher. Forty years later, the imperative of the university has answered this call through multiple traditions--from black studies and feminist studies programs, to ethnic studies and queer feminist pedagogy. But Smith’s interrogation remains: what does it mean when a sentence “refuses to do what it is supposed to do”? This is a gift, not a problem, as Smith insisted, and it must incite urgency in the educator.

As we frame Issue 115 of Radical Teacher Magazine, we know that the equitable survival of all us under the current political regime requires us to examine the broken pieces of the educational system and ask ourselves to re-imagine our writing classrooms urgently, in the service of revolution. We want to hear what is transformative about your composition pedagogy. How can you teach writing soft and writing ugly, writing with accountability and in community, writing across generations, writing cellularly, writing toward collective access, writing safely but toward vision and bravery? What is the conjure art of teaching writing magic? (Amara Tabor-Smith) How do you teach writing anti, against, or undoing? How do you teach writing as craft, writing as hand-making? How do you teach writing as grassroots organizing? What is the molecular web of words, methods, and gestures that shapes the space of your classroom to allow for the sparkly and undeniable truths of your students to shine through in text? 

Collaborative, creative, poetic, de-colonial, embodied, multi-media, and group submissions encouraged. We invite you to share your approaches to the following problems or critical

  • What ways of relating can be practiced by teachers that subvert, co-opt, or work around oppressive patterns of relating, in order to create different modes of support to help each other grow emotionally and pedagogically?
  • From content warnings for triggering material, to making your classroom a sanctuary space for undocumented students, how do you address the issue of classroom safety?
  • How do you navigate discussions of safety without centering whiteness?
  • How do you experience and navigate diverse hierarchies in colleges and universities, in terms of divisions between tenured and non-tenured teachers?
  • How has your writing class been a space to engage discussions around the rise of fascism and appeals to free speech? If you have been doxxed, what are your approaches to classroom safety for your students and yourself?
  • What is radical pedagogy, and is it necessarily liberatory?
  • What are the afterlives of your students’ writing? How can students start to see their work as valued?
  • What are histories of anti-oppressive pedagogy that inform your practice? How do we connect our pedagogy across generations?


  • Community-building and resources for anti-racist teaching
  • Teaching, writing, and learning as labor
  • How white supremacy is embedded in the frameworks taught to those who teach writing (and/or the lack of a pedagogy framework)
  • The recurring issue of instructors who have not received a pedagogical framework for teaching composition
  • Mentorship, the teaching of pedagogy, and other forms of support with pedagogical approaches
  • Transparent pedagogy (e.g., building pedagogy, classroom agreements, and tools for assessment collaboratively with students)
  • Alternative grading methodologies
  • Resisting the racism, ableism, and classism of academic time
  • Schooling inequities and composition evaluation/writing placement/tracking
  • Feedback on departmental exams, testing, and norming
  • ELL and ESL, bilingual, multilingual, and translingual students
  • Digital and social media as writing tools
  • Embodied pedagogies of composition
  • Teaching as forming queer kinship relations
  • Teaching Black Lives Matter in the writing classroom
  • Debates over language and voice
  • Silences, failures, and refusals
  • Writing to live/living to write

Possible book reviews
Inoue, Asao B. Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future. Parlor Press, 2015.
McLaren, Peter, and Suzanne SooHoo. Radical Imagine-Nation: Public Pedagogy & Praxis. Peter Lang, 2018.
McNeil, Elizabeth, James E. Wermers, and Joshua O. Lunn. Mapping Queer Space(s) of Praxis andPedagogy. 2018. Internet resource.
Perlow, Olivia N., Durene Wheeler, Sharon Bethea, and Barbara Scott, editors. Black Women’s Liberatory Pedagogies: Resistance, Transformation, and Healing Within and Beyond the Academy. Palgrave, 2018.
Smith, Linda Tuhiwai, Eve Tuck, and K. Wayne Yang, editors. Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education: Mapping the long view. Routledge, 2019.
Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. Toward What Justice? Routledge, 2018.
Waite, Stacey. Teaching Queer: Radical Possibilities for Writing and Knowing. U of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.
Wane, Njoki Nathani, and Kimberly Todd, editors. Decolonial Pedagogy: Examining Sites of Resistance, Resurgence, and Renewal. Palgrave, 2018.
Watson, Dyan, Jessie Hagopian, and Adam Sanchez, editors. Teaching for Black Lives. Rethinking Schools, 2018

We request that submissions utilize MLA format. Submissions can be sent to:

Papers are due by: April 1st, 2019
Notification of accepted submissions: May 20th, 2019