A Socially Just Classroom: Transdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching Writing Across the Humanities

Kristin Coffey, Vuslat Katsanis (Eds.)

by Kevin Mullen (University of Wisconsin), Stacy Maddern (University of Connecticut), Lan Dong (University of Illinois), Kenton Rambsy (University of Texas, Arlington), Ada Vilageliu-Diaz (University of the District of Columbia), Rebecca Boylan (Georgetown University and Howard University), Alyse Bensel (Brevard College, NC), Megan Schutte (Community College of Baltimore County, MD), Irina Popescu (Bowdoin College), Libby Catchings (University of Denver), Louis M. Maraj (The University of British Columbia), David Theo Goldberg (University of California, Irvine), Maria Isabel Morales (The Evergreen State College and Central Washington University), Suree Towfighnia (The Evergreen State College), Dawn Barron (The Evergreen State College), Carmen Hoover (The Evergreen State College), Casey Keel (Independent Scholar), J. Marie Darden (Community College of Baltimore County), Anna Plemons (Washington State University Tri-Cities), Michael Owens , Brenda Aghahowa (Chicago State University)

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This is a timely and engaging collection of articles by educators for educators. Recent ideological and cultural skirmishes—including attacks on critical race theory and threats to "not say 'gay'" in the classroom—have further intensified the nation's already fierce social justice battlefield. This new text features contributions by scholars from a wide range of disciplines who, through the theory and practice of transdisciplinarity, take intellectual risks and tread new pedagogical terrain, both necessary actions for articulating and addressing the challenges that continue to confront our society. Teachers and students alike will appreciate the vitality and freshness of this book's approach and topics, including those that reaffirm the sophisticated use of popular culture in the classroom. The connective tissue in this body of work, as its title indicates, is writing: its purpose and practice in the classroom, how it meets a fundamental human need to tell and listen to stories, and the multiple ways in which writing can change student lives and the communities to which they belong. Especially useful for many educators will be the chapters that comprise Part III, "Power in Presence: From Chalkboard to Pavement." As was the case during another time of national strife over a half century ago, it is once again critical that we attempt to "bring the campus to the community and the community to campus." If, indeed, any measure of social justice is to be achieved, theory must translate to practice, and this collection will provide creative and innovative road maps for that journey.

C. C. Herbison, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus (American Studies)
The Evergreen State College

[This book] is a powerful contribution to writing studies and higher education/humanities overall. It is transformative in many ways.
[…] [A] careful balance between the topic being addressed and the directness in which the response is presented in each essay. There’s a story/scenario indicating a problem and then the effort to address it without using overtly political language.
[…] each essay does not get bogged down but invites the reader into a meaningful dialogue on an important subject.
Other strengths include the wide diversity of essays and topics from pedagogy to popular culture, and the focus on different types of communities, in and beyond the classroom, as well as different levels of education from pre-college to graduate students. Crossing boundaries and borders make the book especially appealing.
I’m glad this book has come into being. The collaboration tells us a lot and is the model we need more of. I think the authors have set a new trend that I hope to see continue.

Dr. Maryemma Graham
Distinguished Professor, Department of English
University of Kansas

This edited collection provides a range of transdisciplinary approaches to the teaching of writing across the Humanities through the lens of inclusion and equity in higher education. In three parts - From Disciplinary Practice to Transdisciplinary Application, The Collective We: Transparent Pedagogy in Praxis, Power in Presence: From Chalkboard to Pavement - the chapters focus on teaching triumphs and challenges, specific learning objectives and best practices, theories and their applications, and concrete examples of campus action within specific institutional or socio-historical contexts. In whole, the book represents what a socially just classroom looks like from first-year university writing classes, to advanced graduate studies, and the impact of learning beyond the university. Building on the scholarship of equity in higher education, the book forefronts transdisciplinary pedagogies with chapters representing language and literature, creative writing, cultural and ethnic studies, women and gender studies, and media studies.

While we understand social justice as a multifaceted and ever expanding effort, we affirm the essential role of classroom instructors as the foundational actors in cultivating and sustaining inclusion and equity. We also acknowledge the current challenges of teaching brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which intensifies previously existing issues surrounding housing, employment, healthcare, and the legal residency status of many students. By fostering a conversation around writing pedagogy in a comparative and transdisciplinary context, we encourage educators to translate the resources available in their fields in a collective effort to close the equity gaps. At the same time, we intend for this book to provide a context where younger faculty and diverse students can redefine the college classroom while empowering each other within their chosen institutions.

List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Acronyms

A Socially Just Classroom
David Theo Goldberg
University of California Irvine

Writing Humanity: Educators for Social Change
Kristin Coffey
The Evergreen State College
Vuslat D. Katsanis
The Evergreen State College

Part I. From Disciplinary Practice to Transdisciplinary Application

Chapter 1 Writing at the Core: First Year Writing and Participatory Modes of Learning
Stacy W. Maddern
University of Connecticut

Chapter 2 Sankofa: Approaches to Non-Standardized English Writing Pedagogy
Brenda Eatman Aghahowa
Chicago State University

Chapter 3 Storytelling and Trauma-Informed Pedagogy: Re-Imagining the First-Year Composition Classroom for “Nontraditional” Students
Kevin Mullen
University of Wisconsin

Chapter 4 Cripping Pedagogy in the Creative Writing Classroom: A Critical Disability Studies Perspective
Teresa Milbrodt
Roanoke College

Chapter 5 Mapping Social Differences in the Virtual Classroom: Inclusive Multimodal Texts and Learner-Centered Design
Lan Dong
University of Illinois Springfield

Chapter 6 Data Storytelling: Visualizing Beyoncé’s Artistry through a Black Feminist Lens
Kenton Rambsy
University of Texas Arlington

Part II. The Collective We: Transparent Pedagogy in Praxis

Chapter 7 From Assembly Lines to Artisans: Unique Beings in the First-Year Writing Classroom
Alyse Bensel
Brevard College

Chapter 8 Rare Positionality: HBCUs, Latinx Emancipatory Rhetoric, and Counternarratives in Higher Education
Ada Vilageliu-Díaz
University of the District of Columbia

Chapter 9 Transparent Constitution: Designing Empathy, Mindfulness, and Inclusivity in the College Classroom
Irina Popescu
Bowdoin College

Chapter 10 Taking Risks and Making Mistakes: Writing as Dynamic Process, Intentional Strategy, and Reflective Method
Rebecca W. Boylan
Georgetown University and Howard University

Chapter 11 Giving Propers: Names, Titles, and Pronouns in Inclusive College Classrooms
Megan X. Schutte
Community College of Baltimore County
J. Marie Darden
Community College of Baltimore County

Chapter 12 Stitching in Synch: Engaging the Sensorium and Rhetorical Awareness Through Digital Craft Communities
Libby Catchings
University of Denver

Part III. Power in Presence: From Chalkboard to Pavement

Chapter 13 Presence through Difference: Antiracist Pedagogies in the Age of COVID-19
Louis M. Maraj
The University of British Columbia

Chapter 14 Indigenist Inclusivity: The Circle and Belonging in the College Writing Classroom
Dawn Pichón Barron
The Evergreen State College
Carmen Hoover
The Evergreen State College

Chapter 15 Nurturing Roots: Transborder Bridging and Intergenerational Learning
María Isabel Morales
The Evergreen State College and Central
Washington University
Suree Towfighnia
The Evergreen State College

Chapter 16 Write Here and Now: Co-Creating Respectful and Responsive Prison Classrooms
Anna Plemons
Washington State University Tri-Cities
Michael Owens
Independent Scholar

Chapter 17 Academics Beyond the Academy: Anti-Neoliberal Graduate Pedagogy and Diverse Career Professionalization
Casey C. Keel
Independent Scholar


A native of the Lower Mississippi Delta region, Kristin (Kris) Coffey is a professor of Writing and Literature at The Evergreen State College where she teaches fiction, creative nonfiction, and Ethnic American literature. She earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Kris is the recipient of the Margaret Walker Memorial Prize in Creative Writing (2016). She primarily writes historical fiction broadly focused on narratives of interracialism and migration.

Vuslat D. Katsanis is Associate Professor of Literary Arts and Studies at The Evergreen State College and cofounder of the MinEastry of Postcollapse Art and Culture. As a scholar of comparative literature, film, and visual culture, her work focuses on post-1989 Turkish and global migrant cultural productions, writing, and literary translation. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Irvine, with an emphasis in Critical Theory and an M.A. in Visual Studies.

Equity and inclusion in higher education, writing pedagogies, Humanities, transparent pedagogy, emancipatory education, Indigenous pedagogy, virtual classroom, antiracist classroom, LGBTQ+ in higher education, participatory learning, student centered, universal design

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

A Socially Just Classroom: Transdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching Writing Across the Humanities





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


8 B&W

Publication date

July 2022