Why you should spend time talking about reading with your UDW students.
Welcome to Week 1. While you help your students warm up to the idea of writing this quarter, take a few minutes to warm them up to the idea of reading this quarter too. We often lean on the metaphor of conversation to conceptualize writing, especially writing for members of one’s community (or for colleagues in one’s academic discipline). The metaphor reminds us that writing is a form of communication, that it is transactional. As such, writing requires us not just to assert ourselves and our own ideas but to listen to those whose ideas we intend to engage, build on, and challenge. Reading is an integral part of effective writing. You may reasonably expect your students to have certain functional proficiencies with reading at the start of your course, but it is important to remember that reading, just like writing, can look different in each of our disciplines. In her recent article, “Prototypical Reading: Volume, Desire, Anxiety,” Amy Robillard argues that the “prototype” for a reader comes from readers of fiction: passionate devourers of literature who read lots and lots of novels, so much so that that activity becomes part of their very identities. For non-readers approaching reading tasks, that prototype can create quite a bit of anxiety. Whether students view themselves as readers or not, the type of reading you envision your students doing for your UDW class is likely very different from that prototype. Help alleviate anxieties and prepare your students to read for writing by personalizing the prototype of reading early on in your course: model how people read in your discipline, how they find what they read, and how they use that reading when conceptualizing their writing and research.
Robillard, Amy. “Prototypical Reading: Volume, Desire, Anxiety.” College Composition and Communication 67.2 (2015): 197-215. Print.