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Virginia A. Chappell
Mary Louise Buley-Meissner
Wayne (Chris) Anderson
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In a festschrift to honor William F. Irmscher, director for twenty-three years of the University of Washington composition program, the editors outline the need for a "balancing act" among theories and between theory and teaching. This balancing act is a tribute to Irmscher, who counseled compromise and the resolution of conflicting viewpoints. Irmscher could reconcile new ideas with the practical struggles of student writers and composition teachers. As a theorist, Irmscher was one of the first to bring theoretical rigor to composition studies, yet he always strove to express the issues--however complex--in clear and fluid language.
The two parts of the text invoke the balancing act between the concerns of the students and the concerns of the teachers. The first part, "Identity and Community," presents six essays about helping students explore their identities as writers and the effectiveness of those identities within communities of writers. The second part, "Intuition and Institution," includes five essays focusing on the dynamics of teachers' decision making about theory and pedagogy within their own institutional communities. The last chapter examines Irmscher's life and writings.
This celebration of William F. Irmscher is a celebration of the complexity and the humanness of the act of composing and of the student writers themselves, who are at the heart of this whole enterprise.
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