Engaging Communities: An Open-access Ethnographic Writing Text

Engaging Communities is an open-access textbook co-written by my colleague Ames Hawkins and me focusing on ethnographic research methods in inquiry-based first-year writing classrooms. In this text, we use and invoke the methodological principles and practices associated with ethnography because these strategies not only inspire and engage first-year writing students but offer both critical analytical skills and the opportunity to address the rhetorical concepts of ethics, identity, and representation. The text isn’t intended to teach ethnography as a research methodology. Rather, it has been designed to help students (most likely undergraduates, but possibly high school and some graduate students), envision interesting, hands-on research projects that are eventually converted—translated—into writing. Through our teaching, we found that ethnographic writing allows for specific discussion regarding how to involve and interest a reader, in evoking physical and emotional connection with writing, rather than simply becoming informed or persuaded by any specific piece of writing. In other words, we are invested in ethnographic writing as a practice that invites the student-writer to envision writing and composing practices as alive, interactive, connected, and reciprocal.

We invite you to join us in our col­lab­o­ra­tive, open-access text project.  We have a “bring what you know,” build, adapt, and remix phi­los­o­phy for the project, so we are continuously look­ing for any teach­ing mate­ri­als you have cre­ated (assign­ments, new chap­ters, adap­ta­tions of existing assign­ments and chap­ters, etc.) as well as exam­ples of stu­dent work from any aspect the text, that you would like to share. In this way, we envi­sion the con­tin­ual devel­op­ment of a wealth of mate­ri­als for class­room use, draw­ing from the expe­ri­ence and exper­tise of our teach­ing and learn­ing com­mu­nity. See more about opportunities to contribute here.