Writing Innovation Symposium

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Write it Out: The 2022 Writing Innovation Symposium
February 3-4 at Marquette University 

Hosted by the MU Social Innovation Initiative and University Libraries

Sponsored by Mount Mary University and Bedford/St. Martin's with MU Community Engagement, Interdisciplinary Gender & Sexualities Studies, and the Haggerty Museum of Art.

Writing is a practice that can be used to enable, enact, and invite change in productive, transformative ways. The 2022 symposium theme, “write it out,” acknowledges—and celebrates—the many ways we use writing to remember, acknowledge, and heal. It also embraces the ways we use writing to gain clarity, assuredness, and control in the face of uncertainty or adversity. When we write something out, we figure out whether we really understand what we think and whether there are problems with our arguments. Writing it out can also help us imagine how our ideas might sound to diverse audiences. 


Ultimately, writing it out helps us “ride it out,” whatever it may be. We write out our most personal challenges, and we write out collectively in response to shared struggles: the COVID-19 pandemic, white supremacy, climate crisis, global challenges to democracy, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and more. 


For the 4th annual Writing Innovation Symposium, we invite writers and writing educators to share their strategies for writing it out. Our program features a plenary workshop with Dr. Jessica Edwards and a plenary presentation by Dr. Derek Handley along with workshops, concurrent sessions, a display and poster session, and a closing conversation about writing it out justly in ways that are responsive to as well as inclusive of all writers. We are also excited to announce the inauguration of the Bedford/St. Martin’s Writing Innovation Scholars Program, which makes up to $500 available to both participants and attendees for symposium-related expenses. Although our primary focus is college, we encourage participation from writing educators of all ranks, roles, and institutional affiliations. What we hold in common, along with our commitment to writers and writing, is our focus on concrete examples of writing instruction, writing research, and writing itself.

Pre-registration is required. Registration is open through Friday, January 28th at 12pm Central. 

Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (e.g., vaccination card, photos of vaccination card) is required to attend this event. Participants who have not already completed Marquette’s COVID Cheq (survey) will also be asked to do so onsite.

Joining us from out of town? We encourage WI Symposium participants to stay downtown near Marquette’s campus at the Ambassador Hotel.


Pre-Registration for the symposium is required

Registration is open through Friday, January 28th at 12 pm central.

View the 2022 program - coming soon!


Write it Out: 2022 Writing Innovation Symposium Program

In brief:




We are excited to announce the creation of the Bedford/ St. Martin’s Writing Innovation Scholars Program. This program is designed to encourage un- and underrepresented students and colleagues, especially multiply-marginalized writers and writing teachers, to contribute to the WI Symposium. Both presenters and attendees are invited to apply. 

Bedford/St. Martin’s WI Scholars will receive up to $500 in funding to support symposium travel, housing, and registration along with a WIS mentor, a member of the Steering Committee who will serve as an event host. In addition, a variety of onsite roles are reserved for WI Scholars (e.g., session chair, session respondent, closing session interlocutor). All Bedford/St. Martin’s WI Scholars will also have an opportunity to create a Bedford Blog post based on their participation. 

To apply, email a brief letter(400-500 words) to Darci Thoune. Be sure to include 

    • A central question or idea that you want to explore, related to the symposium theme. 
    • A sense of why that question or idea matters both to you and to others involved, in one or more ways, in writing education. 
    • A sense of how you are well-positioned to explore and address the question or idea you have proposed (e.g., positionality, personal experience, prior coursework, current academic agenda).
    • The sum total (up to $500) you are requesting in relation to the cost of travel, housing, registration, and other event-related expenses.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis through Friday, January 21 at 12pm Central. Remember, both presenters and attendees are welcome to apply.



Optional welcome event at the Ambassador hotel.


Our 2022 plenary workshop will be led by Dr. Jessica Edwards. 

Writing to Liberate: On Self, Community, and Meaningfulness

Many teachers that I know connect writing to discovery, to thinking, and to understanding the self in relation to the world. This same writing process that teachers champion can also lead to action as writings take the form of life roadmaps, legal documents, screenplays, articles, and other genres. Writing can even be enjoyed as ephemera. The actions that writings put in motion have the potential to not only impact personal decision making, but influence the lives of others. The myriad of ways in which writing connects us, across time, space, race, community, age, sexuality and more remains to be seen. So, as we think about just how connected we are as people and consider how “Writing it Out” aids the process of engagement, I encourage us all to think through the possibilities of writing to liberate. The question that we’ll explore is “How might the teaching of writing liberate us? Our students? Our communities?”

The goal of this workshop, which is open to educators across disciplines, ranks, and roles, is to advance conversations about liberation through writing and to help participants identify meaningful moves that may be useful within and beyond the symposium. In addition to sharing my experiences connecting my writing class to a local Mobile Health Van and community partners during the global COVID 19 pandemic, there will be ample time for exploration and reflection, carving space that encourages participants to write to liberate themselves and their communities. 

Jessica Edwards, PhD

Jessica Edwards, PhD, writing teacher, editor, and advocate for inclusive practices, is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Delaware in Newark, DE. She’s interested in helping scholars heighten their historical, political, and racial consciousness through writing. Dr. Edwards is the author of several book chapters and articles about writing classrooms. She has also helped to edit a couple of books, most recently a co-edited piece titled Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Lived Experiences of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty in Writing Studies. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, being with family, roller skating, and attending live concerts.



Our 2022 plenary presentation will be given by Dr. Derek Handley.

After the End of America's "Longest War": Veteran Students, Civic Rhetorics, and Educational Possibilities

This presentation explores a participatory, rhetorical approach to writing instruction which allows active military and veteran students to connect their writing with civic engagement and military service. It may also reduce the divide between veteran and non-veteran students. 

As Bill Keith and Roxanne Mountford note in their Mt Oread Manifesto, “participation in the issues shaping a society necessarily means being able to understand a problem from more than one position.” In our classrooms, veteran voices, informed through writing and critical inquiry, need to be deliberately included in ongoing and important conversations. Assignments that address timely and demanding civic issues can allow veterans and other students to see a clear purpose for their academic work and to develop an understanding of how citizens can make decisions through inquiry.  

In the spirit of “writing it out,” I discuss this approach to writing education as a veteran who has made the difficult transition from active military service to the academic classroom. I also share my experiences in teaching veterans at a community college and working with active-duty military students at a service academy.

Derek Handley

Derek Handley is an assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee English Department’s Public Rhetorics & Community Engagement program and affiliated faculty in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department. He has authored and co-authored articles in Rhetoric Review, Reflections: A Journal of Community-Engaged Writing and Rhetoric, and Review of Communication. His forthcoming book project looks at the rhetorical strategies and tactics used by African-American communities in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and St. Paul MN in response to urban renewal projects. He is a proud Navy veteran with 28 years of active and reserve service.



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