Revising Moves: Sharing and Narrating Revision in Action
“Revision does not always guarantee improvement; successive drafts do not always lead to a clearer vision. You can’t just change the words around and get the ideas right.”
Nancy Sommers, “Between the Drafts,” 1992
How does a text evolve? What is happening in the moments between the first sentence and the final end punctuation, or between the invitation to begin a project and its circulation? If we had a comprehensive time lapse from those first tentative keystrokes all the way up to the moment of “submit,” “send,” or abandonment, what would we see? These questions are at the heart of Revising Moves: Sharing and Narrating Revision in Action, a scholarly and documentary-style examination of the messy, wandering, and rich work of revision among advanced writers working in the field of writing studies.
While previous studies of revision have theorized and studied revision and largely focused on student writers, our collection foregrounds revision practices enacted by writing studies professionals. For us, revision is both a micro practice tracked by textual change as well as a macro one reflecting sociocultural realities. Seeing the former—say, through a series of revisions to a faculty member’s annual review—provides a view of the latter, the process of articulating belonging in order to be recognized and valued by an institution. In that sense, our collection frames revision as not only a textual practice, but also an act that reveals the acculturation processes by which differently located people attempt to join, affirm, disrupt, and build a discipline.
We seek contributions from writers in writing studies and related fields: those across the life cycle, writers of color, writers with disabilities, novice and veteran scholars, collaborative teams, writing program administrators, advanced graduate students, and faculty across ranks and institution types. We ask contributors to think broadly and creatively about how to show revision unfolding in writings for publication and in everyday academic genres. We imagine contributions as reflective essays that tell the story of a particular draft, make revision visible across multiple drafts or stages, and/or make meaning out of the story of the revisions behind a project, whether successful or stalled.Revision stories might be about discovering a project while revising; the effects of feedback and reviewer reports; life circumstances affecting the revising process; social, cultural, linguistic, and/or political realities bearing on revision; interactivity of revising and career stakes; collaborative revising; tactile, digital, sensory, kinesthetic, and other revision processes; the role of talk in revising; and why revisions fail or are abandoned. We encourage contributors to imagine ways to feature and center their narratives on bits of or clips from actual text(s) in progress: partial drafts, reader/reviewer feedback, doodles, lists, marginalia or other composing paraphernalia that foregrounds or reveals revision. Contributors might approach their revision stories and artifacts with the following questions in mind:
How does a text evolve?
What kinds of artifacts can show making in process?
What decisions are made at the sentence, paragraph, design, and project level that can be demonstrated?
How does the world outside the text end up shaping it?
What does revision feel like?
How do writers use feedback at different revision stages?
When and why is revision impossible?
When and why does revision ruin a draft or block a writer?
How is revision entangled with sociocultural experiences?
We invite narratives of revision about any kind of text associated with professional or academic composing. We imagine the collection will be divided into three sections featuring broadly related genres and the following kinds of texts (list is not exhaustive):
Some Possible Texts
Portions of published or abandoned scholarly projects.
Articles, chapters, book proposals, book manuscripts, grant and fellowship applications.
Institutional and Curricular Genres
Ordinary, oft-behind-the-scenes genres in various states of creation, neglect, and abandonment.
Curricular plans, program proposals, requests for writing center support, teaching statements, and departmental policies.
Support and Self-Advocacy Genres
Texts that sustain, reproduce, or perhaps upset academic and disciplinary cultures.
Manuscript reviews, promotion and tenure review letters, job letters, recommendation letters, resignation letters, requests for medical leave, and other high-stakes personal materials.
We expect that any of the texts listed above might be accompanied by snippets of feedback from peers, reviewer reports, reflective notes, and/or adjacent comparisons of original and revised content.
Proposals of approximately 350-400 words should describe the micro and macro elements of revision you plan to address, the story of the revision in brief, and artifacts of revision you might wish to include (though artifacts are not required). While this collection will be available in print form, we anticipate a multimodal supplement as well. If your contribution will be multimodal (e.g., revision time lapse), please describe your planned multimodal component in the proposal.
Submit via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1. Send comments and questions to the same address. See below for estimated production timeline:
July 2021: Editors’ decision distributed
October 2021: Chapter drafts due
January 2022: Editorial Feedback
March 2022: Revised Chapters
June 2022: Submit to Press