MnWE Website                  MnWE News Home Page



MnWE News Early-Fall Issue
September-October 2022

MnWE 2023 Conference on Zoom and at St. Cloud State
Fri.-Sat., Mar. 31-Apr. 1, 2023
“Learning Ecologies: Building, Improving, and Refining Pedagogy”

In this issue:     
    1.  News: BOOK BANS IN EDUCATION UP 1000%


4.  Equity/Diversity Literary Resources (in each issue)

5.  Free Teaching/Learning E-Newsletters (in each issue)

6.  About MnWE (in each issue)

        If you are new to our listserv, welcome! We never share your address, and you always may unsubscribe at the bottom of any email. Click here if you wish to
view this or previous issues in your browser. MnWE News goes to over 2500 English and Writing faculty in Minnesota and parts of nearby states. Our next conference is Fri.-Sat., Mar. 31-Apr. 1, 2023, with almost all events available both in person at St. Cloud State University and on Zoom.
        If you are a long-term member of this listserv, thank you for your continuing participation. If you did not receive this newsletter directly and want to see it six times per year, join us by sending a request to the editor at 
jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu. We suggest you give us a permanent email address.


        The Summer 2022 MLA Newsletter (54, 2) reports that “PEN America is tracking book bans and found an almost 1000% this past year [from] previous years.” This number comes from Jeremy Young of PEN America in a conversation with Aaron Nisenson of the AAUP in “What You Need to Know about Educational Gag Orders.” Nisenson replies that politicians starting to “dictate what is taught” is “a supreme and almost existential threat to academic freedom.”


        How does this affect us as college faculty? These are the students—who’ve been banned from certain books—that we receive from the high schools. What conversations–and realities –have they missed? What are their myths? Additionally, the pressure will be on some of our own administrators to ban books from our libraries and ideas on campuses, too.
        “When you start saying there are things you cannot discuss openly on a college campus, says Nisenson, “then we are really undermining one of the core principles–and tenets and benefits–of higher education....” Young points out that more than “eighty percent of Americans oppose book bans.” He also cites an American Historical Association study last year in which “[s]eventy-six percent of people said yes, including seventy-four percent of Republicans,” to the question, “Do you think that we should teach uncomfortable truths about race and slavery...even if it makes some students uncomfortable?”

        Strong divisions between public opinion and legislatures’ voting is not new, especially in these times of gerrymandered divisions. But does it affect us in Minnesota, and what can we do?

        Much depends on who runs our own state legislature and governor’s office. But it also depends on local administration officials at each college and university, even the public ones with unions: observe, for example, the trauma and upheaval at Minneapolis College several years ago regarding Critical Race Theory and equity, as reviewed below. Other faculty stories exist, especially among adjuncts, TAs, and staff, who make no waves in order to keep their jobs.

        What can you do? Nisenson suggests in the MLA Newsletter, “One is [b]e an active citizen. Two is as a teacher, can...not do the censors’ work for them, not overinterpret[ing] these laws.” In this regard, it can be particularly useful for adjuncts and TAs with doubts to have a helpful conversation with their chair or dean to see what is and is not safe.

        “And the third,” says Nisenson, is to “[l]earn how your university works and find the levers you can push.” If you believe in academic freedom, this recommendation may be especially important for tenured faculty who can dare to start conversations and, when possible, push.
MLA Newsletter, Summer 2022 (Vol. 54, No. 2) (MLA login required)


        The September 8 issue of the Chronicle newsletter Teaching asks, is it really fair to judge “participation” just by how much people talk? And is this especially problematic in an age of online classes?    


       Mark Sample at Davidson College started a new approach to this that suited both loud and quiet students. He “stopped grading participation as a distinct category” and “ [as] engagement.” His syllabus now explains “engagement” as follows:

  • Preparation (reviewing readings and material before class)
  • Focus (avoiding distractions during in-person and online activities)
  • Presence (engaged and responsive during group activities)
  • Asking questions (in class, out of class, online, offline)
  • Listening (hearing what others say, and also what they’re not saying)
  • Specificity (referring to specific ideas from readings and discussions)
  • Synthesizing (making connections between readings and discussions)”

        Sample manages “engagement” with “regular check-ins, using a Google form to ask students to reflect on their involvement in the course and what they think they could do better. ‘One of the key takeaways,’ he said, “is to understand that engagement doesn’t have to be this performative thing.... It can be this genuine activity that somehow dovetails with their own personality and interests, that lets them enter into the class conversation and ideas in a way that is true to their own personality and interests.”
        How does Sample grade “engagement”? “He explains that in his view, if a student is engaged, then it’s reflected in her work. He says he feels like grading engagement separately is a form of ‘double jeopardy.’”
        His Google survey itself may increase participation. And his checklist lets students know that their means or modes of studying–not just the final results–are very important in the grading process, too. The checklist is adjustable, especially if you are teaching writing. You also can ask students to turn in all their rough-draft work so that you can see evidence (or lack of it) according to their checklist.
        I remember when I started making a longer list, similar to the above, of what “participation” really meant. I found myself discussing it with students in the first week, adding my own verbal encouragements: “Talk! Ask questions—not one is stupid here! Get to know people! Ask them how they’re building their papers!” and the like. It seemed to increase engagement, sometimes dramatically (especially in classes that were majority Post-Secondary Options and/or first-time students).
        I didn’t create a survey for students as did Sample. Now, in retirement, I wish I’d had students write a couple of brief letters to me in class, perhaps at midterm and the end, about their engagement activities. That would have been two more opportunities for dialogue about what “going to college” really means.
Sample, "Rethinking Participation,” Teaching (Requires signup, which is free)

    (TETYC Journal)

        Must equity be so painful? In its May 2016 TETYC Journal, the NCTE published the story of the arduous experiment of the English Department at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC–now “Minneapolis College”) in racial and nongendered reckoning. The following year, the journal honored its five authors with its 2017 Mark Reynolds Best Article Award.



        The essay, the full title of which is “The Risky Business of Engaging Racial Equity in Writing Instruction: A Tragedy in Five Acts,” is by current and former department members Taiyon Coleman, Renee DeLong, Kathleen DeVore, Shannon Gibney, and Michael Kuhne. The “Tragedy” is harrowing and, unfortunately, predictive.

        Before considering it here, a fair question is, “Are we really in a new age of equity?” Economist Jacqueline Brux of UW-River Falls lists what is “on the minds of Americans” in the June 15 Star Tribune (“What will it take for us to change?”). She cites the “Jan. 6 hearings? The war in Ukraine? The plight of immigrants? No,...gas prices.” Add gun violence, and that’s five issues now grabbing more attention than the one she doesn’t bother to mention: equity.

        Yet equity remains at the heart of what we–writing and literature teachers–can offer in classrooms. Moreover, the numbers of students of diversity are increasing in our classrooms. We also often are, in our introductory classes, the first to welcome them to college. And we’re committed to them succeeding. To these students, equity is of profound importance. MCTC English’s experiences can help us know what to do—and avoid.

       Some MCTC history: In 2001, many there in English felt they had a perfect opportunity. The college’s nonwhite students were nearly half of the college’s population, but only 16% of them were finishing the three-course developmental-writing sequence (349). So, the department changed to a one-course, portfolio-evaluation system. Then in 2012, it began developing an accelerated-English program, the first in the state: developmental and regular composition students were placed in the same course with tandem lessons. Results were excellent.

        But the school’s graduation or certification rates of nonwhites remained abysmally low. The Department then successfully worked to attract more departmental hires of color. It also began to ask all candidates for knowledge of critical race theory (CRT). And a group of English faculty, new and old, began teaching CRT carefully, logically, but confidently.

        However, some members of English were opposed to such teaching, and the Department’s consensus fell apart. In addition, administration began to stop supporting CRT teachers—of color and white.

        Some facts: “Formal discrimination and harassment charges [were] made against four female members [both emphases added] of the English Department,” three of whom were people of color. A new “Diversity VP position [was] created,” but the new VP left after a year due to an “unhealthy climate.” One department member of color was charged with three acts of racial discrimination over three years by white male students and was required to undergo “mandatory diversity training” (353).

        One English faculty member of color was hit especially hard. According to “Risky Business,” on her first day back from the stillbirth of her daughter, the only three white males in a class engaged her angrily as she attempted, calmly, to discuss CRT. They registered a complaint, one of “around 172 student complaints of faculty that year,” yet of all 172, she “was the only one...ruled in violation of policy, and the only one...disciplined” (358).

        She grieved the ruling and requested arbitration. The administration then offered to pay her “’a blank check’ to leave MCTC altogether” (359), giving her a chance to choose her own dollar amount to walk away.

        She refused. Before arbitration could begin, the college president informed her that the letter of reprimand in her file was being removed.

        MCTC English managed much. But much was taken, too. The authors of “Risky Business” warn, “The professionalization of the academy, like the corporatization of the academy” are systems that “require absolute silence and compliance for membership.... ‘Inventing the postcolonial university is the task of the twenty-first century’ (Gutierrez et al.).... What we cannot do is bow to the status quo.... We have to take courage[,] stand up, and risk something. We have to speak” (361).

        How can you act in your own department? Importantly, “Risky Business” emphasizes, “Don’t ask and expect those who are the most institutionally and historically vulnerable among you to do the actual work of equity.... [A]ny institutional practice that disparages any member works to disparage the more vulnerable members...even more” (367-8).
        “Risky Business," now six years old, remains a dramatic map of the struggles and necessary work for change nationally and within Minnesota. The authors warn that “each institution has its own flavor of racist white dominance coated with a light veneer of diversity-speak” (361).

        One of the authors notes, “[E]quity work is harder in many ways because it demands that I connect my head with my heart, hands, feet, and voice. This kind of work was definitely not part of the graduate school curriculum” (352). Having our own Minnesota model of painful semi-success makes “Risky Business” well worth a second–or especially a first–close read.
"Risky Business," TETYC

4. Equity Literary Resources (listed in each issue)
              What diversity books might you or your students read? Suggestions are welcome.


50 Top Asian American Literary Books
Time's 25 Asian-Am. Celebrate
MN Hum. Center’s BIPOC Resources

Wikipedia Asian-Amer. Lit., Writer List
2000+ Books on Asian American Lit
85 AAPI Novels  Angel's 60+



44 Best Black Books–
30 Top Black Literary Books
MN Black Children's Bks.–Strive Publ.
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

Wikipedia African-Amer. Lit., Writer List
41 Black Fiction Classics–B & N
700+ Black Books–
Black Graphic Novels and Comics


Indigenous/Native American:

50 Native American Bestseller Books
32 Native American Authors
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

WikipediaNative-Amer. Lit., Writer List
Minn. Hist. Society Native-Amer. Books
Indigenous Graphic Literature



Latinx Writers’ 14 Recommended Bks.
10 Latinx
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

WikipediaLatinx LiteratureWriter List
2000+ Latinx Books–
Latinx Graphic Novels



25 Best Classics
40+ LGBTQIA Gay Fiction & Lit Bks.
50 Bestsellers

Wikipedia: LGBTQ General, Writer List
1000+ in Multiple Genres
LGBTQ Graphic Lit:
Bestsellers  800+

Graphic Novels and Diversity:

NCTE: "Diversity in Graphic Novels"
"In Defense of Graphic Novels"
"100 Fav. Comics/Graphic Novels"

Social Justice Graphic Novels (All Ages)
Best Graphic Novels of All Time
Top 10 Literary Graphic Novels


5. Free Teaching/Learning E-Newsletters
(in each issue)

      Do you want to be more in touch with colleagues nationally, or seek ideas from other networks? Connect by subscribing to one of these free email newsletters. You may start or stop a subscription at any time. Go to each link below to find more about the e-newsletter and instructions for subscribing. (You won’t be subscribed by clicking on the links below.)

NEA HigherEd, National Education Association. Weekly political and labor news update:

Subscribe           Sample

Race on Campus from Chronicle of Higher Education. Weekly briefs and information:
Sample and Free Subscription

Diversity Insider
, National Education Assoc. Weekly news, essays, and advice:

Subscribe           Sample

The Source: Updates, MLA Style Center. Weekly pedagogy and readings updates:

Subscribe (scroll to bottom)   Sample        Other free Style Center e-letters
          Always available online, the Style Center’s
"Works Cited: A Quick Guide"

Teaching from Chronicle of Higher Education. Weekly brief advice on general methods:

Subscribe           Samples      

The Campus View, Minnesota Private Colleges (17 colleges). Monthly private college news:

Subscribe             Past issues

6. About MnWE: Old Issues, Joining, Who We Are, Grad Credit, Unsubscribing
(in each issue)

More Online-Teaching Resources: See
Our Newsletters: For new and old issues,
MnWE News.
Forwarding/Joining: Please forward this email to other interested faculty and administrators. Your newer full-time and adjunct faculty members, graduate students, undergraduate majors, writing center tutors, and English and Writing administrators may not receive it. 
      If you are not on the listserv and would like to join it, simply send your request and email address to jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu. We always enjoy signing up new list members.

Who are we? “MnWE” is “Minnesota Writing and English,” an all-volunteer organization started in 2007. MnWE has a coordinating committee, a listserv, and an annual, two-day spring conference attended by 100-200 faculty. Our main coordinating committee, which meets about six times per year, is composed entirely of unpaid college, university, high school, and other professional English/Writing volunteers. 

      All activities are by and for college, university, and college-in-the-high-schools English and Writing faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and related academic and literary scholars, , tutors, publishers, authors, and others in the Upper Midwest and beyond. Our purpose is to bring together these communities in Minnesota and in nearby states and provinces.

Where are we? Please visit us online at Our geographical center is Minneapolis-St. Paul. About 2700 faculty, graduate students, tutors, and related administrators see our emails. Those on our listserv receive this newsletter six times per year, along with additional conference announcements and helpful forwards. Our listserv members come from state universities, public and private two-year colleges, private colleges and universities, high schools, publishing companies, and the public universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and other schools and locations in the United States, Canada, and overseas countries.
Conference: At our annual two-day conferences, our speakers highlight pedagogical concerns and are scholars and writers of national excellence from both local and national locations. Some of our presenters come from states or countries far beyond our own geographical area. The majority of our attendees and presenters are from universities and private four-year colleges; a significant minority are in two-year colleges, high schools, and other groups.
Graduate Credit: Anyone may earn one graduate credit from Southwest Minnesota State
University for attending a MnWE Conference day and writing a related research paper (up to three such credits may be earned). For questions about this course–“Eng 656: MnWE Practicum”–please contact lisa dot lucas at smsu dot edu or see

Unsubscribing: To unsubscribe from this listserv (and no longer receive the MnWE News, MnWE Conference announcements, and other forwarded announcements), please do so yourself, following directions at the very bottom of this email.  If you try unsubscribing on your own without success, then send an email to jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu indicating (1) your unsubscribing action that didn’t work, (2) your specific email address copied from the directions at the bottom of a MnWE mailing, and (3) your request for removal.
Formatting: Each of these listserv emails usually is formatted in a relatively simple way using html. If you cannot read it, please click on the link at the top right of this email to see the newsletter on the Web

Questions: We invite you to email the editor or a coordinator on the MnWE Committee listed below. You also are always invited to attend any of our six or more MnWE Committee meetings per year. To join the listserv, email Richard at jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu. If you’d like to attend a meeting, or join the committee for Zoom meetings, please ask Richard. In addition, you always are invited to offer suggestions to MnWE, or to volunteer your leadership for forming a breakout session at the annual conference. 

Copyright: This newsletter is written primarily by MnWE News editor Richard Jewell without copyright so that anyone may quote, paraphrase, or forward any or all parts freely, unless otherwise noted. We do ask that you give credit to the MnWE News and/or; and when you use material that has been quoted or paraphrased in this newsletter from another source, please be sure to give proper credit to the original source. 

Richard Jewell, Editor

MnWE News   

Minnesota Writing and English

MnWE Coordinating Committee:


David Beard, UMD Advisor, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Heidi Burns, Web & Docs Coordinator, Minn. State University-Mankato

Mary Ellen Daniloff-Merrill, SMSU Advisor, Southwest Minn. State University

Samantha Denney, Southern New Hampshire University

Judith Dorn, 2023 Site Coordinator, St. Cloud State University

Gene Gazelka, North Hennepin Community College

Edward Hahn, Registration Coordinator, North Hennepin College

Ryuto Hashimoto, Undergraduate Connection Coord., Mn. State U.-Mankato

Danielle Hinrichs, Program Coordinator, Metropolitan State University

Richard Jewell, Co-founder & Gen. Coord., Inver Hills Coll. (Emeritus)

Yanmei Jiang, Equity Co-Leader, Century College

Carla-Elaine Johnson, Plenary Coordinator, Saint Paul College

Linda O’Malley, Volunteer Coordinator, Metropolitan State University

Priscilla Mayowa, Metropolitan State University

Kerrie Patterson, Treasurer, Hennepin Technical College

Gordon Pueschner, Secretary & Conf. Floor Co-Manager, Century College

Beata Pueschner, Conference Floor Co-Manager, North Hennepin College

Jana Rieck, Communications Coordinator, Champlin Park High School

Donald Ross, Co-founder, Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Emeritus)

Larry Sklaney, Conference & Cost Center Coordinator, Century College

MnWE Journal Editorial Board.: David Beard and Yanmei Jiang   

Email Contacts:

danielle dot hinrichs at metrostate dot edu - (651) 999-5960
larry dot sklaney at century dot edu - (651) 747-4006
jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu (Richard Jewell) - (612) 870-7024

MnWE .org
Minnesota Writing & English
A Consortium of Colleges & Universities

Join us on  



Format updated 5 Oct. 2022