Literacy, Curriculum, and Pedagogies: Considerations for Anthropologists Teaching First-Year Composition


  • Troy E. Spier Universidad San Francisco de Quito
  • Patricia D. Pytleski Kutztown University



Despite the fact that this article began as a formal response to Chattaraj (2020), it serves a larger purpose in contextualizing the first-year composition classroom and the training required to provide effective instruction to students across all academic fields. Although an anthropologically-minded approach to the teaching of writing can be quite beneficial, suggesting that an anthropologist can—or even should—assume the responsibilities of first-year composition without additional training is ill-advised. To this end, this article draws upon not only the prior literature on Composition/Rhetoric, but also on the place and benefits of writing in the anthropology classroom more generally. Because the initial publication (i.e. Chattaraj, 2020) relied strictly on personal anecdotal evidence for academic success in a particular classroom setting at a liberal arts university, the findings are not generalizable to most post-secondary institutions due to the institutional accreditation requirements for educators, the concerning statistics on the literacy rates of incoming undergraduate students, the general objectives of curricular pathways, and the remarkable consistency found in first-year composition courses. As a result, this response presents a transparent overview of the first-year composition classroom and offers concrete suggestions for anthropologists who endeavour to support writing across the curriculum and/or in the disciplines.

Author Biographies

Troy E. Spier, Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Troy E. Spier is a full-time professor of English and Linguistics at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, works with teachers-in-training, and advises MA theses. He was previously a Visiting Ph.D. Researcher in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin, and he is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Islamic Studies at Dallas International University. He earned his MA and Ph.D. in Linguistics at Tulane University, his B.S.Ed. in English/Secondary Education at Kutztown University, and his A.A. in General Studies at Reading Area Community College. His research interests include language documentation and description, discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, and linguistic landscapes.

Patricia D. Pytleski, Kutztown University

Patricia D. Pytleski is an Assistant Professor of English/Composition and Rhetoric and Director of the Kutztown University Writing Center. She teaches courses in writing and secondary English education and supervises English student teachers in the secondary education classroom. She earned her Ph.D. in Composition and Rhetoric at Lehigh University, her MA in English at Kutztown University, and her BA in English Education at the University of Delaware. Additionally, she has published widely in her fields of study, including English, Composition and Rhetoric, Writing Centers, Secondary English Education, and First-Year Composition.