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Author Of The Month: John Scenters-Zapico

Published: August 3, 2015

Identity: A Reader for Writers

John Scenters-Zapico, Professor, English; Director, Writing Across the Curriculum

Published in 2013 by Oxford University Press, Identity: A Reader for Writers focuses on the essential topic of identity as it relates to culture, rhetoric and the multiple modes of expression that are increasingly common in today’s multilingual society. Each chapter in this reader asks students thought-provoking questions about identity. These questions include: Where are you from? Where did you go to school? What do you do for work? And whom do you love? While these questions appear easy to answer, students will learn as they work through the readings that their answers are linked to meaningful themes including language, nationality, labor, education, personal relationships and privacy. Developed for the freshman composition course, Identity: A Reader for Writers includes an interdisciplinary mix of academic, scientific and mainstream reading selections, providing students with the rhetorical knowledge and compositional skills required to participate effectively in discussions about critical literacy, cultural studies and the writing process. “I want Identity to be challenging but not academic, mainstream but not bandwagon,” said Scenters-Zapico who joined the university in the fall of 2014. “The United States is a diverse country in more ways than just race. If readers walk away saying, ‘damn, I never thought about X in this or that way,’ I’ll be happy because such a response and reaction means readers are becoming critical and are starting to develop their own intellectual tools in challenging themselves, and others.” Scenters-Zapico believes the whole idea of identity can be elusive. “I think we oftentimes have notions that identity is simple, based on things like color, dress, activities, sexual preference, workplace, names, the schools we attended or attend and so on,” he said. “Identity, through carefully selected classic and mainstream essays, complicates these notions. The readings include an array of questions and writing assignments that ask students to get some dirt under their nails by asking them to critically think and write about the assumptions they have about their own identities and those that others have toward them.” Scenters-Zapico encourages students to sample his book. “First, Identity has writings that readers will enjoy, and writings that challenge,” he said. “This means, of course, some readings won’t resonate for some readers, but the likes and dislikes will vary by readers’ identities.

Author of the Month–John Scenters–Zapico

Identity also has readings that are easy to talk about with others in academic and social settings. The variety of questions and writing projects are varied enough to help writers ask some tough questions and arrive at some amazing responses.” His previous book, Generaciones Narratives, looked at the traditional and digital literacy experiences in English and Spanish of people born between 1920 and 1985 on the U.S.-Mexico border, and his next book, Literacy in the Margins, is an ethnographic study looking at the experience of those working minimum or low-wage jobs. He comes to CSULB from the University of Texas at El Paso where he arrived in 2000, was an English professor and served as director of the University Writing Center where he spearheaded a highly successful Writing Across the Curriculum program. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.