WAC Clearinghouse


WAC stands for Writing Across the Curriculum, which is a movement among college professors and teachers who want more writing in our education system and not just in English classes but in all professions. No matter if you are in business, the sciences, nursing, or whatever, WAC wants you to write.

If you are yawning already, I don’t blame you, but hang with me. To most people, something as academic as WAC sounds only slightly more exciting than watching paint dry. I thought so myself when I began the class, but I have found that WAC people truly want to help and they do their best to make it fun and interesting.

The WAC Clearinghouse serves as the library for everything Writing Across the Curriculum. It’s a place where teachers and professors can find resources for developing courses, teaching those courses, and making those courses interesting for the students. This includes possible textbooks, instructive articles for students and teachers, great ideas of how to integrate writing into a course, and links to other places to go for more information if needed. Also, I’ve found that what helps teachers often help their students as well.

Besides a virtual library, The Clearinghouse serves as a sharing-ground, where WAC people publish their projects and ideas. They can also find contacts from whom to learn more. They can discuss issues and see when the next conference is and what’s happening in the WAC world.

If you’re teaching any subject that involves writing to high schoolers, college freshmen, or your own children, the WAC Clearinghouse is the place to go. For my fellow students, if you need help with a paper, I encourage you to explore and find something to improve your writing.

What is it?

The WAC Clearinghouse is a website, hosted by Colorado State University, that provides recourses, publications, and news of conferences/ programs for the private use of writers, writing instructors, and scholars involved in the Writing Across the Curriculum program.  In other words, it’s a billboard of news for the people of WAC as well as a collection of recourses and publications for instructors and anyone interesting in writing.

Dr. Mike Palmquist, the clearinghouse’s founder, describes in a collaborative article the thinking behind the project and other like it as allowing “us to consider the role of technology in shaping participation and roles within communities of knowledge and practice, it’s impact on our choices about how we share our work…, and its effects on the roles we adopt regarding the formation and maintenance of scholarly communities”(Palmquist et al. 2).



Who contributes to the site?

Members from the Clearinghouse’s boards and editorial staff as well as the boards and staff of the journals are the main contributors. They come from across the United States and also from Australia, Norway, and The Netherlands.


Who is this site for: students, instructors, scholars, writers?

            The site has been created mainly for instructors and writing scholars, although anyone who writes will find it useful.


Can I add to the Clearinghouse?

Yes. You can create an account for anything you create for the Clearinghouse in a password-protected and confidential database. You review your own work and you can ask others to review it, but the site does not.  There is an account agreement, which was “developed strictly because of concerns that, without an account agreement, someone, at some time, will do something that is so thoughtless and/or malicious that we would need to end this service.”

The privacy policy is simple: they do not share your information and you may choose not to display your account information, but they do “analyze how people use the site in an attempt to improve it”. The copyright is equally simple, you may quote or link to any material on the site, but you can’t reproduce it without permission from Dr. Palmquist. But to use the site, you don’t have to have an account to explore what’s there.


What’s on the site?

While the clearinghouse is huge, it is easy to use and you don’t have to pay for it. One of the greatest aspects to this site is that everything is open-access, which means all information on this site is free, easily found, printable only if desired, and exactly where you left it. No more cluttered, or as in my case, less cluttered, bookshelves, no searching for a particular book or journal amid chaos with due date or deadlines bearing down on you.


Content Count:

Here is what’s in the Clearinghouse.

  • 3,222 (more or less) total publications
  • 2,000+ Accounts
  • 606 Total Journal Articles
  • 346 These/dissertations abstracts
  • 100+ Board members and editorial staffs
  • 147 Links to other websites
  • 74 WAC Programs listed
  • 50+ Total number of journal volumes
  • 42 Universities involved
  • 40+ Books
  • 21 volumes of the WAC journal
  • 11 Volumes of Across the Disciplines
  • 10 Conference reviews
  • 9 Related sites
  • 7 essays/articles on RhetNet
  • 7 E-mail Discussions
  • 6 Journals
  • 6 Volumes of Language and Learning Across the Disciplines
  • 4 Programs on WAC Clearinghouse
  • 4 Countries
  • 4 Conference proceedings
  • 3 Volumes of Journal of Basic writing
  • 3 Special issues from International Journals
  • 3 Volumes from academic.writing website


If you’re thinking ‘Ok, that’s cool, but I want to know where to start!”, this next section details what books, journals, programs, etc. on the Clearinghouse and are about.



As a proud and unashamed bookworm, I immediately go for the books. The Clearinghouse houses about 40 great references, guides, and essay collections.  Divided into 8 series, they give everything you need to write and to teach writing.

Perspectives on Writing, edited by Susan H. McLeod, focuses on writing from a variety of perspectives, including how to study writing and how to teach it.

Reference Guides to Rhetoric and Composition, edited by Charles Bazerman, Anis Bawarshi, and Mary Jo Reiff, are surveys of basic writing, revision, argument, genre and much more. They focus what teaching methods have worked as seen through both research and experience.

Practice and Pedagogy, edited by Mike Palmquist, tell the reader about teaching and learning writing of every form and searches through the issues faced by writing instructors and writers as well as their common interests.

NCTE on WAC ,also edited by Mike Palmquist, is a collection of 8 books about WAC published by the National Council of Teachers of English.

Landmark Publications in Writing Studies, edited by David R. Russell, are republished books that have heavily impacted the practice of and the theory behind WAC.

Writing Spaces: Reading on Writing, edited by Charlie Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky, gives two volumes of essays by teachers specifically for students. They include tips and assignments from various disciplines and cover topics about writing.

Rhetnet Books, edited by Eric Crump, are the two “books” published in the online Rhetnet journal. They experiment with online interaction between the writer and the reader.


If you want something faster to look through, the clearinghouse also has six peer-reviewed journals, each of which has its own focus on writing and WAC.

Across the Disciplines focuses on all the ways writing intersects different professions, specifically the ”language, learning, and academic writing” of each field. The articles here are about writing and teaching writing for these disciplines amid the “intellectual, political, social and technological” issues of our modern times. This journal includes several volumes, book reviews, and conference reviews.

The WAC Journal is a national, annual journal written by educators. This is where teachers, professors, and writing scholars publish their ideas about WAC and their experiences using “practical ideas and pertinent theories.” Included are 21 volumes, each filled with useful essays.

academic.writing provided information and opportunity for scholars interested in communication, be it writing or speaking, across the curriculum. Only publishing from 200 to 2003, this site still contains useful articles in three volumes.

Language and Learning Across the Disciplines provides articles, forums, and programs for WAC. Focused on a discourse community, it has since merged with academic.writing to become Across the Disciplines, but on this site are still the original six volumes.

The Journal of Basic Writing publishes volumes of articles twice a year that relate to learning how to write, including second-language writers. Within these volumes are essays focused on student writing, research reports written in non-technical style, and collaborative essays that debate controversial issues.

RhetNet was an online journal, experimenting with what was possible with online publishing in its “natural form”. Included are a few essays, 2 books, 15 conversations and debates, a “verbal snapshot” page, a quote page, and a graffiti page.



If you want to get in on the WAC action, the clearinghouse has a list of all the universities that sponsor WAC programs, so that you can find a WAC college near you and learn more about it. Also the Clearinghouse itself has programs, two of which are:

International Network of Writing Across the Curriculum  has recently partnered with the Clearinghouse. INWAC provides online forums, new books and articles, a database of news and events around the world, and a list of consultants within WAC and its sister movements.

The STEM project focuses on writing in math, the sciences, engineering, and technology. At the moment it is under development.

News and Events:

The Clearinghouse is also where to find information not only about writing, but about what’s going on in the WAC world. Here is a billboard of the latest conferences, retreats, calls for submissions, new publications, and other events of interest. Here are the dates for upcoming conferences and other events.


            If you’re still here, perhaps you’re thinking, “I’m all set for my next paper/next class! This is great! Where has this place been all my life?” That’s more or less what my reaction was and I decided to incorporate that into my assignment.  Here’s what I found.




Where did the idea first develop?            

After looking at the clearinghouse’s brief description of its history, I decided I needed more information. So, I interviewed via e-mail one of its founders, Dr. Mike Palmquist of Colorado State University. Throughout the project, he worked on most of the coding for the site.

The history is, Dr. Palmquist says “certainly a bit convoluted (from a website to an online journal to a publishing venture)”.  In an article he graciously sent me, he says that “the Web serves not only as a means of disseminating and archiving scholarly work, but also as a focus for – and even an inducement to – community formation.” Initially, he saw the project as part of his university’s online writing center as “a collection of resources for faculty teaching writing-intensive courses”. He soon realized the larger potential of this idea had for other writing instructors at other universities and he proposed the idea to two colleagues, Bill Condon and Christine Hult.

How did it grow?

First, the three professors created academic.writing and added content to it. Initially, academic.writing housed the WAC Journal, Language and Learning Across the Disciplines, and RhetNet as well as access to previously out-of-print books now in digital format. These developments as well as other factors led to the site’s reemergence as the WAC Clearinghouse with academic.writing now a part instead of the whole.


A Brief Time Line of the Site’s History:


Dr. Palmquist proposes initial idea to Bill Condon and Christine Hult. The initial planning group work together via e-mail and a collection of resources established on Web.



The project stalls due to what Bill Condon described as “an inability to find ways to make work on a web site count for purposes of merit evaluations”.



academic.writing is published online. This is an early manifestation of WAC Clearinghouse as a peer-reviewed online journal.


Over next few years:

AW becomes home to 2 print journals, 1 online journal, and several out-of-print books in digital format.



AW re-launches as scholarly works about Communicating Across Curriculum publisher and provides extensive resources to WAC community.


Over next few years:

AW becomes part of a larger website, the WAC Clearinghouse, which partners with the International Network of WAC. The Clearinghouse also partners with or makes agreements Parlor Press and the National Council of Teachers of Education to distribute digital books and journal articles. The Clearinghouse’s development relies heavily on cooperation where visitors to the site add information such as bibliography entries, program descriptions, conference announcements, and calls for proposals, etc.



WAC clearinghouse becomes leading supporting site for WAC with more than 2,000 accounts of teachers, professors, and scholars. These accounts allow visitors to add information to the site’s databases.



The re-launch of site with new books, including a new series, and the Journal Of Basic Writing joins WAC clearinghouse. Over the last three years, Michael Cripps from Across the Disciplines adds a lot to the site. Dr. Palmquist mentioned that a  “richer set of tools for its visitors” had been added as well.


How does that original vision compare to what it is now?           

            While still providing resources for writing instructors and faculty, the Clearinghouse has expanded to house various journals, books, and other material that the founders had not conceived during the beginning stages of the site. Although he has been told that the WAC clearinghouse is considered “a good example of open-access publishing within he field of English studies”, Dr. Palmquist thinks of it “publishing collaborative” effort that involves more than 100 people. He describes what happened, “the site grew over more than a decade where it has become a publisher of open-access academic journals and scholarly books as well as a home for an extensive collection of resources for the WAC community” (Palmquist et al. 4).

The WAC Clearinghouse offers a vast amount of resources for anyone involved with writing and I plan on using it throughout the rest of my schooling and perhaps beyond.




Palmquist, Mike. The WAC Clearinghouse. Colorado State University. 2002. Web. 20 June, 2011.

Palmquist, Mike. “Re: WAC Interview”. Message to Rebekah Shumack. 11 July, 2011. E-mail.

Attached to the e-mail:

Palmquist, Mike, Joan Mullin, and Glenn Blalock. Ed. Lee Nickson and Mary P. Sheridan.  ‘The Role of Activity Analysis in Writing Research: Case Studies of Emerging Scholarly Communities”.  Southern Illinios University Press. 1-9 Web. 11 July, 2011.



Published on July 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. LOVE the numbers. That’s incredible that this is so robust–just think that none of this existed when I taught my first writing class. I’m so grateful for the work of the Clearinghouse–so glad you picked this as your focus!

  2. Very in-depth post! Clearinghouse is such a wonderful place. We are all lucky to have all those materials in one place. 😀

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