Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal

by Joseph Janangelo (Volume editor) Mark Blaauw-Hara (Volume editor)
©2023 Edited Collection XXVIII, 202 Pages


Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal examines WPA journeys and journeying.
Designed for WPA graduate seminars and professional development workshops, this book addresses two questions:
• How do people develop readiness to serve as WPAs?
• How do experienced WPAs find or create renewal opportunities that help them move forward throughout their lives and careers?
Authors address these questions from their sometimes-intersecting identities as BIPOC scholars, LGBTQ+ people, graduate students, and adjunct faculty, as well as early, mid-, and later-career WPAs.
Authors draw on their experience teaching at a range of two- and four-year institutions to analyse the complexities, contingencies, and rewards of short and long-term WPA work. These scholars contend that understanding WPA "readiness" and "renewal" involves questioning inherited definitions of those terms and engaging in theorized, self-aware conversations that reflect, and reflect on, understudied fears and desires about WPA work from graduate preparation to preparing for leadership rotation and retirement.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • Dedication
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Illustrations and Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: “Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal: Of Preparation, Pipe Dreams, and Possibilities,” by Joseph Janangelo, Loyola University Chicago
  • Readiness
  • Chapter One: “Leadership Readiness: Becoming a Rhetorically Mindful WPA,” by Melvin E. Beavers, University of Arkansas--Little Rock, and Abram Anders, Iowa State University
  • Chapter Two: “(Re)Visioning WPA-GO: Finding WPA Readiness as a Graduate Student Leader,” by Gabrielle Isabel Kelenyi. University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Chapter Three: “How to WPA: Career Planning, Survival and NTT Power at the Convergence of My Professional and Personal Lives,” by Elise A. Green, Longwood University
  • Chapter Four: “Ready to be an Equity-Focused WPA: Reforming Community-College Developmental Writing,” by Mark Blaauw-Hara, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Chapter Five: “Rethinking WPA Work for Open-Access Contexts: Preparing for Literacy Program Responsibilities,” by Erin Lehman, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, and Joanne Baird Giordano, Salt Lake Community College
  • Chapter Six: “Ready for a Career and a Family: Experiencing (In)Fertility as an Early Career WPA,” by Kaitlin Clinnin, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Jennifer Eidum, Elon University; Morgan Hanson, University of Southern Indiana; Mariya Tseptsura, University of Arizona
  • Chapter Seven: “Unlearning Writing Program Administration,” by Amy Ferdinandt Stolley, Grand Valley State University
  • Renewal
  • Chapter Eight: “Refusal as Renewal: An Asian/American Woman Saying No While WPA-ing,” by Jolivette Mecenas, California Lutheran University
  • Chapter Nine: “What Is Gained in Transition: Lessons from a WPA in Liminal Space,” by Katherine Daily O’Meara, St. Norbert’s College
  • Chapter Ten: “Revolving Doors: Programmatic Renewal and Regeneration through Leadership Reorganization,” by Jacob Babb, Appalachian State University, and Susan Popham, Indiana University Southeast
  • Chapter Eleven: “Composing your WPA Career: Pleasure, Responsibility, and Wisdom,” by Jeffrey Klausman, Whatcom Community College
  • Chapter Twelve: “Renewal through Cartography: Designing Resilience amidst Persistent Ecological Change,” by Colin Charlton and Jonikka Charlton, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Chapter Thirteen: “It’s All About the Student: Advocating for Students at All Levels of Leadership,” by Beth Brunk, The University of Texas at El Paso
  • Chapter Fourteen: “I’m Still Here, Goddammit: Toward Irreverent Understandings of White Nostalgia, White Irreplaceability, and WPA In-Situ Longevity,” by Joseph Janangelo, Loyola University Chicago
  • Chapter Fifteen: “Getting Out of the Way: Antiracism and the Unbearable Whiteness of Being a WPA,” by Carrie S. Leverenz, Texas Christian University
  • Understandings
  • “Readiness and Renewal: Not Just a Point in Time, but Processes,” by Susan M. Lang, The Ohio State University
  • “Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal as Mindful Improvisation,” by Mark Blaauw-Hara, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • “Readiness and Renewal: What Am I Even?,” by Patti Poblete, South Puget Sound Community College
  • Index


We begin by thanking Alice Horning, who reached out to us early in the process of conceiving of this book with encouragement and the suggestion that we work together. Throughout the book’s journey, Alice provided clear and direct feedback to both us and our chapter authors with the goal of helping the book reach its potential. Along with Alice, we extend our thanks to the rest of Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, especially Anthony Mason, who also provided support and feedback. We thank Charmitha Ashok and the production team for their careful editing, Jaganathan Rajapandi for indexing, and Thiyagu Kumaraselvam for help designing our book’s cover. We also thank the two manuscript reviewers for their careful reading and generative advice.

Our chapter authors were consummate professionals and scholars. Thank you for lending your expertise and experience to this project. We know that future and current WPAs will be educated and inspired by your words.

Joe thanks Mark for generously sharing his intellect and enthusiasm with him and the authors. You will always be Emperor Mark Blaauw-Hara, HRH.

Mark thanks Joe for inviting him to be a part of this project, and for showing him the ropes of putting together an edited collection. One could not ask for a wiser or more patient co-editor.

Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal: Of Preparation, Pipe Dreams, and Possibilities

Joseph Janangelo, Loyola University Chicago

We begin by thanking you for reading our book and sharing two questions that inspire our work:

  • How do people develop readiness to serve as WPAs?
  • How do experienced WPAs find or create renewal opportunities that help them move forward throughout their lives and careers?

“Throughout” is an important concept to us because Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal examines WPA journeys and journeying. In our book, we seek to offer readers nuanced understandings of how aspiring, early career and seasoned WPAs plan, lead, build, and re-build their careers and working lives. We also hope to help graduate students and early career WPAs better understand the enticements and entanglements of their intended career’s complex, daunting, rewarding, and important work. Moreover, we seek to offer mid- and later-career WPAs ideas for rekindling interest in work that has become stagnant, unchallenging, and even discouraging. We contend that understanding WPA “readiness” and “renewal” involves questioning inherited definitions of those patented, patinated terms. It also involves engaging in candid and self-aware scholarly conversations that reflect, and reflect on, WPAs’ plans, desires, trepidations and fears for and about their work.

We view renewal as a vital part of long-haul WPA work. As WPA work has evolved, more WPAs are mid-career at a wide range of institutions than in the past and need work that speaks to their experience and existence. More importantly, we see mid- and later-career WPAs are valuable and uniquely vulnerable members of the WPA community and are eager to pay attention to their ideas and needs. We say “vulnerable” because these individuals are underrepresented and understudied in WPA scholarship. Perhaps understandably, Writing Studies graduate programs and the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) pay close attention to pre-service and early-career WPAs who are beginning their journeys, especially in terms of preparation and onboarding WPAs and mentoring them through “the early years.” Yet, there is so much more journeying to notice and to try to understand.

Our goal in including WPA readiness and renewal in the same volume is to bring those concepts and colleagues into conversation with one another. We experience and regard WPA workplaces and working lives as continuums. WPAs, aspiring and experienced, are there for a while at various moments in their lives and careers and strive to do good and rewarding work during that time. We hope our book contributes to intergenerational understandings among pre-service, early-career, and mid- and later-career WPAs.

In composing our book’s title, we don’t strive to be gratuitously alliterative. Moreover, while this book has two sections, we don’t think of readiness and renewal as discrete experiences, but as permeable, porous ones. In these pages, we and our authors portray WPA readiness and renewal as existing in complicated twinship with each other and engaged with animating and competing logics and priorities. For example, WPA readiness and renewal are in close communication with one’s personal life and career trajectories, one’s institutional mission and identity, colleagues, and students, world events (e.g., pandemics), and evolutions in higher education.

We choose “understanding” as our guiding verb, even though Merriam- Webster defines it primarily as a noun, as an understanding. Consider that dictionary’s top two definitions: 1: a mental grasp: COMPREHENSION 2: a. the power of comprehending especially: the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars b: the power to make experience intelligible by applying concepts and categories. For readers’ further edification, Merriam-Webster offers three “Example Sentences” replete with sexist, gender-based characterizations:

He has a thorough understanding of the subject.

She has a basic understanding of the process.

I hope to get a clearer understanding of the issues involved. See More.

In search of complex understandings of WPA readiness and renewal, we do see more. We suspect more as well. Our suspicions are fourfold.

Readiness Suspicions

Suspicion #1: We believe that WPA readiness is more than a matter of graduate preparation. Coursework and other graduate experiences, however intensive and valuable they may be, don’t fully guarantee WPA readiness. We question the idea that people can fully “suit up” for WPA work in advance. We also suspect that the project of making WPA experience “intelligible,” as Merriam-Webster puts it, obtainable, and even transferable, is something graduate programs do in order to make a compelling case for their work and existence. We see WPA readiness as part of a functional equation that goes like this: graduate programs implicitly promise to produce and deliver capable and ready WPAs; hiring committees take such programs at their word. Put plainly, writing programs need WPAs who are ready to lead, advise, and mentor others. Institutional and programmatic stakeholders, many of them impactful and vulnerable themselves, take serious interest in what the “new WPA” will do on campus as the new hire works to serve their school and build their ethos and career. It is thus in everyone’s functional interest for that equation to be said to work and work out well. Thus, imagining WPA readiness as possible via rigorous graduate preparation is in everyone’s practical interest and belies collective stakeholder investment.

Suspicion #2: WPA readiness is neither linear nor expedient. Nor is it all of a piece. As a WPA, being ready for some of the work and experience (the interactions, disappointments, and successes) does not mean being ready for all of it. On campus, WPAs have unforeseen content-based and relational work to do for others and themselves. Whatever training one brings to the job, the WPA workplace is where preparation and advice (scholarship, shadowing, simulations) meet tests of readiness. On campus, important challenges welcome new WPAs, often with high expectations and strict timelines. New WPAs often have unforeseen and familiar work to do for others and themselves. Moreover, if things don’t work out, perceived WPA underperformance is attributed to individual or small-group failure, rather than the flawed assumptions surrounding WPA readiness.


ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2023 (June)
WPA Readiness Renewal DEI WPA working lives Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal Mark Blaauw-Hara Joseph Janangelo antiracism readiness renewal diversity equity inclusion leadership career trajectories creativity writing programs writing higher education
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2023. XXVIII, 202 pp., 2 b/w ill., 1 table.

Biographical notes

Joseph Janangelo (Volume editor) Mark Blaauw-Hara (Volume editor)

Joseph Janangelo is Associate Professor of English at Loyola University Chicago and Past President of the Council of Writing Program Administrators. His books are A Critical Look at Institutional Mission: A Guide for WPAs, Resituating Writing Programs: Constructing and Administering Writing Programs, and Theoretical and Critical Perspectives on Teacher Change. Mark Blaauw-Hara is Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, at University of Toronto Mississauga, Past President of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, and current Treasurer of the Canadian Writing Centres Association. His book is From Military to Academy: The Writing and Learning Transitions of Student-Veterans.


Title: Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal