Special Issue on Transnationalism: Call for Papers

Guest Editors:

Julia Kiernan, PhD, Michigan State University
Joyce Meier, PhD, Michigan State University
Xiqiao Wang, PhD, Michigan State University

Given the time/space compression and increasingly mobile populations (Keith, 2005), diverse international and domestic student populations increasingly mix; writing studies classes are one site in which these collisions emerge, both as challenge and as site of inquiry. As linguistically diverse international and domestic student populations continue to collide, so too do tensions between writing studies and multilingual education. This special issue recognizes these tensions in terms of the lack of available, practiced initiatives that develop and implement multilingual frameworks within English-medium classrooms (Hornberger & Link, 2012). While Horner, Necamp, and Donahue (2011, p. 271) have called for writing teachers to consider how changes can be “made at the organizational level to rethink the ways in which English is represented in U.S. composition teaching, the design of writing programs and curricula, and the preparations of (future) teachers of postsecondary writing”; there remains a gap in our understanding of how such transnational teaching would work and what it would look like. The editors’ view transnationalism as an umbrella term that encompasses pedagogical approaches that are translingual, transcultural, translocal, transmodal, translanguaging, and/or global. This special issue seeks contributors that offers transnational teaching artifacts and framings that can be integrated into both multilingual as well as multilingual-monolingual writing spaces populated by heterogeneous populations of domestic and international students.

While the collection’s editors view the integration of students’ own languages and cultures within curricula as assets and resources, which furthers student learning and confidence building, they also recognize the corresponding challenges when these students increasingly inhabit writing classrooms that have traditionally been more monolingual.  The editors recognize the extent to which domestic and international multilingual students have moved into mainstream composition and writing classrooms, often arriving there from ESL courses or at the least, no longer benefitting from bilingual instruction that has been eliminated due to budgetary constraints.  Consequently, a primary goal of this collection is to  better understand how  writing teachers at all levels can best meet the learning needs of multilingual and monolingual students within the same classroom. For this reason, contributors are strongly encouraged to include student feedback, both positive and negative, towards transnational assignments and curricula. This move will further current discussions about transnational pedagogies about student engagement and agency, offering not only important strategies for teaching, but also insight into student experiences, expectations, and writing and learning practices.

Articles may address one or more of the following themes; however, all articles will need to position transnational approaches in the context of useable teaching artifacts:

  • Challenges to integrating transnational pedagogy: While those who argue towards a transnational approach position teaching practices as accessible to multilingual and monolingual students there remains skepticism as to how many of these strategies would work among heterogeneous student populations. In what ways can instructors negotiate these barriers? In terms of globalization, and the fluidity of World Englishes, what are the benefits and drawbacks of these negotiations? How might these strategies surface, yet work differently, in specific kinds of writing classrooms  (e.g. technical writing, business writing, first year writing, etc.)?
  • Integrating transnational teaching within “mainstream” writing courses: Mainstreamed first-year-writing classes typically appear in institutions that segregate multilingual students to preparatory writing classes–often labeled as bridge, basic, or ESL writing. However, there is also movement away from these segregatory practices, wherein all populations of language users, multilingual and monolingual, are mainstreamed into singular sections of first-year-writing. What are the advantages and disadvantages to both monolingual and multilingual, domestic and international students when mainstreaming occurs? What does transnational teaching look like in a mainstreamed classroom? What types of assignments work best (or fail to work) in these learning spaces?
  • Transnational teaching and multimodality: Horner and Selfe (2013) argue that in order for students to “function as literate citizens in a world where communications cross geopolitical, cultural, and linguistic borders and are enriched rather than diminished by semiotic dimensionality.”  There is a need to acknowledge that all communication involves some form of linguistic and/or semiotic negotiation.  How might multimodal projects enhance or link to other communicative forms (listening, speaking, writing, reading)?  To what extent can digital communication assist transnational learners in English medium classrooms? If we assume all communication, including multimodality, as a form of “translation,” how might this framing help forward effective translational pedagogical moves?  What are the pedagogical affordances of looking at the intersection of transmodality and translinguality? 
  • Teacher training: While there is often emphasis upon TESL/TESOL training in graduate programs, this training often does not take up a transnational approach to writing. As such, most graduate students do not complete their degree programs with practical and useable strategies for teaching mixed populations of multilingual and monolingual students. Conversely, when multilingual teaching strategies are addressed, it is often as a singular, brief module or add-on, rather than being an overarching theme. In this way, multilingual learning can be marginalized to the edges of teacher education. How does a transnational approach improve teacher training, particularly given the global rise of multilingual populations in secondary and post-secondary institutions?  How does this lack of training impact “new” teachers? 
  • Transnationalism in WAC: Western-based scholar-teachers have called for transnational pedagogies and/or translanguaging in U.S.-based writing programs, but to what extent are these models useful in non-U.S. settings? What other models might be effective, for what student populations, and where?  What might transnationalism look like in high school, college-level, and/or a senior-level writing instruction?  In other words, what role might transnationalism play in class initiatives, in writing across the curriculum or writing across the disciplines programs?
  • Transnationalism as an out-of-school norm: Many have argued that  the negotiation between languages and cultures is a socially-sanctioned practice outside school settings– for example, in home communities, peer support groups, and the workplace (Fraiberg, 2010).  How might these practices be used to foster in-class transnational learning, and in writing classes and other settings? How might translational students be invited to draw on the multilingual expertise that resides in communities outside school? What kinds of transnational practice might be taken from the classroom and brought back out into the world? What can we learn about writing, collaboration, and the writing processes of multilingual students when we consider language negotiation as socially-sanctioned?
  • Transnationalism as a global turn: Themes of transnational courses, often explore the many dimensions, negotiations, and tensions of linguistic and cultural diversity. Transnational classrooms and curricula sometimes work from a globalized standpoint, where they consider the global movement and negotiations of English as a dynamic language, rather than a standard language. In what ways does a transnational approach acknowledge and accept more variant forms and dialects of English? In what ways does a translingual approach foster our understanding of World Englishes rather than a monolithic Standard Written English? 
  • Transnationalism and Student Agency: Many international students enroll in U.S. and other Western post-secondary programs in order to learn and improve their communication skills in English, which they see as the language of social and economic opportunity.  However, in these environments home languages often have no place within learning settings that marginalize linguistic difference as “deficient.” A transnational approach, on the other hand, values the ability to negotiate languages. Given that these pedagogical practices occur within predominantly English writing classes, where English may be used as the lingua franca, how can approaches emerge so that the students learning in standard English settings are not framed as ”developing” or “deficient”?  How might transnational models of teaching might complicate and/or challenge this “less than” framework, and how? 

Queries, proposals, and papers for consideration should be emailed to Julia Kiernan, Joyce Meier, and Xiqiao Wang at, and


Timeline for Articles:

  • Proposals due (250 words): August 15, 2016
  • Proposal review complete; papers invited by request: August 31, 2016
  • Submission of completed manuscript: October 31, 2016
  • Double-blind review period: November 1, 2016  –  November 15, 2016
  • Notification to authors of manuscript acceptance/rejection/revise and resubmit: November 18, 2016
  • Submission of papers with all author revisions complete: March 30, 2017
  • Publication of special issue: July, 2017