Dr. Siobhan Phillips, English
Writing About Food
Siobhan Phillips used Valley & Ridge to revise the course Writing About Food, an intensive no-prerequisite introduction to non-fiction essay-writing. Trips and presentations of the Valley and Ridge workshop helped her to integrate resources of the Carlisle community more fully into the semester. More important, discussions at Valley and Ridge helped her to shift the philosophy of the course to emphasize place-based learning, and determine how that method could complement a writing-focused curriculum.
In the new course, each of four essays builds on students’ individual out-of-class experiences among local people and spaces: shopping at a farmers’ market, working at the farm, volunteering at Project SHARE. These experiential assignments are followed by an informal written reflection that allows students to discover organically what topic they wish to pursue in the polished essay. Meanwhile, class reading presents examples of good non-fiction general-interest writing about food in part as models of how other writers have used experience in their work. These changes aim to encourage deeper student engagement with course work and more immediate student connection between course material and daily life. A final assignment will allow students to consider the audience for their work, again connecting the process of writing to a specific community.