The Shared Text Project
The Shared Text Project is in its fourteenth year as an ongoing writing faculty initiative. Self-selected faculty collaborate to choose a theme, prepare a custom reader, plan co-curricular activities (symposium, keynote speaker, filmfest), participate in faculty development, share writing assignments, and publish a book of student writings selected by each of the participating classes. Each student receives a copy of the publication; instructors have used it for determining the qualities of an effective argument, for providing student models of different kinds of writing assignments, and for selecting essays for analysis in the final exam.
A main goal of the project is to bring incoming students into the academic community by providing various opportunities for students to meet outside class to discuss material read in common and to participate in and write about the various activities. These activities introduce students to the interdisciplinary nature of learning and the stimulation provided by excellent speakers; the activities also provide opportunities to view films as more than entertainment and to experience various facets of life in Chicago. The symposium, for example, often brings together faculty from various disciplines; faculty, staff, students, and alumni working towards the same goals; or representatives of Chicago-based organizations. Keynote speakers have been recipients of Humanities awards, Surtz lecturers, Pulitzer Prize winners, book authors, and noted speakers from within the Loyola and Chicago communities. The week long filmfest presents films that extend students’ and instructors’ knowledge of the year’s topic. Depending on the topic for the semester, students have visited Chicago cultural sites and ethnic communities, attended a Chicago Shakespeare Repertory production, and completed service projects at justice-based institutions.
An equally important goal is to encourage innovation and collaboration among writing faculty and provide new instructors opportunities to meet and work with other writing faculty. The “bubble up” approach used to plan the project encourages faculty creativity and involvement. Several writing instructors have been involved in planning the project for at least ten years with new participants invited to join in the process when they remain at Loyola. Instructors not only plan the project, but they also participate in the activities with their students, helping to create an intellectually engaged community at Loyola.