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Synopsis

Unsustainable: Re-imagining Community Literacy, Public Writing, Service-Learning, and the University, edited by Jessica Restaino and Laurie Cella, explores short-lived university/community writing projects in an effort to rethink the long-held “gold standard” of long-term sustainability in community writing work. Contributors examine their own efforts in order to provide alternate models for understanding, assessing, and enacting university/community writing projects that, for a range of reasons, fall outside of traditional practice. This collection considers what has become an increasingly unified call for praxis, where scholar-practitioners explore a specific project that fell short of theorized “best practice” sustainability in order to determine not only the nature of what remains—how and why we might find value in a community-based writing project that lacks long-term sustainability, for example—but also how or why we might rethink, redefine, and reevaluate best practice ideals in the first place. In so doing, the contributors are at once responding to what has been an increasing acknowledgment in the field that, for a variety of reasons, many community-based writing projects do not go as initially planned, and also applying—in praxis—a framework for thinking about and studying such projects. Unsustainable represents the kind of scholarly work that some of the most recognizable names in the field have been calling for over the past five years. This book affirms that unpredictability is an indispensable factor in the field, and argues that such unpredictability presents—in fact, demands—a theoretical approach that takes these practical experiences as its base.

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