Category Archives: OER Resource Review

Review of 88 Open Essays: A Reader for Students of Composition & Rhetoric

88 Open Essays: A Reader for Students of Composition & Rhetoric by Tina Ulrich & Sarah Wangler

Creative Commons License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, although some pieces in the collection carry their own license, which supersedes the overall collection’s licensing. This is not an issue for individual classroom use, but might be a consideration in the case of a wider distribution.

Organized around Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2009 TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” this anthology presents 88 essays from different rhetorical situations on a wide-ranging set of topics. The diverse collection of essays can be searched by thematic topic or by composition element / strategy. 

The collection is organized alphabetically but is also supported by hashtags to easily identify content. The complete list of hashtags for this book includes: ” #advice #analysis #argument #artsandculture #automotive #business #causalargument #civilrights #cognitivebias #currentevents #descriptive #disinformation #environment #ethos #finances #generations #global #health #heroes #intellectualproperty #kairos #language #logos #millennials #nature #pathos #politics #proposalargument #reportinginformation #research #review #scholarly #science #selfdiscovery #sharedvalues #systemanalysis #technology #writinglife”

Differently from some collections that rely on student work because of copyright issues, all of the articles in this collection are drawn from online magazines with open access policies. These essays come from published writers and researchers and provide a good range of interesting topics for discussions in class and potential student essay assignments. The use of published authors is a definite draw for this collection.

Because of the extensive nature of the collection, this resource also offers the possibility of inviting students to choose readings, individually or in small groups, that are of specific interest to them. For example, one group of students could pursue inquiry into climate change while another group focuses on civil rights and a third group of students focuses on cognitive bias. Often, a themed reader prescribes the focus for the semester, at a detriment to students who are not interested in that theme. Use of this collection will additionally allow for further student engagement in the course.

This collection fully replaces a textbook that students might purchase with the exception of:

  1. grammar or style lessons which can be supplemented by instructor-created materials and sites like Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (The OWL);
  2. specific writing assignments which can be created by instructors;
  3. scaffolding for the writing process, which can be supplemented by sites like Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (The OWL).

One drawback to this collection is that while currently relevant, some essays may not “age” well. 

Overall, this is a very well-designed, versatile collection of essays that can be immediately embedded in a rhetoric and composition classroom. It’s an excellent option for writing classrooms and for transitioning fully to OER resources.

Resource Reviewed by:

J. Elizabeth Clark, Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY