The Journal of Basic Writing is a national refereed print journal founded in 1975 by Mina Shaughnessy, who served as the journal's first editor. JBW is published twice a year with support from the Office of Academic Affairs of the City University of New York. Basic writing, a contested term since its initial use by Shaughnessy in the 1970s, refers to the field concerned with teaching writing to students not yet deemed ready for first-year composition. Originally, these students were part of the wave of open admissions students who poured into universities as a result of the social unrest of the 1960s and the resulting reforms. Though social and political realities have changed dramatically since then, the presence of "basic writers" in colleges and universities—and the debates over how best to serve them—have remained.
JBW publishes articles related to basic and second-language writing using a variety of approaches: speculative discussions that venture fresh interpretations; essays that draw heavily on student writing as supportive evidence for new observations; research reports written in non-technical language that offer observations previously unknown or unsubstantiated; and collaborative writings that provocatively debate more than one side of a critical controversy.
The Clearinghouse and JBW are pleased to offer special thanks to Ann Schwalm of the Colorado State University Libraries for her work in preparing the journals for scanning and to Vince Darcangelo of the Colorado State University Testing Center for his work overseeing the scanning of the JBW archives. We also offer our appreciation to Bonne August, Jim Cody, Theresa Enos, Karen Uehling, Shirley Rose, and Jessica Schreyer for their willingness to contribute their personal copies of the journal to this project.