Drilled to Write
Becoming a Cadet Writer at a Senior Military College
Drilled to Write offers a rich account of US Army cadets navigating the unique demands of Army writing at a senior military college. In this longitudinal case study, J. Michael Rifenburg follows one cadet, Logan Blackwell, for four years and traces how he conceptualizes Army writing and Army genres through immersion in military science classes, tactical exercises in the Appalachian Mountains, and specialized programs like Airborne School.
Drawing from research on rhetorical genre studies, writing transfer, and materiality, Drilled to Write speaks to scholars in writing studies committed to capturing how students understand their own writing development. Collectively, these chapters articulate four ways Blackwell leveraged resources through ROTC to become a cadet writer at this military college. Each chapter is dedicated to one year of his undergraduate experience with focus on curricular writing for his business management major and military science classes as well as his extracurricular writing, like his Ballroom Dance Club bylaws and a three-thousand-word short story.
In Drilled to Write, Rifenburg invites readers to see how cadets are positioned between civilian and military life—a curiously liminal space where they develop as writers. Using Army ROTC as an entry into genre theory and larger conversations about the role higher education plays in developing Army officers, he shows how writing students develop genre awareness and flexibility while forging a personal identity.
‘A valuable ethnography. The military has long been imbricated with higher education in the United States, and this book does an excellent job both of illuminating that relationship and of demonstrating, in the life of a single individual, the challenges that come with attempting to navigate that relationship.’
—Melody Pugh, Air Force Academy
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