Reacting to what many considered a racially motivated conflict on the UMass/Amherst campus in 1986, Anne J. Herrington and Marcia Curtis felt compelled to reconstruct their Basic Writing course to give voice to minority students usually kept on the fringes — "marginalized" — academically and socially within the university. They aimed to create a curriculum that reflected an accurate image of the university's students, to affirm the diversity of the student body rather than deny it. They changed their reading list to include predominantly non-White authors and encouraged students to engage in a dialogue with those authors while reflecting in writing on their own experience of marginalization. By raising students' consciousness and by encouraging students to speak out through their writings, Herrington and Curtis contributed to the acceptance and respect their students demanded — to validate the voices on the margin — as they accomplished their academic aims for the course.

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