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About John Webster

John Webster has taught at the University of Washington since 1972, arriving with a BA from UCLA and an MA and PhD from UC Berkeley. He has specialized in Early Modern literature, literary theory, rhetoric and composition, and pedagogical practice, and has published articles on Sidney, Spenser, Renaissance rhetoric and poetics, and the teaching of Renaissance poetry. Professor Webster has won both the English Department's Award for Distinguished Teaching (2000) and the University's Distinguished Teaching Award (2009).

Professor Webster was Secretary-Treasurer of the International Spenser Society from 1990-2000. His edition and translation of William Temple’s neo-Latin Analysis of Sidney’s Apology for Poetry appeared in 1984.

From 1986 to 1994 Webster was Director of Expository Writing for the University, overseeing the training and performance of teaching assistants for the English Department’s first-year writing programs (annual enrollments of approximately 6000). He has since worked in a variety of English Department and University mentoring programs for teachers of writing and teachers of literature. In 2000-2001 he taught the English Methods course for the University of Washington School of Education’s Teacher Education Program, and from 2000 to 2005 he was Co-Director of the Puget Sound Writing Project, a professional development program for K-12 teachers in Western Washington State. He nows serves the Writing Project as University Coordinator.

In 1998 Webster was selected by the Carnegie Academy for the Advancement of Teaching to participate in the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. He also has served on the Modern Language Association’s Executive Committee for the Division of Teaching as a Profession (1999-2004). From 1981 he led the University of Washington’s biennial London Theatre and Concert Tour. The final tour took place in 2008.

In November of 2003 Webster was appointed the inaugural Director of Writing for the College of Arts and Sciences, and in that position has now been working with faculty, administration and students to make writing a central part of every student's experience at the University of Washington, in all disciplines and throughout all four years of each student's college career.

Recent publications include a biographical article on John Seton, the Cambridge University logician (c.1509-1567) in The Dictionary of Literary Biography (2003), “Whose Poem Is This Anyway? Teaching Spenser Through the Stanza Workshop,” in Pedagogy (Spring, 2003), “My Troubles with Perry: Developmental Scheme or Humanities Curriculum?” in the Proceedings of the International Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: 2001 and 2002 (2003), and a review of Salvatori and Donohue's The Elements (and Pleasures) of Difficulty (2005) in Pedagogy (Winter, 2005). A review of Bernstein, Burnett, Goodman and Savory, Making Teaching Visible: Course Portfolios and the Peer Review of Teaching, in Pedagogy (Winter, 2009).

Recent presentations include:

  • “SoTL as Retro-fit: Deepening Faculty Development through Local Publication of Assignment Portfolios,” delivered for the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vancouver, B.C.(2005)
  • “Shakespeare, Plutarch, and Elizabeth Taylor: Revisiting Shakespeare and Rome,” for the UW Classics Department's Annual Conference for Teachers in the Schools (2006)
  • "Supporting Development of Writing-Integrated Courses through the 4x4 Initiative,” for the 2nd Annual Conference for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, UW (2006)
  • "Playing the Writing Card: Fostering Real Change in Teachers’ Practice at a Large, Research-oriented State University," at the Sixth Annual International Conference for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, London, UK (2006)
  • "Have They Kept Doing It? Sustaining Faculty Change in a Learning-based Course-Design Initiative," at the Seventh Annual International Conference for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Sydney, Australia (2007)
  • "Working with English Language Learners in Mainstream Writing Classrooms," for the UWExpository Writing Program (2011).
  • "Making the Change: Working with English Language Learners across the University," for ADVANCE, (Dec 2011).