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Dana Landry

Dr. Dana Landry

Interim Department Head, Associate Professor

School of Communication

Abbotsford campus, D3111

Phone: 604-504-7441 ext. 4229

email Dana


I fell in love at first sight with the discipline of what would come to be called “Writing Studies” when I was 19, as a third-year undergraduate in English Literature at SFU. Writing Studies can be defined as the study and teaching of writers and writing in academic, professional, and public contexts.

I have been part of the UFV family for 17 years, 13 in the Writing Centre and as a sessional instructor in the departments of Communications, Criminology, and English, and, since 2015 as an Assistant Professor in Communications. I predominantly teach and study academic and life writing, as well as professional writing. My scholarly interests include writing pedagogy, writing across the curriculum and amongst the disciplines, interdisciplinarity and disciplinarity, writing through the lifespan, academic identity, and life writing in the academy.

My dissertation, “Writing Studies in Canada: A People’s History,” mapped the institutional locations, material conditions, identities, and experiences of Writing Studies professionals in Canada. I am currently writing a memoir—a book-length critical literacy narrative of my experiences learning to write in the rural British Columbian public education system and teach and study writing in the British Columbian public post-secondary education system.

I live in Mission with my dog, Finnigan, and cat, Sofie (she found me at UFV, see series of articles in Cascade, 2016-2017.) My hobbies include getting closer to the sea, visiting my cabin, walking and hiking, going on weekend trips, seeing new places, photographing nature, life writing, reading, gardening, and colouring.    


PhD; Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program (University of British Columbia, 2016)

MA; English Language (University of British Columbia, 2002)

BA Honours; English (Simon Fraser University, 2000)


  • Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing (CASDW) Vice President and Program Chair, Congress 2019
  • Association for Writing across the Curriculum (AWAC)

Teaching Philosophy

As my dad put it, it’s about who you teach not what you teach. My dad, now retired, thought of himself as a teacher of teenagers first and of social studies, math, and shop second. And so it is that I believe that teaching writing means teaching students to write, rather than teaching writing to students. In short, it doesn’t matter what I teach if students aren’t excited about it. Reciprocally, what I teach needs to be flexible in order to respond to student excitement where it arises. I enact this pedagogical principle through strategies for engagement: active learning, student-centred curriculum, and enculturation in academic and professional communities.

1)      Active learning

My classes involve a lot of cooperation, collaborative knowledge making, spontaneity, movement, and courage. Students work with different configurations of people all the time, such that most students work with each other several times and groups of friends emerge, engendering a classroom atmosphere of safety and trust. Students also do a lot of activities to learn…writing, drawing, building, presenting in various oral forms such as rhyme, games, and, on occasion, song or dramatic performance.

2)      Student-centred curriculum

Students in my classes do a lot of life writing about their experiences as writers and students, as well as with course concepts. This work is primarily meant to enhance their capacity as self-reflexive thinkers and learners. It also serves to help me tailor my curriculum to the students in a specific class. Life writing deepens the relationship between the students and I through trust and sharing of personal story. I learn more about them so I can better understand their learning needs, and they can learn more from me because they feel safe taking the emotional risks necessary to learn. Further, life writing helps me see the scope my whole class, which allows me to choose readings and activities specific to their interests and facilitate connections between students in the classroom environment.

3)      Enculturation in academic and professional communities

Students are novice participants in academic and professional communities. They are active knowledge makers who participate directly in the activities in interdisciplinary and disciplinary communities.

Research Interests

Current projects:

From Literary Studies to Writing Studies

In collaboration with Dr. Katja Thieme (Arts Studies in Research and Writing Department, UBC), I seek to understand the experiences of Writing Studies scholars who began as scholars in Literary Studies and who transitioned or now identify and work in both fields. We will be interviewing scholars who began in Literary Studies in BC and currently identify as working in Writing Studies to identify their motivations for pursuing the field, paths to disciplinary membership in terms of identity and employment, and benefits and drawbacks of those paths.

Writing through the lifespan

I am involved in the Writing through the Lifespan project as a core-researcher in an international team of 30 committed to involvement in a century-long study across multiple sites through time that measures the development of people’s capacity to write through a lifespan. The research project arose in response to calls for more complex, qualitative, and longitudinal measures of writing development than are typically used, such as established markers like age, grade, and year. The aim is to open up examination of school writing to include writing in workplace, community, family, and personal contexts.

Proposed sabbatical project 2019-2020:

I have proposed a scholarly activity project that does Writing through the Lifespan work, a book-length critical literacy narrative, a memoir about learning to write, to think of myself as a writer, and to become a teacher and researcher of writing within the British Columbian public and post-secondary education systems.


  • May 2018: “Experiences that stick: Student confidence as writers in academia and the world,” Writing through the Lifespan, Ohio University. 
  • May 2018: “From Literary to Writing Studies: Theorizing a Canadian Case Study,” with Katja Thieme, UBC. Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing, (CASDW), University of Regina.
  • May 2017: “How writing studies makes (and remakes) its place: Institutional locations, identity and experiences of Canadian writing studies scholars,” CASDW, Ryerson.
  • Nov. 2016: Invited panelist with Heather Fitzgerald (Emily Carr) and Cecil Klassen (Douglas College) at Canadian Journal for the Study of Discourse and Writing Relaunch. Sponsored by SFU’s Centre for English Language Learning, Teaching, & Research, SFU Harbour Centre.
  • May 2016: “Writing Studies in Canada: A People’s History” CASDW, University of Calgary
  • May 2015: “Writing Studies, Writing Centres, and ‘Student Success’”Convened by Shurli Makmillen, with Janet Giltrow (UBC), Brock McDonald (U of T), Doreen Starke-Meyerring (McGill), and a virtual contribution from Jennifer Clary-Lemon (U of Winnipeg), CASDW.
  • May 2014: “What is this thing? A people’s history of Writing Studies in Canada.” Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Closing plenary at CASDW, Brock University.
  • May 2014: “It’s the little things that count: Using low-stakes assignments to enhance critical thinking and improve student performance on formal assignments.” An interactive workshop at UFV’s PD Day.
  • June 2013: “Writing Centre collaborations: From unpredictability to improvisation.” With Shurli Makmillen and Nadeane Trowse. Inkshed, UBC
  • June 2013: “The Grammar Snag: Dealing with grammar and correctness in responding to student writing.” With Shurli Makmillen at UFV’s PD Day: Use your Bean
  • Mar. 2013: “Determining the constitution of Writing Studies: Ways in which my work is out of the box”. Out-of-the-box: Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Conference, UBC   
  • Dec. 2011: Facilitated round-table on supporting writing at Learning Specialists Association of BC, VCC
  • Nov. 2011: Presented doctoral research at UFV’s scholarly sharing initiative
  • May 2011: "There is an R in Writing: Research around and about the Writing Centre" Co-panelist at UFV’s PD day: “Is there an R in Teaching? Is there a T in research?”
  • May 2009: “What’s in a Name? A Critical Ethnography of Writing Studies in Canada.” (CASDW), Carleton University
  • May 2008: “Writing Studies Room of its Own.” Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (now CASDW), UBC
  • May 2007: “The Discipline of Rhetoric and Composition Studies in Canada: Narratives of the field.” CATTW, University of Saskatchewan
  • May 2004: “The Deep End of the Pool: Creative Non-fiction in the Classroom.” CATTW, University of Manitoba
  • May 2003: “Linguistic Consciousness: Stories of Language and Learning in the Writing Centre.” CATTW, Dalhousie University.


  • Landry, D. (2016). Writing Studies in Canada: A People’s History. Dissertation. Retrieved from
  • Landry, D. (2010). Writing studies’ room of its own. In Heather Graves and Roger Graves (Eds.) Interdisciplinarity: Thinking and writing beyond borders: Proceedings from the 25thConference of the Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing. Edmonton: CASDW.

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