Why build a code-meshing website?

Between fall 2014 and spring 2015, the Code-Meshing committee, chaired by Stella Wang, was formed as a part of the collective effort to help revise the learning goals and outcome criteria of the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program at University of Rochester. The committee was tasked to explore code-meshing as a pedagogical concept and writing practice while considering its applicability to WSAP writing courses.

The original recruited and volunteer CM committee members included writing instructors from diverse academic backgrounds in Brain and Cognitive Sciences (Whitney Gegg-harrison), Education (Traci Terrance and Suzanne Woodring), English (Hardeep Sidhu and Stella Wang), and Linguistics (Whitney Gegg-harrison) and a writing fellow/tutor double majoring in Anthropology and Linguistics with a minor in Spanish (Sarah Lamade). This website is borne of the continuous work of the committee.

Our investigation started with two pressing, and frustratingly entangled, questions. What is code-meshing? How is it related to code-switching? While, till this day, we can’t profess to be able to give satisfactory answers to either, we believe code-meshing, through which deliberate, intelligent rhetoric moves can be—and have been—made for the purpose of argument, communication, and expression of one’s linguistic identity, has a place in college writing pedagogy.

Yes, like the surrounding world, our writing classrooms are changing. Yes, everyone is multilingual. Everyone can, and does, code switch/code mesh every day. But nowhere can this be more manifest and more relevant to writing pedagogy than the phenomenon that students today are often far more multilingual than their grandparents, their parents, their writing instructors (think the increasing number of domestic students taking foreign language courses; think the diverse international students on campus; think emoji used as a language ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). So with a good deal of humility we asked more questions and, only gradually, were able to zero-in on a few ways, organized as the four tabs on this website, to connect code-meshing to college writing and communication.

About Examples of Code-Meshing, we asked: What and where are the concrete examples of code-meshing in real life? Are there good examples in the academic as well? Who use code-meshing in the real world or in the academia? How did they do it? 

About Pedagogy, we asked: Why does code-meshing matter to college writing pedagogy? Exactly to what degree and in what ways does it matter?

Regarding Scholarship about code-meshing, we asked: Are there existing models or approaches to incorporating code-meshing? What are the pushbacks, why? Any particular challenges in teaching code-meshing on the practical as well as conceptual levels—and how to address them?

And under Resolutions, we looked into the resolutions and major position statements made by various organizations relevant to code-meshing pedagogy.

From 2016 we began to share our findings with the WSAP community and through presentations at regional and national conferences (SUNY Council on Writing Conference and Conference of College Composition and Communication). Especially during Q&A, it became clear that an online platform serving as a hub of information and resources for teaching code-meshing would be helpful. This website is the result.


This Code-Meshing Pedagogy website is created with much direct and indirect support from all directions. We thank Dr. Deborah Rossen-Knill, director of our home department, for the trust and freedom that allowed us to find our path around code-meshing and for the unwavering support of our professional growth and participation in conferences.

We also thank our colleagues and our students for staying with us and experimenting with different forms of code-meshing with us: we remember the many conversations we’ve had via email, at meetings, in the hallway outside our offices, in and out of the classroom.

We’re grateful to the linguists, rhetoric & composition scholars, fellow writing instructors and professionals we met and consulted over the years as well as the audience who came to our conference presentations: your questions and generous sharing of experiences continue to push us to look back and ahead examining our work.

We are constantly inspired and awed by the writers, researchers, artists, and professionals who, in their separate ways, reveal how code-meshing might work or even fail for good reasons: sorry that we forgot the source of the quote but agree that code-meshing is writing is hard work—but yes, it’s good to write into consciousness and write to embrace Other as legitimate Other.

We thank Joe Easterly, Digital Humanities librarian of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Rochester for sustained technical support. We extend special heartfelt thanks to Sara Kowalski, our website project manager of many hats: your talents, creativity, and impeccable work ethic have made this website come alive with mosaic-like possibilities.

To our former committee members who have moved on: Hardeep, Sarah, and Traci, we remember your calming, critical, discerning voices. Once meshers, always meshers.

Stella Wang with Whitney Gegg-harrison and Suzanne Woodring