Exploring Composition Studies: Sites, Issues, and Perspectives

Exploring Composition Studies: Sites, Issues, and Perspectives

Exploring Composition Studies: Sites, Issues, and Perspectives

Exploring Composition Studies: Sites, Issues, and Perspectives

Excerpt

Composition studies—an important subset of the larger field of rhetoric and composition—is an intellectual formation that draws insights from various related fields in order to address issues in the teaching of writing. Due to its inherently interdisciplinary nature, composition studies draws its students and prospective scholars from many areas inside and outside English studies. These new members of the composition studies community are often trained to varying degrees in the pedagogy of composition through teaching practica or proseminars. While many of them have been exposed to some of the major theories of the field in addition to other specialized topics in which they or their faculty mentors happen to have interests, others may not have been introduced to the discipline through a broader articulation of how (and why) its members undertake research that is not only pedagogical but also historical, theoretical, and social scientific in nature. Relative newcomers to composition studies who are not familiar with the broad scope of the field— including its allied sites of research such as professional and technical writing, writing-across-the-curriculum programs, writing centers, and writing program administration—may struggle as they try to understand its diverse and growing constituencies and enduring questions in various subareas of composition studies. This collection aims to provide that understanding, through a detailed exploration of the field.

As editors, and as teachers, we recognize that such an exploration requires first the presence of a road map. As such, we feel it is helpful here to briefly sketch a modern history of composition studies that might then put the concerns of this book’s thirteen essays in a larger context. While origin stories of composition studies abound, historians of the field seem to agree that there are two branches to the “beginning” of composition as a subject of interest in the university. The first branch would be the study of the cultural history and practice of rhetoric, which has existed in various permutations from antiquity through . . .

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