An Introduction to Composition Studies

An Introduction to Composition Studies

An Introduction to Composition Studies

An Introduction to Composition Studies

Synopsis

Nine commissioned essays introduce the non-specialist to the rapidly evolving field of composition studies, discussing the nature of the field, the relationship between composition and rhetoric and between theory and practice, the history of the discipline, its bibliogrphic sources and problems, its methods of research, teaching writing, and the politics of the profession. A concluding personal essay describes a life in the profession. Written by prominent authorities, these essays describe current developments in the field, outline the major issues, and suggest needed research. Most essays provide a brief bibliography of further readings. This important book gives students and teachers an invaluable overview of composition studies, a vital field of English and literacy education.

Excerpt

This book introduces readers to the relatively new academic discipline called, variously, rhetoric and composition, rhetoric, composition, and composition studies. The nine essays that follow attempt to answer several questions about the field: What is the nature of composition studies? What do people in the discipline concern themselves with? What is the relationship between rhetoric and composition, between theory and practice? What do we know about the recent history of the discipline? What bibliographical resources aid the work of composition specialists? How do they conduct their research? How do they interpret advice about teaching writing, especially when such suggestions conflict with one another? What role do departmental and institutional politics play in shaping the careers of composition specialists? What activities and rewards characterize a life in this profession?

Because the discipline is new, having evolved in the last thirty years, many people are unfamiliar with its assumptions, history, bibliographical resources, methods of research, and professional activities. Others who may know something about composition studies are nevertheless uncertain that it deserves the status of a separate discipline. The following essays address both groups of readers.

Composition studies distinguishes itself from other disciplines, whose focus is invariably on a body of knowledge or a set of texts, by its central concern with an activity, the act of writing. The major concern of most composition specialists is teaching writing well. To do this work effectively, they also attempt to answer broader questions about literacy by studying composing from historical, social, psychological, political, and academic perspectives, often borrowing useful concepts and methods from other disciplines. As members of an emerging discipline, composition specialists also encounter problems. They must learn new ways of thinking about their field, wrestle with terminology, develop better methods of teaching and research, create adequate bibliographical and research sources, and build support for their work among people who may be hostile, sympathetic, or indifferent toward it. This book discusses both the contributions composition specialists have . . .

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