English 850S: Composition
Theory and Practice
Spring 1998, Mondays
SWB 118, Drew University, Madison, NJ 07940
Assignments in detail--links
to week-by-week syllabus
For links to relevant composition sites click
Position papers follow a fairly rigid formula. They begin with a brief
overview of the area under consideration, followed by a brief summary of
the major positions in the area (the readings for that class session).
Discuss each essay beginning with the thesis, and a brief summary the main
points. All of this should take no more than two pages. You should spend
most of your time developing and explaining a position on the subject based
on the readings. You can show how they help us understand or rethink the
teaching of writing and the texts we have already read, or you can show
how one of them offers the most helpful analysis. Alternately, you might
critique the topic or the ways these writers respond to it. A good position
paper provides information and stimulates thought and discussion: a great
presentation inspires all of the students to read/reread the presented
material themselves and makes some of them totally change their perspective
on the text--aim high!
The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), which is
the professional body of composition, produces an annual annotated bibliography
of composition sources. Several other journals also produce annotated bibliographies
of composition topics (including College Composition and Communication,
College English, Teaching English in Two-Year Colleges, and Focuses). Most
compositionists keep their own annotated bibliographies, at least for areas
of particular interest. To help you develop this habit, I would like you
to prepare an annotated bibliography of every composition text you read
this semester. The Bedford Guide to Teaching Writing in the Disciplines.
(Howard & Jamieson) contains a partially annotated bibliography at
the end of each chapter, and you can use these annotations as models, or
look at the guidelines for CCCC bibliographies (in the packet of readings).
You should also take a look at the CCCC annotated bibliographies held in
The final project
Your final paper gives you the opportunity to explore on of the theoretical
positions we have discussed in this course in more detail. By the end of
the course you should have an idea of which methodology feels most comfortable
to you. Your assignment is to describe that methodology and why it makes
sense, then locate your pedagogy within it by designing a course drawing
on it. The paper has three parts, a discussion of the theoretical position
you have selected (you may lift material from position papers for this--don?t
forget to cite yourself though); a discussion of how that methodology may
be translated into practice; and finally a syllabus. The first half should
be in the form of a paper, while the syllabus should look just like a syllabus
(with a statement of purpose, a description of the course, texts, and assignments
for every week).
Overview: Week 2
Stephen North, [from The Making of Meaning in Composition: Portrait
of an Emerging Field.] in Four Keys,
James Berlin "Contemporary Composition: The Major Pedagogical Theories"
[College English, 44. (1982): 765-777] in
Four Keys, 556-566.
C. H. Knoblauch, "Rhetorical Constructions: Dialogue and Commitment" [College
English, 50. (1982): 765-777] in Four Keys,
Richard Fulkerson, "Four Philosophies of Composition" [College Composition
& Communication 30. (1979): 343-348.] in
Four Keys, 551-555.
Lester Faigley. "Competing Theories of Process: A Critique & A Proposal,"
[College English 48 (1986): 527-542] in Background
Position paper #1:
These articles offer several different ways of categorizing
Composition. Summarize the various categories offered and try to make connections.
If you can, try to come up with your own categories based on these, if
not, decide which one seems to make the most sense and explain why. Consider
the following questions as you prepare to write your position paper. You
may use your answer to any of them as the position for the paper, or you
may come up with a different position. Why do you think these theorists
put so much effort into designing categories? What purpose do you think
these categories might serve? What does all of this tell you about the
The end of Current Traditional Rhetoric and
the rise of Process Theory: Week 3
Edward Corbett, "Introduction to Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student"
[from Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, 3rd Ed. New York:
Oxford UP, 1990] in Four Keys, 140-48.
Richard Young "Paradigms & Problems: Needed Research in Rhetorical
Invention" [from Cooper & Odell, Research on Composing. NCTE:
1978] in Reading Packet.
Maxine Hairston "The Winds of Change: Thomas Kuhn and the Revolution in
the Teaching of Writing" [originally published in College Composition
& Communication 33. (1982): 76-88] in Reading
Burton Hatlan, "Old Wine in New Bottles: A Dialectical Encounter Between
the Old Rhetoric and the New" [fromOnly Connect: Uniting Reading and
Writing . Ed Thomas Newkirk. Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook, 1986.
59-86] in Reading Packet.
Richard Young "Concepts of Art and the Teaching of Writing" [from Rhetorical
Tradition and Modern Writing, Ed. James Murphy. New York: MLA, 1982.
130-141] in Four Keys, 176-183.
Richard Coe, "An Apology for Form; or, Who Took the Form Out of Process?"
[originally published in College English 49 (1987): 13-28] in
Four Keys, 234-246
Donald Murray "Writing as Process: How Writing Finds its own Meaning" in
Eight Approaches, 3-21.
Position paper #2:
These articles describe what we might call "Traditional
Rhetoric" or the "Current Traditional Paradigm" and the (possible) shift
to "Process Theories." Summarize the two schools of composition (traditional
and process) as they are described here and the discussion of a paradigm
shift (whether you use that terminology or not). Consider the following
questions as you prepare to write your position paper. You may use your
answer to any of them as the position for the paper, or you may come up
with a different position. Are you convinced that there is any significant
difference between traditional rhetoric and process theories? Why? How
do these articles help us to understand what goes on when we write? How
might this influence teaching?
The Expressivist Movement: Week 4
Donald Murray "Teaching the Other Self: The Writer's First Reader" [College
Composition and Communication 33 (1982): 140-147]
in Four Keys, 50-55.
James Berlin, "Shaping at the Point of Utterance" [from Reinventing
the Rhetorical Tradition, Ed. Aviva Frreedman & Ian Pringle, Canadian
Council of Teachers of English, 1980] in Reading
Joy Marsella and Thomas L. Hilgers, "Exploring the Potential of Freewriting"
[originally published in Nothing Begins with N: New Investigations of
Freewriting. Ed. Pat Belanoff, Peter Elbow, & Sheryl Fontaine.
Carbondale, Southern Illinois UP, 1991. 93-110] in
Background Readings, 50-65.
Ann Berthoff, "The Intelligent Eye and the Thinking Hand" [from The
Making of Meaning: Metaphors, Models, and Maxims for Writing Teachers.
Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook, 1981. 61-67] in Four
Stephen Judy "The Experiential Approach: Inner Worlds to Outer Worlds"
in Eight Approaches, 37-53.
Peter Elbow, "How to Get Power Through Voice" [Writing with Power: Techniques
for Mastering the Writing Process, New York: Oxford UP, 1981. 304-313]
in Four Keys, 62-67
Irvin Hashimoto, "Voice as Juice: Some Reservations about Evangelic Composition"
[College Composition and Communication 38 (1987): 70-80] in
Position paper #3:
These essays look at a variety of forms of expressivist
rhetoric ranging from what we might call the "Voice Movement" to Freewriting.
Summarize the various forms of expressivist rhetoric in these essays and
try to draw out the philosophy and basic assumptions shared by proponents
of this methodology. Once again, take a position and argue it using these
Cognitive Development Theory: Week 5
Linda Flower & John Hayes, "A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing"
[College Composition and Communication 32 (1981): 365-387] in
Four Keys, 285-301.
Andrea Lunsford "Cognitive Development and the Basic Writing" [ College
English 41 (1979): 38-46] in Reading Packet
Cornfeld, Janet & L. Lee Knefelkamp "Analysis of the Learner Characteristics
of Students Implied by the Perry Scheme"  in
William Perry "Scheme of Cognitive and Ethical Development" [brief extract
from "Cognitive and Ethical Growth: The Making of Meaning" in Modern
American College Ed. Chickering. Jossey Bass, 1981 (1979): 38-46] in
Myra Kogen, "The Conventions of Expository Writing" [Journal of Basic
Writing 5 (1986): 24-36] in Reading Packet
Janice Hays "Models of Intellectual Development and Writing: A Response
to Myra Kogen et al" [Journal of Basic Writing 6 (1987): 11-27]
in Reading Packet
Janice Lauer "The Rhetorical Approach: Stages of Writing and Strategies
for Writers" in Eight Approaches, 53-64.
Position paper #4:
These essays look at a variety of versions and position
on the subject of cognitive development models. Summarize the various theories
of cognitive development in these essays (using Perry's scheme as the purest
model) and then summarize the critiques and modifications we see in Kogen
and Lauer. Once again, take a position and argue it using these texts.
Social Constructionism: Week 6
Bennett Rafoth "Discourse Community: Where Writers, Readers, and Texts
Come Together" [from The Social Construction of Written Communication,
Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1988. 131-146] in Background
Patricia Bizzell, "Arguing About Literacy" [originally published in College
English 50 (1988): 141-153] in Four Keys,
Kenneth Bruffee "Collaborative Learning and the 'Conversation of Mankind'"
[College English (1984): ] in Four Keys,
Mike Rose, "The Language of Exclusion: Writing Instruction at the University"
[College English 47 (1985): 341-359] in Four
David Bartholomae, "Inventing the University" [When A Writer Can?t Write:
Studies in Writer's Block and Other Composition-Process Problems Ed.
Mike Rose. New York: Guilford Press, 1985. 134-165] in
Four Keys, 460-479
Carol Berkenkotter, "Paradigm Debates, Turf Wars, and the Conduct of Sociocognitive
Inquiry in Composition" [College Composition & Communication
42 (1991): 151-169] in Reading Packet
Maxine Hairston, "Diversity, Ideology, and Teaching Writing" [College
Composition ad Communication 43 (1992): 179-193] in
Four Keys, 530-540.
Position paper #5:
As usual. Think about the issues raised in these
discussions, and come to a position. Summarize the arguments in favor of
designing a pedagogy and practice that sees writers as social constructs,
then summarize the revision of the theory by Berkentrotter and the rejected
by Hairston. Now present and discuss your own position.
week 7 (spring break--no classes)
The Politics of Teaching Composition: Week 8
Susan Miller "The Feminization of Composition" [from The Politics of
Writing Instruction: Postsecondary. Eds. Richard Bullock & John
Trimbur. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 1991. 39-54] in
Four Keys, 492-502.
Dale Bauer, "The Other 'F' Word: The Feminist in the Classroom" [College
English 52 (1990): 385-393] in Reading Packet
Susan Wall, "Reading the Discourse of Gender in Composition: A Cautionary
Tale" [from Pedagogy in the Age of Politics: Writing and Reading in
the Academy, Ed. Patricia Sullivan and Donna Qualley. Urbana: NCTE,
1994. 166-182] in Reading Packet
Geneva Smitherman-Donaldson, "Toward a National Public Policy on Language"
[College English 49 (1987): 29-36] in Four
Victor Villanueva, "Inglés in the Colleges" [from Bootstraps: From
an American Academic of Color. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1993. 65-90]
in Four Keys, 503-519.
Terry Dean "Multicultural Classroom, Monocultural Teachers" [College
Composition and Communication 40 (1989): 23-37] in
Background Readings, 278-290
Linda Robertson, Sharon Crowley, & Frank Lentricchia, "The Wyoming
Conference Resolution Opposing Unfair Salaries and Working Conditions for
Post-Secondary Teachers of Writing" [College English 49 (1987):
274-280] in Four Keys, 486-491
Position paper #6:
Select any one aspect of the politics of teaching
(the profession, gender, race/ethnicity) and write a response paper as
usual, OR write a response to the general situation of teaching college
composition as these articles describe it.
Seeing yourself as a teacher: Week 9
Elizabeth Rankin Seeing Yourself as a Teacher (read
the whole book)
Chris Anson et al. Scenarios for Teaching Writing Read
pp. 78-79, then read the following scenarios and think about the
questions following them:
"Chill out Gringo Fool" (82-84)
"Young at Heart" (87-88)
"A Student Trashes an Office Mate" (88-89)
"Coco Feels Raped" (90-91)
"Swearing Up and Down" (91)
"Collaboration of Collusion?" (92-96)
Position paper #7:
This position paper will be more speculative than
the others and is really an opportunity for you to explore your feelings
New teachers: Based on your reaction to these readings, what kinds
of problems do you imagine encountering as a first-time college writing
teacher? How will you handle them? Which of the scenarios would you find
it most difficult to deal with? Why? What do you learn from this fear?
How do the readings we have done and the theories we have discussed over
the last eight weeks make you feel about teaching? What general pitfalls
do you imagine? What delights? What makes you the most nervous? What makes
you the most excited? Consider all of these questions and answer whichever
ones you feel like answering!
Experienced teachers: To what extent do these readings reflect your
experiences in the classroom? What kinds of problems did you encounter
as a first-time college writing teacher? How did you handle them? Which
of the scenarios would you find it most difficult to deal with? Why? What
do you learn from this fear? What advice would you give to those experiencing
them? How do the readings we have done and the theories we have discussed
over the last eight weeks make you feel about your teaching experience?
What general pitfalls do you imagine as you plan your classes every day?
What delights? What makes you the most nervous? What makes you the most
excited? Consider all of these questions and answer whichever ones you
feel like answering!
assignments: Week 10
Patricia Bizzell "Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness: An Application
of Paolo Friere" [from Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness.
Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1992. 129-152] in
Denise David, Barbara Gordon, & Barbara Pollard "Seeking Common Ground;
Guiding Assumptions for Writing Courses." [College Composition and Communication
46 (1995): 522-532] in Reading Packet.
Becky Howard & Sandra Jamieson. "Designing Writing Assignments." Bedford
Guide to Teaching Writing in the Disciplines. 95-115.
Marie Secor. "Recent Research in Argumentation Theory" [from Technical
Writing Teacher 14 (1986): 337-54.] in Background
Richard Fulkerson. "Technical Logic, Comp-Logic, and the Teaching of Writing."
[College Composition and Communication 39 (1988): 436-52.] in
Background Readings, 349-363.
Anson et al. "Creating Effective Writing Assignments" Scenarios
for Teaching Writing, 1-17.
Preparation for class:
Summarize what you have learned about assignment design. What are the potential
strengths and weaknesses of a writing assignment? What makes an assignment
"good"? Write about a page to help you synthesize the material, then sit
down and write your assignment (writing prompt) for Regents College. We
will discuss both the articles and the prompts in class. Please bring three
copies of the prompt.
Teaching the writing
process (and using a handbook): Week 11
Janet Emig, "Lynn: Profile of a Twelfth-Grade Writer" [from Janet Emig's
1971 National Council of Teachers of English Research Report # 13,
45-73] in Four Keys, 266-284
Howard & Jamieson. "Teaching the Writing Process." Bedford
Muriel Harris. "Composing Behaviors of One- and Multi-Draft Writers." [from
College English 51 (1989): 174-91.] in Background
Anson et al. "Responding to Student Writing: Four Takes on a Student Essay."
Anson et al. "Responding to Student Writing: Trevor's Journal." Scenarios
Nancy Sommers. "Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced
Adult Writers." [College Composition & Communication 31 (1980):
378-88.] in Background Readings, 86-94.
Nancy Sommers. "Responding to Student Writing." [from College Composition
and Communication 33 (1982): 148-56.] in Background
Margie Krest. "Monitoring Student Writing: How Not to Avoid the Draft"
[Journal of Teaching Writing 7.1 (1988): 27-39.]
in Background Readings, 140-49.
Anson et al. "Teaching Grammar, Usage, and Style" in Scenarios
Chris M. Anson and Robert A. Schwegler. The Longman
Handbook for Writers and Readers. New York: Longman, 1997.
Position paper #8:
Briefly summarize what you have learned about the
writing process. You already have some sense of process theory from our
earlier readings, but now it is time to revisit theory and apply it to
pedagogy. Should we teach writing as a process? How does revision fit into
this system? Look at the example of a staged assignment in the reading
from Anson et al. (35-43). Do you think it would be effective? Try to formulate
a position about what kinds of comments and suggestions will help student
writers. Finally, to exemplify the theory you have developed here, write
comments designed to help the authors of "Nineties Racing Challenge" (Scenarios,
page 72-3) and "Scheduling my Time" (page 75) revise (use the Xeroxed versions
provided). You may suggest that they refer to the Bedford Handbook for
Writers if necessary. Assume that this is the first draft and the finished
paper is due in one week. When you have written your comments, summarize
briefly how they connect with your paper. (You might find it helpful to
imagine the marked up papers as handouts at a conference or workshop.)
with English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students and develop-mental
writers (when and how to teach teaching grammar and punctuation): Week
Ilona Leki "Classroom Expectations and Behaviors." [from Understanding
ESL Writers: A Guide for Teachers. Ilona Leki. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton,
1990. 47-57.] in Background Readings, 262-71.
Ann Schlumbergerr and Diane Clymer. "Tailoring Composition Classes to ESL
Students' Needs." [from Teaching English in the Two-Year College
16 (May 1989): 121-28.] in Background Readings,
Terry Dean. "Multicultural Classrooms, Monocultural Teachers." [College
Composition and Communication 40 (1989): 23-37.
Background Readings, 278-91.
Wallace Chafe. "What is Good Punctuation?" [from Center for the Study
of Writing Occasional Paper No. 2 Berkeley: Center for the Study of
Writing. 1985. ERIC ED 292 120.] in Background
Alan S. Brown. "Encountering Misspellings and Spelling Performance: Why
Wrong Isn't Right" [Journal of Educational Psychology 80 (1988):
488-94.] in Background Readings, 306-309.
Patrick Hartwell. "Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar." [College
English 47 (1985): 105-27.] in Background
Patricia Bizzell "What Happens When Basic Writers Come to College?" [College
Composition and Communication 37 (1986): 294-301] in
David Bartholomae. "The Study of Error" [College Composition and Communication
31 (1980): 253-69.] in Background Readings,
Min-Zhan Lu. "Conflict and Struggle: The Enemies or Preconditions of Basic
Writing?" [College English 54 (1992): 887-913.]
in Background Readings, 239-61.
Position paper #9:
Read the scenario "I Prefer Not To" (pages 84-87
of Scenarios for Teaching Writing). What would you do in that situation?
Now read "The Good Family" (page 66-67) and consider the questions following
it. Write comments on Nahomae's paper (use the Xeroxed version provided)
so that she could revise it and begin to learn some of the grammatical
structures she needs to learn. Again, consider this a handout that others
could look at to help them understand the position you adopt on ESOL and
developmental students and the teaching of grammar. You may use Rhea Sorkon's
experience with Binh Cho in your discussion if it seems relevant.
of teaching (one-to-one conferences, computers, paper grading): Week 13.
Wendy Bishop. "Helping Peer Writing Groups Succeed" [from Teaching English
in the Two-Year College 15 (1988): 120-25.] in
Background Readings, 111-115.
Richard Beach. "Demonstrating Techniques for Assessing Writing in the writing
Conference" [College Composition and Communication 37 (1986): 56-65.]
in Background Readings, 149-57.
Anson et al. "Responding to Student Writing: Two Teachers' Responses in
Group Conferences" Scenarios , 43-50.
James D.Williams. "Preparing to Teach Writing" [from Preparing to Teach
Writing. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1989. 256-61.] in
Background Readings, 158-61.
Peter Elbow. "Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms
of Judgment" [College English 55 (1993): 187-206.]
in Background Readings, 162-178.
Becky Howard & Jamieson. "Grading Student Writing." Bedford
Louie Crew. "Style-Checker as Tonic, Not Tranquilizer" [from Journal
of Advanced Composition 8 (1988): 66-70.] in
Background Readings, 129-32.
Ronald A. Sudol. "The Accumulative Rhetoric of Word Processing" [from College
English 53 (1991): 920-33.] in Background
Gail Hawisher, "Research and Recommendations for Computers and Composition"
[in Critical Perspectives on Composition Instruction. Eds. Gail
Hawisher & Cynthia Selfe. New York: Teachers College Press, 1989. 44-69]
in Four Keys, 337-54
Position paper #10:
Select one of the topics here and, using these and
any other readings from the course to support you, take a position on how
to effectively incorporate it into a composition class or using these and
any other readings from the course to support you, take a position on how
to effectively incorporate all of these things into a composition class.
Of course you have to grade student writing, but if you decide to discuss
that set of readings you need to think how you will grade effectively.
What kinds of comments should you write to explain that grade? How will
you build the grade into the class (will students be able to rewrite papers
for a higher grade, what percentage of the grade will you assign to written
papers, will you grade drafts, etc.)?
and examining textbooks: Week 14
Becky Howard & Sandra Jamieson. "Preparing the Syllabus." Bedford
Anson et al. "Teaching Writing: Course Designs" Scenarios
Chris M. Anson and Robert A. Schwegler. The Longman Handbook for Writers
and Readers. New York: Longman, 1997.
A textbook of your choice from the collection I will bring in on April
Preparation for class:
Reread the description of the final project. In preparation for this week's
class, write a draft of your syllabus. You may design a Tuesday/Thursday
sequence in which classes meet for 75 minutes or a Monday/Wednesday/Friday
sequence in which classes meet for 50 minutes. Assume a 14 week semester.
You may design a pre-college (developmental/ESOL) class, called English
1-A at Drew, or a college-level class, called English 1 at Drew (101 at
some other schools). Bring three copies of the syllabus to class and be
ready to talk us through it. Once this is revised you will be ready to
write the remainder of the final paper.
You will also write evaluations of this course at the end of the