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Composition studies (also referred to as composition and rhetoric, rhetoric and composition, college composition, writing studies, or simply composition) is the professional field of writing research and instruction, focusing especially on writing at the college level in the United States. In many American colleges and universities, undergraduate students must take freshman — sometimes even higher — composition courses. For example, in California, all public colleges and universities have freshman and sophomore composition courses as requirements.
Many composition scholars study not only the theory and practice of post-secondary writing instruction, but also the influence of different writing conventions and genres on writers' composing processes. As written conventions and genres change over time, compositionists continue to learn how these changes influence writers and how writers work to change the conventions within which they work.
Most US universities have a required first-year composition course, also referred to as FYC. This is not the same as a literature course, which focuses on literary analysis and interpretation, although some colleges and universities do incorporate literature and other humanities into their composition courses; often, however, composition courses offer intensive instruction in writing non-fiction, expository texts using academic discourse conventions. Writing curricula vary considerably from institution to institution, but it may emphasize many stages of different writing processes (invention or brainstorming, drafting, revision, editing, proofreading), different forms of writing (narration, exposition, description, argumentation, comparison and contrast), different portions of the written product (introductions, conclusions, thesis statements, presentation and documentation of forms of evidence, inclusion of quotations, etc.), along with different modalities of composing to expand the concept of 'writing'. Pedagogies or approaches to teaching writing are grounded in a range of different traditions and philosophies.
Some universities require further instruction in writing and offer courses that expand upon the skills developed in First-year composition. Second level or advanced composition may emphasize forms of argumentation and persuasion, digital media, research and source documentation formats, and/or genres of writing across a range of disciplines and genres (see also Writing across the curriculum below). For example, the skills required to write business letters or annual reports will differ significantly from those required to write historical or scientific research or personal memoirs.
Doctoral programs in Composition Studies are available at more than eighty universities. Such programs are commonly housed within English Studies or Education programs, although it is increasingly the case that they found their own departments (e.g., of Composition Studies, Writing & Rhetoric, Composition & Linguistics, and so on) .
Second language writing is the practice of teaching composition in English to non-native speakers of English.
Writing across the curriculum
Because academic discourse is not monolithic, many compositionists have created a writing across the curriculum (WAC) movement that situates writing-intensive instruction in specific academic discourse communities.
Many colleges and universities have a writing center, which offers supplementary tutorial support for writing specifically in English classes and/or across the curriculum. Many universities not in North America only offer writing instruction via writing centers. The European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing (EATAW), for example, specifically concerns itself with the study and advancement of writing centers in Europe.
- Cognitive rhetoric
- Comics studies
- Communication studies
- Composition (language)
- Conference on College Composition and Communication
- Contrastive rhetoric
- Digital rhetoric
- English studies
- Formalist theory in composition studies
- Media theory of composition
- National Writing Project
- Professional communication
- Second language writing
- Technical communication
- Technical writing
- Theories of rhetoric and composition pedagogy
- Writing Assessment
- Writing center
- Writing Across the Curriculum
- Wikibooks: Rhetoric and Composition
- Berlin, James A. Rhetoric and Reality: Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1900–1985. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1987.
- Connors, Robert J. Composition–Rhetoric: Backgrounds, Theory, and Pedagogy. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1997.
- Corbett, Edward P.J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. Oxford UP. Severalmiss editions; last in 1999.
- Crowley, Sharon. Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1998.
- Faigley, Lester. Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1992.
- Horner, Winifred Bryan, and Lynee Lewis Gaillet, eds. The Present State of Scholarship in the History of Rhetoric: A Twenty-First Century Guide. U of Missouri, 2010.
- Miller, Susan. Textual Carnivals: The Politics of Composition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1991.
- North, Stephen. The Making of Knowledge in Composition Studies. Upper Montclair, N.J.: Boynton/Cook, 1987.
- Phelps, Louise Wetherbee. Composition as a Human Science. New York: Oxford UP, 1988.
- Tate, Gary. Teaching Composition: 12 Bibliographical Essays. Fort Worth: TCU P, 1986.