Composition studies

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Composition studies (also referred to as 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. Composition studies is a major area of research within the discipline of Rhetoric and Composition (also referred to as composition and rhetoric).

Over seventy American universities offer doctoral study in rhetoric and composition,[1] programs which usually include study of composition pedagogical theory and the history of rhetoric. 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.[2] Composition scholars also publish in the fields of Teaching English as a second or foreign language (TESOL), writing centers, and new literacies.[3]

First-year composition[edit]

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.

Advanced composition[edit]

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.

Graduate studies[edit]

Doctoral programs in Composition Studies are available at more than seventy universities and Masters's programs are available in over 170 universities.[4] 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[edit]

Second language writing is the practice of teaching English composition to novice speakers and writers of English.

Writing across the curriculum[edit]

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.

Writing in the disciplines[edit]

Many university writing programs include writing in the disciplines (WID) courses, which focus on the genres and writing procedures that occur within specific fields of research.

Writing center[edit]

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.

Since multimodality has resonated with Composition Studies, many writing centers have developed associated centers to support students' multimodal, multimedia composing. Some models for this work include the digital studio and multiliteracy centers.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • 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.
  • Miller, Susan. The Norton Book of Composition Studies. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009.

External links[edit]