Section 1: Thursday 6:30-9:10 PM

Professor: Rory Lee

As the title implies, this course will attend to current theories in the field of Composition and to the way those theories shape the work and identity of the field as a whole and the teaching of writing in particular.  However, in order to understand the current, we must understand and thus will turn first toward Composition’s rich (albeit brief) history.  In so doing, we’ll analyze and discuss seminal moments in the field (some of which are situated as the birth of Composition as an academic field), and we’ll examine the different paradigms, including the epistemologies and historical contexts in which they’re rooted, that together form a master narrative for the field.  Along the way, we’ll also attempt to challenge this master narrative by considering what and who has been elided, how, and why.  In surveying both the master narrative and its margins, we’ll attempt to put into praxis the Burkean idea that “a way of seeing is also a way of not seeing.”

Equipped with an historical and theoretical gloss of Composition’s origin(s), we’ll then grapple with current concerns in the field (some of which aren’t so new) and the theories surrounding them.  Such theories pertain to but are not necessarily limited to:

  • notions of rhetorical situation, epistemology, invention, (post)process, audience, grammar, research methodologies, voice, genre, ecologies, literacy, collaborative learning, race, multimodality, and technology in the creation and teaching of writing; as well as
  • questions regarding what the identity and focus of the field was, is, and might be; what first-year composition is and how it has been and might be taught; who owns writing (turns out, it doesn’t appear to be experts in writing), and what it means to own writing; what the role of extracurricular writing is and might be in the composition curriculum; and how calls for the development of an undergraduate major might expand the scope of the field and its viability as an academic discipline.

In exploring the current and the way it’s molded from and informed by the past, we’ll be able not only to understand better the disciplinary histories, discussions, and work of the field but also to work with, critique, and contribute to them in meaningful ways.