Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays (Google eBook)

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University of Pittsburgh Pre, 1998 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 306 pages
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Composition in the University examines the required introductory course in composition within American colleges and universities. Crowley argues that due to its association with literary studies in English departments, composition instruction has been inappropriately influenced by humanist pedagogy and that modern humanism is not a satisfactory rationale for the study of writing.  Crowley envisions possible nonhumanist rationales that could be developed for vertical curricula in writing instruction, were the universal requirement not in place.

Composition in the University examines the required introductory course in composition within American colleges and universities. According to Sharon Crowley, the required composition course has never been conceived in the way that other introductory courses have been--as an introduction to the principles and practices of a field of study. Rather it has been constructed throughout much of its history as a site from which larger educational and ideological agendas could be advanced, and such agendas have not always served the interests of students or teachers, even though they are usually touted as programs of study  that students "need."
 
If there is a master narrative of the history of composition, it is told in the institutional attitude that has governed administration, design, and staffing of the course from its beginnings--the attitude that the universal requirement is in place in order to construct docile academic subjects.

Crowley argues that due to its association with literary studies in English departments, composition instruction has been inappropriately influenced by humanist pedagogy and that modern humanism is not a satisfactory rationale for the study of writing. She examines historical attempts to reconfigure the required course in nonhumanist terms, such as the advent of communications studies during the 1940s. Crowley devotes two essays to this phenomenon, concentrating on the furor caused by the adoption of a communications program at the University of Iowa. 
 
Composition in the University concludes with a pair of essays that argue against maintenance of the universal requirement. In the last of these, Crowley envisions possible nonhumanist rationales that could be developed for vertical curricula in writing instruction, were the universal requirement not in place.
 
Crowley presents her findings in a series of essays because she feels the history of the required composition course cannot easily be understood as a coherent narrative since understandings of the purpose of the required course have altered rapidly from decade to decade, sometimes in shockingly sudden and erratic fashion.
 
The essays in this book are informed by Crowley's long career of teaching composition, administering a composition program, and training teachers of the required introductory course. The book also draw on experience she gained while working with committees formed by the Conference on College Composition and Communication toward implementation of the Wyoming Resolution, an attempt to better the working conditions of post-secondary teachers of writing.

  

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Review: Composition In The University: Historical and Polemical Essays

User Review  - Michael - Goodreads

Crowley's 1998 Composition in the University is Crowley's perspective on the history of composition as a discipline and first-year requirement in North American universities. Much of her book explores ... Read full review

Review: Composition In The University: Historical and Polemical Essays

User Review  - Donna - Goodreads

I read it for my doctorate. Though I have different epistemological view than Crowley, her reading of the difficult position of composition in the modern university is brilliant. Read full review

Contents

The Toad in the Garden
19
The Invention of Freshman English
46
Rhetoric Slaves and Lesser Men
118
Freshman English and War
155
The Emergence of Process Pedagogy
187
The Politics of Composition
215
A Personal Essay on Freshman English
228
Compositions Ethic of Service the Universal Requirement
250
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Page 1 - Almost everyone has had occasion to look back upon his school days and wonder what has become of the knowledge he was supposed to have amassed during his years of schooling, and why it is that the technical skills he acquired have to be learned over again in changed form in order to stand him in good stead.

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About the author (1998)

Sharon Crowley is professor of rhetoric and composition at Arizona State University and a former professor at Penn State and Northern Arizona universities. She received her B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Nebraska and her Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado. She has written articles on the history of rhetoric and composition and on postmodernism in the teaching of writing; her work has appeared in Journal of Advanced Composition, Rhetoric Review, and College Composition and Communication. Crowley has served as chair of the Committee on Professional Standards to help improve the working conditions of college writing teachers. This stems from her interest in the history of writing instruction in the U.S. Her book, The Methodical Memory: Invention in Current-traditional Rhetoric, won the 1991 W. Ross Winterowd Award. In it, she explains what current rhetoric is and discusses its development. She has also written Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays, Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students, and A Teacher's Guide to Deconstruction.

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