By Sharon Crowley
Examines the necessary introductory direction in composition inside of American schools and universities. the writer argues that the path has traditionally been inappropriately inspired through humanist pedagogy - an unsatisfactory intent for the learn of writing - and proposes attainable possible choices.
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Extra resources for Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays
The most enduring rationale for required instruction in composition has also been the humanist notion that college graduates should be able to express themselves like educated persons, although there have been vigorous disagreements about what this means and how it might best be achieved. In his history of twentieth-century composition instruction, James A. Berlin argues that proponents of humanist composition "saw colleges as cultivating character by providing aesthetic and ethical experiences through the traditional humanistic studies" (1987,39).
Rather, what was being articulated-however murkily-is resis- THE TOAD IN THE GARDEN +>- 21 tance to the antihumanist ways of reading literary texts that have been articulated in contemporary literary theory. My analysis implies, of course, that in this dispute the introductory composition course was merely the site on which English teachers staged a disagreement about how literary texts should be read. Now, this may seem like an odd site on which to wage such a battle, especially if it is true that "imaginative literature has not had a secure place in composition classrooms since at least the 1930S," as one respondent avers (Steinberg 271).
One sees only what the narrow lamp of science allows one to see. Little wonder, then, that the modern scientific study of rhetoric has proven both vapid and fruitless; that the modern behavioristic study of rhetoric has in the main delineated the measure of all things while perceiving the meaning and value of nothing. (28) These historians bemoan the departure of rhetoric from American college curricula because they assume that ethical instruction-instruction in the development of character--disappeared with it.
Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays by Sharon Crowley