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English 700, Spring 2003


University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • INSTRUCTOR: David Fleming, PhD
  • CLASS MEETINGS: F 10:00 - 12:30, 7109  H. C. White Hall
  • OFFICE: 6187D  H. C. White Hall
  • OFFICE HOURS: W 1:00 - 3:00 & gladly by appt.
  • PHONE: 263-3367 (o)
  • EMAIL:

  •  Description | Texts| Assignments | Calendar | Rhetoric Links on the WWW


    Composition Studies is an academic discipline concerned with writing, both as a situated, practical activity in the world and as a school subject devoted to helping students confront and manage that activity.  This course is an advanced introduction to that discipline.  The two main questions we'll pursue are: what do we know about writing? and how should we teach it?

    We'll organize our inquiry by looking at three crucial "moments" in the history of composition studies: first, the appearance, institutionalization, and eventual decline of classical rhetoric, an especially influential art of public speaking and writing that played a central role in Western education from ancient Greece to the European Renaissance; second, the rise of composition, an educational project of the modern North American university that developed between the 18th and 20th C.; and third, the advent of contemporary composition and rhetoric studies, an amalgam of the two preceding movements that now exists in a cultural context (with its multiculturalism, anti-foundationalism, globalization, etc.) to which neither seems adequate or even relevant.  Though we'll approach the discipline through this rough chronology, the course will not be narrowly historical: in fact, all three paradigms share certain trans-historical hopes and fears: about the practical and political work that writing does in the world; about the uncertain connection between writing and the self; about the complex relationship of writing to speaking and reading; about writing's link to "content"; about the ties among "practical," "academic," and "creative" writing; about the teachability of writing, etc.

    The main goal of this course is increased understanding of, and appreciation for, composition studies as an academic discipline.  But the course should also help you learn about the history of English studies in general, reflect productively on teaching issues for your own professional development, and open up a body of new texts, theories, and practices that could be relevant for your own research.

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    2. TEXTS

    Readings in the class will come from the following texts, all on sale at University Book Store and the Underground Textbook Exchange and listed here in the order in which we will read them:

    In addition to these texts, supplementary articles and chapters will be placed on reserve or distributed as photocopies in class.  Finally, I will provide you with a list of articles and books recommended for individual reading.

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    Besides regular attendance, coursework will include:

    Final grades will be based on the following rough formula:

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    4. CALENDAR     (tentative)

    Unit I: Rhetorical Precedents
    Jan 24 F Rise and fall of classical rhetoric
    Murphy chs. 1-2
    31 F Murphy chs. 3-6
    Feb 07 F Murphy chs. 7-8
    Unit II: Modern Composition Studies
    14 F Rhetoric in 19th C. American colleges & universities
    Connors Intro. & chs. 1-3
    21 F Connors chs. 4-7
    28 F Rise of the process paradigm (1950s 60s & 70s)
    Villanueva: Rodgers Braddock Kinneavy Murray Emig Perl & Sommers
    Mar 07 F Shaughnessy
    14 F mid-term essay exam due
    15 - 23 Spring Recess
    28 F Consolidation and critique (1980s)
    Villanueva: Berlin Flower & Hayes Bizzell Bruffee Rose Bartholomae& Myers
    Apr 04 F Post-process theory: (1990s)
    Villanueva: Berlin Delpit Flynn Brodkey Villanueva Hairston Bartholomae-Elbow
    Unit III: At the Crossroads
    Apr 11 F Postmodernism and its discontents
    Faigley Intro. & chs. 1-3
    18 F Faigley chs. 4-8
    25 F Crosswhite Intro. & chs. 1-4
    May 02 F Crosswhite chs. 5-9
    09 F Herrington & Curtis
    12 - 18 research project due
    21 Final grades in

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