English 521:
Composition Theory and Pedagogy

General Information

Fall, 1999
Thursday, 7:15 p.m. - 10:05 p.m.
Humanities Building 110

Instructor: Professor Robert Yagelski (https://www.albany.edu/~rpy95/index.html)
Office: Humanities 140 (Writing Center)
Telephone: 518-442-4064
Email: rpy95@cnsvax.albany.edu
Office Hours: TW 1:00 - 2:00, and by appointment
English Department: 518-442-4055

Course Description

English 521 is a course that ostensibly introduces you to the area or "field" of English Studies usually referred to as Rhetoric and Composition or Composition Studies. Accordingly, part of the agenda of this course is to encourage you to define what "Composition" is (not a straightforward task) and to examine your own participation in that field as a teacher, scholar, researcher, and writer; similarly, the course is intended to provide you with ways of participating in that field. Through varied readings and in-class activities, the course will explore some of the important issues, problems, discourses, activities, and questions around which the field has organized itself. This project of defining the field inevitably begins with questions about the nature of writing (and rhetoric) and writing instruction; it will lead as well to questions about the purposes of literacy education and the role of writing in students' lives. Ultimately, however, this course is about the teaching of literacy at all levels and the myriad ways in which the teaching of writing is understood and enacted. Our agenda thus will focus to a great extent on trying to answer questions about how best (or even whether) to teach writing. (See requirements for details about assignments and course activities.)

Organization of the Course

Although the course requirements and schedule on this web site imply a relatively rigid structure for this course, it is also intended to be flexible enough to address your most pressing questions and respond to the interests that you bring to this course as a writer, student, teacher, and scholar. Accordingly, the course is loosely organized around three main segments, each of which focuses on a broad set of questions related to the nature of writing, the teaching of writing, and the discipline of rhetoric and composition. Within each segment, the assignments and the in-class activities and discussions will (as much as possible) facilitate our exploration of those questions. You will be asked to complete a number of readings, but the design is intended to be flexible enough to include (or exclude) readings based on the questions/issues you most want to explore. Similarly, the writing assignments are intended to enable you to explore those same issues that most concern or interest you. The nature of this structure is such that a great deal will depend upon your input and participation; you are in effect being asked to help build this course. Inevitably, this approach will mean that we will "miss" some aspects of "composition theory" and focus on others. But the advantage is the possibility of a more extensive and focused inquiry on your part into the kinds of questions/issues around which the discipline of Composition and Rhetoric is built.

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