English 394: Writing Theory and Pedagogy (taught in 2000)

Syllabus - English 394
Composition: Theory & Pedagogy
Carol Ellis, Ph.D.

When we walk into a writing classroom we walk into a charged arena of language, culture, society, voice, and learning. It is the nature of the contemporary writing class to hold a global plethora of issues brought to the class not only by curriculum and pedagogy, but also by the students. The profound change from exclusive to inclusive in literature and writing has increased the complexity and excitement of teaching a writing class. We will study the multiple theories that composition presents as pedagogical instigators in a writing class. What is writing and what can it do to more fully engage students into a relationship with academic culture? How does academic culture use writing to increase learning? What theories of writing have changed the nature of the composition course? How do we teach writing? We will write journal pages, reflection essays, a research paper, and a final examination. We will engage in writing practice. There will be research presentations. In doing so, we will participate in the diversity of conversations about writing and begin to establish our own pedagogies.

Jane Tompkins, A Life in School
Wendy Bishop, Teaching Lives
Edward M. White, Assigning, Responding, Evaluating
Victor Villanueva, editor, Cross-Talk in Comp Theory
Lynn Z. Bloom, Composition Studies as a Creative Art
Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind

Writing, Thinking, and Reading Schedule

Week 1: Introduction. Begin journal. Should the occasion arise, be prepared to read journal entries in every class. Writing workshop with Linda Gregerson. This class studies our working relationship to language and all the possible and impossible forms it creates. How do I write? How do I teach writing? Journal page in response to workshop- what did you learn about writing? What is my writing process? What is the process of writing? The common issues of composition and creative writing. Read Jane Tompkins.

Week 2: What issues intrigue you about what Tompkins has to say?

Week 3: What is composition? What is composition theory? How are my theories of writing influencing my pedagogies? How do I teach myself to write? How is what I do on the page what I do off the page? What is the relationship between composition and storytelling? How do I write about classroom stories? Discussion of the diverse cultures of writing. Discussion of readings.

Week 4: Continued discussion of readings. What is voice in writing? How do students learn through development of their writing voices? What is the relationship between voice and audience? How can the writing process be used to create bridges of communication? Journal page on writing issues that have engaged you. Read Wendy Bishop.

Week 5: Discussion of Wendy Bishop’s approach to life and art. Continuing discussion of composition theory and theorists. What is your teaching life? What is your writing life? What is good writing? How did contemporary composition studies develop? What is the history of writing pedagogy?

Week 6: Discussion of Ed White’s understanding of structure in writing theory and pedagogy. Tentative research paper proposals presented. Journal page on your consideration of research topics. What is classroom culture? Reflection essay due.

Week 7: Continued discussion of research ideas. How does contemporary society create new texts for composition studies? Journal page on possible revisions of research paper ideas.

Week 8: Discussion of Victor Villanueva’s immense text. What is textuality? How would you teach a beginning composition course? Journal page on your writing pedagogy.

Week 9: Holiday.

Week 10: Composition as creative action. Journal page on creativity in writing. Writing as reading and reading as writing - language as continuous interpretation. Thinking as critical thinking. Language as career.

Week 11: Journal page on creativity in teaching. Who is the teacher in the class? Entering the conversation of the profession.

Week 12: Discussion of Lynn Bloom’s view of academia as art. What does the teacher learn? Journal page on academic culture. The power of school. Writing as power. The action of naming. Writing and beauty. Contemporary writing aesthetics.

Week 13: Continued discussion of Lynn Bloom’s engagement with academia. Journal page on academic culture and its relationship to gender, cultures, politics, and/or freedom. Writing for academia. Reflection essay due. What is writing? What does it mean to compose? Writing in the graduate school classroom. Writing as research.

Week 14: Wildness as sanity. Personal writing. Nurturing your creativity. Wild Mind.

Week 15: Research projects presented and discussed.

Week 16: Closure and discussion of any unfinished business.

Week 17. Final exam. Research paper due.

Writing Center • 141 East Twelfth Street, Claremont, CA 91711 • 909-607-0012

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