Introduction to Composition begins a conversation about literacy and writing and the roles that various forms of communication play in students’ personal, civic, academic, and professional lives. It makes sense then to explore and to encourage conversational skills that can transfer from speaking to writing.
The Introduction to They Say/I Say, one of our textbooks, is appropriately titled “Entering the Conversation,” and it builds upon Kenneth Burke’s extended parlor metaphor. The opening chapter emphasizes the point that experienced writers rely on a set of common moves that novices can learn by imitating. Whether people are speaking in oral discussion or putting their ideas to paper or screen, they are doing so in response to what others have already said, and standard “moves” help them signal the relationship of their ideas to others’. “They say; I say” is the fundamental formula, but it has many variations. Listening, expressed through summary, paraphrase, and quotation, is where the conversation begins. Only after listening to others is it time to enter the conversation or “put in an oar.” Effective communication, in other words, is a responsive form of dialogue, whether in speech or in writing. And libraries the place that contains these many voices and conversations and where students can access what "they say."
The writing assignments in English 111—Introduction to Composition--explore the role that writing plays in making meaning and knowledge. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to draw on their own experience and capacity to communicate as they learn new methods and approaches within the university.
The first two assignments ask students to inquire into the relationship between story and theory, between the knowledge and authority that comes from direct experience and the knowledge and authority that comes from systematic scholarly investigation or empirical research. In both types of writing, narrative and critical analysis, students will explore the different ways that writers make meaning and establish credibility. They will also, and perhaps most importantly, explore the way that individual and social experiences shape their own literacy practices.
The second set of assignments turns to the study of genre and rhetoric for analysis and production. Students will learn to analyze the genres and persuasive strategies within particular discourse communities. They will be exploring genre and rhetorical situations that call for words as well as images and sounds. Once students have analyzed the generic qualities and rhetorical strategies of a text, they will put those same strategies into practice as they address an issue in their own community.
The following set of resources was created by Scott Downing, Kenai Peninsula College.
Why Individual Blogs? Blog posts are a great method for thinking out loud and experimenting with ideas in a safe and creative setting. The term weblog was coined in 1997, referring to an online form of writing designed to share information on topics of interest. Carolyn Miller tells us that weblogs have three distinct features:
Blogs, the shortened version of weblog, offer writers a place to try things. to express ideas, to comment on the ideas of others. Because your writing practice is central to a writer's development, blogs offer such a practice space that is under the writer's control and design.