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Exploring the Roots and Evolution of Composition and Rhetoric Studies in America

The Writing-across-the-Curriculum movement is a term that refers to the integration of writing into all academic subjects, as opposed to just language arts or literature classes. The movement has its roots in American higher education, and has since spread to schools and universities around the world.

David R. Russell’s “American Origins of the Writing-across-the-Curriculum Movement” provides a comprehensive history of the movement and its growth in America. Russell argues that the movement emerged as a response to a number of factors, including declining student writing skills, a shift in the way that higher education was funded, and a growing recognition of the importance of writing as a tool for learning.

Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp’s “Perspectives on the Study of Rhetoric” focuses on the role of rhetoric in the Writing-across-the-Curriculum movement. The authors argue that rhetoric is a crucial component of the movement, as it helps students to understand how to use writing as a tool for communication, persuasion, and critical thinking. They also stress the importance of teaching rhetoric in the context of real-world applications, such as writing in academic, professional, and public settings.

Robert J. Connors’ “Shaping Tools: Textbooks and the Development of Composition-Rhetoric” provides a different perspective on the Writing-across-the-Curriculum movement by focusing on the role of textbooks in shaping the field. Connors argues that textbooks have played a major role in shaping the way that composition and rhetoric are taught in American schools and universities. He also notes that textbooks can be both a blessing and a curse, as they can provide a useful resource for teachers and students, but can also limit the scope of what is taught and how it is taught.

John C. Brereton’s “The Origins of Composition Studies in the American College” provides a historical overview of the development of composition studies in American higher education. Brereton argues that composition studies emerged as a response to a growing recognition of the importance of writing in the academic curriculum. He also notes that the early composition studies programs focused primarily on teaching writing as a tool for communication, rather than as a tool for critical thinking and intellectual development.

In conclusion, the Writing-across-the-Curriculum movement has its roots in American higher education and has since spread to schools and universities around the world. The movement is based on the belief that writing is a crucial tool for learning and intellectual development, and that it should be integrated into all academic subjects. The role of rhetoric, textbooks, and composition studies in the development of the movement is also highlighted in these four pieces. Ultimately, these works demonstrate the importance of writing and its integration into the academic curriculum, and the ongoing need to continue to evolve and improve the field.


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