Nature embeds a calendar within life. Tree rings show history.


In this class, you will engage a variety of scholars and their philosophies regarding how students should learn writing. While you process these diverse perspectives, you will identify, clarify, and perhaps challenge your own beliefs about the best way(s) to teach. The calendar below outlines the concepts we’ll discuss and the main readings we’ll draw from. Because this is a survey course, the reading and writing load is substantial. Thus, for every text, you’ll need to practice your skills with what Christina Haas and Linda Flower call “rhetorical reading strategies.” To help, we’ll start class with an overview of those strategies.

Overall, this semester’s pacing is front-loaded, with the majority of readings appearing in the first few weeks. This approach means the class will expect you to digest a lot of new ideas early on—be ready for the challenge. First, front-loading the readings also means the end of the semester can be dedicated to your major projects. Also, you’ll continue to process course concepts as the term progresses. You’ll become increasingly adept at managing the material as you continue working with it.

The Scope of Our Class

This class is a cross-listed graduate and upper-division undergraduate survey course designed for students in—or with aspirations to join—the teaching profession, specifically to teach writing. The discipline of rhetoric and composition (rhet/comp) has a history of only about 150 years. As such, it’s possible to trace the evolution of disciplinary thinking literally from the beginning of the field until today. Additionally, educators in the 1970s and 1980s started questioning the relationship between students and teachers. As a result, this thinking generated some radically new pedagogies in the past 50 years. Consequently, many of those pedagogical approaches have direct application in the writing classroom.

Overall, our goal this semester will be to develop facility with a range of composition ideologies and pedagogical approaches. Our intense pace should help you build a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the complexities inherent in teaching writing. Below are simplified calendars of weekly reading assignments and broad project goals by unit. Additionally, a complete course calendar including all readings and detailed weekly project goals is also available externally.

Readings Calendar

TopicWeekAuthor & Text
Disciplinary Origins
  • John C. Brereton’s “The Origins of Composition Studies in the American College” [see Canvas > Files]
  • Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp’s “Perspectives on the Study of Rhetoric” [see Canvas > Files]
  • Robert J. Connors’ “Shaping Tools: Textbooks and the Development of Composition-Rhetoric” [see Canvas > Files]
  • David R. Russell’s “American Origins of the Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Movement” [see Canvas > Files]
Threshold Concepts
National Standards
Historical Approaches
Progressive Pedagogies

Project Calendars

Unit Textbook Chapter Course Design Journal Article
Threshold ConceptsChapter Topic ProposalCourse & Subject ProposalArticle Topic & Venue Proposal
National StandardsFull Chapter OutlineWeekly CalendarSource List
Historical ApproachesInitial Rough DraftAssignment SheetsAnnotated Bib
Progressive PedagogiesComplete DraftFull SyllabusLit Review
Finals WeekFinalized ChapterReflective EssayArgumentative Article