Literature and Composition Pedagogy


Christine Farris writes, “The relation of literature to composition is central to pedagogical and political issues in English Studies” (163). What is essential to the relationship between the two lies in three ideas: “(1) the centrality of writing over reading in first-year English courses; (2) hierarchy and labor in departments where composition instruction makes large-scale literary specialization possible; and (3) a growing fear that down-sized English departments will be reduced to service courses as a consequence of a competitive education marketplace that pits vocationalism against a liberal arts life of the mind” (163).


Rhetoric often bridges the gap between literature and composition by enabling students to make arguments in their composition based on literary texts.
Writing Across the Curriculum has emboldened professors of literature to include composition and realize that “attention to students’ writing processes can disrupt the transmission of knowledge model long associated with literature instruction” (166). Language within literature is crucial to composition and when combined fosters a deeper understanding of the epistemic application to writing. After the “social turn” the split between literature and composition was vast and while introducing cultural aspects into the field has reduced it, rhetoric has been instrumental in healing the divide. Farris claims that the tension between literary and nonliterary in combined courses can be the entity that brings literature and composition together. Bringing them together and “teaching them in new ways, not just talking about what we mean by reading, writing, texts, and genres – is our best hope” (173).


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