Curriculum FAQ: Should literature be used in the composition classroom?
In order to explore this question, it is necessary to understand the discussion of the content of composition courses. However, looking over the material on this link alone will not provide a broad understanding of how composition courses are effectively put together. Let's first examine the questions posed by Duane Roen closely before discussing the focus of this conversation:
- When is a writing class a writing class, and when does it become something else?
- What do we include in writing classes?
Now that these questions have been looked at carefully, we can move on to the topic at hand: The presence of literature in the composition classroom. Is there room for it?
In order to discuss the use of literature in the composition classroom, I will focus on the essay "Teaching General Education Writing: Is There a Place for Literature?" by Emily Isaacs (2009). However,I also found "Thinking Like a Program" by Joseph Harris (2004) to be useful for my understanding of this topic.
Emily Isaacs poses a valid question in the title of her essay: Is there a place for literature?
Issacs poses another question in her essay that relates to our discussion: Can literature faculty teach literature and writing?
In the last section of her essay, Recognizing institutional differences: A call to the field, Isaacs states, "...This narrative illustrates that at each institution we need to measure progress in the goal of increasing our students' experiences and facilities with writing against out own histories, contexts and communities of colleagues" (113). In other words, she feels literature and rhet/comp faculty should put their feelings about literature faculty in the composition classroom aside and work together to enhance the first year experience for their students.
Joseph Harris' "Thinking Like a Program"