Course Description

The University Catalog describes the course this way:

"A study of works by contemporary rhetoric / composition specialists, with special regard to the theoretical basis of composing and its pedagogical implications" (252).

English 5372 is one of the "core" courses in the English Department's MA program; it is a course that *all* MA students take. It is meant to introduce students to the field of study we call rhetoric / composition (or composition / rhetoric). We will read, write about, and discuss a wide range of works in an attempt to help you begin to "map the territory" of this field of study. Our primary focus will be the complex connections between theory and pedagogy. We will begin with the assumption that all practices (pedagog(y)(ies) are enactments of (a) theor(y)(ies), whether or not the teacher or student is conscious of the theor(y)(ies). In other words, we will engage our readings about theory and practice without separating the two: to explore theories is to explore the practices they inform.

Or, from another angle, our primary focus will be an exploration of the ways that theory informs practice and the ways that practice informs theory.

Completing this course will not qualify a student as a composition / rhetoric specialist. Instead, the course begins the larger ongoing project of helping students identify areas / questions / problems for future inquiry, whether in further coursework or in independent reading and study.

Required Texts

  • Tate, Gary, Amy Rupiper, and Kurt Schick, eds. A Guide to Composition Pedagogies. NY: Oxford UP, 2001.
  • Connors, Robert J. Composition - Rhetoric: Backgrounds, Theory, and Pedagogy. Pitsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1997.
  • Various essays and online readings.

Course Objectives

  • Survey the (recent) historical development of contemporary rhetoric / composition as an academic field of study
  • Introduce students to the variety of theoretical approaches that have informed and continue to inform contemporary composition pedagogy
  • Explore the myriad ongoing professional conversations that constitute the field
  • Practice "ways of reading" and ways of talking about / writing about a variety of scholarly and professional writing
  • Participate in one or more of the conversations that constitute the field
  • Explore the wide range of resources available for inquiry and research in the field
  • Examine critically and reflectively the various works we read
  • Examine critically and reflectively the ways that theory and practice shape and are shaped by one another
  • Develop thoughtful, reflective responses to the ever present question of "So What?" (as it applies to the study of "Composition Theory and Pedagogy")
  • Continue to develop students' repertoires for reading critically and purposefully
  • Continue to develop students' repertoires for using writing for various purposes and audiences and in various contexts

Course Requirements

We will do several activities during the semester to help us formulate our discussions. They will include:

  • 40% DiscussingEngaging - Ongoing discussion of the readings is very important.
  • 20% of your grade will come from in-class work and homework. If you are active in class and complete the assigned work, then you will get full credit. You need to come to class and be actively involved in everything we do in order to get full credit for this part of the course.
  • 40% Joining the CompFAQ Conversation assignment.
    Late work can be penalized up to 50% and is subject to a higher evaluation standard than work that is completed on time. In-class work cannot be made up, unless you make arrangements prior to missing class.


Graduate Studies Standards

The instructor assumes that seminar members are good-faith graduate students. Bona fide graduate-school behavior is distinguished in at least four ways.

  • Students read weekly assignments on time and come to the seminar with serious response and a willingness to discuss.
  • Students do not assume that an assignment is legitimate only if it will be "tested." The work is done for its own learning value.
  • Students expect that they will attend 100% of the time and not assume there are a certain number of allowable absences. (I come to class because I want to share a learning experience with students. If you are not there and I am not aware of your situation, then I will not feel that sharing is occurring. This will make it more difficult for me to discern your experience in this course when it comes time to write down a "final grade.")
  • Students assume that open and equitable discussion and critique is the soul of a graduate seminar. Everyone participates. Everyone is respectful of others' thoughts. Students don't put the burden on the teacher or on other students to originate or maintain discussion. They take on the responsibility to keep some seminar members from dominating others, and they do it by offering their share of talk.

Academic Integrity and Dishonesty Students are expected to "demonstrate a high level of maturity, self-direction and ability to manage their own affairs" and to "conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards of academic honesty." Please refer to the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi General Academic Policies and Regulations for complete information.

Resources for Students