ERIC Number: ED202005
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Mar
Reference Count: 0
The Modes of Discourse: An Historical Overview.
Connors, Robert J.
Although first enunciated in 1827 by Samuel Newman, the modes of discourse--narration, description, exposition, and argument--were not very popular until formulated in 1866 and presented in the United States in a rhetoric textbook in 1885. After 1890, they were gradually accepted by the most influential rhetoricians of the day, and their use in textbooks as the major organization device did not change until around 1930. By 1950, three trends had undermined the hegenomy of these modes in rhetoric and reduced them to vague composition legend: a return to the older "pragmatic literary types" classification of discourse, the rise of the concept of freshman composition as essentially expository writing, and the appearance of a new kind of textbook that substituted an autonomous central thesis for the modal concept. Today, the modal concepts still linger, but their essentially product-based character has made them less and less useful in writing classes. Replaced in theory by the classification schemes of writing researchers and in practice by other methods of exposition, this once powerful composition theory is now used in writing classes only by those teachers who are out of touch with current work in their field. (HTH)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Rhetorical Theory
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (32nd, Dallas, TX, March 26-28, 1981).