ERIC Number: ED333419
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Mar-21
Reference Count: N/A
The Single-Topic Composition Class: Theory and Practice.
Topic knowledge, discourse knowledge, and contextual awareness are now considered crucial for "good writing" by many writing researchers. It is time for writing instructors to stop conducting composition classes as though substantive knowledge is a far lesser issue than "rhetorical skill." Composition teachers can offer significant, in-depth topical knowledge as well as an accompanying conceptual framework and a knowledge of the discourse, by simply immersing the class in a single topic for a whole semester. Continued immersion in the focused topic will provide a gestalt or framework for the content knowledge, allowing the students to explore the various perspectives, to make connections, to perceive the topic's complexities, and to infer its recurrent questions. Use of a single topic, however, does not preclude teaching discourse conventions. A writing teacher does know and can point out, for example, that a social science article under consideration uses empirical studies and statistical evidence, while a philosophy article employs reasoning as evidence. Another benefit of using a single topic is that an in-depth treatment of complex ideas will excite students about the material, and help to motivate them. (Sample student evaluations and a list of readings with annotations for a "Personal Relationships Unit" are attached.) (PRA)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Contextual Thinking; Discourse; Rhetorical Competence; Topic Units; Writing Contexts
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (42nd, Boston, MA, March 21-23, 1991).