English 833: Theories of Composition — Major Composition Theories

Why is theory important?

  • Otherwise teaching is mindless; guilty of value-mode confusion
  • Teaching needs to be theorized for evaluation to be meaningful
  • See Fulkerson
  • See Berlin

Philosophies of Composition (Fulkerson)

Expressive
Emphasizes the writer

Rhetorical
Writing’s effect on the reader

Pathos (emotion)/ethos (ethical standing) /logos (logic)

Mimetic
Writing grounded in reality (requires research/good writing=good thinking)

Formalist
Writing is based on traits within the work/language/correctness

Pedagogical Theories (Berlin)

Neo-Aristotelian/Classicists
reality can be known and communicated through language; the word signifies the thing—language and meaning are one/deduction

Postivists/Current-Traditionalists
emphasizes induction and the use of the scientific method/genuis; teaches the modes of expression (exposition, description, narration, and argumentation—plus poetry/oratory); verifiable truth

Neo-Platanists/Expressionists
Reality is in flux/language is not fixed; it’s fluid

New Rhetoricians
Invention (creative thought about the topic)/arrangement (logic of the argument)/style (use of language)

Britton

How does writing function?

  • Transactional
  • Expressive
  • Poetic

Additional Theories

  • Cognitive Theory
  • Social Constructionism
  • Post-Process Theory
  • Collaborative Learning Theory
  • Cultural Studies Theory
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Feminist Pedagogy
  • Second Language Writing Theory
  • Language Theory
  • Basic Writing Pedagogy
  • Digital Literacies/Tech Pedagogy/Technology Theory
  • Service Learning
  • Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC)/Writing in the Disciplines (WID)
  • Disability Studies
  • Comic Book Pedagogy
  • Literary Theory