Monday, January 20, 2014


A premise of this “Composition and Rhetoric” course is that you want and need to become a skillful writer of essays, both academic essays and those for non-academic readers, such as newspaper opinion pieces or business communications or magazine articles that you may be moved to compose.

But beyond these serviceable public purposes for learning to write well—in fact, above these purposes—I would urge that good writing skills serve primarily your own curiosity by being a necessary tool for discovery, an invaluable implement for thinking and extrapolating thoughts into cogent and communicative discourse, far better than extemporaneous speech can accomplish.

Simply, you write to discover.  You write to find out and articulate what you have to say, which you would not discover or formulate clearly without generating sentences and paragraphs in written compositions.  To compose an essay is to compose your mind, to gather scattered notions and glimpses into articulated ideas assembled cogently to illuminate first yourself and then others.