Faulkner University


Welcome to Advanced Composition. This letter is designed to provide you some general information about the course, including what you can expect from me and what I expect from you.

As humans, we disagree with one another based on differences in beliefs, perspectives, and experiences. Even though we are all attending a "Christian" university, one will find a large number of belief systems across the campus. Just multiply this number many times and you will have an idea of the wide variety of beliefs, perspectives, and experiences you will encounter after leaving the university.

The ancient minds, who conceived of democracy, assumed that citizens would wield their speaking and writing abilities in persuasive and ethical discourses through which our needs and problems would be negotiated and solved. However, contemporary citizens seldom receive training in rhetoric, the art of persuasion.

An accomplished rhetor is one who can recognize and define problems, understand his/her scope and significance, and develop appropriate arguments for particular rhetorical situations. In this course, you will learn the classical rhetorical arts, sets of strategies you can use in any setting in which you agree to disagree, agree to negotiate, and perhaps eventually actually agree, with other human beings.

We are constantly surrounded by texts to read, in addition to being bombarded by texts read or performed aloud to us (radio advertising, television news scripts). As a student rhetor, part of your work in this course will be to enhance your consciousness of the texts that surround you, and to sift out discourses that you would like to consider in more detail and imitate or respond to in your own writing.

The ancient teachers of classical rhetoric asked their students to wallow in language -- to practice constantly, to consider issues from many different points of view, to generate great quantities of possible material from which to compose arguments in situations when they were called on or felt moved to speak (or write) publicly. In this class, you will write informal responses in your journal, in addition to composing several carefully conceived and polished texts which you will address to various audiences. The formal writing should be geared to assist you in preparation for the writing required in graduate school.

Readings in our textbooks will be an important source for our work. I expect you to read your textbook "interactively" in order to prepare effectively for work in class. You should take notes on your reading, or, at least, make extensive annotations in the margins. As you read, work toward understanding the text fully in order to formulate your own responses. Your notes and annotations should contain key points from the reading, as well as your reactions and questions.


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