Composition Reading Group

Our program’s Composition Reading Group invites students and faculty to share snacks and ideas, have a good time, and get to know each other better in a casual setting outside of school. The group convenes at least twice a semester and is open to anyone with interest in the field. Each meeting is organized by a committee of graduate students who select an activity, short reading, or question of interest to bring before the group. We traditionally meet in the home of a faculty member, opening with an hour of refreshments and socializing before turning to the evening’s topic.

If you would like to be notified about Composition Reading Group meetings, speak with the director of Composition.

Past topics of discussion include:

  • The point of teaching composition: putting two CHED articles in dialogue with each other;
  • The boundaries of scholarly “work”: How do we define “work” and “not work?” How do these inter-animate each other and how do they define our relationships to one another?
  • Ander Monson’s Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir and how we would teach it (and why) in a composition course;
  • Derek Mueller’s “Grasping Rhetoric and Composition by Its Long Tail: What Graphs Can Tell Us About the Field’s Changing Shape” and what it means to get to know, and to know you know, a field;
  • “side projects,” how we define them, what they are for many of us, and how they contribute to what we think of as our “main projects”
  • Elizabeth Ellsworth’s Places of Learning
  • Bruno Latour’s “An Attempt at a ‘Compositionist Manifesto’”

In addition, we regularly reflect on (and prepare for) participation at 4Cs in the spring. We have also dedicated an evening to compiling a set of texts that we would include in a “Composition Studies Canon,” (see below). 

Everyone in Composition/Rhetoric should read…

(generated 9/14/11, and revised 9/23 by Pitt’s Composition Reading Group)
Aristotle, Rhetoric
Bakhtin, Michel. Speech Genres and other Essays, especially “The Problem of Speech Genres”
Barthes, Roland (generally)
Bartholomae, David & Anthony Petrosky. Facts, Artifacts, and Counterfacts
Bartholomae, David. “The Study of Error”
Bartholomae, David. “Inventing the University”
Berlin, James. Rhetoric and Reality
Berthoff, Ann. The Making of Meaning: Metaphors, Models and Maxims for Writing Teachers 
Brandt, Deborah. “Sponsors of Literacy”
Brandt, Deborah. Literacy in American Lives
Brower, Richard. “Reading in slow motion” in In Defense of Reading
Burke, Kenneth. “A Rhetoric of Motives”
Graff, Harvey. The Literacy Myth
Halasek, Kay. A Pedagogy of Possibility: Bakhtinian Perspectives on Composition Studies
Calvino, Italo. Six Memos for the Next Millennium
de Certeau, Michel. “Reading as poaching”
Coles, William E., Jr. What Makes Writing Good
Cooper, Marilyn. “Ecology of Writing”
Delpit, Lisa. Other People’s Children, especially “Language Diversity and Learning”
Ellsworth, Elizabeth. Places of Learning: Media, Architecture, Pedagogy
Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric
Flower, Linda and John Hayes. “A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing”
Freire, Paolo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Gere, Anne Ruggles “Kitchen Tables and Rented Rooms: The Extracurriculum of Composition”
Haswell, Richard. “Minimal marking”
hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress
Illych, Ivan. Deschooling Society
Ede, Lisa. Situating Composition: Composition Studies and the Politics of Location
Edupunk: blog post on “Bavatuesdays” (Jason Groom) / online discussion on Chronicle, etc.
Latour, Bruno. “An Attempt at a Compositionist Manifesto”
Lu, Min-Zhan. “Professing Multiculturalism”
Lu, Min-Zhan. “An Essay on the Work of Composition: Composing English against the Order of Fast Capitalism”
Lynch, Dennis, Diana George and Marilyn Cooper. “Moments of Argument: Agonistic Inquiry and Confrontational Cooperation”
Macherey, Pierre. Theory of Literary Production, "Implicit and Explicit"
Miller, Carolyn. “Genre as social action”
Miller, Richard. Writing at the End of the World
Plato, Phaedrus
Pratt, Mary Louis. “Arts of the Contact Zone”
Rich, Adrienne. “Teaching Language in Open Admissions”
Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory
Rose, Mike & Glenda Hull, “This Wooden Shack Place:” The Logic of an Unconventional Reading
Rose, Mike. Lives on the Boundary
Scholes, Robert. The Rise and Fall of English: Reconstructing English as a Discipline
Spinoza. Ethics
Shaughnessy, Mina P. Errors and Expectations
Slevin, Jim. Introducing English. (Chapters 1, 2, 8, and 9)
Simmons, W. Michele and Grabill, Jeffrey. “Toward a Civic Rhetoric for Technologically and Scientifically Complex Places: Invention, Performance, and Participation”
Smitherman, Geneva. Talkin & Testifyin, especially “It Bees Dat Way Sometime”
Yancey, Katherine. “Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key”