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Publication Date

Spring 2011

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


English and Comparative Literature


Catherine Gabor


Composition Studies, Content, First Year Composition, History of Rhetoric, Rhetoric, Writing

Subject Areas

Language, Rhetoric and Composition


First-year composition instructors in most colleges teach writing as a set of basic skills that is intended to prepare students for different writing situations within and beyond the academic environment. The limitation of this view is that the writing class does not have any tangible content; that is, the emphasis is only on the device or means to communicate any kind of content. As a result of being exposed to this mode of teaching, many students obtain the imprecise idea that writing is merely a skill, and they do not

fully comprehend the theoretical issues that form the basis of writing. This research explores one way to improve the content of the writing class by using original texts from the history of rhetoric.

Through analyzing and inspecting ancient and modern texts from the history of rhetoric, this study shows how these texts can function as the concrete content that is currently missing from the classroom. Further, it introduces several practical and pedagogical aspects of using the texts from the history of rhetoric in the classroom.

Finally, this study concludes that through reading, inspecting, analyzing, and responding to original texts from the history of rhetoric, students not only learn the basics of writing and composition, but also comprehend the theoretical background of the field of writing studies.