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Reading List

The MARC comprehensive exam reading list is divided into five sections: the first four sections—Rhetoric, Composition History and Theory, Composition Pedagogy, and Research Methods—represent the four core competencies required in the MA Rhetoric and Composition program. The last section refers you to the various position statements written by our professional organizations: Writing Program Administration (WPA) and Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). 

Please read instructions within each section and subsection carefully: in some cases you are required to choose between two or more readings; in other cases you must read all items within a particular section.
In addition to the sections listed here, you are also responsible for developing a 10-item reading list (books and articles) covering an area of specialization that you have developed during your time in the program. You will develop this area of specialization and accompanying reading list in consultation with your portfolio committee chair and readers. The following are examples of areas of specialization: writing centers, computers and writing, writing assessment, minority rhetoric, etc.
Classical-Contemporary (all selections in this section are from Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg, The Rhetorical Tradition)
Read all bulleted items (from Bizzell, Patrica and Bruce Herzberg. The Rhetorical Tradition)
  • Introductions to all major sections: "General Introduction"; "Classical Rhetoric"; "Medieval Rhetoric"; Renaissance Rhetoric: "Enlightenment Rhetoric"; Nineteenth-Century Rhetoric"; "Modern and Postmodern Rhetoric"
  • Introduction to Aristotle and On Rhetoric
  • Introduction to Plato and Gorgias
  • One of the following: Isocrates, Gorgias, or Anonymous
  • One of the following: Rhetorica ad Herennium (Anonymous) or Cicero's De Inventione and/or De Oratore
  • One of the following: Francis Bacon, "The Advancement of Learning" or "Novum Organum"
  • Selection from one of the following: John Locke, Giambattista Vico, George Campbell, Hugh Blair, Richard Whately, Alexander Bain, Adams Sherman Hill, Herbert Spencer, or Freidrich Nietzsche
  • Selection of two of the following from different authors: selections by Mikhail Bakhtin, I.A. Richards and C.K. Ogden, I.A. Richards, Kenneth Burke, Virginia Woolf, Richard Weaver, Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, Chaim Perelman, Stephen Toulmin, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Wayne Booth, Helen Cixous, Adrienne Rich, Henry Louis Gates, Gloria Anzaldua, Stanley Fish
Contemporary Reexaminations of Rhetoric
Read one of the following:
  • Glenn, Cheryl.   Rhetoric Retold.
  • Jarrett, Susan.  Rereading the Sophists.
  • Lunsford, Andrea, ed. Reclaiming Rhetorica: Women in the Rhetorical Tradition.
  • Ritchie, Joy, and Kate Ronald. Available Means: An Anthology of Women's Rhetoric(s).
Supplemental Texts for Rhetoric
The following texts are not required, but are useful as overviews:
  • Crowley, Sharon and Deborah Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for the Contemporary Student.
  • Foss, Sonja et al. Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric.
  • Herrick, James. The History and Theory of Rhetoric. 3rd ed.
  • Kennedy, George. Classical Rhetoric and Its Christian and Secular Tradition from Ancient to Modern Times.
  • Murphy, James. A Syntoptic History of Classical Rhetoric.
Histories of Composition
Read Gilyard (citation below) plus one of the books from the list that follows the Gilyard citation:
  • Gilyard, Keith. "African-American Contributions to Composition Studies." College Composition and Communication 50 (1999): 626-644.
Choose one of the following:
  • Berlin, James. Rhetoric and Reality.
  • Crowley, Sharon. Composition in the University.
  • Miller, Susan. Textual Carnivals.
  • Murphy, James. Short History of Writing Instruction.
Composition Theory
Read all bulleted items:
  • Alexander, Jonathan. “Transgender Rhetorics.”
  • Bartholomae, David. "Inventing the University." Rpt. in The Norton Book of Composition Studies
  • Devitt, Amy.“Generalizing About Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept.” Rpt. in Relations,
Locations, Positions.
  • One of the following: Lisa Ede, Situating Composition or Raul Sanchez, The Function of Theory in Composition.
  • Emig, Janet. “Writing as Mode of Learning” Rpt. in Cross Talk in Comp Theory.
  • Gilyard, Keith, and Nunley, Vorris, eds., Rhetoric and Ethnicity.
  • Kells, Michelle Hall, Balester, Valerie and Villanueva, Victor. Latino/a Discourses: On Language, Identity, and Literacy Education.
  • Olson, Gary. “Toward a Post-Process Composition.” Post-Process Theory.
  • Perl, Sondra. “The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers” Rpt. in Cross Talk in Comp Theory.
  • Ritchie and Boardman. “Feminism in Composition: Inclusion, Metonymy, and Disruption. Rpt. in Cross Talk in Comp Theory.
  • Rose, Mike. “The Language of Exclusion.” Rpt. in The Norton Book of Composition Studies.
  • Soliday, Mary. “Class Dismissed.”Rpt. in Relations, Locations, Positions.
  • Trimbur, John. “Consensus and Difference in Collaborative Learning” Rpt. in The Norton Book of Composition Studies.
  • Villanueva, Victor. Bootstraps: From an Academic of Color.
  • Selection from Michelle Sidler’s Computers in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook.
Read all bulleted items:
  • Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
  • Huot, Brian. (Re)Articulating Writing Assessment
  • Johnson-Black, Laurel. Between Talk and Teaching.
  • Johnson, T.R., and Pace, Tom, eds. Refiguring Prose Style.
  • Lunsford, Andrea A. and Karen J. Lunsford.  “’Mistakes Are a Fact of Life’: A National Comparative Study.” College Composition and Communication 59.4 (June 2008): 781-806.
  • Rhodes, Keith, Ruth Rischer, and Rita Malenczyk. The Outcomes Book: Debate and Consensus after the WPA Outcomes Statement.
  • Shor, Ira. When Students Have Power: Negotiating Authority in a Critical Pedagogy.
  • Tate, Gary, Rupiper, Amy and Schick, Kurt. A Guide to Composition Pedagogies.
  • White, Edward M. Teaching and Assessing Writing.
  • Selection from one of the following: Michelle Sidler’s Computers in the Composition Classroom or Ann Wyzocki’s Writing New Media.  
Read all bulleted items:
  • Anderson, Paul V. "Simple Gifts: Ethical Issues in the Conduct of Person-Based Composition Research." College Composition and Communication 49.1 (February 1998): 63-89.
  • Kirsch, Gesa E., and Joy S. Ritchie. “Beyond the Personal: Theorizing a Politics of Location in Composition Research. Rpt. Cross Talk in Comp Theory.
  • McNealy, Mary Sue. Strategies for Empirical Research in Writing.
  • Mortensen, Peter, and Gesa E. Kirsch. Ethics and Representation in Qualitative Studies of Literacy
Read all or select position statements as required by your committee.
The following texts are not required, but are useful reference sources covering important aspects of composition theory and pedagogy
  • Kennedy, Mary Lynch, ed. Theorizing Composition: A Critical Sourcebook of Theory and Scholarship in Contemporary Composition Studies.
  • Enos, Theresa, ed. Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition: Communication from Ancient Times to the Information Age.
  • Heilker, Paul, and Peter Vandenberg, eds. Keywords in Composition Studies