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Composition-Rhetoric by Brooks, Stratton D.

Composition-Rhetoric by Brooks, Stratton D.

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Composition-Rhetoric, by Stratton D. Brooks

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: Composition-Rhetoric
Author: Stratton D. Brooks
Release Date: April 20, 2004 [EBook #12088]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Kevin Handy, Dave Maddock, John R. Bilderback and PG
Distributed Proofreaders
_Superintendent of Schools, Boston, Mass._
_Formerly English Department, High School La Salle, Illinois_
Entered at Stationers' Hall, London.
Brooks's Rhet.
W.P. 10

Whose teaching first demonstrated
to the authors that composition
could become a delight and pleasure,
this book is dedicated......


The aim of this book is not to produce critical readers of literature, nor
to prepare the pupil to answer questions about rhetorical theory, but to
enable every pupil to express in writing, freely, clearly, and forcibly,
whatever he may find within him worthy of expression.

Three considerations of fundamental importance underlie the plan of the

First, improvement in the performance of an act comes from the repetition
of that act accompanied by a conscious effort to omit the imperfections of
the former attempt. Therefore, the writing of a new theme in which, the
pupil attempts to avoid the error which occurred in his former theme is of
much greater educational value than is the copying of the old theme for
the purpose of correcting the errors in it. To copy the old theme is to
correct a result, to write a new theme correctly is to improve a process;
and it is this improvement of process that is the real aim of composition

Second, the logical arrangement of material should be subordinated to the
needs of the pupils. A theoretical discussion of the four forms of
discourse would require that each be completely treated in one place. Such
a treatment would ignore the fact that a high school pupil has daily need
to use each of the four forms of discourse, and that some assistance in
each should be given him as early in his course as possible. The book,
therefore, gives in Part 1 the elements of description, narration,
exposition, and argument, and reserves for Part II a more complete
treatment of each. In each part the effort has been made to adapt the
material presented to the maturity and power of thought of the pupil.

Third, expression cannot be compelled; it must be coaxed. Only under
favorable conditions can we hope to secure that reaction of intellect and
emotion which renders possible a full expression of self. One of the most
important of these favorable conditions is that the pupil shall write
something he wishes to write, for an audience which wishes to hear it. The
authors have, therefore, suggested subjects for themes in which high
school pupils are interested and about which they will wish to write. It
is hoped that the work will be so conducted by the teacher that every
theme will be read aloud before the class. It is essential that the
criticism of a theme so read shall, in the main, be complimentary,
pointing out and emphasizing those things which the pupil has done well;
and that destructive criticism be largely impersonal and be directed
toward a single definite point. Only thus may we avoid personal
embarrassment to the pupil, give him confidence in himself, and assure him
of a sympathetic audience--conditions essential to the effective teaching
of composition.

The plan of the book is as follows:--

1. Part 1 provides a series of themes covering description, narration,
exposition, and argument. The purpose is to give the pupil that
inspiration and that confidence in himself which come from the frequent
repetition of an act.

2. Each theme differs from the preceding usually by a single point, and
the teaching effort should be confined to that point. Only a false
standard of accuracy demands that every error be corrected every time it
appears. Such a course loses sight of the main point in a multiplicity of
details, renders instruction ineffective by scattering effort, produces
hopeless confusion in the mind of the pupil, and robs composition of that
inspiration without which it cannot succeed. In composition, as in other
things, it is better to do but one thing at a time.

3. Accompanying the written themes is a series of exercises, each designed to emphasize the point presented in the text, but more especially intended to provide for frequent drills in oral composition.

4. Throughout the first four chapters the paragraph is the unit of
composition, but for the sake of added interest some themes of greater
length have been included. Chapter V, on the Whole Composition, serves as
a review and summary of the methods of paragraph development, shows how to
make the transition from one paragraph to another, and discusses the more
important rhetorical principles underlying the union of paragraphs into a
coherent and unified whole.

5. The training furnished by Part 1 should result in giving to the pupil
some fluency of expression, some confidence in his ability to make known
to others that which he thinks and feels, and some power to determine that
the theme he writes, however rough-hewn and unshapely it may be, yet in
its major outlines follows closely the thought that is within his mind. If
the training has failed to give the pupil this power, it will be of little
advantage to him to have mastered some of the minor matters of technique,
or to have learned how to improve his phrasing, polish his sentences, and
distribute his commas.

6. Part II provides a series of themes covering the same ground as Part I,
but the treatment of these themes is more complete and the material is
adapted to the increased maturity and thought power of the pupils. By
means of references the pupils are directed to all former treatments of
the topics they are studying.

7. Part II discusses some topics usually treated in college courses in
rhetoric. These have been included for three reasons: first, because
comparatively few high school pupils go to college; second, because the
increased amount of time now given to composition enables the high school
to cover a wider field than formerly; and third, because such topics can
be studied with profit by pupils in the upper years of the high school

8. It is not intended that the text shall be recited. Its purpose is to
furnish a basis for discussion between teacher and pupils before the
pupils attempt to write. The real test of the pupils' mastery of a
principle discussed in the text will be their ability to put it into

Any judgment of the success or failure of the book should be based upon
the quality of the themes which the pupils write. Criticisms and

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