Revolution Lullabye

June 12, 2009

Britton, The Composing Processes and the Functions of Writing

Britton, James. “The Composing Processes and the Functions of Writing.” In Research on Composing: Points of Departure. Eds. Cooper and Odell. Urbana: NCTE, 1978. 13-28.

Britton, who had previously articulated his theory of discourse, uses this essay to answer two questions about writing: Who is it for? and What is it for? He finds that the answers to those questions differ based on the kind of writing the writer is engaging in. Transactional writing, one of his categories of discourse, places the writer in the role of the participant whose writing is a communicative goal that is interpreted piecemeal by a reader. Poetic writing, on the other hand, places the writer in the role of the spectator whose writing is an end in itself that is interpreted globally by the reader. Expressive writing – placed in the middle of the transactional and poetic spectrum – requires both the spectator and participant persepective, and writers must be able to negotiate the cognitive and affective ordering that is inherent to both to write a successful composition.

Notable Notes

draws on Langer: cognitive and affective order – art is the combination of our congitive and affective responses to experiences, expressive writing requires both

three stages of writing process: preparation, incubation, articulation

organizing power of generalization – concern with the global, nto the details (physiognomic perception)

Cooper and Odell, Research on Composing

Cooper, Charles R. and Lee Odell. Research on Composing: Points of Departure. Urbana: NCTE, 1978.

This collection, from the 1975 Buffalo Conference on Researching Composing, wants to expand the nature and scope of research on the writing process. The editors argue that to do so, scholars in composition need to question their basic assumptions about how writing happens and be open to changing and revising their theories. Writing researchers, they argue, need to look at writers, not written products of published writers, for models of composing, and should look beyond English for answers to research questions – to rhetorical theory, developmental and cognitive psychology, education, and discourse theory. The essays – including those written by Britton, Young, Emig, and Murray – are therefore speculative and broad in scope, trying out new theories and ideas to open the door for further research and questioning in the composing process.

Quotable Quotes

purpose: “redirecting and revitalizing research in written composition” (xiii)

Notable Notes

value of teacher-research

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