Writing is an exceptionally complex activity. Within the university, writing projects are likely to involve not only linguistic competence (grammar, syntax, diction, etc.) but topical knowledge, organizational ability, research skills, social and cultural understanding, rhetorical judgment, and-most important of all-insight, thought, and creativity.
The complexity of college writing is reflected in the course objectives for Writing 140 listed in Part III of the Course Book on pages 121-122. While you will want to review these goals and become familiar with them, the course can probably be more easily understood in terms of five principal themes that together cover almost everything you will be asked to do in Writing 140.
The first theme addresses the development of skills having to do with critical reasoning, analysis, and argumentation, as these abilities will be most important to the sorts of writing that is required in university courses and later as part of your professional and civic responsibilities. Critical reasoning, analysis, and argumentation include:
The next three themes-invention, arrangement, and style-are closely related, as each represents one of the five arts of ancient rhetoric. Memory and delivery, the other two elements of the rhetorical canon, have to do with oral discourse-speeches-and so have less relevance to a course in written composition, but invention, arrangement, and style remain fundamental to any writing project.
Invention, arrangement, and style are thus crucial to the process of writing. The same may be said of revision, the fifth pedagogical theme of Writing 140. Revision encompasses all of the conceptual and formal adjustments and modifications that must be accomplished in order to produce a sound final draft. Revision includes: