From Belles Lettres to Rhetorical Genre Studies: Writing Studies and Rhetoric in Canada 1900-2000

Graves’ lecture was about the history of writing in Canada, as taught in an academic setting. In particular he focused on the shift in Canadian writing studies from belles lettres to rhetorical genre studies. Today, in Canadian institutions, writing is taught within your major instead of in a general education type of composition class. If you are a nursing major, for example, you learn to write specifically for nursing.

I minored in Journalism in my undergrad. Obviously, we spent a lot of time learning to write in AP style and in a way best suited for news writing. I feel that that had its disadvantages, since I had to unlearn certain practices, such as not using a serial comma to write for other settings. Even if we are in a certain profession, we may still have to write for other purposes in our lives.

I guess what I think is that there should be some sort of compromise between the way writing studies are approached in American and Canadian universities. I do think that American institutions should offer more specified writing classes within majors. We are lucky enough to have many options for these types of classes in NMS. Though, I believe this is only because our chosen field of study directly involves writing. I also think that first year composition classes are valuable resources for students. Only having the ability to write for your chosen field is very limiting. We want to emerge from universities as with experts in a particular field, but also as well rounded human beings.

Here’s a link to Graves’ Prezi from the lecture.

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