Writing and Literature: Composition as Inquiry, Learning, Thinking, and Communication
Tanya Long Bennet
Copyright Year: 2017
ISBN 13: 9781940771236
Publisher: University of North Georgia Press
Conditions of Use
I was very impressed. Bennet covered all of the necessary topics that are covered in the Intro to Literature course that I normally teach and used the same approach that I use with students. The glossary and index were helpful. There were also... read more
I was very impressed. Bennet covered all of the necessary topics that are covered in the Intro to Literature course that I normally teach and used the same approach that I use with students. The glossary and index were helpful. There were also great resources and examples provided.
The accuracy of the material was spot on. It matched how I present the material and was accessible to students.
The examples were very relevant--even Call of Duty was included for students to relate to. The stories and and literature used were the same as which I often use. The language and tone was perfect and accessible/authentic for students.
As mentioned above, the language and tone was very accessible for students.
It seemed consistent.
The headings worked well . It was easy to navigate.
It was organized in a format similar to how I organize my course.
I didn't have any issues.
I didn't notice any.
It seemed more traditional in the use of texts/stories--but those are the same texts/stories that I use and this university uses--so I didn't have a problem with it.
I think it is an excellent text and will recommend it to our department!
This text includes a detailed table of contents, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography. It does not include an index. The books consist of nine chapters. It does include a review of rhetorical appeals and effective argumentation, which is... read more
This text includes a detailed table of contents, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography. It does not include an index. The books consist of nine chapters. It does include a review of rhetorical appeals and effective argumentation, which is helpful. The major literary genres are covered, including creative non-fiction, which is not typically included in this type of literature anthology. This text also includes suggested texts based on theme to support instructors. However, there is only one chapter each devoted to short fiction, drama, and poetry, so the information on the various literary elements could be developed more thoroughly. Overall, this hits all the necessary basic information about literary genres and literary elements, with a decent assortment of literary works and essay assignment ideas.
I did not notice any typographic or content errors in the text. There is no overt bias detected.
Content is up to date. Links to the MLA formatting go to the most updated version of the handbook. Most of the linked materials are to readings, which will not go out of date. This text would be fairly simple to modify and update. Instructors could add additional readings and poems.
This text is a straightforward and concise book that is student centered and not so in-depth that it would intimidate students. It is an “easy read” for students; the phrasing is not overly dense or wordy. With only 9 chapters, all of the essentials are covered. Terms are in bold type face, and a glossary is provided.
The formatting of the textbook is consistent and uniform. It progresses logically and is effectively laid out for the reader, so it is easy to follow.
This text is well divided into 9 chapters, with subheadings/subsections within, making this easy to “chunk” into reading assignments.
The material is well organized, includes a review of the elements of rhetoric and argumentation, in addition to the genre studies, critical theory, terminology, and a variety of readings throughout. It flows smoothly and logically from topic to topic.
There were no significant issues in this area. Although one text link did not open when I tried it, all of the other links were working. The charts that were included were displayed correctly and were easy to read although one chart was in landscape orientation, but it was still fairly easy to read. The margins, spacing, and general page appearance is pleasing to the eye and simple to read/navigate. The page numbers are clearly labeled, and the chapter information is in the right header bar. The book effectively uses text structures such as bolding, headings, italics, etc. in an effective manner.
I detected no grammatical errors while I was reviewing this text.
This text is well rounded and inclusive with works, both contemporary and canonical, from a wide variety of authors with diverse genders, ethnicity, and cultural backgrounds. Instructors could add additional readings to further diversify the literary perspectives, but overall, there was effort made to present a variety of authors, considering the issue of copyright that governs the use of literary texts.
This book covers all the major writing projects that they might encounter in a writing or literature class. Chapters are conversational, easy to follow, and provide good examples of texts and questions. It gives sample essays for the genres and... read more
This book covers all the major writing projects that they might encounter in a writing or literature class. Chapters are conversational, easy to follow, and provide good examples of texts and questions. It gives sample essays for the genres and does a fine job at explaining the why behind common writing assignments.
The content is clear, straightforward, and easily navigable for a student reader. It does feel like there could be more possible examples to include--especially by delivering links to more representative content in some chapters, like Creative Nonfiction vs. providing whole excerpts or stories (like in the fiction chapter). I wouldn't have minded more examples, though! I think a student reader or instructor might also appreciate more examples of texts to analyze and review.
I felt like the introduction led us toward an idea that this would be a way to see a similarity between popular movies/literature and social media alongside the classics (like Shakespeare, Hemingway, Joan Didion, etc). I wouldn't have minded more of those types current examples as well as the classics. It might help students see a link between the content they consume and the content they're using for class.
Very clear, very easy to follow writing throughout. I think a student reader would find this as a very helpful intro-level guide. It's very accessible for new writers.
I felt like the book is overall very comprehensive and complete--but it does feel like a very basic or brief look at literature analysis. I felt like it is a book that might come up when looking for texts for a composition class, but it felt much more focused on reading and interpreting literature than learning about composition. That's where the consistency felt a little off to me.
I could see using a chapter--the discussion of scholarly vs. non-scholarly sources, for instance, or ethos/logos/pathos--and posting those links to my composition students. I might not assign the whole textbook, but there are very easily digestible pieces to add to students' understanding of the subject.
Very clear, very well organized throughout. Each chapter is nicely organized with a conversational style. I liked that it included creative nonfiction as a genre, too. Lots of useful information about personal writing (and reading personal essays), too.
For the most part, everything is great. Once we get into the research paper chapter, though, there is a graph that presents sideways (chapter 8). I was reading on both a phone and a laptop, and it was tricky to access that chart both times.
I didn't notice anything alarming, grammar-wise.
I think some of the examples of texts to read could be a little more modern--more recent texts from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, original languages, ethnicity. I think it could make more of an appeal to students through new media and other multimedia examples as well.
This book was clear and easy to follow--I don't know if I would assign the entire book for a composition class, but I could see several chapters as really helpful, easy resources for certain assignments.
The chapters on writing are relatively comprehensive, and I appreciated the prefatory comments in the “Why Write About Literature” section. They helped to establish the usefulness of this approach for students. On the other hand, certain of the... read more
The chapters on writing are relatively comprehensive, and I appreciated the prefatory comments in the “Why Write About Literature” section. They helped to establish the usefulness of this approach for students. On the other hand, certain of the genre chapters are brief. The drama chapter has only about one page of content regarding dramatic structure, followed by about 117 pages of sample plays. The creative nonfiction chapter is only about five pages long. More information defining the literary genres would have been helpful as I taught my course.
The content was accurate and unbiased.
Much of the content is relevant and current, especially the sample student papers. In order to strengthen the relevance, I would recommend revising the drama chapter to include the genre of film. Film is our contemporary medium for telling visual stories, has become much more popular than traditional plays, and would resonate more powerfully with undergraduates. In a similar vein, most of the poems at the end of chapter 4 were published in the 19th-century or earlier. Contemporary poetry has changed significantly in terms of form and content, and again would appeal more strongly to young people today. Including song lyrics or links to spoken-word poetry performances would resonate with this generation of students.
The writing style is clear and jargon-free. The conversational style is likely to appeal to young readers.
The text is consistent in terms of the way the chapters are structured. Most contain bolded key terms, relevant student examples, and discussion questions. Again, as I mentioned above, the four chapters that focus on literary genres might have been more consistent in terms of depth. The poetry chapter contains much more terminology than the others.
The chapters are relatively short, which makes them easy to assign in the course. The exception would be the lengthy sample texts. Shakespeare’s The Tempest, for example, takes up almost 100 pages (and the entire book is only about 260 pages).
The text begins with chapters about analytical writing, then moves into the four literary genres, then returns to writing assignments (literary analysis and the research paper). Although this order might have worked well for the author’s purposes, in my course it would have been preferable to begin with the genre chapters and then move on to the writing chapters. I would put chapters 2 and 3 just prior to chapter 8, so that the writing guidance could be more effectively integrated.
The text does not contain many graphic elements. In fact, there are no images at all. The few charts that are included are displayed clearly, and the reader can interact easily with the text. Because the textbook is available as a pdf, the highlighted links to outside texts do not work as hotlinks. The student must copy and paste the link into a browser. That might dissuade some young readers from pursuing extra-textual content. While the majority of the links work, I found three (Didion on p. 233, Feynman on p. 234, and Anzaldua on p. 269) that were broken (page not found or forbidden access).
There are no grammatical errors in the text.
For the most part, the textbook is inclusive. I appreciated, for example, the nuanced discussion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in chapter 5. I do think the list of additional readings, included in the Resources for Instructors section, could be more diverse. Of the fifteen readings listed, only three are written by women, and only two have nonwhite authors.
I used this textbook in my composition II class in the fall of 2021. Midway through the semester, I asked the students for feedback on the readings. I thought I’d include a few representative comments.
“I think that this textbook is ok. I appreciate that it is free but sometimes the chapters seem like they are only examples. I feel like some of the information in each chapter is unnecessary.”
“I think that the chapters are helpful in certain aspects. I do wish that they used fewer examples and just discussed the topics themselves more. I feel that it uses the examples as an out to avoid having to elaborate, but that can make the concepts confusing at times. Especially when they are topics that I have never heard of before.”
“The chapters are very long and there are a lot of inserts of outside text.”
“The chapters themselves are not bad for the book being free, but sometimes the text seems very simple which is not a bad thing, but it is something that I noticed.”
“I think this book does its job. It is not the best book in the world, but I think considering it is free, it does everything it needs to. After reading the chapters I know what the main idea was and know what I was supposed to learn. I think the chapters are short and to the point which makes it easy to read. Sometimes it is hard to get myself to spend the five to ten minutes reading the chapter when the examples are long and harder to read. I have trouble focusing on lengthy examples.”
From the students’ perspective, the main takeaways seem to be that the sample texts are lengthy, and the content is fairly simple. The simplicity can make it a very useful and accessible text for some students, especially those just beginning to think about writing and literature. I did find myself quite often needing to supplement with content. Shorter sample texts might make it more likely that students would complete those readings.
This text covers every aspect of literature, writing skills. instructions for writing papers i each genre as well as giving clear writing lessons and sample essays. read more
This text covers every aspect of literature, writing skills. instructions for writing papers i each genre as well as giving clear writing lessons and sample essays.
The point of view is written with the student in mind and the terminology and focus are very student centered. No grammar errors are present and the level is definitely focused on college level readers.
Because the focus is on the student, concerns particular to first year students is the priority. Agin, the terminology is consistent with any pedagogy teachers might decide to present.
The writing lessons are present is a very clear manner. The format here is using bold face type to work in an outline form when describing the various points to consider in reading and writing. The materials and sample essays are pinpointed to include advanced readings suitable for college and points of view that are challenging, that is, not talking down to the students.
The chapters are consistent because the format repeats itself in a good way as it works from genre to genre giving instruction, reading and sample students papers. The format is repeated by the content is specific to the genre under study.
One of the very best features of the text is that the terminology dictates the order of both the chapters and the presentations. The chapters are clear-cut and the student could easily use only the chapters pn which the class focuses.
All the previous recommendations focus on just this point of organization. The clear cut sections are presented in clearly defined sequences would give students confidence in the text, knowing that the information is right on target and presented in an academic but casual voice. Only one thing seems to be a small weakness in the text: adequate work on building a thesis. This is not that important because every chapter cover thesis in some way, but in the research writing section, only half a page is devoted to thesis statements.
There are no distractions such as visuals, cartoons, and charts. There are diagrams and subtitles and some charts. Fro instance in the Critical Thinking chapter deductive and inductive reasoning skills. pathos and logos are charted in a clear and informative manner.
There are no grammatical errors. Sentence structure is varied and employs longer sentences with complex and compound clauses. The terminology dictates the the vocabulary would be at a college level.
The readings span many various time periods and points of view. Everything from Susan Glaspell to Shakespeare. Poetry has a separate unit as well as drama and all selections are provocative without being biased.
This is a wonderful text that covers every aspect of what one expects to find in an English course. Because to its comprehensive nature, the text would be perfect for a two semester course. However the organization into separate chapters and genres lends itself to a one semester course as well. i will use this for my research writing course.
The information presented in this resource outlines the major elements of literature analysis while also focusing on traditional genres. There are added segments discussing common settings in which students might also use academic research writing... read more
The information presented in this resource outlines the major elements of literature analysis while also focusing on traditional genres. There are added segments discussing common settings in which students might also use academic research writing principles. Chapters are well-rounded and easy to maneuver.
Overall, the content is simple in nature, each section breaks down a topic, expands on it, then there are exercises or sample readings that illustrate further. This text contains few to no errors as far as content in general; but the author does juxtapose questionable phraseology, opinion language, and superfluous imagery [often found in hypothetical examples] with the contradictory idea of research writing needing to be based in fact and conformed to a rigid set of formatting guidelines and structural parameters.
There are up to date samples and references mixed with outdated terminology [names, issues, trends] throughout this source. Where the author includes quite a few classical or contemporary titles, there is nothing after 2018, which is ancient history by now (2021). Although use of current examples and associations is lacking, instructors can easily implement ancillary materials more suited to the evolving world condition.
A majority of the text is easily readable whereas some illustrations [charts, essay samples, annotations] may have accessibility issues if students are using older versions of Windows or Word, a Mac, etc. In these cases, it might get tricky viewing and working with the source information outside of its original formatting. Annotation examples are not tabled, the only thing distinguishing the notes from the original excerpt being annotated is font style. That is being really picky though, some instructors may not feel that it affects the flow at all. To each their own.
This resource provides consistent, relevant information pertaining to topics typically discussed in literature courses, with the added bonus of outlining the essential format and structure of college-level research writing. Activities and exercises are carried out in similar fashion throughout. Additionally, the author clearly attempts to balance the amount of content presented [to the reader] in each section so it is never overwhelming.
In terms of modularity, the layout of contents is very user friendly. It’s easy to “get around” and sections are not too congested with distracting visual implements. What is promised in the introduction is delivered to its conclusion, the author does a great job of keeping expectations transparent without oversimplifying.
For the most part, the ideas in this source are fleshed out clearly, save a few rocky areas. One thing that might throw the reader off is the order in which writing concepts are presented. As an example, Argument is discussed in depth at the beginning, but Analysis is not mentioned except in reference to specific genres. It seems slightly counterintuitive not to have a section on critical/analytical thinking and reasoning before delving into the complexities of argumentation.
Navigating through this resource is a breeze! There aren’t excessive advertisements on the sites the reader is linked to either, just nice, clean web pages that have been well vetted (most of which are also mainstays in the field of literature). That being said, whether it will quench the modern day student’s thirst for interaction or obsession with social media, remains to be seen.
Due to the author’s choice of simple, relatable terms, along with clearly outlined activities and examples, there are no obvious errors when it comes to the overall content. Tiny incongruities may exist, such as sources not being quoted or cited with appropriate punctuation. The concern there is that parts of the text are incorrectly formatted [APA, MLA, CMS] which contradicts parameters illustrated in later chapters.
In the author’s defense, this resource was created in 2018, pre-pandemic; which now seems like light years in the past, so although it could use a touch-up, there is no need for a full on make-over here. When the writer puts forth hypotheticals, they pass the basic test of not being gender or race bias but the full source doesn’t include cultural considerations (like a multiple language learner’s perspective) or present case studies specifically designed to exemplify instances of diversity. Under some circumstances, the cultural aspect is lost in time, there are several outdated references and examples that present missed opportunities to get students communicating about people with different cultural backgrounds and unique world views. Instructors may want to do some maintenance in those sections.
In OER (whenever referenced) the author's name is spelled Bennet, but on the original source it is Bennett. That could be an issue for the writer, especially when citing or documenting.
Overall, what I like about this text is that it concisely covers what it needs to. There is a table of contents, a glossary, additional resources for instructors, and a bibliography. read more
Overall, what I like about this text is that it concisely covers what it needs to. There is a table of contents, a glossary, additional resources for instructors, and a bibliography.
The content is accurate and concise. This text works as a great reference point for instructors and students. I also like that it covers a wide-range of writing forms.
This is great for a wide-range of courses. The fact that you can re-mix and build the work in various ways makes it particularly relevant, especially when combined with other outside resources and readings.
Text is written in a clear and concise way. Examples are provided. Text is student-focused.
The text is ordered and organized consistently. Sections are broken up in a consistent way.
As mentioned in the relevance section, the license allows the text to be remixed and integrated in the way that suits the instructor. It is easily and readily divisible. I also like the concision of the sections.
Well organized and presented. Concise.
I didn't notice any errors in regard to the interface. Everything was readable and accessible.
Text is free of grammatical errors.
The book does not contain readings but what is contained in the text is focused on a Western-audience. More diversity in perspective and content would be appreciated. This is perhaps my biggest concern with the text, but it's a common one across all of the OER texts.
The text aspires to comprehensiveness, but serves better as a useful introduction to literary analysis. The examples of literature provided may appear limited, but that opens the door for instructors to introduce their own examples and have... read more
The text aspires to comprehensiveness, but serves better as a useful introduction to literary analysis. The examples of literature provided may appear limited, but that opens the door for instructors to introduce their own examples and have students implement these various critical approaches. The initial chapters are a bit underdeveloped. For example, Historical Analysis gets a sentence. A more thorough examination of logical fallacies would be appreciated. That said, the sections on comprehending and writing about fiction, poetry and drama are the heart of the text and are effective.
The analytical content is accurate. With respect to MLA citation, the text may need to be updated in the future.
As stated, the text provides students with a foundational grounding in literary criticism. This analysis is often applied to traditional works of literature. One might welcome more contemporary works of literature, along with more recent forms of literary criticism. This is not the primary focus of the text. These gaps provide an excellent opportunity for instructors to introduce recent critical approaches, or ask students to seek these out and evaluate these approaches as part of a project. On another note, there is always the possibility that the sample student paper on Call of Duty may be viewed as outdated by future students.
The procession through the subject matter, from the introduction through fiction, poetry, and drama, is logical. This will certainly benefit students who wish to use the text as quick reference for composing assignments.
The chapters are thoughtfully and consistently organized.
The modules clearly follow a logical pattern. An instructor could break it apart if necessary. For example, the poetry chapter could stand on its own. Overall, each chapter is informed by previous chapters and anticipates future chapters, providing a holistic approach to examining literature.
Overall, the structure of the book holds together quite well. Occasionally, transitions between chapters are a bit clunky. A careful instructor can easily bridge these gaps for the class.
The formatting is consistent. Students should be able to navigate the text on their phones, if necessary.
There are apparently none.
One would certainly appreciate a more diverse grouping of authors. Obtaining author permissions may have posed difficulties. That said, because the offerings of open source materials are fluid, one may be able successfully supplement the readings by drawing from other texts.
I would strongly consider this text for an introductory literature course.
While I enjoyed reading Writing and Literature and found it very accessible, it seems to be missing some key elements and is out of scope in others. 1. While the works included here are exemplary and timeless, there are few modern-day, living... read more
While I enjoyed reading Writing and Literature and found it very accessible, it seems to be missing some key elements and is out of scope in others.
1. While the works included here are exemplary and timeless, there are few modern-day, living writers discussed. How are students supposed to know where we are now with respect to the literary canon? I think of writers/poets like Marie Howe, Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Jhumpa Lahiri, Alice Munro, Lynn Nottage. Also, the diversity of the literary canon is not exactly obvious through the work selected. We have primarily white and African American writers studied here.
2. The Effective Argument chapter needs to be condensed. Some of the law terms such as "enthymeme" are out of scope and not needed. Inductive reasoning is really the only type of logic needed for this class.
3. I found the discussion on thesis statements to be weak. Students in an introductory literature class struggle with thesis statements and need examples of working, final, and erroneous statements.
4. In chapter 2, "Forming a Perspective on a Subject/Discovering and Honoring Your Passions and Values" the sample paper "Call of Duty: Short of Reality" is better suited for a first semester composition class via the concept essay. I understand that it is important for students to hone in on their passions, but professors must hold the primary texts as paramount for a literature class. Where is the connection to the character in the story regarding his war experience? There in no evidence of this, no in-text citations; the novel The Sun Also Rises is not even in the Works Cited page.
Although somewhat verbose at times, I found the discussion to be quite accurate, with the exception of number 4 in "Comprehensiveness."
Modifying the text with modern-day poets, fiction writers, and playwrights can be easily implemented.
This text is written in conversational language with concrete examples that are easy to comprehend.
The consistency of the main literary elements of theme, imagery, character/narrator, setting, etc could be better emphasized with respect to the genres. For instance, theme is common to all of the literary genres discussed.
Text can be easily used to teach the different genres of literature in a particular sequence for each semester.
I don't agree with the author's philosophy of teaching poetry first. Poetry is often dense, complex, and abstract ("Ode on a Grecian Urn" is a perfect example of this) and will surely send students mentally heading for the hills. Beginning the course with concrete, relatable stories in short fiction and introducing the main literary elements regarding this genre is a better strategy.
The interface of the text is mostly fine; there were some links that didn't work, however. These are p. 37, link to the Poetry Foundation; p. 47 link to "Blackberry Eating" (link does not take you directly to the poem, but to the home page); p. 258, "The Hunting of the Hare" story in the Works Cited page, EBSCO link in Works Cited.
Ostentatious grammatical errors were not immediately apparent.
See comment in "Comprehensiveness."
I liked the main philosophy of the book--to reach students. Discussions on passive vs. active reading, why we need literary terminology, evidence, writing as a process, and research are thorough. My main complaint is the lack of literary diversity and the esoteric law terms.
The textbook provides what few others do: analysis of and guidance in the core methods of literary argumentation in particular, although Chapter 3 (Effective Argument) would be valuable in a number of writing situations. The writer has done a... read more
The textbook provides what few others do: analysis of and guidance in the core methods of literary argumentation in particular, although Chapter 3 (Effective Argument) would be valuable in a number of writing situations. The writer has done a commendable job of covering critical reading compositional strategies, including literary research in an economical way. The only quibble I have is the limited literary pieces, but these author is limited to what they can choose, so I do not hold this against the text.
I find the concepts and strategies to conform to best practices.
The textbook could have made better use of hyperlinks to online texts or supplemental material. Some links do not work.
The writing is clear because the writer focuses on conveying ideas and methods in a simple and succinct style.
No problems here.
The nine chapters can work for either a short (7-8 week) course or long (15 week) course, and the text provides a mix-and-match flexibility that can be easily adapted to a long or short session.
I love the organization, especially the Tractatus-like numbering system which make it easy to organize the sections and subsections to suit a particular course's emphasis.
Some problems with dead links or links leading to sites access to which is denied.
No noticeable errors.
The text is inclusive and sensitive.
There's a lot you can do with this book. It can act as the foundation of the course, or it can be used in a supplementary fashion. I might consider assigning one or two of the chapters to any of my classes that require critical writing about texts. This
The book covers genre, approach, reasoning and more. I was impressed with the range it was able to cover. read more
The book covers genre, approach, reasoning and more. I was impressed with the range it was able to cover.
This book is accurate and thorough.
The examples and ideas in this book are relevant and current, but will not be outdated quickly. The book is arranged in a way that is logical and easy to follow.
This book is excellent in terms of clarity. The tone is perfect for students. Everything is explained well with strong, relevant examples that students can relate to. In some cases, such as the Effective Argument section, there could have been more explanation or more examples given. Sometimes a student needs more than one example to understand the concept.
The text is consistent and thorough. The glossary of terms in the back is particularly helpful.
The text is divided into sections that are readable and that make sense for the student. Everything is presented well and has relevant titles.
It is organized in a logical, helpful manner. I would not change a thing about how the text is presented.
The books interface is perfect until Chapter 8 (pages 241-42). This section has a very helpful calendar example of how a student should break up working on their essay. The drawback is that the calendar is vertical and not easy to read. If this was flipped to a horizontal structure it would be easier to follow. Everything else in the book is set up well.
The book is grammatically sound.
The text is not insensitive in any way. There could be more inclusion of literature that includes a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
An aspect that I really enjoyed was the style in which it was written. It is casual and accessible for the student. The author uses many examples that allow the student to see the relevance of the topic. There are a good number of diverse stories, plays, essays, and poems to look at. There are helpful links to outside sources, sample essays, and helpful diagrams to enhance the students' understanding.
As a textbook addressing students in a freshman composition course, "Writing and Literature" has very little about writing. Chapters on "The Literary Analysis Essay" and "The Research Paper" are pushed to the end of the book. The two paragraphs on... read more
As a textbook addressing students in a freshman composition course, "Writing and Literature" has very little about writing. Chapters on "The Literary Analysis Essay" and "The Research Paper" are pushed to the end of the book. The two paragraphs on "Articulating an Effective Thesis" fail to offer examples, and although sample student papers are later included, they do not identify the strengths or weaknesses of those papers or show the writing process. Overall, this is not a helpful textbook on composition. Nor is this textbook especially comprehensive when it comes to analyzing literature. The chapter on drama consists mostly of two complete plays that would be better accessed through online links. Chapters on poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction are slightly more thorough. The questions about literature that seem to be the impetus for the subtitle "Composition as Inquiry, Learning, Thinking, and Communication" really are nothing more than questions at the end of a reading. Nothing new here!
The information presented here is accurate enough, but shallow. An instructor could use the textbook as a starting point, perhaps, though many other textbooks provide this information in more accessible and engaging formats.
With little variety of literature and few samples of the process of writing, this textbook is probably already irrelevant one year after publication with the content easily found elsewhere. As the author writes, "For success in any project, a writer must be aware of and carefully consider his [sic] audience." Unfortunately, Bennett did not take her own advice. This textbook does not address the situation of a contemporary student. For example, in arguing the benefits of writing about literature in a composition course, her first explanation is that an imaginary professor, Dr. Lopez, would have chosen this approach because, "He is better able to evaluate the effectiveness of your compositions if they are written on a topic with which he has some expertise." That rationale gives students little reason to want to read literature or write about it, other than to please the professor and get out of the class as quickly as possible.
The language used in this textbook is clear and defines terms used, but it fails to address its intended audience in an engaging, informative, and consistent way.
In some cases, this textbook refers students to other open-source locations to read the literature selections being discussed, but in other cases, it includes the entire text. This inconsistency makes sense (perhaps) with short texts like poetry, but not so much with the entirety of "The Tempest" and "Trifles". As a result the quality of chapters is uneven. This seems like an unfinished attempt.
As currently organized, this is not a course-friendly text. Also, more links to more literature selections would be helpful.
Chapters were clearly organized, though content was uneven. For a composition textbook, I would expect more discussion of writing earlier in the book.
No interface issues
I found no glaring grammatical errors except a reliance on the male generic pronoun.
The text assumes a male generic pronoun throughout; the literature chosen for analysis is Western canonical. At times, the author's voice seemed patronizing, as when she suggested students "probably enjoy reading certain kinds of texts, such as internet articles on your pet interests.... You may even have literary favorites."
I'm surprised that the ratings of this textbook have been so high despite the critical comments made by other reviewers. Is that because of getting high marks on "modularity" and "interface"? If this text were not available through the Open Textbook Library, it would not be worth purchasing. A big disappointment and I will not use it for my classes!
The "About the Book" section suggests an engagement in reconfiguring literature-centered composition practice in the age of social media and digital humanities. Ultimately, the textbook does not follow this through. While it references pop culture... read more
The "About the Book" section suggests an engagement in reconfiguring literature-centered composition practice in the age of social media and digital humanities. Ultimately, the textbook does not follow this through. While it references pop culture touchstones in video games and other media, these references are scattered across the text and not deployed in a way that generates critical discussion on expanding definitions of literature, literacy, and/or critical engagement through composition. As a result, the textbook repackages a very traditional understanding of literature and literary analysis in a way that makes it feel disconnected from the contemporary student. The recognition of one's passions, however, as important context(s) that impact reading and writing is well-taken and could perhaps be expanded and developed as a central contribution of a revised edition.
While the textbook is forthcoming about its literary bias, its treatment of texts and its assumptions about the reader lean towards universalizing. Moreover, its handling of new media and literary nonfiction is beginning to feel outdated.
The textbook's present content is relevant insofar as the canon (both categorically and by composition) remains so. It would be beneficial and impactful to look ahead to how the various literary genres, schools of criticism, and works are developing.
The textbook presents and unpacks literary and critical concepts in accessible prose.
The textbook is consistent in its structuring and unpacking of concepts and practices, but framing commentary is at times excluded in sections.
In certain chapters, the division among framing material, literary text, and student application could be demarcated more clearly. While the genre chapters could function as standalone units, the first three chapters build on one another in such a way that they must be assigned in order.
Individual chapters are introduced clearly and thoroughly, and each of the genre chapters could function as a standalone piece; however, some closer attention could be payed to the linkages between chapters after the first three.
Aside from the alignment of some tables, the textbook's interface is crisp and clean. There may be some benefit in reevaluating the use of font, color, and page arrangement, but these would be improvements rather than corrections. The centering of the literary text on the page in the short prose and drama sections does not inhibit reading, but it does make these sections border on the overly long and visually monotonous.
I found no grammatical errors.
As noted in previous reviews, the textbook draws its content almost exclusively from the Western literary canon; the majority of the works considered are written by white men. The textbook does engage the work of six writers of color: Charles Chesnutt, Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Maya Angelou, and Gloria Anzaldua. Their respective works, however, are given marginal status. Angelou and Anzaldua, the only two women writers of color, are only listed in the “Also for Consideration” portions of their respective sections. While texts such as Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” and Shakespeare’s The Tempest invite inquiry into issues such as race, nationalism, and empire, the textbook does not enter this terrain.
Since this book is taking a particular approach to teaching college writing, it is not attempting to be comprehensive in subject matter. Instead, it focuses on ways composition can be taught through literature. In that vein, the text does a good... read more
Since this book is taking a particular approach to teaching college writing, it is not attempting to be comprehensive in subject matter. Instead, it focuses on ways composition can be taught through literature. In that vein, the text does a good job of moving instructors and students through a comprehensive process of reading closely and arguing effectively in a variety of literary genres. Although the text does not provide an index, it does offer a helpful glossary and several resources for instructors including possible themes and primary works and assignment ideas.
The content is accurate and easily digestible for students. It provides a good foregrounding in effective reading and argument before venturing into literary genres and analysis. The text does a good job of revealing its bias from the beginning; as a good example of argumentation, it indicates why a professor might choose to teach composition using literature rather than non-fiction.
Primarily because this text does not include a section of primary readings, it will have good longevity. Although the suggested thematic list of texts is helpful and there are some primary text examples weaved throughout the text, a given instructor can easily use any pieces of literature with this book.
This text is very clear and highly accessible. It is easy to read. While one could see it as "too easy" for a college audience, it invites the students to read difficult material outside of the text. In other words, it instructs them on how to read and how to argue in student-friendly prose so that they can clearly grasp the framework for reading more difficult materials outside of the text. This strategy is quite helpful when instructing a class of students whose abilities can vary widely.
It is consistent in terminology and framework throughout.
It would be difficult to take this text apart into modules that don't follow the prescribed organizational pattern. While an instructor could certainly teach the genres included in any order desired, the first three chapters build on one another to build the framework necessary for analyzing those genres.
The text is well-organized. It progresses clearly from foundational ideas and terms to genres in which one might practice using those ideas and terms.
This text is extremely straight forward. There are no issues in navigation; it is a basic chapter by chapter book in black and white. In fact, I would offer that as a slight criticism. Although there a couple of charts, some images would be helpful for student interest.
The book does not contain errors that disrupted my reading.
Of the primary text examples this book included and suggested for thematic courses, almost all of them are well-known, canonical texts. Although some women's voices and voices of color are included, the literary selections are primarily written by white men. This surprises me somewhat since I am familiar with Dr. Bennet's work on Appalachian author Lee Smith. Even though the primary texts in the book are limited, I will again state that the instructor would be able to easily add primary texts. Perhaps that is why "classic" texts were chosen.
The description of this book seems to suggest that WRITING AND LITERATURE will explore how literary texts remain relevant and vital amid a modern era of hashtags and image-rich media. The book approaches this goal, but it never fully achieves it.... read more
The description of this book seems to suggest that WRITING AND LITERATURE will explore how literary texts remain relevant and vital amid a modern era of hashtags and image-rich media. The book approaches this goal, but it never fully achieves it. The introduction specifically situates this book as a beginning college-level reader, but the topics discussed feel at times esoteric, and at other times the book comes off as reductive. There are some moments when modern examples are peppered into this book—for example, there’s a sample that discusses the popular Call of Duty videogame franchise. However, the majority of this book does not directly deal with a deep discussion of how literature fits into a landscape dominated by new media. Moreover, the texts discussed often draw from a classic American and European texts, and there is not much time spent on new modes of thinking or diverse voices. Students reading this book are being told that literature is vital to their lives and that rhetorical analysis of literature builds crucial college-level skills, but this message falls flat when the text often resorts to the same Western canon that has already been drilled into their heads throughout high school. There is not enough expansion of knowledge here. Ultimately, the book feels like a stodgy literary text that has been dressed up with some approximations of a modern student’s perspective.
This book is relatively accurate, but it makes some assumptions about its audience and about new media that come off as reductive.
WRITING AND LITERATURE will need substantial updating to remain relevant. The few examples of new media that are discussed will likely be obsolete in a couple years, and some other material already feels dated. The book’s central goal seems to be convincing students that classic modes of writing are still relevant, but it does not fully achieve this goal.
The book uses accessible language in most chapters, and new terms are quickly defined for readers. Transitions between chapters could be strengthened; the book’s main ideas are not always linked, and there are missed opportunities for callbacks or review of previous information. However, the book is clear and readable overall. Adept students will be able to identify the core themes and of each isolated chapter.
This book is consistent in its formatting. Chapter breaks are clear, bulleted lists help set key information apart, and sections are clearly marked. Students reading this book will discover a consistent layout and feel to each chapter.
WRITING AND LITERATURE has some clear modules, but many of them may be longer than they need to be. Breaking each section into smaller subsections could improve navigation, especially for students who have trouble synthesizing large swaths of text.
Individual chapters flow well; there is a logical internal progression. Overall, each chapter works well as a standalone piece. These pieces, however, do not always add up to a cohesive whole. The book is occasionally disjointed and transitions from one chapter to the next could be smoother.
There are some tables, samples, and lists to guide students. The use of color could be more thoughtful, and the chapters themselves could be enhanced with more explicit concluding ideas and next steps for students who want to apply their newfound knowledge. The interface is usable, but it could be improved with some additional special formatting.
I did not notice any glaring grammatical problems.
As mentioned by previous reviewers, this text relies heavily on a whitewashed Western canon. Obviously, an OER textbook author is often limited by licensing. However, there are many public domain works from diverse authors; there is no justifiable need to rely so heavily on a predominantly white male canon even in an OER textbook. A quick search of Project Gutenberg yields numerous diverse pieces of literature from the American civil rights era. Additionally, there are places in this book where the WRITING AND LITERATURE does not directly address or embed texts into the work, opting to simply recommend that students follow a URL to read a freely available website. This workaround could be used more thoughtfully in order to share contemporary work that is more universal, culturally relevant, and better aligns with the book’s rhetorical goals.
WRITING AND LITERATURE has a grand vision that is not fully executed. The idea is impressive, and I fully support texts that seek to venerate and celebrate literature in the composition classroom. I’d love to see an updated version that is more culturally competent, comprehensive, and strengthens its links to the lives of everyday students.
The book attempts to cover many different aspects related to writing and literature; however, due to the ambitious breadth, it often only skims the surface of many of the topics. For example, while I appreciate the background on different types of... read more
The book attempts to cover many different aspects related to writing and literature; however, due to the ambitious breadth, it often only skims the surface of many of the topics. For example, while I appreciate the background on different types of literary criticism in Ch. 2, there are no actual examples of the different critical approaches and no follow-up student exercises. Additionally, literary terms are defined throughout the book but are often not explained. The glossary, list of links for additional works of literature, and assignment ideas at the back of the book are well-organized and helpful.
I did not find any inaccuracies or biases, but many of the descriptions were not detailed enough, which I believe will lead to poor comprehension of several concepts for readers. For example, in order for a reader to understand blank verse, the book could easily show lines of poetry, but there is merely a short definition.
The writer incorporates examples from modern life that are sure to help college readers relate, but none of these should make this book seem outdated in the next decade or so, as I cannot imagine that social media (which she references) will become obsolete. From the book's description, which mentions "Buzzfeeds, hashtags, and Tweets," I expected more references to modern technology, but the author may be making a concerted effort to avoid discussing trends so as not to have the world outgrow her work too quickly. While I appreciate the inclusion of (mostly British) classic texts, I would have liked to see more modern writings, as well.
The writer maintains a pleasant, very readable style and strives to make her ideas accessible with many easy-to-relate analogies. However, there are times when the introduction to a concept goes on for far too long, causing the reader to lose focus, and then the concept itself is often not described in adequate detail. For example, there is a whole section about a student playing video games. The purpose of this is to explain the importance of forming a perspective, but it's very long-winded. Then, the student's full research paper is included, but there is no explanation on what was done well or poorly. Why not just share a snippet of the paper to illustrate a point?
The text uses consistent headings and organization; however, there are places where sample texts are given without much context. Some texts are introduced with focal areas and/or follow-up questions, yet others, such as the poems at the end of Ch. 4, are simply provided without direction. Also, I cannot understand why the book includes the entire play of _The Tempest_; why not just provide a piece and a link?
Every chapter is short (except the one that includes an entire play) and thus does not present an overwhelming reading assignment to a student. I do not believe the text needs to be presented in a linear fashion; there is such breadth to this book that the chapters could easily be mixed, matched, and/or left out.
Chapter titles and headings are informative. I believe some of the content presented in narrative form would be more easily accessible to the reader if formatted into bulleted lists. This would cut much of the wordiness.
The book is presented clearly with no distortions. The font is easy to read, and the writer uses color to her advantage, such as showcasing different methods of annotation. There are a few calendar pages which are printed sideways, but this is not really an issue.
I did not locate a single grammatical error. This text looks very professional.
Nothing in this book is culturally insensitive, and the author includes pieces from some writers of color. The literature is mostly American or British in origin and could include other parts of the world, but I do understand that the author is limited by copyright laws.
This text is well-organized and clearly addresses ways to write about different genres of literature. I like that the text begins by explaining how the study of literature can be relevant to students who are not English majors. The chapter follow... read more
This text is well-organized and clearly addresses ways to write about different genres of literature. I like that the text begins by explaining how the study of literature can be relevant to students who are not English majors. The chapter follow a logical progression and cover all of the major topic for literary analysis. I find Dr. Long Bennet to be very knowledgeable about her subject. My major critiques of the text are the separation of “fun reading” like science fiction and fantasy and “literary” readings. This view is an outdated classification. These days, literature professors are assigning a variety of literary works in their courses to try to fully engage students. Which leads me to my second criticism of the text: the choice of readings. I understand that with an open-access textbook, Dr. Long Bennet was limited in her choices of literary examples. But for future versions, it would be great if she could try to get permission to include more contemporary texts.
I find the text to be accurate overall. The descriptions of the critical perspectives could have been more detailed. Some of the citations will need to be updated to MLA 8 format. I particularly like the research essay checklist and glossary sections.
The overall advice for writing about literature will be relevant for many years. The MLA citation examples, however, will need to be updated whenever MLA changes their guidelines, which happened again recently.
Overall, I find the wording to be clear. I think some of the writing, such as the justifications for why non-English majors should write about literature, are a little wordy. Students don’t need every reason why they should write about literature; a few concise examples of how literary analysis can help them in other courses would be more effective.
The chapters are very consistently organized.
A professor could easily teach the genre chapters in whatever order they preferred.
The textbook has strong organization and flow.
Overall, the text was clear and the visuals were easy to read. Some of the visuals, such as the sample essay planning calendar, will need to be printed out for students to read because they are sideways in the text.
I found no grammatical errors.
I would like to see examples of authors from a diverse range of backgrounds and time periods. Again, this is difficult to achieve when dealing with author permissions, but it is not impossible.
I plan to use some of the writing descriptions and materials in my course, but I will change the literary samples to include a more diverse range of authors.
Table of Contents
- Why Write About Literature?
- Chapter 1: Reading Like a Professional
- Chapter 2: Forming a Perspective on the Subject
- Chapter 3: Effective Argument
- Chapter 4: Experiencing the Power of Poetry
- Chapter 5: The Truths of Fiction
- Chapter 6: All the World's a Stage
- Chapter 7: Creative Nonfiction, The Fourth Genre
- Chapter 8: The Literary Analysis Essay
- Chapter 9: The Research Paper
About the Book
In the age of Buzzfeeds, hashtags, and Tweets, students are increasingly favoring conversational writing and regarding academic writing as less pertinent in their personal lives, education, and future careers. Writing and Literature: Composition as Inquiry, Learning, Thinking and Communication connects students with works and exercises and promotes student learning that is kairotic and constructive. Dr. Tanya Long Bennett, professor of English at the University of North Georgia, poses questions that encourage active rather than passive learning. Furthering ideas presented in Contribute a Verse: A Guide to First-Year Composition as a complimentary companion, Writing and Literature builds a new conversation covering various genres of literature and writing. Students learn the various writing styles appropriate for analyzing, addressing, and critiquing these genres including poetry, novels, dramas, and research writing. The text and its pairing of helpful visual aids throughout emphasizes the importance of critical reading and analysis in producing a successful composition. Writing and Literature is a refreshing textbook that links learning, literature, and life.
About the Contributors
Dr. Tanya Long Bennet, University of North Georgia