The mission of Francis Marion University’s Composition Program is to prepare students for both academic and public contexts, enhance critical thinking and rhetorical awareness, and foster students’ abilities to communicate effectively in various writing situations.
FMU’s composition sequence provides students with an introduction to the skills needed for academic success at the college level while offering small class sizes to enhance students’ writing experiences. These small classes, capped at 15 in each section, help to create stronger writing communities inside classroom walls while creating opportunities for more feedback on writing and for more teacher-student interaction. Throughout these courses, students will develop reading, writing, critical thinking, and research skills that will transfer to writing situations beyond their classes.
Composition Program Goals:
- To prepare students to use language and styles for writing in a variety of rhetorical situations
- To deepen students’ understanding of the power and influence of written, digital, and visual texts, both those they read and those they compose themselves
- To develop students’ information literacy
- To guide students through processes of reflection, so they can evaluate and improve their current and future reading and writing practices
Each year, the Composition Program publishes a compilation of student essays titled Final Draft. This book highlights the hard work and writing of about a dozen composition students, and instructors incorporate their essays into their classrooms in various ways.
We honor all those students featured in Final Draft at our annual English Department Awards Day, where we also recognize three composition distinctions: the Best ENG 101/101E Essay Award, the Best ENG 102 Essay Award, and the McCrimmon Award, which is the best composition essay across the composition sequence.
Dr. Rachel N. Spear recently presented a poster at the Association of Rhetoric and Writing Studies (ARWS) 2018 Conference in Austin, TX, where she shared FMU’s Composition Program’s 2018 “Poster and Panel” initiative and underscores the possibilities related to merging experiential learning with experimental writing.
First-year composition classes may participate in our Composition Program’s “common read,” which focuses on a selected text that is read across sections and courses. This experience allows students to engage in broader conversations with their peers beyond the classroom.
What’s more, authors of common reads are often brought on campus during the Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival or Hunter Lecture Series. These events invite face-to-face interactions between students and authors, which help not only to demystify the writing process but also to offer opportunities for students to have conversations with the authors.
The common read inspires student projects and outside-the-class activities. For example, in 2019, students participated in both an on-campus gardening project and nature walks at Huntington State Park, which were sparked by J. Drew Lanham’s memoir The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Affair with Nature. In 2018, after reading Dr. Damon Tweedy’s Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine, four selected students presented their research-based posters to a public audience during a campus-wide “Poster and Panel” session—an event that allowed them to hone their composition and communication skills.