The first chapter of Jody Shipka’s Toward A Composition Made Whole opens up many questions about not only what is composition, but how it plays a key role in our everyday lives. Shipka does a great job explaining how composition has evolved from penning thoughts on to paper simply for the enjoyment of writing to extensive projects that include not just writing, but research, visual design, and much more.
In her introduction, Shipka talks about the importance of bridging together the curricular and extracurricular uses of multimedia and composition. At one point, she wonders about the potential of students if they were to put as much time into their school work as they did into Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. This is an interesting point for Shipka to bring up, as it applies directly to our Writing & Digital Media class. After the reading, I am anticipating that this class will provide students with ways to make their time online more useful.
Another part of Shipka’s book that I found intriguing was her analysis of determining if a writer is “good” or not. The conclusion she seemed to come to was that, other than grouping writers by genre, there really is no way to determine how good or bad a writer is. Why? Because it all depends on the reader. For example, someone who enjoys reading fluffy romances by Nicholas Sparks may not enjoy horror, sci-fi novels by Stephen King. Or a person who loves Stephen King and his sci-fi novels may not think a heralded sports writer like Rick Reilly is a good writer. However, if you were to group writers by genre, it is much easier to determine what is “good”. For example, Dan Brown and James Patterson are some of the best when it comes to thriller genre.
In regards to the language that Shipka uses, I thought it was maddening to read, especially from a person who is an expert on composition and rhetoric. Then again, I am a student reading a book written for professors.