Advanced Composition Aesthetics and the Writer's Colony
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     Advanced Composition and Knowledge Transforming
My paper attempts to implement theory in the classroom to help advanced composition students move from knowledge structuring to knowledge transforming. Once students have mastered the art of well constructed academic essays, they should work on transcending organizational formalism. Bereiter and Scardamalia define transforming as "going beyond normal linguistic endowments in order to enable the individual to accomplish alone what is normally accomplished only through social interaction ­ namely, the reprocessing of knowledge" (6). The focus shifts beyond cohesion and clarity to aesthetics, symbolism, metaphor, originality, experimentation, genre-mixing, passion, and sublimity. (I recognize that many universities have defined the teaching of rhetoric and argumentation as Advanced Composition, but I'd more accurately categorize such courses as Advanced Rhetoric or Intermediate Composition.) 
How then can we move from justifiable but restrictive classroom standards to transcendent essays? I believe that basic writers grow through the natural exploration of simple process-based exercises; intermediate writers grow through the product approach of structured rhetoric; and advanced writers grow though the more sophisticated application of process-oriented techniques. Using a similar rationale, Alfred North Whitehead argued in his classic book, The Aims of Education, that "the acquisition of any intellectual discipline is a dialectical process that moves from freedom to discipline and back again to a freedom transformed by the powers conferred by discipline"(summarized by Young, 44). Certainly our favorite writers combine creative freedom with years of disciplined practice. 
Advanced writing also requires a shift in implied audience and in mission. Katherine H. Adams of Loyola University in New Orleans explains that while freshman composition "prepares students for the writing they will do in college," advanced classes aim farther, looking "beyond, to the writing that the student will do in the world" (ix). Although I agree with Donald Stewart's fundamental goal of teaching students "to be lucid and literate, in powerful and convincing ways," I challenge teachers with an even grander purpose (106). Beyond persuasive college-level writing for all students, we must nurture gifted students to write on behalf of civilization. If, as novelist and poet Rita Mae Brown argues, "Life is a conversation between the dead, the living, and the unborn ­ between all that was and all that can be," then writing empowers "our generation to reach beyond the limits of our physical existence;" in fact, "when language is raised to the level of literature, one approaches heaven" (202, 208). In designing a Advanced Aesthetics course, I've incorporated the advice of literary heroes, handbooks for fiction writers, lifestyles at artist colonies, and reflection on the communal search for meaning. 
     Reflections on Arrogance
I've adapted the title of this paper from my first Delphi response. Naive enough to expect that my classmates would self-disclose to the same extent, I boasted: "My best writing is intensely personal. Sometimes I think of my words as too lovely to be spoiled by anyone's scrutiny."
That braggadocio would haunt me: the line replayed in second-level responses from my learning collaborators along with the harsh ­- but most likely deserved ­- accusation of "arrogant!" On reflection, such pride must be the goal of a course in Advanced Composition Aesthetics. In fact, Peter Elbow insists on the writer's "authority: pervasive confidence in themselves, utter conviction about what they are saying, complete command over their craft" (321). 
Imagine students writing with such passion, from a potential space so deep within their core humanity, that their own words transcend criticism. Imagine students so proud, so confident, of their creative nonfiction that the internal judgment of loveliness defeats external opinion. 
Author: Elizabeth Howell Brunner