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 SRU English Professors Write 'In Search of Eloquence' 



Nov. 16, 2004

Contact: Gordon Ovenshine 724-738-4854;


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Two Slippery Rock University English professors have written a book that aims to improve college students’ writing by further integrating principals of composition and rhetoric into all academic departments, known as writing-across curriculum.

“In Search of Eloquence” by Dr. Cornelius Cosgrove and Dr. Nancy Barta-Smith argues that academic departments should dialogue on writing’s role in degree programs, scholarship and professional practices and adapt teaching methods for a more centralized approach.

“When you start talking to faculty outside of English, you challenge and expand the pedagogy of writing,” Cosgrove said. “How students write often times varies from discipline to discipline, in terms of the style and kinds of arguments used. This kind of cross-discipline talk and sharing of knowledge might lead to writing instruction that is truly integral.”

Published by Hampton Press, Inc., the 220-page book includes chapters on writing as argument and persuasion, defining genres, style and further steps toward eloquence. The authors expect most readers to be academics, particularly those in composition studies. They hope it leads to more writing-across curriculum at universities.


Cosgrove and Barta-Smith authors interviewed eight professors at SRU about writing and integrated their extensive comments into the text of their book. The authors conclude a comprehensive rhetorical education is possible only through the full involvement of faculty in every academic discipline.

“The book links scholarship on rhetoric, composition and English studies to the perspective of faculty outside of English,” Cosgrove said.

The authors acknowledge most graduates will use their writing skills to advance their employers’ goals, not in the idealistic, academic sense of exploring truth and knowledge. Therefore, they developed a concept called “functional expertise,” which identifies how writing contributes to the practice as well as the study of a discipline or profession.

In the past, English departments traditionally prepared students for graduate school. In calling for a more centralized, universitywide approach, Cosgrove and Barta-Smith argue students need  “practical savvy,” writing skills that incorporate expert knowledge with an application to their chosen career path.

As experts, they say sport management majors need to learn the writing style of the field. Ditto with math, exercise science, physical therapy and other professions. Cross-disciplinary dialogue between professors in English and those departments will enable teaching methods to be adapted for greater effectiveness, the authors say.

‘Pioneering work’

            Two prominent English academics, Dr. David Bleich of the University of Rochester and Dr. Art Young of Clemson University, provided positive comments for the back cover.

           Bleich called it a pioneering work, noting, “There is so much rich and useful information here, found in the form of fluently presented, reflective, thoughtful opinion by faculty members from whom we rarely hear.”

           Young said, “This book will be important to writing-across-the-curriculum practitioners and administrators and will serve as a model for cross-campus talk about teaching and learning.”

#PN, PR, PgN





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