D’Angelo: “The Search for Intelligible Structure in the Teaching of Composition”

D’Angelo, Frank J. “The Search for Intelligible Structure in the Teaching of Composition.” College Composition and Communication. 27.2 (1976): 142-147. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

D'Angelo's Taxonomy
D’Angelo’s Taxonomy of the Content of Composition


Braddock Award, pedagogy, composition crisis, disciplinarity, teacher training, rhetorical situation, modes of discourse

Bibliographic notes:

Words: ~3,000-3,500

Pages: 5

References: ~19

Author Affiliation: Arizona State University


“This multiplication and confusion of terms, goals, and means has obscured writing or one kind of reading over our ability to see our field of inquiry another, to evaluate papers chiefly clearly and to see it whole” (143).

“in view of this latest ‘crisis’ in composition, few teachers today would take seriously Warner Rice’s proposal, made in 1960, that freshman composition be abolished” (142).

D’Angelo calls for “a new unity and order to the field” (147). As argued in Stephen North’s Making of Knowledge in Composition, this article situates itself in a time of crisis, affording an exigent call to disciplinarity. References range from classical rhetoric to tagmemics with a heavy dose of Alexander Bain. D’Angelo grounds his taxonomy (above image) in the modes and forms of discourse alongside the rhetorical concerns of audience, writer, and purpose. The positivist overtones are striking.

Enduring tropes:

The skills gap and underprepared students

The debate over the content of composition

Progress narrative (both at the level of student and curricula)


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