Composition and Literature: A Handbook and Anthology
Posted: August 29, 2019 | Updated: September 29, 2021
Author: James Sexton, Derek Soles
The purpose of this book is to help students achieve the learning objectives of their English 12 course. These include how to write intelligently, clearly, and fluently; understand and employ effectively the conventions of various forms of school and college writing assignments; read actively and critically; understand and appreciate diverse and inclusive works of imaginative literature; and think critically, creatively, and reflectively. This book is divided into two parts. Part I is a Composition Handbook designed to teach students the components of the writing process and the conventions of various forms of school and college writing assignments. Part II is an Anthology of Literature designed to help students read actively, analyze, understand, enjoy, and appreciate stories, poems, and plays by a diverse and inclusive group of exceptional writers.
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Composition and Literature: A Handbook and Anthology by James Sexton, Derek Soles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
4.5 / 5
Brenna Clarke Gray
Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
Yes, and the glossary is strong and comprehensive.
There is an extended focus on Narrative Essays that might be a problem for adoption for First-Year Literation classes in BC, where curriculum guidelines are structured to push students away from a high school-level focus on narrative and expository composition, but pieces of this textbook seem very useful.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
Overall, yes. There are some errors in MLA in the Glossary section (hanging indents, primarily), but the writing advice is appropriate and the example responses quite useful.
Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
I believe this to be true. The casebook section contains a lot of URLs, and I would imagine those would need to be checked regularly. Likewise, the citation information could become out of date (the APA example is from 2013, and the 7th edition has just been published, so this should be reviewed -- I am not a regular user of APA and so cannot comment).
Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
Yes. I found the prose very readable and the examples useful and accessible; the authors clearly have a good sense of appropriate student voice and comprehension.
However, there are many references tot he intended audience of this book being Grade 12 students. Even if the authors anticipate this text to be used with upgrading students, this language should be revised.
Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
Yes. I have no comments to add on this point.
Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
Yes, the material organization works well for this purpose. Indeed, that's why I feel comfortable suggesting that for the 1000-level market the following sections should be excised:
- The Narrative Essay
- The Examples Essay
These are not typically used in postsecondary English in BC outside of the context of upgrading or learner support (to a certain extent, this is true of the Process Essay, also). It seems to me that the textbook has been authored with a Grade 12 audience in mind, but the Cause/Effect, Compare/Contrast, and Argument essays all seem robust enough to maintain.
Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
Yes. The only exception is the Turn of the Screw Casebook, which I found difficult to navigate -- I am not sure whether this would be a student-facing piece of part of an instructor's supplement, but the context is not at all clear for me here.
Organization Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
Images appear distorted on the following pages: 1061
Tabs appear poorly formatted in tables on the following pages: 1040, 1041
Interface Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
I did not encounter any.
Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
I don't think the text includes anything offensive.
However, it is an extremely canonical selection of excerpts and examples, far more so than is typical for a First-Year Literature class now. I was particularly disappointed in the lack of Canadian content, and especially BC content, in a literature textbook created here.
Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?
I think with revisions it could be a very useful resource. It does seem to have been created primarily for a Grade 12 audience, so I would recommend revising language that suggests that audience and omitting the types of writing that do not fit with 1000-level curriculum guidelines (eg. narrative). I would also like to see the addition of more Canadian / BC readings. But overall, I think the content is worth using in classrooms and it's a great resource as the basis of a remix.