Speaking of Writing: A Brief Rhetoric – with MLA 2021 Update
  • Publication Date: December 12, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781554816026 / 1554816025
  • 360 pages; 7" x 9"

Broadview eBooks are available on a variety of platforms. To learn more, please visit our eBook information page.

Note on pricing.

Request Exam Copy

Examination copy policy

Availability: Worldwide

Speaking of Writing: A Brief Rhetoric – with MLA 2021 Update

  • Publication Date: December 12, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781554816026 / 1554816025
  • 360 pages; 7" x 9"

Co-authored by a novelist and a scholar, Speaking of Writing follows four college students from diverse backgrounds as they face the challenges of reading, writing, and critical thinking in first-year composition classes and across the disciplines. Each chapter engages students in relatable, often humorous scenarios that focus on key challenges.

Through its story-based approach, this brief rhetoric enacts process-based pedagogy, showing student writers grappling with fundamental questions: How can I apply my own strategies for success to new assignments? How can I maintain my own voice when asked to compose in an academic style? What do college professors mean by a thesis? Why is my argument weak, and how can I make it stronger? The book vividly dramatizes a draft-and-revision process that includes instructor feedback, peer review, and careful research.


Speaking of Writing has everything a writing textbook should have—chapters on rhetoric, summary, analysis, argument and thesis, revision, documenting sources, voice and style—doing so using characters and often humorous narratives that my students found engaging, intuitive, and effective. Each chapter includes a variety of activities, from easy to more difficult, which are easy to combine with specific assignments. It is a book both students and instructors will cherish.” — James Pasto, Master Lecturer, Arts and Sciences Writing Program, Boston University

Speaking of Writing is unique in its ability both to engage students in first-year composition and to provide truly practical advice for multidisciplinary critical reading and writing situations.” — Stacey Donohue, Professor of English, Central Oregon Community College

“I love this textbook! I thought Speaking of Writing was just going to be another boring old dull English book, but surprisingly this one is really interesting! The four students in the book provide personal experiences which I found helpful. I got to know what and how other people write, and the students’ strategy for developing a writing process was very interesting to read.” — Stephen Wu, Student, University of Ottawa

“In Speaking of Writing: A Brief Rhetoric, Allegra Goodman and Michael Prince provide an indispensable, engaging guide to basic rhetorical concepts and how to write well. Through a creative structure and engaging prose, they make dry and difficult-to-parse concepts come to life, allowing readers to discover what makes writing work and not work in chapters that mimic the process of learning when guided by cogent, thoughtful instructors. … readers looking for an introduction to or a primer on essential writing and rhetorical concepts will be hard-pressed to find another textbook as fun, educational, and interesting.” — Dylan Schrader, Technical Communication

Note to Students

1 What You Bring/What You Can Expect
Writing a Literacy Narrative.

  • Attitudes
  • What You Bring
  • What You Can Expect
  • Developing a Writing Process
  • Writing a Literacy Narrative
    • Prewriting
    • Freewriting
    • Drafting
    • Sharing a Draft
    • Revising the Narrative

2 Rhetoric and the Rhetorical Situation
Writing a Persuasive Letter.

  • What Is Rhetoric and Why Does It Matter?
    • Purpose
    • Audience
    • Genre
  • New Genres, Unfamiliar Situations
  • Rhetorical Appeals
    • Ethos
    • Pathos
    • Logos
    • Kairos
  • Using Rhetorical Appeals

3 From Reading to Writing about Texts
Writing a Paraphrase and Summary.
Writing an Analysis of a Text.

  • What Makes Reading Difficult?
  • Previewing as a First Step
  • Note-taking as a Second Step
  • Note-taking as Active Learning
  • Strategies for Note-taking
    • Using a T Chart
    • Annotation
  • Identifying Verbal Signals
  • Annotation Inspires Larger Questions
  • Paraphrase
  • Summary
    • Distilling the Main Idea
    • Brevity and Accuracy
  • Using Paraphrase and Summary as Ends in Themselves
  • Using Summary to Build an Argument
  • From Reading to Writing: Analysis

4 From Reading to Writing about Images
Writing an Analysis of an Image.

  • Beyond a Quick Glance—Starting to Read Images
  • What Makes Reading Images Difficult?
  • Visual Signals
  • Informational Images: Graphs and Charts
  • Expressive Images: Drawings, Paintings, Photographs
  • Rhetorical Appeals of Images
  • Learning to Read Images
  • Taking Notes on Images
  • From Description to Analysis: An Everyday Object
  • From Description to Analysis: A Photograph
  • From Description to Analysis: A Graph
    • Paraphrasing Visual Material
  • From Description to Analysis: An Illustration

5 Building an Argument: Claims and Support
Writing an Opinion Piece. Writing a Review.

  • What Is an Arguable Claim?
  • Different Kinds of Argument
  • Understanding and Avoiding Fallacies
    • Fallacies of Pathos
    • Fallacies of Ethos
    • Fallacies of Logos
  • Defining Your Terms
  • Argument and Audience
  • Argument Assignments
  • Writing an Opinion Piece
    • Understanding the Genre
    • Coming Up with a Claim
    • Supporting a Claim
    • Arguing Step by Step
    • Anticipating Possible Objections
    • Concluding the Argument
  • Writing a Review
    • Understanding the Genre
    • Coming Up with a Claim
    • Qualifying a Claim
    • Arguing Step by Step
    • Anticipating Possible Objections
    • Concluding the Review

6 Academic Argument: Thesis and Organization
Writing a Thesis and Introduction.

  • What Is a Thesis?
  • What Is the Difference between Topic and Thesis?
  • Moving from Topic to Thesis
    • What Is the Scope of Your Topic?
    • Consider Purpose, Genre, and Audience
    • Consider the Significance of Your Topic
    • Assert Your Own View in Contrast to Others
    • Ask a Thought-Provoking Question
  • The Style of a Thesis: First or Third Person? Position? Format?
  • What Signal Does Your Thesis Send?
  • Developing a Thesis
  • How a Thesis Sets the Parameters of Your Work
  • Using a Thesis to Outline Your Paper

7 Draft and Revision
Writing a Comparison Paper.

  • Draft: Where Do I Start?
    • Examine Your Assignment
    • Develop a Game Plan
    • Gather and Take Notes on Your Material
    • Build Your Draft from Notes
    • Revision
  • Revision Checklist
    • Does My Writing Respond to My Assignment?
    • Do I Need a Thesis? If So, Do I Have One?
    • Do I Define My Terms Where Necessary?
    • Does My Evidence Support My Thesis?
    • Do I Show How My Evidence Supports My Thesis?
    • Do I Address Possible Objections?
    • Do I Develop My Ideas?
    • Do I Guide the Reader with Step by Step Paragraphs and Smooth Transitions?
    • Does My Conclusion Add Value?
  • The Importance of Proofreading
  • Draft and Revision throughout College
  • Drafting a Comparison Essay
    • Examine Your Assignment
    • Narrowing Your Topic
    • Developing a Thesis
    • Devising a Game Plan
    • Gathering Material and Taking Notes
    • Building a Draft from Notes

      • Introduction
      • Supporting Paragraphs
      • Conclusion
  • Peer Review
  • Responding to Instructor’s Comments

8 Responding to Other Voices/Other Sources
Practicing Quotation.

  • Why Is It Important to Cite Sources?
  • Citation and the Rhetorical Situation
  • Forms of Documentation: Examples from MLA, APA, and Chicago
  • A Good IDEA
  • Avoiding Dropped Quotes, Missing Documentation, and Unexplained Evidence
  • Using IDEA to Document a Text
  • Using IDEA to Document a Video
  • Using IDEA to Document an Image
  • Using IDEA to Integrate Quotations
  • Responding to Other Voices
  • Working Collaboratively and Working Alone
  • Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism

9 Writing and Research
Writing a Research Paper.
Crafting a Multi-Modal Portfolio.

  • What Is Research? Where Does It Begin?
  • Starting with the Assignment
  • Research Materials
  • Identifying a Topic that Motivates You
  • Initial Search: Relevant and Reliable Sources
  • Refining a Question with Key Terms
  • Seeking Expert Advice
  • Sorting and Selecting Sources
    • What Kind of Source Is This?
    • What Is the Focus of This Source?
    • Is This Material I Want to Study Further?
  • Taking Notes on Selected Sources
  • Synthesizing Material to Tighten Focus
  • For Best Results, Re-Search
  • Developing an Annotated Bibliography
  • Drawing upon Research to Develop a Thesis Statement
  • Building a Draft from Notes
  • Peer Review for a Research Project
  • Revising a Research Paper
    • Controlling the Evidence So the Evidence Doesn’t Control You
    • Responding to Other Researchers
  • Multi-Modal Research
    • Identifying a Topic
    • Gathering and Sorting Sources
  • Evaluating Each Source for Relevance and Reliability
  • Using IDEA to Prepare an Online Portfolio
  • Organizing the Portfolio
  • Writing an Introduction to the Portfolio

10 Voice and Style

  • What Is Voice?
    • How Can I Maintain My Own Voice in College Writing?
    • What If I’m Not Sure I Have a Voice?
  • What Is Style?
  • Writers Adopt a Style to Send a Message
  • Where Does Style Come From?
    • Diction
    • Guidelines for Diction

      • Consider the Rhetorical Situation
      • Avoid Wordiness and Repetition
    • Syntax
    • Guidelines for Syntax

      • Consider the Rhetorical Situation
      • Aim for Clarity
  • Adopt a Style, Maintain a Voice

Works Cited
About the Authors
About the Illustrator
Permissions Acknowledgments

Allegra Goodman’s novels include Sam, Kaaterskill Falls, The Family Markowitz, Intuition, The Cookbook Collector, and The Chalk Artist. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and Best American Short Stories. She has taught first-year composition at Stanford and creative writing at Boston University and Harvard. Michael Prince is the founding director of the Arts and Sciences Writing Program at Boston University, where he is Professor of English, specializing in Writing Studies and early modern literature and philosophy. His publications include The Shortest Way with Defoe: Robinson Crusoe, Deism, and the Novel (2020), which received the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize from the University of Virginia Press. Emmeline Pidgen is an illustrator, creating books, comics, and commercial illustration in northwest England. She has worked with a wide range of clients internationally and was named “UK Freelancer of the Year” in 2016.

  • • Engaging, original cartoon illustrations present students in dialogue with each other and with instructors
  • • Reflection exercises provide basis for classroom discussion
  • • A lively, witty writing style provides a model of energetic composition
  • • A focus on visual as well as textual literacy treats critical reading as a necessary and often overlooked skill for college writing
  • • “Micro-readings” in each chapter provide thought-provoking models from across the disciplines and from pop culture
  • • A process-based approach shows students completing their assignments in stages, developing their work from pre-writing activities, to rough drafts, to more polished work through revision and instructor feedback
  • • “Takeaway” summaries and activities at the end of each chapter reinforce concepts and goals.
  • • Chapters move from relatively easy to more difficult tasks, serving students at all skill and ability levels
  • • Because the four students are enrolled in different writing courses, taught by teachers with different goals and expectations, Speaking of Writing mirrors the actual experiences of college writers, who must produce finished work in courses across the Humanities, Social Sciences and STEM, as well as in their first-year composition classes.