Unit One

In showing our students that composition is a product of assemblage, we first had to show how assemblage works – through copying and transforming new materials into new combinations. It is this idea of how that serves as our foundation; as composition teachers, we are at the very least tasked with providing a skill set—our students expect us to teach them how to write—and that is our ultimate goal. But since the process of assemblage is so different than what many students have been taught about creativity in high school, we must also show them a way of seeing what composition is, of defining it more capciously than an author receiving divine inspiration and creating a completely original text in isolation. Like Johnson-Eilola and Selber, we see all forms of composition as an inherently intertextual endeavor in which composers must rely on semiotic materials that came before them in a process of copying and transforming antecedents in brand new combinations, or assemblages. Whether through quotation, sampling, working within a template, relying on genre conventions, or conforming to or deviating from the discursive practices of a culture, we rely on other texts to facilitate both composition and the co-creation of meaning with an audience. Thus, by making this process of copying and transforming clear to our students, they become engaged in composition by learning to build upon other texts for their own inspiration.