Fundamentals of College Composition (FCC) is a compact, college level writing text that presents the underlying grammatical structures of Standard American English in a format that is understandable without prior formal grammar training. The book’s purpose is to improve the clarity and precision of undergraduate writing. College instructors know that far too many undergraduates write poorly. University English departments teach literature, not fundamental writing; university writing departments teach higher level creative-commercial writing, not fundamental writing. Other disciplines must focus on teaching course content, and have precious little time to devote to improving their undergraduate’s composition skills.
A popular reaction to the undergraduate writing dilemma has been to institute discipline-specific writing classes. These classes tailor writing assignments to their particular disciplines, and a wide array of specialized writing texts are being published to meet the needs of these specialty writing courses. Often, Strunk and White's Elements of Style (ES) is used as a companion to these texts. ES is an excellent volume, but it was written in 1908 for a classification of students who possessed solid foundations in formal grammar studies. Twenty first century undergraduates no longer possess those foundations and a text that presumes they do fails despite its distinguished and noble history. FCC is designed to address this "grammatical gap." It provides a sub-structure of grammar study sufficient to bring a modern student to a basic understanding of the foundations of compositional language arts. It confronts struggling writers with their compositional shortcomings, presents them with a kit of fundamental grammatical tools, explains the tools' purposes and functions, and invites students to write, revise, and re-write in short bursts of directed prose. It avoids every intricacy of grammatical science that does not apply directly and practically to the production of clear, concise sentences and structured paragraphs.
Good writing requires labor. FCC imposes the burden of good writing equally on student and instructor. Writing, revising and re-writing are obligations placed squarely on the student, but they are of little consequence without the pointed, deliberate, and supportive correction of the instructor. FCC coordinates these student-instructor efforts and provides a base of writing information and a spectrum of writing activities that will build tangible writing skills.
REVIEWS and WORDS of PRAISE
Fundamental College Composition has accomplished the near impossible—it has made writing instruction for the college student accessible and easy to understand. The book’s concise and informative 12 chapters will be a welcome addition to the undergraduate curriculum of any post-secondary institution. The content reflects the author’s many years of teaching writing to students and highlights what he considers the main pitfalls in student writing. To that end Professor DeFeo’s longest chapter, “Punctuation”, identifies a key villain to poor composition. The book removes the mystery that adorns most pedagogical approaches to college level writing instruction and sets a path for student improvement of this most critical of communication skills.
Terrence P. Dwyer, J.D., Professor, Western Connecticut State University. Author of Legal Issues in Homeland Security – U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Commentary, and Questions (2014, Loose Leaf Law Publications, Inc.)
Professor DeFeo’s Fundamental College Composition is an invaluable tool for the college student, academic, executive, and anyone else who needs to improve their writing skills. As his Foreword reveals, DeFeo’s text is laced with subtle humor and moments of delightful insight. All of us need help with writing, at least occasionally. This highly accessible book will nourish the careful and determined reader who puts forth the effort to learn.
Peter Weston Wood, author of To Swallow a Toad (1987, Donald I. Fine, Inc.). Guest columnist, The New York Times,The Jersey City Journal.
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About the Author
Judge DeFeo has been a member of the Justice and Law Administration faculty at Western Connecticut State University since 2003 and has taught a variety of classes in law, legal studies, and legal writing. He received his Bachelor's Degree in English at Iona College, his Master's in English Literature at Fordham University, and his law degree at Pace University School of Law. He was admitted to the New York Bar in 1986 and to the Connecticut Bar in 1991. As a Connecticut State Probate Court Judge he presided over a wide range of probate and family law matters.