Welcome to Navigating Composition!

What makes writing persuasive?

This semester, we will investigate the nature of persuasive writing and answer questions, such as:

  • How do people persuade one another?
  • What sorts of assumptions do people make in their thinking and writing?
  • Why do people take different positions when they agree on the "facts"?

What will we do?

We will read a lot. We will analyze what we read, looking at how people make claims, provide evidence for their claims, and connect their evidence to their claims. We will analyze how people embed values and assumptions in their writing.

We will write a lot. We will write evaluations and syntheses of our readings, and we will apply what we learn about a persuasive argument to our own essays. Almost all of our writing will be published online. These activities are not all we will do, of course. For other activities, see the syllabus and schedule.


  • Writing is an adventure. —Winston Churchill
  • If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn't call it research. —Albert Einstein
  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. —Albert Einstein
  • You have to be confused before you can reach a new level of understanding anything. —Dudley Herschbach
  • for better or worse, our future will be determined in large part by our dreams and by the struggle to make them real.
    —Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
©2006-2015 Charles Nelson