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This widely acclaimed handbook provides students with the most focus on critical thinking, writing process, particularly revision, and writing across the curriculum.
The fifth edition of The Blair Handbook is the clearest and most accessible edition yet. It continues to explain and illustrate the qualities of good writing and the logic behind conventions of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage. And it continues to insist that good writing results from imaginative composing, careful revising, and editing. At the same time, the new edition adds coverage of visual rhetoric, public forms of discourse, Writing Across the Curriculum, and writing for the world of work.
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This acclaimed handbook combines a fresh approach, unique organization, and consistent focus on process. Coverage explores writers' purposes and processes before advancing to planning, drafting, researching, revising, and editing. In their discussion on editing, the authors present issues of style, grammar, punctuation, and mechanics, emphasizing the actual choices that writers make rather than arbitrary rules.From the Inside Flap:
This third edition of The Blair Handbook, like its predecessors, focuses on the needs of contemporary college writers. Our goal continues to be to offer clear explanations of language conventions, practices, and rules that govern good writing; strategies for negotiating all phases of the writing process; and samples of writing by both published authors and student writers that model the application of the governing standards and proven strategies. As the English language continues to evolve and as the writer's resources continue to expand—particularly with the growth of the computer as a writing and research tool—we have revised the text to make it an up-to-date reference for the new millennium.
We remain committed to the process-oriented, user-friendly approach that characterized the first two editions, and the processes that we advocate have guided our own preparation of the third edition. We have both amplified and simplified the treatment of the writing process, and we have expanded and tightened the presentation of the research and editing phases. The result is a handbook that continues to offer the most practical and jargon-free guidance available on the crafting of expository prose. PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING THE BLAIR HANDBOOK
Writing as a process
The organization of The Blair Handbook corresponds to the stages of the writing process, so every piece of information in the first six parts is contextualized within the process. In particular, traditional handbook material—information on style, grammar, punctuation, and mechanics—is presented as "editing," the final stage in the writing process. Following the treatment of the writing process are discussions of presentating college papers and of writing in different academic disciplines, and we conclude with a succinct grammar reference.
Part One, Writing in College (Chapters 1-3), introduces students to the five interrelated but discrete stages of the writing process that are explored in each of the next five parts: planning, drafting, researching, revising, and editing. Part Two, Planning (Chapters 4-6), discusses planning as an activity that involves purpose, audience, voice, invention and discovery writing, and journals. Part Three, Drafting (Chapters 7-10), introduces students to basic drafting strategies such as finding a subject, stating a thesis, and developing a draft for four specific writing purposes: recounting and reflecting on experience, explaining, arguing, and interpreting. Part Four, Researching (Chapters 11-18), introduces students to methods used in writing a research essay and guides them through the challenges of using and evaluating sources and documenting them according to MLA style. Part Five, Revising (Chapters 19-21), focuses on revision, perhaps the most demanding and creative stage in the writing process, helping students grapple with the content and organization of their papers. Part Six, Editing (Chapters 22-49), deals with the stage in the process when writers work on not what they've said but how they've said it. "Editing" is introduced in Chapter 22, an overview of the process. Subsections cover effectiveness (Chapters 23-31), grammar (Chapters 32-37), punctuation (Chapters 38-44), and mechanics (Chapters 45-49). Part Seven, Presenting Your Work (Chapters 50-52), deals with the physical appearance of academic writing and covers topics ranging from the formatting of papers to the collection of writings to oral presentations. Part Eight, Writing Across the Curriculum (Chapters 53-59), discusses the distinguishing characteristics of writing in different academic disciplines and includes guidelines for documentation according to APA and Chicago Manual styles. Part Nine, A Grammar Reference (Chapters 60-62), is a concise resource for students who seek technical explanations of parts of speech and grammatical structure of sentences.
Treatment of students as writers
Writing skills are essential to success in college and beyond, whether or not a student plans a literary career. That is why we encourage students to think of themselves as writers and to develop the ability to communicate in writing. We stress that writing is a dynamic activity in which the writer continually chooses from a variety of possible options, evaluates the results, and rewrites as necessary. Thus, we outline information and possible strategies and ask students to decide what is most effective for their readers and most satisfying to themselves. Throughout the first four parts, we share comments from our students about the challenges and rewards of the writing process.
Plentiful samples of student writing. The Blair Handbook includes an abundance of authentic student writing samples to build confidence. Freewrites, journal entries, and extracts from early drafts, as well as final drafts of eight complete essays encourage risk-taking and experimentation. Four types of essays. In Part Three, we outline the writing purposes for the four types of essays students most often are assigned: reflections on experience (Chapter 7), explanations (Chapter 8)> arguments (Chapter 9), and interpretations (Chapter 10). Each of these purposes is illustrated by a complete student paper and extracts from other student papers. Part Four demonstrates how research can be conducted and applied to college essays serving any of these four purposes. A sampler of three complete student research papers forms the concluding chapter of Part Four. Hand-edited examples. Examples in the editing part of The Blair Handbook use handwritten corrections to show students how problems in grammar, punctuation, and mechanics can be resolved.
Innovative approach to research
We introduce students to the activity of researching by pointing out that research is something they do in their everyday lives, such as when they shop for a new CD player or look for a job. We then demonstrate how the same research skills and activities are practiced in an academic setting. We believe that our coverage is the most comprehensive in any handbook for college writers.
Research integrated into the writing process. Our research section appears as Part Four, demonstrating our belief that research is an essential part of the writing process, not a separate activity tucked away at the end. Library, Internet, and field research. In Part Four, we stress that profitable research occurs not only in the library but also in the field. We explain two possible field techniques—interviews and site observation—and urge students to look for information wherever their search takes them. In this edition of The Blair Handbook, we have added a new chapter about the Internet because today's students so often use this increasingly important research tool. Evaluation of sources. We have also devoted a new chapter exclusively to the subject of evaluating sources. The easy accessibility of the Internet as a means of purveying information as well as retrieving it intensifies the researcher's need for critical thinking skills. Our awareness that Internet sources offer no guarantee of authority or accuracy reminds us that we must also evaluate more traditional sources for reliability and usefulness.
Meaningful writing and learning activities
Rather than including exercises that drill students on isolated skills, The Blair Handbook features meaningful activities that help students work through their own versions of the writing process. Students explore their experiences as writers or examine the work of others in "Explorations." Students practice editing techniques on sample student texts in "Practices." They apply the principles discussed to papers they are working on in "Applications." These three types of activities are arranged from the easiest to the most demanding. They are placed within chapters to reinforce learning immediately. "Suggestions for Writing and Research," appearing at the end of chapters in Parts One through Five, offer both individual and collaborative writing assignments.
Emphasis on the conventions of effective writing
Good writing must be more than conceptually sound and grammatically correct. If a piece of writing is to succeed in its communicative purpose, it must also be clear, vital, and stimulating to read-what we call "effective." In The Blair Handbook we explain features of standard, written English as conventions that facilitate effective communication, not as arbitrary rules.
Less Jargon. We spend less time instructing students in grammar jargon and more time showing students how to identify, analyze, and solve problems that can cause reader confusion. Where grammatical terms and other technical language help to explain a convention or rule of written English, the words are introduced in boldface and defined. Because the handbook is a reference and may not be read in order, the definition or explanation is restated the first time a technical term is mentioned in a new chapter to ensure the reader's understanding. A glossary of terms at the end of the book provides further reinforcement. Support for decision making. We show students how to engage and maintain readers' interest by expressing ideas precisely and powerfully. Students learn to decide for themselves which choice is most effective with their readers.
Three types of boxes highlight special features.
Checklist boxes. A check mark in the upper left corner of a box indicates a summary of information in the preceding section or a list of examples of an element of writing. These lists range from common prefixes and suffixes to figures of speech to logical fallacies. The format of the checklist boxes makes them convenient memory joggers. Critical thinking boxes. New to this edition, the critical thinking boxes, indicated by a light bulb icon, prompt students to evaluate writing—their own as well as that of other writers—for complete, current, and accurate content and for clear and logical interpretations and explanations. ESL boxes. Over forty ESL boxes, easily identified by their ESL icon, contain information not only on correct grammar and word choice but also on aspects of planning, drafting, researching, and revising that sometimes prove troublesome for writers whose native language is not English. In addition to the ESL boxes, a strand of special writing suggestions in the first three parts asks students to draw on their experiences as nonnative speakers and writers of English as a means of improving their writing.
Emphasis on contemporary pedagogy
Writing classrooms today look different from those of a decade ago: Students are reading drafts to each other in groups, writing in ungraded journals, quietly conversing around computers, editing each other's work, or brainstorming on collaborative research projects. The Blair Handbook emphasizes these trends.
Journals. Because writing-to-learn is recognized as an important part of learning to write, we have included a complete chapter (Chapter 4) featuring ideas for journal writing. We present additional suggestions for journal writing in individual chapters as activities labeled "Exploration." Voice. "Voice" puts students themselves on display in the texts they write. Chapter 6 discusses the adaptation of the writer's voice to his or her purpose and audience. The drafting, revising, and editing sections reinforce this. Revising. In Part Five, we present revising as a creative activity essential to the development of good writing. We describe revision as a complex process and give students concrete suggestions—some conventional and some more innovative—that they can usefully apply. Writing across the curriculum. In Part Eight, we provide detailed information on the five disciplinary branches that form the context for most college writing outside the composition classroom: languages and literature, humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, and business. NEW TO THE THIRD EDITION
In each edition of The Blair Handbook we have paid special attention to revising the text to keep up to date with the improved computer literacy of our readers and the increased availability of ever more powerful hardware and software to them.
Using the computer for research. Because of its pervasive use as a research tool, we have devoted Chapter 13 to research conducted on the Internet. We explain how to search the World Wide Web and provide a sample Web search. We also discuss e-mail and newsgroups as Internet sources, and in Chapter 12, "Conducting Library Research," we thoroughly cover the topic of electronic databases online and on CDROM. Our discussions of documentation style have been updated to show the latest ways of citing computer-based sources. (See Chapter 17 for the 1998 MLA guidelines, Chapter 56 for Chicago style, and Chapter 57 for APA style.) We have also addressed the unique issues involved in evaluating Internet sources in a new Chapter 15. Using the computer for presentation. Part Six, introduced in the second edition, has been updated and expanded to improve the coverage of document design, transmission of papers by e-mail, publication on the World Wide Web and the establishment of personal Web pages. We have emphasized the convenience of word processing in preparing papers, journal entries, and other writings for inclusion in writing portfolios, class books, and other collections and in preparing notes, handouts, and visual aids. Using the computer for planning, drafting, and editing. We continue to point out the ways in which word processing programs have revolutionized the writing process such as the cut-and-paste, copying, and search-and-replace functions. The computer has become such a common tool of writers that we have integrated our word processing tips into the body of the text in this edition.
An intensified focus on critical thinking is another new feature in the third edition. Two chapters are devoted to this aspect of the writing process. Reading and writing are necessarily complementary processes; if students cannot read critically, they cannot possibly write well. Believing that application of critical thinking skills to reading is a keystone to the development of a student as a writer, we discuss how to read critically in Chapter 2. In Chapter 15, we demonstrate how to use critical thinking in the evaluation of sources. Throughout the text and in the new critical thinking boxes, we remind students to use critical thinking skills when drafting, researching, and revising.
The revision of Part Six, Editing, resulted in a simplified organization, especially the section Editing Grammar (Chapters 32-37). We combined all discussion of verb forms and verb agreement into Chapter 34, merged the discussion of modifier placement into the main chapter on modifiers (Chapter 35), and condensed the discussion of pronoun issues from three chapters to one, Chapter 36. Beyond simple reorganization, our objective was to further reduce reliance on grammatical jargon and to make it easier for students to find relevant advice quickly. Throughout the editing sections, we remind students that editing consists of generating and testing alternatives, then choosing among them.
Also new to the third edition are the following:
New samples of student writing, including student papers with up-to-date electronic citation. New activities and writing as...
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