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Classical Composition 1

Fable & Narrative Stages

The Progymnasmata exercises were a preliminary series of exercises for students who would later study rhetoric and deliver formal orations.  The exercises were developed by the ancients, adopted by the Church, adapted during the Renaissance, and practiced by the West until very recently.

Course Description

The Fable Stage is the first of fourteen stages in the Progymnasmata (a set of preparatory exercises originated by the Greeks to ready the student for rhetoric).  Students will learn to write by imitating a well-told story, in this case, a fable.  In fact, all of the Progymnasmata exercises are based on imitation, a method suitable for learning just about anything.  Students will build skills in diction (word choice) and syntax (word order) by practicing variation.  Variation means changing a word or arrangement of words in a sentence.  Variation is a form of paraphrase.  Further, by paraphrasing the whole story, students will build skills in organization (arrangement). By paraphrasing the fables in different ways (amplification:  adding to; summarization:  shortening; inversion:  retelling the story from a mid or end starting point), students will gain a solid understanding of structure.  In addition, students will learn how to use figures of description to make their writing come alive.  By learning how to describe a place (topographia), or the stars (astrothesia), or a person from head to foot (effictio), students will engage their readers’ imaginations.  By the end of the Fable Stage, students should be able to appreciate the individual words and sentences used in a story (elocution), the overall structure of a story (including recognition and reversal), and the communicative power of a story (including the appeal to imagination and to the moral sense).

The Narrative Stage is the second of fourteen stages in the Progymnasmata (a set of preparatory exercises originated by the Greeks to ready the student for rhetoric).  Students will learn to write by imitating a well-told story, in this case, a narrative (folk tale).  In fact, all of the Progymnasmata exercises are based on imitation, a method suitable for learning just about anything.  Students will build skills in diction (word choice) and syntax (word order) by practicing variation.  Variation means changing a word or arrangement of words in a sentence.  Variation is a form of paraphrase.  Further, by paraphrasing the whole story, students will build skills in organization (arrangement). By paraphrasing the narratives (folk tales) in different ways (amplification:  adding to; summarization:  shortening; inversion:  retelling the story from a mid or end starting point), students will gain a solid understanding of structure.  In addition, students will learn how to use figures of description to make their writing come alive, and figures of speech to make their writing precise.  By learning how to use figures of description to describe a place (topographia), or the stars (astrothesia), or a person from head to foot (effictio), students will engage their readers’ imaginations.  By learning how to use figures of speech to add precision to their writing, students will engage their readers’ sense of style and form.  By the end of the Narrative Stage, students should be able to appreciate the individual words and sentences used in a story (elocution), the overall structure of a story (including recognition, reversal, and suffering), and the communicative power of a story (including the appeal to imagination and to the moral and aesthetic sense).     

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

  • Develop in the student an appreciation for sound writing
  • Inculcate in the student the habits of good writers through imitation of their structure and style
  • Provide techniques the student writer can employ to reason his way to the best approach to take and solution to implement for future writing tasks
  • Prepare the student writer to generate ideas, organize those ideas, and express those ideas well by providing him with structured practice in invention, arrangement, and decoration (discovery, organization, and elocution)
  • Develop a shared vocabulary and practice in classical writing between the teacher and student

 

 

Course Expectations

Students should expect to have daily reading, at least one (or more) weekly written assignments, required participation, and exams as assigned by their instructor. All requirements are assigned and graded by the instructor.

Course Texts
  • Classical Composition Book I: Fable Stage, Student Workbook
  • Classical Composition Book II: Narrative Stage, Student Workbook

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Course Details:

Section Number

WCE-CC1-1

Instructor

Mrs. O'Connor

Grades (Typical)

4-8 (6th & 7th)

Live Class Meets

1x per week

1 hr., 20 min.

Day

Tuesday

Class Period

4

Time

12:00 - 1:20 PM (Pacific)

3:00 - 4:20 PM (Eastern)

Tuition

$599

Companion Courses

Literature 7

History 7

Religion & Bible History 7