Patterns of Exposition

Robert A. Schwegler  
Total pages
October 2011
Related Titles


Incorporating readings representing new voices and styles in nonfiction that will appeal to contemporary readers, this classic composition reader continues to provide engaging, instructive models of the rhetorical modes.


A wealth of new selections appear in this respected modes-based reader, continuing its tradition of offering high-quality, accessible readings, both classic and with a contemporary “edge” and style. The readings encourage students to take a stand on questions of culture, identity, and value in college communities, in the workplace, and in society. Thorough introductions to each rhetorical pattern, numerous exercises, and sample student essays throughout the book emphasize practical concrete writing strategies. A thematic table of contents and table of “Essay Pairs”—which groups essays particularly well-suited for study and discussion—make this book versatile and convenient for instructors to adapt for their classes.


  • Chapter introductions in Chapters3-13 feature complete student essays that model each rhetorical strategy and help students in their own writing.
  • Collaborative writing exercises following each reading accentuate students' learning from one another.
  • Thematic clusters of readings in the “Issues and Ideas” sections at the end of most chapters focus on contemporary issues, helping students develop an awareness of rhetorical strategies while thinking and writing about specific themes.
  • Four groups of questions follow each reading: “Meaning and Values” focusing on the content of each reading, “Expository Techniques” centering on the rhetorical strategies used by each writer, “Diction and Vocabulary” concentrating on word usage, and “Read to Write” aimed at eliciting written responses to the reading.
  • Chapter 14, “Further Readings: Combined Patterns” presents readings that illustrate intriguing combinations of rhetorical patterns and goals for writing more advanced essays.

New to this Edition



  • Twenty-five new readings represent acclaimed writers of past and present whose works raise questions important to today’s readers. The result is a fresh, balanced, and exciting collection of works from a wide range of differing viewpoints.
  • Works by an expanded selection of writers—including former U.S. vice president Al Gore, blogger Michael Jernigan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, journalist Amy Sutherland, novelist Amy Tan, and professor and theorist Stanley Fish—provide insights into a wide range of topical issues with flair and mastery. In addition to these contemporary voices are celebrated writers Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway, whose classic works demonstrate that powerful exposition speaks to all eras. 
  •  An analysis of a key visual text—an irreverent 1900s greeting-card image from the United Kingdom—exemplifies the analogy mode of exposition with vivid impact. Discussion of this bold visual text considers its historical context and serves to spark critical thinking about an array of unexpected issues.
  • Issues and ideas sections are expanded and focused in order to spotlight ways in which authors use the different rhetorical patterns to achieve a specific objective: In Chapter 5, for example, Bharati Mukherjee and William Ouchi use the comparison mode to evaluate tradition. In Chapter 7, Fish and Hemingway employ process analysis to demystify everyday rituals.
  • A further expanded selection of persuasive arguments comprises a balanced selection of essays by contemporary and classic authors covering a broad range of viewpoints and subjects on a variety of ethical issues.




Table of Contents

** denotes new to this edition


1. Reading for Writers


2. Ways of Writing






3. Example

Andy Rooney, In and Of Ourselves We Trust 

Wil Haygood, Underground Dads

Mary Karr, Dysfunctional Nation


Issues and Ideas: Characterizing Behavior

            Brent Staples, Just Walk On By

            Jonah Lehrer, The Uses of Reason



4. Classification

** William Zinsser, College Pressures

** Amy Tan, Mother Tongue

Michael Ventura, Don’t Even Think About It!


Issues and Ideas: Sorting Out How We Communicate

            ** Deborah Tannen, But What Do You Mean?

            ** Stephanie Ericsson, The Ways We Lie


5. Comparison

** Rachel Carson, Fable for Tomorrow

Mark Twain, Two Ways of Seeing a River

Bruce Catton, Grant and Lee, A Study in Contrasts

Bill McKibben, Old Macdonald Had a Farmer’s Market


Issues and Ideas: Evaluating Traditions

           ** Bharati Mukherhee, Two Ways to Belong in America

           ** WilliamOuchi, Japanese and American Workers


6. Analogy

Alice Walker, Am I Blue?

** Robert Benchley, Advice to Writers

** Virginia Woolf, The Death of the Moth


Issues and Ideas: Perceiving Likeness in Differences

            ** Henry David Thoreau, The Battle  

            ** Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Oyster Bed

            ** Visual Text (Advertisement) TK


7. Process Analysis

** Amy Sutherland, What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage

** Barbara Kingsolver, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Ian Frazier, How to Operate the Shower Curtain 


Issues and Ideas: Demystifying Everyday Rituals

          ** Stanley Fish: Getting Coffee Is Hard to Do

          ** Ernest Hemingway, Camping Out


8. Cause-Effect

** Michael Jernigan, Living the Dream

** Norman Cousins, Who Killed Benny Paret?


Issues and Ideas: Fathoming Consequences

            Cullen Murphy, Hello, Darkness

           Verlyn Klinkenborg, Our Vanishing Night


9. Definition

John Berendt, The Hoax

** Jhumpa Lahiri, My Two Lives

Anne Fadiman, Coffee


Issues and Ideas: Clarifying Values and Roles

           Stephen L. Carter, The Insufficiency of Honesty

           ** Mary Pipher, Beliefs about Families


10. Description

** Suzanne Berne, Ground Zero

George Simpson, The War Room at Bellevue 

Daniel Thomas Cook, Children of the Brand 


Issues and Ideas: Expressing Memories

           Donna Tartt, A Garden Party

           E. B. White, Once More to the Lake 


11. Narration

Geoffrey Canada, Pain

** Langston Hughes, Salvation

** Sandra Cisneros, Only Daughter


Issues and Ideas: Dramatizing Ethical Dilemmas

            Martin Gansberg, Thirty-Eight Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police

            ** George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant


12. Induction and Deduction

Nancy Friday, The Age of Beauty


Issues and Ideas: Digital Realities

             J. C. Herz, Superhero Sushi


12. Argument

Issues and Ideas: Persuading an Audience


            Christopher B. Daly, How the Lawyers Stole Winter

            Stephanie Mills,  Could You Live with Less?

            Anna Quindlen, The Drug That Pretends It Isn’t

            Andrew O’Hehir, The Myth of Media Violence

            ** Al Gore, The Time to Act Is Now

            ** Mark Twain, The Damned Human Race

            Elizabeth Svoboda, “I Am Not a Puzzle, I Am a Person”

            Margaret Atwood, Pornography

            Sarah Min, Language Lessons

            Martin Luther King, Jr.,  Letter from Birmingham Jail


 14. Further Readings

Jason Kelly, The Great TV Debate

Leslie Marmon Silko, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit

George Orwell, A Hanging

Jean E. Kilbourne, Beauty . . . And the Beast of Advertising