Course Descriptions

Courses in the Writing and Rhetoric Program offer students the opportunity to develop expertise in writing for academic, professional, community, and personal purposes. The course work provides practice in writing in a range of genres, editing and style, and digital media. Courses also investigate rhetoric, information technology, the politics of language use, and language and identity.

Course Catalog for WRITING AND RHETORIC
RHET 101
Writing
An introduction to the art of expository writing, with attention to analytical reading and critical thinking in courses across the college curriculum. Assignments offer students opportunities to read and write about culture, politics, literature, science, and other subjects. Emphasis is placed on helping students to develop their individual skills.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 103
Special Writing Topics: Telling Stories in the Postmodern World
In this course, we will look at the rhetoric of narrative, with an emphasis on narratives that cut across cultures to see how people in different places use narrative structures to construct their realities from their everyday lives, imagined lives, and the presumed lives of others. We will write our own narratives and analyze them to see how we create our reality from the essentially chaotic matter of everyday life. Readings will include prison diaries, war journals, film and television scripts, and hypertexts.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 103
Special Writing Topics: Autobiography and Activism
A writing workshop focusing on autobiographical writing that is informed by an interest in the world at-large. We will read various writers who combine their personal stories with their political, environmental, and social activism, such as Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibben, and Angela Davis. Students will write their own reflective autobiographical essays.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 103
Special Writing Topics: Analytical Thinking and Writing
This writing workshop is designed for students who would like to improve their ability to read texts in many disciplines actively and critically and to write strong, thoughtful analytical papers. Students will focus on developing strategies for discovering meaning, identifying analytical elements, and evaluating claims and evidence. Writing assignments will allow students to practice these strategies by writing critical analyses and responses to texts, current events, lectures, and films.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 103
Special Writing Top: Writing Personal Experience: Diaries, Journals, Essays & Stories We Tell Ours
This course will look at the ways we create and understand ourselves and our condition through our personal writing. Readings will include Woolf, Dillard, Sarton, Ozick, and others.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 103
Special Topics: Women, Writing, and Rhetoric
We will engage orators, poets, politicians, suffragettes, queens, and slaves through their rhetoric spanning Western culture from Ancient Greece to contemporary America. Through class discussions and writing assignments, we will attempt to create a broader vision of women’s rhetorical traditions in the United States and around the world. Through this often ignored speeches, letters, essays, and excerpts students will explore how women viewed society and how they grappled with gender roles while fighting for equality and identity. Assignments will include short analytical essays in which students grapple with the history, context, and style of the work we read. Students will combine their analytical writing with research that compares contemporaneous primary historical documents and sources to a speech about which they choose to write. We will use on campus archival resources as well as online archival resources to find relevant primary source documents.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 103
Special Writing Topics: Writing Other American Histories
In this course, we will explore other perspectives on American History in Howard Zinn’s A People's History of the United States, various works of fiction, films, and outside research. You will use reading assignments to generate unique ideas and research topics to extend the work presented to you. You will write non-graded and graded writing assignments designed to introduce you to primary and scholarly research. Analytical research and writing assignments will build upon one another to help you see writing as an extended engagement between past and future ideas.
1.00 units, Seminar
RHET 103
Special Writing Topics: Language and Photography
Emphasizing instruction and practice in writing, this course will explore the relationship between language and photography. Students will write extensively as they study photographic images and read works by John Berger, Susan Sontag, and others. The course will culminate with the publication of a collection of student photographic essays.
This course is not open to seniors.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 103
Special Writing Topics: Literature and Film
Emphasizing instruction and practice in writing, this course will explore the nature of narrative in literature and film. Where do stories come from? How and why do they get told? What kind of culture produces a particular work? To search for answers to these questions, students will examine a series of paired works of fiction and creative films.
1.00 units, Seminar
RHET 103
Special Topics: Thoughts of Peace and War
This class is a writing workshop, focusing on writing and revising academic essays. The readings will involve issues of peace and war, and will lead us into the following sorts of questions: Why do countries go to war? What are the effects of war on people? How have people worked for peace, and how can they/we continue to do so? What role does gender play in war? Readings include personal stories like Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone as well as writings by philosophers, psychologists, and others about the causes and effects of war and peace.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 103
Special Writing Topics: The Rhetoric of Humor and Satire
What makes us laugh? How does humor work? This writing workshop will examine the rhetorical underpinnings of humor and satire and consider humor and satire as political and cultural commentary. Readings will include classic satirical essays by writers such as Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain as well as work by modern humorists. The class will also analyze contemporary media sources in popular culture, including the Internet, stand-up comedy, Saturday Night Live, and films or television programs chosen by students.
1.00 units, Seminar
RHET 103
Special Writing Topics: Telling Stories in the Postmodern World
A writing workshop on storytelling, with an emphasis on naratives that cut across cultures to see how people in different places construct their realities from their everyday lives, imagined lives and the presumed lives of others. We will write our own narratives and analyze them to see how we create our reality from the essentially chaotic matter of everyday life. Readings will include prison diaries, war journals, film and television scripts, and hypertexts.
1.00 units, Seminar
RHET 103
Special Writing Topics: Forms of Creative Nonfiction
In this class we will study two forms of creative nonfiction: the personal essay and the lyric essay. Our readings, springboards for initial writing exercises, will enhance our understanding of how such essays are constructed. in full-class writing workshops, which are central to the course, you will learn how to transform personal experience into art throught the use of poetic and fictional techniques. Be prepared to write a lot. The difference between an amateur writer and a professional writer is revision, and you'll be expected to do a lot of that as well.
1.00 units, Seminar
RHET 103
Special Topics: Writing Outside the Classroom
This course invites connections between academic writing and writing outside of the classroom. The course is designed to help students think critically about writing and the workplace and other public writing contexts that they might someday participate in. Students will learn how academic writing skills can be used to create user-centered documents through a series of writing projects that will teach students how to effectively collect, analyze, summarize, interpret, and translate materials from one context to another.
1.00 units, Seminar
RHET 126
Writing about Place
This is a writing workshop. Students will write and extensively revise two formal, creative-nonfiction essays incorporating serious reflection as well as description of places. They will keep an intensive daily journal recording their past and present experiences of places, and will develop an appreciation of the craft and perspectives involved in place writing by reading a series of essays by Annie Dillard, Alain de Botton, and others.
0.50 units, Seminar
RHET 202
Expository Writing Workshop
This intermediate workshop is designed for students who have achieved mastery in introductory-level college writing and who want to refine their writing abilities. Students will focus on developing stylistic strategies and techniques when writing for numerous purposes and audiences. Students will choose from these writing forms: interview, travel article, op-ed piece, memoir, sports article, criticism, humor, and science and technology article.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 208
Argument and Research Writing
A writing workshop emphasizing the development of argumentation and research skills. Students learn how to read and evaluate logical arguments, formulate research questions, explore print and electronic resources, and frame persuasive arguments in papers of substantial length. Frequent practice in writing and revising.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 225
Writing Broad Street Stories
This course combines community learning and writing as a means of discovering how we define others and ourselves through journals, diaries, essays, and stories. Students explore Broad Street as a social and cultural metaphor, with a wide variety of readings depicting “the other” and reflecting the voices of members of underprivileged and privileged classes throughout history. Students perform community service as a part of course activities.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 226
The Spirit of Place
In this course we will write about "place," and explore how writers render ideas of location, nature, and the environment, ranging from wilderness to city streets. We will move from simple descriptions to an exploration of the larger issues that arise in the interactions between people and places. Readings will include Gretel Ehrlich and Barry Lopez, among others, who have artfully evoked the spirit of place.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 227
Writing and Mindfulness
What happens to writing when writers slow down and listen to their inner experiences? Can mindfulness help us become better writers? In this course we will experiment with contemplative practices: mindful silent exercises, contemplative reading, walking meditation, reflective freewriting, and close observation of places and objects. Satisfying on their own, these techniques can enhance writing of all sorts, from academic genres to writing in the workplace. With the overall goal of improving students' writing, assignments will include daily contemplation/writing exercises, readings on mindfulness and writing, and writing/revising two short essays.
0.50 units, Lecture
RHET 297
Writing the Public Sphere: Theory and Practice
This course will examine the way written language works in the public sphere. Students will read and write about the following sorts of questions: In what ways can writing best promote public dialogue and deliberation? How is the digital landscape changing our conception of writing? Is the opinion essay as a form dying? As books evolve, what happens to the habits of contemplation and reflection fostered by the sustained, quiet reading of traditional texts? How do the changing ways that people acquire news affect the process by which public opinion is formed? In addition to a focus on theories of the public sphere, the class will also be a workshop for student writing. Students will write, revise, and engage with classmates’ writing in various genres aimed at asserting their views on public issues, from traditional essays and op-eds to blogs and multimedia forms.
1.00 units, Seminar
RHET 300
The Art of the Essay
An advanced writing workshop intended to help students find their own subjects and styles as essayists. We will read and write personal essays that express authors’ unique responses to ideas and experiences in deeply reflective ways. Our study will include essays by Seneca, Montaigne, Woolf, Dillard, and others from various historical periods that have explored their responses to the world in engaging and complex detail.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 302
Writing Theory and Practice
A study of the art of discourse, with special emphasis on the dynamics of contemporary composition and argumentation. This course examines rhetorical theory from the Classical period to the New Rhetoric, as well as provides students with frequent practice in varied techniques of composing and evaluating expository prose. A wide selection of primary readings across the curriculum will include some controversial ideas about writing from Plato’s Phaedrus, the heart of Aristotle’s Rhetoric, and examples of the best writing in the arts and sciences. By invitation only. For students admitted to the Writing Associates Program.
1.00 units, Lecture
RHET 395
Academic Internship
Internship or field work placement, with a required academic component to be determined by the faculty sponsor and student. Students need to submit a completed internship contract form to Career Services. Students will not be enrolled until the contract has been approved.
1.00 units, Independent Study
RHET 399
Independent Study
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and Writing Center director are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
RHET 406
Composition Pedagogy
Language and literacy have always served as lightning rods for social and political issues, as well as for conflicts of theory and practice in education. This course will explore the contemporary teaching of writing, with attention to the range of current pedagogies in US colleges. We will examine influences of 20th-century revival of rhetoric, process and post-process writing, cultural and feminist studies, cognitive theory, the digital revolution, and the implications of "the global turn" for 21st-century students and teachers of writing. For English graduate students, this course counts as a core course for the writing, rhetoric, and media arts track; it counts as an elective for the literary studies track. For undergraduate English majors, this course counts as an elective.
1.00 units, Seminar
RHET 466
Teaching Assistant
Students may assist professors as teaching assistants, performing a variety of duties usually involving assisting students in conceiving or revising papers; reading and helping to evaluate papers, quizzes, and exams; and other duties as determined by the student and instructor. See instructor of specific course for more information. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study