An assumption persists in writing courses that academic and literary essays are distinct: critical writers formulate arguments and manage subjective experiences with facts for the sake of accuracy or correctness, while literary writers endeavor to capture the idiosyncrasies of their consciousness for the sake of personal expression and exploration. In practice, however, the very best critical writing across disciplines demonstrates both intellectual and aesthetic excellence.
Drawing upon exemplary work from a range of disciplines, this course centers on “the essay” as a flexible form that succeeds not only through what writers say but how they say it. Reading and writing assignments emphasizes style, tone, and point of view in the development of written reasoning. Moreover, the course’s workshop design and non-traditional grading structure encourage writing processes, peer feedback, and risk-taking as modes of learning.
Major writing assignments are structured to engage the disciplinary and professional aspirations of students through development of both critical thinking and personal style. Students will develop their voices not only in writing but also through acts of speaking and listening. Through classroom guests and activities, the course engages writing as a performance for audiences in a variety of public spheres.
This course employs a “writing studio” model of learning where working writers gather together in workshop environments for shared, facilitated support in reading essays, talking about craft and form, generating ideas, producing drafts, giving feedback, and improving skills in writing and speaking. As studio writers, we will take on mutual responsibility for creating a culture of support, or rather a community of compassion, in which we learn through the shared labor of reading, writing, and assessing work, as well as through readings and speakers that model writing forms and craft, professional stakes, and intellectual curiosity. My goal is that you learn not only to rely on your colleagues and yourself for assessment and revision advice, but also to build strategies of self-assessment that function apart from formal academic approval.
Writing Requirement courses focus on the technical terms and conceptual principles needed to write clear, grammatical prose aimed at communicating with force and logic. Upper-division courses focus on professional writing and the creation of individual styles.
Upper-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience.
The interdisciplinary minor in Writing, Public Speaking, and Critical Reasoning offers students a coherent program of courses that strengthen students' abilities to write well, to speak effectively in public, and to think critically. This minor is built on courses in English, Writing, and Philosophy and is taught by professors from English, Philosophy, and the Honors College.
Writing, Public Speaking, and Critical Reasoning Certificate courses strengthen students' abilities to write well, to speak effectively in public, and to think critically. This certificate program is built on courses in English, Writing, and Philosophy and is taught by professors from English, Philosophy, and the Honors College.