Read through our current course offerings, or click the links immediately below to scroll directly to the courses that interest you.
WRI 105 A
Prof. Eric Ekstrand
TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 90325)
Note that this course is not available to continuing students
“My parents were the children of immigrants. My dad had two different kinds of Irish accent. My mother wanted us to speak good English because her first language was Polish. But the kids next door, who were lower class than us, spoke like Huck Finn. I wanted that. Part of it was my longing then to be real, like in books or in comic books.”
-Eileen Myles, Paris Review Interview
You made it! You got into college, and goodness was that hard. Now, what is this place all about? As you begin your college coursework, maybe you will sense that there are unstated new assumptions being made about your learning and writing that are different from those made in your schooling up to this point, (and likely different from those made outside of school—in your home and between your friends). You know the game has changed, but maybe you don’t know what the new rules are. In this class, through regular writing, reading, and speaking, we will try to make plain the various community values inherent to those very same literacy practices. Ultimately, by doing this, we might be better equipped to both take on and challenge those values on our own terms as we join new communities at college, both in and out of the classroom.
We will tense when Cedric Jennings, a first-year black student at the overwhelmingly white and elite Brown University, threatens his hall mates because they were ironically, playfully, acting “gay”– something no straight guy would ever do where Cedric grew up. We will root for Stephon Marbury and his friends from Coney Island as they navigate the economically and racially fraught world of college basketball recruitment. We will hear Mike Rose exclaim, tongue-in-cheek, “I just wanna be average!” We will examine how college instructors think about learning and what they expect from student writing. Along the way, you will be asked to tell your own stories and stake your own claims by way of trying to answer these essential questions about a college education: For what? For whom? What counts, and why?
WRI 105 B
Prof. Ben Keating
WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 90124)
Note that this course is not available to continuing students
This course is designed for those students who wish to develop their reading and writing abilities further before enrolling in WRI 111.
WRI 111 A & B: Writing Seminar
Prof. Gail Clements
WRI 111 A: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 90033)
WRI 111 B: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 90035)
WRI 111 C & D: Writing Seminar: Writing Lived Experience
Prof. Eric Ekstrand
WRI 111 C: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 96023)
WRI 111 D: TR 11:00-12:15 (CRN 90051)
The word “phenomenology” might sound intimidating until you learn what it means: a way to study the lived quality of experience. In this course, you will conduct your own original phenomenological research alongside fellow budding phenomenologists. This research project will be designed by you, with the help of your instructor and classmates, and grounded in an experience you have had that is shared by others.
Early in the semester, you will use exploratory, reflective, and descriptive writing to explore meaningful experiences you have had in the past, working towards a “lived experience description with thematic reflection” a real-world essay genre where you will narrate one experience so as to elicit the quality of that experience in the mind of your reader, drawing out and reflecting on embedded themes as you do. In the second half of the semester, you will develop a research question based on the experience you treated in your lived experience description with thematic reflection. This might be something like, “What is the quality of the experience of singing with others in a gospel choir?” or “What is the quality of the experience of being dumped?” Using your question, you will collect relevant lived experience descriptions from sources other than yourself. You will conduct interviews in addition to discovering descriptions in literature, film, other phenomenological writing, etc. You will use these descriptions and your analysis of them to further penetrate the quality of the experience you study.
Along the way, you will undertake short writing and research assignments, in and out of class, that will build into the sustained work. In class, as well as through individual conferences and peer reviews, you will frequently read and reflect on your own and others’ developing writing. In addition to reading about rhetoric, language, and the processes of writing, you will read examples of phenomenological writing by students and adult, experienced writers in order to inform your own original work. By doing all of this, you will not prepare to be an academic writer so much as begin academic writing in earnest. As Frost says, “This [is] no playhouse but a house in earnest.” Of course, it is a playhouse too.
WRI 111 F Writing Seminar: Fig Leaves to Fashion: What We Wear
Prof. Marianne Erhardt
WRI 111 F: WF 11:00-11:50 (CRN 90561)
In this class, we will tug at the seams of our many uniforms and costumes. What do we wear? Why do we wear it? What does it say and to whom? What is the distinction between function and fashion? Between clothing and technology? What are clothes made of, and by whom, and at what cost? How does consumption of clothing reflect and shape personal and cultural identities?
A shirt is a text. A fad is an object. A uniform is an argument. As we write our way through an inquiry of dress, we will engage with both scholarly and popular texts in order to examine and develop our rhetorical knowledge. We will aim for what Frank Cioffi calls “Imaginative Argument” borne out of process, practice, and revision. We will fashion a writing community. We will collaborate, reflect, and declare that we have “nothing to wear!” (or “no idea what to write!!”). But we will wear those jeans and we will write. A lot.
Readings may include Valerie Steele’s Corset: A Cultural History, Elizabeth Cline’s Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, R. Aicha’s Hijabi in Plain Sight, Alison Kinney’s Hood, Jill Soloway’s Transparent, Pietra Rivoli’s The Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy, photographs by Spencer Tunick and Richard Renaldi, assorted fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, and more. We will also partner in a project with the local branch of Diaper Bank of North Carolina, a nonprofit organization which facilitates diaper access for many families in Winston-Salem.
WRI 111 G: Writing Seminar: The Rhetoric of Protest
Prof. Matt Fiander
TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 90034)
In this course, we will look at and analyze the language and rhetoric of protest. First, we’ll try and figure out what we mean when we say “protest.” What conventions, communication, expectations, and representation comprise protest movements? What separates protest language from other language of change or opposition? Within our definition of protest, we will examine when, why, and most specifically how groups present their arguments against particular moments, systems, or conditions. We will also examine the language used in protest movements and analyze their intentions, their effectiveness, and their implications. We’ll study various forms of protest, such as protest songs and organized movements, but we’ll also look at how different forms of writing — academic, scholarly, journalistic, and literary — discuss protest. The goal will be to understand how visual and language-based rhetoric shape the arguments presented within protests, how protests enter into larger, ongoing modes of communication, and how uncovering the way protests communicate can help us better understand their perspective, their goals, their progress or limitations, and their impact.
We’ll find connections between the classic protest singers (like Bob Dylan and Nina Simone) and those singing in protest today (Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monae, and others). We’ll see how hashtag movements like #metoo and #BlackLivesMatter use various and different rhetorical techniques to communicate their message. And we’ll read scholarly, journalistic, and literary texts that respond to these protest movements, so we can see what others write about when they write about protest. Our purpose here is not to pick sides, but rather to use our writing to understand and analyze how these movements work, to use writing to slow down and deepen our thinking on these topics rather than reacting quickly to a headline or quick-fire news clip. Our writing in this class is to clarify and support our perspective, and to help us become more engaged and interested citizens in the communities around us and in the world at large.
WRI 111 H & I: Writing Seminar: Gender and Pop Culture
Prof. Matt Fiander
WRI 111 H: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 90038)
WRI 111 I: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 90040)
This class will study how pop culture — including film, music, celebrity culture, and social media — represents gender roles and expectations to see what they reveal to us about societal concerns, confusions, and complexities about gender roles, sexuality, and self-identity. We’ll also examine how gender representation works within other societal concerns about race, class, and family. We will study and analyze direct examples from pop culture, but we will also read scholarly, journalistic, and literary texts that examine pop culture from a variety of lenses to learn not just what pop culture reflects about us and our understanding of gender, but also how we talk and write about that understanding.
The #metoo movement has opened up new conversations about complex issues of gender roles, violence, expectations, and work-place culture. The impact of films like Get Out and Black Panther have raised new questions about race and masculinity. Beyonce and Jay-Z have used their music to have a very public discussion of gender, family, and wealth. Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer asks us to rethink how we talk about sexuality. While media coverage of these and other elements of pop culture may give you new ideas to think about, this class will focus on how you convey those ideas and how writing can help you figure out and best articulate your ideas. By engaging with, analyzing, and responding to sources covering gender within pop culture, you can also examine how language is used to reinforce expectations of gender, race, and class. We’ll use this topic to better understand rhetorical moves in our own work and in the work of others. Finally, we’ll work to develop a set of tools that help us create an active and self-aware writing process — from invention to drafting to submission — that will persist beyond this semester’s work.
WRI 111 J: Writing Seminar: Writing Home: Writing About Where We Come From, Where We Are Going, and Who We Are Becoming
Prof. Laura Giovanelli
WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN 90036)
“Where are you from?” is a question you’ve probably heard at least five times a day since you arrived at Wake Forest.
Like a lot of young adult writers, author John Green is really (he of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down) good at articulating the rich and strange journey of identity as we move from adolescence to adulthood. He once wrote, “…home is that house where you no longer live. Home is before, and you live in after. But home is also what you are building and maintaining today.” Does that make home purely a physical place? Is it only where we are from and who we are, or where we belong and who we want to be? Is it always good, or always easy? More importantly, how do ideas of difference, identity, and familiarity build and change personal and shared understandings of home as we live and grow up?
In this introductory college writing seminar, together we’ll use the concept of home to examine how writers and scholars interpret, understand, and ask questions about where we come from in a variety of writing genres, disciplines, and rhetorical situations. We’ll craft a series of polished arguments, working through invention, drafting, feedback, and revision as you add your writing to an evolving dialogue about home and identity.
We will begin specifically with your transition from your old home to your new one at Wake Forest. How is your home more broadly related to identity, be it race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, or ethnicity? And how do you put your notion of home and identity in a conversation with other writers and scholars? We’ll move on to other projects that ask you to adapt our thematic exploration of home for varied audiences and purposes. Assignments may include critical summary and responses, rhetorical analyses, autoethnographies, and personal reflections, helping us become more flexible and adaptive writers. This flexing of your writing muscles will help you get used to college writing and sharpen your writing and reading skills: you will listen, you will draft, you will revise, and you’ll give and get feedback as you add your own writing to a dialogue about where we are from, who we are, and where we are going. It will also help you find a voice in an unfolding conversation.
As we ask questions about how home shapes collective and individual identities, pasts, and futures, we’ll use writing as a tool and practice to get us closer to seeing the world as a place of dynamic and changing possibility, of challenge and opportunity. Along the way, we’ll learn writing is not just the end point of difficult questions, but that its deeper value is wrestling with and communicating the complexity of our world.
WRI 111 K & L: Writing Seminar: The World is Yours: Identity and Power in Academic Writing
Prof. Benjamin Keating
WRI 111 K: WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN 90052)
WRI 111 L: WF 12:30-1:45(CRN 90043)
In 1987, the Oprah Winfrey Show aired an episode entitled, “Standard & ‘Black’ English.” The topic of the show was language—“Black English versus Standard English,” as Winfrey put it, but the subject of the conversation was not just language. Identity was also a central topic. While the Winfrey episode is a compelling example of the power dynamics around, and connections between, racial identity and language, this course does not focus exclusively on racial identity and language.
Instead, we will think broadly about identity and power, turning our attention to the diverse ways in which many social groups speak and write. Course readings will help us analyze how academic communities (e.g., research scientists, professors of education), professional communities (e.g., attorneys, medical doctors), and interest communities (e.g., stamp collectors, hip-hop fans) use language to mark belonging, accomplish specific goals, and construct their worlds.
As we explore areas of scholarship where we can imagine ourselves making arguments or doing research that matters to us and that matters to others, we will continually locate ourselves as writers with unique sets of linguistic and cultural experience. Finally—and crucially—this seminar will empower you by supporting your facility with academic writing in a range of contexts.
WRI 111 M: Writing Seminar: Originality and Invention
Prof. Danielle Koupf
MWF 2:00-2:50 (CRN 90042)
“[A]ppropriation, mimicry, quotation, allusion, and sublimated collaboration consist of a kind of sine qua non of the creative act, cutting across all forms and genres in the realm of cultural production.” –Jonathan Lethem, “The Ecstasy of Influence”
You may have heard someone lament the lack of “original” content in today’s popular culture: more and more movies, television shows, and songs, it seems, are merely remakes, remixes, adaptations, sequels, prequels, or covers. But is originality really all that important in writing, art, and media? After all, even Shakespeare adapted some of his ideas from history and literature. While the burden of originality can plague budding writers, adopting “unoriginal” techniques like collage can free us of some of this burden. We can still be inventive and creative when composing with reused materials, as the line between “original” and “unoriginal” is blurry. This course introduces you to invention as a rhetorical concept that encompasses both creation and discovery, meaning that invention can entail repetition just as it can entail generation. We will explore where ideas come from and how we can reliably generate them through invention processes. We will investigate the difference between plagiarism and appropriate, creative reuse. You will grow more aware of which tools for invention work for you and which influences affect your writing and reading practices. You will learn to experiment with your writing.
We will practice writing in a variety of styles, including exploratory, personal reflection, critical analysis, researched writing, and collage writing. We will engage in frequent low-stakes writing assignments in class and undertake substantial revisions of our essays and projects. As we work on our writing, we will also work on our reading by reading unusual and challenging texts, annotating them thoroughly, and reflecting on our reading experiences.
WRI 111 N: Writing Seminar
Prof. Gail Clements
TR 11:00-12:15 (CRN 90045)
WRI 111 O: Writing Seminar: Argumentation and Civil Discourse
Prof. Zak Lancaster
WRI 111 O: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 90046)
Many people think of argumentation in terms of armed combat: two sides pitched against each other, staking claims, launching attacks and counter-attacks, and defending and strengthening their positions. Such combative language pervades our ordinary conceptions of argumentation, and it shapes how we make arguments (even in academia). Seemingly neutral descriptors like “defending your position” and “finding common ground” are fundamentally based in conflict. But how do we advance dialogue if our aim is to beat down others’ arguments? Research in the social sciences suggests we do not: When we try to persuade through argumentation—even gentle presentation of facts—, people often resist and dig in, rejecting evidence that conflicts with their beliefs. In this course, we will embrace these challenges as we practice argumentation from a range of perspectives. We will explore views on argumentation from cognitive psychologists and linguists (Deborah Tannen, Steven Pinker, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson), from literature and rhetoric scholars (Wayne Booth, Kenneth Burke, Jeanne Fahnestock), and from popular writers ranging from Mark Twain to David Sedaris. You will practice using a variety of argument strategies on topics of interest to you, and you will learn how arguments work in various academic fields (economics, politics, philosophy, and sciences). You will learn how to motivate your argument, identify stakes, engage fairly and generously with others’ perspectives, position your evidence, embrace evidence that does not support your views, and express both open-mindedness and authority as you take positions.
WRI 111 P: Writing Seminar: Invisible Work and Workplaces
Prof. Keri Mathis
WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN 90047)
Work often defines individuals in more ways than one—work shapes people’s lives by offering financial means to support employees and their families and often provides a structure that directs people’s other daily activities. So often, though, workers and workplaces remain invisible or unseen. In this course, we will consider questions about invisible labor that lead to several writing opportunities. For instance, we will ask the following: what kinds of communication practices happen in different kinds of workplaces? What genres of writing do the employees use to make the work progress, and what media do the workers use to communicate with each other or audiences outside of the workplace? This semester, you will pick a workplace that is traditionally unseen or undervalued and write in several genres and media to learn about your own dispositions toward work and what kinds of writing circulates in workplaces that interest you.
By the end of the semester, to reach the course goals, you will have written three major assignments, completed a digital project, and submitted a culminating portfolio with an introductory reflection. The sequence of major assignments includes a workplace literacy narrative, profile of an employee or workplace, a rhetorical analysis of a workplace genre, and a digital “Concept-in-90.” Revision of these assignments will also provide you with the opportunity to reflect on your work and hone the writing skills that are crucial not only in English studies, but also in your other coursework and prospective careers.
WRI 111 Q & R & T: Writing Seminar
Prof. Hannah Harrison
WRI 111 Q: MWF 9:00-9:50 (CRN 90044)
WRI 111 R: MWF 10:00-10:50 (CRN 90053)
WRI 111 T: MWF 1:00-1:50 (CRN 90049)
WRI 111 V: Writing Seminar: Just Words: Writing, Rhetoric, and Ethics
Prof. Ryan Shirey
WF 11:00-12:15 (CRN 90050)
When we want to disregard what someone else has to say, it is all too easy to claim that our opponents’ statements are “just words” or “empty rhetoric.” Such claims dismiss the link between language and the world of action and civic responsibility; they suggest that saying and doing are unrelated things. In this course, we will consider the ways in which language is a kind of action that takes place in the context of human communities. Instead of taking the phrase “just words” to mean “merely (or only) words,” we will take seriously the idea that words themselves may (or should) be just, which is to say concerned with fairness, equitability, and moral good within specific rhetorical situations. Why, for instance, does academic writing require specific kinds of citation rules? How do we argue about important ideas in responsible and ethical ways? What kinds of obligations as writers and thinkers do we have to ourselves, our beliefs, and our audiences? All of these questions and more will be taken up in this course as we think carefully and critically about what it means to write and argue well. Texts may include, among others, selections from Aristotle’s Rhetoric, Richard M. Weaver’s The Ethics of Rhetoric, Kenneth Burke’s Language as Symbolic Action and A Rhetoric of Motives, Robert Jensen’s Arguing for Our Lives, and Sarah Manguso’s 300 Arguments.
WRI 111 W: Writing Seminar
Prof. Adrian Greene
TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 94174)
WRI 111 X & Y: Writing Seminar: Rhetorics of Music
Prof. (Richard) Carter Smith
WRI 111 X: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 94175)
WRI 111 Y: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 94176)
Have you debated with a friend the merits of a particular song? Have you sought out an interview with one of your favorite artists or followed a music blog? This seminar considers the ways in which arguments about music—the intentions of music makers, the methods used to realize them, and the way that listeners register their effects—are integral to the meanings that we find in it. Reading a variety of literary and musicological texts, we will consider what we “get” from music and also how we get it, as its audience and as consumers. Our readings and conversations on these matters will allow us to analyze the situatedness of musical texts, and texts about those texts, with the goal of entering into the conversation with our own effective writing. Readings may include work by James Baldwin, Moises Kaufman, Greg Milner, J Dilla, and others.
WRI 111 Z & ZA: Us vs. Them: The Rhetoric of Groups
Prof. Elisabeth Whitehead
WRI 111 Z: WF 12:30-1:45 (CRN 94209)
WRI 111 ZA: WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 94814)
Sometimes we choose the group, and sometimes the group chooses us. But whether it is race, gender, religion, sexuality, a nation or an ideology, we all can claim numerous group affiliations. Group membership can fulfill important needs, helping us to negotiate and establish identity, reduce chaos, and create a sense of larger purpose. It can also instill in us a feeling of safety and confidence, or even aid in our survival. So when is group alliance functioning in a life-giving way, and when does it become dangerous?
In this course we will be investigating the psychology and rhetoric of groups, especially as it relates to written text. We will look at themes such as conformity, obedience to authority, dispersal of responsibility, group privilege and power, and stereotypes. We will discuss through what lens groups see each other, speak to each other, and write about each other. Analyzing texts about issues including racism, hazing, cults, and the Holocaust, we will examine the language of prejudice and exclusion. In addition, we will study authors who embrace a very different vision, of empathy and inclusion, including Martin Luther King Jr. who once wrote: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”
This is a reading and writing intensive course. We will be exploring a variety of texts, including nonfiction essays, journalism, literature, psychological studies, film, letters, speeches, poetry, and the graphic novel. In addition to analytical and researched writing, you will also have the opportunity to write narratives from personal experience.
Texts may include work by Martin Luther King Jr., Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, Art Spiegelman, and Deborah Layton.
WRI 111 ZB & ZC: Writing Seminar: Weird Nature
Prof. Guy Witzel
WRI 111 ZB: TR 11:00-12:15 (CRN 96240)
WRI 111 ZC: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 96241)
How should we characterize our relationship to nature in the twenty-first century? As the refuge from modern life that we heart on Instagram? As the deadly and frightening place we watch on Animal Planet? As a sphere that resists or welcomes our control? As a subject of concern and controversy? Humanity’s relationship with nature has long animated the written word. In this course, we shall study the ways in which writers, researchers, and makers of culture depict our shifting and sometimes weird relationships with the natural world. These works will provide a lens from which to consider and practice various genres, rhetorical strategies, and writing conventions.
We’ll start by studying writers who challenge our ordinary perceptions of nature through estrangement, examining the rhetoric and conventions they use to render the familiar foreign. To practice new critical thinking, reading, and writing skills we will generate blog posts and in-class writings that respond to this body of work. From there, we will each work to translate our findings into a rhetorical analysis that also puts forward its own, divergent ecological vision. For this and other major assignments we will move through drafting and peer-editing phases that will help us become more comfortable with the processes of invention and revision that support strong writing.
We will also consider recent creative and critical works so as to examine various environmental fantasies and issues of identity. These works will also create opportunities for us to study how major public dialogues unfold and the various techniques we might use in order to engage and participate in them. By the end of this class, you will be better equipped to make arguments, present evidence, challenge common sense, and invent meaning through writing.
WRI 111 ZD: Writing Seminar: Tech Troubles
Prof. Guy Witzel
TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 96248)
Technology today is undoubtedly a wonder; its advancements often manifest as solutions to stubborn problems. But technology can also make us anxious, complicate things, give us trouble. How might we approach this complexity and avoid falling prey to reductive pro/con position-taking? How can we make sense of our digital age given both its pace and the extent to which we are immersed in it, unable get the distance necessary to see it for what it is? As writers eager to engage these questions responsibly and with well-reasoned analysis, how should we proceed?
To start, we’ll learn from others, studying the rhetoric and conventions of scholars, social critics, and essayists like Jenna Wortham, John Hodgman, and Astra Taylor, who are interested in this shift from the analog and physical to the virtual and digital. In examining this work through blog posts, in-class writing, and discussion, we’ll develop new critical thinking, reading, and writing strategies. We’ll then capitalize on what we’ve learned to invent, draft, and revise essays that put forward our own arguments about this digital transition. We’ll repeat this cycle of invention, feedback, and revision in assignments concerning technological dilemmas in popular culture and accounts of alternative relationships to technology. Along the way we will examine and intervene within a variety of genres, disciplines, and rhetorical situations, including debates regarding artificial intelligence and technology’s intersection with gender, race, and economic inequality.
More and more we will all be asked to write in and respond to a world that is at once complex, quickly changing, and partly located in the virtual realm. By honing our writing skills in this context, we’ll be better-prepared to seek out and put forward alternative perspectives, evaluate and integrate evidence in our analyses, and craft arguments for different mediums and audiences.
WRI 210 A & B: Advanced Academic Writing: Navigating Genres and Discourse Communities
Prof. Keri Mathis
WRI 210 A: WF 12:30-1:45 (CRN 90093)
WRI 210 B: WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 96394)
We often approach “academic writing” as if it is constructed from a set of predetermined—and perhaps inexplicable—rules. This course aims to demystify some of these “rules” and ways academic writing comes to be. To do so, we will use rhetorical genre studies as a primary lens and examine sample texts from across genres and disciplines to learn how academic writing represents the needs and values of the discourse communities that use it.
We will consider questions such as the following: what counts as evidence in this disciplinary genre? How do writers position themselves toward their research and toward their readers? What does the writing reveal about how disciplinary writers value knowledge creation and dissemination in their fields? Throughout the semester, you will analyze patterns and conventions of academic writing and practice using some of the rhetorical strategies you discover to develop your own writing for discourse communities that you care about most.
WRI 212 A: Literary Nonfiction: The Art of the Essay
Prof. Marianne Erhardt
MWF 1:00-1:50 (CRN 93835)
Acclaimed writer Natalie Goldberg was not an acclaimed writer, and did not think of herself as a writer at all, when she visited a bookstore one day after work as a cook. She selected Fruits and Vegetables by Erica Jong and found a poem about an eggplant. “I was amazed. You mean you can write about something like that? Something as ordinary as that? Something that I did in my life?” All at once, she was a writer. In Writing Down the Bones, she tells us, “A synapse connected in my brain. I went home with the resolve to write what I knew and to trust my own thoughts and feelings.”
In this class, we will have the audacity to write from our own eggplant experiences – both ordinary and extraordinary – as we explore the genre of literary nonfiction. We’ll read authors such as Nicholson Baker, Eula Biss, Durga Chew-Bose, Alexander Chee, Annie Dillard, Irina Dumitrescu, Ross Gay, Rahawa Haile, Hope Jahren, Leslie Jamison, Philip Lopate, Greg Marshall, Karen Palmer, David Sedaris, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, and Joe Wilkins. We will read for pleasure, for rhetorical study, and for appreciation and development of craft. We will consider the history of the essay form, some of its many subgenres, and imagine its future.
And we will “write down the bones,” which Goldberg says is “the essential, awake speech of [our] minds.” We will write as poets, peers, critics, and scholars, all of whom work to coax this “awake speech” to the blank page. While building our writing portfolios, we will build a writing community. Beyond our classroom, we will explore opportunities for the essay to guide our engagement in the greater Winston-Salem community.
WRI 212 B: Art? Of the Essay?
Prof. (Richard) Carter Smith
TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 96035)
Though you might not know from the way you’ve been asked to use it in the past, an essay, in its root sense, is an attempt. A trial. It is a genre especially well suited to posing questions, testing ideas, and working things out. In this course, we will approach the essay from this perspective, reading a variety of examples in order to ask questions like: what happens when a reader thoughtfully engages with a writer’s attempt? what does a writer gain from making one? what kind of knowledge does an attempt produce? As you will see from the essays that we read, the focus here is not critical writing and research. It is, rather, the essay as an exploration of your experience, as an art commensurate with other forms of making.
300-Level WRI Courses
Are you curious about the inner workings of grammar, vocabulary, and rhetorical strategies? What separates one author’s language from another? How do genres and registers vary? In this course we learn about systematic approaches to studying the language of writing. We explore qualitative and quantitative methods for analyzing textual features at the level of the word and phrase, along with rhetorical and organizational structures. Course participants will develop their ability to navigate and engage with a variety of written registers through analyses of authentic written texts. The final project for the course is a guidebook for writing in a discipline or professional area chosen by the student. Readings for the course include works from Biber, Cortes, Gray, Hyland, Swales, and others.
With the 2018 opening of WakerSpace, the maker movement has officially come to Wake Forest’s campus. Whether you’re a knitter, a sculptor, a fabricator, a woodworker, or a web designer, makerspaces like WakerSpace offer something for you to do. In this hands-on course, we will practice critical making with a range of media—from paper to fibercraft to Photoshop. As we tinker, experiment, and pursue various projects, we will reflect on our experiences, becoming engaged bricoleurs. Guided by theories of cultural rhetorics, we will ask: what are the relationships among writing, rhetoric, making, and crafting? How do crafts perform rhetorical, political, and activist work? We will learn to make things using a DIY-influenced process of trial and error and will embrace failure as an inevitable part of that process. To conclude the course, we will showcase our handcrafted rhetorics as part of our very own Makers Faire. You will leave this class with new skills and with your very own handcrafted products. No previous experience with any particular tools or technologies is necessary for success in this course.
Students in this class will learn and practice the skills needed to produce magazine stories for publication. Focusing on a single topic of their own choosing all semester, they will be encouraged to write creatively and often. They will learn advanced principles of interviewing, document research, story structure, character development, and explanatory journalism. They will also read and analyze some of the best magazine stories written over the past 30 years.