Read through our current course offerings for Fall 2023 below.
WRI 109 and WRI 111
WRI 109 A/C: Writing Seminar, Part 1: Stories We Tell About Ourselves and Others
Prof. Keri Epps
MW 1:00-1:50 (CRN 64956)
MW 10:00-10:50 (CRN 65110)
Stories help us understand ourselves and others. Stories serve as the foundation for human connection and communication. We use our own and others’ stories to direct our responses in nearly every communicative act. In this class, we will collect, read, summarize, and compose narratives to explore how stories about ourselves and others help us create meaning in and outside of the classroom.
We will consider the following questions: What is my story? What are others’ stories that challenge my own? What are the stories existing around me at Wake Forest or in the Winston-Salem community? To begin answering such questions, we will engage with readings on narrative from composition studies and from viral storytelling campaigns like Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York.” We will use the readings and our writing assignments to consider the many roles of narrative: as a therapeutic tool, a way of knowing, a means of translating our lived experience, a rhetorical device, among others (Countryman, 1995; Kurtyka, 2017).
To reach the course goals, you will engage in an intensive, iterative writing process—including rounds of drafting, feedback, and revision—to complete two major writing projects and a final portfolio. The sequence of major assignments ranges from composing personal stories and summarizing stories that challenge our own, to collecting and compiling community stories in both print and digital spaces.
WRI 109 B: Writing Seminar, Part 1: On Your Own Terms
Prof. Eric Ekstrand
TR 1:00-1:50 (CRN 64957)
“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
It’s kind of funny. Although we may know experientially that there are many varieties of English, we often conceptualize English as if there were only one: the right one.
You likely use at least one variety of English, but many of us use several—you might use one kind of English at home and another at school or at work, for instance. As you move out of your home community, you encounter other varieties of English. You might switch between the varieties of English you use throughout the day, or over the course of a single conversation. Maybe English isn’t the first language you learned, or maybe you learned English alongside another language as you were growing up.
The reason for the variety of language is the same reason that there is any language at all: we use it with others. And because languages are made collaboratively as people use them, social values become attached to them. The diversity of language can be celebrated, but all too often people make negative assumptions about a person—often unfair, inaccurate, and subconscious—based on what variety or varieties of English they use. Though no variety of English is more correct or capable than another, all varieties are not equally privileged.
In this class, we will treat learning academic English as a way of expanding the repertoire of Englishes available to us while considering the rhetorical and ethical questions of whether, when, and how to use it in light of how we are judged and judge others because of their language. We will accomplish this through regular reading, writing, discussing, and researching.
We will begin by learning how languages develop and interact. Next, we will consider how language, in part, shapes identity through reading examples of linguistic memoirs and writing our own. We will interrogate White English supremacy and trace the historical development of academic American English. Towards the end of the semester, you will undertake an original research project as a member of a group where you will use field recordings, interviews, and database research to describe the language practices of a student community on campus. By doing all this, you will be more ready to use academic English (or not) on your own terms.
WRI 111 A/B: Writing Seminar: Pop Culture and Everyday Rhetoric
Prof. Kendra Andrews
WRI 111 A: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 60674)
WRI 111 B: TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 60676)
When we hear the term “rhetoric,” we typically think about the lectures of ancient philosophers or the speeches of tricky politicians; however, rhetoric is deeply ingrained in everyday aspects of our modern life. Rhetoric is a part of everything that surrounds us from the way that we dress to the things that we buy to the way that we communicate – any time that a message is communicated with an audience or purpose in mind, an argument is made and rhetoric is enacted. The influx of rhetorical messaging in everyday “texts” becomes even more striking as we spend more time online or on digital devices. While we are all subjected to thousands of rhetorical messages on a daily basis, we are often unaware of their power of persuasion.
In this class, we will look directly at the rhetorical messaging in our popular culture and ask questions such as: how does advertising shape the way we see the world? Can social media posts change the state of a nation? What could music videos or sitcoms tell us about academic genres? What are the ethical obligations of a celebrity or influencer? How does what we read online affect what we write and who we are as a culture? By asking these types of questions, we can break the cycle as mass consumers of popular culture and media and we will learn how to thoughtfully digest information and critically engage with the rhetorical world around us.
During this class, we will expand our understanding of rhetoric by locating examples of rhetorical texts in our everyday lives. Through the critical reading and analysis of popular media such as music videos, commercials, viral videos, and social media posts, we will begin to unpack the underlying power that these rhetorical messages have in our everyday lives. Throughout our rhetorical inquiry, we will read scholarly texts such as academic articles and conference presentations as well as non-scholarly texts such as song lyrics and a scene from popular television shows. We will not only have a wide range of readings, but we will also compose in multimodal ways. During this class, we will develop student-driven writing projects including argumentative rhetorical analysis, genre remix, individual blogging, and inquiry-based research. As part of our work in the class, we will also develop a writer’s website that demonstrates their engagement as critical consumers and producers of modern rhetorical texts.
WRI 111 C/D: Writing Seminar: Your Brain on Writing
Prof. Erin Branch
WRI 111 C: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 61512)
WRI 111 D: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 60685)
In late 2022, the arrival of ChatGPT struck fear in the hearts of teachers everywhere and prompted journalists and pundits to proclaim the death of the essay. While the full impact of this new tool remains to be seen, what is known is that thinkers have debated for centuries how and why we write–and what writing is good for. In fact, Socrates himself thought writing was nothing more than a useful reminder.
But his view runs directly counter to what many writing scholars know today, which is that writing is one way to figure out what we think. Writing is not, despite romantic ideals to the contrary, the simple transcription of clear and distinct ideas from brain to page (or screen). Ideas and arguments develop through the process of writing itself, messy as that might be. As Anne Carson writes, writing is about “the struggle to drag a thought over from the mush of the unconscious into some kind of grammar, syntax, human sense; every attempt means starting over with language, starting over with accuracy.”
This course will investigate ideas about what exactly IS happening in our brains when we write, and how—or if—modern technology intersects with those processes. We’ll study arguments about invention and the writing process from various fields (including philosophy, neuroscience, rhetoric & composition, and others) as we develop our own protocols for capturing, articulating, and analyzing writing processes. Readings may include philosophical arguments, academic research articles, contemporary journalism, and personal essays; writing assignments may include autoethnography, expository essays, and research proposals.
WRI 111 E/F/G: Writing Seminar: All Fun and Games: On Play
Prof. Marianne Erhardt
WRI 111 E: MWF 10:00-10:50 (CRN 60677)
WRI 111 F: MWF 11:00-11:50 (CRN 60723)
WRI 111 G: MWF 12:00-12:50 (CRN 60675)
In this class, we will write our way through an inquiry of games and play. What is play and why do we do it? What is the value of play and who determines that value? How does play function for children? For adults? What is play’s relationship to privilege? Who gets to play? What makes a game work? What makes it fair? How do our ways of playing and pretending reflect and shape culture?
We’ll treat writing itself as a form of play. Writers use tools. We make, follow and break rules. We write to explore, to attempt, to persuade, to win, to question, and to make sense of. Writing is an act of play that has the potential to engage countless readers, playmates, competitors, and referees. Our topics may include gender and children’s toys; the games of dating, politics, and school; play and technology; music, entertainment, and sports and sports fandom.
This time in our world brings a new chapter for play. Quarantine and social distancing have fostered and disrupted many kinds of play, and have forced us to confront our personal relationships with play’s neighbors: creativity, boredom, fear, risk, inspiration, improvisation, and connection. We’ll explore all of these, as we write in a variety of genres, using peer workshops to develop our writing skills and our class community.
WRI 111 H/I: Writing Seminar: Writing New Media Across Difference
Prof. Moisés García Rentería
WRI 111H: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 60678)
WRI 111I: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 63296)
In a world that is becoming more fragmented and interconnected at the same time, one of the greatest challenges we face is giving everyone equal opportunity to express their own views. Modern democracies have responded to this challenge by expanding access to literacy and education, arguing that to participate successfully in public life, citizens need high levels of reading and writing skills. But, how can education live up to the promise of equality through literacy in a society where memes and emojis are used as a main means of expression?
This course is inspired by the principle that not only traditional reading and writing can allow you to participate fully in public and academic life, but also the kinds of reading and writing practices that resonate more with you. Using cutting-edge academic research, we will explore our understandings of literacy to consider visual, digital, and embodied means of expression and their relationship to identity, democracy, and power. We will study a broad range of media, from memes to urban art, using traditional academic writing and practical embodied activities like multimedia mapping workshops. Following a pedagogy of solidarity and caring, we will build common experiences that promote your autonomy in the choices you make about writing within the communicative context of college and beyond. By the end of the course, you will be able to communicate your ideas and interests with criticality and academic timeliness, connecting ethics and writing in a world widely more inclusive of cultural, communicative, and technological difference.
WRI 111 J/K: Writing Seminar: Originality and Invention
Prof. Danielle Koupf
WRI 111 J: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 63327)
WRI 111 K: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 60686)
You may have heard critics 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. Yet, 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 and adaptation 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 and the intersection of technical invention and rhetorical invention. It is my aim to help you grow more aware of which tools for writing and invention work for you and what factors influence your writing and reading practices.
You will have ample opportunities to experiment with your writing. We will practice writing in a variety of styles, including exploration, personal reflection, critical analysis, researched writing, and collage writing. We will engage in frequent low-stakes writing assignments and undertake substantial revisions of our essays and projects. As we work on our writing, we will also work on our reading by examining unusual and challenging texts, annotating them thoroughly, and reflecting on our reading experiences.
WRI 111 L: Writing Seminar: Truth and Fiction
Prof. Danielle Koupf
TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 60679)
The line between truth and fiction often blurs in today’s media landscape, as fake news, satirical websites, exaggerations, doctored images, photo filters, and biased reporting populate our social media feeds and phone screens. In art and writing, there’s often no clear boundary between truth and fiction. Seemingly solid categories like fiction and nonfiction are not so easily distinguished, with genres like memoir, creative nonfiction, reality television, and documentary film challenging the distinction. In this course, we will embrace the playfulness that such blurriness promotes while training to become more discerning consumers of all kinds of media. We will hone our skepticism and our skills of critical analysis and reflection, as we investigate plagiarism, social media, artificial intelligence, and other sources of deception. We will learn to make productive use of uncertainty through writing about such topics.
You can expect to practice different types of writing this semester, including personal narrative and reflection, exploration, analysis, and research. We will engage in frequent low-stakes writing assignments and undertake substantial revisions of major essays. As we work on our writing, we will also work on our reading by examining unusual and challenging texts, annotating them thoroughly, and reflecting on our reading experiences. You will leave this class with a better sense of how to read and write effectively in a post-truth world.
WRI 111 M: Writing Seminar: Writing as Public Action
Prof. Alisa Russell
TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 63336)
No matter your major or career goals, writing will be part of your regular routine because it is how we record, communicate, argue, inform, understand, and share ideas across time and space. In the first half of the course, we will focus on learning the language of GENRE — the way various elements of writing (e.g., author/audience, main claims/stakes, evidence/appeals, organization/formatting, tone/style) come together in patterned ways to achieve particular actions in the world. You will gain the analytical language and tools to figure out any new genre you may encounter in the future. Even more, we will keep a critical eye on these genres (e.g., who gets included and excluded? what values do they emphasize?), and we will even play with the boundaries of genre to investigate their flexibility.
In the second half of the course, we will use our new knowledge of genre to write about the public issues we care about most. You will choose which genres would best fulfill your chosen purpose and reach your chosen audiences in order to accomplish the public actions that will bring about positive change in your communities. We will compose genres across modes and mediums, and we will practice shifting rhetorical strategies from genre to genre to build our flexibility. We will especially consider how composing is rather messy: We’ll explore a number of writing processes and strategies, and you can experiment with which ones work for you. We’ll also find that writing is an inherently social activity; you will use your peers (and me) as resources for feedback and growth in your writing skills as part of your process.
WRI 111 N: Writing Seminar: “Just Words”: Writing, Rhetoric, and Ethics
Prof. Ryan Shirey
WF 12:30-1:45 (CRN 60681)
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 O: Writing Seminar: The English Next Door
Prof. Jon Smart
WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN 60682)
What does the type of English you speak say about who you are? Are some varieties of English better than others? Who decides what grammar is correct and why are there different varieties of English to begin with? In this course, we will examine societal issues related to language variation in English, from everyday speech to academic writing. We will read and discuss texts from experts and stakeholders on contemporary issues in language use. Students will collaborate on language analyses tasks to develop understanding of English variation (with a focus on academic varieties). In addition to analyzing use, students will construct written analyses of critical issues related to language and develop an understanding of the role of English in their own experiences.
WRI 111 P/Q: Writing Seminar: Rhetorics of Music
Prof. (Richard) Carter Smith
WRI 111 P: WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN 63337)
WRI 111 Q: WF 11:00-12:15 (CRN 60680)
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.
WRI 111 R/T: Writing Seminar: Mindful Nation
Prof. Elisabeth Whitehead
WRI 111 R: MWF 1:00-1:50 (CRN 60687)
WRI 111 T: MWF 2:00-2:50 (CRN 60683)
Morris Graves defines contemplation as “stilling the surfaces of the mind and letting the inner surfaces bloom.” In this course we will practice stilling the mind’s surface through exercises of concentration, listening, and reflection, and from this place of contemplative inquiry we will investigate social issues relevant to us in contemporary society. By practicing awareness and attention (awareness of ourselves, each other, our writing, and the world we live in) we will begin to cultivate the space we need as writers, as well as the qualities of listening, observation, and empathy to foster ethical communication and advocacy. With a focus on strengthening critical reading, writing, thinking, and listening skills, we will study a variety of texts including essays, memoirs, film, a graphic novel, and poetry in order to encounter a wide range of social and cultural issues that occupy our attention today.
This course will be a conversation about the issues themselves but also the ways in which we know, understand, speak, and write about these issues. By approaching a variety of controversies in the spirit of mindfulness, and with a willingness “to face whatever the reality of a situation may be” (The Dalai Lama) we will delve into the complexities of these contemporary social concerns, to understand and recognize these issues not as simple pro/con boxes but as spectrums of belief with a multitude of positions and players involved. We will work to understand how we fit into these conversations, and how we can engage in genuine dialogue, even with those who might disagree with us. Contemplative inquiry will allow us to move beyond facile distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them’–distinctions so easily drawn in contentious debates. By nurturing mindfulness, we will be able to open up authentic modes of communication between opposing views, thereby realizing the radical potential for change inherent in meditative practices.
WRI 111 U/V/W: Writing Seminar: Weird Nature
Prof. Guy Witzel
WRI 111 U: TR 8:00-9:15 (CRN 63338)
WRI 111 V: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 60684)
WRI 111 W: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 61238)
How should we describe our relationship with nature today? As a subject of anxiety given headlines, scientific reports, and natural disasters? As something more often experienced on screens than in everyday life – perhaps through a wildlife documentary or an idealized image found on Instagram? And how should we factor in more recent developments in which zoonotic disease has upended our lives and the outdoors has become, for many, a source of solace and escape? Humanity’s relationship with nature has long animated the written word. This has been the case even and especially when those relationships have grown confusing, fraught, and just plain weird. In this course, we will study how writers, researchers, and makers of culture depict our shifting and sometimes strange 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 discussion board posts, hypothesis annotations, and in-class writings that respond to this body of work. From there, we will each work to translate our findings into analyses that put forward our own, divergent ecological visions. 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 challenging ecological questions of our time. These works will create opportunities for us to study how major public dialogues unfold as well as the techniques we may use in order to shape these conversations ourselves. 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 X: Writing Seminar: Writing Justice
Prof. Phoebe Zerwick
TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 61239)
A carefully crafted legal brief. A series of investigative newspaper articles. A letter scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper. These are all forms of writing that have resulted in justice. In this course, drawn from the instructor’s experience as an investigative journalist, you will learn to write with that sense of purpose and urgency as you explore contemporary issues that lead to wrongful conviction and other miscarriages of justice. You will read and write in a variety of genres that expose you to the kinds of texts that inform the public discussion of injustice and, in some cases, work to right these wrongs.
WRI 111 Y/Z/ZA: Writing Seminar: Writing “Madness” and “Health”: Uncovering Norms in Writing
Prof. Elena Makarion
WRI 111 Y: WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN 61240)
WRI 111 Z: WF 11:00-12:15 (CRN 61244)
WRI 111 ZA: WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 61312)
In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in conversations about mental health. But what exactly is health, who gets to define it, and what shape does it take across contexts? By reading everything from 19th century asylum narratives, to evolving medical diagnostic criteria, to poems and novels, we will uncover cultural assumptions and imperatives in popular and medical discourses. For example, we might look at: metaphors (why is depression described as blue and black and not yellow?) or genres (how does a social media quiz like do you have depression? impose on one’s identity?). Through these texts, we will explore histories of disability, asking: how has gender, religion, race, and class impacted who and how someone is diagnosed and treated? Such questions will enable us to think about our own positionality and to consider where we write from and what norms we might take for granted. By making visible the social constructions of language, we will become more aware of our own writing choices and the impact they have on our readers.
Together, we will consider what inventive rhetorical techniques authors used to navigate their ethos and how we can borrow from these tools in our own writing. Primarily, this course will prepare you for future academic, personal, and career writing. We will focus on developing your voice and craft, understanding your composing processes, and applying rhetorical and research tools to convincingly present your ideas to an audience. Your assignments will include close readings, essays, practice with analysis, peer workshops, and seminar style class discussions. Besides these critical engagements, we will also write creatively, reveling in poetry and fiction and imagining ways that writing can be both transformational and healing. Our non-academic readings include authors such as: Shailja Patel, Virginia Woolf, Robert Frost, Joan Didion, Ocean Vuong, Audre Lorde, and Allison Seay.
WRI 111 ZB/ZC/ZD: Writing Seminar: The Rhetoric of Remembering
Prof. Cindy McPeters
WRI 111 ZB: WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN 61568)
WRI 111 ZC: WF 12:30-1:45 (CRN 61569)
WRI 111 ZD: WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 61570)
How do rhetorical choices influence our perceptions of past events? How do symbols—linguistic and visual—impact public memory? What do communities choose to remember and to forget? With particular attention to recognition of people often neglected in public memory, we will scrutinize intersections of rhetoric and history, delving into primary sources and examining secondary sources such as memorial sites and museums, to consider how rhetoric impacts narratives of the past.
Guided by our examination of the relationship between rhetoric and public memory—through readings from popular media, literature, and academic sources as well as through examination of monuments to honor people and events—you will flex your rhetorical muscles in varied genres. Through your Writer’s Notebook, you will engage informally with invention, analysis, and critical thinking, while small group activities will provide space to collaborate and practice analytical skills. You will rely on several submitted drafts, instructor feedback, peer reviews, and revision plans to polish major assignments such as Personal Narrative of a Public Memory, Rhetorical Analysis of a Public Memorial, Primary Source Research Project, and a semester-concluding Critical Reflection. Concentrating on writing as a process, writing to learn, and writing to communicate, you will exercise skills applicable to many writing contexts, whether academic, professional, public, or personal.
WRI 111 ZE/ZF: Writing Seminar: Writing: Linguistics, Language, and Communication
Prof. Gail Clements
WRI 111 ZE: TR 11:00-12:15 (CRN 62186)
WRI 111 ZF: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 62187)
This course begins with discourse analysis of communicative and argument strategies, uncovering the motivations and underlying meanings behind spoken and written texts through the lens of various social and historical contexts. We will transition to how these motivations and meanings can be useful in our own writing employing various rhetorical modes and moves (along with literary and linguistic strategies) to create pieces that will be socially, culturally, politically, educationally relevant.
WRI 111 ZG/ZH/ZI: Writing Seminar: Reimagining Our Narratives
Prof. Adam Fagin
WRI 111 ZG: TR 11:00-12:15 (CRN 62188)
WRI 111 ZH: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 64562)
WRI 111 ZI: TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 64563)
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” writes Joan Didion. By this, Didion means the tales we tell about ourselves shape our understanding of our experiences, our culture, and the world. But she follows up this famous statement by questioning these very stories. In this class, we’ll explore this tension by examining texts that complicate and problematize familiar narratives. We’ll read across genre, considering writing that combines the poetic, essayistic, and graphic. We’ll peruse various media, including creative nonfiction, podcasts, and documentary film. Through close readings, listenings, and viewings, we’ll investigate the modes and methods of persuasion they employ.
Some of the work we’ll discuss defies formal convention. Some use a traditional approach to question the meta-narratives threaded through our lives. Others explore the ways in which personal and public histories intersect, combine, and split apart. We’ll see what possibilities await us when we write and think at the edge of genre and medium, generating new and exciting questions about ourselves, our language, and our world rather than arriving at simple answers that reinforce our existing notions of who we are and what we can be.
Along the way, we’ll write personal, reflective, and academic essays, as well as create multimodal texts that employ some of the practices described above, discovering as we progress that writing is a recursive process relying on invention, experimentation, and revision. We are likely to explore texts by Claudia Rankine, James Baldwin, Maggie Nelson, Cathy Park Hong, Art Spiegelman, Marjane Satrapi, Scholastique Mukasonga, and filmmaker and North Carolina native Ross McElwee, to name a few.
WRI 111 ZJ: Writing Seminar: Coming of Age During Difficult Times
Prof. Rian Bowie
WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 64564)
From individual adolescent turmoil to collective national crises, each generation of young people has contended with an evolving and often uncertain world. For some, the difficulties develop in that transition from adolescence to adulthood, an experience that is often fraught with questions about identity and belonging. For others, the youthful search for identity is further complicated by the need to address political and social inequities to create new, more-inclusive communal structures and associations. Whether personal or political, generation after generation of young adults has faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles with bravery and resilience. Readings for this class will explore ways that individuals across an expanse of time have transformed themselves and the world around them.
In this course, students will examine a variety of fiction and non-fiction works of varying lengths to strengthen their critical reading and writing skills. From personal reflections to argumentative essays, students will be invited to see writing as a process requiring exploration, reflection, and revision. Structured writing workshops will empower students to craft strong sentences, compelling thesis statements, and thoughtfully nuanced arguments. Written work will undergo a series of revisions prior to completion.
Authors May Include: Anne Lamont, Eula Biss, Marjane Stratpi, Anne Applebaum, Jesmyn Ward, and James Baldwin.
WRI 111 ZK/ZL: Writing Seminar: Writing Lived Experience
Prof. Eric Ekstrand
WRI 111 ZK: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 64570)
WRI 111 ZL: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 64571)
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 important experience in your life that is shared by others.
Early in the semester, you will use reflective and observational writing to interrogate meaningful experiences you have had in the past, working towards an “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 and explore its embedded themes. In the second half of the semester, you will develop a research question that emerges from previous writing. This might be something like, “What is the lived quality of singing with others in a gospel choir?” or of being dumped, or of losing something important, etc. 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 human science 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 group conferences and workshops, you will frequently read and reflect on your own and others’ developing writing. In addition to reading about the processes of composing, we will read examples of phenomenological writing by students and adult, expert writers in order to inform your own original work. This way, you will not prepare to be an academic writer so much as begin academic writing in earnest.
WRI 111 ZM/ZN/ZO: Writing Seminar: Rhetoric and Literacy for Life
Prof. Sara Littlejohn
WRI 111 ZM: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 65490)
WRI 111 ZN: TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 65491)
WRI 111 ZO: TR 5:00-6:15 (CRN 65492)
In a globally connected world, what does it mean to be literate today? We can see that power and knowledge flow through media in digital networks, and in order to gain access to that power, we must understand the history, structure, and language of rhetoric and literacy.
In this course we will take literacy beyond traditional print-based forms to include multiple ways of knowing, such as visual, spatial, aural, gestural, and multimodal forms. As you already know and experience, “texts” are rarely limited to print only; they are more often images, video, sounds, and shapes or some combination of these forms, expressed in digital contexts. This course immerses you in both the theory and practice of multiple literacies and considers how technology and the internet has made (and continues to make) this environment even more complex.
As a framework for writing, we will develop a working knowledge of foundational rhetorical terms and theory while examining the broader concepts of literacy. We will focus on various forms of writing, including the traditional essay as well as other genres. Your assignments will include readings, draft work, peer review, analysis, critical reflection, and revision.
WRI 111 ZP: Writing Seminar: Handle With Care: Writing About Health and Healing
Prof. Aimee Mepham
TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 65501)
Have you ever been sick? I bet you have – it’s a human experience that unites us all. While mostof us would like to avoid illness and preserve our health for as long as possible, each of us will have to give or receive health-related care at different points in our lives. Dr. Rita Charon, a leader in the field of narrative medicine, writes that “the care of the sick unfolds in stories,” and if we take such an idea seriously, that interaction will require some facility with language,specifically the ability to craft the narrative of our illness. We can also hope and expect that the healthcare professionals receiving our stories are attuned to the nuances of our communication as they manage our care.
In this course, we will examine the different rhetorical and narrative strategies employed through various kinds of writing related to health and healing. We will analyze a variety of texts, from illness narratives to medical charts, caregiver memoirs to pharmaceutical ads. As we do, we will examine questions of audience, voice, access to and evaluation of information, argument, and rhetorical situations, and we will develop our own writing in multiple genres as we consider our own relationships to health care.
Readings may include excerpts from The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, Black Man in a White Coat by Damon Tweedy, MD, and What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear by Danielle Ofri, MD.
WRI 210 B: Exploring Academic Genres: Navigating Genres and Discourse Communities
Prof. Keri Epps
WRI 210 B: MWF 11:00-11:50 (CRN 61601)
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: Literary Nonfiction: The Art of the Essay
Prof. Carter Smith
WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 61191)
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.
WRI 306: Special Topics in Rhetoric and Writing: Rhetorics of the Image: A Decolonial Exploration of Media and Mediations
Prof. Moisés García Rentería
TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 64949)
As we enter a new media consumption and circulation era, we find ourselves increasingly engaged in conversations regarding connections between cultural production and issues of race, gender, identity, and power. It is becoming more evident that media environments shaped by what we consume, share, and create are by no means neutral or unmediated. Rather, visual entertainment affords us the possibility to name the world and form the webs of meaning that mediate our social interactions. In this course, we will explore the academic and ethical implications of this emergent understanding of visual culture to discover a way to participate in it with critical and transformative reflection.
We will study and practice a rhetorical ethnographic methodology to guide us through the argument distributed across dominant media narratives and the literacies of colonial/racial subjects. Using this approach, you will examine on your terms the media that shape your identity and cultural environment, from the streaming shows you enjoy to social media, or any other aspect of our everyday life constructed visually, like how we dress or the spaces we inhabit. By the end of the course, you will be able to use an academically informed framework to cast a look into the visual sensibilities behind cultural scripts written inside/at the margins of contemporary racial and gendered power relations.
WRI 306 counts as an elective for the English Major.
WRI 340 A: Practice in Rhetoric and Composition: 21st Century Writer: Digital Rhetoric and Multimodal Composition
Prof. Kendra Andrews
TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 63063)
For millennia, writing has been primarily associated with the interpretation and production of alphabetic text, a.k.a words printed on the page. However, with the advancements and increased access to computer technologies as well as the proliferation of digital media and online networks, what “writing” means for contemporary communication has shifted. A 21st century writer forges meaning not only from words on the printed page, but also combines those words with images, colors, sounds, videos, and digital design principles to produce rhetorically complex, multimodal texts.
In this class, we will explore what it means to be a 21st century writer who moves from the page to the screen in both theory and practice. We will develop our understanding of digital rhetoric and multimodal composition as more than critiquing writing used in digital spaces or producing simple texts to be seen online; they include an in-depth exploration of the theoretical and ideological issues involved with the shift from writing in text-only modes to writing with(in) new media. We will apply this expanded understanding of digital rhetoric and multimodal composition through projects involving various digital tools and methods of critical making. Although previous computing knowledge or technical skill are not required to take this course, you must be willing to engage in topics related to writing in the 21st century, such as multimodal rhetorics, remix culture, artificial intelligence, participatory culture and social networks, digital storytelling, data visualization, or accessibility issues. We will apply these topics and theoretical approaches through active participation, experimentation, and production of course projects such as developing audio-visual projects, creating data and network visualizations, conducting digital inquiry research, and creating personal websites. By the end of this course, you should be able to more easily recognize the rhetoricity of digital environments and demonstrate flexibility when writing in 21st century contexts.
WRI 340 counts as an elective in the English major.
WRI 341: Writing Center Pedagogy
Prof. Ryan Shirey
WF 11:00-12:15 (CRN 62121)
Introduction to composition pedagogy and writing center theory and practices, with special emphases on one-to-one and small group peer tutoring techniques. The course includes classroom-based work – reading, writing, responding, discussing, and exploring instruction and consultation processes – and field experiences. Students spend a total of 20 hours observing in writing classrooms, the WFU Writing Center and/or community sites, and tutoring. Students reflect on these experiences to prepare a final researched writing project. Required for those interested in working in the Writing Center as peer tutors.
WRI 341 counts as an elective in the English major.
WRI 344/JOU 340: Magazine Writing
Prof. Barry Yeoman
M 2:00-4:30 (CRN 61815)
Learn and practice the skills needed to produce magazine stories for publication. Focusing on a single topic of their own choosing, students learn advanced principles of interviewing, document research, story structure, character development, and explanatory journalism as they read and analyze some of the best longform stories written over the past thirty years.
WRI 344 counts as an elective in the English major and Journalism minor.
ENG 390 A / LIN 390: The Structure of English
Prof. Jonathan Smart
TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 64063/63009)
English and Writing Elective
This course offers an introduction to the principles and techniques of modern linguistics through an examination of American English. You will become familiar with how contemporary English varies across different dialects and contexts of use, as well as between spoken and written English. We will discuss language norms, dialects, and cultural values. We will also investigate problem areas in basic grammar, including parts of speech and sentence structures. Additionally, you will learn about methods for analyzing language data to see firsthand how English varies according to the context of use.
ENG 390 counts as an upper-level writing course in the Writing Minor.