Spring 2021

Read through our current course offerings, or click the links immediately below to scroll directly to the courses that interest you.

WRI 111 [ALL ONLINE] | Upper Level WRI Courses | Crosslisted | For Writing Minors | For Remote Students Outside the US


WRI 111

WRI 111 A: Writing Seminar: On Writing
Prof. Anne Boyle
Online – Synchronous MW 12:30-1:45 (CRN 19395)
Welcome to my online writing seminar.  I am excited to translate my traditional face to face class into an online course.  Throughout the semester, we will immerse ourselves in words, as we read and write about a variety of interesting texts.  You’ll read humorous and scholarly articles about the writing process, along with deeply philosophical, well-researched essays about creativity, literacy, and contemporary issues, such as the ways that literacy intersects with race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.  Well-known essayists will describe why they feel the urgency to write and what challenges they have faced; lesser known voices will experiment with new technologies of writing; and writing theorists will explore what we know about how we learn to write and teach writing. 

Worried that you never thought of yourself as a good writer?  You will have the opportunity to explore and develop your own writing through low stakes texts that you can share with supportive readers who will provide thoughtful feedback about your work. You will also have individual, virtual conferences with me throughout the term.  In all, you will write four polished papers, culminating in arguments and critical analyses as you learn to construct an academic dialogue with scholarly sources.  You will also have the option of practicing different kinds of writing exercises and taking on assignments of your own. I hope you feel enabled to tap into outside knowledge and experiences that complement our course, our readings, and our writings.

Look forward to lively discussions, useful workshops, intriguing readings, and varied and sequenced writing assignments. I look forward to getting to know you and guiding you to become a more powerful and clear writer.

WRI 111 B: Writing Seminar: The Ethics of Persuasion
Prof. Erin Branch
Online – Synchronous TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 19396)
We live in a rhetorically combative moment. Pundits and guests on news shows shout at and over each other. Editorialists call each other out by name. Public figures regularly engage in Twitter wars and probably everyone has a story about a “fight” on their social media. What public discourse teaches us right now is that the goal of debate is to vanquish an ideological opponent–to win the argument. Most of us can probably agree that such practices are not a terribly effective way to resolve difficult issues. But if we want to persuade others ethically? How do we make our voices heard without shouting over others? How do we persuade others to take our point of view while still respecting theirs–and do we have an obligation to respect views we find repellent? 

Ethics has long been a problem for those interested in how language can shape behavior and thought. Even Socrates worried that skillful speakers might use their rhetorical prowess for unethical ends. In this seminar, we examine essays that make a range of political and cultural arguments, as well as those depicting the experience of others. We will interrogate the rhetorical tactics that writers in different contexts use to persuade readers, and we will imagine how we can use writing to find common ground among diverse groups. Readings may include pieces journalism, essays, and academic articles; writing assignments may include rhetorical analyses, narrative essays, and researched arguments.

WRI 111 C & D: Writing Seminar: Writing Lived Experience
Prof. Eric Ekstrand
WRI 111 C: Online – Synchronous TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 19397)
WRI 111 D: Online – Synchronous TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 19398)
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 F/G/H: Writing Seminar: All Fun and Games: On Play
Prof. Marianne Erhardt

WRI 111 F: Online – Synchronous TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 19400)
WRI 111 G: Online – Synchronous TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 19401)
WRI 111 H: Online – Synchronous TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 19402)
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?

Our topics may include gender and children’s toys; the games of dating, politics, and school; play and technology; and sports and sports fandom. Texts may include Reality is Broken (McGonigal), Last Child in the Woods (Louv), Against Football (Almond), What It Is (Barry), and others.

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. 

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, drive, isolation, 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 community.

WRI 111 I/J: Writing Seminar: What’s (y)our story?
Prof. Keri Epps
WRI 111 I: Online – Asynchronous Tues / Synchronous Thurs 8:00-9:15 (CRN 20958)
WRI 111 J: Online – Asynchronous Tues / Synchronous Thurs 9:30-1045 (CRN 19404)
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 compose, analyze, and collect stories, or narratives, in a range of genres and media to explore the role that narrative plays in argumentation and persuasion in and outside of academic settings. We will consider the following questions: What is my story? What are others’ stories that challenge my own? What roles do stories play in research? 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, as a way of knowing, a means of translating our lived experience, a rhetorical device, among others (Countryman, 1995; Kurtyka, 2017). 

By the end of the semester, to reach the course goals, you will have engaged in a writing process—including rounds of drafting, feedback, and revision—to complete three major writing assignments, a digital project (creating blogs, social media campaigns, or videos) and a final portfolio. The sequence of major assignments ranges from composing personal stories, identifying and responding to stories that challenge our own, and finding disciplinary or professional genres where narrative is used as evidence, to collecting and compiling community stories in both print and digital spaces.

WRI 111 K: Writing Seminar: Essays and Memos and Reports—Oh My! Writing for College and Career
Prof. Benjamin Keating
Online – Synchronous TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 19405)
The academic writing you do in college helps prepare you for the writing you will do in your career, that is, for the professional writing you will do in the workplace of your chosen profession. Yet professional writing and academic writing are often very different, with divergent conventions, expectations, and forms. For example, what is the difference between an investigative report for a marketing firm and a research paper for a scholarly journal? If there are similarities, what are they? In terms of everyday writing, what are the conventions of email correspondence in the working world and how will you learn them in internships, summer jobs, or in your first job after commencement?

In this seminar we will use samples of professional writing—broadly defined in contrast to creative writing, academic writing, and journalism—from a wide array of professional communities (e.g., law, medicine, science) to explore questions around audience, context, purpose, and form. Course readings will also include academic analyses of professional writing.

Please note that most of the writing you do in this seminar will be academic, not professional. This is because the central project of the course is to study professional writing as a productive vehicle to learn academic writing, much in the same way you might have read poetry but not written it for previous courses. In other words, you will learn about professional writing as you develop a set of writing tools to be used in future academic writing contexts.

WRI 111 L/M: Writing Seminar: The World is Yours: Identity and Power in Academic Writing
Prof. Benjamin Keating
WRI 111 L: Online – Synchronous TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 19406)
WRI 111 M: Online – Synchronous TR 3:30-4:45 9CRN 19407)
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, exposing power dynamics around, and connections between, identity and language.

In this writing seminar, we will think expansively about identity and power, focusing on 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 and medical doctors), and interest communities (e.g., stamp collectors and hip-hop fans) use language to mark belonging, accomplish specific goals, and construct their worlds. Allow me to propose that the world is yours—if—you can develop your ability to communicate successfully in different ways to different groups of people.

As we scout out 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 N/O: Writing Seminar: Rewriting
Prof. Danielle Koupf
WRI 111 N: Online – Synchronous Mon/Wed 11:00-11:50 / Asynchronous Fri (CRN 19408)
WRI 111 J: Online – Synchronous Mon/Wed 12:00-12:50 / Asynchronous Fri (CRN 19409)
“No text is sacred. The best writers know this. Fiction or nonfiction, poetry or reportage, it can all be endlessly tinkered with, buffed, polished, reshaped, rearranged.” –Jennifer B. McDonald, The New York Times

Many writers have claimed that all writing is rewriting. In this class, we will explore this sentiment by engaging in three dominant forms of rewriting. First, we will regularly tinker with writing—that is, creatively rewrite the texts we are reading (both published texts and student texts) to gain greater insight into them and to practice new writing techniques. Through tinkering, we will modify, improve, and in fact, sabotage others’ texts. Second, we will learn to position our ideas among others by carefully reading texts and (re)writing their ideas into our essays, whether by summarizing, forwarding, countering, critiquing, or imitating them. Finally, we will embrace McDonald’s notion, above, that “No text is sacred” and pursue substantial revision of our own texts by reimagining significant parts of them, such as the focus, argument, evidence, or organization.

We will read and respond to essays on a variety of topics by authors such as Walker Percy, Paulo Freire, Eula Biss, and Susan Griffin, while also examining different takes on revision as presented by writers such as Donald Murray, Peter Elbow, Natalie Goldberg, Joseph Harris, and Nancy Sommers. This class challenges you to approach writing as a recursive process, to mess with writing that might already feel complete, and to take seriously the ideas of others and respond to them thoughtfully and patiently. You will leave this class with new stylistic, grammatical, and rhetorical techniques for writing; skills in integrating quotations and writing the voices of others into your writing; experience with substantial revision; and a portfolio of essays that have been carefully shaped, reshaped, and shaped again. 

Our course will meet synchronously via Zoom on Mondays and Wednesdays during class time. On Fridays you can expect asynchronous activities, such as discussion board posts, to be due.

WRI 111 P: Writing Seminar: Originality and Invention
Prof. Danielle Koupf
Online – Synchronous Mon/Wed 2:00-2:50 / Asynchronous Fri (CRN 19410)
“[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 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.

Our course will meet synchronously via Zoom on Mondays and Wednesdays during class time. On Fridays you can expect asynchronous activities, such as discussion board posts, to be due.

WRI 111 Q: Writing Seminar: Argumentation and Civil Discourse
Prof. Zak Lancaster
Online – Synchronous WF 12:30-1:45PM (CRN 19411) 
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 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. What, then, is the point of argumentation? And how can we contribute to tough conversations, in both academic and public spaces, in ways that foster civility and trust? In this course, we will pursue these questions as we practice argumentation from a range of perspectives. We will explore views on argumentation from cognitive psychologists and linguists (Deborah Tannen, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Lera Boroditsky), from literature and rhetoric scholars, and from popular writers. 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. 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 R: Writing Seminar: Writing as Public Action
Prof. Alisa Russell
Online – Asynchronous Mon / Synchronous Wed 2:00-3:15 (CRN 19412)
Have you found that you’re deeply passionate about an ideal, a stance, a movement, or an issue? You want to do something — engage with others, open a new line of thinking, and/or bring about change for your community. But how do you get in on the conversation? How do you reach a variety of audiences? What will allow you to take action in the seemingly impenetrable publics around you? This course focuses on a variety of written genres that allow one to engage and shape public conversations. 

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. 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 this course, 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 S/T: Writing Seminar: English Next Door
Prof. Jonathan Smart
WRI 111 S: Online – Synchronous TR 8:00-9:15 (CRN 19413)
WRI 111 T: Online – Synchronous TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 19414)
***NOTE: These sections are reserved for international students who are taking classes remotely from outside the U.S. during Spring 2021.
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 U/V: Writing Seminar: Rhetorics of Music
Prof. (Richard) Carter Smith
WRI 111 U: Online – Synchronous Wed 9:30-10:45 / Asynchronous Fri (CRN 19415)
WRI 111 V: Online – Synchronous Wed 11:00-12:15 / Asynchronous Fri (CRN 19416)
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 W/X/Y: Mindful Nation: Contemplative Inquiry and Society
Prof. Elisabeth Whitehead
WRI 111 W: Online – Synchronous MWF 8:00-8:50 (CRN 19417)
***NOTE: This section is reserved for international students who are taking classes remotely from outside the U.S. during Spring 2021.
WRI 111 X: Online – Synchronous MWF 9:00-9:50 (CRN 19418)
WRI 111 Y: Online – Synchronous MWF 11:00-11:50 (CRN 19419)
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, memoir, film, and poetry in order to encounter a wide range of social and cultural issues that occupy our attention today.  

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 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.  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.

Projects will include in-depth analyses of rhetorical strategies employed by published authors; research projects that seek to balance and integrate narrative with gathered facts, statistics, expert opinion, and psychological studies; and essays of advocacy that utilize personal narrative in addition to research. 

This is an online course that will meet primarily in synchronous (or live) class sessions. 

WRI 111 Z/ZA: Writing Seminar: Weird Nature
Prof. Guy Witzel
WRI 111 Z: Online – Synchronous WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN 19589)
WRI 111 ZA: Online – Synchronous WF 11:00-12:15 (CRN 19590)
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 in nature documentaries? As a sphere subject to our control? As a force threatening to overwhelm our lives? Humanity’s relationship with nature has long animated the written word. In this course, we will study the ways in which 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 synchronous session writings that respond to this body of work. From there, we will each work to translate our findings into analyses that puts forward their 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 the 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 ZB: Writing Seminar: Tech Troubles
Prof. Guy Witzel
Online – Synchronous WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 19591)
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. As much as technology positions itself as evidence of progress, its advancements have nevertheless been shown to exacerbate inequality, perpetuate injustice, and reinforce the status quo. What should we make of these contradictions? As writers eager to responsibly engage these matters with well-reasoned analysis, how might we begin?

To start, we’ll learn from others, studying the rhetoric and conventions of scholars, social critics, and essayists interested in the intersections of justice and technology. In examining this work through discussion board posts, workshop session writing, and synchronous session 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 writing that fearlessly confronts today’s technological troubles. We’ll then repeat this cycle of invention, feedback, and revision in assignments concerning technological dilemmas in popular culture and accounts of alternative relationships to technology. In doing so, we will intervene within a variety of genres, disciplines, and rhetorical situations, including discussions of algorithmic bias, the commodification of attention, and the online experiences of women and people of color. 

More and more we will all be asked to write in and respond to a world that is at once ethically complex, quickly changing, and significantly located in digital environments. 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 111 ZC: Writing Seminar: Writing Justice
Prof. Phoebe Zerwick
Online – Synchronous WF 12:30-1:45 (CRN 20987)
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 a journalist covering criminal justice, you will learn to write with a sense of purpose and urgency as you explore contemporary issues that lead to miscarriages of justice. Since the advent of DNA technology, more than 3,000 defendants in the United States have been exonerated for crimes they did not commit. These cases have exposed deep flaws in our criminal justice system, raising the likelihood that many more have been wrongly convicted, imprisoned, even executed. You will read and write in a variety of genres that expose you to the kinds of texts that inform the public discussion of these injustices and, in some cases, work to right these wrongs. The course meets online synchronous, with opportunities for occasional face-to-face small-group meetings and conferences with the instructor.

WRI 111 ZD: Writing Seminar: Rhetoric of Protest
Prof. Matthew Fiander
Online – Synchronous WF 11:00-12:15 (CRN 22979)
In this course, we will 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? Within our definition of protest, we will examine when, why, and how groups voice their resistance against particular moments, systems, or conditions. We will also examine protest language to understand its intentions and implications. We’ll study various forms of protest (songs, social media, organized movements), but we’ll also look at how media depicts protest movements, as well as how different genres of writing discuss them. The goal will be to learn how visual and language-based rhetoric shapes protest and resistance, how protests enter into ongoing modes of public discourse, and how uncovering the way protests communicate can help us better understand their perspective and their impact.

We’ll find connections between the classic protest singers (like Bob Dylan and Nina Simone) and those singing in protest today (Beyonce, Bob Mould, NNAMDI, and more). We’ll see how hashtag movements like #metoo and #BlackLivesMatter use various rhetorical techniques to communicate their message. We’ll cover historical protests in labor, anti-war and civil rights, but we’ll also discuss what’s happening today. Though we’ll work together online, we will still collaborate in several ways to have a semester-long, in-depth conversation about how protest works and use that complex discussion to inform and improve our writing and understanding of rhetoric. Though we won’t be together, we’ll still analyze popular music together, create and present video projects, and draft and review our writing in groups. Our purpose in looking at protest is not to pick sides, but rather to use our writing to effectively convey how these movements work and to use writing to deepen our thinking on these topics. Our work 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 ZF/ZG: Writing Seminar: Rhetoric of Food
Prof. Hannah Harrison
WRI 111 ZF: Online – Asynchronous Mon / Synchronous Wed/Fri 10:00-10:50 (CRN 24715)
WRI 111 ZG: Online – Asynchronous Mon / Synchronous Wed/Fri 11:00-11:50 (CRN 24716)
Food does more for humans than secure our survival. Food cultivation, distribution, preparation, and consumption contribute to our identities, reflect our values, and maintain social norms. Just as food creates communities, it also causes controversies and raises questions: Who has access to farmable land and healthy food? Why? What constitutes a healthy diet and how can we educate everyone about nutrition? How can we grow and distribute food sustainably with a warming climate while feeding a growing population? What does the future of our food system look like and how can we adapt practices, technologies, and policies to improve it?

In this online seminar, you’ll focus your research and writing on one food-related public controversy. The work will be mostly asynchronous, with weekly synchronous Zoom meetings as a class and frequent student-teacher consultations. First, you’ll complete an essay project that profiles a local food systems actor (an advocacy group, business, organization, or individual) and analyzes their digital media presence. Next, you’ll explore discourse communities, genre, and summary. You will write two documents: an annotated bibliography that summaries sources and an essay that synthesizes the debate. Then, you’ll apply what you’ve learned to your own persuasive work. You will choose your media and genre for the last project (ie: an editorial article, an advocacy letter, a podcast, a website) and compose research-informed documents that advance a position and an idea for action around the controversy you’ve studied all semester. Throughout the course, you will participate in low-stakes instructional exercises, reflective writing assignments, and peer feedback reviews. During finals, you’ll present your work, advocate your call to action, and ask questions of your peers as a member of an informed audience during our Food Systems Symposium.

WRI 111 ZH: Writing Seminar: Rhetoric of Athletics
Prof. Hannah Harrison
Online – Asynchronous Mon / Synchronous Wed/Fri 1:00-1:50 (CRN 26180)
As much fun and community-building as sports bring to our lives—from children’s leagues to college campuses to the professional industry—they can also create controversies. Public debates swirl around such widely-ranging topics as what constitutes fair compensation for student-athletes, to which diets are best for enhancing athletic performance, to the value of professional athletes as political activists, to safety regulations around gear and rules of play, to name just a few. Some debates have been ongoing for decades (How do we interpret and uphold the legacy and future of Title IX? for example) while others are brand new (How do we decide when it will be safe to return spectators to athletic arenas during the COVID-19 pandemic?) 

In this online seminar, students will develop their research and writing skills using the theme of publicly debated sports and athletics conversations. The work will be mostly asynchronous, with weekly synchronous Zoom meetings as a class and frequent student-teacher consultations. You will select an athletics controversy that interests you and become familiar with the discourse community through a series of reading, research, summary, and analysis exercises before you draft persuasive projects that advocate your position. You will read across a range of genres and purposes: from public writing—such as news reports and op-eds—to scholarly sources, to articles and textbooks on writing strategies. You will engage textual and multimedia sources, including sports journalism, tv broadcasts, even podcasts. Throughout the course, you will have multiple opportunities to take stock of your learning with low-stakes and lengthier reflection assignments. Your learning will be assessed, evaluated, and graded based on each of three portfolios and your engagement with the course.

WRI 111 ZJ: Writing Seminar
Prof. Gail Clements
Online – Synchronous Tues 11:00-12:30 / Asynchronous Thurs (CRN 26712)
The first prerequisite to understanding any linguistic message is the ability to decipher its code. Language is personal and public; language is social and political; language is law and is precedent. Topics will range from more technical problems (theories of meaning, reference, and truth) to broader issues, such as examining the relationship between language and culture. The study of language and communication will inform our writing practice in discussion of how others present themselves publicly and why they choose to represent themselves in a certain way and through certain forms. In addition, the study of language will inform how we decide to present ourselves in written form.

Speakers and writers communicate in different ways (styles or formality levels and registers or dialects) for a variety of reasons, including audience, topic, speaker and listener education level, speaker intention, race, gender, and more. While we are considering and working to broaden and improve our own written and oral communication styles, analyzing other speaking and writing ways through a critical study of language systems and language use.

We will write in a variety of styles, including exploratory, personal reflection, critical analysis, and researched writing. We will engage in low-stakes writing assignments in class and undertake substantial revisions of 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.

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Upper Level WRI Courses (210, 212, 340, 341)

WRI 210: Academic Research & Writing: Asking Questions, Getting Answers, and Crafting Knowledge
Prof. Alisa Russell
Blended Online/Face-to-Face – Face-to-Face Mon / Online Synchronous Wed
MW 12:30-1:45 (CRN 20996)
Questioning is a natural part of the human experience, and it forms the foundation of the academy in which scholars seek to build knowledge in their domains. Yet, how questions are asked and how answers are found can vary widely between disciplines — from the humanities to the sciences, from the social sciences to the performing arts. Each discipline has its own ways of asking questions, finding answers, and sharing results with others. What is the same across disciplines, though, is that this knowledge is built, crafted, and shared through writing. Writing becomes both process and product: It is used to guide research processes and craft findings. In this way, knowledge is both created and distributed through academic writing.

In this course, we will explore how writing shapes and sustains the work of academic disciplines. We will practice with the analytical tools and research methods that allow us to comparatively explore academic writing for what conventions make it effective in different disciplines, as well as what values and worldviews those conventions convey. We’ll explore different disciplinary genres, how they make arguments, their major organizational structures, sentence-level linguistic patterns, and their research/writing processes.  

Therefore, this course will heighten your awareness as a academic reader and writer, and it will increase your flexibility to engage with academic (and non-academic) texts. Moreover, it will provide the opportunity to deep-dive into the writing — and therefore knowledge-building practices — of the discipline(s) in which you’re most interested. And of course, the main way we will explore academic writing is by…writing about it. We will thus aim to become a community of writers who frequently share their ideas and their work with one another for feedback and support.

WRI 212: The Art of the Essay
Prof. Erin Branch
Blended Face-to-Face/Online – Face-to-Face Tues / Online Synchronous Thurs
TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 20993)
The novelist and essayist Virginia Woolf wrote that, when writing an essay, “we should start without any fixed idea of where we are going to spend the night, or when we propose to come back; the journey is everything.” All of this probably seems quite backwards. If you’ve spent any time in school in the last decade, you’ve probably been instructed to write “essays,” and in all likelihood your teacher was expecting a fairly hermetic text that demonstrated understanding or even mastery of something. You likely would not have been rewarded for a meandering text that seemed not to have a clear purpose beyond “stimulating thought.” Yet that is exactly what, historically, has been meant by the term “essay,” a word which comes to us from the French word essai, meaning trial or attempt. 

In this class, we will begin by studying some predecessors of the modern literary essay, a genre believed to have originated in the 16th century with Michel de Montaigne (though one can find antecedents even to Montaigne). We will then do some focused exploring of different essay subgenres, recognizing that such categories are slippery–descriptive more than analytic. Along the way, we will read what some essayists have to say about the craft of essay-writing and what some scholars have had to say about the genre. Readings will range from early modern writers (Montaigne, Hazlitt, Johnson) through the 19th and 20th centuries and feature contemporary voices including Annie Dillard, David Foster Wallace, John D’Agata, Lia Purpura, and Leslie Jamison. You will do some expository and analytic writing *about* the essays we read; you will also have the chance to try your hand at some of these subgenres.

WRI 340: Making Writing Matter Outside of the Ivory Tower: Writing for Public and Professional Purposes
Prof. Keri Epps
Online – Asynchronous Tues / Synchronous Thurs 12:30-1:45 (CRN 24812)
During your time at Wake Forest, you’ve probably gotten adept at writing for classroom purposes. But how do we translate these skills for the kinds of writing you are more likely to do after graduation? How can we use writing in nonacademic spaces to translate the important knowledge-making done at the university? In other words, what are some ways you can take all that you have learned in your coursework at WFU and make it matter elsewhere?

This writing course will draw on theories in Writing Studies scholarship, primarily rhetorical genre theory, to help us better understand and enact writing for a range of audiences and see how writing creates change and incites people to take action. Each student in the course will choose a subject area and a constellation of genres to study throughout the semester and build a cumulative portfolio of genre analyses and their own examples of public and/or professional writing within relevant contexts to submit as their final project.

If you’ve ever felt like you needed more writing practice outside of academic contexts, then this class is a perfect fit. You’ll not only see and have the opportunity to practice a myriad of public and professional writing genres, but you’ll also understand how and why those genres come to be and how they do work in the world.

WRI 341: Writing Center Pedagogy
Prof. Ryan Shirey
Blended Online/Face-to-Face: Face-to-Face Wed / Online Synchronous Fri
WF 12:30-1:45 (CRN 22982)
Introduction to composition pedagogy and writing center theory and practices, with special emphasis 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 those experiences to prepare a final researched writing project. Strongly recommended for those interested in working in the Writing Center as peer tutors. (Counts as an elective in the English major.)

WRI 344 A / JOU 340 A: Magazine Writing
Prof. Barry Yeoman
Online – Synchronous M 2:00- 4:30 (CRN 25132)
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. (WRI 344 counts as an elective in the English major.)

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For Writing Minors

WRI 350: Interdisciplinary Writing Minor Capstone
Prof. Zak Lancaster
Online – Synchronous WF 11:00-12:15 (CRN 22985)
WRI 350 provides students an opportunity to consolidate their growth as writers by reflecting on their work over multiple semesters while simultaneously challenging themselves to develop an ambitious writing project that demonstrates their capacities as rhetorically effective writers. Through readings, frequent writing, and reflections, students will be supported to do the following: find connections between the various modes and genres in which they have written; synthesize a narrative of their writing development for a broad readership via an electronic portfolio; identify specific audiences for the capstone project; identify specific scholarly or creative conversations in which this writing takes part; practice revision and research strategies that deepen and further writing aims while making the writing increasingly relevant to its audience(s); refine voice and style; and consolidate academic relationships with faculty as students identify topics for projects and avenues of research.


Here is a list of the courses being offered in Spring 2021 that count toward the Interdisciplinary Writing Minor. For detailed descriptions, please click the links to the department course descriptions.

JOU Courses

JOU 270, Introduction to Journalism, Prof. Justin Catanoso/Prof. Ivan Weiss
JOU 278, News Literacy, Prof. Justin Catanoso
JOU 310, Editing, Prof. Justin Catanoso
JOU 320, Community Journalism, Prof. Phoebe Zerwick
JOU 330, Art of Audio, Prof. Ivan Weiss
JOU 350, Writing for Public Relations and Advertising, Prof. Peter Mitchell
JOU 375A, Deep Dive: Investigative Reporting, Jordan Green
JOU 375B, Environmental Reporting, Prof. Ivan Weiss
JOU 375C, Black Struggles in the Media, Cynthia Greenlee

CRW Courses

CRW 285A, Poetry Workshop, Prof. Eric Ekstrand
CRW 286A, Short Story Workshop, Prof. Marream Krollos
CRW 385A, Advanced Poetry Workshop: Poetry and the Senses, Prof. Lucy Alford
CRW 386A, Advanced Fiction Writing, Prof. Joanna Ruocco
CRW 387A, Advanced Literary Nonfiction Workshop, Prof. Eric Wilson

Pre-Approved Writing Enhanced Course Electives

PSY 338, Emotion, Prof. Christian Waugh

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For Non-Continental Remote Students

If you are an international student attending Wake Forest remotely from outside the United States for the spring semester, we have a few sections of WRI 111 reserved for you. All class meeting times are Eastern Standard Time, so please keep time zones in mind. The descriptions are listed below:

WRI 111 S/T: Writing Seminar: English Next Door
Prof. Jonathan Smart
WRI 111 S: Online – Synchronous TR 8:00-9:15 AM (CRN 19413)
WRI 111 T: Online – Synchronous TR 9:30-10:45 AM (CRN 19414)
***NOTE: These sections are reserved for international students who are taking classes remotely from outside the U.S. during Spring 2021.
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 W/X/Y: Mindful Nation: Contemplative Inquiry and Society
Prof. Elisabeth Whitehead
WRI 111 W: Online – Synchronous MWF 8:00-8:50 AM (CRN 19417)

***NOTE: This section is reserved for international students who are taking classes remotely from outside the U.S. during Spring 2021.
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, memoir, film, and poetry in order to encounter a wide range of social and cultural issues that occupy our attention today.  

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 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.  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.

Projects will include in-depth analyses of rhetorical strategies employed by published authors; research projects that seek to balance and integrate narrative with gathered facts, statistics, expert opinion, and psychological studies; and essays of advocacy that utilize personal narrative in addition to research. 

This is an online course that will meet primarily in synchronous (or live) class sessions. 

Back to top | WRI 111 [ALL ONLINE] | Upper Level WRI Courses | Crosslisted | For Writing Minors | For Remote Students Outside the US