Read through our current course offerings for Spring 2023 below.
WRI 111 A/B/C/ZJ: Writing Seminar: Everyday Rhetoric and Popular Culture
Prof. Kendra Andrews
WRI 111 A: MW 12:30-1:45 (CRN 19395)
WRI 111 B: MW 2:00-3:15 (CRN 19396)
WRI 111 C: MW 5:00-6:15 (CRN 19397)
WRI 111 ZJ: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 29325)
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 F/G: Writing Seminar: The Ethics of Persuasion
Prof. Erin Branch
WRI 111 F: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 19400)
WRI 111 G: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 19401)
We live in a rhetorically combative moment in which pundits, journalists, and anyone with a social media account can announce their views to the world. While this moment has produced mountains of (often digital) writing, much of that writing is delivered as monologue, often without the expectation of a serious response. What public discourse teaches us right now is that the goal of debate is to vanquish an ideological opponent–to win the argument, rather than to engage with or even listen seriously to views which might differ from our own. Needless to say, such a climate offers us few opportunities for deep discussion or civil disagreement; such behaviors are often labeled weak or uncommitted. Yet finding ways to listen to and enter conversations constitutes the real work of living in civil society, not to mention the university of which you are now a part.
In this course, you will read essays and articles from journalists, academics, memoirists, and other writers. We will consider questions of genre, argument, audience, and evidence as we examine how these authors balance their own perspectives and opinions with those they don’t share. Ultimately, we will strive to develop a “rhetorical toolkit” for civil discourse in a variety of contexts. Readings may include essays, academic articles, investigative reports, and researched arguments; students will compose in various genres and ultimately compile a portfolio of revised writing.
WRI 111 D/E: Writing Seminar: Writing Lived Experience
Prof. Eric Ekstrand
WRI 111 D: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 19398)
WRI 111 E: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 27020)
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 H: Writing Seminar: Exploring Community Writing
Prof. Keri Epps
TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 19402)
Writing drives community action in ways that often go unnoticed. For example, nonprofit organizations regularly write grant proposals, communicate with media, and develop marketing campaigns for programs and fundraising events. Activist groups create large communities through posts on social media and write letters to officials to implement policy change. In this class, we will investigate genres of writing in the Winston-Salem community by asking the following questions: Where do you see social change and community writing happening in Winston-Salem? What are the possibilities for future social change and community writing? What are some organizations in the community that are working toward social change currently? What kinds of writing and communication do they use to implement such change? In this course, you will explore organizations in the community and will write in several genres and media to learn about your own dispositions toward social change and different types of writing that are changing (or have the potential to change) the lives of the people living in Winston-Salem.
By the end of the semester, to reach the course goals, you will have written three major assignments and conducted a community action project. The sequence of major writing assignments includes a “social change” self-study, a summary and response to a local community issue, and a rhetorical analysis of a genre of community writing. Finally, you will submit a community action project co-created with a local nonprofit. In this class, you will have the opportunity to analyze and practice writing in the classroom and for public audiences to see how writing really can and does make change in the world.
**Please note the course’s community engagement designation; the course will require work with a nonprofit organization and may include additional trainings and some visits to their office in downtown Winston-Salem.
WRI 111 M/N: Writing Seminar: What’s (Y)our Story?
Prof. Keri Epps
WRI 111 M: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 19407)
WRI 111 N: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 19408)
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 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 O/P: Writing Seminar: On Friendship
Prof. Marianne Erhardt
WRI 111 O: WF 8:00-9:15 (CRN: 19409)
WRI 111 P: WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN: 19410)
This course offers students a space to write their way through an inquiry of friendship by engaging with a variety of friendship ideas and ideals — from the personal to the political, the mythological to the philosophical — as a means for developing and practicing rhetorical awareness, respectful critical engagement, and creative, meaningful collaboration. In short, we’re here to befriend writing.
A recent study out of Harvard found that 61% of young people ages 18-25 reported “serious loneliness. . . frequently or all of the time.” That’s nine students out of every 16-person WRI111 classroom. At the same time, our social media landscapes boast a plethora of friends and offer seemingly constant companionship, even in times of physical isolation (hello, pandemic!).
So what is real friendship and why does it matter? What makes a “good friend” and who determines what counts as “good”? What systems, standards, and experiences do we bring to the friendship table? What happens when we articulate, interrogate, develop, and revise these frameworks, while exploring other perspectives? Can we improve our friendships — with one another and with the communities, institutions, and planet we inhabit? What would it take, and how might “good writing” (which demands the same articulation, interrogation, development, exploration, and revision noted above) help us get better at friendship?
WRI 111 I/J:/Q Writing Seminar: Rhetoric of Food
Prof. Hannah Harrison
WRI 111 I: TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 20958)
WRI 111 J: TR 3:30-4:45 (CRN 19404)
WRI 111 Q: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 19411)
Food does more for humans than secure our survival. Food cultivation, distribution, preparation, and consumption reflect our values and maintain social norms. Just as food systems create communities, they also cause controversies and raise 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 cultivate and distribute food sustainably while confronting the realities of a changing climate and the needs of growing populations? What does the future of our food system look like and how can we adapt practices, technologies, and policies to improve it? Across your exploration, you’ll be encouraged to highlight the intersections of seemingly disconnected sectors and fields to the food systems that sustain us. We’ll incorporate material from sustainability perspectives as we learn about food systems issues. These concerns reflect the kinds of questions that will ground your practice in critical reading, research, writing, and revision.
Your rhetorical thinking and your writing skills will develop through your engagement in the work you’ll complete for this seminar- and workshop-style course. We’ll use Canvas Modules to guide our workflow and we’ll engage with one another in class and online. You’ll read across a range of genres and disciplines, including popular publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Civil Eats. Three units will explore various genres of writing, and your work from each unit will be evaluated and graded using a portfolio method of assessment, which allows for—in fact, requires— ample feedback, revision, and reflection. For your first unit project, you’ll complete an essay that profiles a local food systems “actor” (an advocacy group, business, organization, or individual) and analyzes their digital media presence. Next, you’ll write an essay that summarizes and synthesizes the public debate that you’ve elected to explore. Then, you’ll apply what you’ve learned to your own persuasive work. You’ll choose your genre and mode of delivery (eg: an editorial article, an advocacy letter, a podcast, a website) for the third project, and you’ll create research-informed compositions that advance a position and an idea for action around the controversy you’ve studied. Throughout the course, you’ll participate in low-stakes instructional exercises, reflective writing assignments, and peer feedback reviews to prepare for each unit project and portfolio compilation.
WRI 111 L/R: Writing Seminar: Rewriting
Prof. Danielle Koupf
L: WF 9:30-10:45 (19406)
R: 11:00-12:15 (19412)
“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 in class—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 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Alan Lightman, Teju Cole, Eula Biss, and Emily Raboteau, while also examining different takes on revision as presented by writers such as 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.
WRI 111 S: Writing Seminar: Originality and Invention
Prof. Danielle Koupf
WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 19413)
“[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 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 ZG: Writing Seminar: Argumentation and Civil Discourse
Prof. Zak Lancaster
TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 24716)
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,” “finding common ground,” and even “making concessions” are fundamentally based in conflict. But how do we advance dialogue if our aim is to overcome opponents? Research in the social sciences suggests we do not: When we try to persuade others through argumentation, even through gentle presentation of facts, people often resist and dig in, rejecting evidence that conflicts with their beliefs. In this course, we will embrace these challenges as we practice argumentation from a range of perspectives. We will explore views on argumentation from cognitive psychologists and linguists to literature and rhetoric scholars to popular writers. You will practice using a variety of argument strategies on topics of interest to you, and you will learn how arguments work across fields and disciplines. 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 write.
WRI 111 T/Z: Writing Seminar: Rhetorics of Music
Prof. (Richard) Carter Smith
WRI 111 T: TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 19414)
WRI 111 Z: TR 5:00-6:15 (CRN 19589)
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 U/V/W: Writing Seminar: Mindful Nation
Prof. Elisabeth Whitehead
WRI 111 V: MWF 11:00-11:50 (CRN 19416)
WRI 111 W: MWF 2:00-2:50 (CRN 19417)
WRI 111 U: MWF 1:00-1:50 (CRN 19415)
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 X/Y: Writing Seminar: Weird Nature
Prof. Guy Witzel
WRI 111 X: TR 8:00-9:15 (CRN 19418)
WRI 111 Y: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 19419)
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
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 ZA/ZB/ZC: Writing Seminar: The Rhetoric of Remembering
Prof. Cindy McPeters
WRI 111 ZA: WF 11:00-12:15 (CRN 19590)
WRI 111 ZB: WF 12:30-1:45 (CRN 19591)
WRI 111 ZC: WF 3:30-4:45 (CRN 20987)
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 Reflections. 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 ZD/ZE: Writing Seminar: Rhetoric of Place and Identity
Prof. Leah Sink Haynes
WRI 111 ZD: MWF 8:00-8:50 (CRN 22979)
WRI 111 ZE: MWF 12:00-12:50 (CRN 22980)
In this seminar, we will focus on the rhetorics of place and identity as a way to practice a variety of writing skills, as well as to think critically about the relationships between identity, place, and language. The course will ask you to think critically about the places and cultures with which you identify and interact. How does place influence your life and the way you talk or write about who you are? What are the places that are meaningful to you?
You will practice your observation and interview skills, look closely at texts for the way language connects to place, and build arguments that help us better understand how writing is tied to where we are, where we’ve been, and how we understand ourselves. Projects will include mindful note-taking, interviewing, annotations and reflections on written texts (instructor-assigned and student-chosen), essays incorporating field research and secondary sources, and self- and peer-assessments.
WRI 111 ZH/ZI: Writing Seminar: Writing: Linguistics, Language, and Communication
Prof. Gail Clements
WRI 111 ZH: TR 11:00-12:15 (CRN 29305)
WRI 111 ZI: TR 12:30-1:45 (CRN 29306)
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 ZF: Writing Seminar: Home Field Advantage: Rhetoric of Place and Sports
Prof. Leah Sink Haynes
MWF 9:00-9:50 (CRN 24715)
Tobacco Road. America’s Team. The Rumble in the Jungle. The Manchester Derby.
Sports have significant ties to home fields, host cities, and rival towns. The where of the big game is often as exciting, as emotionally charged, as meaningful as the who. Sporting franchises and fans have a lot to say about what it means to root for the home team, who those people across the field are, and what this next big win will mean. The rhetorics of place and sports will be our focus this semester as we work toward a critically engaged, confident, reflective approach to writing.
In this writing seminar, we will read and write in a variety of public, technical, and academic genres. We will develop writing habits and skills that will serve our college writing practice and beyond, as we investigate the relationships among place, sport, and language. Students will, among other assignments, maintain a weekly sports blog focused on the place of their choosing. Final projects will explore the major ideas and arguments that make up the identity and culture of a particular sports franchise, with a special focus on the place that franchise calls home.
WRI 111 ZK/ZL/ZM: Writing Seminar: The English Next Door
Prof. Jonathan Smart
WRI 111 ZK: MWF 9:00-9:50 (CRN 29351)
WRI 111 ZL: MWF 10:00-10:50 (CRN 29353)
WRI 111 ZM: MWF 12:00-12:50 (CRN 29354)
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 210 A/B: Exploring Academic Genres: Creation and Negotiation of Research Spaces in College Composition
Prof. Juan Moisés García Rentería
WRI 210 A: WF 11:00-12:15 (CRN 20996)
WRI 210 B: WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 28969)
For the field of rhetoric and composition studies, academic writing originates as a response to the complexities of community life seeking to engage others in honest conversation. Just like every deliberative process, “conversational” research moves forward by creating spaces of inclusion where previously unknown experiences and voices can find a place. In such contested, ever-moving terrain, how can one make sure to seize the opportunity of voicing one’s perspectives, contributing meaningfully, and shaping the world we all hope to share?
In this course, we will build common experiences and knowledge that will allow you to join in academic conversations across disciplines and fields, all while exploring your concerns and the things you are curious about. We will identify the needs shared between you and your readers as members of intersecting discourse communities and learn the rhetorical “moves” that will assert your right to succeed in your very own literacy development. We will practice the discursive patterns that will allow you to convince readers about the timeliness and appropriateness of your interests and practices in relation to the work of other scholars. By the end of this course, you will be able to recognize the advancement of knowledge as a collective effort through which we recreate and reshape the world around us, a reconstruction mediated by the ongoing rhythm of conversation, the “living” word wanting to be heard, understood, and answered.
WRI 212: Literary Nonfiction: The Art of the Essay
Prof. Guy Witzel
TR 9:30-10:45 (CRN 20993)
In this course we will explore the rhetoric and development personal essay. Together we will sample the genre’s classical antecedents, consider its crystallization in the essais of Michel de Montaigne, and chart its trajectories into the twenty-first century as it shapes the popular field of creative nonfiction. We’ll consider Phillip Lopate’s claim that the joy of reading such writing is in following an “unpredictable mind struggling to entangle and disentangle itself in a thorny problem.” We’ll take up Vivian Gornick’s assertion that successful personal essays feature “truth-speaking personae.” And we’ll examine why Randon Billings Noble believes “a commitment to weirdness in the face of convention” is an essential part of one’s writing practice.
We will also practice certain varieties of the personal essay ourselves, including the meditation, memoir essay, lyric essay, and podcast or audio essay. Each of these projects will benefit from peer collaboration. Together, we will push back on the idea of the writer as a solitary genius and approach our work as inseparable from the communities to which we belong, including the one in our very classroom.
Featured writers may include William Hazlitt, Virginia Woof, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Ross Gay, Larissa Pham, Elizabeth Rush, Samantha Irby, Zadie Smith, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and John Green.
WRI 306/606: Writing as Access: Toward Socially Just Schools, Workplaces, and Governments
Prof. Alisa Russell
MW 12:30-1:45 (CRN 28973/29095)
In this course, we will explore how writing practices inform access to three major institutions that shape our worlds—schools, workplaces, and governments. Institutions are not just composed of people or buildings, but of written texts. Think of all the genres you’re encountering just to choose and register for classes: course descriptions, email reminders, instructions, online registration portals, major/minor requirement lists, notes from your advisor, professor review sites, program websites… Just this one slice of university life is made possible by myriad written texts. This means that writing becomes a significant factor in gaining access to institutional spaces.
Throughout the course, we will explicitly focus on the local institutions of Winston-Salem: We will examine writing as access by analyzing the WSFC school system and local universities; interviewing people who work in various professions in town; and attending City Council meetings. We will critically examine the ways in which access is not only gained through writing practices, but the ways in which access is denied—to whom? by whom?—across intersections of identity and power (including but not limited to race/ethnicity, citizenship, disability, and class). Most importantly, we will brainstorm innovations to writing practices that would increase access for more socially just schools, workplaces, and governments.
WRI 306 counts as an elective in the English major.
WRI 340 A/ 640 A: Writing with Images
Prof. Eric Ekstrand
TR 2:00-3:15 (CRN 28967/29106)
*No visual artistic experience or talent required–this course is for everyone!
In this course, we will develop rhetorical awareness of how text and images make meaning together in genres like graphic novels and short stories, rotoscoped film, born digital literature, and slide presentations as well as the visual domain of lettering and print. We will develop this rhetorical awareness through reading and rhetorically analyzing examples of these genres as well as practical-critical texts like Paul Auster, Paul Kresik, and David Mazzucheli’s graphic adaptation of City of Glass; Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics; Anne Carson’s NOX; John Hodgson’s short film Feeling My Way; and selections from Ed Tufte, especially Seeing with Fresh Eyes: Meaning Space Data Truth, for instance. We will apply this developing visual-rhetorical knowledge in projects like “remixing” a found text in a graphic medium using scrap paper, found images, text, and expressive drawing; abstract slide decks; erasures with collage; and a performative text that includes discarded film slides and slide projectors. There will be a significant studio element to the course where we will work on our projects together as well as a workshop element where we will give feedback on each other’s work in process. At the end of this course, you should be able to more fruitfully write with images.
WRI 340 counts as an elective in the English major.
WRI 340 B: Short Forms
Prof. Marianne Erhardt
WF 12:30-1:45 (CRN 28968)
Writers often strive for concision. Certainly, there can be value in brevity, efficiency, and getting to the point. In this class, we’ll study the capacity of the short form through a variety of genres, including ancient fables, aphorisms, comic strips, poems, essayettes, and short-short stories. What does concision offer us in terms of persuasion, pleasure, and practice? And is less always more? When and how is “getting to the point” beside the point? How is concision entangled with cultural and aesthetic values and biases? How has efficiency been used to justify erasure – of people, ideas, and communities?
We’ll consider short forms in both isolation and constellation. What larger stories emerge when we embark on a practice of writing or collecting tiny texts, as in Lucy Corin’s One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses or Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights or The Analects of Confucius or Aesop’s Fables? And what happens when we give our “small” subjects all the space and time they might require, as in Durga Chew-Bose’s “Part of a Greater Pattern” or Danielle Geller’s “Annotating the First Page of the First Navajo-English Dictionary” or Richard McGuire’s Here or Han Kang’s The White Book?
We’ll study these and other texts along with several critical writings on the ethics and art of concision. We will write, workshop, and revise in many short creative and critical forms, while also thoroughly embracing long-windedness when it suits us. As it did, perhaps, in the writing of this course description.
WRI 340 counts as an elective in the English major.
WRI 341/641: Writing Center Pedagogy
Prof. Ryan Shirey
WF 2:00-3:15 (CRN 22982/29094)
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. Strongly recommended 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. Jeremy Markovich
MW 2:00-3:15 (CRN 25132)
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.
WRI 350: Interdisciplinary Writing Minor Capstone
Prof. Alisa Russell
MW 5:00-6:15 (CRN: 22985)
All of your interdisciplinary writing minor courses have led you here: Each course in the minor provided the opportunity to engage different topics, concepts, and projects in writing. Now, this capstone course provides the opportunity to reflect on, consolidate, and expand your engagement with writing as both a flexible tool across situations and as the subject of inquiry-based research. First, we will review key concepts in writing (rhetoric, genre, discourse community, transfer, disciplinarity, etc.) by reflecting on, analyzing, and repurposing your own writing from across your undergraduate career. Then, you will have a chance to design and conduct your own research project on a topic of interest to you by selecting appropriate methods in Writing Studies. Finally, you will construct a public website for professional or personal purposes that showcases your writing range, narrativizes your writing development, and demonstrates the relationship between your rhetorical savvy and your interests/goals.