Spring 2024

Read through our current course offerings for Spring 2024 below.

WRI 110 and WRI 111

WRI 110 A/B: Writing Seminar, Part 2: School Cultures / Home Cultures
Prof. Eric Ekstrand
WRI 110A: TR 10:00-10:50am (CRN 29941)
WRI 110B: TR 1:00-1:50pm (CRN 29942)
You made it! You got into college, and goodness was that hard.  Now, what is this place all about? As you begin your college coursework, maybe you will sense that there are unstated, new assumptions being made about your learning and writing that are different from those made in your schooling up to this point (and likely very different from those made outside of school—in your home and among your friends).  You know the game has changed, but maybe you don’t know what the new rules are. In this class, through regular writing, reading, and discussion, we will try to make plain the various community values inherent in the literacy practices of students’ home and school lives, including college lives, and ways those practices are often in tension with one another.  Ultimately, by doing this, we might be better equipped to both appropriate and challenge those values as we join new communities at college, both in and out of the classroom.

We will tense when Cedric Jennings, a first-year Black student at the overwhelmingly White and elite Brown University, threatens his straight White hallmates because they were ironically, playfully, acting “gay”—something no straight guy would ever do where Cedric grew up.  We will root for Stephon Marbury and his friends from Coney Island as they navigate the economically and racially fraught world of college basketball recruitment. We will hear Mike Rose exclaim, tongue-in-cheek, “I just wanna be average!” We will see how differences in class and racialization can affect the interpretation of texts. We will ask, “Are there disadvantages to an “elite” education?”

Early in the semester, you will collect a week’s worth of all the writing you do (and I do mean all—text messages, notes (including marginal notes), social media posts, lab reports, emails, etc.) and choose three examples from your corpus on which you will write brief rhetorical genre analyses. Towards the middle of the semester, you will write an intertextual reflective essay about what college is really like based on your experience so far. At the end of the course, you will collect all of the writing you did for WRI 109 and 110 in a final portfolio where you will reflect on your writing and learning across the two classes. You will be asked to tell your own stories and stake your own claims by way of trying to answer these essential questions about education: For what? For whom?  What counts, and why?

WRI 110 C: Writing Seminar, Part 2: Storying Across Genres and Media
Prof. Keri Epps
MW 1:00-1:50pm (CRN 29944)
Stories often show up in unexpected places. While they may not look like the typical stories we read about in books or see in movies, these stories emerge to help groups of people identify their values and move toward shared action. In this class, we will explore narratives in genres of writing and contexts that are of interest to us for personal, academic, and/or professional reasons.

Throughout the semester, we will ask these questions: What roles do stories play in research? How might we create and participate in the narratives of the communities that mean the most to us? How do these narratives shift across genres and media? What narrative of first-year writing might we construct for new college writers? To answer these questions, we will use course readings and discussions on genre, media, and discourse community to guide us toward an understanding of how people use these complex narratives to communicate with one another and use narrative as a tool for collaborative meaning-making.

To reach the course goals, you will engage in an intensive, iterative writing process–including rounds of drafting, feedback, and revision–to complete two major writing projects and a portfolio. These projects include a rhetorical genre analysis, a reflective guide for new college writers, and a final portfolio where you reflect on the writing you have completed for WRI 109 and 110. Together, these assignments are designed to help you better understand your own story as a college writer and the possible stories you might help create in meaningful spaces beyond this class.

WRI 111 A/B/C: Writing Seminar: Everyday Rhetoric and Writing in Popular Culture
Prof. Kendra Andrews
WRI 111 A: TR 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 19395)
WRI 111 B: TR 2:00-3:15pm (CRN 19396)
WRI 111 C: TR 3:30-4:45pm (CRN 19397)
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 D/E: Writing Seminar: Truth and Fiction
Prof. Danielle Koupf
WRI 111 D: MWF 9:00-9:50am (CRN 19398)
WRI 111 E: MWF 10:00-10:50am (CRN 27020)
The line between truth and fiction often blurs in today’s media landscape, as fake news, satirical websites, exaggerations, doctored images, photo filters, and biased reporting populate our social media feeds and phone screens. In art and writing, there’s often no clear boundary between truth and fiction. Seemingly solid categories like fiction and nonfiction are not so easily distinguished, with genres like memoir, creative nonfiction, reality television, and documentary film challenging the distinction. In this course, we will embrace the playfulness that such blurriness promotes while training to become more discerning consumers of all kinds of media. We will hone our skepticism and our skills of critical analysis and reflection, as we investigate plagiarism, social media, artificial intelligence, and other sources of deception. We will learn to make productive use of uncertainty through writing about such topics.

You can expect to practice different types of writing this semester, including personal narrative and reflection, exploration, analysis, and research. We will engage in frequent low-stakes writing assignments and undertake substantial revisions of major essays. As we work on our writing, we will also work on our reading by examining unusual and challenging texts, annotating them thoroughly, and reflecting on our reading experiences. You will leave this class with a better sense of how to read and write effectively in a post-truth world.

WRI 111 F: Writing Seminar: This is Your Brain on Writing
Prof. Erin Branch
WRI 111 F: WF 9:30-10:45am (CRN 19400)
The arrival of ChatGPT (and other LLMs) struck fear in the hearts of teachers everywhere and prompted journalists and pundits to proclaim the death of the essay. While the full impact of this new tool remains to be seen, what is known is that thinkers have debated for centuries how and why we write–and what writing is good for. In fact, Socrates himself thought writing was nothing more than a useful reminder.

But his view runs directly counter to what many writing scholars know today, which is that writing is one way to figure out what we think. Writing is not, despite romantic ideals to the contrary, the simple transcription of clear and distinct ideas from brain to page (or screen).

Ideas and arguments develop through the process of writing itself, messy as that might be. As Anne Carson writes, writing is about “the struggle to drag a thought over from the mush of the unconscious into some kind of grammar, syntax, human sense; every attempt means starting over with language, starting over with accuracy.” 

This course will investigate ideas about what exactly IS happening in our brains when we write, and how—or if—modern technology intersects with those processes. We’ll study arguments about invention and the writing process from various fields (including philosophy, neuroscience, rhetoric & composition, and others) as we develop our own protocols for capturing, articulating, and analyzing writing processes. Readings may include philosophical arguments, academic research articles, contemporary journalism, and personal essays; the course culminates in the publication of a digital magazine of students writing.

WRI 111G: Writing Seminar: Writing New Media Across Difference
Prof. Moisés García Rentería
WRI 111G: TR 8:00-9:15am (CRN 19401)
In a world that is becoming more fragmented and interconnected at the same time, one of the greatest challenges we face is giving everyone equal opportunity to express their own views. Modern democracies have responded to this challenge by expanding access to literacy and education, arguing that to participate successfully in public life, citizens need high levels of reading and writing skills. But, how can education live up to the promise of equality through literacy in a society where memes and emojis are used as a main means of expression?

This course is inspired by the principle that not only traditional reading and writing can allow you to participate fully in public and academic life, but also the kinds of reading and writing practices that resonate more with you. Using cutting-edge academic research, we will explore our understandings of literacy to consider visual, digital, and embodied means of expression and their relationship to identity, democracy, and power. We will study a broad range of media, from memes to urban art, using traditional academic writing and practical embodied activities like multimedia mapping workshops. Following a pedagogy of solidarity and caring, we will build common experiences that promote your autonomy in the choices you make about writing within the communicative context of college and beyond. By the end of the course, you will be able to communicate your ideas and interests with criticality and academic timeliness, connecting ethics and writing in a world widely more inclusive of cultural, communicative, and technological difference.

WRI 111 H/M/N: Writing Seminar: Rhetoric of Food
Prof. Hannah Harrison
WRI 111 H: WF 9:30-10:45am (CRN 19402)
WRI 111 M: WF 11:00-12:15pm (CRN 19407)
WRI 111 N: WF 2:00-3:15pm (CRN 19408)
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 I/J/Q: Writing Seminar: English Next Door
Prof. Jon Smart
WRI 111I: TR 9:30-10:45am (CRN 20958) – POI only
WRI 111J: TR 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 19404) – POI only
WRI 111Q: TR 2:00-3:15pm (CRN 19411)
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 analysis 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.
Sections WRI 111I and WRI 111J are by permission of instructor (POI) only and are intended for international students whose first language is not English. If you would like to be enrolled in either of these sections, please reach out to Dr. Jon Smart at smartjw@wfu.edu to request permission.

WRI 111 P/ZK/K: Writing Seminar: Rhetoric of Remembering: Intersections of Personal and Public Memory
Prof. Cindy McPeters
WRI 111 P: TR 9:30-10:45am (CRN 19410)
WRI 111 ZK: TR 11:00-12:15pm (CRN 29351)
WRI 111 K: TR 2:00-3:15pm (CRN 29408)
How do personal experiences contribute to larger recollections of past events? How do symbols—linguistic and visual—reflect 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 examination of the relationship between rhetoric and public memory—through readings from popular media, literature, and academic sources as well as through examination of monuments to honor people and events—you will flex your rhetorical muscles in varied genres. Through your Writer’s Notebook, you will engage informally with invention, analysis, and critical thinking, while small group activities will provide space to collaborate and practice analytical skills. You will rely on several submitted drafts, instructor feedback, peer reviews, and revision plans to polish major assignments such as Personal Narrative of a Public Memory, Rhetorical Analysis of a Public Memorial, Primary Source Research Project, and a semester-concluding Critical Reflection. Concentrating on writing as a process, writing to learn, and writing to communicate, you will exercise skills applicable to many writing contexts, whether academic, professional, public, or personal.

WRI 111 L/R: Writing Seminar: Rhetorics of Music
Prof. (Richard) Carter Smith
WRI 111L: TR 9:30-10:45am (CRN: 19406)
WRI 111R: TR 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 19412)
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 111O: Writing Seminar: Writing Justice
Prof. Phoebe Zerwick
WRI 111O: TR 2:00-3:15pm (CRN 19409)
A carefully crafted legal brief. A series of investigative newspaper articles. A letter scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper. These are all forms of writing that have resulted in justice. In this course, drawn from the instructor’s experience as an investigative journalist, you will learn to write with that sense of purpose and urgency as you explore contemporary issues that lead to wrongful conviction and other miscarriages of justice. You will read and write in a variety of genres that expose you to the kinds of texts that inform the public discussion of injustice and, in some cases, work to right these wrongs.

WRI 111S: Writing Seminar: Adaptation
Prof. (Richard) Carter Smith
WRI 111S: TR 2:00-3:15pm (CRN: 19413)
“The spaces between people are widening at such a freshly elevated rate that they risk splitting us altogether,” the graphic novelist Kristen Radtke writes in Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness. The book (which we’ll read) is interested in a specific, very contemporary, form of loneliness, one that it links to various forms of what we might call electracy, theorist Gregory Ulmer’s term for literacy in electronic media. This course takes Ulmer’s concept as a starting point for an investigation of how electronic media have shaped our approach to writing, our sense of ourselves, and our sense of ourselves in relation to others. In our class meetings, we will read, write, and think about the effects—potentially good, potentially bad, often unacknowledged—of the communication technologies that we use every day.

WRI 111 T/Z: Writing Seminar: Weird Nature
Prof. Guy Witzel
WRI 111T: WF 8:00-9:15 (CRN 19414)
WRI 111Z: WF 9:30-10:45 (CRN 19589)
How should we describe our relationship with nature today? As a subject of anxiety given headlines, scientific reports, and frequent natural disasters? As something more often experienced on screens rather than in everyday life? As a means of temporary escape amidst a global pandemic? Or, despite the challenges of our time, an enduring source of wonder, recreation, and connection with something greater than ourselves? Humanity’s relationship with nature has long animated the written word. This has been the case even and especially when that relationship has become confusing, fraught, and just plain weird. In this course, we will study how writers, researchers, and makers of culture examine 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 a variety of texts 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 critical and creative works that 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 U/V/W: Writing Seminar: Mindful Nation
Prof. Elisabeth Whitehead
WRI 111 U: MWF 2-2:50pm (CRN 19415)
WRI 111 V: MWF 11:00-11:50am (CRN 19416)
WRI 111 W: MWF 12:00-12:50pm (CRN 19417)
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: On Play and Games
Prof. Marianne Erhardt
WRI 111 X: MWF 10:00-10:50am (CRN 19418)
WRI 111 Y: MWF 11:00-11:50am (CRN 19419)
In this class, we will write our way through an inquiry of games and play. What is play and why do we do it? What is the value of play and who determines that value? How does play function for children? For adults? What is play’s relationship to privilege? Who gets to play? What makes a game work? What makes it fair? How do our ways of playing and pretending reflect and shape culture?

We’ll treat writing itself as a form of play. Writers use tools. We make, follow and break rules. We write to explore, to attempt, to persuade, to win, to question, and to make sense of. Writing is an act of play that has the potential to engage countless readers, playmates, competitors, and referees. Our topics may include gender and children’s toys; the games of dating, politics, and school; play and technology; music, entertainment, and sports and sports fandom.

This time in our world brings a new chapter for play. Quarantine and social distancing have fostered and disrupted many kinds of play, and have forced us to confront our personal relationships with play’s neighbors: creativity, boredom, fear, risk, inspiration, improvisation, and connection. We’ll explore all of these, as we write in a variety of genres, using peer workshops to develop our writing skills and our class community.

WRI 111 ZA/ZB/ZC: Writing Seminar: Reimagining Our Narratives
Prof. Adam Fagin
WRI 111 ZA: WF 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 19590)
WRI 111 ZB: WF 2:00-3:15pm (CRN 19591)
WRI 111 ZC: WF 3:30-4:45pm (CRN 20987)
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” writes Joan Didion. By this, Didion means the tales we tell about ourselves shape our understanding of our experiences, our culture, and the world. But she follows up this famous statement by questioning these very stories. In this class, we’ll explore this tension by examining texts that complicate and problematize familiar narratives. We’ll read across genre, considering writing that combines the poetic, essayistic, and graphic. We’ll peruse various media, including creative nonfiction, podcasts, and documentary film. Through close readings, listenings, and viewings, we’ll investigate the modes and methods of persuasion they employ.

Some of the work we’ll discuss defies formal convention. Some uses a traditional approach to question the meta-narratives threaded through our lives. Others explore the ways in which personal and public histories intersect, combine, and split apart. We’ll see what possibilities await us when we write and think at the edge of genre and medium, generating new and exciting questions about ourselves, our language, and our world rather than arriving at simple answers that reinforce our existing notions of who we are and what we can be.

Along the way, we’ll write personal, reflective, and academic essays, as well as create multimodal texts that employ some of the practices described above, discovering as we progress that writing is a recursive process relying on invention, experimentation, and revision. We’ll read work by Claudia Rankine, Jenny Boully, Cathy Park Hong, Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson, Percival Everett, and others.

WRI 111 ZD/ZE/ZF: Writing Seminar
Prof. Sara Littlejohn
WRI 111 ZD: TR 2:00-3:15pm (CRN 22979)
WRI 111 ZE: TR 3:30-4:45pm (CRN 22980)
WRI 111 ZF: TR 5:00-6:15pm (CRN 24715)
In a globally connected world, what does it mean to be literate today? We can see that power and knowledge flow through media in digital networks, and in order to gain access to that power, we must understand the history, structure, and language of rhetoric and literacy. In this course we will take literacy beyond traditional print-based forms to include multiple ways of knowing, such as visual, spatial, aural, gestural, and multimodal forms. As you already know and experience, “texts” are rarely limited to print only; they are more often images, video, sounds, and shapes or some combination of these forms, expressed in digital contexts. This course immerses you in both the theory and practice of multiple literacies and considers how technology and the internet has made (and continues to make) this environment even more complex.

As a framework for writing, we will develop a working knowledge of foundational rhetorical terms and theory while examining the broader concepts of literacy. We will focus on various forms of writing, including the traditional essay as well as other genres. Your assignments will include readings, draft work, peer review, analysis, critical reflection, and revision.

WRI 111 ZG: Writing Seminar: Writing as Public Action
Prof. Alisa Russell
TBD, TBD (CRN 24716)
No matter your major or career goals, writing will be part of your regular routine because it is how we record, communicate, argue, inform, understand, and share ideas across time and space. In the first half of the course, we will focus on learning the language of GENRE — the way various elements of writing (e.g., author/audience, main claims/stakes, evidence/appeals, organization/formatting, tone/style) come together in patterned ways to achieve particular actions in the world. You will gain the analytical language and tools (including ChatGPT) 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 — including how to use ChatGPT as a tool for invention and revision — 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 ZH/ZI/ZJ: Writing Seminar: Writing and Rethinking Mental Health
Prof. Elena Makarion
WRI 111 ZH: WF 9:30-10:45am (CRN 29305)
WRI 111 ZI: WF 11:00-12:15pm (CRN 29306)
WRI 111 ZJ: WF 2:00-3:15pm (CRN 29325)
In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in conversations about mental health. But what exactly is health, who gets to define it, and what shape does it take across contexts? By reading everything from 19th century asylum narratives, to evolving medical diagnostic criteria, to poems and novels, we will uncover cultural assumptions and imperatives in popular and medical discourses. For example, we might look at: metaphors (why is depression described as blue and black and not yellow?) or genres (how does a social media quiz like do you have depression? impose on one’s identity?). Through these texts, we will explore histories of disability, asking: how has gender, religion, race, and class impacted who and how someone is diagnosed and treated? Such questions will enable us to think about our own positionality and to consider where we write from and what norms we might take for granted. By making visible the social constructions of language, we will become more aware of our own writing choices and the impact they have on our readers.

Together, we will consider what inventive rhetorical techniques authors used to navigate their ethos and how we can borrow from these tools in our own writing. Primarily, this course will prepare you for future academic, personal, and career writing. We will focus on developing your voice and craft, understanding your composing processes, and applying rhetorical and research tools to convincingly present your ideas to an audience. Your assignments will include close readings, essays, practice with analysis, peer workshops, and seminar style class discussions. Besides these critical engagements, we will also write creatively, reveling in poetry and fiction and imagining ways that writing can be both transformational and healing. Our non-academic readings include authors such as: Shailja Patel, Virginia Woolf, Robert Frost, Joan Didion, Ocean Vuong, Audre Lorde, and Allison Seay.

WRI 111 ZM/ZN: Writing Seminar: What’s (y)our story?
Prof. Keri Epps
WRI 111 ZM: MWF 10:00-10:50am (CRN 29354)
WRI 111 ZN: MWF 11:00-11:50am (CRN 29409)
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 ZO/ZP: Writing Seminar: Writing: Linguistics, Language, and Communication
Prof. Gail Clements
WRI 111 ZO: TR 9:30-10:45am (CRN 29410)
WRI 111 ZP: TR 11:00-12:15pm (CRN 29411)
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.


Upper-Level Courses

WRI 210A: Exploring Academic Genres
Prof. Erin Branch
WRI 210A: WF 11:00-12:15pm (CRN 28969)
We tend to talk about “academic writing” as if it were just one thing, but in reality our descriptions usually encompass quite a few things. We might mention genres (research articles, scholarly books), formatting (endnotes, citations, section headings), data presentation (quotations, tables, charts), style (formal, elevated, jargon-y), audience (meant for other academics), or even rhetorical purpose (e.g., analytic, persuasive). So it quickly becomes clear that academic writing is not one thing, even if we can sometimes identify common characteristics. It also quickly becomes clear why learning to do “academic writing” can be difficult: you are learning to do quite a lot of different things.

Many of the seemingly arbitrary and sometimes conflicting “rules” about academic writing can be better understood if we remember that academic writers are members of discourse communities, or groups that use language in particular ways to accomplish the shared goal of producing and communicating new knowledge. And new knowledge is only produced because academics share and build upon ideas through a kind of written conversation, distributed across time and space.

This class offers you a chance to “visit” some academic and professional communities that interest you via writing. As you study the preferred genres, styles, research practices, and conventions of various disciplines, you will develop your own rhetorical flexibility–thereby making it easier to write across contexts and to recognize the writing “moves” that allow you to access the academic communities and to participate in the conversations that matter most to you.

WRI 212: Literary Nonfiction: The Art of the Essay
Prof. Marianne Erhardt
MW 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 20993)
Acclaimed writer Natalie Goldberg was not an acclaimed writer, and did not think of herself as a writer at all, when she visited a bookstore one day after work as a cook. She selected Fruits and Vegetables by Erica Jong and found a poem about an eggplant. “I was amazed. You mean you can write about something like that? Something as ordinary as that? Something that I did in my life?” All at once, she was a writer. In Writing Down the Bones, she tells us, “A synapse connected in my brain. I went home with the resolve to write what I knew and to trust my own thoughts and feelings.”

In this class, we will have the audacity to write from our own eggplant experiences – both ordinary and extraordinary – as we explore the genre of literary nonfiction. We will read for pleasure, for rhetorical study, and for appreciation and development of craft. We will consider the history of the essay form, some of its many subgenres, and imagine its future. And we will “write down the bones,” which Goldberg says is “the essential, awake speech of [our] minds.” We will write as poets, peers, critics, and scholars, all of whom work to coax this “awake speech” to the blank page. While building our writing portfolios, we will build a writing community.

WRI 306A: Special Topics: Rhetoric & Writing: Environmental Writing in the Anthropocene
Prof. Guy Witzel
WF 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 28973)
Climate change is increasingly described as an existential threat. Today, scientists and activists are joined by voices across society in communicating the dire nature of our ecological circumstances. Yet despite the pervasiveness of such language, climate change’s implications for the larger biosphere, much less human civilization, remain difficult to express, conceptualize, and process. In this course students will examine and contribute to a writing practice that approaches these difficulties as their central preoccupation: contemporary environmental writing. In this body of work, we find some of the most sophisticated attempts to address the existential, representational, and rhetorical dilemmas characterizing life in the Anthropocene.

These dilemmas include

  • Scale: How can we come grips with an emergency whose origins date back to the late eighteenth century and whose effects promise to shape the planet for centuries to come?
  • Interconnectedness: How can we make clear our interdependence with other species?
  • Generational Dynamics: What does it mean that our ancestors created and left us with this problem? What does it mean to bring a child into this world knowing the calamity and upheaval they may face?
  • Hope and Meaning: How do we cultivate a sense of purpose and possibility when the scientific consensus suggests the future will involve hardship and change?

Students in this course will engage with the innovations of present-day environmental writers and explore their efforts to portray, come to terms with, and move beyond these and other Anthropocene dilemmas. Likely writers include Glenn Albrecht, Camille T. Dungy, Thalia Field, Amitav Ghosh, Robert Macfarlane, Emma Marris, Emily Raboteau, Elizabeth Rush, and Meera Subramanian. Students will also take up these challenges themselves in assignments including an ongoing reading/nature journal, a keywords essay, and a memoir/immersion essay.
WRI 306 counts as an elective towards the English major.

WRI 307A: Contemporary Theory of Rhetoric & Writing: Latino Decolonial Rhetorics: An Indigenous/Intercultural Approach to Literacy, Education and Civic Engagement
Prof. Moisés García Rentería
TR 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 29714)
Decolonial approaches to social research and transformative action have gained widespread acceptance and currency among scholars, artists, activists, and others concerned with critical education, philosophy, and social justice. The variegated, embodied, and affective frames of decolonial research/practice facilitate imagining, re-working, and mobilizing experiences and knowledge to disrupt cultural horizons that conceal and diminish racial/colonial ways of being in the world. Likewise, rhetoric, as an academic approach to the study of communication, has traditionally committed to a pedagogical project setting the foundations for a democratic “art of living” through the nurturing of embodied ethics and critical practices.

The main goal of this course is mapping a methodological landscape between rhetoric, composition, and literacy studies; and Latino decolonial thought to provide you with the equipment to design decolonial interventions in aesthetics, education, knowledge, and liberation. We will study contemporary, ground-breaking rhetorical theories and their links with the Latino decolonial efforts to develop alternatives to dominant cultural institutions. More importantly, we will participate in the struggle to enact deep cognitive justice, claiming an intercultural space of coexistence for (Latin) American Indigenous rhetorics in the fields of literacy studies and critical pedagogy. Finally, we will envision a theory and methodology of Maya rhetorics for civic engagement that will broaden our conception of rhetoric and composition to include modes of inscription and symbolic action that cultivate the sustenance and continuance of community life.
WRI 307 counts as an elective for the English Major. 

WRI 322/JOU 322: Investigating Innocence
Prof. Phoebe Zerwick
R 4:30-7:00pm (CRN 29724)
Learn to write like a journalist and think like a lawyer by investigating and writing about an ongoing case of a wrongful conviction under review by the law school’s Innocence & Justice Clinic. Law students and undergraduates work together with instruction by professors in law and journalism. POI Required. Also listed as WRI 322, LAW 500.
WRI 322 counts as an elective in the English major and Journalism minor.

WRI 340A: Practice in Rhetoric and Composition: Handcrafted Rhetorics
Prof. Danielle Koupf
MW 2:00-3:15pm (CRN 28967)
Have you had a chance to enjoy Wake Forest’s very own makerspace, Wakerspace? Whether you’re a knitter, a sculptor, a podcaster, a button-maker, a fabricator, a woodworker, or a web designer, makerspaces like WakerSpace offer something for you to do. In this hands-on course, we will use Wakerspace as a resource to help us practice critical making and multimodal composition with a range of media—from paper to fibercraft to Photoshop. As we tinker, experiment, and create various self-designed projects, we will reflect on our experiences, becoming engaged bricoleurs. Guided by theories of cultural rhetorics, we will ask: what are the relationships among writing, rhetoric, making, and crafting? How can crafts perform rhetorical, political, and activist work? We will learn to make things using a DIY-influenced process of trial and error and will embrace failure as an inevitable part of that process. We will transfer that process to our own writing and try out new writing techniques for creative and reflective work. To conclude the course, we will showcase our handcrafted rhetorics at a Makers Faire. You will leave this class with new skills, a capacious concept of rhetoric, and your very own handcrafted products. To succeed in this course, you do not need any previous experience with any particular tools or technologies, just an open mind and a willingness to learn.
WRI 340 counts as an elective in the English major. 

WRI 341: Writing Center Pedagogy
Prof. Ryan Shirey
TR 3:30-4:45pm (CRN 22982)
Introduction to composition pedagogy and writing center theory and practices, with special emphases on one-to-one and small group peer tutoring techniques. The course includes classroom-based work – reading, writing, responding, discussing, and exploring instruction and consultation processes – and field experiences. Students spend a total of 20 hours observing in writing classrooms, the WFU Writing Center and/or community sites, and tutoring. Students reflect on these experiences to prepare a final researched writing project. Required for those interested in working in the Writing Center as peer tutors.
WRI 341 counts as an elective in the English major.

WRI 350: Interdisciplinary Writing Minor Capstone
Prof. Alisa Russell
TBD, TBD (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.
POI – WRI 350 is for Interdisciplinary Writing minors only.