LinC 101 (FYWS)—Analyzing Public Spaces, Making Public Arguments — How does one’s gender, race, socioeconomic status, (dis)abilities, sexual orientation, education level, religion, and other aspects of an individual’s identity affect how one experiences (and possibly contributes to the inequalities found in) various public spaces? To investigate this and other related questions, students in this FYWS section study spatial rhetoric. Specifically, we explore how the location, materiality, and discourse of public spaces contribute to sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant arguments that welcome some people while silencing others. Examples of possible discussion and writing topics include the characteristics of “safe” spaces, power dynamics in classrooms, American border issues, and gender discrimination in online gaming spaces. Emphasizing the development of college-level critical thinking, research, and writing skills, this course asks students to rhetorically analyze public spaces of personal significance, research and digitally map local spaces that exhibit compelling and/or controversial public arguments, and create multimodal public arguments related to those spaces. (Taught various iterations of this course from Spring 2009 through Fall 2016.)
LINC 101 (FYWS) — Bad Ideas about Writing— At some point, you may have been led to believe the following: Good writers are born that way, so you’re either good at writing or you’re not. Or perhaps you were told to never split an infinitive or use the first person pronoun “I” or start a sentence with a conjunction like “or.” You might think that the five-paragraph essay format will serve you well in college because you wrote five-paragraph essays so often in high school, the format is easy to replicate, and your essays received good grades. Maybe you have only encountered the term “rhetoric” when it is being used to mean “empty speech.” The problem is, those commonplaces are not accurate. In this course—through a series of research-based writing projects—we will disabuse ourselves of those and other bad ideas about writing and come to understand writing as a context-specific, social, rhetorical, knowledge-making activity at which we can improve over time and that allows us to reach myriad audiences for myriad purposes with our good (and our not-so-good) ideas. (Taught in Fall 2018 and Fall 2020.)
English 211—Creative Nonfiction Syllabus — What does a piece of creative nonfiction (CNF) do that a “traditional” academic essay or newspaper article or personal narrative might not? CNF takes risks with content, form, and style. It delights readers as it informs and possibly persuades them. It refuses to deny the existence of a fallible and uncertain self behind the words, and it upholds truth and memory and the fascinating idiosyncrasies of individual experience. It journeys via paragraphs comprised of captivating sentences from the self into the world and must ultimately be written for that world, not the self alone, to consume. Editor of Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Lee Gutkind, says that the best CNF has the potential to “communicate ideas, germinate wisdom, and create change.” My hope for this course is that students strive toward such goals together with the writing they produce.
Throughout the semester, students have the opportunity to draft pieces of various lengths in various CNF sub-genres—especially memoir, place/nature writing, personal essay/cultural criticism, and immersion/literary journalism—for various audiences, purposes, and potential publication spaces. The semester culminates with a digital portfolio of their revised nonfiction prose.
English 216—Professional Writing — Introduction to business and technical composing practices and genres with an emphasis on audience awareness, document design, and project development and management. Includes critical rhetorical study and creation of job and grant application materials, manuals, proposals, print and digital marketing materials, and other deliverables requested as part of the class’s service learning collaboration with local nonprofit organizations.
English 217—Intro to Writing Arts — Students explore foundational concepts in writing arts in order to understand writing as both a subject of study and a significant symbolic activity in our everyday lives.
English 218—Digital Rhetoric and Writing — In this course, students rhetorically analyze established and emerging digital genres in order to gain the theoretical and practical background necessary to approach the production of writing for digital platforms.
English 316—Rhetorics of Everyday Life — Students analyze contemporary everyday discourses through rhetorical lenses, focusing on the ways language and other symbols function to persuade and/or to promote or prohibit understanding across differences. Students study theories of rhetorical analysis and practice those theories by analyzing self-selected contemporary discursive artifacts from pop culture, politics, and other aspects of everyday life. Students learn methods for critiquing the relative effectiveness of discourses within certain contexts as well as how to use that knowledge to better assess the effectiveness of their own writing.