Writing: Rhetoric as Inquiry

Taught face-to-face and online, regular, honors, and learning community sections.

Course Description and Philosophy:

The idea behind English 150 is that writing is a way in which a writer can find out what he/she thinks, knows, and understands (or not) about a topic—and often about him/herself in the process. However, there’s no magic formula for how one uses writing as a tool of inquiry. Thus, this class focuses on writing for various purposes and audiences. The one truth about writing is that it is a skill. To get better, one must practice, practice, and practice some more. That means that we will engage in the process of writing and practice writing continually. You will also learn to analyze and critique your own writing as a means of improving it. To that end, we will read selections from various writers and analyze their techniques, voices, and styles. You will have the opportunity to experiment with your writing, as well as learn about different ways that writing can work for you.

Another truth of writing is that not every draft will be solid gold. In truth, most first drafts more closely resemble giant steaming piles of excrement—and that’s okay (so long as you made an honest effort at the draft). It’s an important part of the process. Each re-vision offers us insight into the greater act of writing and moves us closer to understanding when and where different kinds of writing are applicable and successful. You may expect to read and write a lot in this class; you may also expect to come out the other side with a greater understanding of the whys, hows, and therefores of writing.

Course Objectives:

  • To learn how to make appropriate writing and revision choices in response to rhetorical contexts.
  • To practice and expand understanding of global and local writing and revision concepts.
  • To understand writing and revision as process-focused rather than product-focused.
  • To engage in critical reading, thinking, and writing skills as demonstrated through class discussion and writing projects.


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