Writing in the Discipline
1. Why or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/profession?
Writing is central to all aspects of the discipline of English. It is a means of thinking about texts and how writers create them, of reflecting on learning, of discovering and demonstrating new knowledge, of applying critical and creative ways of thinking to disciplinary issues and problems, of understanding oneself and the world, of developing intellectual agency, and of working for social change.
2. Which courses are designated as satisfying the WID requirement by your department? Why these courses?
The English Department has three concentrations, each of which has designated its own WID courses:
- ENGL 200: Reading Literature and Culture
- ENGL 300: Introduction to Theory and Criticism
- ENGL 460: Seminar in English
- ENGL 220: Introduction to Creative Writing
- ENGL 371: Intermediate Creative Writing, Fiction
- ENGL 372: Intermediate Creative Writing, Poetry
- ENGL 373: Intermediate Creative Writing, Nonfiction Prose
- ENGL 461: Advanced Workshop in Creative Writing
- ENGL 222: Introduction to Professional Writing
- ENGL 378: Advanced Workshop in Professional Writing
- ENGL 379: Rhetoric for Professional Writing
- ENGL 477: Internship in Professional Writing
We have chosen these courses because they represent key moments in each program where students learn and demonstrate writing knowledge and skills. We would add, however, that virtually all courses in English, and especially those in Creative Writing and Professional Writing, are writing-intensive, where writing is assigned, taught, and evaluated.
3. What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?
The range of genres or forms of writing in which students engage and practice in the English major is too extensive to list in its entirety and depends, to a significant extent, on students’ chosen concentrations within the major. Having said this, we offer a few examples of the writing students do in different concentrations below.
Within the literature concentration students produce literary/cultural analysis papers that require skills of close reading and knowledge of and dexterity with applying critical and analytical approaches to texts.
Within the creative writing concentration students practice the writing skills that inform key literary genres such as fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.
Within the professional writing concentration, students produce reports, proposals, analysis papers, research papers, and various digital and multimodal texts.
Students in each concentration must take courses in the other concentrations, so they will range outside the genres described above to experiment with and practice a variety of academic, creative, and professional genres of writing.
4. What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?
The English Department has long prided itself on engaging in “best practices” when it comes to the teaching of writing. We engage students in scaffolded writing assignments that initially include low-stakes or informal writing to help them make sense of challenging readings and materials; in this way students write to learn as they learn to write. Students also practice key moves in lower stakes writing assignments that inform higher stakes writing projects for mid-term papers and final projects. Small group workshops and tutorials are a regular part of our practice and provide crucial feedback for effective writing. In virtually all of our courses we provide models and exemplars of the work we ask students to produce. We often hold one-on-one conferences with students to guide them in individual challenges and difficulties. In sum, we engage in the full-range of practices that research in the teaching and learning of writing has shown helps students learn to write well.
5. When they’ve satisfied your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?
Students will be able to demonstrate intellectual competency, critical thinking, close reading, the ability to break large assignments into manageable pieces, and the skills to revise and edit their own work. Students will learn to use writing to problem-solve, to collaborate and persuade, to reason to a conclusion based on reliable information, and to reflect on themselves, their learning, and the world around them. They will know how to produce writing that is guided by purpose and engages and moves an intended audience. They will, finally, know that learning to write well is a lifelong journey and that to succeed as a writer one must be adaptable and flexible, suiting one’s words to the situation. They will know that writing can help change the world.