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  • Courses in the Spotlight

The department is pleased to offer the following courses:

Fall 2017 Upper-Level Offerings:


WTNG 299: Special Topics in Writing: Writing about Health 

Dr. Catherine Forsa  M/TH 2-3:20 & M/TH 3:30-4:50

We encounter messages about health all of the time. Writers recommend health products in magazines articles, blogs, and tweets. Advertisements and product packaging present messages about caring for the body. Self-help guides and advice websites include stories about preventing illnesses. In all of these texts, writers use rhetorical strategies to make persuasive arguments about topics related to health.

In this course, students work with rhetorical concepts by analyzing and producing texts about health, nutrition, illness, and the body. They study a range of genres, including advertisements, grants, illness narratives, magazine articles, social media campaigns, and public health brochures, in order to examine how writers make arguments about health. The course provides a theoretical background that allows students to critically reflect upon texts related to current issues in healthcare. The course also considers the ethical implications of writing about bodies. [Note: a background in health sciences is not required] (3 credits)

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Minor and Core Concentration

WTNG 300:  Rhetoric in a Global Context

Dr. Kate Mele  M/TH 2:00 – 3:20

In this course, we will study how various writers map global societies through the stories they tell. Our focus will be literary travel writing—a first-person, non-fiction account of encounter between self and other.  This is a course in rhetorical analysis:  with a critical eye, we will ask questions about

• the various genres of literary travel writing;
• the purposes of literary travel writing;
• invoking audience in travel writing
• techniques for framing a travel story;
• the stance and ethos of the travel writer; and
• literary strategy as a rhetorical art.

Our goal is to develop arguments about what counts as an effective use of rhetoric for professionals writing in a culturally diverse world. 

Readings in the course cut across academic disciplines: anthropology, creative writing, history, literature, philosophy, and rhetoric.  For students interested in travel and diversity, this course offers insight into how one writes an ethically responsible story of travel. The course is also beneficial to students who want further practice working with sources and writing appealing arguments. (3 Credits)

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Minor and Core Concentration

WTNG 303: Environmental Rhetoric 

Dr. Paul Bender  MWF 1:00-1:50

This course will examine important writers and thinkers from Henry David Thoreau to William McKibben for ways in which arguments about human/nature relationships have evolved. The tensions in these relationships, this course argues, have forged environmentalism into a counter-hegemonic discourse that challenges fundamental assumptions about the centrality of man, the role and value of “progress,” and the utility of nature. (3 Credits)

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102 and at least sophomore standing or consent of instructor
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Core Concentration and Minor

WTNG 311: Technical Writing

Dr. Brian Hendrickson  T/TH 9:30-10:50 & T/TH 11:00-12:20

Students will learn how to apply fundamental concepts of effective technical writing that will prepare them for writing in industry, government and other professional contexts. Technical documents help move industry, government and the professions. The technical writer must make judgments about his or her audience, subject, and purposes that go far beyond transferring information. Students will study key principles of rhetorical theory, the idea of genre and its purposes, and the concept of professional audience. Technical documents may include feasibility studies, proposals, and policy statements. (3 Credits)

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Minor and Core Concentration

WTNG 320:  Writing for Business Organizations

Dr. Mel Topf  M/TH 2:00-3:20

This course explores the role that writing plays in the successful management of organizations, and especially the importance of rhetoric in achieving professional goals.  It examines the causes of the success or failure of writing for business organizations.  The course takes a case-based approach, with a focus on one major issue now confronting American business organizations.  Students will study the theory and practice of business writing as an instrument for accomplishing actual change.  Included are the study of genres of business documents and how they reinforce rhetorical situations in addressing the civic, ethical and professional interests of business readers as a discourse community. (3 Credits)

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Minor and Core Concentration

WTNG 322: Advancing Public Argument

Dr. Dahliani Reynolds T/TH 9:30-10:50 & 11:00-12:20

Equality. Happiness. Freedom. The public sphere is where the meanings and implications of such fundamental concepts are constantly defined, contested and renegotiated. Rhetoric provides a theoretical lens for analyzing how these concepts are shaped in the public sphere; rhetoric is also an activity that allows us to participate in the contest of meanings. In this class we will read a wide range of historical and contemporary public discourses that have tried to advance persuasive arguments to the American citizenry. We will pay particular attention to the development of cultural, visual, and quantitative rhetorics—and fake news. Analyzing a variety of public genres (such as letters, photographs, speeches, films, statistics, art installations, websites, etc.), we will examine the ways authors ethically (and sometimes unethically) deploy rhetoric to beguile, bedazzle, and persuade Americans to think and act in certain ways. Building on our analysis, students will gain fluency as critically engaged citizens, able to participate in the reading, writing, and resisting of the on-going public arguments that shape our lives. (3 Credits)

  • Prerequisites: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Minor and Core concentration

WTNG 430: Writing on the Law for Non-lawyers: Rhetoric and Civic Discourse

Dr. Mel Topf M/TH 3:30-4:50

No legal background is required for this course. All citizens should be literate enough about the law to engage in civic discourse about legal issues they’re concerned about. Should campus security be able to search your room without a warrant when Bristol police usually can’t? Does the Second Amendment give students (or faculty) the right to have guns on campus? Why did the Supreme Court rule that burning an American flag is protected freedom of speech? And that false advertising is not? Students will investigate the role writing plays in public debate on legal issues, and they’ll write to argue on issues currently affecting the nation, including at least one that is the student’s choice. The course will focus on key rhetorical concepts including exigence, discourse community, genre, and framing. (3 Credits)

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of a 200 or 300 level WTNG course and at least Junior standing
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Minor and Core Concentration