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  • Courses in the Spotlight

The department is pleased to offer the following courses:

Spring 2017 Upper-Level Offerings:


WTNG 230: Rhetoric of Film: Writing about Film
Dr. Paul Bender T/Th 12:30-1:50

More than a thumbs up/thumbs down, writing about film is an exploration of, among others, audience, genre, author, director, purpose, and context. It is, in a word, rhetorical. This course will emphasize a rhetorical approach to movies through a close reading of a shared text, Director Bong Joon Ho's post-apocalypic, cli-fi thriller, Snowpiercer (2013). From there, students will venture into movies of interest to them.This theme-based course applies the vocabulary and methods of rhetorical analysis to film with a special emphasis on genre and theme. Students will read and analyze professional reviews and academic analyses in preparation for producing their own. Student will be expected to have viewed the movie (a personal copy is required for the course) prior to the start of class.   (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 301: The Art of the Essay
Dr. Christian Pulver  T/TH 11-12:20 & 12:30-01:50PM

In his essay “On Experience” (16th century), Michel de Montaigne writes that, “Of all our infirmities, the most savage is to despise our being.” Often considered one of the originators of the form of writing we call the “personal essay,” the quote exemplifies Montaigne’s unflinching courage in understanding himself and, in the process, challenging the accepted social norms of his time. Such traits continue to define the shape of the modern essay as a form of non-fiction writing that combines journalism, philosophy, and memoir.

In this course we’ll look closely at the cultural roots of the essay as a form of writing and social argument and how it has evolved over time around a set of rhetorical characteristics. We will trace these roots back to Renaissance writers like Michel de Montaigne and John Milton and look at how subsequent writers use the essay as a tool for changing public opinion and empowering marginalized groups in society. Our historical look at the essay will provide the backdrop for our exploration of more recent kinds of essay writing as writers use new media technologies to transform the genre to meet new rhetorical situations and social needs. Students will read and study essays from across a range of eras and look closely at the rhetorical moves such essays make. From analysis we move to composition. Students will gain hands-on-experience crafting more advanced, nuanced essays of their own, both classic “personal” essays and essays that take part in public issues they have an interest in.  (3 credits) Spring

  • 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
  • Satisfies an English elective requirement

WTNG 311:  Technical Writing

Dr. Mel Topf  T/TH 9:30-10:50 & 11:00am-12:20pm

In this course students will learn how to apply fundamental concepts of effective technical writing that will prepare them for writing in professional contexts that require communicating technical information—that is, most professional contexts.   Technical reports are forms of discourse that support the goals of industry, government and other professional contexts in which they are crucial to achieving major goals.  These reports often address controversial, competitive and uncertain situations that require persuasion and argument.  The technical writer, far from merely transferring technical information, must make judgments about his or her discourse community, purpose, and rhetorical situation.  Students will study key principles of rhetorical theory, the idea of genre, and the concept of a professional audience.  Technical documents may include feasibility studies, proposals, progress reports, and policy statements. 

  • 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  MTH 2-3:20 & 3:30-5

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.  

  • 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 400: Writing for Social Change

Dr. Nancy Nester MWF 10:00-10:50am

Engaged and experiential.  Those characteristics are among our core values.  Also, an important core goal of this university is to address social problems that matter to the communities around it. 

In Writing for Social Change students and faculty exhibit those values and work toward that goal.  We function as a community of writers who collaborate with a non-profit agency to address issues of concern to that agency and to the people it serves.  The teaching/learning approach is engaged and experiential.  You can expect on-site research, interaction with clients, on-campus discussions of social justice and human rights, as well as primary and secondary research, writing workshops, and text production. 

View Past Projects Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS3gwvLpe_U

For more information call Nancy Nester at X3358 or write nnester@rwu.edu.

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