First Year Program - Writing and Rhetoric Skip Navigation

Writing and Rhetoric (WRIT)

Chair: K. Campbell

A central part of the liberal arts tradition, rhetoric is the art of effective language use in written, oral, and visual communication. With roots in ancient Greece and branches in the most recent media technologies, rhetoric is simultaneously one of the oldest and newest academic disciplines, fundamentally engaged by dynamic relationships between language, power, and public culture.

As a discipline, rhetoric demonstrates how discourse generates knowledge, mediates power, and enacts social change; as an art, rhetoric enables the speaker/writer to invent arguments by making logical, ethical, and emotional appeals to an audience. The department offers courses in writing, public address, and the history and theory of rhetoric. Courses in writing and rhetoric position students to become critical language users, preparing them to be effective communicators both in their future careers and in civic society, in the US and abroad.

The department offers a minor in writing and rhetoric that is designed to enhance students' ability to think, speak, and write critically as they explore connections between visual, oral, written, and electronic forms of communication. Completing the minor thus demonstrates proficiency in the knowledge of and the practice in the art of rhetoric. Students are encouraged to consult the department chair or the University Catalogue for more information about departmental offerings and the minor.

Associated with the writing and rhetoric department is the Writing and Speaking Center, which provides one-on-one peer assistance with writing projects and oral presentations from across the disciplines. The Writing and Speaking Center's mission is to help any writer/speaker at any stage of the composing process, from brainstorming initial ideas to reviewing and revising a draft. Appointments and walk-in hours are available at several campus locations each semester.

Courses with WRIT subject code

100-level WRIT courses are open to Priority 1 students only. (Students were notified of their Priority 1 status in an email from the Registrar.) However, FSEM 172 is open to all first-years, regardless of priority 1 status.


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FSEM 172, Writing by Design
Faculty Profile for Professor Lutman

What do designers do? They work “by design,” of course, or according to a plan. Beyond this bare definition, however, consider some common associations with the term “designer”: do you picture someone creative, or someone with a strong or distinctive sense of style? In this writing course, we will explore Aristotle’s concept of techne, a Greek term commonly translated as “craftsmanship” or “art,” and you will compose essays in which you experiment with newly learned techniques and make increasingly intentional choices as writers. We’ll study the work of model writers, including essays by current and former Colgate students, and consider how, in particular contexts, writers have successfully negotiated their rhetorical constraints of genre, topic, audience, and purpose. Although the course is not a grammar course, “writing by design” does include drawing on an understanding of how syntax and punctuation communicate meaning in particular written contexts; we will therefore devote some attention to studying language conventions and attitudes surrounding them, with particular focus on Standard Edited English. Course assignments will include informal written exercises, a handwritten journal, and a Final Portfolio consisting of writing installments submitted and revised throughout the semester. Writers will have choice when selecting topics and genres for composition; the course is not exclusively focused on academic writing, although students may certainly find that it helps with such. Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive credit for a 100-level WRIT course, satisfy one half of the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement, and satisfy the Priority Writing requirement.

Jennifer Lutman directs the Colgate Writing and Speaking Center. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing and has been teaching writing courses at Colgate for the past twelve years. In her scholarship she focuses on stylistics, writing pedagogy, and writing center theory.

WRIT 102, Rhetoric in Liberal Arts Trad
Artes liberales--the liberal arts--those arts that are proper for a free citizen, according to Cicero. These arts numbered seven in the medieval curriculum, the language arts--grammar, logic, and rhetoric--constituting the first three or trivium. While the trivium has all but disappeared in today's college curriculum, increasingly scholars across the disciplines are discovering the integral role rhetoric plays in equipping citizens for effective participation in a democracy. Drawing upon the liberal arts tradition, the aim is to cultivate students' capacity for eloquence through inquiry. To foster this human impulse to inquire, students will engage in a number of inquiry projects that will ask them to reflect on their personal experiences, to analyze the forces that shaped those experiences, and to look critically at the way that social and cultural identity is formed. In conjunction with the three inquiry projects, students engage in an intense amount of work on rhetorical invention (the discovery of ideas for writing), composing a workable draft, reading and revising the draft, and rereading and editing it for fluency in grammar, punctuation, and style. The course fulfills the writing requirement.

WRIT 103, Rhetoric and Writing
Teaches the basic elements of college writing, strategies for reading and effective note-taking, the discovery and development of ideas, thesis development, organization and coherence, and editing skills. This course meets the writing requirement.