Rhetoric is the study of the effective use of language and symbols in written, oral, and visual communication. As a discipline, rhetoric demonstrates how discourse generates knowledge, mediates power, and enacts social change. (Note: Students interested in taking creative writing courses in genres such as poetry, fiction, or screenwriting should see the Department of English and Creative Writing’s offerings.)
Courses in Writing and Rhetoric position students to become critical language users and effective communicators across cultures. The department offers courses that engage the multiple histories, theories, and methods of rhetoric, public address, and writing. Many students find that Writing and Rhetoric courses are excellent supplements to majors in a broad variety of disciplines.
The department offers a minor in Writing and Rhetoric, consisting of five WRIT courses (in Fall 2023, FSEM 172 or FSEM 173 will count as one of the five courses toward the minor). Minors may take a selection of classes for a broad view of the discipline or may opt to focus on one subfield, such as cultural rhetorics, the essay form, or the history of rhetoric. Students are encouraged to consult the department chair or the University Catalog for more information about departmental offerings and the minor.
100-level WRIT Courses
WRIT courses at the 100-level offer sustained instruction and practice in crafting essays, including skills of analysis, thesis development, organization, and clarity. Space in these courses is limited, so students who have not had many opportunities to write analytical essays in high school, or who are concerned about their writing skills for other reasons, are encouraged to include a note in their Course Preference form expressing special interest in WRIT 102 or WRIT 103. Alternatively, FSEM 172 or FSEM 173 would be good choices, as these are also writing courses. Students seeking more information or guidance in making this decision should email Jenn Lutman, Director of the Writing and Speaking Center.
200-Level WRIT Courses
The Writing and Rhetoric Department also offers a variety of 200-level courses that are open to first-year students. While 100-level courses are generally composed of first-years and sophomores, 200-level courses often include students from most or all class years. Not all of these courses are writing-focused; some explore rhetoric in its many forms. Fall offerings vary from year to year, but examples of 200-level courses include WRIT 231, Ethos and the Personal Essay. (Although this course isn't available to you right now, you can check for openings during Drop/Add or consider it or other 200-levels in future semesters.)
Additional Writing Support
Writing courses are not the only opportunity to receive focused support for writing at Colgate! All students can take advantage of the Writing and Speaking Center’s services. The center is a popular, free resource providing one-on-one peer assistance with writing projects and oral presentations from across the disciplines.