Writing & Rhetoric First Year Courses

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 Catalog 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

Students designated Writing Priority Access will be given preference in registering for 100-level WRIT courses, however, all students are encourage to consider a WRIT course in the first, and subsequent, semesters.


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.

By taking a rhetorical approach to academic writing, this course asks students to cultivate sustained and reasoned understandings of the relations between writer, audience, subject/text, and disciplinary contexts. Students engage in analytic essays and research projects within the discipline of rhetoric, developing facility with analytic habits of mind, discursive moves typical in academic writing, and the construction of clear, complex, and logical arguments about civic discourse. The course focuses on several essential elements of college writing and research: strategies for active analytic reading and effective note taking; compiling and critical reading of research sources; the discovery and development of a strong thesis supported by persuasive evidence; the skills of summary, definition, analysis, interpretation, and synthesis; organization and coherence; revision processes; and editing skills. This course meets the writing requirement.