Interdisciplinary Writing

Overview | Requirements | Courses | Faculty


Writing classes provide students with the intellectual and technical frameworks that enable them to approach course materials and disciplines critically.  Writing well is not a skill-set to be mastered, but an intricate interaction of cognitive and rhetorical processes performed for a variety of purposes, in multiple circumstances, and for diverse audiences.  This minor allows students to practice these processes in a range of writing situations, and exposes students to comparative approaches to modes of writing: prose, creative nonfiction, playwriting, poetry, journalism, screenwriting, professional writing, and multimedia.

The interdisciplinary approach of this minor helps students develop strong writing skills, techniques, and practices through varied pedagogical styles and methods.  A main benefit of this minor is that students will have opportunities to learn from faculty in different disciplines, gaining knowledge of those disciplines while writing in various genres.  These courses provide a strong writing foundation for students interested in any number of academic and career fields.


The Interdisciplinary Writing minor is a five-course (5) program consisting of one (1) required 200-level core class and four (4) electives, described as follows.  Note: no more than three courses from one department can be counted towards the minor.


Minor Core Class (1)

WRD 295: Argument and Rhetoric Across the Disciplines

The purpose of the IW minor core class is to equip students with skills and practices that are common to all of the disciplines included in the minor.  In this class students will gain an awareness of audience, be introduced to narrative conventions and to narrative and rhetorical theory, and develop enhanced critical-analytic reading skills and stronger writing abilities and practices. 

Electives (4)

Along with completing the required core class (WRD 295), students will take four additional courses from the list below to fulfill the minor.  While students may choose their own emphasis in a particular field or discipline, they must take two elective courses from different departments

Art History & Visual Arts
ArtM 220: Narrative Practices
ArtM 320: Advanced Narrative Practices

Critical Theory and Social Justice
CTSJ 215: Critical Discourse Analysis

ENGL 280: Creative Writing
ENGL 281: Creative Writing: Poetry
ENGL 380 & 382: Advanced Creative Writing

Theater 201: Alternative Voices
Theater 380: Playwriting

Writing and Rhetoric
WRD 250: Writing with the Community
WRD 285: Principles of Journalism I
WRD 286: Principles of Journalism II
WRD 301: Creative Nonfiction
WRD 401: Writing Across the Curriculum


Minor Core Class

No result

WRD 295 - Argument and Rhetoric Across the Disciplines

This class will engage the historical, theoretical, and cultural dimensions of rhetoric in a range of disciplines in the arts, literature, politics, and philosophy. In readings from Aristotle to poststructuralist theory, we will examine all aspects of the rhetorical situation (exigence, audience, and rhetor) and the contexts in which rhetorical acts occur. We will examine how language practices intersect with culture and identity, including class, race, sexuality, gender, and nation, as we consider how arguments are constructed and how writing and narrative transform culture.

AHVA Electives

No result

Art M220 - Narrative Practices

This course focuses on theory, form, and practice of audiovisual, time-based storytelling for screens. Through a series of screenings, critical readings, creative writing exercises, and the crafting of short screenplays, students will become versed in the critical, political, and creative potentials of writing for screen cultures, including manipulation of time, space, and point of view, character development, and narrative theory. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

Art M320 - Advanced Narrative Practices

This course emphasizes the advanced design and writing of long-form narratives for various audiovisual time-based media forms. Through a combination of screenings, critical readings, and creative exercises, students will develop a treatment for a long-form narrative screen work and commence writing scenes for its first act. Prerequisites: M220.

CTSJ Electives

No result

CTSJ 215 - Critical Discourse Analysis

This seminar introduces students to discourse analysis as the ontological and epistemological deconstruction of every day language and symbols and their relationship to power. Throughout the course, students develop techniques for gathering and analyzing multimodal transcripts of naturally occurring conversations, interviews, discourses in institutional settings, media discourses, and texts of historical materials. The course draws from systemic functional linguistics, genre/text studies, multi-modal semiotics, interactional sociolinguistics, and critical social theory to understand how linguistic features of texts constitute and are constituted by the social, cultural and local relations, processes and contexts in which they are embedded. Using a seminar format, students will engage the readings and apply discourse analysis strategies in order to develop their own independent qualitative research projects.

265 - Feminist Rhetoric and Social Change

This course is an introduction to feminist rhetorical history and criticism, as it foregrounds the study of how women “stand and speak” using rhetorical strategies to address social and cultural issues that impact them. This class positions the study of feminist rhetorics within the larger study of language and discourse theories, as we examine how social relations, power, knowledge, and identities are constituted through private and public rhetorical acts. Through our readings, we will engage a wide range of contributions to a rhetorical critical history by women who, either as practitioners or theorists, advanced their visions of social change and acted to implement them. Course readings will begin in antiquity to provide a foundation for our study, though much of our material will focus on texts from the nineteenth-century to the present to examine the intersections of gender and rhetoric. Through this work, we will challenge the seeming erasure of women from this critical history and interrogate the notion of “feminist rhetoric” as merely a corollary to a masculinist tradition. Assignments will include critical essays and a visual rhetoric project on representations of women in the media and popular culture. Same as CTSJ 265

English Electives

No result

ENGL 280 - Creative Writing

This creative writing workshop will focus on fiction, memoir and poetry. Students will be required to read and write extensively, to write reports on assigned reading, to attend author readings on campus, and to participate in class examination of student work. A final portfolio is due at the end of the semester. We will examine ways of heightening imagination through both memory and perception.  The class is limited to first and second year students. Prerequisite: Any first year fall CSP writing seminar, Writing and Rhetoric 201, or permission of instructor.

ENGL 382 - Advanced Creative Writing

Students familiar with the elements of craft-setting, characterization, plot, dialogue, etc.-will produce several new stories and revise them, and will read and critique the works of their peers. In class writing exercises and outside readings will also be required. Can be repeated one time for credit. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing.

290 - Literary Methodologies

This course will introduce students to contemporary critical methodologies in literary studies.  Students will engage a wide range of critical approaches to help ground their subsequent study of literature across the English department curriculum. By studying influential works of theory and criticism, you will become familiar with the historical genesis of literary studies, with special attention to the political, social and other institutional factors informing the rise of particular methodologies in the academe. We will trace these critical genealogies so as to recognize and participate in the fullness of literary studies. Prerequisite: any first year fall CSP writing seminar, Writing and Rhetoric 201, or permission of instructor.


Theater Electives

No result

Theater 201 - Alternative Voices in American Theater

We study the artistry of contemporary theatrical movements as well as American writers from divergent cultural and aesthetic backgrounds. By looking at movements and artists in their cultural and social contexts, we explore the sources, the aims, and the artistic strategies of their works, while developing an understanding of important new voices in American Theater. The focus of the class will vary from year to year.

204 - Comedy and Social Change

In this course, we introduce students to how various comic styles can influence and transform society. In the class we study scripted as well as unscripted forms of performance such as commedia dell’arte, vaudeville, Teatro Campesino style actos , stand-up, sketch comedy, sitcoms and faux news shows. Students develop an understanding of the role of comedy in socio-political critique through research and through the creation of original solo and group performances, culminating in a final cabaret performance. Prerequisite: sophomore standing

Theater 380 - Playwriting

We introduce our students in Playwriting to the art of writing for theater. Through a series of weekly creative writing assignments, students in the class develop the skills to construct the structures and craft the dialogue of play scripts. As a final project, each student develops and completes a one-act play. There is a ticket fee of $50 for the course.
Prerequisite: at least second-year standing, or permission of the instructor


Writing & Rhetoric Electives

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235 - Visual Rhetoric: Communication through Pictures

Visual Rhetoric: Communication through Pictures and/or Words. This course will examine the forms and uses of visual images to inform, argue, and inspire--in order to analyze their effectiveness expressing ideas across the millennia, from ancient civilizations through the present digital age. We will examine codices, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass panels and maps; combinations of words and pictures from scientists, poets, printers, and graphic novelists; as well as digital images such as memes, information graphics, data visualizations, and multimedia arguments. Both the theory of visual rhetoric and the making of images in some of these media will complement our exploration of these genres.

WRD 250 - Writing with the Community

This course encourages an engaged and dynamic approach to writing studies, as it places writing in real-world contexts by partnering Oxy students with community organizations (in Los Angeles and Pasadena). Through these partnerships, students will identify local cultural and social concerns—specifically on the topics of homelessness, poverty, and immigration, which represent the interests of our particular community groups—and will use writing and rhetorical tools for analyzing and addressing these issues. In this class, we will explore a wide range of research and writing strategies common to both academic environments and the work place situations of our community partners, such as: primary or field research, secondary or library-based research, and both individual and collaborative writing projects. This course will allow students to see community nonprofit organizations, plus the cultural, social, and political issues and rhetoric surrounding them, from the inside out. The work of this class is thus both scholarly and practical, motivating student learning by enlivening and enriching students’ approaches to academic work.

WRD 285 - Principles of Journalism I: Newswriting

This course is an intensive introduction to the theories and practices of a trade that is protected by the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and yet increasingly under threat. Taught by a team of accomplished reporters and editors (Fall 2008's lineup included 6 Pulitzer Prize winners), this class will introduce nuts and bolts journalistic techniques, explore the inner workings of news media, and encourage students to apply critical thinking skills to communications theories and controversies relevant to all academic disciplines and integral to 21st Century global citizenship.

WRD 286 - Principles of Journalism II: Narrative Journalism

Taught by some of California's top magazine and newspaper writers, editors and columnists, in this course students will learn to combine the reporter's craft with creative writing skills to produce lucid, compelling non-fiction. Exploring the spectrum of journalistic expression in newspapers, magazines, books, online publications, television and film, students will grapple with issues and controversies concerning media's role in society. The course will also develop students' reporting and interviewing techniques and focus intensely on the craft of writing. Using narrative devices, students will practice a contemplative form of journalism─striving to present richer views of who we are, how we live and the forces that shape our existence.

287 - Rhetorical Fault Lines: Journalism, Persuasion, and Propaganda

Rhetorical Fault Lines: Journalism, Persuasion, and Propaganda-- This course will inspire critical thinking about the role of journalistic persuasion and its often conflicting relationship with public relations, publicity, marketing, and branding, while probing the effects of increasingly sophisticated communications techniques on individuals and democratic institutions. We will explore ethics and semiotics through scholarly and popular interpretations of communications theory, such as George Lakoff’s seminal Don’t Think of an Elephant, Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, and A Rhetoric of Motives by Kenneth Burke. Students will write and critique persuasive journalism -- editorials, op-eds, blog posts, letters to the editor -- as well as public relations messaging in press releases, speeches, native advertising, video, visual design, and digital and paid media. Taught by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has served as an editorial writer, columnist, Opinion page editor and, most recently, Communications Director for the Sierra Club, America’s largest and most effective environmental organization, the course will offer an inside perspective on the forces that shaped public opinion and the decisions behind some of recent history’s most significant issues, including climate disruption, education, immigration, and war

WRD 301 - Creative Non-Fiction

An advanced composition course, creative non-fiction emphasizes writing for wide, cross-disciplinary audiences. Creative non-fiction shares the characteristics of literature, creative writing, and exposition, encompassing memoir, biography, technological practices, and many forms of the essay. Writing about nature, sports and travel, popular science and history, students will use professional writing and new journalism techniques. The readings will include short non-fiction works from authors such as Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Mary Gordon, Bhanu Kapil Rider, Richard Selzer, Virginia Woolf and Brent Staples. The class will emphasize the particular challenges of several non-fiction genres, encouraging sound writing principles as well as experimentation and exploration. This community of writers will write and rewrite many texts-exploring methods and styles to move from draft to publication. Prerequisite: student must have passed the Core Writing Requirement or taken ENWR 201.


Regular Faculty

Julie Prebel, chair

Associate Professor, Writing & Rhetoric

B.A., UC Berkeley; M.A., Cal State San Francisco; Ph.D., University of Washington

Thomas Burkdall

Director of the Center for Academic Excellence; Associate Professor, Writing & Rhetoric

B.A., Pitzer College; M.A., Ph.D., UCLA

Broderick Fox

Associate Professor, Art History & Visual Arts

B.A., Harvard University; M.F.A., Ph.D., University of Southern California

Susan Gratch

Associate Dean of the College for Curriculum and Academic Support, Professor, Theater

B.A., M.F.A., University of Michigan

Laural Meade

Full-Time Non-Tenure Track Associate Professor, Theater

A.B., Occidental College; M.F.A., UCLA

Martha Ronk

Irma and Jay Price Professor of English Literature; English, Emeritus

B.A., Wellesley College; Ph.D., Yale University

John Swift

Professor, English

B.A., Middlebury College M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia