Writing & Rhetoric

Overview | Requirements | Courses | Faculty

Overview

Occidental's writing courses instruct students in the elements of expository prose, the rhetorical processes and strategies used by successful writers, the psycho­social principles that underlie the act of composing, and the contribution of writing to learning. Course work explores the structure of exposition and develops critical interpretations of texts. All courses require a substantial amount of critical reading, writing, and revision. All classes provide considerable guidance in the writing process and extensive feedback on papers: through student-professor and student-student conferences.

Since not everyone writes the same way, and not all writing tasks have the same requirements, diverse approaches to writing are emphasized in the course work: imitation of models, paradigmatic schemes, and behavioral strategies. Course content draws from the related fields of cultural studies, cognitive and social psychology, rhetoric, literature, and linguistics. English Writing classes present effective writing and close reading as complementary, enabling behaviors developed throughout the college years, and as the foundation of life-long learning.

Requirements

 

Writing & Rhetoric does not have a major or minor.

 

Courses

197 - Independent Study in Writing & Rhetoric

Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
2 or 4 units

201 - The Art of Essay Writing

The Art of Essay Writ Writing for Race, Class and Gender.
An introduction to the analytic forms of the essay. Course work emphasizes the writing processes needed to articulate the complexities of thinking about academic subjects: generating theses, structuring arguments, and developing a clear, cohesive style. The class considers conventional and innovative methods to merge content, form, and style. Writing assignments consider multicultural and interdisciplinary texts. Not open to frosh.

The Art of Essay: Writing Conquer Blank Page
An introduction to the analytic forms of the essay. Course work emphasizes the writing processes needed to articulate the complexities of thinking about academic subjects: generating theses, structuring arguments, and developing a clear, cohesive style. The class considers conventional and innovative methods to merge content, form, and style. Writing assignments consider multicultural and interdisciplinary texts. Not open to frosh.

The Art of Essay Writing: Writing on Documentary Film
An introduction to the analytic forms of the essay. Course work emphasizes the writing processes needed to articulate the complexities of thinking about academic subjects: generating theses, structuring arguments, and developing a clear, cohesive style. The class considers conventional and innovative methods to merge content, form, and style. Writing assignments consider multicultural and interdisciplinary texts. Not open to frosh.

The Art of Essay Writ: Com/Hum/Laugh
An introduction to the analytic forms of the essay. Course work emphasizes the writing processes needed to articulate the complexities of thinking about academic subjects: generating theses, structuring arguments, and developing a clear, cohesive style. The class considers conventional and innovative methods to merge content, form, and style. Writing assignments consider multicultural and interdisciplinary texts. Not open to frosh.

The Art of Essay Writing: Writing on Travel
An introduction to the analytic forms of the essay. Course work emphasizes the writing processes needed to articulate the complexities of thinking about academic subjects: generating theses, structuring arguments, and developing a clear, cohesive style. The class considers conventional and innovative methods to merge content, form and style. Writing assignments consider multicultural and interdisciplinary texts. This particular section analyzes travel writing across the centuries, examining historical conditions, intercultural interactions, and post-tourism. Not open to frosh.

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.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: UNITED STATES and GLOBAL CONNECTIONS

275 - Rhetoric in the Health Professions

This class primarily prepares students to read critically in the multiple contexts necessary for a career in health, as well as guides students in developing a personal statement for post-graduate applications. The course emphasizes critical reading development generally, drawing readings from a variety of fields, and combines those skills with logical strategies for various applications, including communicating with multiple audiences and passing required tests. We will also discuss rhetoric of professional writing in the health professions.
Not open to frosh. 

2 units

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.

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.

295 - Argument and Rhetoric Across the Disciplines

This course examines the questions of rhetorical analysis in different genres. Through the reading of academic journals, works in the popular press (conventional and digital), and texts on rhetoric and argument, students will both analyze and construct academic arguments as they are presented in different disciplines. The course will explore topics in rhetoric such as ethos, pathos, and logos; intended audience and how to use evidence to persuade that audience; and what constitutes evidence and how to analyze it. Readings will range from Aristotle and Quintilian to Maxine Hairston and James Berlin. The course is open to all students but required for students completing the WRD minor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: PRE-1800

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.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: FINE ARTS

395 - Theory and Pedagogy of Writing

An exploration of the theory and practice of writing instruction, the class emphasizes rhetorical strategies, audience expectations, and forms of academic discourse. Collaborative techniques and interpersonal dynamics will also be discussed. This class is primarily for Peer Writing Advisors. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit.
2 units

397 - Independent Study in Writing & Rhetoric

Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
2 or 4 units

401 - Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing Across the Curriculum: Travel Writing
The course, Writing Across the Curriculum will not change. It is an advanced,genre driven writing course. The topic --Travel Writing--is merely a topic change so that--as passed years ago by APC, the course can be repeated. Here is the course as advertised: WRD 401: Travel Writing This iteration of the course will examine tales of many travelers, from eighteenth and nineteenth century voyagers such as Mary Wortley Montagu and Mark Twain to twentieth century travelers like Truman Capote and Paul Theroux. Be it on the “Grand Tour” or with a “post-tourist” as our guide, we will consider the wide variety of this genre as well as compose travel essays and memoirs in text and multimedia. If you plan to study abroad or to visit parts of Los Angeles you have never seen before, this class is for you! May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Must have passed first stage writing requirement

 

Writing Across the Curriculum: Science Writing
This class offers students opportunities to develop and refine their skills in presenting various scientific topics to a wide range of audiences, and encourages students to critically examine social aspects of the dissemination of scientific information. Readings will include contemporary issues in a number of scientific fields, including environmental and ecological science, cognitive science, medicine and health science, as well as a variety of natural and life sciences. We will delve into important ethical and practical constraints that govern the reporting of scientific information and consider the cultural place of science (in the U.S. especially).  Writing tasks will include short analyses of science writing as students work towards crafting their own articles. Not open to frosh.

Faculty

Regular Faculty

Deborah Martinson, chair

Director of Writing Programs and Professor, Writing & Rhetoric

B.A., Cal State Chico; M.A., Cal State Northridge; Ph.D., USC

Thomas Burkdall

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

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

Julie Prebel

Assistant Professor, Writing & Rhetoric

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

On Special Appointment

Paul Casey

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Writing & Rhetoric

B.A., M.A., Loyola Marymount University; Ph.D., Bowling Green State University

Robert Sipchen

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Writing & Rhetoric

B.A., UC Santa Barbara

Kathryn Tucker

Adjunct Instructor, Writing & Rhetoric