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2022-2023 Course Descriptions

Standard Descriptions

Note that these are the standard descriptions—please see the quarterly schedule pages for unique, topic-specific descriptions. These are most often used for English 105-0 and English 105-6.

English 105-0: Expository Writing 

Expository Writing is designed for any student who wants a strong introductory course in college-level writing. Students write three or four extended pieces of expository writing, developing each through a process of planning, drafting, revising, and editing. Students also complete several briefer exercises in which they experiment with specific writing techniques or use informal writing as a tool for exploring ideas. Class meetings are conducted as seminar discussions and workshops. In addition, the instructor meets regularly with students in individual conferences.

English 106-1/DSGN 106-1: Writing in Special Contexts

Design Thinking and Communication (DTC), is a required two-quarter course for all first-year students at McCormick. It is also available to any Northwestern undergraduate student interested in design. Every section is co-taught by an instructor from the Writing Program and an instructor from engineering. Part of the Engineering First® curriculum, the course immediately puts students to work on real design problems submitted by individuals, non-profits, entrepreneurs, and industry members. In DTC, all students design for real people and communicate to real audiences.

English 205-0: Intermediate Composition 

This course is designed to help you write more clearly, coherently, and complexly about what’s important to you.  It aims to give you more control of various stages of the writing process—invention, development, revision. Among other things, we'll explore ways of using writing as a tool for discovering ideas.  The draft-revision sequence for the main essays, which includes peer feedback and individual conferences with me, is meant to enable a progressive development of ideas for each essay. We’ll take seriously the notion that writing can change us and can change the world, and we’ll aim to create interesting, illuminating, potentially transformative essays.

There will be regular, brief writing exercises and three essays: two shorter essays (3-5 pp); and a research essay (6-8 pp.) on a question of your own choosing.  For each of the essays we’ll have conferences to discuss your writing and to prepare for your revisions of the essays.


English 282-0: Writing and Speaking in Business

Across all industries, employers consistently rank written and oral communication in the top five skills that a new employee needs. However, employers also say that students overestimate their ability to communicate effectively in a workplace context. English 282 is designed to address that gap. The course is designed to help you think strategically about communication, make effective communication decisions, and produce writing and presentations that are well-organized, clear, and compelling. In addition, course assignments provide an opportunity to enhance your critical reading and thinking; your ability to communicate effectively about data; your understanding of visual communication; and your understanding of interpersonal communication. There will be no final exam. However, students must be present on the final day of class for team-based presentations.

English 304-0: Practical Rhetoric

Practical Rhetoric is a discussion-based course designed to prepare incoming tutors at the Writing Place the practical skills and pedagogical theories behind effective peer-to-peer tutoring in writing centers. The class is practical in that it centers on in-class writing workshops that simulate interactions you are likely to experience during your tutoring work. The course also focuses heavily on both classic and current theories of the teaching of writing and of writing center-specific pedagogies. We will introduce you to classic works of writing center theory while also asking you to engage in more contemporary debates and studies in the field. Through a combination of reading about writing center pedagogies and practicing teaching each other writing in the classroom, Practical Rhetoric seeks to: prepare you to effectively coach writers at all stages of the writing process; cultivate the necessary skills to work productively and compassionately with writers from different backgrounds and for whom English is not their first language; and provide resources and techniques for working on papers and genres of writing outside of your majors and comfort zones.

In the spirit of the collaborative writing process that is at the heart of the Writing Place’s mission, as writers this quarter, this course will ask you to regularly bring your own writing to class to workshop in a series of mock consultations and writing exercises with your classmates. You will reflect on your own positionality as a writer–– and consider what that positionality brings to your work at the Writing Place–– in a personal literacy narrative. We will ask you to contribute to the work of writing center studies through your own research project, ideally on a topic or initiative that you can continue developing and perhaps even put into action in later quarters to improve and grow our services at the Writing Place. Lastly, the course asks you to visit the Writing Place as writers yourselves, reflecting on what your experiences as the student being tutored teach you about yourself as both a tutor and a writer. 

In addition to completing all of the graded elements of this course, students enrolled in Practical Rhetoric are required to work for at least 3 hours/week in the Writing Place. You will be paid for these (and any additional weekly hours) you work.