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2023-2024 Course Descriptions

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 105-7: Weinberg College Seminar 

The College Seminar takes place in Fall quarter. College Seminars are small, discussion-oriented classes in which students explore a single topic or theme. Crucially, they also foreground the differences between high school and college and introduce students to skills such as time management and help-seeking that are necessary to thriving at Northwestern. College Seminar instructors also serve as their students’ first advisers in the College. 

In College Seminar, students gain skills in:


English 105-8: First-Year Writing Seminar

First-Year Writing Seminars are topically-driven classes taught by faculty members in every Weinberg department. They pay special attention to the process of writing and revision and invite students to expand their definitions of writing and to reflect on the complex role that writing plays in forming knowledge and identities.

One of the four Weinberg College learning goals is Express. The first-year writing seminars focus on the fundamentals of effective, college-level written communication. Students learn how to use the four interlocking elements of written expression:


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. 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 205-0-20: Intermediate Composition

The goal of this course is to develop your ability to write clearly, persuasively, and interestingly for a variety of audiences. Students will learn techniques for writing effective informative, reflective, persuasive, and research essays. These techniques include the effective use of specific details; methods of organizing ideas clearly; strategies for editing sentences for clarity and conciseness; and ways to give your writing a distinctive voice. Students will submit drafts and revisions of 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.