Rhetoric curriculum gets a rewrite in time for spring registration

Students serious about writing will soon be able to register for classes in the newly restructured WRIT (writing and rhetoric) major.

Previously the English writing and rhetoric major, the updated major “provides a varied set of core courses,” and four concentrations: creative writing, journalism and digital media, professional writing and general writing.

Drew Loewe, associate professor of writing and rhetoric, said that the university requires each department to regularly assess and update its curriculum, and that the writing department volunteered to go first.

“Every department at the university is looking to update its curriculum. I think we’re the first or one of the first to undergo this process,” Loewe said.

One of the goals of the curriculum redesign was to give students more flexibility in choosing their preferred courses in a way that will allow them to focus on what they like best.

Every WRIT student will also be required to take a creative writing class as well as a new course called Writing in the Digital Age, regardless of their concentration within the major.

“We want students to see all of what the major offers before they specialize,” said Loewe. “We’re pretty excited about the changes.”

Jena Heath, Hilltop Views advisor and associate professor of journalism and digital media said she’s optimistic that students will embrace the new major.

“I think it’s important that students will be thinking about writing as part of the larger digital ecosystem regardless of their concentration,” Heath said. “ I think the new major marries the best of old-school and new-world in a smart and exciting way.”

In an e-mail to students, Mary Rist, chair of the department of literature, writing and rhetoric, said that continuing students would not have to follow the new curriculum, but would take some of the new courses.

She said that continuing students who found the new curriculum “an exciting alternative” to their current coursework would be able to participate if they have already taken courses that satisfy WRIT requirements and could stay on track for graduation.

Brianna Garcia, a writing and rhetoric major said that the changes in the major wouldn’t affect her much, but she thinks that the new course names would attract students otherwise unmoved by the old titles.

“I think document design is a little bit more boring,” Garcia said. “If you include writing in the title and digital people are immediately going to go, ‘Oh, those are things that I am interested in.’”

Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Sasha West said that “students who are not that far along have the option of moving to the new major” and that the department looked at similar writing programs to model their new curriculum after.

“We did a lot of research into what writing majors were like in other schools so that we had more of a sense of what was available at similar schools,” West said.

Loewe said that the new curriculum was an opportunity to collect data from students and professors and adapt the program to a changing digital landscape.

“Any good program always evolves in those ways. We took it as a chance to keep what’s best about the major and develop some new courses and give students different pathways through the major.”