Courses in the Spotlight

Spring 2019 Upper-Level Offerings


WTNG 230: Rhetoric of Film
Dr. Kate Mele
T/TH 9:30-10:50 & 11:00-12:20

What type of movie do you like—teen comedy, zombie, romance, sci-fi, action/adventure, horror, musical, crime, thriller, war, courtroom drama?  In this course, you will gain expertise in your favorite movie genre by writing about the rhetorical strategies that make a film appealing. You will select three or four films from the genre of your choice to focus on during the semester.

We will begin with academic analyses and move toward professional reviews that target different audiences. Additionally, you will create a presentation aimed at persuading your classmates to see the films you have selected for the course. 

As part of your homework, you will be expected to view films of your choice outside of class. I build time into the class period for writing, revision, and editing.

Course Text:  A Short Guide to Writing about Film, 9th edition

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Core Concentration and Minor

WTNG 299: Community-based Writing in a Digital World
Dr. Brian Hendrickson M/Th 2:00-3:20


Students in this course will write in digital spaces to solve real-world problems through one of two community partnerships: students can work with community leaders and the Providence Police Department’s newly formed Community Relations Bureau to develop web content aimed at improving community-police relations, or they can partner with public housing residents and HousingWorks RI on a digital storytelling project aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of providing quality, affordable public housing.

Students completing these projects will learn how to take various stakeholders’ needs and expectations into account while composing multimedia, web-based texts and testing them for usability—practices that are increasingly essential to writing in a digital world. This course asks students to reflect deeply on their own motivations and ethical commitments while cultivating the critical thinking, teamwork, project management, and written and oral communication skills that employers consistently value in college graduates.

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Core Concentration and Minor

WTNG 299: Feminist Rhetorics
Dr. Dahliani Reynolds 
T/Th 12:30-1:50

Feminist. A polarizing word, people understand it in very different ways. In this course we will begin by trying to make sense of some of the ways feminism is understood, and to identify what it means to be a feminist. To do so, we will consider the history of women and rhetoric, exploring how scholars of feminist rhetorics have recovered the transgressive ways women have used their writing, speaking, and silence to intervene in the world.

Feminism Button
Attribution: FriendshipFan1996 Noncommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY NC-3.0

We will explore the methods and methodologies by which scholars examine feminist rhetorics, and identify those that we might apply to our own analysis of contemporary feminist rhetors. As we investigate the ways feminists (both men and women) have used their writing, speaking, and silence to speak back to power and to challenge implicit rules about who gets to speak (or write) in a given situation, we will consider how these feminist rhetorical theories and practices might inform our own discursive interventions in the world.

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Core Concentration and Minor

WTNG 299 – At Wor(l)ds End
Dr. Paul Bender
MWF 11:00-11:50

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Earth in Our Hands

We are all, it seems, climate sinners in the hands of an angry Gaia. Our current age goes by many names: The Anthropocene, The Capitalocene, The Long Emergency, and, for Ahmitov Ghosh, The Great Derangement. “In a substantially altered world,” Ghosh argues, “when sea-level rise has swallowed the Sundarbans and made cities uninhabitable, when readers and museum-goers turn to the art and literature of our time, will they not look, first and more urgently, for traces and portents of the altered world of their inheritance?” Unable to find them, Ghosh argues, our time will be known as The Great Derangement.

As if in answer, a growing body of texts from literature, science, philosophy, and business (to name but a few) have sprung forth to save us from these perils. Many of these texts take the form of the secular jerimiad—a rhetorical genre well suited to offering warnings of destruction and the promise of redemption. In this course we will study the history and rhetorical features of the secular jerimiad, examine examples from multiple disciplines, and assess its value as a means of intervention in what some describe as the coming apocalypse. (3 Credits) Special Offering.

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102; A second writing course is strongly recommended
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Core Concentration and Minor
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program

WTNG 302: Art of the Essay
Dr. Christian Pulver
MWF 12:00-12:50 & 1:00-1:50

In his essay “On Experience” (16th century), Michel de Montaigne writes that, “Of all our infirmities, the most savage is to despise our being.” Often considered one of the

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Montaigne quote

originators of the form of writing we call the “essay,” the quote exemplifies Montaigne’s unflinching courage in understanding himself and, in the process, challenging the social norms of his time. Such traits continue to define the shape of the modern essay as a form of non-fiction writing that combines journalism, philosophy, and memoir.

In this course, we’ll look closely at the cultural roots of the essay and how it has evolved over time. We’ll trace these roots back to Renaissance writer’s like Montaigne and John Milton, and we’ll consider how modern writers, using new media, adopt and adapt the essay as a rhetorical tool for sharing personal experience and engaging public opinion. From analysis we’ll move to composition. Students will gain hands-on-experience crafting more advanced, nuanced essays of their own, both classic “personal” essays and essays that take part in the public issues they have an interest in. (3 credits) Spring

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102 and at least sophomore standing or consent of instructor
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Core Concentration and Minor

WTNG 311: Technical Writing
Dr. Mel Topf 
T/TH 11:00-12:20 & 12:30-1:50

Technical documents are not just ways to transfer information.  They help move industry, government, and the professions. In this case-based course students will be members of an organization and play an important role in helping the organization confront a social or ethical issue by developing technical documents.  We will learn how to apply concepts of technical writing to prepare you to write in professional contexts.  The concepts include discourse community, subject, purpose, rhetorical situation, and genre.  The technical documents in the course may include proposals, feasibility studies, and empirical research reports. (3 credits)

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Core Concentration and Minor

WTNG 320: Writing for Business Organizations
Dr. Catherine Forsa 
T/TH 9:30-10:50 & 11:00-12:20

Students will work as professional writers to produce high-quality documents that solve real-world problems. We will use a hands-on approach to study writing as it relates to business issues affecting the campus, community, state, or region. Students will be challenged to consider how to use innovative and dynamic strategies to appeal to a range of stakeholders. They will experiment with texts and learn strategic ways to plan, create, and evaluate written texts.

We will focus on interpersonal, public, professional, intercultural, and collaborative writing both online and in print. Parts of the course may focus on a project connected with the Community Partnership Center to give students skills that they can translate to internships and jobs.

This course explores the causes of the success or failure of business communications. The course takes a case-based approach. Students will study the theory and practice of business communications as a pragmatic enterprise to accomplish actual change in the world. The course includes the study of the nature of domestic and global business communication, the causes and effects of communication failures, the social, legal, and ethical nature of professional communication, and the problems in determining the professional interests of readers. (3 Credits) Spring Alternate Years

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion (C- or higher) of WTNG 102
  • Fulfills the second of two University Core Curriculum requirements in the University Writing Program
  • Fulfills a course requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Core Concentration and Minor

WTNG 400: Writing for Social Change
Dr. Nester
MWF 10:00-10:50

This class offers participants opportunities to apply their knowledge of Rhetoric and Composition, display the University’s Commitment to Community Service, and draw on their disciplinary expertise to achieve course objectives.

Working Group
Writing for Social Change w/ Dr. Nester

We will write for, with, and about the Transition Academy at RWU and the students enrolled.  The Academy delivers a fine “community-based functional skills/vocational curriculum” (Transition Academy; ebecri.org) for students with intellectual disabilities.  We have the pleasure of building on the relationship prior WTNG 400 students have developed with the Academy

My teaching/learning approach to the course will be experiential.  Such an approach involves purpose-driven inquiry as you interact with the administrators, teachers, and students of the Academy. Sessions will include research and discussion of social justice and human rights issues as well as peer-to-peer interactions with the students in the Academy.  We collaboratively plan and produce genres that help the students achieve their goals, including finding meaningful employment and engaging in their communities.

Ultimately, our activities should help us recognize the potent nature of writing to garner the resources--the material, political, social, and human capital--necessary to foster human flourishing, ameliorate social problems, and bring about lasting systemic change in the community.  As importantly, you will form relationships with people who share your zeal for social justice and the civic good.  

The article at this link provides an overview of the collaborative work we did in Spring 2018: 

https://www.rwu.edu/news/news-archive/rwu-students-work-organization-helps-intellectually-disabled-students-transition-jobs

  • Prerequisite: Successful completion of a 200 or 300 Level WTNG course and at least Junior standing
  • Fulfills a requirement in the Professional and Public Writing Minor
  • Fulfills an elective in the Professional and Public Writing Core Concentration