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Writing and Rhetoric: Writing for Authentic Audiences about Authentic Problems

ENGL 634 Writing and Rhetoric: Writing for Authentic Audiences about Authentic Problems (3 credits)
May 22-June 30, 2023

Tuesday 4:15- 6:30 p.m. on Zoom
Thursday 4:15-6:45 p.m. in person (Westfield)

“My students can’t write!” English teachers say and hear this sentence regularly. But recent research shows that students DO write more than ever thanks to social media, and they are doing so with enthusiasm. How can we design assignments that tap into students’ enthusiasm for writing while also teaching research skills, complex thinking, and persuasive communication? How can we teach students to use research and writing to provoke positive change, to chip away at social inequalities, and to build our communities? We will explore these questions while you conduct research and produce writing of your own that tackles authentic problems and targets authentic audiences. Too often writing in academic settings is produced solely for the purpose of assessment; the goal of this course is to focus on writing as a method of communication and an instigator of change; students will complete this course with theoretical grounding and concrete strategies for teaching writing that builds connections, raises awareness of important issues, and facilitates change.


  • immerse ourselves in a process-based approach to writing
  • engage with research in the field of rhetoric and composition on a variety of topics, including alternative modes of assessment, linguistic racism/justice, trauma informed pedagogy,
  • increase awareness of genre by writing in a variety of genres and examining their expectations
  • practice developing rhetorical flexibility by selecting venue of publication, genre, audience, and purpose
  • practice writing for a public audience with an attention to ethos, logos, and pathos
  • reflect on the applicability of this approach to teaching writing in high and middle school