Academic Programs Catalog

College of Arts and Letters

Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures

Malea D. Powell, Chairperson

The Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures offers programs that share core understandings about writing, namely that it is embedded in cultures, involves purposeful rhetorical action, is multimodal, and in the 21st century occurs in digital environments.

The First-Year Writing Program provides courses that facilitate students’ successful transition to writing in higher education and beyond.  Its 100-level courses fulfill the university’s Tier I Writing requirement.

The professional writing major leads to a Bachelor of Arts that prepares students for careers as professional editors and publishers, technical writers, information developers, and web authors as well as for graduate study.

The graduate program offers a doctorate in rhetoric and writing and a Master of Arts in digital rhetoric and professional writing and in critical studies in literacy and pedagogy.


Undergraduate Programs


Professional Writing

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Writing is a degree program for students wishing to specialize in writing as an area of expertise. Students will develop advanced writing skills with emphasis on writing in digital environments such as web authoring and multimedia writing; on writing for and in diverse public and disciplinary communities; and on editing and publishing in a variety of professional contexts. The major prepares students for careers in professional editing and publishing, technical writing, information development, communications management, web design, and web authoring. It may further prepare students for graduate work in rhetoric, writing, technical writing, the teaching of writing, and the study of culture.

Students who elect the Professional Writing major must contact the Director of Professional Writing in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures. Students should work closely with the department's faculty academic advisors to shape a program that fits their career interests and plans. Internships, management of professional writing projects, and development of a professional portfolio are all important aspects of the student’s preparation for work in the profession, either in the workplace or in graduate studies.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Professional Writing

  1. The University requirements for bachelor’s degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Writing.

    The University’s Tier II writing requirement for the Professional Writing major is met by completing one of the following courses: Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures 320, 331, or 370. Those courses are referenced in items 3. c. and 3. d. below.
  2. The requirements of the College of Arts and Letters for the Bachelor of Arts degree.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
    a. All of the following courses (13 credits):
    WRA 202 Introduction to Professional Writing 3
    WRA 210 Introduction to Web Authoring 3
    WRA 260 Rhetoric, Persuasion, and Culture 3
    WRA 360 Visual Rhetoric 4
    b. The following course (3 credits):
    WRA 455 Portfolio Seminar 3
    Credits earned in this course may not be used to fulfill requirements in item 3. d.
    c. One of the following concentrations (9 credits):
    Digital and Technical Writing
    WRA 320 Technical Communication (W) 3
    WRA 410 Advanced Web Authoring 3
    or
    WRA 420 Content Strategy 3
    WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric 3
    Writing in Communities and Cultures
    Three of the following courses:
    WRA 330 Writing Research in Communities and Cultures 3
    WRA 331 Writing in the Public Interest (W) 3
    WRA 453 Grant and Proposal Writing 3
    WRA 471 The Rhetoric of Grammar 3
    Writing, Editing, and Publishing
    WRA 370 Introduction to Grammar and Editing (W) 3
    WRA 480 Publication Management I 3
    WRA 481 Publication Management II 3
    Credits earned in any of these concentrations may not be used to fulfill requirements in item 3. d.
    d. Nine credits from the following courses. (9 credits).
    WRA 225 Introduction to Multimedia Writing 3
    WRA 290 Independent Study 3
    WRA 308 Invention in Writing 3
    WRA 320 Technical Communication (W) 3
    WRA 330 Writing Research in Communities and Cultures 3
    WRA 331 Writing in the Public Interest (W) 3
    WRA 341 Nature and  Environmental Writing 3
    WRA 355 Writing for Publication Workshop 3
    WRA 370 Introduction to Grammar and Editing (W) 3
    WRA 395 Writing Center Theory and Practice 3
    WRA 410 Advanced Web Authoring 3
    WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric 3
    WRA 420 Content Strategy 3
    WRA 425 Advanced Multimedia Writing 3
    WRA 441 Social Justice and Thetorical Practice 3
    WRA 453 Grant and Proposal Writing 3
    WRA 455 Portfolio Seminar 3
    WRA 460 Advanced Visual Rhetoric and Document Design 3
    WRA 471 The Rhetoric of Grammar 3
    WRA 480 Publication Management I 3
    WRA 481 Publication Management II 3
    WRA 482 Information and Interaction Design 3
    WRA 491 Special Topics 1 to 4
    WRA 499 International Research in Professional Writing 1 to 3
    WRA 493 Internship in Professional Writing 1 to 3
    One or two writing or design courses from outside WRA may be used with approval of the student's academic advisor. Credits earned in any of these courses may not be used to fulfill requirements in items 3. b. or 3. c.


Graduate Study


Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy - Master of Arts

The Master of Arts degree program in critical studies in literacy and pedagogy is designed for two audiences: 1) individuals who wish to continue to doctoral work in rhetoric and writing and 2) individuals who wish to teach or to do literacy work in community organizations, including community colleges.

The goal of the program is to prepare teachers and researchers in the field of composition and rhetoric or in community literacy. The program emphasizes the teaching and learning of language and literacy in multiple contexts and multiple modes, including print, digital, and visual, as well as research in these areas. Central to the program’s emphasis is the critical examination of diversity as it impacts the teaching of rhetoric, writing and literacy; the democratization of the classroom; the role of language and schooling in society at large; and the politics of language, literacy, and culture.

The program is available with two concentration areas. The Rhetoric and Writing concentration is specifically designed for individuals who wish to teach rhetoric and writing at the college level and who plan to go on to advanced graduate study in writing and rhetoric studies.

The Community Teaching and Literacy concentration is specifically designed for individuals who wish to teach or to do literacy work in community organizations, including community colleges. This concentration provides students with opportunities to directly address community-specific pedagogical interests and needs.
In addition to meeting the requirements of the university, and the College of Arts and Letters, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

To be considered for admission to the Master of Arts degree program in critical studies in literacy and pedagogy, an applicant must:.

  1. Include in the letter required by the college, a statement providing the applicant's academic and professional background and goals in pursuing the degree.
  2. Submit a writing sample that reflects aptitude for critical and scholarly writing.  (The writing sample supplements the statement.)

To be admitted to the program on regular status, an applicant must have:

  1. A baccalaureate degree in English or a related field.
  2. Completed a minimum of 20 semester credits in English courses, exclusive of freshman composition, with a grade–point average of at least 3.25.
  3. Completed two years of study in a language other than English at the college level. Students will be admitted provisionally if this requirement is not satisfied prior to admission. This requirement may be met during the Master of Arts in Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy program or by completion of any two of the following applied linguistics courses: Language, Learning and Teaching 461 or 807 or English 861 or 991A. Students in the Composition and Rhetoric concentration may not use these courses toward the degree requirements. Students in the English Education concentration may use only one of these courses toward the degree requirements.

Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy

The student must meet the requirements for either the Rhetoric and Writing or the Community Teaching and Literacy concentrations:

Both concentrations are available under either Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis). A total of 31 credits is required for the degree under either plan. Students pursuing Plan B will need to complete additional elective credits to meet the requirement of 31 credits for the degree. The student’s program of study must be approved by the program director.

Requirements for Both Plan A and Plan B
The following courses (7 credits):
WRA 878 Composition Studies: Issues, Theory, and Research 3
WRA 886 Master’s Research Colloquium 1
WRA 888 Methods in the Teaching of College-level Writing 3
Rhetoric and Writing Concentration 
1. Theory or History. One of the following courses (3 credits):
WRA 805 Rhetoric Theory and History 3
WRA 882 Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric 3
2. Methodology. One of the following courses (3 credits):
WRA 870 Research Methodologies in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 872 Methods of Research in Rhetoric and Writing 3
3. Electives. Complete 15 credits from the following:
AL 881 Special Topics in Teaching with Technology in Arts and Humanities 3
WRA 805 Rhetoric Theory and History 3
WRA 848 Cultural Rhetorics: Theory and Methodology 3
WRA 853 Workshop in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 854 Nonfiction Writing Workshop 3
WRA 860 Multimodal Composing Theory and Practice 3
WRA 877 Community Literacy 3
WRA 882 Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric 3
WRA 890 Independent Study in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 891 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 992 Seminar in Literacy Studies 3
A maximum of six credits of additional courses approved by the department in Arts and Letters, English, Language, Learning and Teaching, or Teacher Education.
Students may not use courses listed in this elective requirement if they have been used to fulfill another requirement.
Community Teaching and Literacy Concentration
1. Community Literacy. One of the following courses (3 credits):
WRA 877 Community Literacy 3
WRA 992 Seminar in Language, Literacy, and Pedagogy 3
2. Methodology. One of the following courses (3 credits):
WRA 870 Research Methodologies in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 872 Methods of Research in Rhetoric and Writing 3
3. Electives. Complete 15 credits from the following:
WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric 3
WRA 425 Advanced Multimedia Writing 3
WRA 453 Grant and Proposal Writing 3
WRA 805 Rhetoric Theory and History 3
WRA 841 Professional Writing Theory and Research 3
WRA 860 Multimodal Composing Theory and Practice 3
WRA 877 Community Literacy 3
WRA 882 Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric 3
WRA 889 Writing Center Theory and Administration 3
WRA 890 Independent Study in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 891 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 893A Internship in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 893B Internship in Professional Writing 3
WRA 893D Internship in Literacy and Pedagogy 3
WRA 992 Seminar in Literacy Studies 3
A maximum of six credits of additional courses approved by the department in Arts and Letters, English, Language, Learning and Teaching, or Teacher Education.
Students may not use courses listed in this elective requirement if they have been usedto fulfill another requirement.
Additional Requirements for Plan A
1. The following course (4 credits):
WRA 899 Master’s Thesis Research 4
2. Pass an oral certifying examination in defense of the thesis and on the course work.
Additional Requirements for Plan B
1. Complete 3 additional credits chosen in consultation with the student's guidance committee.
2. Portfolio. A portfolio developed over time must be acceptable to the student’s guidance committee. The purpose of the portfolio as a certifying examination is (1) to demonstrate an advanced understanding of and ability in practices in the teaching of English, and (2) to enable the student to articulate a coherent understanding of the major issues in English education. The portfolio requirement includes: (1) documentation of expertise in an area of English pedagogy, through videotapes of classroom teaching or classroom artifacts that demonstrate competence as a teacher of English. This documentation must be accompanied by a reflective essay that provides evidence of how the student’s studies have affected teaching practice and understanding of this practice, and (2) a second reflective essay based on a prompt that requires the student to write a position paper theorizing an important issue in the field and connecting research, theory, and practice. The submission of an acceptable portfolio satisfies the University requirement of a final examination or evaluation.

 

Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing - Master of Arts

The Master of Arts degree in Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing serves both as a professional degree for students interested in a technical and professional writing career track and as a preparatory degree for doctoral work in rhetoric, writing, communication studies, media studies, or technical communication. The program provides students with a theoretically grounded yet practical experience in technical and professional writing, with a special focus on writing in digital environments.

Admission

To be considered for admission to the Master of Arts degree in Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing an applicant must:

  1. Include in the letter required by the college, a statement that addresses the applicant’s goals in pursuing the degree.
  2. Submit two writing samples showing two different styles or genres.

To be admitted to the program on regular status, an applicant must have a baccalaureate degree in humanities, writing, communications or a related field and have completed a minimum of 18 semester credits in humanities, writing, or communications-related fields beyond the 100-level with a minimum grade-point average of 3.25.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and the College of Arts and Letters, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing

The program is available under either Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis). A total of 31 credits, of which no more than 12 credits may be at the 400-level, is required for the degree under either Plan A or Plan B. The student’s program of study must be approved by the program director. The student must meet the requirements specified below:

               
Requirements for Plan A and Plan B  
1. All of the following core courses (13 credits):  
  WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric 3
  WRA 420 Content Strategy for Professional Writers 3
  WRA 841 Professional Writing Theory and Research 3
  WRA 882 Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric 3
  WRA 886 Master's Research Colloquium 1
2. Both of the following courses (6 credits):  
  WRA 410 Advanced Web Authoring 3
  WRA 893A Internship in Rhetoric and Writing 3
3. Complete a minimum of 6 additional credits selected from the following:  
  AL 881 Special Topics in Teaching with Technology in Arts and Humanities 3
  LIN 437 Semantics and Pragmatics 3
  LIN 471 Sociolinguistics 3
  LIN 837 Advanced Studies in Semantics and Pragmatics 3
  LIN 871 Advanced Studies in Sociolinguistics 3
  WRA 872 Methods of Research in Rhetoric and Writing 3
  WRA 877 Community Literacy 3
  WRA 878 Composition Studies: Issues, Theory, and Research 3
  WRA 890 Independent Study in Rhetoric and Writing 1 to 6
  WRA 891 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Writing 3
  Additional courses are available with approval of the program director.  


Additional Requirements for Plan A

  1. Complete 6 credits of WRA 899 Master’s Thesis Research.
  2.  Pass a final oral certifying examination on the thesis and course work.

Additional Requirements for Plan B

  1. Complete an additional 6 credits of course work from the list of electives above.
  2. Pass a final certifying examination on the course work

Academic Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.5 in all graduate courses.

A student may accumulate no more than 6 credits with a grade below 3.0 in Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing courses taken for the purpose of satisfying the degree requirements.

 


Rhetoric and Writing - Doctor of Philosophy

The doctoral degree in rhetoric and writing provides students with the critical skills necessary to do scholarly research in rhetoric and writing and prepares students for faculty and administrative positions in university-level writing and literacy programs. Students interested in becoming rhetoric or composition scholars take courses in composition pedagogy and rhetorical theory and elect one of several available concentrations in American cultural rhetorics, critical and community literacies, digital rhetoric and professional writing, and teaching English to speakers of other languages. This degree also prepares students to study writing practices in the workplace and to research, develop, and administer a variety of academic, workplace, civic, government, nonprofit, publishing, and digital writing projects. In addition, students will be prepared to design writing curricula and training programs, do advanced document development, conduct usability studies and publish results.

Students with specific interest in educating prospective teachers of literacy in university-level positions in English education or literacy education programs can choose to concentrate in critical studies in literacy and pedagogy, which prepares literacy educators who: (1) draw on critical theories and critical understanding of language, literacy, and discourse to shape pedagogies of multiliteracies; (2) develop curricular practices that support students’ ability to read and write multiple texts, (3) understand multiple uses of print, digital and visual rhetorics in order to engage students in critical consumption production, and design; and (4) undertake qualitative research in school, university, and community settings.

The College of Arts and Letters recognizes the high importance of development among its doctoral candidates of a proficiency in college teaching and it strives to provide teaching experience in the form of graduate assistantships along with organized discussion of the ends and means of the teaching career.

Admission

To be considered for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Rhetoric and Writing an applicant must:

  1. Specify the concentration the applicant wishes to pursue.
  2. Include in the letter required by the college, a statement of purpose and a statement of instruction philosophy.
  3. Submit two writing samples (major research paper, summary of master’s thesis, or digital documents).

To be admitted to the program on regular status, an applicant must have a master’s degree or the equivalent, a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 in graduate-level courses, and at least three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to assess the applicant’s ability to pursue advanced graduate study.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and the College of Arts and Letters, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Rhetoric and Writing

The student must:

1. Complete a minimum of 27 credits of graduate course work. No more than 6 credits of 400-level course work will count toward the degree.
2. All of the following core courses (18 credits):
WRA 805 Rhetoric Theory and History 3
WRA 853 Workshop in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 870 Research Methodologies in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 878 Composition Studies: Issues, Theory, and Research 3
WRA 882 Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric 3
WRA 885 Research Colloquium 3
3. Concentrations.
Complete at least three courses, a minimum of 9 credits, in one of the following concentrations:  Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy, Cultural Rhetorics, or Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing. A list of courses eligible for each concentration is available from the program director. Courses used to fulfill core requirements may not be used to satisfy concentration requirements. Other concentrations may be approved the student’s guidance committee.
4. Complete the language requirement through one of the following:
a. Demonstrate second-year proficiency in a foreign language including American Sign Language.
b. Complete two courses in language variation.These courses can not be courses used to fulfill the core or concentration requirements.
c. Complete two courses in African American vernacular English and rhetoric. These courses cannot be courses used to fulfill the core or concentration requirements.
d. Complete two courses in teaching English to speakers of other languages. These courses cannot be courses used to fulfill the core or concentration requirements.
e. With the approval of the guidance committee and as appropriate to the student’s research interests, demonstrate proficiency in a specialized symbolic system, such as a computer language, statistics, etc.
5. Pass two written comprehensive examinations: one on the core and one on the areas of concentration.
6. Pass a pre-dissertation examination consisting of an oral examination based on a written prospectus and a preliminary bibliography for the dissertation project.
7. Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Academic Standards

A student must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.5 in all graduate courses.

A student may count toward the degree only those courses in which the student has received a grade of 3.0 or higher.

A student may accumulate no more than 6 credits with a grade below 3.0 in rhetoric and writing courses taken for the purpose of satisfying the degree requirements.

A student who fails the comprehensive examinations, the pre-dissertation examination, or the final oral examination in defense of the dissertation, may repeat that examination only once, during the following semester.