The Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program
Information About the Program
Faculty across the College agree that mastery of the skills of written argument, including critical thinking, problem solving, organization of ideas, and clarity and power of expression, is of enormous importance both in academic work during residence in the College and in the world of work beyond the College. Writing as part of college life is a given, whether by students completing required coursework, by scholars as part of their professional lives, or by those who find in writing a source of discovery and pleasure. Writing is how we know what it is that we know, because our ability to explain a subject clearly and precisely is an ultimate test of having learned it. To help students join Rochester’s community of writers and researchers, the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program offers writing courses and writing and speaking support services, as well as opportunities to celebrate outstanding writers and their work.
The Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program is home to the Primary Writing Requirement, the College’s first step in drawing students into our community of researchers and writers, the English for Academic Purposes Program (formerly the ESOL Program), a range of undergraduate writing courses related to writing, speaking, and tutoring, and the Writing and Speaking Center, where students can find tutoring services.
Primary Writing Requirement and Placement
All students at the University of Rochester, whether incoming freshmen or transfers, must satisfy the Primary Writing Requirement. The majority of students fulfill the requirement by earning a "C" or better in WRT 105, Reasoning and Writing in the College, or WRT 105E or WRT 105A&B, versions of 105 chosen by students who need more support to meet the demands of college-level writing. Students who believe that they are already proficient college writers may petition to substitute a University of Rochester writing-intensive course for WRT 105. The substitute course may not also be used to fulfill the Upper-Level Writing Requirement. Transfer students who have completed a WRT 105 equivalent at another institution and received a B or better may petition to use this course to satisfy the Primary Writing Requirement. For more information on satisfying the Primary Writing Requirement, including instructions on how to access the Writing Placement Survey, please refer to writing.rochester.edu.
Students admitted to the College through the English for Academic Purposes Program fulfill the requirement by earning a grade of "C" or higher in WRT 103, EAPP Critical Reading, Reasoning, and Writing, and WRT 104, EAPP Research, Reading, and Writing. For more information on EAPP placement and courses, please refer to writing.rochester.edu/EAPP.
WRT 101. EAPP Speaking and Listening I. Designed to help undergraduate nonnative speakers of English improve their English oral communication and listening skills in preparation for social interactions at the University. Students practice speaking at greater length and faster speed by developing fluency, grammatical accuracy, complexity of sentence structures, and vocabulary. In addition, students practice listening actively to peers, summarizing, paraphrasing, and repeating key information from native speakers of English. Also covers such techniques as asking follow-up questions, using socialization strategies, adapting to cultural differences, practicing small talk, and making formal and informal introductions. Class work takes place in and out of the classroom with the collaboration of native and nonnative speakers of English in formal and informal settings. Significant class time is devoted to English pronunciation. (Fall)
WRT 102. EAPP Speaking and Listening II. Builds upon the lessons from WRT 101, EAPP Speaking and Listening I, and is designed to help undergraduate nonnative speakers of English improve their English oral communication and listening skills in preparation for academic and social interactions. Students practice taking notes, summarizing, repeating, and critiquing key information from recorded lectures and presentations—with an emphasis on the discourse most prevalent in undergraduate university courses. Students also practice communicating in different academic, social, and cultural contexts as they engage in classroom conversation, debates, interviews, speaking to formal audiences, and giving academic presentations in English. Class work takes place in and out of the classroom with the collaboration of native and nonnative speakers of English in formal and informal settings. Class time is devoted to English pronunciation. (Spring)
WRT 103. EAPP Critical Reading, Reasoning, and Writing. An introduction to critical reading and writing skills. Lessons center on the analysis of varied readings and on using writing as a tool for critical thinking and reflection. Students are introduced to concepts of rhetorical analysis and the use of logic, as well as the roles of audience and purpose in shaping the organization, style, and argumentative strategies of their own papers. In addition, students build writing fluency and self-expression through freewriting and in-class writing. Collaboration is an important part of learning; therefore, students work together as they learn to critique their own work and the work of their peers. Attention is given to writing beyond the classroom, such as communicating with faculty and others across the College. (Fall)
WRT 104. EAPP Research, Reading, and Writing. Extends the critical reading and writing skills learned in WRT 103: EAPP Critical Reading, Reasoning, and Writing to the act of research. Research may include traditional library sources and academic journals, but it may also include primary research such as fieldwork, surveys, and interviews. A variety of texts are analyzed and discussed in preparation for constructing extended argumentative essays and a final research paper. Reading and responding critically to texts are practiced. Students learn how to incorporate source material into research writing and integrate their own ideas with those from other texts. Collaboration is an important part of learning; therefore, students work together as they learn to critique their own work and the work of their peers. Attention is given to writing beyond the classroom, such as communicating with faculty and others across the College. (Spring)
WRT 105, WRT 105E and WRT 205A&B satisfy the Primary Writing Requirement with a grade of "C" or better. Each section has unique content. For an updated list of course descriptions, please refer to writing.rochester.edu.
WRT 105. Reasoning and Writing in the College. Introduces students to disciplinary writing at the college level through instruction in small sections that focuses on the act of writing. Section topics have ranged from “Adolescence: War or Peace” to “Searching for Whales: Myth, Science, and Ecological Sustainability,” and cover a range of subjects and disciplines. Provides instruction and practice in clear and effective writing and in constructing cogent and compelling arguments, as students draft and revise numerous papers of different forms and lengths. Students consider the roles of audience and purpose in shaping the organization, style, and argumentative strategies of their own papers, while they learn to become critical readers of their writing through peer critiques and revision/editing workshops. (Fall and Spring)
WRT 105E. Reasoning and Writing in the College. An extended version of Reasoning and Writing in the College. While WRT 105 and WRT 105E have the same expectations for completion, WRT 105E is intended for students who decide that they need a more supported writing experience to meet the demands of college writing. All sections include an additional class session each week and are taught in computer labs and limited to 10 students. Students who have worked diligently but have not attained a "B-" or better may take an incomplete and sign up for the WRT 105E Extension, a weekly workshop and tutorial that allows students to raise their final grades and satisfy the Primary Writing Requirement. (Fall and Spring)
WRT 105A. Reasoning and Writing in the College. First Course in WRT 105A-WRT 105B Sequence. WRT 105A (Fall) and WRT 105B (Spring) distribute the work of WRT 105E across two semesters, with WRT 105A covering the first half of WRT 105E. WRT 105A immerses students in the experience of academic writing, with a particular emphasis on analyzing, using, and documenting scholarly and non-scholarly texts. It provides instruction and practice in constructing cogent and compelling arguments, as students draft and revise two short argumentative essays. Students will develop and test their ideas through discussion, informal writing, peer critiques and self-assessments. All sections of WRT 105A&B revolve around a theme and include a weekly writing group in which students do the work of writing with immediate support from the course instructor. To proceed from WRT 105A to WRT 105B, students must earn a grade of “C” or higher. (Fall)
WRT 105B. Reasoning and Writing in the College. Second Part of WRT 105A-WRT 105B Sequence. The second-half of the WRT 105A-WRT 105B sequence, WRT 105B immerses students in the experience of academic writing, with a particular emphasis on analyzing, using, and documenting scholarly and non-scholarly texts. It provides instruction and practice in constructing cogent and compelling arguments, as students draft and revise a proposal and an 8-10 page argumentative research paper. Students will develop and test their ideas through discussion, informal writing, peer critiques and self-assessments. All sections of WRT 105A&B revolve around a theme and include a weekly writing group in which students do the work of writing with immediate support from the course instructor. WRT 105B students who have worked diligently but have not attained a grade of “B-“ or higher may take an incomplete and sign up for the Extension, a weekly workshop and tutorial program that allows students to continue working on their writing, raise their final grades, and satisfy the Primary Writing Requirement. (Spring)
WRT 108. Workshop in Writing. Offers ongoing practice and instruction in writing and critiquing writing. Guided by a writing center consultant, students plan, draft, and revise their writing; critique each other’s work; assess their own writing; and participate in group sessions on writing issues that the group faces. The semester’s work culminates in a final portfolio that features polished essays and an overall self-assessment. WRT 108 is a 2-credit course, which is graded pass/fail. Prerequisite: WRT 105/WRT 105E or alternative satisfaction of the Primary Writing Requirement. (Spring)
WRT 251/451. The Rhetorical Sentence (Cross Listings: LIN 160, ENG 288, WRT 451). Drawing on work in linguistics and rhetorical grammar (e.g., Halliday, Biber, Kolln, Hyland), this course investigates the sentence—its structure, its potential, and its limits in creating meaning. Students will learn about the form and function of “the sentence” and its parts, develop the ability to see patterns and possibilities within and across sentences, and create and analyze sentences of wildly different shapes. Assignments will regularly involve meaningful play with sentences. Through a final project, students will investigate some aspect of the sentence in extended discourse or discuss how knowledge of the sentence might be meaningfully integrated into a writing curriculum. This course is ideal for those interested in writing, writing education, or editing. Background in linguistics or grammar is not necessary. Pre-requisite: PWR satisfied. Open to undergraduates and graduate students. (Fall)
WRT 261. Writing in a Digital World (Cross Listings: ENG 288, DMS 250). The purpose of writing in a digital world is to engage with a broader community around a topic of interest and contribute to public knowledge. In this course, students are invited to dig deeply into a question of interest, write for a public audience, and use the Internet as an archive of information waiting to be discovered, analyzed, and written about. Students can draw on pre-existing research interests from their majors or develop a line of inquiry stemming from class discussions, writing, and research. In order to gain experience writing to a range of readers, students will engage in a writing process informed by peer review, self-assessment, and revision. Shorter writing assignments will help students develop and refine ideas as they transform texts for different audiences. The final research project will be multimodal, published for a public audience, and should demonstrate your ability to think critically about a topic and effectively communicate that knowledge to a range of readers. Pre-requisite: PWR satisfied. (Fall)
WRT 272. Developing a Professional Biology Writing Portfolio (Cross Listings: BIO 272W). The purpose of this course is to develop a fulfilling career in the biological sciences, students will need to clearly and compellingly present information about their skills and goals to multiple audiences with different expectations. In this class, students will articulate their goals and identify the most effective ways to present information for different audiences and purposes. Through writing, discussion about writing, and revising in response to feedback from peers, instructors, and alumni, students will be guided through the process of developing a portfolio of materials suitable for their post-graduate goals. The class will meet once a week throughout the semester, and can be used to fulfill one of the two required Upper-Level Writing experiences in biology. The class is suitable for junior year and first-semester senior year biology majors; all others require permission of the instructor. Prerequisite: PWR satisfied. (Fall and Spring)
WRT 273 Communicating Your Professional Identity. This interactive course teaches “real life” communication skills and strategies that help students present their best professional selves. Students will explore and articulate their internship and career goals for distinct audiences and purposes as they develop a professional communication portfolio of materials such as resumes, cover letters, electronic communications, technical project abstracts, online profiles (i.e., LinkedIn), and TED Talks. Students will revise and refine their written and spoken work across the semester based on critical feedback from peers, instructors, alumni and potential employers. By the semester’s end, students will have gained extensive experience with the communication skills expected in today’s competitive job market. Prerequisite: PWR satisfied. (Fall and Spring)
LIN 161. Modern English Grammar (Cross Listings: WRT 250). This course is a comprehensive review of the grammar of Modern Standard English. The course will be of interest to those who wish to sharpen their language skills, or to know more about the workings of the English language whether for practical, cognitive or creative ends. Drawing on work in mostly pre-theoretical, descriptive linguistics this course reveals the mechanics of Standard English structure, with occasional detours into the finesse of usage across registers (dialect to slang). Students will learn to develop the ability to see patterns in grammar, as well as its structural possibilities and limits. Assignments will regularly involve reflection on form, usage and speaker judgments. Through a final project, students will investigate some aspect of an English variety available to them. Throughout, students will be working with their data samples of English to explore how speaker choices lead to particular grammatical structures or yield ungrammaticality. Background in linguistics or grammar not needed. Prerequisite: PWR satisfied. (Fall)