Advanced Writing -- Special Topics:
Through the Writing Program, the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences teaches fives versions of WRIT 340 Advanced Writing-Arts and Humanities, Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, Pre-Law, and Social Sciences. While differences certainly exist between the five, some commonalities link them, as well. In any of the five versions students are required to write thirty-to-forty pages of composition, usually divided into four assignments of varying lengths. In addition, all WRIT 340 Advanced Writing students submit a portfolio at term's end that consists of substantial revisions of their choice of any two of the assignments and which constitutes twenty-five per cent of the course grade. And each WRIT 340 Advanced Writing class places marked emphasis on the public, professional, and academic aspects of writing within specific disciplines and career fields. A fundamental goal of the course is to permit students to hone the composition skills that they first acquired in the lower-division course-WRIT 140 Writing and Critical Reasoning (or its equivalents)-specifically within the contexts of their majors and intended professions.
Arts and Humanities sections appeal to those students majoring in English or literature, comparative literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, art and art history, music and music history, and television and cinema. Typical assignments include film and literary reviews, analyses of texts, commentaries on academic and social issues, and explorations of themes important to literature, film, music, and the arts. As is true of all five models of WRIT 340, faculty often encourage students to base some of their writing squarely within their individual majors.
Health Sciences sections gather together students intending careers under the wide umbrella of health care. Besides those students aiming for medical school, these classes also include nursing, physician assistant, pre-dental, pharmacy, and occupational therapy majors. Common assignments include clinical visits followed up by written observations, examinations of the professional and ethical questions pertinent to medicine, research into the roles performed by different health care specialists, and assessments of the availability of, the distribution of, and the economic and social costs attending to medical care.
Natural Sciences sections are geared for those students majoring in physics and astronomy, geology, chemistry, biology, or any who wish to satisfy their WRIT 340 requirement with the physical sciences. A sampling of assignments from these classes reveals mock professional conferences where papers are presented orally and then submitted in written format to the instructor, identification of pressing scientific issues and the possible means of addressing them, and critical evaluation of articles appearing in the leading professional journals.
Pre-Law sections are designed to give those students seriously considering attendance at law school a feel for the unique of style of reasoning and writing engaged in by attorneys. The university does not have a formal pre-law major, so students in these classes represent a wide variety of majors. Assignments frequently include shortened forms of legal memoranda and briefs, moot court presentations where opposing "counsel" present oral arguments first and then file written versions with their Lecturer, basic legal research, and explorations into the philosophy of the law.
Social Sciences sections draw students from majors in political science, sociology, psychology, communications, journalism, history, economics, anthropology, and education. Past assignments in these classes have included expanded letters to the editor of various publications, perspectives on significant social issues and proposed resolutions, field visits to schools, libraries, and social services along with the resulting reports, and mock speeches for political candidates for a variety of offices. Research in prominent disciplinary journals and texts is also featured heavily.
Advanced Writing for the Visual and Performing Arts
Inspired by our Arts and Humanities class, this course was designed by a Senior Lecturer who wished to offer students of the fine arts an opportunity to sharpen their writing specifically within the context of artistic practice. The initial scheduling of a single section has now been expanded to two, in response to student demand.
Special Topics-Version of WRIT 340
Advanced Writing: Communication and the Public Intellectual
This course examines the ways in which intellectuals construct public identities, particularly how public intellectuals position themselves and the communication choices they make. Typical assignments include examining how public intellectuals adapt or re-vision their messages to fit the peculiarities of a particular medium and how writing style can accommodate different audiences.