WRIT 340 builds on the foundations of critical thinking, reading, and writing established in WRIT 150, burnishing these skills and augmenting them with an emphasis on the professional, public, and academic aspects of majors and career fields. The course, typically taken during the junior year, is offered in versions that encompass a range of disciplinary concentrations (see below), and it encourages students to, among other things, engage with the ethical issues that accompany their respective disciplines and the vocations to which these may lead. Outside of Dornsife College, the Marshall School of Business and Viterbi School of Engineering present their own varieties of WRIT 340 as well.

Arts and Humanities

These sections appeal to students majoring in English or literature, comparative literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, art and art history, music and music history, and television and cinema. 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 models of WRIT 340, students are encouraged to base some of their writing squarely within their individual majors.

Advanced Writing for Editing and Publishing

Designed for students who imagine careers in writing, editing, and publishing, these sections approach the craft of writing through the real-world questions that emerge when moving the ideas of an author into successful publication. While students taking this class will develop the writing skills that all Writ 340 courses foster awareness of audience, genre, revision, and evidence of these sections will develop these skills through situations faced by editors. Students will produce their own critical writing, and they will also produce writing unique to editors: solicitations, readers reports, publishing memos, etc. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate real pitches and questions as well as to produce their own. This class is framed for all students hoping to increase their practical knowledge of writing in the world. Students from all disciplines are welcome in the class, and should expect a classroom experience that focuses on rigorous and fine-grained attention to the aesthetics of language, rhetoric, and audience. Thus, this class will be of help for both students in editorial programs as well as those in non-humanities majors who hope to write for broader audiences.

Communication and the Public Intellectual

Students in this course examine the ways in which intellectuals construct identities, particularly how public intellectuals position themselves and the communication choices they make. Assignments include exploring 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. This Special Topics version requires approval of the instructor, which may be obtained through the Writing Program.

Food Studies

Food Studies offers students the ability to think critically and write about a broad range of topics centered around food, such as an exploration of food and community here in South Central Los Angeles, which engages in collaborative and experiential learning; a study of nutrition and health; sustainability and food production; and food as an exploration of cultural, religious, and global perspectives. The various writing projects will provide an opportunity to explore different writing genres and audiences, from the nutritional scientist to the policy maker, and from the gastronomic memoir to the anthropological history.

Health Sciences

These sections gather students intending careers under the umbrella of health care (such as medical school, nursing, physician assistant, dentistry, pharmacy, and occupational therapy). Assignments include clinical visits followed by written observations, examinations of the professional questions pertinent to medicine, research into the roles performed by health care specialists, and assessments of the availability, distribution, and economic and social costs of medical care.

Natural Sciences

These sections are geared for students who are majoring in fields such as physics and astronomy, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, and the geological, earth, or physical sciences. A sampling of assignments includes mock 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.


These sections are designed to give students who are considering enrolling in law school a feel for the style of reasoning and writing engaged in by attorneys. USC does not have a formal pre-law major, so students in these sections represent a variety of majors. Assignments include shortened forms of legal memoranda and briefs, moot court presentations where opposing “counsel” present oral arguments and then file written versions, basic legal research, and explorations into the philosophy of the law.

Pre-Law Students Moot Court

This undergraduate writing course, which fulfills USCs upper-level General Education writing requirement, centers on legal analysis and legal writing using the case universe and fact pattern employed by the American Moot Court Association (AMCA). Students will learn how to read and brief case law, how to write a legal memorandum, how to engage in an appellate-style oral argument and how to draft an appellate brief. For those familiar with my previous WRIT 340 courses (titled Advanced Writing for Pre-Law Students), I will be teaching the same basic skills but using the AMCA prompt as opposed to my curated case universes. Students who enroll in WRIT 340: Moot Court will be required to participate in at least one event on USCs competitive team, which has both oral argument and brief-writing competitions. Prior knowledge or experience in legal studies or legal writing is not required, but students will be expected to learn the case universe either via summer Zoom sessions with Professor Elefano or independently after the new prompt is released in May and prior to the start of the fall semester. The only prerequisite is WRIT 150 or its equivalent. APPLY AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE: Class space is competitive and extremely limited. Enrollment may be resolved first by a merit system and then, if necessary, a lottery. I aim to make a first round of acceptances into the class by March 1 so it would be to your benefit to submit your application by the end of February. But if theres still space in the class afterward, you are welcome to apply until the class fills. For more information, please email elefano@usc.edu.

Social Sciences

These sections draw students from majors in political science, sociology, psychology, communications, journalism, history, economics, anthropology, and education. Assignments include 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, mock speeches for political candidates for a variety of offices, and research in prominent disciplinary journals and texts.

Visual and Performing Arts

Students of the fine arts can study advanced writing through models of the written work of artists who have theorized their own aesthetics, in order to develop analogies between artistic practice and the writing process. Course debates on these creative practices will, via the acquisition of theoretical vocabularies and analytical tools, be placed solidly within a written context. This Special Topics version requires approval of the instructor, which may be obtained through the Writing Program.

Writing in the Community

This course places writing in a real-world context by partnering students with community groups to identify local problems and use rhetorical tools for addressing those problems. Students engage community members as partners rather than subjects or clients, with everyone bringing something to learn and something to teach from within and outside their realms of experience. This Special Topics version requires approval of the instructor, which may be obtained through the Writing Program.

Writing in the Environment

This course encourages students to write on topics that include environmental ethics, preserving wilderness areas, consumption behaviors, and specific environmental challenges confronting Los Angeles and beyond. Course discussions, readings, and assignments explore the ways in which writing can be a public, political act at the interface between academia and broader civic discourse. This Special Topics version requires approval of the instructor, which may be obtained through the Writing Program.

Writing Sustainability into Action

Writing Sustainability into Action welcomes students from all majors who are interested in thinking critically about how to meaningfully address pressing issues of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. In this course, students will craft sustainability-focused writing projects in a variety of genres (such as personal narratives, researched essays, presentations, multimodal writing, etc.) for academic, professional, and public audiences. This advanced writing course will also involve elements of experiential learning that engage meaningfully with sustainability initiatives on USC’s campus. Addressing the climate crisis while creating a future that is socially sustainable and just is one of the core challenges of our time, and the goal of this course is to pair the art of rhetoric with real world action to meet that challenge.