Writing & Culture Seminar

Most Georgetown students fulfill the first-year writing requirement of the Core Curriculum by taking WRIT015: Writing and Culture Seminar. The course links rhetorical analysis with critical reading and writing in varied genres and styles. Faculty design their sections around varied themes and use diverse approaches, all emphasize these core ideas about writing:

The words “Writing is” over a set of interlocking triangles, each containing one of these ideas about writing: an interative process of planning, drafting, and revising; a social practice of responding, engaging, and persuading; a rhetorical strategy for analyzing, designing, and communicating; a reflective method for exploring, inquiring, and learning.

Writing is an iterative process of planning, drafting, and revising

In WRIT015, we explore and practice the multiple moves that writers make as they develop texts: deciding what to write and how, producing a draft and getting feedback, and revising and refining a text. There are different ways to approach these moves, and our courses give students opportunities to try out different strategies as they develop their projects. We encourage students to create multiple iterations of a single text and to rethink their ideas and plans even as they refine a text. 

Writing is a social process of responding, engaging, and persuading

When we write, we join ongoing conversations about issues and ideas. In WRIT015, students use writing to respond to, connect with, and influence others. Some of their audiences are conceptual, as when students respond to readings or write as if they were addressing experts in a field or readers of a newspaper or magazine. But we also give students opportunities to write for real audiences. They have crafted Wikipedia entries, revised webpages for non-profit organizations, and developed proposals for solving campus problems. These projects deploy writing to engage and even intervene in the world beyond the classroom. Collaborative assignments also provide opportunities for students to articulate and debate rhetorical strategies as they work together to develop ideas and produce texts.

Writing is a rhetorical strategy for analyzing, designing, and communicating

Different writing situations demand different ways of writing. Chemists make arguments in ways that are very different from Classicists, and a short professional proposal requires a style and form different from what would work in a book review or academic essay. No first-year writing class can prepare students for every writing situation. Instead, WRIT015 concentrates on helping students learn rhetorical thinking. This involves analyzing the audience, context, and expectations of a writing situation; designing texts to fit the situation; and translating their analysis and design into a finished piece.  We do that by examining the choices other writers made about how to communicate, by analyzing different writing situations and varied genres, and by practicing ways of adapting their writing styles, structures, and content. 

Writing is a reflective method of exploring, inquiring, and learning

Writing makes thinking visible, but it is also a way to clarify and advance thinking. In WRIT015, we use writing as a tool to explore and develop ideas, as a means of documenting thinking, and as a resource for examining and further advancing thinking. In practice, this means that students write about ideas and about writing situations, often as part of the iterative process of developing a project. After they complete a project and, in many cases, at the end of the semester, they write about how they approached a writing task, how their writing has developed, and any difficulties they’ve experienced.