August 23, 2007

Role of Writing in WRIT 1301

The Role of Writing in 1301--

Through frequent practice and study of writing, WRIT 1301 introduces you to typical university writing practices, including an emphasis on developing well-researched, properly cited papers. Really, everything we do in WRIT 1301 is designed to improve your writing, and for this reason it fulfills the first-year composition requirement.

Activities include but are not limited to: introduction to academic genres of reading and writing; critical reading and analysis of writing for rhetorical principles of audience, purpose, and argumentative strategies; emphasis on performing research with electronic and print library; and sequenced readings and writing, with a researched paper as a major assignment. Though the research paper will necessarily be completed near the end of the course, you should not think of it as the main (or only) goal of the course; instead, it is one more way of engaging your mind in the critical thinking process.

You will practice using writing to develop, refine, and communicate ideas in academic contexts, but not merely ones in which research is required. Moreover, you should expect to write formally and informally, produce drafts, read and respond to each other’s drafts, and revise, edit, and proofread. You will also share your writing with others in the class, receive their feedback, and read and respond carefully to their work. I have found in my own writing that having more than one perspective is tantamount to developing and articulating a position.

So, the class is structured around writing activities, discussion of reading and writing, and group work of various kinds. And, your active participation in both group and individual work is an important component in making this class worthwhile.

art history writing clause for syllabus

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August 22, 2007

Writing in International Relations

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Israeli-Palestinian course


Writing is intrinsic to the topic of this course. Whether one looks at the text of an international agreement, such as UN Resolution 242 which took months to negotiate, the prepared statements of leaders, or (if we could get access to them) intelligence reports that top level leaders sometimes read very carefully, part of what frames and drives this issue is the product of extensive deliberation over the wording of texts. Similarly, the most creative ideas for how to defuse the conflict and the most vituperative statements about who the other side really is are likely the result of writing, rewriting, discussion, and more rewriting.

One could readily elicit agreement among prominent Israelis and prominent Palestinians on the importance of writing. One could also find agreement from thoughtful historians in both communities of this conflict that the quest to make a text clear often becomes a journey in better understanding the topics of that text. These people have discovered that as they write Hebrew or Arabic from right to left; through this course, you will have opportunities to rediscover the same thing by writing English from left to right. The course, moreover, seeks to help support you in the process of writing.

In this course you will write short statements that identify the most important points are in a set of readings. In various stages you will develop a paper that poses a question about the topic of the course, using readings assigned in the course and additional readings to analyze that question. You will also have an opportunity a week in advance to develop answers to possible essay questions on the mid-semester test and on the final examination. Finally, there will be group discussion exercises in which groups develop written answers to questions about the topic.