Courses

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RWS 250:  Rhetoric in Everyday Life
We use rhetorical practices all the time in our everyday lives, usually without paying conscious attention to the fact that we’re doing it. In part, this course is about looking—about slowing down and looking more closely at the rhetorical work in everyday and popular culture texts. That is, this class is about helping you to be more conscious of the range of persuasive strategies being used in everyday texts and situations. Throughout the semester, we are going to try out a variety of rhetorical lenses to help us explore, analyze, and understand the workings of popular culture, political discourse, visual images, movies and TV shows, video games, digital and social media, and other texts encountered in everyday life. Our ultimate goal is to develop a set of tools for interacting critically and intentionally with the world around us.

RWS 290:  Business Writing and Rhetoric
RWS 290 Business Writing and Rhetoric builds on the rhetorical models that students discover and practice in earlier 100- and 200-level courses, such as attention to audience, purpose, presentation, persuasion, research, and language. RWS 290 offers students the opportunity to discover, analyze, practice, and evaluate the forms of communication they will encounter in their professional lives (i.e., memos, resumes, recommendation reports, presentations). As emerging writing professionals, they will also reflect on the effectiveness of their own styles within rhetorical contexts. RWS 290 is a prerequisite for all business pre-majors.

RWS 360:  Rhetoric of Sustainability
Sustainability can be defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability Major
The Rhetoric of Sustainability focuses on the development of analytical and rhetorical skills that help students to communicate the concept of sustainability both orally and in writing. Students will explore and evaluate a variety of written and visual arguments on various aspects of sustainability, and students will participate in conversations about sustainability by producing their own arguments from a variety of disciplinary, popular, and professional perspectives.  This course includes a service learning component that allows students to engage directly with communities regarding issues in sustainability.

RWS 390W: Writing in Business Settings
As an intermediate writing course dedicated to business majors, RWS 390W Writing in Business Settings offers students the opportunity to develop, master, and evaluate the writing and communication skills they will be expected to use in their professional lives (i.e., professional writing genres, information design, data analysis, presentations). In other words, they respond to academic tasks and practice writing in a wider variety of genres than in earlier writing courses such as RWS 100, 200, and 290. Each project requires research methods and communication styles specific to their disciplines within business. As writing professionals, they will also be asked to reflect on the effectiveness of their own styles within rhetorical contexts. Our goal is to aid their success both as students and as working professionals once they graduate. RWS 390W satisfies the university’s upper division writing requirement.

RWS 392W:  Writing for Engineers
Successful completion of RWS 392W satisfies the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) for students who have met the course prerequisites. Building on the rhetorical model that students are introduced to in Rhetoric and Writing Studies 100 and 200, Rhetoric and Writing Studies 392W is designed to help upper-level students develop the communication skills needed for successful professional careers as engineers.  By focusing on the rhetorical demands of communication within the context of engineering, this class will help students learn practical strategies for developing content and utilizing appropriate genres to serve multiple audiences. This course will also focus on the design and arrangement of documents as an aide to usability. Throughout this course, students will examine the complex communicative nature of the engineering workplace.

RWS 411:  Digital Rhetorics
RWS 411 examines digital media from a rhetorical perspective. It asks how digital tools, texts, and platforms are used to persuade, publish, produce change, build community, construct identity, and intervene in political struggles. We will consider what it means to be literate in the age of Facebook and YouTube, and how we can think critically about the cultural and cognitive consequences of the digital shift. A rhetorical perspective means we will carefully analyze the language authors use to make claims about old and new media literacies. It also means we will critically investigate definitions of new media literacy, along with claims about the role new media is playing in social and cultural life. Lastly, we will examine—and practice using—tools that can support key new media literacies.

RWS 412:  Issues in Gender and Rhetoric
This class explores the intersection of gender, rhetoric, and bodies.  As Jack Selzer explains, in recent years scholars have noted the “rhetorical turn,” in both the liberal arts and the sciences.  Although this turn has made various fields more reflective about disciplinary practices, particularly in terms of language, “it has consequently deflected scholarly attention from material realities and toward the way those realities are represented in text” (4).  However, scholars, especially those in Rhetoric and Composition, have stressed that the material and the body matter: they contribute to rhetorical action and, thus, deserve our attention. 

We will begin our study by examining the term gender itself, both from popular and theoretical perspectives.  During the second unit of the term, we will focus on gendered sites, genres, and styles of rhetoric. We will read essays that will “expand rhetorical realms, complicate analytical terms, and recognize gendered means of persuasion” (Buchanan and Ryan). In the third unit, we will examine the intersection of gender, rhetoric, and the body in contemporary times, particularly depictions of bodies in the media and popular culture.

RWS 414:  Rhetoric in Visual Cultures

The course is an introduction to rhetorical analysis of major visual aspects of contemporary popular culture. It introduces you to the basic principles of visual analysis, including analysis of (still) images and moving images (film and video), the mechanisms through which visual texts mean and achieve their effects, and the uses of visual texts in a variety of cultural contexts: popular culture, media, commerce, politics, and social and private life.

RWS 415:  The Craft of Writing Rhetorically
This class will afford students the opportunity to develop and polish their writing skills and styles through a range of writing activities and assignments.  The kinds of writing we do will be varied, and every attempt will be made to correlate at least some of these assignments to the unique academic and professional interests of individual students. In addition, a significant portion of the class will be devoted to workshopping and one-to-one conferences, in order that each student receives as much individualized feedback on his or her writing as possible.

RWS 498 Seminar:  Writing and Research

In “Have Rhetoric, Will Travel,” Stuart Brown states, “Rhetoric, I am only just realizing, is the compass by which to follow . . . stories, our own as well as others. It is a gift I do not fully appreciate, still touched with the wonder of it. I have followed rhetoric to many places. I suspect it will take me to many more.” This seminar is designed as a capstone course which asks you to look back on the work you have accomplished as a rhetoric and writing major and to look forward to how what you have learned and experienced in your time at college may inform your future. The course projects will engage you in reflective writing as you reflect on where you have been and where you are going with attention to how rhetoric and writing informs that journey. Projects will also involve analysis as you explore your work with rhetoric and writing studies, present on an aspect of your college experience, and provide constructive peer feedback to other students.

RWS 500W:  Advanced Writing Strategies
The course explores key rhetorical concepts to provide students with the tools to think and write analytically about a variety of texts, including written, spoken and visual texts. The course focus is on rhetoric in common places to help students understand how arguments are made in the public sphere and how they might respond to those arguments in deliberative, persuasive ways. The course also focuses on analyzing arguments as a way to develop advanced writing strategies with the goal of becoming a lifelong learner of writing and rhetoric.

RWS 501:  Editing   
Editing is designed to help advanced undergraduate and graduate students develop the comprehensive skills necessary to become proficient document editors in academic and workplace settings. The course introduces students to the basic principles of professional copy and production editing; we explore the functions of an editor, understand what constitutes good style, practice working efficiently with authors and technical writers and applying the rhetorical principles of document design and development to editorial practice. Students learn to use editing tools and technologies—such as style guides and macro automation—in ways that are applicable to a variety of documents, readers, genres and contexts, and edit an academic manuscript as their major project.

RWS 503W: Professional Writing
In today's workplace, communication is often cited as the highest priority for employers, regardless of field. The ability to communicate clearly, competently, and persuasively with coworkers, clients, and other stakeholders is essential to your success and to that of the organization for which you work. In professional environments, you will often be called upon to propose ideas, solve problems, and collaborate with coworkers. At their core, all of these practices are rhetorical, requiring you to choose the most appropriate genre and approach for your audience. By focusing on the rhetorical demands of communication, this class will help you learn practical strategies for developing content and utilizing appropriate genres to serve multiple audiences. Importantly, this course will also focus on the design and arrangement of documents as an aide to usability and ethos, as well as on the development of communications’ textual content. A linked sequence of assignments will help you investigate professional communication practices you will need on the job, to conduct research on an issue of professional interest, and to construct persuasive documents that seek action by convincing others of the value of your ideas and expertise.

RWS 504:  Advanced Professional Writing
As a professional in any field, you will need to communicate clearly and persuasively, to propose ideas, to solve problems, to educate or inform others, and to collaborate with co-workers. Students in RWS 504 will explore advanced issues and approaches to professional communication. This course will continue to develop your knowledge of genres (e.g. reports, instructions, memos, usability and design principles) and conventions (e.g., definitions, graphics, page designs) that are used across disciplines. By linking theory to practice, you will learn to interpret and respond to complex workplace situations while using problem-solving strategies.

RWS 506: Writing Internship
The Writing Internship offers an intensive workplace experience in writing and/or editing documents under the joint supervision of an academic instructor and an on-site supervisor. The Writing Internship requires you to work 150 hours in a professional environment, utilizing rhetoric and writing skills to complete project(s) deliverables which will be posted in an online portfolio.  During our class time, we will discuss your internship experiences, explore rhetorical frameworks for analyzing and producing texts that circulate across disciplines and writing cultures, and reflect on your experiences.  In brief, this is a forum for problem-centered learning and as such, class time will be spent exchanging ideas, sharing information, and discussing problems/solutions.  Assignments include—but are not limited to—a learning contract, project log, progress reports, a professional reflection, and a plan.  This is a Credit/No Credit course.

RWS 507: Professional Communication in Nonprofit Organizations
This course helps students develop specific written and presentation skills needed in nonprofit organizations (NPOs). Our course goal is to connect rhetorical concepts to real-world writing situations. Members of the class research and work with a local NPO to create a viable grant proposal, using effective appeals and solid funder research. Ideally, this proposal will serve the organization as a boilerplate for future grant applications.

RWS 508W:  Scientific Writing
This section of RWS 508W is designed to help upper-level students develop the writing skills needed for effective scientific communication in both academia and popular culture. The rhetorical nature of scientific communication is explored, as well as how science is communicated to the public. Together we will analyze how empirical research is portrayed across visual and print media (e.g medical package inserts, science museums and films, IMRAD format within journal articles). Assignments include—but are not limited to—rhetorical analyses, presentations, annotated bibliographies, and research reports. The focus is on writing clearly, concisely, and effectively within the scientific disciplines.

RWS 509:  Teaching Composition in Secondary Schools
This course is designed as an introduction to the theory and practice of teaching writing in middle and high schools. RWS 509 includes a broad range of readings that will introduce you to the major trends in writing pedagogy over the past few decades.  The class itself will be structured as a seminar and workshop. It will serve as a living laboratory for you to discover, test out, and discuss your ideas about teaching writing.

RWS 510:  Rhetoric and Culture
This course explores the interaction of power in shaping how rhetoric is practiced across various cultures and publics. Considering social constructs created by rhetoric(s), as they exist in cultural, historic, economic, and political contexts, we will engage the production of knowledge as a raced, gendered, ableist, and contested process. Throughout this course, we will explore a series of rhetorical “lenses” for interpreting and analyzing cultural texts. We will also read authors who produce interesting analyses of cultural objects, and consider how we might adapt, evaluate, or respond to their work. 

RWS 512:  Writing Center Practice, Research, and Theory
This course explores the theory, research, and practice of coaching writing in various settings, particularly writing centers. In addition, it prepares students to consult with individuals and small groups on writing projects and to research such work. We will discuss key theories about writing and literacy and work to understand how those theories inform the practice of coaching individuals on writing projects. We will also conduct research on literacy practices and writing theories related to the coaching of writing and consider how such research can inform that practice. 

RWS 543: Rhetoric of Visual Composing
Visual messages are a powerful way to inform, persuade, and educate. Within professional settings, the ability to communicate effectively with supervisors, co-workers, clients, and public audiences through combinations of visual, textual, and technological elements is an invaluable skill. This course takes a rhetorical and professionally oriented approach to analyzing and communicating ideas through visual and multimodal means. Course readings introduce students to research on visual communication, basic design, and layout strategies for print, presentational, and online contexts, as well as the use of images and infographics to convey specialized content. Research and practitioner materials are used as a basis for evaluating the rhetorical choices in the visual communication work of others and for learning how to apply these concepts to visual composing projects common to the workplace. The focus throughout the course is on learning to evaluate and craft texts that integrate effective visual strategies to create user-friendly, informative, and persuasive texts for professional audiences. No prior design experience is required.

Classes offered in the MA Program in Rhetoric and Writing Studies draw on the strengths and interests of faculty in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies.  See the SDSU catalog for a listing of courses,

Graduate students may also take courses in other departments in the University when those classes contribute to their research interests. Among those departments are Communications, Educational Technology, English and Comparative Literature, Linguistics, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Women's Studies. These classes must be approved by the Graduate Adviser. 

 

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