Instructor: Robert Yagelski
English 303Z is, according to the Undergraduate Bulletin, "concentrated study of writing with an emphasis on rhetoric as a disciplinary context." What that means is that in this course we will write a lot, read a lot, and talk a lot about our writing and reading. We will also--and this central to the course--think carefully and (I hope) in new ways about writing and reading. Our work in the course will focus on the theme of education, which will provide the vehicle for our collective inquiry into the nature of writing and reading. In effect, you will be asked in this course to do a lot of different kinds of ("non-fiction") writing and reading in order to become a more effective writer, but you will also explore how writing and reading help us constitute our worlds.
The course will be conducted as a workshop in which most of our time will be spent working on and talking about our writing and the writing of others, especially our classmates. If all goes well, we will become a community of writers engaged in a collective inquiry about writing and reading. And we will do so through the extensive use of computer technologies. All of our writing and much of our reading and discussion will take place in electronic environments--that is, on a local-area network (or LAN) and on the wide-area networks of the Internet and World Wide Web. In part, the computers will become sophisticated tools that will help us accomplish our assigned writing and reading tasks and facilitate communication. But the computer technologies we use will also become the objects of our inquiry; in other words, we will be asking questions like "How do computers affect the ways in which we write and read?" "Do computers change the nature of literacy?" "Can we learn to write and read better by using computers?" And in the process of asking such questions, you will learn a lot about various kinds of computer technologies and how to use them.
Your task in this course, then, is threefold: (1) to become a more proficient writer; (2) to begin to develop an understanding of the complex nature of writing as a social and cultural activity; and (3) to develop a better understanding of the relationship of technology and literacy. To complete that task, you'll need to work hard at your writing and to consider new ways of looking at writing. It will not be easy, but it can be illuminating and exciting, with plenty of opportunities for surprises and growth--and even some fun. No kidding. So get ready to write.
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