Professional Writing Course Descriptions

Competency Key

CD Cultural Diversity
CM Communication Intensive
CP Computer Intensive
CT Critical Thinking
QL Quantitative Literacy
VL Visual Literacy
WI Writing Intensive

WRI 100WICT: Contemporary Issues in Professional Writing

This course introduces students to the range of career opportunities and responsibilities within the field. Faculty members from the professional writing staff will assist the professor of record in developing and presenting an introduction to their respective areas of expertise. Other working professionals—including faculty from other departments, alumni, and area writers and/or employers interested in developing writing talent and/or in sharing their expertise—will be invited to participate when appropriate. Because the course provides an introduction to and overview of professional writing, students should complete the course early in their program.

WRI 205: Scientific Writing

This course features the writing of formal reports and technical and scientific papers.

WRI 207WICT: Writing for the Workplace

This course explores theory of and practice in written business communication. Letters and memoranda, reports, and a research paper are required. Models and case studies are used extensively.

WRI 208WI: Creative Writing – Exploring Forms

This course explores the various forms of creative writing through practical examination of the writing process, writing practice in multiple genres, and experiments in the transformations of familiar forms. While the course is useful particularly to creative writers, it is also designed to develop and sharpen academic or professional writing through creative practice. The course will be modeled as an apprentice workshop. In addition to writing, students will read poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and drama.

WRI 211WI: Journalism I

This course is a study of the methods and philosophy of good journalism. A general survey of the development of journalism in this country and a study of the organization, management, and supervision of the content of school publications are included.

WRI 212WICT: Introduction to Mass Communications

This course is a study of the method and philosophy of mass communications. Historical growth of the mass media is described. Interrelationships of present forms of mass communication are linked to the underlying necessity to write, speak, and think clearly and honestly.

WRI 213WI: Copy and Line Editing

Students in this course edit and re-write manuscript copy as well as their own writing. Emphasis is placed on identifying and correcting errors in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and essay structure to produce clear and polished copy.

WRI 214WICT: Magazine Writing

This basic course introduces students to magazine writing. Students learn what constitutes magazine style writing by studying magazine articles from a wide range of publications intended for diverse markets. Students examine the growth and development of the medium, the current state of the industry and trends for the future. Students write magazine articles and study the processes by which articles may be sold to appropriate publications.

WRI 216WICM: Writing for Public Relations

Students in this course analyze and compose various documents related to the field of public relations. Emphasis is placed on shaping perception through crafting clear, direct, and accurate prose.

WRI 217: Storytelling in Public Relations

This course will teach the craft of storytelling as it applies to public relations. Students will learn basic narrative theory, how to identify story ideas, how to pitch stories to the media, and practice a variety of research techniques, including interviewing. Students will also write stories designed to advance or enhance the reputation of an organization. Class projects will focus on both written and visual storytelling. This is a required course for all undergraduate Public Relations majors and an elective course for students in the Professional Writing major and Public Relations minor.

WRI 220WI: Technical Writing and Communication

Technical Writing and Communication teaches writers how to explain in simple language technical and scientific concepts (or processes) that are difficult for the average reader to understand. Toward that end, students will produce articles and reports on current trends in fields such as science and engineering. In addition, non-scientific fields may be covered, such as medicine, law, music, education, insurance, and banking. Instruction manuals may also be covered, as well as help documents and other process-oriented materials for private companies or governmental agencies. This course in technical writing requires familiarity with the World-Wide Web and some experience with word-processing software.

WRI 222: Conventions of English Grammar

This course surveys the fundamentals and conventions of English grammar and syntax. Topics include lexical categories, phrase structure, clause structure, modification, subordination, punctuation, and language acquisition. Additional attention is given to stylistic concerns in order to sharpen students’ prose. This course is recommended for those pursuing degrees in Professional Writing, English, Elementary Education, and Secondary Education/English although it is open to any student wanting a deeper understanding of English grammar.

WRI 226WICP: Desktop Publishing – Writing and Editing Newsletters

Students in this course write and design short and long newsletters. Publications are created about current issues and for professional organizations. Emphasis is placed on positioning the organization through interesting, newsworthy articles and also on the interaction of text and graphics and the value of clean document design.

WRI 244: Story Analysis and Screenplay Development

This course will offer students a comprehensive understanding of story analysis and screenplay development and will give them pragmatic tools used by the professional reader and development executive in the motion picture and television industry today. Students will learn and practice coverage skills while gaining an understanding of the elements of story. Class topics will include various types of coverage: how to compose story notes, character breakdowns, treatments, and outlines. Upon completion of the course, students will have written at least three pieces of full coverage that can be used as a part of a professional portfolio or to interview for a job as a reader or development assistant.

WRI 250: Writing for Social Media

Students will learn theories and practices associated with using a variety of social media platforms for public relations purposes. A “working” class, this experience will require students to maintain a social media presence for a specific, real client.

WRI 303WI: Investigative Journalism

Investigative Journalism concerns the strategies and techniques of in-depth reporting. Students critically analyze professional investigative and public affairs reportage. In pursuit of their own stories, students learn how to acquire original and electronic documentation at the local, county, state and federal levels.

WRI 304WI: American Literary Journalism

Literary Journalism concerns the relationship between mass media journalism and literature, focusing on strategies and techniques of significant works and movements in American journalistic literature that students may apply to their own writing.

WRI 305WI: Journalism Laboratory

Journalism Laboratory provides guidance in the preparation and writing of news and feature material for the student newspaper, as well as examines issues facing the student press.

WRI 306: Advanced Magazine Writing: Covering a Specialty

This advanced course teaches students of magazine journalism how to develop a specialty. Students continue to study what constitutes magazine style writing by reading magazine articles from a wide range of publications and studying how their own specialty manifests in different publications. Students research and write magazine articles and study the process by which articles may be sold to appropriate publications.

WRI 308: Rhetoric and Writing

What is rhetoric? According to Aristotle, it is the ability to see all of the possible means of persuasion in any given situation. So, rhetorical skills and knowledge help you express yourself effectively, whether you are writing an email to a professor, an article for a non-profit newsletter, or an application for graduate school. You may associate the word “rhetoric” with shady arguments and unethical politics. It is true that some practitioners of rhetoric use their skills for unethical purposes, but rhetoric is about way more than the unsavory actions of a few. In Rhetoric and Writing, students will study rhetorical terms and concepts so that they have a vocabulary for discussing the kinds of choices they make in every writing situation. Students also study a little of the history of rhetoric to give a sense of thinking and working within a well-established tradition. Finally, students will examine the use of rhetoric in contemporary situations, potentially to include music, politics, and other cultural issues. Just as importantly, the writing assignments will allow students to practice rhetorical skills and become more effective rhetors.
Prerequisite: ENG 23 or equivalent

WRI 311WI: Creative Writing – Short Fiction

Students in Creative Writing: Short Fiction develop writing skills that will enable them to produce original works of fiction. Students read, analyze, and critique each other’s stories as well as those by accomplished fiction writers, and ideas, techniques, and aesthetic concepts are discussed in a workshop setting.

WRI 312WI: Creative Writing – Poetry

This advanced course in the writing of poetry focuses on poetic craft and style through critical analysis of student poems as well as analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of published contemporary poetry. The course will be conducted as a workshop with extensive peer review.

WRI 313WICM: Creative Writing – Drama

WRI 313 is an advanced course in the writing of drama.

WRI 314WI: Pop Music Journalism

Students are given exposure to and practice in writing about popular music in a variety of genres and for a variety of audiences. Students learn the practices of evaluation, interpretation, and analysis of popular music artists, performances, representations, genres, songs, albums, music videos, subcultures, etc.

WRI 316WI: Public Relations and the Corporate Environment

PR and the Corporate Environment introduces students to the various roles public relations professionals play in both internal and external corporate communication strategies and efforts.

WRI 318WI: Sports Writing and Reporting

Sportswriting provides students with the tools to write legitimate sports stories worthy of publication. Journalistic fundamentals such as research, interviewing, storytelling, accuracy, editing, and ethics will be stressed. The course will also involve photojournalism and the development of an online sport-related presence. This course requires familiarity with the Internet, access to a digital camera, and experience with word processing and slide show software.

WRI 321WI: Information Design – Writing and Editing for Online Publications

This course will introduce students to the fundamental principles of web-based information publishing. The course will allow students to engage in the entire process of writing and designing for the Web: rhetorical analysis, strategic planning, content development, document and site design, integration of visual elements, usability testing, and assessment. Throughout, emphasis will be placed on writing strategies for online publications. This course will be restricted to Professional Writing majors.

WRI 325WICD: Travel Writing

This course will enable students to write newspaper, magazine and online articles about specific destinations that inform the reader about the culture, history and landscape of a place. This class will not only focus on broader issues like research methods, tone and market appropriateness but also micro-techniques regarding word choice and sentence structure. Students will produce a number of articles of varying styles, including travelogues, travel features, adventure stories and guidebook entries as well as read fine examples of each type of writing. Like most professional travel writers, the student will begin by seeking out inexpensive, close-to-home destinations that might appeal to a broader audience.

WRI 326: Advanced Desktop Publishing: Writing and Designing Documents

In this advanced course, students will consider aspects of document composition in terms of both content and design. Assignments will emphasize promotional copy writing as well as report writing.

WRI 333: Digital Rhetoric and Writing

This course focuses on honing the analysis and production of contemporary digital texts by extending longstanding academic conceptions rooted in the printed word alone. Specifically, the course examines how emerging areas within Rhetoric and Composition such as visual rhetoric, digital writing, and multimodal style are vital in cultivating sophisticated, responsive methods of analysis and production in a variety of online texts. Students will familiarize themselves with issues surrounding the creation, revision, and deployment of digital texts to better understand the complex rhetorics involved when arranging words, images, sounds, coding languages, available designs, fonts, colors, and spaces to make new kinds of 21st century texts and arguments.

WRI 338: Personal PR: Marketing the Writer

This course will teach self-marketing strategies for professionals hoping to enter the workplace as full-time or freelance writers. Students will create professional identities for themselves in an online environment. A keystone project of the course will be to design a professional, online portfolio of work. This course will also require students to create a blog about a professional topic with the larger goal of positioning themselves as contributing members of online professional communities. This is an elective course for all undergraduate Professional Writing majors.

WRI 339: New Media, Story, Change

This course investigates the crucial role that story plays in creating impactful campaigns within new and emerging media environments. Particular attention will be paid to the ways in which story continues to be one of the most important rhetorical tools in community and social movements seeking change. Readings will draw from a wide range of disciplines including rhetoric, literacy studies, marketing, public relations, communication studies, social media theory, cognitive psychology, and social movement studies.

WRI 340CM: Screenwriting I

This course will offer an introduction to the art and craft of screenwriting and will prepare students to write screenplays for motion pictures or television that meet industry standards. The class will include intensive writing, readings, script analyses, and critiques. Students will complete assignments in story, structure, character, and script development. In addition, students will be introduced to the business of being a screenwriter and a motion picture industry professional today. For the term project, students will complete a short narrative screenplay.

WRI 342: Screenwriting – Creating a Narrative Web Series

This course will offer an introduction to creating and writing the short-form episodic Internet TV series and will give students pragmatic tools used by screenwriters working in this burgeoning field of the digital media industry today. Class topics will include the series concept, character and story development, collaborative writing skills, and production design. Lectures and screenings will provide a background in the history and aesthetics of serial media projects, short-form video, and episodic drama. Upon completion of the course, students will have created a web series, written a pilot script and two subsequent scripts, and employed a screenwriter’s considerations in devising a pre-production strategy. In addition, they will be introduced to the business of promoting a narrative web series designed for distribution over the Internet.

WRI 345: Rhetoric, Democracy, Advocacy

The connection between rhetoric and democracy is an old one dating back to the origins of both concepts in Western traditions. Rhetoric, the skilled use of argument and persuasive discourse, and democracy were seen as ways to replace violence as the primary means of governing and maintaining social order. However, the connections between democracy and rhetoric may not be immediately apparent. Indeed, the two may appear to be in opposition in contemporary society. This course argues that the intimate connections between rhetoric and democracy are critical to retain and reclaim the health of democratic society and culture. In the era of globalization and digital media, these connections are even more important. A healthy democracy requires citizen advocates who are skilled in the analysis of public discourse as well as in the production of persuasive texts.

WRI 347: Activists Writing Media: Composing Democratic Futures

The early 21st century has seen an explosion in the development, re-purposing, and critical use of new media by political activists. Unlike theoretical debates regarding the relative merits of new media compared to more traditional media or the vigorous business interest in “web 2.0” for its marketing possibilities, activists have approached new media in a rhetorical fashion. For activists, new media are part of the “available means” with which political organizing and campaigning take place. This course explores the multiple and complex ways in which activists have made use of and rewritten what counts as media, who counts as an authorized writer, and even what counts as writing. The course will investigate examples of activist campaigns, emergent theories of literacy, and the role of literacy training for the development of activists and how this is often at odds with the literacy instruction students receive in secondary and post-secondary schooling.

WRI 359: Breaking News: Consuming, Reporting and Writing

This course provides undergraduate students with a more detailed study in the reporting and writing about breaking news, planned and unplanned events that happen and develop quickly in our communities every day. Students will engage with, analyze and respond to breaking stories that develop around them—locally, nationally and internationally—­by monitoring social media, websites, radio, TV outlets and print news sources. Students will also work in their communities, reporting on and writing about breaking news (small and large, planned and unplanned) as it happens around them. They will report and write short news stories using social media, online and print platforms. There will also be the opportunity to post photographs, sound clips and short video of the news they cover.

WRI 370: Seminar – Selected Topics in Professional Writing

This course offers students the opportunity to study in-depth a topic in the practice, theory, or history of the print media not covered in the regular curriculum. Students may register for this course more than once—up to a maximum of six semester hours of credit—so long as they do not repeat the same topic. However, they may take no more than three hours of credit under this rubric in any one semester.

WRI 371: Independent Study in Professional Writing

This course offers the individual student an opportunity to study in-depth a topic in the practice, theory, or history of written communications not covered in the regular curriculum. A student may register for this course more than once—up to a maximum of six semester hours of credit—so long as he or she does not repeat the same topic. However, a student may take no more than three hours of credit under this rubric in any one semester.

WRI 380: Professional Seminar

This course gathers professional writing majors to consider the function of an internship in the development of their careers, the relationship between finding employment, and the responsibilities of the professional writer in the working world, including mastery of varied writing styles and response to organizational hierarchies. Students must schedule the first three or more credits or WRI 390 Internship in Professional Writing concurrent with WRI 380 Professional Seminar.

WRI 390: Writing Internship

The Writing Internship is supervised, practical work experience writing for a newspaper, magazine, or organizational periodical. This internship will be available to students interested in pursuing a writing career. The three-credit internship may be taken twice for credit. The six-credit internship may be taken once for credit.

WRI 400: Creative Writing – Theory and Practice

This is a graduate level writing course which will focus on the production of texts of poetry, short fiction, drama and multi-genre forms of creative writing. Using the works of contemporary writers in these genres as models, students will explore various writing styles consistent with the practice of contemporary writing. Reading assignments will focus on technique and stylistic considerations. Writing assignments will focus on allowing each student to understand his/her own creative process in the development of a unique voice as he/she works toward producing an acceptable body of original work. Using models from various texts, students will be encouraged to develop their own prompts and methods of generating writing topics. This course may be appropriate for the undergraduate students who have taken all the undergraduate creative writing courses and are developing a portfolio of writing for admission to a graduate writing program.

WRI 410WI: Arts and Entertainment Writing

Students enrolled in Arts and Entertainment Writing both study and practice the strategies of reviewing artistic performances and related cultural subjects for the general press. Students will learn the basic methodologies of analysis, interpretation and evaluation of artistic offerings.

WRI 426: Advanced Desktop Publishing – Writing and Designing Documents

In this advanced course, students will consider aspects of document composition in both content and design. Assignments will emphasize promotional copy writing as well as report writing.

WRI 430: Rhetorical Traditions and Contemporary Renditions

Students in this course study the histories of rhetoric as well as contemporary intersections and applications across disciplines. Depending on the particular interests of the professor, one or more specific area(s) such as media, popular culture, sciences, feminisms and gender studies, composition studies, literary theories, literacies, global issues, pedagogy, arts, and political discourse will be chosen for a more detailed study. Critical to the course are the writing assignments that allow students to examine issues in more depth and explore alternative rhetorical stances and situations.