A bicycle stands ready for action, leaning against a cayenne-painted brick wall, just outside a cream-colored door. Where will its next adventure take it?


This class asks you to practice studying writing from a variety of perspectives. You’ll read scholars, professionals, and career authors over the course of the semester. More importantly, you’ll develop your own thinking and create documents that allow you to join the discussion about how writing works. The assignments listed below align with our major units of study, which are listed in greater detail in the course calendar.

Blog Posts

In response to your regular reading assignments, you will create weekly blog posts. These posts serve as conversation starters, sharing your thinking with the class. Additionally, these posts give you experience creating content for online audiences. We’ll use WordPress, which runs about one-third of the world’s websites, to host our blog. Getting experience writing in WordPress is a useful and transferrable professional skill.

Because your work will be publicly visible, you’ll need to think carefully about audience. Though you’ll write these posts primarily for an audience of your colleagues, anyone on the Internet can access your work. We’ll talk about who is and is not likely to see your ideas, and that awareness will help you tailor your writing.

Pre-Publish Checklists

Speaking of tailoring your writing, each blog post must meet basic content requirements within WordPress. For example, any images included in a post must include alt text for accessibility, or else the post can’t be published. At first, some of these requirements might cause a little frustration. Mostly, though, the requirements work to ensure consistency and functionality on our blog.

All told, these are the requirements each blog post must meet:

  • Title must be ≥ 10 characters long
  • Content must be ≥ 200 words
  • Post must be assigned to 1 category, filing it with the right homework assignment
  • The post’s excerpt must be 120–155 characters long
  • Any links used must be valid (no broken/dead links)
  • Any images used must include alt text for accessibility

Major Assignments

Each unit of study ends with a peer-reviewed major assignment. No two are alike, so you’ll avoid the monotony of always writing basic essays. But because the assignments are diverse, you’ll need to pay careful attention to what’s expected for each one.

Literacy Narrative

Identify a form of literacy you have, then tell the story of how you developed that literacy. If your skills improved to the point of fluency, explain how and when that happened, as well as how you knew you’d achieved that level of skill. Examples of this assignment are available at the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives or from a general web search.

Process Research Report

After reading selected studies on how people write, conduct a study of your own writing process. Then, use the CARS model and the IMRD format to report what you concluded about the writing process. Part of the challenge with this assignment is practicing your sense of authority as a scholarly writer.

Discourse Community Ethnography

Select a discourse community in which you are/were a member. Identify how that group meets John Swales’ (1990) six defining characteristics of discourse communities. Then, report on an insight you gained by analyzing the group.

Rhetorical Analysis

Select a document used by a discourse community you’re either familiar with or interested in learning more about. Then, using Keith Grant-Davie (1997) as a guide, explain how that text functions within the rhetorical situation in which it is used, identifying how each of Grant-Davie’s characteristics affects its function.

Course Audit

The last of the semester’s assignments reviews your work and argues for your success in the class. This assignment is essentially a final portfolio for the class, but simplified for practicality. In short, you will write a letter to your instructor explaining how you know you’ve achieved each of the student learning outcomes listed in the course syllabus.

Your letter to the instructor serves to audit the content of the course by identifying what does and does not directly apply to the goals stated at the outset of the semester. You will explain how the assignments you completed helped you achieve the results expected in the syllabus.