An empty hallway in an abandoned building has a series of open doors, each with peeling paint. Walking down this hallway is a journey.


This class is designed to introduce writing as a field of study and reshape the way you think of writing as a process and a product. As such, the material we read in class covers a range of approaches, from academic scholarship to professional blogs. The calendars below outline our path we’ll take, the topics we’ll study, and the assignments we’ll complete along the way. Additionally, details about the requirements of each unit can be found on the Assignments page. And finally, a combined, detailed calendar is available as a spreadsheet.

Units of Study

WeeksTopicMajor Assignment
1Course Overview & PoliciesSyllabus Policies
2–3Rhetorical Reading & LiteraciesLiteracy Narrative
4–7The Writing ProcessProcess Research Report
8–11Discourse CommunitiesDC Ethnography
12–14Rhetorical SituationsRhetorical Analysis
15Reflective WritingFinal Portfolio

Readings Calendar

We won’t use a traditional textbook in this class. Instead, with a few exceptions noted below, each of our readings comes from freely available online sources. Additionally, you can choose the type of material you want to read each week: Selections are available from primary academic scholarship (generally research articles written for writing scholars), accommodated sources (generally chapters written by teachers to students), and student-authored textbook chapters (written by students previously enrolled in classes like this one). No matter which kind of source material you read, you’ll get ideas and insights from folks who came before you, helping you think through our course content and making you a more intentional writer.

WeekTopicPrimary ScholarshipAccommodated TextsStudent-Authored ChaptersBlog Category
Sep 4–6
Course Overview & Class PoliciesElizabeth Wardle’s “You Can Learn to Write in General” (audio version also available)Savini’s “Looking for Trouble: Finding Your Way into a Writing Assignment
Warner’s “Rethinking My Cell Phone/Computer Policy
Bunn’s How to Read Like a Writer
Rosenberg’s Reading Games: Strategies for Reading Scholarly Sources
Irvin’s What is Academic Writing
• Mallory Helmes’ “The Training Wheels Need to Come off of the 5 Paragraph Essay
• Jennifer Gross’s “First-Year Composition Prepares Students For Academic Writing
• “Habits of Mind” from WRI@SLU
Relationship with writing: Strengths & desired improvements
Sep 9–13
Rhetorical Reading & MultiliteraciesHaas & Flower’s “Rhetorical Reading Strategies and the Construction of Meaning• Dryer’s “Words Get Their Meanings from Other Words
• Roozen’s “Texts Get Their Meaning from Other Texts
• Brooke and Grabill’s “Writing is a Technology through Which Writers Create and Recreate Meaning
• “Reading Rhetorically” from WRI@SLU
• “Reading and Writing as a Researcher” from WRI@SLU
Unexpected literacies
Sep 16–20
Peer Review & Revision: Literacy Narrative• James Paul Gee’s “Literacy, discourse, and linguistics: Introduction
• Hawisher & Selfe’s “Becoming literate in the information age: Cultural ecologies and the literacies of technology
• Maddalena’s “I need you to say ‘I’”: Why First Person is Important in College Writing
• Ramsdell’s Storytelling, Narration, and the “Who I Am” Story
• DePeter’s How to Write Meaningful Peer Response Praise
• Danielle Dell’Aquila’s “Put Yourself In Your Writing
• Sister Molly Heine’s “Find Your Style and Voice
Writing the Right Words (in context)
Sep 23–27
The Writing Process: Historical ViewsCarol Berkenkotter’s “Decisions and Revisions: The Planning Strategies of a Publishing Writer” and Donald Murray’s “Response of a Laboratory Rat: Or, Being Protocoled” (same link)• Lamott’s Shitty First Drafts [see Canvas > Files]
• Dila’s “Rethinking the Shitty First Draft
“Finding Your Way In”: Invention as Inquiry Based Learning in First Year Writing from Writing Spaces
• Geena Scirica’s “Research Begins with Unsettling Problems and Questions
• Emily Contreras’s “Research Starts With A Hypothesis
• “Brainstorming” from WRI@LEO
Process Questions
Sep 30 – Oct 4
No class: Service Trip[none]• Reid’s “Ten Ways To Think About Writing: Metaphoric Musings for College Writing Students
• Grauman’s “What’s That Supposed to Mean? Using Feedback on Your Writing
• “First Drafts” from WRI@SLU
• “Editing and Revising” from WRI@SLU
Relationship with Revision
Oct 7–11
The Writing Process: Self-StudyNancy Sommers’ “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers• Brooke & Carr’s “Failure Can Be an Important Part of Writing Development
• Downs’ “Revision is Central to Developing Writing
• Alexus Yeakel’s “Failure is Awesome
• Haleigh Cedervall’s “Revision Is Not the Nail in the Coffin
Iterative Writing
Oct 14–18
Peer Review & Revision: Writing Process Research Report[none]
Oct 21–25
Discourse Communities v Speech Communities; lexisJohn Swales’ “The concept of discourse community.” [See Canvas > Files]• Melzer’s Understanding Discourse Communities
• Tremain’s What Can I Add to the Discourse Community? How Writers Use Code Meshing and Translanguaging to Negotiate Discourse 
Discourse Communities” from WRI@SLUCommunity Membership
Oct 28 – Nov 1
DCs: Genres as social actionAmy J. Devitt’s “Generalizing about Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept• Hart-Davidson’s “Genres are Enacted by Writers and Readers
• Lerner’s “Writing is a Way of Enacting Disciplinarity
Genre & Lexis” from WRI@SLUEnacting Genres
Nov 4–8
[No class 11/5]
DCs: Expertise, authority, and membership• Penrose & Geisler’s “Reading and Writing Without Authority
• Wardle’s “Identity, authority, and learning to write in new workplaces.” [See Canvas > Files]
• Yancey’s “Writers’ Histories, Processes, and Identities Vary
• Lunsford’s “Writing is Informed by Prior Experience
• Villanueva’s “Writing Provides a Representation of Ideologies and Identities
What Color Is My Voice? Academic Writing and the Myth of Standard English from Writing Spaces
Workin’ Languages: Who We Are Matters in Our Writing from Writing Spaces
• Lavenda Oluoch’s “Official American English is a Choice
• Zachary Martin’s “African American Language is Good English
• Maya Ostfeld’s “There are Infinite Correct Ways to Communicate
• “Authority & Belonging” from WRI@SLU
Identity & Authority in Writing
Nov 11–15
Peer Review & Revision: DC Ethnography[none]
Nov 18–22
Rhetorical Situations: Purpose & Exigence, Rhetor & AudienceGrant-Davie’s “Rhetorical Situations and Their Constituents• Duffy’s What Is Rhetoric? A “Choose Your Own Adventure” Primer
• Boyd’s Murder! (Rhetorically Speaking)
Rhetorical Situations” from WRI@SLUSituating Rhetoric
Nov 25–27
[No class 11/28–12/1]
Rhetorical Situations: Genres, Affordances, & ConstraintsMiller & Shepherd’s “Blogging as social action: A genre analysis of the weblog• Mirabelli’s “The Language and Literacy of Food Service Workers.” [See Canvas > Files]
• “Make Your “Move”: Writing in Genres” from Writing Spaces
• Dirk’s Navigating Genres
• Catherine Garner’s “Excellent Academic Writing Can Be Funny
• Keith Erickson’s “Pop Culture is Good for Writing
Demonstrating Values through Genres
Dec 2–6
Peer Review & Revision: Rhetorical Analysis[none]
Dec 9–13
[Wed 12/11 on Tue Schedule]
Reflective Writing• Yancey & Wiser’s “Situating portfolios: Four perspectives
• Desmet et al’s “Reflection, revision, and assessment in first-year composition ePortfolios
• Giles’ “Reflective Writing and the Revision Process: What Were You Thinking?
• Duffy’s “Writing Involves Making Ethical Choices
• Klein & Shackelford’s “Beyond Black on White: Document Design and Formatting in the Writing Classroom
• “Building a Portfolio” from WRI@SLU
• “Writing for Academic Audiences” from WRI@SLU
Function of a Portfolio and cover letter
Dec 16–20
Final Portfolios; Peer Review & Revision: Course Audit[none]