In the Foundations Curriculum, writing is prominent, and students must complete not one but three writing courses to fulfill F2. The Writing Center is a particularly useful resource for students in the Writing Seminar and writing-intensive courses in Search/Life and other departments. In most of these courses, professors will require students to revise their work and to incorporate outside sources in their papers. The Center’s tutors are trained to help with these specific writing tasks.
F2: Develop excellence in written communication.
The ability to express concise and methodical arguments in clear and precise prose is essential to success in most courses at Rhodes and in most of the vocations Rhodes graduates pursue. Students will receive significant training in writing during the first two years through (1) one course foregrounding skills of critical analysis, rhetoric, and argumentation, and (2) two writing intensive courses. These three required courses will provide the initial steps in the student’s deliberate development as a writer. Courses within each major will ensure that each student continues to refine writing skills over the course of the four years in college.
This requirement will be satisfied by one writing seminar (taken in the first year) and two writing intensive courses, one of which will be in Search/Life. All three courses are to be completed by the end of the second year. Writing intensive courses and writing seminars may explore material in any discipline or may be interdisciplinary. However, the writing seminars will have as their central focus writing skills.
The Writing Seminar
Students should take advantage of the Writing Center especially during their first year, when they are enrolled in the first part of the F2 requirement, the Writing Seminar. Many of the tutors took this course themselves and can reinforce the instruction provided by professors.
All of the Writing Seminars, regardless of who teaches them, have similar goals: to develop the ability to read and think critically, to employ discussion and writing as a means of exploring and refining ideas, and to express those ideas in effective prose. Several papers will be required, at least one of which will involve the inclusion of outside sources. The seminar will emphasize successive stages of the writing process, including prewriting, drafting, and revision, and will provide feedback from classmates and the instructor. Currently, the only courses that fulfill this requirement are FYWS 151 and FYWS 155.
What to expect
Because each Writing Seminar is designed and taught by a different member of the English department faculty, each class, including the reading and assignments will be different. For example, some professors teach from a “reader” with contemporary essays and rhetorical strategies, while others may teach the fundamentals of Aristotelian argument. Regardless, the goals of the course are the same.
How much to write
Each student in a Writing Seminar will write about the same amount of pages, regardless of which professor teaches the class. Typically, students write four essays, ranging in length from 3-5 pages, and one research paper of 7-10 pages. In addition to these final papers, students are required to extensively revise at least one essay and urged to revise all their papers. Writing will constitute about 75% of your final grade.
What to learn
By the end of the semester, each student enrolled in the Writing Seminar should know how to do the following:
- Determine important questions about a topic or a text on their own.
- Analyze a writing task and develop a strategy to fulfill it, considering the rhetorical situation and the audience.
- Assess fairly the arguments of others and develop a critical/analytical response to a written text.
- Plan and organize a coherent, well-supported argument with a clear thesis.
- Support the thesis with unified paragraphs that are clearly related and substantially developed. Develop a polished, rational, evidenced argument.
- Distinguish between kinds of evidence and select evidence that is relevant, sufficiently detailed, and substantial.
- Summarize, extrapolate, and synthesize material from a variety of sources, giving adequate and accurate documentation.
- Demonstrate sensitivity to tone, diction, syntax, and figurative language.
- Express complex ideas in clear and effective prose that has been carefully edited and proofread.
- Assess their own drafts (drawing on audience feedback when appropriate) and reconceive, restructure, or significantly modify their own arguments.