The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Selected Course Offerings: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2015 ,Fall 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2010, Spring 2010, Fall 2009, Spring 2009, Fall 2008, Spring 2008, Fall 2007, Spring 2007, Fall 2006

For the current semester's schedule of course offerings, please see the UIUC course information page. For Writing Studies courses offered through the English Department, see the English Department course description index.

Course Descriptions

The links above provide access to sample course descriptions of classes offered by Center faculty and/or available to Center students. While the specific topics of some courses change from year to year, these descriptions provide a useful cross section of the wide range of course offerings through the Center.

In addition to the required courses for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, Center graduate students may take courses in other departments, including sociology, anthropology, curriculum and instruction, gender and women's studies, and art and design. The list below includes courses that our graduate students have taken across campus. Graduate students should consult with their advisors before registering for courses outside of their home department.

Art and Design

Art and Design 550: Writing with Video Workshop (Joseph Squier)

Explores the use of video in research, scholarly, and/or creative endeavors. Students engage in a comprehensive examination of video as a rhetorical narrative medium, with a focus on the actual production of video work. Emphasizes the use of video as a tool for inquiry, engagement, composition, and communication across a broad range of cultural and professional practices.


CMN 529: Language, Culture, and Identity (Michelle Koven)

We will discuss how people use language in ways that signal a range of interactional and socio-cultural meanings. We will explore a number of classic and contemporary approaches that address how language use both seems to ?reflect? and create interpersonal and sociocultural contexts.More specifically, we will cover a range of approaches to the study of the relationships between language use and processes of social identification, often understood in terms of seemingly more durable, broader-level rubrics, such as ethnicity, race, class, gender, sexuality, the nation-state, diaspora, generation, etc. Although no previous background is required for this course, students must be willing, however, to read, synthesize, and discuss material from a range of disciplines.

CMN 538: Seminar in Rhetorical Theory: Rhetoric and Visual Culture (Cara Finnegan)

I took this course in the spring of 2001 with Cara Finnegan. It was a great class, very helpful in providing a solid foundation in visual theory (Mitchell, Crary, Benjamin, Elkins). Cara was wonderful in allowing students to direct their work to the field/audience most appropriate for them. The reading load was pretty heavy, but the assignments themselves, a book review, response papers, classroom presentation (more like leading discussion), and seminar paper, were very useful. (Description by Jim Purdy)

CMN 538 Visual Rhetoric (Cara Finnegan)

This seminar will take up theoretical, critical, and historical approaches to the study of visual rhetoric through an extended case study of the Farm Security Administration's documentary photography project (1935-1943). After a brief introduction to the history and status of scholarship in visual rhetoric, we will read published work on the FSA from within the field of Communication as well as Art History, History, and American Studies. Students will develop a set of critical practices for reading photographs, learn strategies for working with archives, and identify conceptual resources from rhetorical theory that help us understand various aspects of the FSA's work. The course's major assignment will be a research project on a specific aspect of the FSA's corpus, the product of which will be a seminar paper or, with prior approval, a multimedia work. Students do not need previous coursework in rhetoric to take this seminar.

CMN 538: Seminar in Rhetorical Theory (David Cisneros)

This course has two main and intersecting goals: 1) to survey some of the major rhetorical approaches to and debates within the study of social movements and protest, and 2) to develop an interdisciplinary toolbox of key concepts, theories, and methodologies for the study of social protest and social movement(s).

There are many ways to study social movements, and we will read widely throughout the course, but our main emphasis will be on the study of social movements from a (critical) communicative/rhetorical perspective. That is, rather than focus on social theories of social movement formation, organization, and mobilization, our focus will be on the rhetorical and discursive dimensions of social movement, including agents, audiences, tactics, communication media, and the contexts of social change.

CMN 538: The Problem of the Public (Cara Finnegan)

Most academic formulations of politics and rhetoric assume the existence of a relatively stable, uniform entity called “the public.” But such assumptions beg the question of whether that thing we call “the public” indeed exists, and, if it does, whether it is as uniform and stable as we like to claim. This graduate seminar suggests that the public is the problem -- that scholars of rhetoric and political communication must come to terms with the public as a construct that both serves useful ends for deliberative democratic discourse and at the same time may reinforce and reinscribe oppressive relations among people characterized as much by difference as by homogeneity.

Curriculum and Instruction

C&I 482: Social Learning and Multimedia (Mark Dressman)

Learning in multimodal environments from a social and cultural perspective. Topics include the formation and expression of individual and group identity across multiple contexts, including social networking, online gaming, reality television programs, streamed video, and in online courses. Assignments include both analytic and project-based tasks, with an emphasis on implications for formal learning environments.

Education Policy Organization and Leadership

EPOL 585 Ethnographic Methods in Education (Anne Dyson)

The course focuses on the goals and nature of qualitative, observational study of life in educational settings, with an emphasis on ethnography, including the ethnography of communication. We discuss the nature of schools, classrooms, and other educational settings as dynamic places of relationships, power struggles, and learning. We consider qualitative educational research that approaches issues of teaching and learning as situated in particular places in complex societies. We will have an ongoing examination of how one conducts qualitative research in educational settings and, also, of the social and ethical issues involved. Members of the class will be guided in conducting a small scale but formal study in an educational setting; topics are wide-open to student interest. Writing Studies students are always welcome.

Gender and Women's Studies

GWS 401: Feminist Theory in the Humanities

This course offers a comprehensive look at the evolution of feminist theory. It has been taught by several different instructors, and has a literary/cultural studies perspective. The work included extensive readings, weekly written responses and a 20-25 page critical paper. This course would be helpful for anyone in Writing Studies who was interested in using feminist theory in their research. (Description by Joyce Walker)

GWS 401: Feminist Theory in the Humanities (Kal Alston)

This class served as an excellent introduction to theory in general (for example, Foucault, Lacan, and Derrida) as well as a strong forum for discussing current contributions to feminist theories. Kal made the class especially interesting by mixing contemporary cultural phenomena (with TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Will and Grace) with more traditional theory. (Description by Rosalie Warren)

GWS 550 Feminist Theory in the Humanities (Paula Treichler)

I took this class in the Spring of 2005 and I do not know if Treichler will teach it again in the future. I can imagine the reading for this frequently offered course offered through GWS varies widely by professor. We read from the late 19th century forward (with a particular emphasis on texts from the mid 1980s forward) issues taken up with and complicating current and past feminist theory. Some authors that were a highlight for me include Fausto-Sterling, Haraway, Carby, and Butler. (Description by Martha Webber)