The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Selected Course Offerings: 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. Information about course schedules may also be available in the Writing Studies office in 288 English Building.

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, 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.

Please note: course numbers have now changed. For most of the 400-level course numbers provided in the examples, add 100 to conform with the new numbering system.

Art and Design

Art and Design 391: Rise of Images (Nan Goggin)

The title for this course came from Mitchell Stephens' book The Rise of the Image The Fall of the Word. We began looking at illuminated manuscripts, moved through moveable type, and into the computer age. This was really a good survey of the rise of visual culture. This class is also purposefully interdisciplinary. You have to get permission from Nan to take the course before you can add it to your schedule. (Description by Kathie Gossett)

Art History

Art History 321: Early Christian and Medieval Art (Anne Hedeman)

As its name suggests, this course looked at early Christian and Medieval art. Particularly interesting to anyone looking to do historical work on the integration of words and images, this course started by looking at early murals and followed the tradition into manuscripts and eventually directly into the text. (Description by Kathie Gossett)


CMN 429: Ethnographic Methods (Peggy Miller)

I highly recommend taking a Qualitative/Ethnographic Methods course; they are offered in various departments. Peggy's course introduced me to several texts that I included on my exam lists. One challenge was that several students in the course were already working on projects or at research sites together, so they knew each other (and each other's work) better than I could--I was a bit of an outsider. However, people were nice, and their projects were interesting. More important, Peggy was an excellent reader for my project--she had set up the course to support people at different stages for their ethnographic research projects, and she helped me think through different ways for presenting my data. (Description by Karen Lunsford)

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)

I took this class in Spring 2005 and it had changed somewhat (according to Finnegan) from the previous iteration she taught in the past. First, what I appreciated about Professor Finnegan was how knowledgable she was about the field of Writing Studies and her openness to discuss issues that relate to our field specifically. We moved from a general multidisciplinary overview of the field of visual studies and then spent most of the semester considering various applications and criticism from various fields that took up issues of visuality or visual objects to varying degrees. The weeks where arranged by theme (nature/ science, digital/new media, war, etc.). The last few weeks we discussed visual theories by W.J.T. Mitchell, Martin Jay, and other important figures. Discussion of disciplinary issues related to visual studies was a prevalent subtopic for the class. (Description by Martha Webber)

CMN 538: Current Issues in Rhetorical Theory (Cara Finnegan)

This graduate seminar is a comprehensive survey of key developments in contemporary rhetorical theory during the past thirty years. It is designed to offer graduate students the opportunity to engage the most current debates in the field. (Description by Cara Finnegan)

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. (Description by Cara Finnegan)

Curriculum and Instruction

C&I 490 EIT: Evaluation of Information Technologies (Chip Bruce and Jim Levin)

An experimental online course associated with the Education Department's CTER program. I'd recommend courses by either Jim (Education) or Chip (now in Graduate School of Library & Information Science; also has an appt. in Writing Studies), and many of the courses in Education and in GSLIS are good matches for Writing Studies. One caution--online courses may take some extra time because you'll need to get used to the technologies, and because you're writing/reading almost all interactions. In order to get to know Chip well enough to know whether I'd like to ask him to join my dissertation committee, I found other opportunities to meet with him face-to-face (office hours, colloquia, parties, etc.) That worked out well. (Description by Karen Kunsford)

Gender and Women's Studies

WMST 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)

WMST 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)

Educational Psychology

Ed Psych 384: Introduction to Qualitative Inquiry (Tom Schwandt)

This course gives a historical overiew of qualitative inquiry. Think of this as a survey course: it covers the major theoretical and practical movements within the field from the 1950s until now. When I took this course Tom Schwandt had gone on an unexpected sabbatical and his TA was assigned to teach the class so I didn't have the best experience. However, I heard from all the other students in the class that Tom Schwandt is absolutely brilliant and that the class is usually much more organized and informative than the section I took. This class will substitute for one of the required 482s for Writing Studies, but those who are thinking of taking it need to remember that they are crossing over from the Humanities to Social Sciences. While the type of research discussed in the class is education/social sciences based, I found a lot of useful information to bring back into Writing Studies. (Description by Kathie Gossett)

Rehabilitation Education

Rehabilitation Education 301

This course might be valuable for anyone interested in Disability Studies, or for those interested in pedagogical issues associated with the variety of students they are likely to encounter as writing instructors. (Description by Elizabeth Baldridge)