This coming semester (which begins on Monday, eep!) will be my last required set of courses. After this spring, I’ll have completed my five core courses, finished two secondary areas, and taken my linguistics requirements. I will still take classes next year; that’s quite common in my program. I’ll be taking a class in statistics and probably one in educational psychology, just to continue to develop my skills in those areas, and I intend to take a written literacy and translation class in French. But this is it as far as required courses goes, for my whole life. Looking forward to the semester.
Rhetoric of the Classical Period: One of Purdue’s five required core courses, this historical and theoretical overview of the the classical period of rhetoric traces the history of rhetoric from its foundations in ancient Greece through to the early medieval period. Major figures include the Sophists; Socrates and Plato; Aristotle, whose work (for good and bad) still defines much of rhetorical study; Cicero and Quintilian, the great Roman orators; St. Augustine; and Ramus, something of a forgotten man to most people, but someone whose views were extremely influential on argument and education in the European tradition. Major topics include the argumentative modes, kairos and chronos, the topoi, and many other topics defined in ancient rhetoric. When most people think of rhetoric, they’re usually thinking of the subject of this class.
Empirical Approaches to Writing Research: Also a core course, this class is a broad overview of conducting and evaluating research on writing and composition. The class explores quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods, with attention paid to research techniques like the case study, ethnography, and experimental designs. Attention is paid to ethical issues in the conduct of research, with a special focus on the new issues of ethics in conducting research on Internet sources. The course also explores the theoretical and episetmelogical issues and controversies regarding research methods in the field of composition.
Seminar in Writing Programs Administration: A key course in my WPA secondary area, this broad overview addresses the pragmatic and scholarly concerns of a writing program administrator. The course intends to provide students with some of the competencies and understandings necessary to run a writing program in the 21st century. Topics include assessment, core curricula, freshman composition standards and practices, navigating the administrative concerns of the modern university, digital and online course management, budgeting, and more.
Comparing First- and Second-Language Writing: The course I know the least about, and the one I’m most intrigued by. An ESL/Applied Linguistics course, the class examines the empirical differences between writing produced by native writers and that produced by L2 writers. Most second language writing research is interested in production and process– that is, observing how L2 writers produce texts in a way that is similar to or different from native writers. This process orientation, important in part because of the pedagogical imperative, can obscure the difference in the actual written texts themselves. This course (as I understand it) examines extant research on consistent differences in L1 and L2 writing and considers methods, research questions, and applications of such research for the future.