Course Information

Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick (she/her)
M 4:10–7:00 pm; A304 Wells Hall

Office: Linton 308A (though I’m almost never there)
Office Hours: via Zoom; by appointment

Course Description

Over the last ten years of my career, without question, the most important form of writing I’ve been called upon to undertake is the grant proposal. It’s a form I was never taught anything about, but instead had to learn for myself through a nasty process of trial and error. The same is true of a lot of kinds of writing we’re required to complete; the work you are assessed upon in grad school largely focuses on the seminar paper (a prototype for the journal article) and the dissertation (a prototype for the scholarly book). Insofar as grad school teaches you to write those forms — a questionable notion in itself — you’re all too frequently left on your own when it comes to the other crucial bits of scholarly and public prose you’ll be called on to produce. This course, which is more writing workshop than seminar, will give you exposure to and practice in several such forms, and will give you some tools to bring to bear on the other peculiar genres you might run into over the years — hopefully with good results for your more standard writing practices, too.

Course Objectives

Over the course of this semester, you will:

  • Explore some under-considered forms of academic writing, discussing good examples and thinking through how they work.
  • Consider the relationships between more conventional forms like the journal article and these crucial but less-taught forms, and the ways that ideas might develop and move among them.
  • Gain facility in writing in a wide range of forms and for a wide range of audiences.
  • Develop a practice of sharing work-in-progress for feedback.
  • Write. A lot.

Required Texts

  • Barbara W. Sarnecka, The Writing Workshop (digital edition available for free download; available in print from Amazon and other booksellers)
  • Sönke Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes (available from Amazon, etc, or directly from Ahrens’s website)
  • William Germano, On Revision
  • Other texts as linked in the schedule or otherwise shared.

Recommended Texts

  • Paul Silvia, How to Write a Lot (2 ed.)

Course Requirements

  • Professionalism: This goes beyond attendance and participation, though those are required, too. What I want to see from each of you this semester is a determination to both teach and learn and a willingness to support one another in that teaching and learning. Generosity of spirit, in other words.
  • Blogging: Across the semester, you’ll produce weekly blog posts. These can focus on the ideas we’re encountering and discussing in class, but they should also be used to help you develop and process the research you’re doing toward your degree overall. So feel free to post about the reading you’re doing for other classes, or the questions that surface in your teaching, or the other ideas that surface throughout your work.
  • Op/ed or manifesto: In February, we’ll spend a couple of weeks exploring public academic writing, including opinion essays and manifestos. During those weeks I’ll ask you to use your blog to experiment with each form, and then to choose one to revise and expand upon.
  • Statement: Numerous kinds of applications (for advancement from the MA to PhD program, for fellowships, for jobs, and more) will ask you to provide a personal statement, a research statement, a statement of teaching philosophy, or other kinds. Each of you will choose a type of statement to work on this semester.
  • Peer review and response: These pieces of writing often have conflicting audiences: a peer review, for instance, may address both an editor and an author, who may have very different needs. Moreover, these pieces can often be complicated by power dynamics. So practice is key!
  • Proposal: The proposal, written for the grant or fellowship program of your choice, will constitute your final piece of writing for this semester. We’ll talk more about it right around midterm.