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2016-2017 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Writing - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section in this catalog.


The Department of Writing offers instruction in academic, creative, and professional writing. Academic writing courses, which are designed for all students in the university community, include first-year composition. For students who choose to major in writing, the department offers coursework in both creative and professional writing. The department also offers a minor in writing for students wishing to develop their writing abilities for personal or professional reasons.

Academic writing, creative writing, and professional writing all belong to the liberal arts. As disciplines, they seek to sensitize student writers to the values and practices of particular genres of writing. The overall goal is to develop in students the ability to write well in a variety of contexts. Students develop this ability by reading and analyzing models and by drafting and revising original work in a workshop setting. Academic writing explores the art of writing well in specific disciplinary contexts. Students who emphasize creative writing coursework will explore the art of writing literary nonfiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Students who emphasize professional writing will explore the art of writing nonfiction, document design, technical writing, writing in multiple media and other forms of workplace and freelance writing.

All Grand Valley students, regardless of major, must satisfy the freshman writing requirement. First-year composition courses focus on developing student fluency and skill, with special attention given to general forms of writing common in many academic settings. WRT 150 students draw on personal experience and opinions, use library resources, conduct research, integrate sources into their writing, and become familiar with the Fred Meijer Center for Writing as an important campus resource. Students who want additional work on the basics of college writing, or who simply wish to build their confidence in writing before tackling WRT 150, may take WRT 098, a course focusing on writing clearly, confidently, and correctly.

Students who need or want additional work on their writing take WRT 305, a course designed to build general writing abilities and to help students develop expertise in the writing forms and styles specific to their academic and career interests.

The Writing Major

The modular curriculum allows students to determine their own course of study, balancing creative and professional writing interests with coursework that leads to a graduate program, freelance writing, editing and publishing, or corporate workplace writing.

Those students primarily interested in creative writing can take courses where they create original works of poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction. These students will learn to recognize and describe various poetic and prose forms, to analyze the creative work of others, including both professional writers and fellow students, and to reflect on their own developing personal aesthetic. These students will also have opportunities to develop their editing and professional writing abilities in other coursework and extracurricular activities.

Students whose primary interest is in developing their creative writing abilities may also have a desire to pursue graduate education, to enhance a love and appreciation of literature, to write independently, or to improve their writing skills for any career in which writing may play a part. Many students combine their study of creative writing with a minor in another academic area, such as art, English, history, liberal studies, philosophy, or theater. Students who focus on creative writing typically find careers as teachers, editors, grant writers, program administrators, freelance journalists, or authors.

Those students primarily interested in professional writing can take courses where they generate a wide range of nonfiction prose appropriate for a wide range of rhetorical situations. Writing majors who focus their study on professional writing, multimedia writing, document design, and writing for the web will become sophisticated analysts of communication situations and self-reflective about their own rhetorical skills. By graduation, students who have taken these kinds of courses will feel confident writing and designing pamphlets, newsletters, magazines, webpages, presentations, and a variety of other forms and genres. Students that are primarily interested in professional writing courses typically seek careers in writing, publishing, or other fields in which specialized skills in written communication are required.

All writing majors are encouraged to combine their interest in writing with a minor in a professional area such as advertising and public relations, business, computer science, English, information systems, or international relations. Students are encouraged to create a major-minor combination that suits their own interests and career plans. Writing majors typically find careers as editors, grant writers, program administrators, technical writers, freelance writers, teachers, and authors.

The Writing Minor

The minor in writing is designed to serve students in a wide variety of disciplines, such as computer science, business, math, nursing, classics, and engineering, by giving them the opportunity to develop personal and workplace writing skills and greater rhetorical sensitivity. The minor requires 18 credits; the range of courses offered encourages students to tailor a program that augments their professional needs and personal talents as writers.

Extracurricular Activities

The writing department offers a rich community of writers and readers, including students, faculty, local professionals, and regional and national authors. For students, this community begins to take shape in the introductory courses and extends beyond the department itself to the Department of English, the School of Communications, and the university community as a whole. Beyond their courses, students have a number of opportunities to participate in the writing community on campus.

  • fishladder: A Student Journal of Art and Writing. The literary arts magazine publishes creative work of students once yearly and is edited by students under the tutelage of a faculty adviser.
  • Oldenburg Writing Contest. An annual writing contest, cosponsored with the English Department, carrying cash prizes for essays and creative writing in various categories.
  • Student Reading Series. A public series of evening readings of promising student work from intermediate and advanced writing courses. Works include drama, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
  • Grand Valley Writers Series. This annual series brings both regionally and nationally known writers to campus for public readings, class visits, and other appearances.
  • Distinction in Writing. A program that encourages majors to explore opportunities in addition to the regular curriculum. Interested students work with their advisors to plan and complete a series of extracurricular activities over a one-or two-year period. Successful students submit a final portfolio of work and are awarded the Distinction in Writing designation upon graduation.
  • InWriting. An annual newsletter about the faculty and students in the Department of Writing.
  • AWP Intro Journal Awards. A literary competition for the discovery and publication of the best new works by students currently enrolled in the programs of AWP.
  • Organization for Professional Writers. The Organization for Professional Writers is a place for students to further their understanding of professional writing as a field, utilize their skills outside of the classroom, and network with other writing majors, minors, and professionals.

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Writing

Writing Minor

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