Choosing A Section

The course catalog lists many sections of Seminar in Composition.  How different are their writing requirements likely to be?

All SC sections require at least one crafted composition each week.  The specific topics for this writing, as well as genre and length requirements, can vary considerably based on each instructor’s course design and teaching style.  Nonetheless, all SC sections have in common certain core goals and standards defined by the Composition Program’s Curriculum Committee.  The routes to these goals and standards may vary from section to section, but the fundamental destination remains the same.

Is class discussion required in all SC sections, or are lecture sections available for students who prefer that format?

The prominence of “seminar” in this course’s title emphasizes the significant role of discussion in all sections: there are no lecture sections of SC.  As a seminar, each SC course should nurture critical conversation about composing and increase participants’ attention to the implications of the many choices writers make.  Even though some class time may occasionally be set aside for brief lecture, discussion remains central to the work of all SC sections. 

Are sections with a subtitle that emphasizes film, gender, education, or service learning mainly for students who intend to major in those areas?

SC courses with a designated emphasis on film, gender studies, education, or service learning are appropriate for any student curious to explore that topic through writing, not just for those already planning some closely related major. Like all other SC sections, the subtitled courses share the goals and standards defined by the Composition Program’s Curriculum Committee. Though the writing assignments in subtitled courses involve film, gender, education, or service learning, students’ improvement as writers and readers will remain the central concern.

How do sections labeled as a Freshman Seminar differ from other SC sections? 

Freshman Seminars (FP 0003) offered in the fall term are themed composition courses taught in conjunction with Introduction to Arts and Sciences. This 4-credit unit allows students to fulfill the SC requirement while also learning about the University, reflecting on distinctions between high school and college, and exploring some of the cultural events on campus and within Pittsburgh's distinctive neighborhoods. In the spring, Freshman Seminars (FP 0006) are 3-credit courses that similarly focus on a range of engaging topics (but don't include the introduction to life at Pitt). Freshman Seminar themes vary from year to year. Past courses have focused on topics such as science, education, religion, and Native America.

How do the challenges of sections that meet only once a week differ from those of sections meeting more frequently?

Sections meeting only once a week require concentration on critical conversation about writing for an extended class period as well as the motivation to maintain a disciplined work schedule without the support of more frequent classes. A firm commitment to staying “on task” without regular class contact two or three times a week will increase your ability to prosper in this one-class-a-week environment.