undergraduate section

Upcoming Courses

Spring Term 2018 ENGCMP course descriptions:

ENGCMP 0641: Writing for Change, Wednesdays 6-8:30 pm at the State Correctional Institution Fayette
Writing for Change is an opportunity to examine and produce writing that engages in advocacy, solidarity, social critique, and/or social justice. Students will explore theories of persuasive writing for public audiences, in order to craft their own examples of writing designed to effect changes they wish to see in the spaces through which they move and live. This course satisfies the Writing requirement.
W4C centers on a term project that engages student defined topics of public concern or controversy. Students will read & respond to texts in written and embodied forms, as well as scholarship on language and change-making, in preparation for oral, visual, performed, and/or written compositions designed to influence audiences. Other course assignments (ranging from creative to professional writing) will help build a set of theoretical and methodological tools that will help students compose their term projects.
W4C will comprise half incarcerated students from State Correctional Institution Fayette and half Pitt students—who will take the class at SCI Fayette following the Inside-Out pedagogy model (for more information please visit insideoutcenter.org/about-inside-out.html).


This course is likely to be especially appealing to students with an active commitment to social justice. Writers of all disciplines are welcome.
*As about 12 of 15 class meetings will be held at the prison, enrolled students will need to block out Wednesdays from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Registrants will be required to conduct a short interview with the instructor. 
Enrolled students will be required to submit forms for prison clearance. Transit to the prison will be by carpool from Pittsburgh. 
If you are interested in this experience or have questions, contact Prof. Cory Holding to set up your brief interview: CHOLDING@pitt.edu.

ENGCMP/HAA 0425: Digital Humanity    Annette Vee

How have computational devices affected the way we think about our own humanity? This course prepares students to critically examine the intersections between digital devices and human life. Covering topics such as the relationship between computers and humans, surveillance, big data, and interactivity and games, we question what it means to be human in a space of pervasive digitality. Assessment will be based on regular online posts, midterm examination, a final curation project, and class participation, both digital and face-to-face. The course fills the Philosophy General Education requirement and meets three times per week: twice for lecture, once for recitation/lab.


ENGCMP 0530  Writing for the Sciences   Sam Pittman

This course invites students to explore the purposes and conventions of writing within the sciences. Students will read and analyze examples of professional scientific documents—including abstracts, literature reviews, research proposals, graduate school papers, journal articles, and correspondence. They will learn to craft scientific research into engaging written material, using information drawn from their own research or from publicly available studies. They will consider their audience’s needs and tailor their writing for both expert and general readers in different rhetorical contexts. Students will also learn strategies for document design, including how to effectively use visuals to represent data and findings. Throughout the course, students will learn how to write clear, powerful sentences and paragraphs. Finally, to develop their professional collaboration skills, students will practice providing each other with effective feedback on works-in-progress.


ENGCMP 0535 Writing in the Health Science Professions  April Flynn

In this course you will learn the types of skills you will need to effectively write and communicate in many health science and medical contexts, from documenting and publishing research to presenting at conferences. Students will learn to research and write literature reviews on health science and/or medical communication topics, and at the end of the term they will present formal “conference” papers on an issue relevant to the intersection of the health sciences with communication and the humanities. We will also look at the kinds of essays and narratives required of applicants to graduate and professional programs, and students will write personal statements based in part on the professional philosophies that they develop through class readings and discussions. There’s no need for medical writing experience prior to this course, but bring your desire to learn.


ENGCMP 0550 Topics in PPW: Writing Proposals for Business     Megan Kappel

Successful business proposals have great potential; they can jumpstart businesses, build a strong client base, create change in the workplace, foster professional relationships, and facilitate projects that meet the needs of specific audiences. But what is a business proposal? How does it differ from a grant proposal or a business plan? What should a business proposal look like? How do we make our proposals stand out from the rest? This course will enable students to understand the functions and conventions of business proposals, the types of research that they require, and the processes that generate them and lead to approval. Coursework will help students develop an understanding of business proposal writing from an initial idea through final submission. Students will complete a variety of written pieces leading up to the final proposal, which may be valuable in their employment portfolios. Upon completion of this course, students will have acquired the research and writing skills necessary to write successful proposals for real-world for-profit contexts.


ENGCMP 0560 Writing Arguments   Angie Farkas

This course has two goals: to help students become more adept at understanding and critically analyzing arguments, and to help students become better arguers themselves. Students in “Writing Arguments” will practice composing arguments across a variety of forms, genres, and technologies (written, visual, oral, digital) in order to develop and hone their persuasive language skills.   Students also will be encouraged to research  the role and function of argument in a career of interest to them and and to compose a relevant argumentative piece. Throughout, the emphasis will be on arguments that move beyond a win/lose model to more constructive ends.  


ENGCMP 1102 Language of Medicine  April Flynn

This course will explore ways that writing is used to support health and medical professions, and more generally, ways that language and communication patterns affect perceptions, dynamics, and outcomes in health and medical contexts. A blend of theory, narrative analysis, and practical concerns, the course will review developments in the emerging field of medical rhetoric as a foundation for discussions of applied ethics topics such as health equity, patient-centered communication models, and the role of phenomenology in defining pain, illness and disability. Students will write documents commonly used in clinical and research settings such as case reports, correspondence, conference presentation materials, and medical literature reviews, and they will also develop a paper and presentation on a health and medical communication sub-topic. This writing intensive (‘W’) course is appropriate for students planning on becoming doctors, medical researchers, health care administrators, public health advocates, dentists, physician assistants, physical therapists, nurses, rehabilitation therapists, hospice workers, social workers, medical sociologists, medical writers, communication specialists, and other related professionals, as well as anyone who is interested in exploring the role of written communication in health and medicine.


ENGCMP 1111 Professional Writing in Global Contexts    Pam O'Brien

In order to create effective and powerful documents for diverse global audiences, students need to be able to negotiate the expectations, assumptions, conventions, and professional practices of different cultures. This course will help advanced undergraduate students better understand what is at stake in writing for international audiences, how to research issues relating to communication (and especially the use of English) in global contexts, and how to write professional publications for particular international audiences. In this course, students will learn the following: to think critically and to analyze various approaches related to the use of English on a global scale; to shape their writing to account for high- and low-context cultures; to engage with challenges associated with language and translation; to effectively engage with a range of rhetorical moves to persuade a multi-cultural audience; and to account for writing issues like style, tone, clarity, document design, and specialized language in international contexts.


ENGCMP 1112 Professional Uses of Social Media     Sarah Leavens

Many college students use social media in their daily lives to connect with friends and family, get news, shop, document aspects of their lives, and follow activities of people and organizations that matter to them. This course explores what it means to use social media as a professional in support of your own career or in support of the goals of a business or organization for which you work. By the end of this course, students will be able to describe the evolution of digital communication, significant turns, and likely future directions; discuss a variety of social media platforms and their ideal functionalities; critically discuss the professional uses of social media; identify differences between personal and professional use of social media and digital communication; develop a unique, reliable, consistent voice across a variety of platforms; develop and sharpen writing skills in order to tell stories through the contemporary lens of social media; design and implement a social media strategy; develop the adaptivity and flexibility that will allow writers to engage with new platforms and new audiences; identify and explore the rhetorical dimensions of social media; and execute significant and purposeful revision in writing.


ENGCMP 1151 Professional Editing in Context   Tom McWhorter

This course focuses on editing as a professional activity. We will explore the whole range of editorial work, including developmental editing, substantive editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Special attention will be given to the editor as the person who mediates the relationship between author and reader. Students will learn about the editing process and will edit texts, reflect on the process, and hone their ability to work on language at the sentence level. The course will introduce students to the Chicago Manual of Style as well as other styles. Students will engage in research related to editing and their career plans and will assemble a portfolio for the class. This advanced course is intended for students who are pursuing the PPW certificate, as well as other students interested in careers in writing, editing, or publishing.


ENGCMP 1250 Advanced Topics in PPW: Language of Policy       Nancy Koerbel

Policies affect every aspect of our lives: public and private, formal and informal, explicit or implicit. Often policy operates behind scenes, helping to guide decisions and outcomes. This course will explore how language works (or doesn’t) in both public (government) and private sector policies. Students will prepare common policy documents in addition to short reflective writing and publishable opinion pieces. Topic areas will include the criminal justice system, the rights of nonhuman animals, and student-driven university activities.


ENGCMP 1510 Writing with Style  Dave Bartholomae

Do you feel the force of great writing, but worry that you can’t control it? Have you wondered about your commas, then just shrugged it off and guessed? Through a focus on the moving parts of the sentence—where and why to expand or contract, to elaborate in place or to accumulate in series—students in this course will learn to build coherence and shift emphasis in their writing. Exercises in imitation and variation, derived in part from readings by acclaimed prose stylists, will alternate with more extended writing and revision to allow sentence-level insights to scale up to paragraphs, sections, and beyond.