Course Descriptions | Editing, Writing, and Media


Students must take all 3 courses (9 hours). It is recommended that these courses be taken before the Advanced Requirements. Core Requirements are not recommended for first-year students.

1. Rhetoric (ENC 3021)

Rhetoric introduces students to key concepts and frameworks useful for analysis of texts, events, and communication. Students will apply rhetorical frames to various 'texts,' e.g., Lloyd Bitzer's theory of rhetorical situation highlighting the role of audience, purpose, and occasion, or Bakhtin's account of dialogism, heteroglossia, and speech genres. Rhetorical canons of invention, arrangement, delivery, style, and memory will be discussed in the context of different media (speech, print, digital, network). Readings include Henry Louis Gates, Sonja Foss, N. Katherine Hayles, and George Lakoff.

2. Writing and Editing in Print and Online (ENC 3416)

Today, writers don't just inscribe words on paper. Students in this course will compose written, visual, and/or auditory texts, using a variety of technologies, all in the context of Bolter and Grusin's suggestion (in Remediation) that different media are always informing each other. Students will be expected to create texts (1) for the page (2) the screen, and (3) the network. Each text will also be edited in accord with its medium. In addition, at least one of these texts will be re-purposed for another medium. Students will conclude the course by creating a digital portfolio. Texts include Palmquist, Designing Writing; the McGraw-Hill Handbook; and Kimball, The Web Portfolio Guide.

3. History of Text Technologies (ENG 3803)

This course provides an introduction to the history of the changing technologies that humans have used to record and transmit their experiences across time and space. Beginning with cuneiform, it surveys the forms that this memory storage has taken, including tattoo, scroll, manuscript, print, illustration, musical notation, phonograph, photograph, film, and digital multimedia. Students will become acquainted with the technologies that have made these forms possible, but they will also explore each technology's social and cultural conditions. These technologies will be investigated using examples from major genres, writers, and works: Sappho, the Bible, the Koran, Chaucer, Shakespeare, the Declaration of Independence, Emily Dickinson, Charlie Chapman, T. S. Eliot, Billie Holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. The case studies will demonstrate how literary production, transmission, and reception are shaped by the materiality of texts themselves.


Students must take at least 3 courses (9 hours) from the following list.

1. Visual Rhetoric in the Digital Age (ENC 4218)

This course focuses on images as texts, including photographs, illustrations, paintings, monuments, and museums. It will help students to "read" the visual, providing a critical vocabulary and a set of conceptual frameworks. Students will learn both how to analyze visual texts, for surface and encoded meaning, and how to compose visual texts, utilizing multiple media. Texts include Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"; selections from Kress and van Leeuwen, Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design; Mitchell, Picture Theory; Handa, Ed., Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World.

2. Issues in Publishing (ENG 4834)

This course explores a wide range of issues in the production and distribution of texts, not only in the 20th and 21st century, but also in earlier historical periods. These issues include the book as object, the ethics of publishing, the history of reading, and censorship, as well as the rise of print culture in America from the colonial period to the present. It also includes practical training, introducing students to the work that editors currently perform in magazine and book publishing. The aims are: 1) to establish a fundamental knowledge of the issues involved in the work of publication; 2) to expand appreciation for the material conditions of print culture; 3) to improve historiographic and interpretive ability; 4) to develop skills and experience that would prepare students for positions in magazine, book, and/or electronic publishing. Texts might include Casper, Chaison, and Groves, eds., Perspectives on American Book History, Manguel, A History of Reading, and Johnson and Prijatel, eds., The Magazine from Cover to Cover.

3. Editing: Manuscripts, Documents, Reports (ENC 4212)

This course trains students in the work of improving another's writing. It seeks to develop the skills of synthesizing another's ideas and data, structuring and clarifying his or her argument, and ordering coherently any multi-part exposition. It is primarily practical in orientation, covering proofreading, grammar, spelling, fact checking, and line-editing. It aims to prepare students for the elementary practice of textual production between draft stage and final publication.

4. Rhetorical Theory and Practice (ENG 4020)

This course offers a historical overview of rhetorical theory, with special emphasis on issues crucial to 21st-century communication, media, and literacy. Such issues include: individual agency, the role of community, textual materiality, heterogeneity, popular culture, and technology. Students will be expected to explore the various theories by applying them to contemporary texts.

5. History of Illustrated Texts: Illuminated Manuscripts to Graphic Novels (ENG 3804)

This course will trace the intricate relationship between texts and images in British and American books from the Lindisfarne Gospels to late twentieth-century graphic novels and comic books. Students will examine manuscript picture-texts of both the natural world (bestiaries) and society (antisemitic representations of Jews), as well as illustrated versions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and the "Travels" of Sir John Mandeville, before surveying printed books incorporating woodcuts and engraving: e.g., Robert Hooke's Micrographia, illustrated editions of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac, William Blake's poems, and the famous illustrated editions of Charles Dickens. The course concludes with the development of the comic book in 1896 (The Yellow Kid) and contemporary graphic novel, e.g., "The Watchmen," "V for Vendetta," and "Persepolis."

6. Advanced Writing and Editing (ENC 4404)

This course represents an advanced-level continuation of the 3000-level "Writing and Editing in Print and Online." In it students will compose a diversity of texts to be shared with a wide range of audiences, the academic as well as the public. Outcomes include the successful creation of (1) a print essay posted on a public class website; (2) a contribution to Wikipedia ; and (3) the creation of a blog that is linked to a set of other blogs, complemented by a report on the effects of the blog on others. In addition, students may be asked to conduct field studies as well as complete a portfolio. Texts include selections from Harrington and Moran, eds., Genre across the Curriculum; selections from Bazerman and Russell, eds., Writing Selves, Writing Societies; Lynch and Wysocki, Compose, Design, Advocate; and Ulmer, Internet Invention.

7. What is a Text? (ENG 4815)

The word "textuality" names a problem and opens a possibility. To bring out the difference, this course investigates ways the experience of texts is not reducible to (e.g.) books, words, media, screens, contexts, structures, institutions, codes, or editions. It will proceed in three ways. First, students will read a series of works, some classic, others recent, in which textuality is broached as topic (e.g., Plato's "Phaedrus," Schlegel's aphorisms, Wimsatt and Beardsley's "Intentional Fallacy," Roland Barthes' "Work to Text"). Second, students will produce a written commentary on a specific intermedia, multimedia, or hypermedia text (e.g., Steve Tomasula and designer Stephen Farrel's VAS: An Opera In Flatland, Debra Di Blasi's hoax The Jiri Chronicles, Shelley Jackson's hypertext The Patchwork Girl, and Gary Hustwit's documentary Helvetica). Finally, students will produce a two-part project, both work and critical commentary, that engages the subject matter of the course, i.e., textuality, in at least two different media. The goal will be for students to understand the paradox of textuality as both occasion for thought and ground of practice.


1. Internship in Editing (ENC 4942)

Practical experience in editing, public relations, and other forms of written communications. Limited to English majors only. Beginning in Fall 2018, students must have completed the core course requirements for their major prior to enrolling in ENC 4942, and students must apply and receive instructor permission to register. Course application is available at
May be repeated to a maximum of three (3) semester hours; additional hours count as general elective credit and do not apply to major requirements. For more information, see the Editing Internship page.