PPW Course Descriptions

Beyond our first-year Composition courses, the Composition Program offers a major and certificate in Public and Professional Writing.

The courses below count toward the major and certificate, but students should be thoughtful about how they combine courses. Please see the course clusters page to think about how you might combine courses to develop particular kinds of expertise.

If you are just looking for a good writing-intensive course to take, we offer many intermediate and advanced courses that are ideal for undergraduates who want to develop their ability to write prose, prepare to teach, learn about specific types of public and professional writing, or improve their ability to compose in traditional or digital media. Our courses explore expository writing, style, pedagogy, rhetoric, digital media, and more. Below are sample course descriptions for regularly offered courses. Since course descriptions may change from term to term, check PeopleSoft for the term when you are registering.

ENGCMP 0400 Written Professional Communication

In this course we will examine the contexts for and rhetorical dimensions of a variety of professional documents, including those documents students produce in the course itself. Major assignments include a set of career materials (resume, cover letter, career report); a correspondence packet that addresses a conflict; a proposal; and a longer report based on research and analysis. As we engage in this work we will explore the nature of professionalism, common features and efforts (enabling and disabling) of professional discourse, and strategies for negotiating the "borders" of specialized and non-specialized discourse. This course is offered Fall, Spring, and Summer terms and during both Summer sessions. GER: W

ENGCMP 0401 Written Professional Communication: Topics in Diversity

This course explores the methods of inquiry, analysis and composition characteristic of written communication in professional settings.  The course will examine such writing's specialized use of language, conventions and formats, premises, motives, and purposes.  By preparing letters, resumes, proposals, reports, etc., students will get a feel not only for what "professional" communication is, but also for how and why it does, or can, or should function. This Topics in Diversity section of WPC will invite students to expand and complicate their understanding of the benefits of workplace diversity and of the problems arising from the unequal distribution of power and privilege across positions (including race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, religion, and class) in the professions. Students will explore the dynamics of power and hierarchy in their chosen field as they observe daily operations and interactions during worksite field visits, and they will consider how these dynamics perpetuate or diminish inequities and marginalization. Among the topics considered are discrimination in hiring and on the job in terms of employment training, responsibilities, pay, and promotions.  Students gain practice articulating their individual diversity as job candidates in resumes and cover letters, and in composing professional documents that address a complaint, seek a remedy, and establish new policies to address hypothetical discriminatory issues that they may experience in the future. GER: W, Diversity

ENGCMP 0410 Writing in the Legal Professions   

This course focuses on the rhetoric of law and the ways that legal texts create a culture and a world through the language and arguments they employ. Students interested in law, rhetoric, and questions of cultural construction should find this course of interest. The course will use literacy texts and the works of legal scholars to consider how arguments, evidence, testimony, assertions, assumptions and judgments constitute a set of public issues and values. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms. It is sometimes offered during a summer session as well. GER: W 

ENGCMP 0415 Writing and Anxiety

This course is designed for students who are interested in learning about ways of navigating anxiety and apprehension about writing and for those who expect to teach or support other writers in business, education, and other nonprofit, public health and service institutions. Writing can be an anxiety-provoking process for many people who nevertheless have to write because of academic or professional responsibilities. The course will explore ways of theorizing the writing process and will identify and share strategies for navigating roadblocks (such as writing apprehension, writing anxiety, and blocking) as they arise. Students can expect to learn essential terms from the rhetorical tradition in order to become more aware of the choices they make as thinkers and writers, and they will analyze the rhetoric of a variety of texts from a disability studies perspective. In addition to learning about writing theory, students can expect to read and write about anxiety and about how the idea of disability functions in our culture.

ENGCMP 0420 Writing for the Public

This course explores the theory and practice of writing that serves the public interest. Public writing is crucial in the nonprofit sector, serving every kind of cause: safety and health, political activism, the environment, animal rights, the arts. It also takes the form of writing that facilitates communication between government and its policies and those people who are impacted by those policies. Many of those who write for the public are working to make a difference in the world. The course will explore the ethics of writing for the public, the impact of rhetorical contexts on writing, and how writing and revision can allow you to understand a problem or issue in a new way. We'll use examples of public writing, theoretical articles, and the work of students in the class to inform our discussion. Students can expect to write proposals; press kits; editorials; informational Web sites; articles; and complex documents that incorporate photos and other visual elements, sidebars, and feature articles. Since we will see writing as part of a conversation with a larger world, students will report on an event they attend, interview a professional in a field that interests them, and identify and regularly read one or more sources of information: professional journals, media outlets, research studies, or other materials. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms and during a Summer session. GER: W

ENGCMP/HAA 0425: Digital Humanity

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. GER: PTE (This is not a writing-intensive course.)

ENGCMP 0430 Public Communication of Science and Technology

This course explores the theory and practice of writing that serves the public interest. We will focus on writing about science, technology, and the environment—areas that influence our daily lives in innumerable ways. By composing in a variety of genres, students will gain a deeper understanding of the ethics of writing for the public, the interaction of communication and rhetorical context, and how writing and revision can facilitate new ways of thinking. Students will study academic articles, professional examples, news coverage, and student work. GER: W, PH

ENGCMP 0432 Writing for Environmental Advocacy

This course focuses on writing in response to the natural environment, primarily as a tool to raise awareness of environmental challenges and to advocate for ways to meet those challenges. We’ll read a variety of voices and styles of advocacy writing, always with a strong focus on the craft of language: How does the writing reach its target and accomplish its goal? What makes the writing persuasive?  We will also study public documents that explore issues related to environmental advocacy. Through varied assignments including blog posts, op-eds, and a researched project for a specific audience, you'll increase familiarity with approaches to and niches for environmental writing, and with some of the historical and political context of the environmental movement. We will investigate the concept of environmental justice and learn more about who feels the biggest impacts of pollution and environmental degradation, and what this means for conversations about change. You’ll hear from at least one guest speaker who will talk about writing for a local environmental organization. We will also likely take a field trip off campus. You'll devote the second half of the semester to an individual writing project and presentation focusing on a specific environmental challenge of your choice. GER: W

ENGCMP 0435 The Public Athlete

Sport is a ripe avenue for public meaning-making, as athletes have used their platforms to bring awareness to various societal issues throughout history. In US contexts, athletes, like Serena Williams, Muhammad Ali, Simone Biles, Lebron James, Megan Rapinoe, Colin Kaepernick, John Carlos, and Tommie Smith (among many others), have taken public stands against various injustices. The ways in which sports data and narratives-in journalism, on social media, in film, or local communities, for example, are crafted also make meaning for a variety of genres and purposes. Thinking deeply about this subject offers participants ways to construct and deconstruct sport-writing to understand how these messages are made.   In this course, we will engage with public writing about sports--both by and about athletes. Participants will not only study histories of sports-writing but will also consider how today's technologies can shape representations of the public athlete. We will read and write in a variety of rhetorical, journalistic, informational, creative, and research-based genres, while thinking carefully about the role of sports and athletes in shaping notions of racial, gender, and class-based identities. GER: W

ENGCMP 0440 Critical Writing

This course is designed to help students improve as critical writers by becoming more observant and discriminating evaluators of the ways in which they and others use language to interpret and judge the world. Students will be asked to reflect upon the behavior of critics they have encountered in order to define what they believe as a critical writer, at her or his best, should do. They will then be asked to test, and perhaps refine, their definitions through work with some texts and topics selected by the group as well as through close analysis of writing samples provided by the instructor. The course is discussion-based, and class members' writing will be its steady concern. GER: W 

ENGCMP 0450 Research Writing

This course explores the skills needed for good research writing and the different forms of research writing that a college graduate may encounter. While the course will give attention to methods of library and Internet research and citation, it will focus on the challenge of reporting on research, starting with the evaluation, summation, and outlining of sources, then broadening as the term progresses into an examination of different kinds of researched writing, including the personal philosophy statements required in many graduate and professional school applications. Much of the class time will be devoted to workshop discussions of student projects and the writing that results from individual research. Students should expect to write a 10-page final project; in addition, the class will work together on a series of research assignments that will be used to illustrate methods and sources of research materials. GER: W

ENGCMP 0500 Topics in Composition

This course provides a space for faculty to identify a particular topic in composition on which to base a semester of inquiry. GER: W

ENGCMP 0510 Narratives of the Workplace

What do you want to be when you grow up? This course takes the cliché You are what you do as a starting point to investigate the intersection of narrative, work, identity, and social structure. We will read and respond to academic and literary writing and media representations of forms of labor ranging from truck driving to housekeeping to managing nuclear power plants. Along the way, we will explore questions such as, What counts as meaningful work, to whom, and why?How do new technologies influence the organizing of work and professional identity?, and How are forms of labor intertwined with cultural ideas about gender, race, class, ability, sexuality, and age? The course also invites students to study the kinds of work and workplace cultures they hope to enter when they graduate, and to explore the connections between education and the professions. GER: W

ENGCMP 0515 Persuasive Writing in Advertising

You can hum that jingle. You can recite that slogan. But did you buy that product? The ubiquity of advertising messages in our modern world has made us more discerning consumers, but developing a persuasive strategy for a specific target audience is a process that requires quality research, strategic planning, and creative vision. This course will teach you the persuasive techniques used in advertising today in order to create messages that influence consumers’ decisions while maintaining high ethical standards.Together we will explore the rhetorical parameters of different media including print, broadcast, digital, and non-traditional forms of advertising and examine real-world campaigns that have made an impact in our own lives. You will then create your own advertising pieces in preparation for the final project of an original creative advertising campaign. These pieces are designed in a way to help refine your persuasive communication skills and to strengthen and diversify the body of work in your professional portfolio. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms. GER: W  

ENGCMP 0520 Integrating Writing and Design

This course allows students to explore the rhetorical implications of design and invites students to consider design and writing as an integrated process. The class will alternate lecture/discussion sessions with studio sessions, so that students can learn how to use Adobe InDesign to create both single- and multi-paged documents for particular rhetorical contexts. Students will also learn how to manipulate images in Adobe Photoshop so that they will better serve their purposes. Our classes will focus on theory of writing and design, critique and analysis of documents that students create, and critique and analysis of documents created by professionals. Students will write and design a resume and cover letter; write analyses of professional examples they find especially problematic or compelling; create brief, fully designed argument pieces conceptualized in two different ways; create a poster; replicate and revise existing professionally produced examples; and propose, write, and design a multi-paged designed document to accomplish a specific outcome for a particular audience. This class assumes that students are comfortable with using a computer and with learning new software. The course is offered during Spring term and Summer session 1. GER: W, CW

ENGCMP 0521 Writing with Data

This course is designed to allow students to engage with data in their writing and learn how to effectively write with numbers. This course is for anyone: those who love to write but are sometimes less confident working with numbers, those who love numbers but want to improve their writing, for people who love numbers and writing rather equally, for scientists, for artists, for people who anticipate working with a lot of data in their career, etc. Students will work with a dataset of their choosing and develop several pieces reliant on quantification for both lay and specialized audiences. Through these writing projects and through classroom activities, students will learn about how to find data to use for their writing, how to plan effective utilization of this data in a broader argument, how to responsibly and effectively use word choice and syntax to convey quantified material, how to organize writing reliant on data for both lay and specialized audiences, and how to incorporate data visualization for purposes of understanding and persuasion. There is no need to know anything about statistics; throughout the term we will learn how mathematical encounters with writing can be engaging, exciting, and something we can work on together. We will be going over a handful of statistical concepts in the second half of the course so we can write about them, but the emphasis here will ultimately be on proficiency for the purposes of a given concepts use in writing. By the end of the course, both traditional and quantitative literacy will be improved to serve student development as competent quantitative writers and readers in future PPW courses, courses across different majors at Pitt, in their writing as professionals, and as more discerning consumers and producers of knowledge as global citizens. GER: W

ENGCMP 0530 Writing for the Sciences

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 publicly available studies or their own research. 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. GER: W 

ENGCMP 0535 Writing in the Health Science Professions

This course is designed for students who are interested in learning about the kinds of writing typically done by clinicians, researchers, and others working in health science contexts. The course focuses on developing the skills needed to write and communicate effectively in health and medical contexts, from writing essays for graduate and professional program applications and documenting research to communicating with patients and staff, writing professional reports and correspondence, and giving conference presentations. Students will gain familiarity with the formal requirements of biomedical abstracts, literature reviews, and research papers, and they will learn effective strategies for conducting secondary research using health science databases and search engines. The course will also introduce techniques for improving documents’ structure and style, so that readers can easily grasp, follow, and absorb the significance of the information presented. Students will be introduced to expectations and challenges they are likely to encounter in other common writing scenarios, such as explaining complex information to patients, writing reports for administrators or regulatory agencies, and communication policies or procedures to staff. Different approaches to writing graduate and professional school personal statements will be discussed, and students will draft and revise either personal statements for applications or “mission statements” articulating their professional visions within a larger ethical framework. Through the course of the term students will work towards completion of a final paper on a medical communication issue, and they will present their findings in a conference-style format, at the end of the semester. GER: W

ENGCMP 0540 Introduction to Disability Studies

This course provides students with a foundation for using writing to understand, apply, and critically engage with key concepts and histories that have been crucial to the experiences of people with disabilities, and perceptions and treatment of those with disabilities. Students can expect to explore and write theoretical pieces, first-person accounts, and representations of people with disabilities. They will learn various models of understanding and discussing disability (including the social, medical, individual model, and identity models) and the histories that have shaped the lives, experiences, and perceptions of people with disabilities. Students in the course will have the opportunity to compose rhetorical analyses of popular, public, and professional representations of disability. Historically, disability has been viewed as a deficiency or defect through the lens of religious and, most prominently, medical discourses, locating disability within an individual’s body and mind. Seeing disability as a problem to be solved has resulted in significant barriers to access and representation for people with disabilities within all areas of the public sphere. Students will develop their own written critical inquiries into concepts such as normalcy, disability, and barriers to access (including physical, social, attitudinal, legal barriers). This course will not only offer critical interrogations of disability as a construct, but also center the lives and experiences of those with disabilities, viewing disability as a locus of identity and culture. To that end, students will watch documentaries and television media, and read memoir, personal essays, and poetry that present the pride, struggles, and everyday experiences of people with disabilities. Students will also study the Disability Rights Movement and inquiries into identity politics as related to disability as an identity category. The course will invite students to use composition to increase accessibility for those with disabilities and to consider the potentials and limitations of universal design.

ENGCMP 0550 Topics in Public and Professional Writing

This topics course is intended for students beginning the Public and Professional Writing Certificate, and as a writing-intensive course for students fulfilling general education requirements or interested in writing as a subject as well as a mode of instruction. The course will focus on varied topics, addressing different forms and environments for public and professional writing. Possible topics include: "Rhetorics of Health and Welfare," "Writing and Environmental Politics," and "Electronic Publishing." Students will read examples of public and professional writing, as well as texts selected to raise questions about the public sphere, the work environment, and forms of writing. Students will work closely with the written texts prepared by their colleagues. Students will write regular short responses to assigned readings or distributed student papers, three 5-6 page essays (submitted as draft, then revised in response to instructor and peer comments), and prepare a final portfolio with a reflective essay on writing. This course is offered occasionally, with varied focus on specific topics in Public and Professional Writing. GER: W

ENGCMP 0560 Writing Arguments

Rooted in a foundation of rhetorical inquiry, 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, digital) in order to develop and hone their persuasive language skills. As part of this practice, students will have the opportunity to design and participate in intellectual conversations on topics of social interest and to compose their own examples of public persuasive discourse. Writing Arguments would be especially appropriate for students headed to law school, graduate school, careers in writing, and/or advanced courses in Public and Professional Writing. GER: W

ENGCMP 0565 Writing Places

Can place make meaning? What roles do spaces, ecologies, or geographies play in shaping how we experience people, rooms, buildings, communities, regions, or the world? How do others, based on our placings, see us within these multiple frames? Writing Places introduces participants to cultural and rhetorical exchanges with places, and to constructions of place and community by thinking and moving through them. We’ll consider what it means to construct, to be responsible for, to be culturally aware of, and to live place in local ecologies and/or digital/virtual environments. Unpacking current social in/justice issues and the communities they affect, participants may explore issues of racism—environmental and otherwise— land-based social in/justice, environmental sustainability, disability in/justice, im/migration, community-based activisms, and more. Through this process, we may be challenged to reorient our place/identity/orientation through various genres of writing places. GER: W

ENGCMP 0570 Topics in Black Rhetoric and Public Writing

This course will focus on varied topics. The course will explore both rhetorical theory and rhetorical practice, and it will center Black criticism, rhetoric, public writing, and experiences. Students can expect to study different critical approaches to Black rhetoric. This course is offered in the spring. GER: W, Diversity

ENGCMP 0600 Introduction to Technical Writing

This course will explore the ways that writing supports work in scientific and technical fields. Through a variety of assignments incorporating both written and visual formats, students in this course will learn effective strategies for responding to communication challenges, with special emphasis on audience analysis, document design, communication ethics, collaboration, professional style, and editing. You can expect to develop your ability to organize and craft information for manuals, journal articles, and reports and to learn about document design, production principles, interactive documentation, and desktop publishing. Technical writers are crucial for fields in engineering, software, and the sciences. Successful technical writers are good at translating science and technology for various audiences, including non-experts such as the end users of a product or customers who are willing to pay for technical solutions for a problem. Experts who work in technical and scientific fields can also benefit from familiarity and practice in technical writing. GER: W  

ENGCMP 0610 Composing Digital Media

This course requires students to compose digital media while exploring the rhetorical, poetic, and political implications of multiple writing platforms. Students will learn how to compose a range of critical media objects using web-authoring languages, text, sound, images, and video in proprietary and open-source software. Classes will focus on theories of writing, composing, design, critique, delivery, and networked distributions; critique and analysis of digital media produced by professional and amateur digital media practitioners; and analysis and revisions of digital media composed by the students themselves. GER: W, CW

ENGCMP 0620 Theories of Writing and Teaching

This course explores theoretical and practical questions regarding how we understand the practice of writing and how we teach it. Thus the goal of the course will be for students to engage various debates regarding literacy theories and experiment with different approaches to literacy instruction. The work of the class will be analytical, inventive, and experimental, as students will have the opportunity not only to study literacy theories and pedagogues but also to create imaginative responses to these theories by considering how teachers might translate theoretical understandings about literacy into classroom practice. GER: W

ENGCMP 0641 Writing for Change

This course is an opportunity for students 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, as well as argumentative strategies more broadly. Students will define the subject of a core project for the term, and move beyond understanding an issue to understanding various discourse communities that generate writing on that topic, how those organizations represent themselves, and how they define an audience. Our theoretical discussion will be balanced by a more pragmatic look at the language of social change, and how various writing forms—produced by nonprofits, activist groups, international organizations and coalitions, as well as socially engaged journalism—inform, persuade, and engage the public. Students in Writing for Change can expect to compose traditional essays as well as public writing in print, digital, visual, and a variety of other forms of persuasive communication. GER: W

ENGCMP 0712 Critical Making

The maker movement is an emerging social and media form that is at once highly networked and post-digital. Making is situated at the intersection of social media, the online gift economy, and a participatory, interventionist engagement with one's physical environment. Drawing on open source ideals and innovation structures, making has become an attempt to democratize material culture through networked access to tools. Makerspaces and makerhubs have become critical nodes in efforts to materialize the virtual gift economy of the internet. In this course we will engage the intellectual and practical roots of this new medial and social form and engage in our own critical making projects, utilizing scanning, modeling, and 3d printing technologies. The course will include examination of the history and philosophy of open source software development and the political, social, cultural, and technological developments that have given rise to critical maker culture. Students will learn some of the basic tools of scanning, modeling, and 3d printing. Throughout, students will reflect on their own work, on the objects around them, and the tools available to them to creatively intervene in that “object ecology.” Its aim is to “close the circuit” between creative conceptual production, social networking, and materialized object relationships. GER: W, CW

ENGCMP 1099 The Language of Policy and Power: Topics in Diversity

This course invites students to deepen and expand their understanding of public policy writing and to build the skills necessary to address the unequal distribution of power and privilege influencing policy in the public sphere. The course provides students with the opportunity to develop a portfolio of practical and analytical policy-related writing by grounding our work in current discussions about diversity (including race, gender, LGBT+, ethnicity, ability, religion, and class). In this writing-intensive class, students will write a variety of documents, such as a history memo, a set of responses to the readings, a letter of public comment, an op-ed, a polemical essay, and a final policy memo, related to a specific and properly-scaled diversity policy issue. The course will address the specialized use of language, conventions and formats, premises, motives, and purposes related to policy documents and arguments in light of diversity. By preparing both reflective academic and professional policy documents, students will master not only the basics of policy writing, but, through their own research and writing, the rhetorical and critical thinking skills necessary to create effective policy. Students will learn to employ methods of inquiry, analysis, and composition characteristic of written and oral policy discussions as they relate to diversity questions, concerns, and legal requirements. We will read broadly and deeply, and engaged, informed class discussion responding to reading and current policy questions is a cornerstone of the class. We will explore how the explicit and implicit history and applications of public and private policies have created long-standing outcomes that are often taken for granted, and address ways to change and improve those outcomes. GER: W, Diversity

ENGCMP 1100 Language of Business & Industry  

Companies want your attention. You are a consumer of products and services. You represent a prospective employee. You could become a shareholder. So companies reach out to you through advertising, annual reports, blogs, brochures, newsletters, podcasts, promotions, and websites, among other means. And as companies are seeking your attention, they can’t ignore other audiences—current employees, investors, government officials, and the media, for example—who are critical to their success. Companies have plenty to talk about—-their brand, vision, values, new products or services, job openings, employment benefits, financial results, social responsibility efforts—depending on who is listening. In this class, you will examine how companies create their identity through language. You will actively explore five “languages”: employment, marketing, culture, results, and social responsibility. You will study good business writing and apply these techniques in several writing assignments. For example, you will produce a report analyzing the employment brand of two companies where you would like to work after graduation. In a different assignment focused on corporate social responsibility, you will create original communications for a selected company. This course is offered during Fall term. GER: W

ENGCMP 1101 Language of Science and Technology   

In this course students will learn about and practice skills essential to effective, responsible communication within and from scientific and technical disciplines/fields. Students will become familiar with best communication practices within their immediate fields and with effective practices for communicating to important constituencies outside of their immediate fields. Course work will involve hands-on practice in creating documents such as proposals, abstracts, executive summaries, instructions, and informational articles/brochures. Students will analyze, draft, and revise various types of reports--geared towards both scientific/technical and lay audiences--including progress reports, informational reports, assessment reports, and focused technical reports. User-friendly document and information design will be discussed and practiced. Students will learn about and compose multimedia documents and will organize and participate in professional communications via video and chat applications. This course is appropriate for students who have some experience with written professional communication, and who are interested in furthering the communication skills that are crucial to maximizing professionalism and impact within and surrounding scientific and technical writing. This course is offered during Spring term. GER: W

ENGCMP 1102 Language of Medicine

This course will explore ways that language and communication patterns affect perceptions, dynamics, and outcomes in health and medical contexts. A blend of theory and narrative analysis, the course will review developments in the emerging field of medical rhetoric as the foundation for an interdisciplinary inquiry into the role of language in shaping our understandings of issues like health equity, pharmaceutical marketing, medical education and training, the “health care crisis,” patient-centered communication models, and the meanings of pain, death, illness and disability. The course will also provide an overview of how our linguistic models and arguments about health, illness, medicine, and the human body have changed over time, and we will explore some of the ways in which these arguments and models also vary by culture, ethnicity, gender, class and other social factors. Foundational terms of rhetorical analysis will be introduced—such as metaphors, terminisitic screens, constructed audiences, and transactional theories of persuasion—and a variety of theoretical essays, medical narratives, professional documents, and other relevant rhetorical artifacts will be read and discussed. Our discussions will also be informed by methods and reference points from some related disciplines, including linguistics, ethnography, and phenomenology. Several shorter writing assignments will be assigned, as well as a final paper investigating a medical rhetoric and health humanities question. Students intending to apply to health science graduate and professional schools will benefit from the course’s close attention to language, and its investigation of professional ethos will help them write better personal statements for application essays and become more effective communicators. Writing and communication majors will be able to add their projects to their professional portfolios to showcase familiarity with medical terms and issues, and to demonstrate sophisticated skills in research, analysis, and presentation. However, this course welcomes students from all majors and is appropriate for anyone who is interested in engaging with challenging readings about medical language and who is willing to develop informed, thoughtful views on the meanings and motives hidden in the ways we talk about health. GER: W

ENGCMP 1103 Public Relations Writing

This course focuses on how nonprofits, governments, associations and companies build good will and develop relationships with their various publics, both in and outside of the organization. Students explore a variety of methods including media releases, public service announcements, event planning, house ads, brochures, newsletters, corporate image pieces, displays, web pages and other forms of online communication. The course also discusses public opinion, social responsibility and crisis management. The major project for the term is a public communications campaign. This course is offered during Fall and Spring term. GER: W 

ENGCMP 1104 Corporate Storytelling

Corporate writers play key roles in defining and developing the communications landscape for organizations and their audiences. But what exactly is corporate writing? How do we, as writers, ensure we are effectively advancing the goals of our companies and clients? In this course, students will explore the conventions of content marketing, search engine optimization, writing for the web, and the other forms of business writing in order to craft inventive and accessible messages. We will also examine corporate storytelling as a tool used to construct and maintain strong company personas. Assignments will incorporate written, visual, and oral components as students launch their own companies to simulate real world projects and dynamics. This course will help you strengthen and flex your creative communication skills to engage and influence readers in a variety of channels within the corporate setting. GER: W

ENGCMP 1111 Professional Writing in Global Contexts    

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. This course is offered during Fall term. GER: W Read more >

ENGCMP 1112 Professional Uses of Social Media

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. GER: W, CW

ENGCMP 1120 History and Ethics of Advertising and Public Relations

As philosopher George Santayana once said, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But how do history and ethics intersect to inform our decisions as writers? How do we serve the roles of advertiser and PR specialist simultaneously? What do the answers of these questions look like in the context of a real-world campaign? In this course, students will learn how pivotal ethical moments in advertising and PR history changed the face of these professions and influence our creative choices even now. Students will use the four-step planning process of research, strategy, implementation, and evaluation to construct innovative campaigns and tackle common ethical issues these professions face today. Topics to be explored may include manipulation and misrepresentation of facts, privacy concerns in the technology age, sensitivity to diversity and appropriation, responsible interaction with vulnerable populations, subliminal messaging tactics, and more. By the end of this course, students will produce a multi-faceted PR and advertising campaign that navigates a complex ethical issue and showcases their professional writing skills. GER: W, Philosophical Thinking or Ethics

ENGCMP 1130 Projects in Digital Composition

This course builds upon Composing Digital Media (ENGCMP 0610) by requiring students to compose original projects in a particular focal area digital media while exploring the rhetorical, poetic, and political implications of that focal area. Where students in Composing Digital Media typically learn how to compose a range of critical media objects using web-authoring languages, text, sound, images, and video, Projects in Digital Composition will give students the opportunity to focus closely on a particular theme or category of multimodal composition. As with Composing Digital Media, theories of writing, composing, design, critique, delivery, remediation, and revision are central to the coursework. The course also emphasizes the importance of self-guided skills acquisition. GER: W

ENGCMP 1151 Professional Editing in Context

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. GER: W

ENGCMP 1200 Advanced Topics in Composition

This course provides a space for faculty to identify a particular topic in composition on which to base a semester of inquiry for advanced students. GER: W

ENGCMP 1210 Tutoring Peer Writers

This course prepares students to be effective tutors for peer writers by introducing them to issues and scholarship in teaching, writing and working as a tutor. Students from any discipline who are interested in careers in teaching, or students who recognize the importance and difficulty of responding well to drafts written by others will find this course of interest. The course is a prerequisite for those students wishing to work as peer interns in the Writing Center. GER: W

ENGCMP 1220 The Art of the Essay

Essay can be a noun or a verb. As a noun, an essay can be a short piece of writing; as a verb, to essay is to try, to weigh, to ascertain, to test the quality of. This semester we’ll explore the different ways people essay through their representations of the world through art, history, writing, music, film, and archives. We’ll examine how the creators of these works convey their individual perspectives and investigate how private or personal narratives can be used to reveal larger societal or cultural issues. Through reading and writing we’ll answer the following questions: How do essays differ from memoir? What role do individual voices play in shaping collective histories? How do our present desires sculpt stories of the past and future? Where do the truths you’ve been taught diverge from what you actually see? GER: W

ENGCMP 1250 Advanced Topics in Public and Professional Writing  

This advanced topics course is intended for juniors and seniors who are pursuing the Public and Professional Writing Certificate, as well as other students interested in courses in advanced writing. The course will focus on varied topics, addressing theoretical, social, or historical issues of writing in public and professional environments. Possible topics include: “Polemic and Public Discourse,” “Work and Rhetorics of Class,” “Writing in an Electronic Age,” “Women, Writing, and the Public Sphere.” Students will read a range of texts selected to contextualize concerns about writing, rhetoric, professional discourses, and the public. Students will write short responses to assigned readings, two 5–6 page essays, and will develop a project leading to a substantial written essay and an oral presentation. The course will also focus intensively on the students’ writing. This course is offered occasionally, with varied focus on specific topics in Public and Professional Writing. GER: W

ENGCMP 1270 Projects in Black Rhetoric

This topics course offers a different focus each time it is offered. The course centers Black writing, experiences, rhetoric, and criticism. Designed for students with some writing experience, this course will allow you to hone your writing ability and create a compelling project that demonstrates your critical and analytical work with example texts. GER: W, Diversity

ENGCMP 1400 Grant Writing for Nonprofits

In today's world, grant proposals produce billions of dollars to help solve problems and support causes that people care about. Grant proposals make possible important research in the natural, behavioral, and social sciences; they enable many to benefit from civic and educational projects; and they benefit community development and fund artistic achievement. This course will allow students to understand the functions and conventions of grant proposals, the types of research that they require, and the processes that generate them and lead to approval. Students will focus on two main issues: developing a proposal (which includes activities such as defining needs, reviewing existing projects and literature, and, if seeking a grant, researching sources of funds) and writing a proposal with a specific audience in mind. Coursework will help students develop an understanding of grant 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. They will also explore the kinds of writing that are required after a grant has been won. Upon completion of this course, students will have acquired the research and writing skills necessary to write successful proposals. This course is offered during Fall and Spring term. GER: W

ENGCMP 1401 Writing for Fundraising and Development

This class focuses on Writing for Fundraising and Development. “Development” is the work of cultivating relationships between an organization and its community of supporters in order to sustain the organization and advance its work. All nonprofits do development work; large nonprofits likely have an entire development team. Those who work in development may run major campaigns, communicate with donors, write for social media, organize events, solicit corporate giving and corporate sponsorships, and write everything from newsletters to direct mail pieces to thank you letters to reports. This class focuses on the writing that supports development work and teaches you the landscape of development work today. We will study real-world examples from both local and national nonprofits. You can expect to identify an organization to write for this term and to create a series of documents (in various forms) that will constitute your development portfolio by the end of the term. Some Pitt alumni who work in or run development offices will visit class to talk about their experiences. GER: W

ENGCMP 1402 Grant Writing for Research

Grant Writing for Research invites students to study practices related to researching and requesting federal funds for a specific project. This course is for those interested in learning: how funding supports projects and research in their aspirant discipline or area of study; the interest areas and differences amongst notable grant-making agencies; how to read requests for proposals; proposal formats; logic models; and how to write and collaborate within a team. Research experience is not needed to enroll, but students should be interested in federal grants, either for their own (future) work or to gain valuable writing knowledge to support others. By the end of the course, students will understand the nature of public-sector grants, their lifecycles, where to find them, and application requirements. Students will also practice writing parts of a proposal (individually and within teams), engage in peer review, and deliver pitches to other teams in the class. 

ENGCMP 1410 Advanced Research and Documentary Writing  

This course will focus on research as it supports those who write professionally. In particular, we are going to explore long projects that take up a subject and study it in some depth using observation, interviews and surveys as well as online and library research. The term "research" refers to substantially different activities in different professional settings. We will spend time looking at three particular types of research: literary journalism devoted to creating social change; research-based projects that attempt to create change in corporate practices such as management, customer relationships, and ethics; and documentary work that is designed to raise awareness, provoke conversation, and honor human and humane activity. All three of these areas yield many long and short projects—books and articles and scripts—that are created in the hope that the final product will have a real impact in the world. You will study some examples of research as it plays out in several books, articles, and a film documentary, and you'll plan and carry out a research project of your own. This course is offered occasionally. GER: W

ENGCMP 1420 Writing Proposals for Business

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. GER: W

ENGCMP 1430 Usability Testing in Technical Writing

This course prepares students for the creative and technical demands of the professional and technical writing workplace, ensuring each student possess the hard skills of usability testing and the soft skills required to best communicate those results. It introduces students to design theories and principles alongside practical applications on measuring usability and user experiences for products and services. Ethical and practical questions of accessibility and disability necessarily inform our discussion and practice. This course also incorporates aspects of product consulting, providing students with an opportunity to apply their theoretical and practical understanding of usability testing to the benefit of stakeholders.

ENGCMP 1510 Writing with Style

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. GER: W

ENGCMP 1551 History and Politics of the English Language

This course introduces students to the issues associated with the teaching of English language with special attention to instruction at the K-12 level. Topics include language acquisition and development, standard and non-standard dialects, and issues of composing and analyzing language. A primary consideration of the course is the way historical and cultural forces influence the teaching of English and shape evaluations of what constitutes "correct" and "literate" uses of language. The course can be used to fill teacher certification requirements. GER: W

ENGCMP 1552 Language, Literacy, and Learning

Formerly titled "The Uses of Literacy." Most of us probably assume that literacy is necessary in order to live a productive and happy life in the modern world. Learning how to read and write is "basic," right? But what is meant by writing and reading? What behaviors, knowledges, technological know-how, or skills are or have been included within those terms? And in what sense "necessary"--for whom or in what ways? What use, in other words, has been made of literacy and what values have been assigned to such use in personal, social, political and historical terms? What's literacy good for? In this course we will consider multiple literacies as complex social practices that vary according to time and place-- contested literacies, only some of which are or have been typically acquired through formal schooling. Our aim will be to challenge commonplace assumptions about the "proper" uses and values of literacy in order to think creatively and productively about educational, political, and personal alternatives. This course is designed especially for students planning on careers in teaching-related fields. GER: W 

ENGCMP 1900 Internship: Public and Professional Writing    

Public and Professional Writing (PPW) internships offer you a productive, substantive writing experience in which you learn from and contribute to the sponsoring agency, company, or project. In the internship class, you will learn more about professional life and about your own career path. GER: W  

ENGCMP 1901 UTA in Teaching and Tutoring Writing

Students who wish to serve as Undergraduate Teaching Assistants for a Composition class can confer with a teacher, create a plan for serving as a UTA, and, with the teacher's permission, register for 1 to 3 credits to assist with an undergraduate course. Note that all UTAs must comply with the Dietrich School's guidelines for undergraduate teaching.

ENGCMP 1902 Independent Study in Public and Professional Writing (1 to 6 credits)

The independent study option permits students in good academic standing to design Public and Professional Writing courses of their own with the approval of the director of PPW. The independent study must integrate both the theory and practice of some aspect of public and/or professional writing, and the student must conduct research that will allow him or her to contextualize the writing forms and content being studied. Students typically write at least 30 pages (or 7,500 words) over the course of the term, and revision plays a significant role in the student's work. In addition, the student and sponsoring faculty member define a reading list and other required research, which may include interviews or surveys. The student and faculty member will agree on other work, such as essays or documents and a journal or other response to the research. Whenever possible, the student will create a final document that can be used by an intended audience or in a professional portfolio. Students are required to submit a proposal to the director of PPW. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms. Prerequisite: Students must have completed their composition requirement (ENGCMP 200 or its equivalent) and at least 6 credits above the 300-level in the English department before taking this class. 

ENGCMP 1903 Service-Learning Seminar PPW (1 credit)   

The Service-Learning Seminar is a one-credit course open to students who are enrolled in a three-credit course offered through the Public and Professional Writing Program during the same term. Students who enroll in the Service-Learning Seminar will gain valuable experience by performing meaningful community service in a local nonprofit organization. The Service-Learning Seminar helps students learn more about workplace professionalism in the nonprofit sector by providing opportunities to carry their reflections on their workplace experiences back to their courses in the program. Participants are required to perform service in an approved nonprofit organization for a minimum of thirty hours, or roughly three hours per week throughout the term. This course is offered during Fall and Spring terms. 

ENGCMP 1906 Professional Experience: Writing, Editing, or PR

This course offers an exciting opportunity for students who have taken at least a couple of PPW or Writing courses: Professional Experience at Sampsonia Way, the literary journal of City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. The PPW program is teaming up with City of Asylum to produce the magazine. The course is for responsible students who are interested in writing for this journal or running social media to promote the journal. The team will work with a teacher who will serve as managing editor and also faculty member in charge of the project. The group will learn about writing, editing, and PR while producing the online literary magazine. You can also expect to learn more about free speech and social justice while working with writers who are under threat in their home countries. Weekly meetings on campus will focus on learning about the context for the work, learning good practices for professional writing, editing, and PR, reading work by writers in exile, and workshopping your articles for publication. Interviews for articles will be in-person or via Skype. Expect to spend 10-12 hours a week working on this project. You will also need to attend class. A monthly meeting will be held at City of Asylum on the Northside (easily accessible by bus). GER: W

ENGCMP 1910 Bridge Seminar

The Bridge Seminar is designed to allow you to consolidate, advance, and celebrate the knowledge and abilities you have developed so far in the PPW program and in your life more generally. As a course you take in your senior year, the Bridge Seminar will also allow you to forge connections outside the University in order to complete a project that you will present at a public event near the end of the term. Your project will involve research, revision, and soliciting feedback from outside the University. The seminar will support your work as you define and pursue this project. You will also explore issues relating to current workplaces. GER: W