First Year Writing

Upcoming Course Descriptions

Explore Spring 2023 WRIT Course Descriptions


The WRIT Sequence

Being able to convey written information and ideas in ways that are compelling to specific audiences is essential both in college and beyond. Beginning in the winter quarter of their first year, students take two sequenced writing courses, usually WRIT 1122 and WRIT 1133.  

Together, these courses teach strategies for writing to well-educated readers in diverse academic and non-academic situations. Students learn rhetorical principles, the analysis and use of readings and source materials, and techniques for generating, revising, and editing texts for specific situations. They also learn to present and justify positions and to produce researched writing in various scholarly traditions, including textual/interpretive (the analysis of texts or artifacts such as images or events), qualitative (the analysis of observations or interviews) or quantitative (the analysis of data from surveys or other empirical studies). In each course, students complete several writing exercises and, through sustained practice and systematic instructor guidance, they complete at least four polished papers, totaling some 20–25 pages. By the end of the two-course sequence, then, students have completed at least 40–50 pages of polished writing. 

Program Requirements

To graduate from DU, students must complete (or have AP, IB, or transfer credit) two courses: 

  • WRIT **22 (met by EITHER 1122 or 1622); and 
  • WRIT **33 (met by EITHER 1133, 1633, or 1733). 

For differences between different versions of the **22 and **33 courses, please see below. 

Our faculty take a wide variety of approaches in course design, choosing readings, assigning papers, and teaching in general so students have a great many options in selecting their courses. 

These courses lay the foundation for writing in further Common Curriculum courses (including Advanced Seminar/ASEM courses), writing in students' majors, and writing in professional and civic life after graduation. 


Learn more about the WRIT Sequence

  • WRIT 1122: Rhetoric And Academic Writing

    On completing this course, students are expected to have enhanced the following skills: analytic and critical reading strategies; a basic understanding of rhetorical situations and rhetorical analysis; the ability to write for specific audiences and discourse communities, in a voice effective for those situations; the ability to write texts that are organized, coherent and substantive, demonstrating rhetorical, linguistic and analytical competence. The course will provide instruction and practice in academic and civic writing that exhibits conventions of effective writing and presentation for well-educated readers. Students complete at least 20 pages of revised and polished writing, in multiple assignments, as well as numerous additional exercises.

    Read more about WRIT 1122

  • WRIT 1622: Advanced Rhetoric And Writing

    A writing course for advanced first-year students, emphasizing rhetorical strategies for different academic and civic audiences and purposes; critical reading and analysis; and research. Course sections focus on a coherent set of texts, usually on an issue or theme; contact the Writing Program for specific information each quarter. 

    Prerequisite: Admission to Honors Program; score of three or better on AP Language and Composition or Language and Literature exams or four on the IB English; or permission of the director of writing.

  • WRIT 1133: Writing & Research

    This course builds on the writing and rhetorical skills learned in WRIT 1122 by shifting attention from general rhetorical strategies to specific rhetorical strategies that shape different kinds of academic inquiry. Through introduction to quantitative, qualitative, and textual research traditions, students will identify how written reasoning varies in terms of the questions posed, the kind of evidence used to answer them, and the nature of the audience or forum for the result. In addition, the course will teach how to shape research into substantive academic arguments, with attention to the ethical consequences of their rhetorical choices. Students will be asked to develop their linguistic, design and reasoning competencies, with added consideration of citation conventions. Students will complete at least 20 pages of revised and polished writing, in multiple assignments, as well as numerous additional exercises, in projects requiring library-based research as well as other types. 

    Prerequisite: WRIT 1122

    Learn more about WRIT 1133

  • WRIT 1633: Advanced Writing & Research

    A continuation of WRIT 1622, this is a writing course for advanced first-year students, emphasizing rhetoric strategies for different academic and civic audiences and purposes; critical reading and analysis; and research. The course has a significant research component. Course sections focus on a coherent set of texts, usually on an issue or theme; contact the Writing Program for specific information each semester. 

    Prerequisite: WRIT 1122 or 1622, plus one of the following: admission to the Honors Program; score of three or better on AP Language and Composition or Language and Literature exam, or four on the IB English; or specific permission of the director of writing.

    Learn more about WRIT 1622

  • WRIT 1733: Honors Writing

    Honors Writing is designed for students who will benefit from a particularly rigorous and in-depth experience with language. This class offers a theme around which students read serious and challenging texts and write at least 25 pages of polished prose, with additional less formal writings. The course offers advanced instruction in rhetorical theory and practice, as well as writing in multiple research traditions in the academy. Class is a highly participatory discussion format, and students will have latitude in choosing and directing much of their work. Topics vary from section to section. 

    Prerequisite: admission to the Honors Program and either WRIT 1622 or 1122; or permission of the director of writing, in consultation with the director of Honors.

    Learn more about WRIT 1733

Features of WRIT 1122 and 1133

  • Focus on the production of student texts

    The feature that most distinguishes writing courses from, say, other classes that may include written assignments is the former's sustained emphasis on student writing. The student's texts are the primary focus of the course, receiving as much respect as expert texts—and more time and attention. The focus can be seen in several practices, including explicit instruction on writing strategies and processes; sharing student writing with others in the course; peer workshops; writing center consultations; individual conferences with the professor, and so on. While students do engage readings, they do so primarily in order to improve their own writing and their critical/analytical facilities. Students will have an opportunity to write for different purposes and audiences, with the goal of developing tools they need to communicate effectively in various academic and civic contexts. 

  • Include specific instruction in rhetorical and critical analysis

    Rhetorical and critical analysis helps students become more astute readers, analysts, and critics of published texts, focusing on how and why writers achieve effects on readers. Students will learn how texts vary in both form and content according to their intended audiences, their purposes, and the contexts in which they were written. Students will learn to read a text closely, and write about the way it functions, and not just what it contains. They will also learn to evaluate claims, evidence, reasoning strategies, and ethical and emotional appeals as well as logical. Students will learn that rhetorical situations develop from specific cultural practices and times and how such contexts affect their analysis. WRIT 1122 focuses on basic strategies for rhetorical and critical analysis, primarily in popular and civic discourses. WRIT 1133 emphasizes how these skills function within the contexts of research and disciplinary traditions, including in relation to more popular writings about academic knowledge.

  • Include specific instruction and practice in using rhetorical strategies

    The emphasis on using rhetorical strategies complements instruction in rhetorical and critical analysis. The shift in emphasis is from analyzing what others have done, with what effect, and why, to using those strategies in students' own writings. Writers face a host of decisions as they plan, organize, and compose texts. They must persuade audiences situated within a certain historical time and cultural place, limited by certain constraints: time, money, logistics, etc. Vital to navigating this maze of choices is understanding the particulars of the rhetorical situation. What does my audience know or believe, and what implications does that have for me as a writer? What evidence and reasoning will be most effective? What tone should I adopt, and how should I present myself? What organizational strategies are most effective in this given situation? How do I best deal with points of view different from my own? 

  • Emphasize writing for well-educated audiences, generally for public/civic purposes (1122) and academic audiences (1133).

    In the finite time of a single course, it's clearly impossible to give students practice in all types of writing and writing situations they will encounter. For example, writing to people with high school educations and who may do fairly little reading, may invoke strategies significantly different from writing to college graduates subscribing to Wired or Harpers. Similarly, there are important differences between writing in professional/workplace situations, writing for personal development and pleasure, writing in specific academic disciplines, and writing on subject matters, issues, and ideas for a broader reading public. This latter falls under writing for civic purposes, that is, writing that seeks inform and influence thought and decision making in various public spheres. 

  • Substantially use process pedagogies, including regular attention to invention, production, revision, editing, and design; responses to multiple drafts and works in progress

    Good writing does not occur magically. Process pedagogies recognize that strong writing skills develop over time through practice. Rather than focus solely on the finished product (e.g. the final exam; the one-time graded paper; the longer research paper), process pedagogy guides students through various aspects of writing, from invention to drafting to revision. A key feature of process pedagogies is providing feedback to students during the process. These may include small group feedback sessions, teacher-student conferences, comments on drafts, and in-class workshops. 

    • Invention is the act of generating ideas and content or discovering new directions that writing might take. Invention strategies may include systematic inquiry heuristics, free-writing, journaling, preliminary research, outlining, questioning, along with classroom collaboration and discussion. Through invention, students discover both what they already know about their subject and what they need to know. 
    • Drafting is the fundamental process of getting words down on the page or screen in a productive order informed by purpose, audience, and context when producing any document. 
    • Revision involves considering the fit between a developing text and the rhetorical situation for which it's being produced. Revision attends to substantive issues, including overall structure, argument and logic, purpose, and uses of evidence. Based on their self analysis and feedback from instructors and peers, students doing revision work make additions, subtractions, transpositions, and substitutions to their texts, at levels ranging from sentence to paragraphs to ideas and sequences. 
    • Design means attending to the physical features of the text as it is delivered to its audience. At one level, design includes features such as typefaces, margins, and spacing. At another level, it includes the incorporation of visual elements (images, tables) and document layout. At still another level, it may include multimedia or digital texts, perhaps even including sound or video. 
    • Editing means attending to surface-level features of texts to make them conform to readers' expectations of style, grammar and usage, manuscript conventions, and so on. Editing involves both proofreading and focusing on textual features as small as words, phrases, and sentences to promote not only correctness but also precision and rhetorical effectiveness. See “Teach students editing and proofreading strategies”, below.
  • Include a reading component

    Reading in WRIT 1122 and 1133 is important both for practice in rhetorical analysis and for providing content for students to write about, with, through, and against. Through active reading, students come into conversation with texts by others, analyzing received positions and arriving at their own. Students need to be able to summarize readings, interpret their meanings and implications, analyze their rhetorical strategies, relate them to other texts about the same subject matter, and explain their limitations or inadequacies. To practice these skills, students in WRIT 1122 and 1133 may read a text or set of related texts; discuss them (unpacking the meanings, debate the terms used, arriving at an interpretation); write in response; synthesize multiple readings; produce critiques or reviews; and use summary, paraphrase, or quotation to incorporate ideas into their own texts. Reading of student writing in the course is also important, using all the strategies one might use for published writing. 

  • Teach basic techniques for incorporating and documenting sources

    In WRIT 1122, students will begin to develop an awareness of, and comfort with using, sources in their writing. The use of sources in 1122 will mainly include working with sources, rather than finding them, and concentrate on dealing effectively with a limited number of sources, rather than an extensive list of them. This will include learning how to summarize accurately, paraphrase key ideas, and quote or cite specific ideas or information concisely, accurately, and in ways that blend source materials effectively with their own writing. Students will consider such questions such as the following: Why draw on sources? What types of sources will best support particular arguments or rhetorical situations? What are some differing cultural perspectives about documentation and citation? Why might these differences matter? How do writers evaluate sources, attending to such things as the author's credentials and quality of reasoning and evidence, the timeliness of the research, its intended readership, and so on? Students will gain basic experience in documenting sources appropriately according to MLA and at least either APA or Chicago Manual of Style. The goal is not to have students master all conventions of all style manuals but to teach them how to use style manuals and to understand the vital importance of following conventions to document sources aptly.

  • Teach students editing and proofreading strategies in order to produce texts that meet the grammar, usage, and delivery expectations of their readers

    Students should learn that careful attention to editing and proofreading strengthens their ability to be taken seriously by their readers. At the same time, students learn that the absence of sentence-level errors does not necessarily mean that the writing is effective. Students should learn strategies for editing and proofreading in the context of their own writing, rather than through generalized grammar exercises. Based on need, instructors may devote small amounts of class time to particular issues in style, or to grammar, punctuation, and usage errors. Editing is understood as having both an emphasis on style (e.g., word choice, diction, emphasis, transition, gracefulness) and on managing errors in grammar, punctuation, and usage. 

    • Editing for style: As time allows, concepts about editing as stylistic craft are introduced, with reference to course readings for positive models. Though students may not be ready for more sophisticated stylistic editing, they will benefit from introductory instruction on word choice, sentence structure, and other stylistic elements that can be used to enhance meaning. 
    • Editing as error management: Students learn to make distinctions within a continuum of concerns—between higher order and lower order writing errors. They learn to identify their own patterns of error and develop a variety of strategies for addressing and correcting these patterns. Students develop long-term skills for self-diagnosis of error and successful use of available resources, including use of a handbook and familiarity with the Writing Center. As students become proficient in self-diagnosis, explicit emphasis is placed on high-order errors, such as sentence-boundary confusion, that block readers from understanding the text. 
    • Proofreading is a last step to ensure that the text is as free as possible from errors or unintentional elements. Students learn strategies for catching typographical errors, inconsistencies in spelling, and other purely surface-level mistakes that irritate readers and affect the author's ethos. Because research indicates the limited efficacy of marking all errors in a piece of writing as a means of teaching mechanical proficiency, instructor marking and evaluation of editing and proofreading errors is constructive and instructive, rather than punitive. Student writing is not expected to be error-free by the end of WRIT 1122, but by the end of the course, students should be able to distinguish different categories of error, be able to identify their individual error patterns, should have developed strategies for addressing these, and should be aware of the some of the resources available to them for strengthening their writing at the levels of style, grammar, usage, and punctuation. 
  • Require students to produce from 6000 to 8000 revised and polished words in at least four texts

     Just as musicians and athletes learn by practicing—by "doing" rather than by "studying about"—so do writers develop by writing. Students can generally expect many writing assignments, some of them single-drafted, even informal exercises, others more formal papers multiply drafted and revised. As a four-credit courses, WRIT will have students complete 8 to 12 hours of out-of-class work each week, the bulk of it in their own writing. Students will generally write several thousand words, in as few as four to as many as twenty individual writing assignments. Of that total volume produced, students will complete a least four "finished and polished" pieces, together totaling 6000-8000 words. By "finished and polished," we mean writing that is thoroughly revised and carefully edited, usually based on responses from the instructor (and peers), and represents the student's best work in given rhetorical situations. 

  • Accomplish course goals through a well-conceived sequence of activities and assignments

    A commitment to the process of writing, which is at the heart of our pedagogies, informs the design of both courses: each section provides a careful sequence of reading and writing assignments designed to build student skills and abilities. Sequences of writing activities, for example, will equip students with the rhetorical skills to use in future or longer assignments. The cumulative sequence of assignments means that students continually draw upon what they have learned already in order to push themselves even further. Our goal is not only to provide students with a repertoire of writing tactics but to teach them how to combine those tactics into coherent, purposeful, and context-specific strategies. 

  • Require a brief final portfolio

    At the end of WRIT 1122, students will turn in a portfolio containing three pieces of writing that demonstrate their knowledge of and ability to use rhetorical strategies. Two of the pieces should be papers written during the course. The third piece (which might count toward the "revised and polished" course total, if suitable) should be a compelling analysis of the other two, persuasively explaining how they demonstrate the writer's facility with rhetorical strategies. At the end of WRIT 1133, students will turn in a portfolio containing four pieces of writing. Two should be written during the course, and one should come from another course the student has taken at DU. The fourth piece (which might count toward the "revised and polished" course total, if suitable) should be a compelling analysis of the other three, persuasively explaining how they demonstrate the writer's ability to write researched papers for different expectations or situations. 

  • Encourage reflective practices that enhance learning and support the transfer of knowledge and practices

    Reflection helps students to theorize, explore, define, and demonstrate their understanding of rhetorical principles and writing processes. Students are encouraged to reflect on connections between course goals and concepts, and reading and writing assignments.  As part of the writing process, reflective activities help students make more deliberate rhetorical choices and develop an understanding of how they can deploy similar strategies in other writing contexts. Reflection can be fostered through a variety of activities and assignments, including, but not limited to, small and large group discussions, informal writing, process memos or cover letters, and portfolio introductions.