First Year Writing
Explore Spring 2024 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 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 multiple assignments, 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.
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
WRIT 1122 teaches strategies that are vital in writing for diverse audiences, primarily in situations that require you to present and justify positions. The course teaches rhetorical analysis and practices, the effective use of readings and source materials, and techniques for generating, revising, and editing texts for different rhetorical situations. WRIT 1122 provides sustained practice in writing, with systematic instructor feedback, that results in a substantial portfolio of writing across genres and situations.
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
WRIT 1133 builds on previous writing and rhetorical skills by shifting attention to specific rhetorical strategies that shape different kinds of academic inquiry. Through introduction to quantitative, qualitative, and textual research traditions, students 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 sharing results. Writing projects in WRIT 1133 are often more sustained and include integrating different types of evidence including library-based and field-based research.
Prerequisite: WRIT 1122
WRIT 1533: Writing & Research for Transfer Students
This course, designed for transfer students, 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 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 teaches how to shape research into substantive academic arguments, with attention to the ethical consequences of their rhetorical choices. Students are asked to develop further their linguistic, design, and reasoning competencies, with added consideration of citation conventions. Students 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. Final Portfolio. For transfer students.
Prerequisite: WRIT 1122 or transfer equivalent and permission of instructor.
WRIT 1633: Advanced Writing & Research
This is a writing and research 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.
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.
Features of WRIT 1122 and 1133
Focus on the production of student texts
The feature that most distinguishes writing courses from other courses that may include writing assignments is the former's sustained emphasis on writing. The writer’s texts are the primary focus of the course. This sustained emphasis 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, and individual conferences with the professor.
Include specific instruction in rhetorical and critical analysis
Students will learn how texts vary 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.
Include specific instruction and practice in using rhetorical strategies
Students will have an opportunity to write for different purposes and audiences, with the goal of developing strategies they need to communicate effectively in various academic and civic contexts. 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. 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 diverse audiences
No writer is expert in writing for every situation, but responsive writers attend to diversity through experience writing in multiple situations. Attending to the 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, are important, just as is attending to differences between writing for audiences from cultures and traditions different than one’s own.
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/writer conferences, comments on drafts, and in-class workshops.
Include a reading component
Reading is important to writing development in a number of ways. For one, texts provide models for the types of activity systems that writers might be expected to enter. These texts are also opportunities for deeper rhetorical analysis, looking at how various writers achieve their goals. Finally, texts convey content that furthers our understanding, encourages connection, and often demands response. To practice these skills, writers may read a text or set of related texts; discuss them (unpacking the meanings, debating 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.
Teach basic techniques for incorporating and documenting sources
Incorporating sources rhetorically effectively goes beyond inserting a quote to support a claim. We must also ask, 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? Writers will have sustained practice documenting sources appropriately according to at least one of the common styles used in academic writing (e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA), but also learn other forms of acknowledging evidence for different audiences.
Teach students editing and proofreading strategies in order to produce texts that meet the grammar, usage, and delivery expectations of their readers
Such instruction includes strategies for editing and proofreading in the context of one’s own writing rather than generalized grammar exercises. Writers are best served by understanding how style, grammar, and usage expectations change based on the audience and purpose, and, while individual style is an important and vital representation of one’s culture and identity, a versatile writer understands how best to negotiate styles for a given rhetorical situation.
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 and genres, some of them single-drafted, even informal exercises, others more formal papers multiply drafted and revised. In a four-credit course, students complete eight to twelve hours of out-of-class work each week, the bulk of it on their own writing.
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 rhetorical and research 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 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: three pieces written during the course and a fourth piece (which might count toward the "revised and polished" course total, if suitable) should be a compelling analysis of the other three.
Include opportunities to reflect on writing skills to support the transfer of knowledge and practices
Reflection helps students to theorize, explore, define, and demonstrate their understanding of rhetorical principles, research approaches, and writing processes. As part of the research and writing processes, reflective activities help students make more deliberate choices and develop an understanding or meta-knowledge of how they can deploy similar strategies in other writing contexts. Reflection can be fostered through a variety of activities and assignments, including small and large group discussions, informal writing, process memos or cover letters, and portfolio introductions.