Evening Writing Seminars

Kent Wicker regularly offers brief (75-minute) single-evening seminars on a variety of writing topics.  These informal seminars are a good opportunity to explore specific writing issues in depth; the precise direction they take depends to some extent upon the questions, concerns or examples that students bring with them.  Students briefly review some issues or principles, then have an open discussion of examples. Please come with questions and -- if you like -- examples to share with others.  This is a casual gathering; feel free to bring dinner if you like. Below is the complete list of Evening Writing Seminars; see the GLS calendar to find out which seminars are offered this semester. (Writing seminars are not typically scheduled for the Fall semester.)

Getting Personal: The Role of Personal Experience in Academic Writing

What is the effect of using that first person “I” voice in an academic essay? What is an appropriate use of personal experience in academic analysis? Can it tell us things we can’t otherwise know? We’ll examine some examples to discuss their strategies and effectiveness.

Three Ways of Looking at a Paragraph

Is there only one correct way of writing a paragraph? What different effects are produced by different paragraph shapes? Is the paragraph evolving to do different kinds of work? In this session, we will examine the paragraph as a changing historical artifact, as an instrument of logical argumentation and as a poetic vehicle of personal style.

Clearing Away the Writing Blocks: Strategies for Invention and Analysis

Are you stuck for ideas? Can’t think of any good strategies for attacking that paper assignment? In this session, we will explore several different heuristics (templates for systematically breaking any topic down into manageable, meaningful chunks) or hermeneutics (analytical approaches) and perhaps some other strategies for coming up with ideas.

"Since you put it that way…”:  Rhetoric, Arrangement and Strategy in Academic Essays

Once you figure out what you have to say, how do you arrange your ideas to make one coherent and compelling story? What is your best strategy for ordering and presenting those ideas? We’ll look at the crucial -- and tricky -- link between what you say and how you say it.

You the Reviewer:  Response Papers and Review Essays

Not all academic essays follow the same form. How do review essays differ from others you might be asked to write? In this session, we will discuss examples of the academic review essay in order to find common themes and to compare the effects of different approaches.

"I'll Warrant":  Logic, Assertion and Proof in Academic Essays

How does one build an argument logically? It turns out to have a lot to do with something called “warrants.” We’ll trace this process by examining claims, evidence, warrants, qualifications and other rhetorical concerns in the paragraphs of an academic essay.

Department of Redundancy Department:  Editing Your Own Prose

I’ve worked hard to write that draft: every syllable is brilliant and precious! Why cut anything? What’s wrong with repeating myself a few dozen times? Sharpen your knives: in this session we’ll explore what to keep, what to cut -- and how to tell the difference. And we might talk about how to rethink one’s writing process to avoid too much pruning later on.

Joining the Conversation:  Integrating the Ideas of Others into Your Own Writing

How much research is enough -- or too much? How do you find your own place in an ongoing academic conversation? How do you use the ideas of others in your own writing? In this session, we’ll explore these issues using examples of close readings and broader readings, quotations and paraphrase.