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John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines
101 McGraw Hall • Cornell University • Ithaca, NY 14853 • 607-255-2280

English 2880/2890

Current Course Offerings

English 2880-2890, "Expository Writing," is taught in separately defined sections that appeal to the varied interests and needs of students in many colleges and areas of study. The Knight Institute collaborates with the English Department to support and staff the course with faculty and graduate student instructors from the two units and from other departments in the university.

Unlike Writing in the Majors courses, English 2880-2890 sections are not discipline-specific. Each is shaped by a genre or use of expository writing, by the common concerns of several disciplines, or by an interdisciplinary topic intimately related to the written medium. Each is open to Cornell sophomores, juniors, and seniors who want to strengthen their writing skills while exploring the section's defining themes. Titles of some sections offered in recent years suggest some ways in which 2880-2890 engages students in the writing process and uses focusing concerns to foreground the possibilities of expository prose. Some, like "The Reflective Essay," "Issues and Audiences," and "Inventing Nonfiction," offer students access to broad genres of exposition. Some open perspectives on areas of public discourse and popular culture ("Making the News," "The Cultures of Television," "Science in the Media," "Global Romance"). Some engage topics of interest to students to explore the shapes they can take in student writing ("The Nature of Nature," "Apocalyptic Fiction," "Urban Imaginings," "Minding the Body," "The University, Society, and the Law"). A few have foregrounded new media of written expression themselves ("Writing in the Electronic Age").

Although English department instructors make up roughly half the staff, it is the Knight Institute's involvement that enables the course to extend and diversify its offerings. Institute lecturers with special expertise or experience teach regularly, while the Institute supports the work of recent degree-holders and graduate student instructors from departments other than English -- to date, Anthropology, City and Regional Planning, German Studies, Government, Medieval Studies, History, and Ecology and Systematics -- as well as from the Law School. All staff are selected because their special interests and their experience in writing pedagogy promise original course design and superior performance.

Students appreciate the structure and conduct of these sections. In their course evaluations, they lay particular emphasis on English 2880-2890's success in shaping small (18-member) groups into robust audiences for written work and on their instructors' ability to integrate subject-matter and skills instruction in innovative ways.

For more information concerning English 2880-2890, contact Stuart Davis, Senior Lecturer, Department of English at sad4@cornell.edu.