WRIT 1370/80 - Elements of Academic Writing

Book appointment with a writing specialist

The Writing Workshop offers an alternative route First-Year Writing Seminar, WRIT 1370 (Fall) and WRIT 1380 (Spring) titled "Elements of Academic Writing." This course is designed for students who did not have formal writing instruction in high school, are unfamiliar with academic writing, have serious difficulty with writing assignments, or feel a general lack of confidence about their writing. Some sections of these First-Year Writing Seminars are designed for international students and multilingual writers and include special instruction on developing fluency in academic English and navigating new cultures of writing. 

Course Description

WRIT 1370/80: Elements of Academic Writing

The Writing 1370/80 classroom is a dynamic workspace where students assemble the scholarly tools necessary to explore complex, interdisciplinary questions. By collaborating with peers to pose questions, examine ideas, and share drafts, students develop the analytic and argumentative skills fundamental to academic reading, research, and writing. With smaller class sizes and weekly student/teacher conferences, Writing 1370/80 provides an individualized setting for students to learn flexible and sustainable strategies for studying essential elements of academic writing and for producing clear, precise academic prose that can address a variety of audiences and meet diverse rhetorical aims.

Recent Topics

  • “Acute on Chronic”—Inequality and Injustice in the Era of COVID-19 (Andrews) COVID-19 has hit some communities harder than others. In this course, we will seek to understand how race, gender, class, nationality, and more shape different people’s exposure and vulnerability to the disease—and efforts to contain it. To contextualize current events, we will dive into history, theory, and economics.
  • The Sociology of Sustainability (Andrews) How can we lead more environmentally sustainable lives? What sort of political change is necessary to reverse widespread environmental degradation? In this course, we will seek to understand how our individual choices affect the environment and the broader cultural, social, and economic structures that shape those choices.
  • The Antiracist Workshop -- Race and Writing in America and Europe (Carnaghi) The May 2020 murder of George Floyd led to massive protests against police brutality and racism, in Europe as well as in America. Where do the origins of racism lie and how do we teach ourselves to be antiracist? Starting from Ibram X. Kendi’s celebrated How to Be an Antiracist, this course will explore antiracist theory and practice in a range of historical periods and contexts on both sides of the Atlantic. Students will develop their close reading and critical writing by analyzing a wide array of sources, including primary historical sources, journalism, prose narratives, podcasts, and movies. The course will culminate in a final research project and public exhibition about the history of the Underground Railroad in the Ithaca region. 
  • Food for Thought (Carrick) How does the food on your table tell a story about you, your family, your community, your nation? How do we make food choices, and how are these choices complicated by the cultural, socio-economic, and political forces that both create and combat widespread international hunger and food insecurity? 
  • Short Stories -- Writing the Self (Dani) There is no exact definition of a short story: writers have wrestled with its brevity and, in doing so, they have often crafted some of the most luminous examples of storytelling. While reading modern and contemporary examples of this genre, we will learn how to conduct literary analysis and borrow some of the tools employed by fiction (rhythm, irony, style) to enhance our own writing. For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Cinema and Power (Dani) As the most popular and accessible of art forms, cinema maintains a close relationship with the cultural, social, and political tensions of its time. While reaching masses of spectators, films become formidable means to propagate or defy systems of power. Through a cluster of themes (i.e., gender, class, race) we will think about cinema as a tool of persuasion or, conversely, as an awakening experience that inspires the audience to fight back against injustice and subjugation.
  • Repetition (Dani) Repetition is a fundamental companion in our everyday lives: we use it in our speech, we endure it in our routines, and it is wielded as the most effective tool of media and advertisement. What is the function of this rhetorical device in literature, politics, and art? What do we want to achieve when we repeat something? Does repetition merely add emphasis to a statement, or does it possess a different vocation? This class will help us in identifying the many ways repetition shapes how we think, speak, and write. 
  • Women in Film (Dani) Since the dawn of film, women have been at the center of the cinematic gaze: their bodies entertain, fascinate, and terrify us regardless of the genres they inhabit. If we look closely, we realize that these depictions reveal pivotal aspects of the cultures that give birth to them. As reflective spectators, we should ask ourselves some fundamental questions: what lies behind these representations? How can they inform us about contemporary gender politics? And what changes when we look at the works of women directors? 
  • Connecting Cultures (Evans) What is culture? How does culture set standards for our behavior?  How do we negotiate the intersections between cultures?  How do the processes of culture determine the politics of assimilation, the power of language, and the spaces we inhabit?  Particularly in writing, how does culture help us determine strategies appropriate for convincing a variety of distinct audiences and purposes? 
  • Bridging Differences (Navickas) In a world increasingly divided along lines of identity, language, politics, and religion, how do we enact change? How do we talk across our differences when we cannot even agree on what count as facts? In this studio-style writing course, we’ll read broadly about a variety of divisive topics and potential solutions related to the course theme of “Bridging Differences.”
  • Language, Identity & Power (Navickas) How does language shape our world and our sense of who we are? How do identity factors like gender, sexuality, race, class, culture, and nationality influence our meaning-making practices? How do labels and names construct meaning and carry power? What languages and language practices do we associate with power and why?
  • Writing Back to the News (King-O'Brien) Students will ensconce themselves in debates raging within the contemporary news media—such as politics, conflicts within higher education, gender equality, international crises, American popular culture—and will write about contemporary controversies to different audiences in a variety of mediums, such as argumentative essays, investigative pieces, and blog posts.
  • Climate and Literature (Lawrence) What can literature teach us about climate change? How do writers, from the medieval period to the modern, write about changes in the weather? In this course, we will investigate literary representations of air, clouds, storms, temperature, pollution, and other atmospheric phenomena. We will discuss the ways that literature can help us understand climates of the past and imagine more just and sustainable climates for the future.
  • Race in the Middle Ages (Lawrence) How do historical conceptions of race shed new light on race and racism today? In this course, we will read poets, philosophers, and historians, primarily from the medieval period, in order to trace the invention, construction, and articulation of race before European colonialism and the Atlantic slave trade.
  • Mind, Body, Self (Sands) The purpose of this course is to develop our skills as writers in order to competently navigate the communication and expression of thought for academic purposes. We will practice reading, writing, and discussing ideas with purpose. The framework of thought to help us study our writing will examine the relationships between minds and bodies, and what that means for having a sense of self. In short, we examine being-in-the-world, Many questions in this course pertain to relationships: How does the mind relate to the body; How does the body relate to the environment; How do I feel connected to myself and others? This course takes an interdisciplinary approach and incorporates materials from biology, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Biohacks (Sands) Now more than ever, biology has the potential to contribute practical solutions for many major health challenges, but can we biohack our way to optimal health? To what extent can we regenerate the human body by manipulating factors like nutrients, sleep, and movement? We will write about how scientists across disciplines are working to optimize health in our environment and evolve our understanding of disease and well-being. For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Human Health & the Environment (Sands) How do environmental exposures effect our health? Chemical and ecological changes in the environment impact individual health as well as large-scale medical practices and public policy. In this class we will delve into research in order to think and write about problematic, positive, and innovative relationships between human health and the environment. For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Environmental Problems and Solutions (Sands) Human activities have ever-more serious impacts on our local regions and the planet. How can we think and write about improving public understanding of climate change, water scarcity, environmental health and agriculture and wildlife sustainability? For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Theories of Happiness (Sands) What makes you happy? And how does happiness differ between different people? How do complex factors like genetics, culture, family, education, socio-economic background, and gender determine how happy we are, and how do our life choices can contribute to our own and others’ happiness? For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Writing About Place (Sorrell) How do our own experiences shape the stories we tell about the cities-both large and small-where we live? By learning about the many different lives people lead in cities we can explore connections between social and environmental issues, and learn about the political and economic stakes of urban life today.

  • The Many Lives of Cities (Sorrell) How do our own experiences shape the stories we tell about the cities— both large and small—where we live? By learning about the many different lives people lead in cities we can explore connections between social and environmental issues, and learn about the political and economic stakes of urban life today.
  • Heroes and Villians (Sprenkle) How do tales of warriors and foes reflect the values and anxieties of various cultures? How are representations of these characters inflected by their perceived gender, sexual, racial, and socio-economic identities? How do historical narratives of rivalry, particularly those about medieval knights and their enemies,  inform contemporary film and fiction about superheroes and villains?
  • Metaphor in Art, Science and Culture (Zukovic) Metaphor is the essence of human creativity—a form of thought, desire and the language of the unconscious mind. How does metaphor operate in literature, pop culture, politics, and the thought of theoretical scientists such as Einstein and Richard Feynman? Can we improve our capacity to think metaphorically?

Book Appointment with a Writing Specialist