The hidden gem that is writing and rhetoric

Written by: John Konapelsky

student raising hand in class

The Department of English has reformatted the bachelor’s in English degree to a more specialized format. This revised format includes specific tracks within the English undergraduate degree program. One of the tracks most recently created is writing and rhetoric.  

The concept of creating a program specializing in writing and rhetoric originally came about when the department noticed how popular the certificate in professional and public writing had become with the student population. According to Dr. Vanessa Sohan, assistant professor in the writing and rhetoric program, this certificate “the largest of its size in the nation, led to discussions in the program and department on how to meet the obvious desire and need for more upper-level ENC course offerings.”

When asked what the process was like to put this particular degree program together including what courses students could take, Dr. Sohan said, “The BA committee has developed a set of courses that draws on our faculty’s expertise in areas such as multilingualism, community writing, digital/multimodal writing, and technical and professional writing.”

The department hoped the program would give students the opportunity to create writing skills they could use in various areas such as the non-profit and business sector, law school, teaching or graduate school. According to Dr. Sohan, there has been an increase in excitement for this new degree program as students “relish the opportunity to continue to take more ENC courses and push themselves as writers.”

For students who are not sure about whether or not they want to pursue English writing and rhetoric as a degree, Dr. Sohan encourages that they “consider the range of career options an English degree will offer [them] post-graduation, and also consider how much fun [they] can have while learning along the way.”

Many people consider the English degree an umbrella degree. In other words, this is a degree that offers students many different careers to fall into. Many areas of the career world are actively seeking graduates with writing degrees. This ranges from businesses and non-profit organizations to work in the education field to even STEM-related fields.

When it comes to what kinds of courses a student may end up taking with this degree, there is a wide range to choose from.

“In many of the upper-level courses I teach—which include Feminist Rhetorics, Alternative Writing and Rhetorics, and Material and Cultural Writing and Rhetorics—students engage in current debates about what creative, innovative, academic writing can should look like. We study how, over time, writers—particularly members of underrepresented groups—have pushed the boundaries of acceptable and recognizable academic expression by working within and across multiple languages, modes, genres, and media. We engage in such boundary-breaking writing ourselves, learning how to find and work the means available to us to persuade others and enact change.”

Dr. Sohan

A fully online version of this degree is now available. This will enable students to take their courses online via Canvas which is the portal that FIU uses for online courses. Students should expect to take part in online discussions and observations of information dispersed to them as well essays.

Please call 305-438-2874, stop by the Department of English in DM 453 or visit the website to learn more about the writing and rhetoric track.