Writing and Rhetoric Major at Scripps

By Sasha Rivera

After establishing a creative writing track a few years ago, Scripps is expanding the writing program by forming a new Writing and Rhetoric major that will focus on nonfiction and persuasive writing. With a requirement of eight classes and a senior thesis, this major, according to its description on the Scripps website, gives students the chance to study “persuasion in nonfiction prose genres, the study of which is crucial to communication across national, cultural, and ideological borders.” This includes examining personal essays, memoirs, speeches, journalistic articles, and argumentative works.

Before the creative writing track was formed, students had to design their own writing major if they wanted to do a creative writing senior thesis, Associate Professor of Writing and Chair of the Writing Department, Kimberly Drake explained in an interview for Scripps. However, the creative writing track did not satisfy the needs of all the student who wanted to pursue writing on a broader scale.

While there is some overlap between the Writing and Rhetoric major and the creative writing English major, they each focus on unique areas of study. Drake explained that Writing and Rhetoric would fulfill the need for a focus on persuasive nonfiction writing and learning how to write for a general audience rather than an academic one. Moreover, this new major functions well as part of a dual or double major.

Foundation courses in the major will include Introduction to Rhetoric, Creative Nonfiction, and Protest Writing and Rhetoric. Students will be required to take writing workshop courses on Scripps and other Claremont campuses. The major also requires broader categories about writing studies such as Theories and Pedagogies of Writing, Writing about Justice, the Writing Process, Prose Style and the Sentence.

Writing is a valuable skill to have in almost every industry and is often one of the top five abilities that employers look for in their employees.

“A writing major could work for a nonprofit and do their grant writing; a writing major could work for a huge bank and do their social media,” said Drake.

The Writing and Rhetoric major also coincides well with Scripps values because it is focused on working towards social change, and establishing a more just society. According to Drake, even in its earliest forms the essay has focused on establishing evidence-based arguments, convincing readers of certain ideas, and encouraging these readers to think analytically and persuasively. The major focuses primarily on changing minds through argument and persuasion.

“In this era it’s more important than ever for our students to know how to be convincing at any time, in any context, whether on paper or verbally, and to understand the ways that other people are trying to change their minds at any given time,” explained Drake.

This major gives students the opportunity to engage with nonfiction written works with a focus on argument and persuasion. Not only will this give students a leg up in the job market, but also at Scripps where they can use their writing skills to better uphold the values of social justice.

Photo Credits to CaribDeal

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