English major: Writing & Rhetoric emphasis


"Rhetoric is the art, practice, and study of human communication."
~ Andrea Lunsford"

An undergraduate English major with an emphasis in Writing & Rhetoric deepens your understanding of a range of writing situations, improves your writing abilities, and provides a solid background for a number of career paths, including professional and technical writing, teaching, creative writing, journalism, linguistics, graduate studies, and other careers where effective writing is important.  

As you explore connections among language, culture, and power, you will learn to use the art of writing to inquire, to collaborate with others, and to act in context. You will learn to use effective composing processes for various audiences, purposes, and genres. Ultimately, a concentration in Writing & Rhetoric empowers you to examine and shape your world through language.

Advising handouts for students who started UWL prior to Fall 2018.

Advising handouts for students who started at UWL in Fall 2018 or later.

Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes

A student graduating from this program will be able to

RHETORICAL COMPETENCE (Understanding Audience & Genre)

1. Select and modify writing strategies for different discourse communities 

2. Analyze and adapt genre conventions related to focus, organization, development, style,     editing, design and publishing 

COMPOSING PROCESSES (Practicing Invention, Feedback & Revision)

3. Work through effective composing processes, using writing as a means of learning 

4. Write collaboratively, give feedback to others, and use feedback in revision 

TEXTUAL STUDIES (Practicing Critical Thinking & Reading)

5. Analyze and critique a variety of texts and media, including print, digital and visual 

6. Analyze and explain how language shapes and is shaped by culture, history and politics 

KNOWLEDGE BUILDING (Engaging in Research & Scholarship)

7. Conduct research and integrate appropriate primary and secondary sources 

8. Engage in disciplinary conversations, drawing on traditional and contemporary studies of  rhetoric and writing


The Writing & Rhetoric Emphasis provides a solid background for a number of career paths. As you complete your degree requirements, you may sample courses from different areas for maximum versatility, or you may choose to specialize in one of these ways:

Professional & Technical Writing

  • Sample Courses: Intro to Professional Writing; Technical Writing; Writing for Management, Public Relations & the Professions; Grant Writing; Writing in the Sciences; Digital Content Writing, Management, & Experience Design; Professional Writing Practicum (Internship), etc.


  • Sample Courses: Reporting & Copy-Editing, Feature and Specialized Writing, Creative Non-fiction, Publication Production, etc.

Creative Writing

  • Sample Courses: Creative Writing, Seminar in Advanced Poetry Writing, Seminar in Advanced Fiction Writing, Forms of Poetry, etc.

Teaching (Non-certification)

  • Sample Courses:  Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing Studies, Writing for Teachers, Language Studies for Secondary Teachers, etc.


  • Sample Courses: The English Language, Modern English Grammars, Introduction to Linguistics, etc.

Graduate Studies

  • Sample Courses: Writing in the Arts & Humanities, Critical Theory, Classical Chinese Discourse, etc.

Communication-Related Fields

  • Other fields in addition to those listed above include: business, grant writing, web design, public relations, graphic design, sales, research, marketing, publishing, promotions, and much more. A degree that demonstrates your written communication skills will be an asset for practically any job position.


The Writing Portfolio is the culmination of your work in the major. As you take courses, you will complete many different writing projects, which you will collect as a working portfolio. Near the end of your studies, when you take the capstone course for the major (Eng 413: Writing Portfolio), you will select, revise and reflect on the best of your work to demonstrate your rhetorical competence and writing abilities.

Types of Writing

Students enrolled in the Writing & Rhetoric Emphasis may specialize in one or more of these types of writing as they work through the program: 

Disciplinary Research & Scholarship

Students engage in and make contributions to disciplinary conversations, learning the conventions of particular academic discourse communities as they investigate and develop expertise on key theories and concepts in the discipline. The following genres are included under this heading: 

  • Critique 
  • Research Project 
  • Academic Essay 
  • Proposal 
  • Literature Review 
  • Ethnography 

Creative Writing

Students compose a range of original creative works for specific audiences as they work through an exhaustive composing process, one involving the generation of original content, the practice of revision, and the development of publication-quality manuscripts. Student writers also engage with a community of writers and readers on and off campus. Below are some examples of genres in this category: 

  • Poetry 
  • Fiction 
  • Personal Essay
  • Creative Nonfiction (Memoir, etc.) 

Professional & Technical Writing

Students critique and produce texts that circulate or are intended to circulate in a variety of professional, organizational, and workplace settings. Students analyze and negotiate multiple purposes and audiences as they critique the ethical and political dimensions of professional and organizational communications. Examples include the following: 

  • Business Reports 
  • Letters and Memos
  • Social Media 
  • Multimodal Projects 
  • Grants
  • Brochures 
  • Website Content 


Journalistic writing involves communicating with public and civic audiences, not only through newspapers and magazines but also through new media and social networking. By investigating print and digital publication venues, students develop an understanding of audience demographics and contexts which are particular to the journalistic styles and formats. Examples are diverse but include: 

  • Feature Articles 
  • Columns 
  • Editorials 
  • Reviews 
  • Blogs


This page provides a sampling of links for Writing & Rhetoric emphasis English Majors. 

Campus Resources

Rhetoric & Composition Resources

Writer Resources