E 387P • Reading, Writing and Arguing in Academic Disciplines
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
Rhetoric is the discipline that lets all the other disciplines do their work (James Golden) How does the written work (and especially the published work) in English Studies differ rhetorically from writing in other fields, such as psychology or physics? Recent studies of disciplinary discourse suggest that the differences often turn on conceptions of audience, purpose, "authority," and representation. These conceptions shape the very nature of reading and writing processes, as well as the style, structure, arguments, and goals of academic texts. This seminar will analyze the shape of written discourse in a variety of academic disciplines, from the humanities to the sciences. We will begin by tracing the development of specialized journals in several disciplines and the emergence of the genres of academic articles. We will read studies comparing the formal and rhetorical features of written discourse in these fields. We will also examine what practitioners in these fields understand about their disciplines rhetorical habits and formal constraints and how they learn to apply and exploit them. We'll consider how undergraduates, graduate students and faculty develop sophisticated reading and writing processes and how these processes are influenced by motivation, social pressures, formal and informal apprenticeships, and individual learning styles. Finally, we will consider the political and philosophical implications of academic discourse. This seminar will be of interest to anyone who wants to find out more about the discourse of academic disciplines--those students who would like to conduct research, those who want to learn how to read the research, and those who want to teach students majoring in English or other disciplines to analyze and write texts.
Becker, H. (1986). Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. MacDonald, Susan Peck. Professional Academic Writing in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois Press, 1994. Other articles in course packet.