Anne R. Trubek, Associate Professor; Dept. Chair
Nancy Boutilier, Visiting Instructor
Jan Cooper, John Charles Reid Associate Professor
Laurie Hovell McMillin, Professor
Leonard A. Podis, Professor
The Rhetoric and Composition Department supports the college-wide commitment to the teaching of writing. Writing is one of the primary skills needed at Oberlin and is also necessary for almost any occupation to which an Oberlin graduate might aspire. Beyond these practical values, writing serves as one of the most essential tools for inquiry in a liberal education. All Oberlin students are strongly encouraged to pursue the goal of writing well.
The writing requirement applies to all students in the College of Arts and Sciences. The requirement also applies to all transfer students and double-degree students. Students changing divisions from Conservatory to College or becoming double-degree candidates are also subject to the requirement. The Rhetoric and Composition Department administers the requirement.
- By a score of 5 on the English Language/Composition or Literature/Composition Advanced Placement Examination; by a score of 710 on the old SAT II Writing Test (not the current SAT)
- By certification of proficiency in writing from two different Oberlin College instructors who have taught the student in specially designated “writing intensive” (WRi) or “writing certification” (WR) courses in two different departments or programs. One of these may be a private reading course or a Winter Term course (by approval of the Chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Composition).
Under special circumstances students may apply to satisfy the requirement either by submitting work done for writing intensive courses at other institutions transferred for credit by Oberlin College. Students who have unusual difficulty completing the Writing Requirement should contact the Chair of the Rhetoric and Composition Department as soon as possible to determine the best means of satisfying the requirement.
Students are strongly urged to take at least one step toward achieving writing proficiency as soon as possible, preferably during their first year.
Students seeking information about the Conservatory’s writing requirement should consult “Requirements for Graduation” in the Conservatory section of this catalog.
Writing Certification Courses
Courses that bear the designation WR are those in which a substantial amount of writing (approximately 15 pages) is required but which do not devote special attention to instruction in writing except at the instructor’s option. Instructors will evaluate papers for writing ability and will decide, at the end of the course, whether the student is to receive a writing proficiency credit, independent of the course grade. To fulfill the graduation requirement, students need to earn two certification credits from writing-certification or writing intensive coursework in two different departments.
Writing Intensive Courses
Courses that bear the designation WRi are those in which substantial essay writing (approximately 15 pages) is assigned and writing pedagogy is stressed to a significant degree. The normal expectation is that the instructor will introduce the student to the methods of writing papers for the discipline in which the course is offered. Several papers will be assigned during the course; students will receive detailed evaluations of their writing skills as well as content; some time will be devoted to the discussion of student writing, both in class and in conferences; and a certain amount of rewriting/revision will normally be expected. While there is an emphasis on writing instruction in these courses, students may earn a certification credit only if the instructor judges their work to be proficient.
A list of criteria for evaluating writing proficiency is available on-line at:
A passing grade in a WR or WRi course will not necessarily result in a writing proficiency credit; certification will depend on the instructor’s appraisal of the student’s writing ability.