May 16, 2021  
Course Catalog 2018-2019 
Course Catalog 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Rhetoric and Composition

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Laurie Hovell McMillin, Professor, Chair

Jan Cooper, John Charles Reid Associate Professor

Hal Sundt, Visiting Assistant Professor

Cortney Smith, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow

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.


No major is offered in Rhetoric and Composition, but students with such interests might consider majoring in English or Creative Writing. The Individual Major is another alternative.


Students may earn a minor in Rhetoric and Composition by completing approved programs of study. Such programs will consist of at least 4 full courses, including:

  • two RHET courses at the 200- or 300-level;
  • RHET 401/ENGL 399: Teaching and Tutoring Writing Across the Disciplines;
  • and one elective from the following: a 100-level RHET course from the sequence 101-105 or 120; a private reading in a topic of rhetoric and composition of the student’s choosing; an additional 200- or 300-level RHET course, OR another course approved by the chair.

Writing Associate Training

Students interested in training to be Writing Associates (peer tutors) should apply for consent to enroll in RHET 401/ENGL 399.  Please consult the instructor of RHET 401 for details.

Seeking Writing Assistance

Members of the Rhetoric and Composition Department will be glad to consult with students interested in working on their writing at any level or with any faculty member seeking advice about working with students to improve their writing.

Winter Term

Staff members will be available to sponsor Winter Term Projects in writing.

Courses for First-Year Students Only

The Rhetoric and Composition Department regularly offers at least one First-Year Seminar per year. First-year students seeking a small, writing-intensive course to orient them to the liberal arts at Oberlin College should seriously consider taking an FYSP. The First-Year Seminars offered by Rhetoric and Composition faculty for 2013-14 are listed below.

Writing Courses for First-and Second-Year Students

For first- or second-year students seeking an introduction to college writing. These courses focus on a variety of topics, but they all offer substantial attention to the process of writing and to critical thinking and reading. Many sections are interdisciplinary and employ a workshop/discussion format. Especially recommended for first- and second-year students who want to prepare for other Writing Intensive or Writing Advanced courses across the curriculum. The Rhetoric and Composition courses 101 through 105 cover essentially the same skills and issues; writing processes and strategies and writing for various purposes and audiences. The course numbers do not indicate a sequence; instead, they signify the different emphases and approaches adopted by various instructors.

Writing Courses for Students Beyond the First Year

Rhetoric and Composition courses at the 200 and 300-level are intended for students beyond the first year who are interested in improving their writing skills. Issues in disciplinary discourses and composing and revising for a range of writing tasks are emphasized through frequent writing assignments, class discussions, and writing workshops. First-year students may enroll in these courses only by special consent of the instructor.


These courses offer students a chance to gain practical experience in writing either by working with an approved student publication or by developing a grant or fellowship application.

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