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Rhetoric and Professional Writing

The Department of English offers a specialization in rhetoric and professional writing that prepares students for careers in professional and technical writing as well as graduate studies in rhetoric, composition, and technical communication. Students are introduced to rhetorical theories that enhance their critical thinking and communication skills, preparing them for the ever-changing media landscape and training them to be critically engaged citizens. Students also learn theories of professional and technical communication and principles of design that help them understand, research, and examine information structure and content development and management in various professional contexts. As researchers and practitioners of writing, they make vital contributions to the smooth operation of organizations.

Students take a variety of courses to build a strong core of rhetorical knowledge essential to critical analysis and production of writing and discourse in a variety of modes across different media platforms in professional and technical contexts. Many past Winthrop English majors have developed careers such as technical publications manager, legal writer, public relations specialist, technical writer, etc. in government agencies, corporate, higher education, and non-profit organizations. Several have continued their studies in graduate school as scholars and teachers of education, rhetoric and technical communication.

Association of American Colleges & Universities (AACU) published a report in July 2018 which summarizes selected findings from two parallel national surveys—one of 501 business executives at private sector and nonprofit organizations and another of 500 hiring managers whose current job responsibilities include recruiting, interviewing, and/or hiring new employees. The report summarizes that

“The college learning outcomes that both audiences rate as most important include oral communication, critical thinking, ethical judgment, working effectively in teams, working independently, self-motivation, written communication, and real-world application of skills and knowledge.”

Our faculty strive to support and mentor students in conducting research on workplace communication both independently and collaboratively, focusing on best practices and social implications of those practices. Students will have the opportunity to obtain an internship which can provide them with professional experiences that can better prepare them for post-graduate careers.

Jamerson Magwood, an English major of 2006, attributes his career direction to the internship program. As a logistics analyst II in Aerospace/Defense for U.S. Government, he says

“The internship program was instrumental in my future success. I had a better handle on terminology and tools used in technical writing and the business environment. I decided later in my college career to move into the technical writing area to ensure I had translatable skills to the workplace. These internships afforded me tactile experience and background to walk into a position and provide support to relevant stakeholders in the U.S. Government.”

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