Department of English

Topics in Writing

ENGL 4010

Writing as Material and Symbolic Practice

Class day(s): MTWRF
Class time: 9:45 AM

Chad Wickman

Hargis Associate Professor of Writing Studies

Interest areas

Rhetoric and Composition; Technical and Professional Communication; Editing; Writing and Literacy Studies; Rhetorical Theory; Rhetoric of Science and Technology

Chad Wickman

Contact information

8054 Haley Center
(334) 844-9061

Course Description

English 4010: “Topics in Writing” is designed to enrich students’ understanding of writing as a material and symbolic practice, both historically and in light of our current technological, socio-cultural, and political landscape. Toward these ends, we will explore several focal areas, including: how the “materials” of writing—e.g., media, technologies, sign systems—shape our experience as writers and inform the processes through which we compose texts; how different genres of writing reinforce social action in/across different contexts; and what we can do to engage with the material and symbolic dimensions of writing as a means of bringing about individual and social change. Students will draw on course readings, discussions, and assignments to generate their own studies of writing and, in general, develop their rhetorical sophistication as active, engaged writers.

Students are welcome and encouraged to contact Dr. Wickman directly if they have questions about readings, assignments, or anything else related to the course:


Writing assignments will include brief responses to assigned readings; research proposal; mid-length paper; seminar-length paper (or a comparable genre, depending on nature and scope of the inquiry); presentation.


Readings for the course will range from texts that explore the history and theory of writing to studies that examine writing as a situated practice across different areas of school, work, and community life. 

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Last Updated: March 21, 2019