Because I Can't Help Myself: Using Canvas Discussion to Practice Style and Grammar

When I began teaching E316K, I was disappointed but not particularly surprised to find that by and large, my students couldn’t write well. Sure, there were a few outliers who turned in clear, dynamic prose; overall, though, I could be administered a vaccine for redundant sentences and clunky syntax. Often, I’d catch myself wondering, “Who let you get this far without teaching you how to write?”

Rhetorical Figure of the Day: Introducing Classical Rhetorical Figures in the Modern Classroom

Dictionary page showing the entry for chiasmus and related words

As a PhD student new to UT, I came to my teaching at the Department of Rhetoric and Writing with a knowledge of rhetoric derived from my experience at Mary Baldwin College's Shakespeare and Performance program. Professor Ralph Alan Cohen taught MFA students about the classical rhetorical figures Shakespeare would have learned in grammar school.

Benefits of Paper Workshops

Black-and-white photo of tools hanging on a wall

This spring I’ve been teaching RHE 310: Intermediate Expository Prose for the second time. The first time I taught it was two years ago, so I had plenty of time in between to think of ways to improve upon my first effort. I love teaching this class. I’m not sure I’ll get to teach a class like it in my new job, but I will definitely try to work in the practice of in-class paper workshops in future classes. Workshops are a cornerstone of RHE 310, and in this post, I’d like to describe how I run workshops, what I think works well, and what I will change in the future.

William Strunk and the Human Brain

Black and white photograph of William Strunk

If there is one piece of advice that all usage guide writers seem to agree on, it is that good writing is clear and concise. A good writer makes the reader’s life easy. Rules from “Use the active voice” to “Avoid preposition stranding” are put in place because they supposedly achieve simplicity and ease comprehension. In "The Elements of Style, for instance, William Strunk describes the active voice as “more direct” than the passive and writes that it “produces brevity”.


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