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The Writing Program
In the La Roche English Department, we believe in the power of writing as a medium of expression, a vehicle of self-education, and a source of cultural critique. We believe that writing is an ongoing venture, not a one-shot deal; we believe that all of us-from the most widely published writer to the most novice-are works in progress, constantly developing our voices and visions. And we make sure that our majors, as well as all students on campus, have the chance to experience writing this way.
We encourage such an immersive writing experience through a number of means, including:
The Composition Sequence
All La Roche students fulfill a composition requirement, normally in the first year of their college education, through a cumulative sequence of courses that focus on college writing and reading. These courses introduce students to the habits of critical reading essential to effective writing; the process of writing and revision; the conventions of writing within academic disciplines; and the resources, both print and online, for academic research.
The courses in the sequence are:
EN110 : This six-credit course, Seminar in Reading and Writing, was designed to strengthen the academic reading and writing abilities of under-prepared students (as identified through placement testing). Whereas in the past, it was impossible for students to earn credits toward graduation for "remedial" courses, EN110 offers students who excel in the course the possibility of skipping EN111 (College Writing I) and moving directly to EN112. EN110 is not a "skills" workshop; that is, students do not focus on comprehension or grammar. Soon after the course begins, students will see that EN110 is not a course about writing but a course in writing: the majority of students' time will be spent examining the ways their fellow student writers approach their subjects and how they put together words, sentences, and paragraphs. By focusing on the papers individual students write, the class works collaboratively to help students figure out ways to make their own-as well as their fellow students'-writing more interesting, precise, complex, and reflective.
EN111 : The purpose of this class, College Writing I, is to activate a process of reading, thinking, and writing that will continue throughout the student's college career (and beyond). Most students at La Roche place into this course in the first semester of their freshman year. Course activities include reading and responding to a variety of complex texts; writing papers that explore, critique, or extend these texts; and discussing student papers with a view toward their revision. Particular emphasis is placed on learning the conventions of academic writing, the kind of writing that students will produce as apprentices within various academic disciplines or major fields. Though some attention is devoted to issues of grammatical correctness, the class is guided by the belief that one does not learn to write by listening to the teacher read passages from grammar books. One learns to write by writing .
EN112 : In this class, Research Writing-normally taken in the second semester of the freshman year-students are introduced to the skills and habits of mind of academic research writing. Students learn when to identify the need for research materials, how to determine the sources that are most beneficial for a particular research project, how to ascertain which sources are trustworthy and which are suspect, where to look (in both print and online archives) to locate the requisite materials, how to put information to use in furthering their own projects, and how to credit and document borrowed material properly, in accordance with scholarly conventions and the expectations of academic integrity. At the conclusion of the course, students will have acquired the rudiments of information literacy, and will be prepared to build upon and refine those abilities as they progress through their major course work.
The Writers' Center
The stereotype of the solitary writer laboring over his or her magnum opus in an unheated garret may make for a romantic image, but it couldn't be farther from the truth. Writers don't write alone; every writer relies on a community of fellow writers who provide tangible models, practical aid, and constructive criticism. That's where the La Roche Writers' Center comes in.
The Writers' Center is a free service for writers who need help at any stage of the writing process. Having trouble understanding a class assignment? An experienced consultant will help you figure it out. Can't think of how to get started? There are concrete strategies for overcoming writer's block that the Center can help you to master. Need guidance to revise a paper? Again, the Writers' Center can lend a hand. In fact, in its nearly 10 years of existence, the La Roche Writers' Center has yet to encounter a writing issue it couldn't handle. So try it. The dedicated director of the Center, Dr. Christine Abbott, and her devoted staff of student and professional consultants are eager to help.
The Center accepts writers on a walk-in basis, though it's best to call ahead and make an appointment (the place gets pretty busy!). When you arrive, you'll be asked to identify why you've come to the Center. The consultant will ask you to explain what sort of paper you are working on, what the assignment is, and when it is due. You'll be asked to read what you've written so far and to talk about the concerns you have about your writing. Then you and the consultant will talk about your paper together.
There are no grades, no homework, and no grammar drills at the Writers' Center. Instead, your consultant will tell you what s/he thinks you were trying to get across in your writing, and what parts of your writing did or didn't work to make your intended meanings clear. You can then compare the consultant's response to what you were trying to say, and from there you can work with the consultant on ways of making sure that your writing really says what you want it to.
The Writers' Center is located in Room 208 of the Annex Building (adjacent to the College Center Square ). The phone number is (412) 536-1230. Hours for fall and spring semester are Monday through Thursday 10-7 and Friday 10-4; in the summer, hours are Monday through Thursday 10-6 and Friday 10-4.
The Writers' Center is always looking for student consultants, so if you would like to work in a stimulating environment, help your peers with their writing, and improve as a writer yourself, please contact Dr. Abbott at (412) 536-1227 or Christine.Abbott@LaRoche.edu.
Sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, Nuances is an online literary magazine featuring the poetry and fiction of members of the La Roche College community. It is run by a volunteer student editorial board, and submissions are welcomed from any member of the La Roche community-students, staff, and faculty. To view recent issues, click here.