Whitman College offers a series of composition courses listed in the General Studies catalog. Courses in composition are designed to enable students across majors and disciplines to advance their writing skills. As such, composition courses serve all divisions.  Instructors vary.

Distribution: Courses completed in composition apply to the humanities distribution area.

Fall 2016

Comp 107, "Syntax and Grammar": Burgess, M,W,F 1:00-1:50pm

This course begins with a grounding in descriptive English syntax and grammar. A brief consideration of historical linguistics will allow students to analyze English syntax within the context of related Indo-European languages. The final section of the course applies close stylistic analysis to texts and utterances from a variety of discourse communities.

Comp 170, "Language and Writing": Elliot, M, W, 1:00-2:20pm; Schlegel, T, Th, 2:30-3:50pm

A course designed to introduce students to analytical writing through extensive writing practice and revision. The course provides strategies for invention, development, and editing. Emphasis is placed on analysis and synthesis, with additional attention to language use at the sentence level, including grammar, diction, and syntax.


Comp 210, VT "Writing the Truth?": Terry, M, W, 2:30-3:50pm

This intermediate-level course examines composition processes and written rhetoric across genres. Students will develop, research, write, and publish work for audiences and media on- and off-campus, navigating the ethics of writing "truth". How do investigative writers position themselves in relation to their material and issues? What are our responsibilities to our subjects and our audience? What does it mean to call our work "true"? Students work through three phases -- generating ideas and approaches, writing and refining, and reconsidering and reflecting -- to produce an iterative series of fact-based writings and examine the interplay amongst persona, audience, subject, genre, and form. Extensive experimentation is expected. In Fall 2016, students will participate in and contribute to active local discussions of Whitman College's uncertain relationship with its namesake's controversial legacy. Distribution area: humanities.

Comp 310, "The Theory and Practice of Tutoring Writing": McDermott, W, 7:30-8:40pm

This course is designed to prepare you to be an effective and confident writing tutor. It will introduce you to major theories on peer-tutoring, debates concerning the teaching of writing, and practical techniques for dealing with difficult situations in the process of tutoring. You will leave the course having conducted genre-specific research, having developed your own tutoring philosophy, and with a portfolio of strategies for tutoring from yourself and your peers. One of our goals is to create a community of knowledgeable and supportive writing center tutors who can then work as a team within the writing center.

Spring 2017

Comp 170, "Language and Writing":R. Schlegel, M,W,F 1:00-1:50pm

See above.


Comp 210 VT, "Voice, Style, and Genre": Stoberock M,W, 1:00-2:20pm

What does it mean to develop a "writing voice"? What does it mean to develop "personal style"? How do voice and style remain distinctive while still being flexible enough to meet the demands of a variety of genres? This practical class will emphasize the development of a prose style from the sentence level up while also introducing students to the modes of a variety of nonfiction genres. In addition to a daily emphasis on writing, we will look closely at examples of genre (travel narrative, book review, memoir, etc.) by practitioners such as Woolf, Didion, Michaels, Orwell, and Dillard, considering each writer's stylistic choices and the effects of those choices. Assignments for the course will include short readings, in-class and out-of-class informal writing, formal essays within a variety of genres, and a final portfolio. Distribution area: humanities.