Department of Rhetoric and Writing (DRW)
Rhetoric and Writing became an official department in the College of Liberal Arts in 2007 with the launch of its undergraduate major. Previously known as the Division of Rhetoric and Composition (and later as the Division of Rhetoric and Writing), the unit emerged from the Department of English in 1993 to provide more focused attention to the teaching of undergraduate writing at the University of Texas. The DRW’s courses are designed to help students understand methods of persuasion and argumentation, read critically, and write well. Because writing instruction demands constant student-teacher communication, lower-division classes are capped at 20 students to maximize student improvement.
University Writing Center (UWC)
The UWC began in 1994 and now hosts over 11,000 students from across campus each academic year. While students in rhetoric courses are often clients, the UWC provides assistance to students in courses across the curriculum, on all kinds of writing, from freshman research papers to personal statements and job resumes for graduating seniors. The UWC does not provide remedial or proofreading services; rather, it helps students learn to improve their own writing, fostering independence by showing writers how to make good decisions about their work. The UWC also offers in-class workshops and presentations that introduce the UWC to students and provide instruction in various aspects of writing, such as a revision workshop and presentations on research papers in the humanities and the sciences. For staffers, the UWC offers additional experience in one-on-one writing consultations. Although your UWC consultations will be less directive than those you have with your own students, consultations in the UWC contribute to your ability to instruct your students and explain writing and revision practices. Indeed, these consultations offer practical training for graduate instructors simply in connecting with students. Further, working in the UWC may prove beneficial on the job market, as several former staffers have accepted writing center coordinator positions in recent years.
The UWC is also committed to providing a wide range of professionalization opportunities for its consultants. Consultants have the option to work in project groups such as Praxis, an online journal edited entirely by UWC consultants; the presentations group; the events group, which publicizes the UWC's outreach events; and the research group, which performs writing-center-related scholarship and presents its findings in journals and conference presentations.
Computer Writing and Research Lab (CWRL)
The CWRL arose out of the efforts of Professors John Slatin and Jerome Bump, among others, who worked throughout the 1980s and early 1990s to solicit funding that would allow the English Department to integrate computers into their work. The original projects proposed to investigate diverse issues, such as how word processing software and synthetic speech could help visually impaired writers work more independently and whether computers could enhance creativity. In 1993, with these projects having already led to the establishment of computer-integrated classrooms in the Flawn Academic Center and Parlin Hall, the Division of Rhetoric and Composition took over administration and renamed the organization the Computer Writing and Research Lab.
Today, the CWRL’s mission is to explore how information technologies are changing the ways we produce and consume texts, the ways we argue, and the ways we can flexibly address these sociotechnical changes. The Lab provides instructors with useful resources, including course websites, course blogs, student web projects, various interactive media, and, of course, computer integrated classrooms in which to teach. Access to such technology, and the incorporation of such technology into one’s pedagogy and classroom instruction, can greatly enhance a graduate student’s profile on the job market. For its instructors and professors, the CWRL encourages innovative, sustainable, theoretically informed pedagogies and pedagogical resources for teaching sociotechnical writing. Further, the lab works to develop flexible technologies, research approaches, and theoretical and methodological frameworks for studying sociotechnical writing, and promotes discussions about the impact of information technologies in the liberal arts. As staffers, instructors working in the Lab work on developing projects that both support the goals of the unit as well as adapt those goals to emergent technologies and modes of inscription. Websites such as Blogging Pedagogy and Viz., as well as the e-journal Currents allow staffers the experience of web maintenance and publication.