Tools, Not Rules: Rhetorical Grammar for Writers
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: MFA Creative Writing Program
Department: Writing Program
Course Number: NWRW 1119
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Writing Fundamentals
  • English Composition
  • Creative Writing
Not a traditional course in grammar, this class examines the most complex tool in the writer's tool box—the sentence. The course is guided by the belief that as writers, we need to know not only how to use this tool but how to talk about it. The goal for students is not to memorize grammar rules but rather to understand how those rules can be used to produce a wide range of rhetorical effects. In order to manipulate those rules, writers must understand them. The course begins at the beginning: nouns, verbs, subjects, predicates, all the parts of speech. Students then learn to analyze sentences in both what they read and what they write; they learn not only what syntax is but how to control it consciously and how the decisions they make will affect readers. They come to see how words become sentences, sentences become paragraphs, and paragraphs create a cohesive whole. The class reads chapters from a grammar and rhetoric textbook and completes practice exercises assigned weekly. A workshop for writers of all genres, absolute beginners as well as experienced professionals, who want to better understand all the tools in the tool box.
Course Open to: Degree Students