Search Continuing Education

WRTG 3020 Topics in Writing: Narrative and the Self


Instructor: Merrit Dukehart


In this class I’m making a heartfelt thesis: Through the practice of recording and writing narratives we can learn about each other, as well as cultivate one of our most important life-skills: Empathy. My earnest hope is that this class will improve both your writing skills, and your relationships to others. We begin the class by writing an introductory narrative about a life altering experience. I will provide you with the theoretical and practical foundation to write this important narrative that will ultimately introduce you to other classmates, and set you up for successfully designing your final project in the class. After we write our own narrative, we’ll explore the link between empathy and narratives. We will read Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication to learn how to practice empathy in our everyday lives, all the while putting some of his concepts to work in our daily life. While we read Rosenberg’s book, you’ll begin recording and writing a story based on an interview of an older family member, or member of your community/church/the university. Alternately, you may choose to further research empathy and write a story about your own experiences practicing empathy in your everyday life. Our final project will be a digital or visual version of the story or research project.


This semester we will review skills you learned in writing 1150, challenge, and improve them, as we move through a series of weekly topics, assignments and readings. The course will address the following areas:

  • To Gain Rhetorical Knowledge of the composition process:

    This goal refers to a) analyzing the occasion, audience, and purpose of a piece of writing; b) using voice, tone, and structure to weave form and content together successfully; c) writing and reading in several genres; d) sharpening skills of analysis, argument, and inquiry to engage knowledge of ourselves and others. Writing done in the university and in the world around us uses rhetoric, or the art of adapting one’s language choices to meet the occasion, audience, purpose, and constraints of a piece of writing. Each occasion to compose is endowed with constraints such as time, resources, professional decorum, even department or professional politics, which influence the things we might write or say. This class will strengthen your rhetorical knowledge so you can succeed in all your writing endeavors.

  •   To write in consideration of your audience:

    At the university, sometimes it feels like you are only writing for different teachers. But, most of the writing you do in your life is for much different audiences. To consider your audience means to “put yourself in the shoes” of the people for whom you will write. What would interest them? What would attract them to your work? How can you make your work easy for them to understand? Would you address a potential employer different than your best friend? Would you say the same things about your research to the National Science Foundation as you would colleagues at an academic conference? These are audience consideration.

  •   To consider particular genres when composing:

    Genre refers to the kind of writing you will do. Each genre of writing has its own set of rules, expectations, and decorum In this class we’ll study what characterizes each of these genres and how best to fulfill the often unspoken rules and expectations of each genre.

  • We will improve upon your Writing process:

    The writing process refers to a) Generating ideas, writing and revising drafts of an essay, editing and proofreading those drafts; b) workshops and critiquing your own and your classmates’ work; c) doing effective research; d) using technology such as websites, Internet search engines, and electronic databases; e) evaluating sources for accuracy, relevancy, credibility, and bias; f) reflecting on your writing in order to clarify the writing process. With each assignment, we will strive to demystify the writing process and practice writing as a manageable series of actions resulting in a document of which you can feel proud.

  • To sharpen Critical Thinking skills:

    Critical thinking refers to your ability to analyze issues, problems, or opportunities relevant to their field or profession; identify and evaluate information sources for relevance, validity, and credibility; apply advanced rhetorical knowledge in order to recognize the elements of sound reasoning; pose questions that lead to sustained inquiry and innovative thinking; frame an issue and develop a stance based on evidence and sound reasoning; recognize the elements and logical progression of persuasive arguments; and employ rhetorical strategies to produce a coherent and persuasive argument.

  • We will strengthen your writing conventions:

    This means a) Sharpening your ability to issue claims, lines of reasoning and evidence, paragraph structure, appropriate vocabulary and genre conventions; b) master grammar, syntax, and punctuation and documenting sources. By discussing and analyzing, for example, the various conventions of a personal essay or a persuasive research essay, you will gain an appreciation of how the different parts of these documents fit together and can be changed according to the circumstance in which you write them.

  • Increase your capacity to function in a digital environment:

    Digital literacy refers to the ability to find, navigate, evaluate, and participate in digital environments for a variety of purposes. This class will be conducted through Desire2Learn (D2L), require you to understand how to use the library and internet to glean research, improve your understanding of how to use and access voicethread, powerpoint, and google drive.


Two Books, which are available at the CU Bookstore and from Amazon:

1) Listening as an Act of Love

2) Non-Violent Communication, the 3rd Edition, by Marshall Rosenberg

If you struggle with grammar, you must purchase a reference guide. My personal preference is: Troyka, Lynn Q and Hesse, Douglas. Quick Access, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.


Discussion Board Posts and replies (7 worth 20 pts each, plus responses to 2 students worth 5 pts, icebreaker worth 10 pts in total)   185 Pts.

Introductory Narrative (IN)  50 Pts.

Story Project or Experiential Research Paper  75 Pts.

Final Digital Narrative (FDN)  50 Pts.

Self-learning Assessment  20 Pts.

Workshops (10 pts each, 2 workshops)  20 Pts.

Whole Class Response to IN, FDN  20 Pts.

Total:   420 Pts

Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search MyCUInfo and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.