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WRTG 3020 Topics in Writing: Writing on Music


Alaina Beaver


This course is designed to aid your personal and academic understandings of both writing and music. Through sustained inquiry into the rhetoric of musical analysis, you will practice advanced forms of academic writing. Guiding questions for the course include: how can we analyze the process of musical genre creation and classification, and how can we determine the guiding principles involved in both public and personal music tastes? Using supplemental readings on neuromusical research and multimedia resources (songs and music videos, a class blog), the course emphasizes analysis, criticism, and argument with support.


We will build on the following 5 learning goals throughout the term:

1. Rhetorical Knowledge

  • Focus on your purpose in writing a particular piece
  • Respond to the needs of different audiences and rhetorical situations
  • Use conventions of format and structure, appropriate tone and voice in writing
  • Understand how genres shape music and writing
  • Write in various genres—personal, critical, analytical and reflective discourse

2. Critical Thinking, Reading and Writing

  • Use writing, music, and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking and communicating
  • Understand writing assignments as series of tasks, including finding, evaluating, analyzing and synthesizing appropriate content and sources
  • Integrate own ideas with those of others (sources, peer comments, etc.)
  • Understand relationships among language, content knowledge and research through reading and analyzing source materials

3. Writing Processes

  • See writing as a process to complete a successful text
  • Develop strategies for generating, revising, editing and proofreading texts
  • Be open to viewing writing as a social process and electing to use collaborative strategies throughout the process
  • Effectively provide commentary on peers’ writing via discussion comments
  • Use computer technology throughout the writing process

4. Knowledge of Conventions

  • Demonstrate control over written language, including syntax, punctuation, grammar and spelling
  • Develop knowledge of genre conventions ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics
  • Document work appropriately and learn common formats for different kinds of texts

5. Personal Goals

  • Identify goals for improving your writing; note at least two major improvements by the term’s end
  • Seek help/guidance when needed—from me, your peers and/or writing resource centers (Online Composition Hub, Norlin Writing Center, etc.)
  • Know your writing strengths and weaknesses for future improvement


Daniel J. Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (ISBN-10: 0452288525).


Formal Assignments: 50 total, 10 points each
Quizzes: 15 total, 3 points each
Blog entries: 30 points total, 14 entries, 2.5 points each (will drop the lowest 2 entries)
Homework Notes (5 points, 1 per Unit)
Extra credit: 15+ points possible

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