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Program in Writing and Rhetoric

Faculty Director: Nicholas Jenkins

Associate Director: Jonathan Hunt

Lecturers: Christine Alfano, Paul Bator, Julia Bleakney, Shaleen Brawn, Kevin DiPirro, Erik Ellis, Mark Feldman, Marjorie Ford, Wendy Goldberg, Patti Hanlon-Baker, Arturo Heredia, Donna Hunter, Chris Kamrath, John Lee, Sohui Lee, Kimberly Moekle, Gabrielle Moyer, Kelly Myers, Alyssa O'Brien, John Pell, John Peterson, Sarah Pittock, Delphine Red Shirt Shaw, Carolyn Ross, Helle Rytkonen, Kim Savelson, Susan Schuyler, Ruth Starkman, Sigrid Streit, Rod Taylor, Andrew Todhunter, Susan Wyle

Guest Lecturer: Jonah Willihnganz

Teaching Affiliates: Sarah Allison (Aut), Brianne Bilsky (Wtr, Spr), Marissa Gemma (Aut), Hanna Janiszewska (Aut), Kenneth Ligda (Aut), Vasile Stanescu (Aut)

Offices: Sweet Hall, Third Floor

Mail Code: 3069

Phone: (650) 723-2631


Web Site:

Courses offered by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric are listed under the subject code PWR on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

The Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) designs and teaches courses that meet the Writing and Rhetoric requirement for undergraduates at Stanford as well as intermediate and advanced writing and rhetoric classes. For more information on the requirement, see the "Writing and Rhetoric Requirement" page on the UAL website.

PWR courses engage students in rhetorical analysis of texts and research-based argument. Students in PWR courses learn and practice time-tested rhetorical principles to gain increasing control over the intellectual and stylistic elements of their writing; they learn to analyze the persuasive strategies of others and to apply those insights to their own writing.

Toward these ends, PWR 1 focuses on elements of academic argument: understanding a writer's stance; developing an argumentative thesis; discovering, developing, and deploying cogent proofs; making appropriate organizational and stylistic choices; and understanding the expectations of audiences. The course emphasizes research-based writing, including the effective use of primary and secondary sources and data based on fieldwork. Students enrolled in PWR 1 carry out significant research and use it as the basis for a persuasive research-based argument.

PWR 2 further develops students' skills in writing and oral presentation, emphasizing the ongoing development of content, organization, and style. The course addresses the dynamic interdependence of writing and speaking, as well as the importance of visual and multimedia elements in the effective presentation of research. Students enrolled in PWR 2 have opportunities to draft and revise written assignments and oral presentations as well as opportunities to present the results of scholarly inquiry, with an emphasis on how to work purposefully and well with a variety of presentation media.

As a general rule, students complete a minimum of three major assignments in both PWR 1 and 2. Written assignments vary from 5 to 15 pages in length, and students work intensively on revising each piece of writing. All assignments involve analyzing a range of texts as well as identifying, evaluating, and using multiple sources in support of research-based arguments. In-class work focuses on how to read with an increasingly critical eye and how to identify, evaluate, integrate, and cite sources effectively.

Writing and Rhetoric classes enroll no more than 15 students, and all classes are conducted as seminars in which participation is crucial. In-class activities include close reading of and responding to the writing of peers; these workshops are augmented by a minimum of three individual or small group conferences with the PWR instructor during the quarter.


The Writing and Rhetoric requirement includes courses at three levels.

  1. The first-level course, taken in the first year, can be satisfied by courses in PWR or Structured Liberal Education; the curriculum emphasizes analysis and research-based argument.
  2. The second-level course, to be completed by the end of the sophomore year, is a writing and oral/multimedia presentation course taught by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and by other programs and departments; completion of Structured Liberal Education also satisfies the second-level requirement.
  3. The third-level course is a Writing in the Major (WIM) course taught in each major, providing students with systematic opportunities to develop skills for writing in their chosen fields. A list of certified WIM courses may be found in the table of "Undergraduate Major Unit Requirements" in the "Undergraduate Degrees and Programs" section of this bulletin. WIM course descriptions may be found under individual department and program sections.

The sequence of required courses provides a coordinated approach responsive to how students mature as writers, researchers, and presenters during their undergraduate years. At each level, students develop greater sophistication in conducting inquiry and producing scholarly work in progressively more specific disciplinary contexts.

Before the term in which students enroll in the first two levels of the requirement, they review course descriptions on the web site at After reviewing the offerings, students submit a list of top choices, and the PWR office assigns students to courses based on these preferences.

Students wishing to pursue advanced work in Writing and Rhetoric may enroll in electives offered by PWR. Topics vary; further information may be found in the PWR section of the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site or on the PWR advanced courses web page.

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