Words have power. Learn how to harness it — to express yourself and make a positive impact on your community — with a major in Writing and Rhetoric.
Explore your options — classes, internships, research and study abroad. Find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future.
Writing and Rhetoric — General Concentration Major Guide
Professional Writing Concentration Guide
Journalism & Digital Media Concentration Guide
Develop your ability to persuade your audience as a campaign speechwriter, an advocate for policy changes, or a marketing copywriter. Learn digital techniques and skills that will prepare you for work in newsrooms and other media outlets. Train your editor’s eye to notice mistakes and improve a piece of writing. Use your skills to make the world a better place, by writing copy for nonprofits or winning grants that let them expand their mission.
Austin is packed with opportunities for strong writers. Intern with an award-winning advertising agency, a policy research organization that’s analyzing bills during the Texas legislative session, or one of the many publications that cover news and profile the capital city’s incredible characters.
What do our graduates do?
Writing and Rhetoric majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s. Here’s a sample.
- Technical writer at Amazon Publisher Services
- Communication chief in the Dallas Mayor’s Office
- Content strategist for IBM
- Information specialist for the American Cancer Society
- Graduate student at the Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University
- Assistant Editor at Better Homes & Garden
- Editor for the Texas Legislative Council
- Reporter at the Houston Chronicle
For more information about the Writing and Rhetoric major, please contact Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Mary Rist, chair of the Department of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric.
From Writing and Rhetoric to Fulbright Winners
Writing and Rhetoric majors Lilli Hime and Logan Stallings were winners of Fulbright awards, a highly selective scholarship and grant program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Read about how they are going full on — successfully.
The Classroom and Beyond
To become a better writer, you’ll need to practice your craft as much as possible and in many different settings. The St. Edward’s and Austin communities offer ample opportunities to develop your skills in journalism, editing, creative writing, technical writing, marketing, legal writing and more.
Your classes will help you refine your craft and help you practice writing in real-world settings.
In Grant Proposal Writing, you’ll choose an Austin area nonprofit to help with applications for grant funding. Your class will visit the foundations library to search for funders, choose a foundation that matches the mission of your nonprofit, and write a grant proposal. Many students have successfully won funding for their cause in amounts of up to $75,000.
Technical Writing will help you communicate complex ideas clearly in any professional context. In this course you’ll conduct usability testing and learn about the principles of universal design that improve accessibility for users with physical and neurological differences and for English language learners. You’ll leave the course with professional writing samples you can use to apply for scholarships, internships and employment opportunities. Technical writing internships are abundant in Austin, and National Instruments, which has hosted an on-campus technical writing training, offers a paid summer internship that has led to full-time employment offers for several students.
In Career Preparation, you’ll learn about personal branding and e-portfolio curation, network with alumni from across the country, learn about graduate school (including MFA programs) and freelancing, and participate in “deep dives” with employers from different professional writing sectors. These guest speakers are in a position to hire, and they explain the history and mission of their organization, what the workplace culture is like, and what a strong application looks like. Past speakers have included staff from National Instruments and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
SEU to You
Listen as professors in the Department of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric share information about their courses in our mini-podcast series.
Hilltop Views, the weekly student newspaper, is published both in print and online. Student journalists report news from the campus and greater Austin community. You can get involved as early as your freshman year as a writer, editor, photographer or designer.
Sorin Oak Review is a literary magazine that showcases the poetry, prose and artwork of St. Edward’s students. Working on the editorial staff is a great way to gain experience in project management and the practical details of putting together a publication.
Arete is a student-produced academic journal that publishes student-written research, nonfiction essays and commentary. Editors choose from among the dozens of submissions to create a cohesive journal that represents a variety of perspectives.
New Literati is a student-produced journal of both academic and creative work.
B. Hooved is the student humor journal, inspired by our Hilltopper goat mascot.
The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series brings poets, novelists, playwrights and essayists to campus to read from their work and talk with students about the process of writing. Previous visiting writers include Jericho Brown, Jonathan Safran Foer, Naomi Shihab Nye and Mindy Kaling.
The Book Jackets Literary Club is a fully student-run organization in which students gather to share conversations about books and writing ideas. Students also gather to read and perform each other’s work and invite speakers to discuss internship and job opportunities for literature and writing majors. They also share information about upcoming literary events on campus and at local bookstores.
Four Writing & Rhetoric Tracks and Degree Requirements
The recently updated Writing and Rhetoric (WRIT) major offers four courses of study or "concentrations." Students can choose a structured Creative Writing, Professional Writing, or Journalism and Digital Media concentration, or opt for the flexible General concentration, which offers a broad range of genres and writing situations.
Students will select courses from traditional genres such as poetry, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and writing for stage and screen, as well as writing in emerging and hybrid genres. Our Creative Writing faculty is led by award-winning working artists. In addition to traditional workshop-based writing courses, this concentration includes courses in literature and professional writing to create customized writing experiences and broad skill sets.
The professional writing concentration provides students with timely experience that they can apply in the job market. The professional writing faculty, whose experience ranges from the courtroom to the conference room, help students to develop an array of skills and problem-solving strategies. Students can choose coursework in editing, magazine writing, advertising and public relations, and technical and business writing, as well as courses in journalism and creative writing.
Journalism and Digital Media
Students in this concentration take courses in reporting and writing news, digital media production and design, copyediting, and media standards. They select additional courses in various areas of journalism and digital media, including magazine writing, opinion writing, broadcast journalism, documentary production, entertainment writing, and sportswriting. Students interested in a range of careers receive highly marketable instruction designed to prepare them for the workplace. Those pursuing careers in journalism and digital media, whether covering politics, science, the arts, or other areas, need strong writing and research skills. Public relations and business professionals benefit from learning clear communication for branding, marketing, and pitching new ideas. Every student can benefit from learning effective, clear, and concise communication because employers value strong writing, reporting, and multimedia skills.
For students who would like to develop their versatility as writers and scholars, the general track provides a concentration with a wide variety of options. With a solid foundation in grammar, style, and rhetorical theory, students can choose to customize a course of study that may include classes in Legal Writing, Entertainment Journalism, Grant Writing, or Humor Writing, just to name a few.
As a Writing and Rhetoric major, you’ll have ample opportunities to intern in the book publishing world, in media, and on communications teams for businesses and nonprofits. St. Edward’s students recently have interned at the following organizations:
- Community Impact Newspaper
- KUT Radio
- WNYC Radio
- Greenleaf Book Group
- Texas Book Festival
- DoubleHorn Cloud Services
- University Federal Credit Union
- The Writing Barn
- Austin Chronicle
- Equal Justice Center
- Austin City Hall
- Applied Research Labs
The Writing and Rhetoric faculty are experienced, passionate, and invested in each individual student's success. Their work has appeared in professional journals, short-story collections, books, newspapers, and more. They are a part of a larger group of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric faculty.
Alan Altimont, Associate Professor of English
Specializing in modern and contemporary poetry and poetics and drama, Dr. Altimont also teaches courses in British Literature, American Literature, erotic/romantic literature, and writing for live stage and screen. Along with his own poetry, he has published or presented papers on the poetry of John Berryman and Andrew Marvell, and on Shakespeare's plays. He is currently translating the secular and sacred Latin poems of the early medieval bisexual priest, Marbod, Bishop of Rennes.
Amy R. Clements, Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Before becoming a professor of writing and rhetoric, Dr. Clements worked for a variety of book publishers as an advertising manager and freelance copyeditor. She is the internship coordinator for the WRIT program and also serves as the faculty advisor for Arete, our award-winning journal of student research and essays. She regularly teaches Writing for Advertising, PR, and Public Relations; Career Preparation; Writing in the Digital Age; and courses in grammar and editing.
Barbara Filippidis, Professor Emeritus
Professor Filippidis taught classes in Victorian, modern, and postmodern literature, the British Literature survey, Principles of Style, and an honors course called The Printed Page and the Silver Screen. As former Honors Program Director, she developed the Honors Thesis Symposium and created the first honors Living and Learning Community at St. Edward's. She enjoyed mentoring students as they prepared papers to present at conferences both on and off campus and is the 2015 Undergraduate Advisor of the Year. Her scholarly research focuses on literature in its cultural and social contexts.
Jena Heath, Professor of Journalism and Digital Media
Professor Heath teaches Journalism and Digital Media and coordinates the Journalism and Digital Media program. She spent 20 years in newsrooms as a reporter and editor before joining the St. Edward's University faculty. Journalism and Digital Media students analyze and think critically about the news. They also report and produce stories for today's digital newsrooms. Her research and creative work explores the experiences of people adopted from China through oral history. She collaborated with the digital and archiving staff at the Munday Library on Our China Stories, a digital storytelling collection featuring the stories of adoptees from China. Professor Heath also serves as Associate Dean in the School of Arts and Humanities and Program Director of the Digital Storytelling and Content Creation major and minor.
Drew M. Loewe, Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Dr. Loewe's scholarly and teaching interests include legal writing, editing, rhetorical theory and criticism, argumentation, prose style, and general-education writing. Before he went back to school to earn his MA and PhD, he practiced law in California and Texas. More about his work, as well as resources for students, can be found on drewloewe.net.
Catherine Rainwater, Professor Emeritus
Dr. Rainwater taught primarily American Literature and specializes in Native American literature. She also taught literary theory and criticism, and creative nonfiction courses. She has authored and edited several books and critical essays, and has been recognized with the Norman Foerster Award, the Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award, and a Choice Award from the American Library Association. Her current work in progress is a scholarly study of Native American writers' conceptions of personhood.
Mary Rist, Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Dr. Rist is currently chair of the Literature, Writing, and Rhetoric Department. Dr. Rist's areas of research and teaching include principles and practices of grammar, editing, discourse analysis, and second- language writing. Recent publications involve writing program administration and, particularly, the development and assessment of undergraduate writing degree programs.
Mary Helen Specht, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Professor Specht teaches fiction and creative nonfiction writing workshops in the department of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric. A former Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria and Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellow, Professor Specht's debut novel, Migratory Animals, was an editor's choice by the New York Times and the Austin American-Statesman, and has won multiple awards. Specht's fiction and nonfiction have been anthologized and appeared in numerous publications. Texas Monthly has named her one of "Ten Writers to Watch."
Sasha West, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Dr. West teaches classes in poetry, creative writing, the hybrid genre, and creativity studies. She is interested in the intersections between the visual and literary arts and the ways artists help us understand social issues. Sasha West’s first book of poems, Failure and I Bury the Body (Harper Perennial 2013), was a winner of the National Poetry Series and the Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush First Book of Poetry Award. Her poems and reviews have appeared in numerous publications.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing
Timothy Braun teaches Playwriting, Screenwriting, Introduction to Creative Writing, and creativity and making courses in the Honors program. He has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Djerassi, Santa Fe Art Institute, Edward F. Albee Foundation, and Ucross. His plays and operas have been produced across North America, Europe, and Asia. The New York Times, American Theatre Magazine, Huffingtonpost, Austin Monthly, The Texas Standard, and Austin Chronicle have published his essays. Braun is a member of Columbia University's Digital Storytelling Lab, the Sundance Institute Co-Lab, an alum of Forward/Story, and serves on the Board of Directors of Austin Bat Cave. More at timothybraun.com.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing & Rhetoric
Curt Yowell teaches courses in journalism and digital media for the Writing and Rhetoric program and the Journalism and Digital Media minor. Dr. Yowell’s primary area of research is political communication and the news media. Current projects include exploring how language is used to define social problems as political problems and the impact of perceptions of the fourth estate on civic participation. Dr. Yowell’s digital communication professional background includes working with students on award-winning journalism and digital projects at the University of Houston, The University of Texas at Austin, and St. Edward's University.
Writing and Rhetoric Minor
Students interested in learning more about the study of how humans write, argue, express themselves, and communicate are encouraged to pursue a minor in Writing and Rhetoric, which requires 24 hours of coursework.
- Writing in the Digital Age
- Grammar and Style
- Analyzing Rhetoric
- Intro to Professional Writing or Intro to Creative Writing
- Digital Media Production and Design or The Craft of Editing
- 9 hours of coursework from WRIT or JOUR, six of which must be upper-division
Are you a current student? Contact your advisor for next steps on declaring your major or minor.