Oberlin students are expected to write and communicate well. Whether majoring in neuroscience, historical performance, or politics, we want all students to be confident, competent, and capable writers. Rhetoric courses encourage you to understand writing as a means of discovery, reflection, and critical thinking to enable you to negotiate the demands of academic and college-level writing.

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Our faculty are both scholars and teachers who devote their careers to making important contributions to their disciplines through writing and research. They are committed to undergraduate education and teach everything from first-year seminars to advanced courses. Our rhetoric and composition faculty are themselves editors and published writers who value critical thinking and exceptional writing.

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Department Overview

Oberlin College values good communication and expects its students to be able to write well. This basic yet essential skill, if properly nurtured and practiced, will aid you in almost any field to which you aspire. Courses in our rhetoric and composition department can be an important component of a liberal arts education in supporting students toward this end.

We expect all Oberlin students, whether majoring in neuroscience, historical performance, or politics, to be confident, competent, and capable writers. Graduates should be able to express their ideas, opinions, research, and academic endeavors in written form, whether that form unfolds on a blog, as a proposal for a winter-term project, or as an essential contribution to a faculty research project.

Rhetoric courses take students through the writing process and often investigate interdisciplinary topics of inquiry. All of our courses are small, allowing you plenty of interaction with other students as well as with the writing professor.

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Curriculum Overview

Courses in the rhetoric and composition department are for writers at all levels, including those who want to improve their skills as well as those who already consider themselves good writers. Rhetoric courses encourage you to understand writing as a means of discovery, reflection, and critical thinking; in short, our courses help students negotiate the demands of academic writing at the college level.

Our mission is to support Oberlin’s writing requirement, which applies to students in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Double Degree Program. We accomplish this through a system of rhetoric and composition courses and through the Writing Intensive and Writing Advanced courses offered by faculty across the curriculum. Rhetoric and composition faculty also teach in the First Year Seminar Program.

We also offer courses in more specific genres and topics of inquiry, including journalism, grant and proposal writing, advanced scholarly writing, travel writing, narrative nonfiction, and composition theory and pedagogy. In all of our courses, students’ work takes center stage and students receive individual attention. You also may minor in rhetoric and composition, as students often pair the program with a major in English, sociology, politics, or creative writing.

Rhetoric and Composition News

Photo of Oberlin Science Center at night

Lost in Translation

November 10, 2017
Oberlin alumni science writers took part in the symposium "Translating Science" in September, sharing with students their advice on science writing and related careers.

Explore “Away”

October 7, 2014
Oberlin faculty, staff, students, and alumni collaborate to create a new online journal that presents experimental travel narratives.