Interdisciplinary writing minor proposed


Faculty members recently proposed a five-class writing minor in response to requests for an interdisciplinary writing program. If passed, the minor will be available to students next semester.

Faculty advocates for the minor sent out a petition last week in order to measure student interest and were met with resoundingly positive results, according to professor of Writing and Rhetoric Julie Prebel.

“The only negative comments I’ve heard have been from seniors who wish they’d had something like this, so they could have gotten a credential for all of the work they put into writing during their time,” Prebel said.

Members of the Writing and Rhetoric department drafted a proposal for a writing minor within their own department in 2010. The Academic Planning Committee (APC) asked them to re-examine their proposal because it lacked the interdisciplinary focus emphasized in Occidental’s mission statement.

The new minor incorporates curriculum not only from the Writing and Rhetoric department, but also from a number of other departments, including theater, English and Comparative Literary Studies (ECLS) and Media Arts and Culture (MAC).

According to Prebel, those students enrolled in the minor would be required to take one core writing class and four electives of their choosing. These electives would be derived from currently existing classes in other departments.

In drafting this new minor, Prebel collaborated with professors Martha Ronk (ECLS), John Swift (ECLS), Thomas Burkdall (Writing and Rhetoric), Laurel Meade (theater) and Broderick Fox (MAC).

Ronk has been an advocate for creative writing on the Occidental campus throughout her 31-year career here. While Ronk’s creative writing classes have largely focused on the writing of fiction and poetry, she and her colleagues insist that all writing, be it fiction, non-fiction or academic, is creative.

“We’ve spent a great deal of time and effort collaborating, planning events and crafting curriculum together,” Ronk said. “We simply want to legitimize what we’ve already been doing for years so that students invested in the craft of writing can earn something tangible for their efforts. We hope to have faculty and students alike realize that they don’t have to pigeon hole themselves within one department.”

Prebel believes that the minor would also bolster Occidental’s academic reputation.

“Occidental is part of a 17-school comparison group, and we’ve determined that if the writing minor passes, Occidental would be at the vanguard of that group in terms of writing programs,” Prebel said.

The APC is now reviewing the interdisciplinary writing minor and will make a decision by the end of the semester.



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