2020-2021 University Catalog 
    Jul 24, 2024  
2020-2021 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Writing and Rhetoric


Associate Professors Campbell, Worley (Chair)
Assistant Professor LeMesurier
Director of the Writing and Speaking Center Lutman
Senior Lecturer Spires, Spring
NEH Distinguished Visiting Professor Kennedy
Visiting Instructor Wilson

A central part of the liberal arts tradition, rhetoric is the art of effective language use in written, oral, and visual communication. With roots in ancient Greece and branches in the most recent media technologies, rhetoric is simultaneously one of the oldest and newest academic disciplines, fundamentally engaged by dynamic relationships between language, power, and public culture.

As a discipline, rhetoric demonstrates how discourse generates knowledge, mediates power, and enacts social change; as an art, rhetoric enables the speaker/writer to invent arguments by making logical, ethical, and emotional appeals to an audience. The department offers courses in writing, public address, and the history and theory of rhetoric and language.

Courses in writing and rhetoric position students to become critical language users, preparing them to be effective communicators both in their future careers and in civic society, in the US and abroad.

The Writing Requirement

On the basis of standardized writing and verbal test scores, some first-year students are assigned first priority in registering for writing courses. These students are required to complete one of the department’s eligible 100-level writing courses with a grade of C or better. This requirement must be met by the end of the second semester at Colgate. Students who fail to do so must continue to enroll in writing courses until the credit is earned. In all cases, however, the requirement must be met by the end of the fourth semester.


The Joseph ‘63 and Carol Trimmer Awards for Excellence in Expository Writing — established as prizes to be awarded by the Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

The Trimmer Senior Scholar Award for Outstanding Achievement in Writing and Rhetoric — established as a prize to be awarded by the Writing and Rhetoric department to a senior for being an exceptional scholar and citizen in the discipline of Writing and Rhetoric.


The courses listed below are offered by the WRIT program. Select courses from other departments/programs may also count toward the WRIT minor requirements. Use the minor link below to find other courses that count toward these requirements. 

Majors and Minors