Monday, January 22, 2007

Technical Writing

So I started my Technical & Professional Writing course today. It was supposed to begin last week, but San Antonio had ice on the roads and we don't get that a lot down here (even less so where I come from).

The introduction impressed me for two reasons. First, we will focus on writing and collaborative techniques more typical of most business opportunities than the critical research papers most college English courses focus on. Second, our instruction will be largely experential, placing us in a volunteer contract position with a non-profit organization.

The reasons I am impressed are the same reasons that I am unimpressed. My first and only such course should not have come at the last semester of my senior year. It never struck me so blazingly before how inappropriate most college English coursework is, with so myopic an obsession with creative fiction and critical research.

Or rather, it was never so clear to me how sorely baccalaureate English programs need to be divided into two programs: one which prepares the student to become a creative writer, a poet or teacher of literature; and one which prepares the student for the majority of employment positions for writers...public relations, advertisement, publishing, instructional writing, corporate outlines and memos, etc.. These vastly different modes of writing merit independent degrees.

For example, this will be the first class under an English department, as opposed to a Computer Science department, that I have witnessed which will instruct students how to correlate texts with one would be expected to do in advertising and marketing positions.

Perhaps a division between these different modes of writing is realized in separate degrees at many universities, but none that I have attended or considered attending offered such foresight.

Anyway, I've had experience with many types of technical writing before, but I'm looking forward to the more formal and guided experience this class seems to be offering.


  1. Well, your school's up on mine. I was an English major at a private liberal arts school in the Pacific Northwest, and I don't think there was a single non-creative writing course in the entire catalogue.

    I think the all literary theory, all the time approach was great for learning critical thinking. In another job-related skill, I learned to distinguish style well enough to tell when the same person is posting under different names on the boards. I learned to do research really well. And, uh ... I think that's about it.

    Sometimes I wish that I'd done economics instead, but it probably would have earned me a real job.

  2. I mentioned this to my professors and it's apparently been talked about before, but my school's too small to offer many more courses. But they have been considering offering a degree in Writing, in addition to the traditional English.

    Real jobs should be avoided at all costs.


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