Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Critical Writing: Writing as resistance and as recovery

 Brief Overview 

Writing is an essential, often challenging component of a liberal arts education. Students read the writing of thinkers and scholars; student writing often forms a significant part of the assessment in many courses. A major task for students is to learn from other writers/speakers while deepening their own thinking and expressing themselves, to sort out the true from the false, and the right from the wrong, while writing about complex issues on which there are contradictory perspectives.
This course proposes to train students to write systematically and coherently and to express themselves with clarity and precision on diverse topics and in a variety of modes/forms, in a way that will enable them to learn meaningfully from a wide range of texts while simultaneously developing independence of thought, judgement and feeling. A threefold approach will be employed to this end.

  • Reading: critical, analytical, evaluative reading of texts (written, oral, visual) by a variety of thinkers/scholars/journalists from diverse contexts and modes (cultural, philosophical, ideological, academic, literary, mass media) on themes and issues central to the contemporary world and to humanity
  • Writing about issues/themes in different modes of discourse (response, comparison, persuasion, argumentation, dialogue/debate, literary critical commentary/analysis with a creative component at certain points)
  • Do the above (A and B) within a theoretical-conceptual framework derived from reading excerpts from thinkers on rhetoric, language, ideology, poetics, aesthetics, cultural theory, on mass media, etc. This framework will be cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary.

 Course Objectives 

  • Equip students with conceptual skills and theoretical frameworks to enable them to critically analyse and evaluate different perspectives on issues
  • Expose students to the diversity of perspectives and to diverse textual (rhetorical/literary/linguistic) strategies employed by writers/speakers
  • Enable students to acquire linguistic and organizational skills to express themselves with greater clarity, precision and coherence and to master appropriate register
  • To guide them in argumentation, development of ideas with adequate supporting evidence
  • To make students better equipped to meet the challenges of writing in other courses
  • To enable them to become more self-aware, independent and sensitive as thinkers, readers/listeners and writers

 Teaching Methodology 

  • Lectures on concepts/theories and thinkers/writers, combined with
    • Class discussion of texts and issues, followed by
    • Application of concepts to writing
  • Encouraging students to link theories/issues to their personal lives, social and cultural environment
  • Model close reading of different kinds of texts - theoretical, discursive, literary, mass media - in different modes/media as preparation for writing
  • Viewing of film clips/advertisements/speeches
  • Practice writing through structuring of the process of writing shorter pieces through stages (outlining, thesis formation, drafting, etc.) at points
    • sometimes group presentations to hone skills in oral expression/presentation
    • larger written final assessment
  • Where appropriate, students (individuals/groups) might choose specific issues/aspects for assignments for a module.