Distinctly Different Writing Communities

My English 325 class is a diverse and welcoming community. We’ve only met once so far, but in that first class, we went around and shared interesting facts about ourselves. Usually these activities are quite dull and repetitive, but in this case, I heard some completely unexpected stories. My own fun-fact, that I studied abroad in Prague, seemed boring in comparison to what some of my classmates do or have experienced. The detail my peers shared when characterizing themselves came through again when we were asked to write in detail about somebody that raised us. My classmates were vulnerable, passionate, and sometimes messy, but most importantly, they were very open.

In contrast, the writing assignments in my communications courses can often feel more limiting. Last semester, I took a communications course about global iconic events. Our only essays were two identical assignments, different only in topic choice. We were tasked with writing about how the media portrayed two different global iconic or media events. I almost felt uncomfortable writing my second paper, about Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, because it was sounding freakishly similar to my other paper, almost robotic. We did some in-class workshops where I read my classmates’ essays, and so many of them sounded the same. To me, this consistency in produced work is a reflection of restrictive writing guidelines and assignments in the communications department. I find myself sticking to scripts and feeling uncomfortable with sharing “too much” in these types of courses.

The writing in each of the unique writing communities I have been a part of has been a reflection of the people in that community itself. So far, our community in Writing 420 with Shelley has been welcoming, comfortable, and inspiring. If it continues this way, I am excited to see the writing my classmates and I produce.

Sarah Schuman

Hi! I'm Sarah, from the Chicago area. I write more eloquently with a chai latte by my side.

One thought to “Distinctly Different Writing Communities”

  1. Hi Sarah, I completely agree with your explanation of the writing communities in the Communications courses! It seems like every essay I’ve written for a Comm class has essetially been the same: an introduction paragraph that tries overly-hard to sound quirky or creative, a clean-cut thesis, supporting paragraphs with one example from the text each, and a conclusion that broadens the topic and emphasizes just how much “the media” is controlling our minds/secretly running society/planning an eventual takeover (or something along those lines). I’m curious as to whether you’ve tried straying away from this structured format in a Comm class. I’ve definitely tried being creative with these papers before, and ended up not doing very well grade-wise. So, I guess I’ll stick to the cookie cutter format for now.

    Adding to that, I agree that the people really help determine the community. I’ve never taken English 325, but a Creative Writing class I took had a similar inviting atmosphere. I felt like I could be vulnerable with my classmates and GSI, which was a crucial part of putting my work out there, especially since I wasn’t very confident in the fiction genre.

    Thanks so much for sharing, and I look forward to reading more!

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