Our department is committed to teaching, research, and service in writing, rhetoric, and linguistics. The department provides instruction in and encourages the development of student competence in understanding rhetorical situations and writing in all media. In addition, Writing Studies faculty teach courses in writing theory, information design, journalism, linguistics, humanities, English, and related fields in the liberal arts.
The Department of Writing Studies was established in 1987, when it was separated from the Department of English due to the many differences in the two disciplines.
Previously known as the Department of Composition, it primarily served the needs of incoming first-year students. In fact, our freshman composition program was one of the first in the country to require a technology component, with class sessions held in computer labs to teach students word processing and information literacy skills starting in the mid-1980s. Soon after, the Department also began offering advanced writing courses geared to specific majors offered on campus.
As the field of composition and rhetoric developed, PhD programs began to be established at universities nationwide, and the discipline emerged as a widely recognized field of research to which many well known scholars contribute. With this change, UMD's Department of Composition changed as well. Our name became the Department of Writing Studies fall semester of 2007 to reflect the maturity of the discipline as well as the wide variety and diversity of our course offerings.