Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Graduate Research Wrilting and Techniques

Instructors: Ashley Hudson and Johannes Lichtman

"There is no satisfactory explanation of style, no infallible guide to good writing, no assurance that a person who thinks clearly will be able to write clearly, no key that unlocks the door, no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion."

--E. B. White

"Research consists in seeing what everyone else has seen, but thinking what no one else has thought."

--Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Success in the cross-disciplinary liberal arts study offered by GLS requires a plethora of skills that could never be taught in a single course. But whether a student's interests lean towards philosophy, psychology, or literature; whether she wants to pursue further studies in anthropology, art history, or creative writing; whether she's studying to be a teacher, a professional, or just for intellectual enrichment, one thing is for certain: the student will not succeed in a graduate program if she cannot write.

Written expression is the foundation which much graduate study in the liberal arts is built upon (especially if the student takes online classes). Unfortunately, academic writing often comes with the stigma of being pedantic, erudite, and often incomprehensible. Yet the goal of any writing-academic included-is simply to communicate what the author wants to say. Sometimes this requires complex syntax and jargon, but sometimes it requires a conversational tone, a simple vocabulary, and a sense of humor; often it requires a combination of the two.

Graduate Level Research Writing and Techniques will ensure that the student gains the writing tools she needs to be successful in her future graduate courses through the practice of lucid, intelligent, high-level written expression. Over the course of the semester, we will cultivate the analytical and argumentative skills an academic needs to express himself, with peer review and professor feedback every step of the way to help us in our development. We will also read a wide range of essay-from scholarly, to popular, to everything in between-in order to find inspiration for our own writing voice.

Course topics will include research techniques and formatting in MLA style, development of sound arguments and style elements such as tone, diction, and syntax, and the process of revision and editing.

Assessment Criteria:

Major assignments will include the guided development of three papers (first paper: 2-3 pages, second paper: 4-5 pages, third paper: 8-10 pages). Students will also complete brief weekly writing assignments, peer review, and discussion.


The majority of the texts for this course will be electronic pdfs of successful essays by academics, former students, novelists, and journalists. Students will read scholarly texts to learn effective implementation of research, essays by highly stylized writers like James Baldwin to learn the effects and uses of various narrative voices, and pop arguments from glossy contemporary magazines to learn the rhetorical fallacies that plague so many essays. An MLA handbook will be required. Please see the official course syllabus for required texts.

Last Update: February 6, 2016