Tap into the power of effective writing by developing the fundamental critical and analytical skills that transform your writing from "good" to "great." Regardless of your subject, goal, or occasion, these skills will help you organize your thoughts into a coherent piece, make a persuasive argument rooted in facts, and make responsible use of research materials.
You'll find the secrets of these and other methods in 24 accessible lectures that immerse you in the elements of successful writing. With engaging literary and everyday examples, inspirational prompts, and unforgettable insights, this course is the perfect reference guide for both professional and casual writers.
Survey the ways five major literary genres-fiction, essay, poetry, drama, and autobiography-can show you the path to stronger persuasive and critical writing. Writing prompts and practice examples will help you better understand how to apply the insights you'll uncover by studying each genre. See how the art of rhetoric can help you adapt your writing to different situations. The increased awareness of classical rhetoric you gain will go a long way toward making you a stronger writer by calling your attention to the basics of compelling analytical writing. Take a step-by-step look at the four major stages of the writing process-researching, writing a first draft, editing, and rewriting.
Chock full of useful strategies and real-world examples, this course is an invaluable tool for developing your effective writing skills so you can better express yourself to others.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses
I love listening and usually get in at least three hours a day. I like fiction, biographies and medical non-fiction.
I was an English major in college. I learned to do research and write papers. I think I have some natural writing ability, and I know I am very logical. Nevertheless, writing essays was agony for me. I had no idea how to outline. I put the project off to the last minute. Thanks to many all-nighters, I was able to get good grades.
Thirty-five years later, I listened to this course for a couple of reasons.
I'm a supervisor and have to provide written feedback. Almost always, I end up writing the reviews at the last possible moment and stress about not having done them sooner.
I am also a Toastmaster. As a Toastmaster, I give 15 to 20 speeches a year. After 24 years, I've finally learned to outline, but I thought this course might help me organize my thoughts more efficiently. I have a technical speech that I've been planning to give, but couldn't quite figure out how to organize and present it to a non-technical audience.
This course (perhaps the 20th I've listened to) is one of the two best I've heard. (The other was "The Other Side of History".)
Professor Armstrong is a gifted and engaging lecturer. She provides insight into her own writing, which informs her recommendations of best methods. She has concrete suggestions for how these techniques can be used both inside and outside academia. (Letters to the editor, resume writing, etc.)
She gives us examples of poor or average writing, then recommends changes that undeniably improve the work.
Her course is clear, well-organized, easy to follow and (surprisingly) fun.
My niece wants to teach high school English. I have recommended this course. If I had been presented with this material in my youth, my writing would have been better and my sleep more prolific. As it is, I believe my habits and my writing will improve thanks to Professor Armstrong and this course.
Professor Armstrong's course would be a great introduction to the basics of good writing for anyone, but is particularly useful for someone just starting his or her college career. Having said this, I am an established professional and the father of a high school senior, and I found this course very helpful for me personally. Writing is a big part of my job (I work in academic medicine), and while I think of myself as being a fairly good writer, this course has made me much more conscious of what I do - and what I should do - when I write. Sometimes people who think they know the basics are the ones that need to review them the most. I also found the informal style of presentation very engaging. Highly recommended.
I have two Master's degrees, but none of my professors have ever been able to explore the art of essay, rhetoric, fact and support, pathos and ethos, quite as well as Dr. Armstrong. Nevertheless, it's never too late to learn.
Thank you. Again, The Great Courses continues to live up to its tradition odd excellence in teaching.
Richard F. Hays
Lectures informative and useful.
As with her series on the Medieval World, I enjoyed Professor Armstrong's lectures on writing. The primary theme of this series was how to write an essay. All of the lectures supported this theme with lectures 6-10 actually showing how to write the essay. She used examples from popular literature to illustrate how important it is to pay attention to how the author is perceived by the audience. In addition, the use of other genres at appropriate times can also enhance the writing piece. She finished the series by discussing how to edit and rewrite the essay. With this, she used examples from her area of research on King Arthur. This series was a review for me, but also showed me how to use different approaches in my writing.
This course is excellent if you're beginning college and want to know how to write for an academic audience (eg your professor). It covers all basic tactical approaches for more effective writing, such as varying sentence structure, organizing an essay and using proper grammar.
What it doesn't do is delve deep below the surface of what makes a person truly want to read a book - something critical to a popular fiction or historical author. All the advice is very "safe" - I think most college professors would agree with 98% of what the professor states in this work.
It does not get into the more nuanced and innovative aspects of writing like how to write compelling dialogue or how to truly tell a good story. It doesn't talk about character development or efficient flow in writing.
In other words, this is a great course to get an A in a college English class. It's also a good foundation to start a journey or writing (everything in this course should be known by a good writer). But it's not a course for good writer looking for techniques to take one's writing to the next level. As we know, it's not the safe the safe approach that makes a fiction or nonfiction book; but rather it's the bold, groundbreaking elements. That's where this course falls short.
Your Brother in Christ
Prof. Armstrong emphasizes the relationship of reading to writing throughout this course. You can't write unless you also read. More than that, she talks about critiquing what you read in order to learn to write better.
Much of what she teaches is for the purpose of writing essays and term papers. She has a lot of helpful tips for doing research and how to to research, including how to vet sources on the internet. As such this course will be especially helpful for college students and ambitious high school students, though the usefulness of the course is by no means limited them.
She has lots of useful tips on getting started too, which would be helpful for anyone who makes a living or would like to make a living as a writer. As well as helpful tips for editing your own work.
Most helpful though, are her many tips and resources for reading with a critical eye and ear for the purpose of improving your own writing, and then to write often as well.
Would listen to again... it's a great course with a very good presenter that is engaging and fun to listen to.
You would think that after listening to this lecture series I would write an excellent and well written review?
Well. No. I'm standing on a train commuting home. So I will just say that it was well worth the time invested.
Yes! Professor Dorsey knows her stuff. I loved her speaking voice and was almost sad that it was over during the final lecture.
The way she used real life examples from people like Benjamin Franklin, Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, who used their writing skills to change the world.
Very fluid, friendly and smooth narration.
The story of Frederick Douglas, a slave who taught himself to read and write, and eventually became an icon of American History.
Would definitely recommend it!
Pretentious, pedantic, and--most damning of all--boring. If you just want to kill 12 hours, listen to something, anything, else.
"Easy to follow"
An well put together tutorial, encouraging the listener to understand the importance of analysing the writing of others along with tips on improving ones own skills.
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