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Public Writing: Translating Humanities Insights into Writing that Makes a Difference

Professors Sherry Linkon (Professor of English and American Studies; Director of the Georgetown University Writing Program) and Matthew Pavesich (Teaching Professor of English; Associate Director of the Georgetown University Writing Program) offered a new graduate course Engl 728/Writ 428 “Public Writing. Translating Humanities Insights into Writing that Makes a Difference,” which interrogates what it means to write publicly, explore a variety of genres, and engage with public audiences. Writing — of some sort — is the tool through which most organizations, institutions, and individuals make an impact on the world. It’s how they access and act with others. Writers translate their ideas and interests into forms and styles that invite — but cannot guarantee — connection and response. This involves design, which combines understanding audience and context but also both creativity and intentionality. 

Because much of students’ work after college or graduate school will be in written forms, this course aims to help students succeed by helping them develop the ability to analyze and adapt to new forms and situations.

Writing is an applied field, hence the most valuable practice is on live issues in real genres, trying to relate to real audiences. Several students in this course chose to focus on public humanities, and created profiles about humanists at Georgetown or people who work in public humanities elsewhere, in the form of blog posts on the course website (new window) (new window):

“Paul Elie: A Portrait” by Allison Harris

A “Storied” Career: Jeffrey Donahoe and Georgetown Magazine,” by Julie Winspear

“Writer Profile – Kelly Skeen,” by Rhoroschak

“Public Writers Profile: Alis Sandosharaj,” by Tiana Holston

Two other students’ pieces have been featured on our Humanities and cura personalis site: Ashly Paulino’s “Michelle May-Curry and the Humanities for All” and Chris Kenny’s “Mark Bosco, S.J., Ph.D.”

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