Excellence in Writing

writingThe topics are as diverse as the courses available. Faith-based community organizing. Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai. The Abu Ghraib torture scandal. Maternal depression. Pain management.

Yet the essays published in this year’s Writing for a Real World have one thing in common— they all represent the best undergraduate writing at the University of San Francisco. Now in its sixth year of publication, Writing for a Real World honors the finest examples of academic writing from across all disciplines by publishing the winning essays in an anthology.

“Regardless of one’s profession after graduating, writing is the preeminent skill students need after they graduate,” said David Holler, assistant professor of rhetoric and composition and managing editor of Writing for a Real World. “It is the skill they will need most in their professional lives.”

The anthology, sold at the USF Bookstore, is most often used as reference during classes, with professors pointing to particular essays as examples of how to structure well-crafted writing assignments. Students also learn from critiquing the essays since they are not perfect and do contain areas for improvement, Holler said. The essays are published just as they were submitted in classes taken during the 2007-08 academic year.

Selecting the winning submissions was a daylong task. The 13 faculty and staff judges reviewed 98 submissions in a blind review, and each submission was read by at least two readers. Every winning submission had to pass the review of at least four readers. The result was 13 winning essays.

The writing is judged on several criteria, including research, documentation, style, and whether it is a genuinely interesting and unique approach to the subject matter.

Because the essays may be on any topic and include students’ thinking, not simply a rehashing of facts, they serve as more than an example of good writing — they may spark discussion among those reading them.

“Readers are encouraged to examine these essays, understand them, even quarrel with them,” journal editor David Ryan, assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, writes in the anthology’s introduction.

The following four essays in this year’s Writing for a Real World show what’s on students’ minds — and how they choose to express that in writing.

Read the Essays:   1    2   3   4

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