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Literature

AU Offering New Technical Writing and Rhetoric Class in Fall Class prepares students for future of ever-changing technology and communications

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literature. culture. technology.

As the world grows ever more complex and data driven, it needs professionals who can make complex, technical information accessible and navigable to users and stakeholders.

To ensure students have these critical skills, the College of Arts and Sciences is offering WRT 610: Technical Writing and Rhetoric for the first time this fall. The three-credit class was developed for the MA in Literature, Culture and Technology, but it is equally valuable for students in STEM, business, and government as well—anyone who wants to develop the technical communication skills expected of team members and managers in today’s workforce.

Turning Data Into an Asset

Department of Literature Professorial Lecturer Laura Ewing says that students will develop the skills necessary to make sense of the massive information and data that we are bombarded with every day, turning it into an asset that people can understand.

“Massive amounts of data are collected on a daily basis, and it is the role of the technical writer to turn it into something usable,” she explains. “Businesses and organizations bring in tech writers to translate this information into programs, plans, and policies for their users. Technical writers have the ability to explain the value and present the application of information collected by organizations ranging from Google to the US Census Bureau.”

In addition, students in Technical Writing and Rhetoric will focus on issues of accessibility, equity and justice, and how they relate to modern communication, says Lacey Wootten, director of American University’s Writing Studies Program. These include human-centered design of technical materials, technical communication that accounts for people with disabilities, and decentering Western values, assumptions, and languages in technical communication.

Demand Across Fields

Ewing adds that technical writing is growing at a rate of 8 percent over the next ten years—a faster rate than the average for all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specific job titles can include web editor, content writer, user interface/user experience (UI/UX) designer, data visualization specialist, data analyst, and communications specialist.
But these don’t capture the full range of opportunities for professionals with technical writing skills. Tech writers are in demand across government, business, medicine, STEM, humanities, and education.
“I’ve used tech writing in non-profit and NGO development work, translating data to develop effective international peacebuilding programs and revise organizational policies,” Ewings says. “What I love most about it is its interdisciplinary nature.”

Registration and More Information

Please visit the Department of Literature website to learn more about WRT 610: Technical Writing and Rhetoric.