According to Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767), humans seek to “seize as much of the world as possible, and connect with it as closely as can be done”. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are the keys to different worlds. Through literacy skills one doesn’t only receive access to a wide variety of environments, but also the opportunity to express oneself and to communicate. Written language is a basic cultural skill, and its acquisition requires very fundamental capabilities that are necessary to be able to encode letters, mentally convert them into words and vice versa, to translate words into letters, and to produce them on paper (or another medium).
Written language acquisition therefore does not begin with the writing of letters or whole sentences, but instead with simple movements that mimic writing, which children already practice in preschool. From the first doodles, through mastery of the alphabet, to perfection of spelling and expression, is a long, arduous, extremely interesting, unbelievably important and highly complex process, which children undergo with a wide variety of requirements and in a variety of ways.
Students who pursue rhetoric through the Professional and Public Writing concentration of the English major or the Communication and Public Advocacy minor develop critical and creative communication skills for verbal, written, and digital engagements. These skills take shape in courses ranging in focus from argumentation to visual rhetoric, popular culture to critical theory, games studies to technical writing.
Indiana University’s Rhetoric faculty study and teach the history, practice, and theory of communication, composition, and public speech. Among them you’ll find renowned experts on the rhetoric of games and sports, hermeneutics and interpretation, digital language environments, multilingualism, protest and resistance, and global English.