Thinking about Themes


Why do ENWR courses have themes?
Themes and themed readings provide the class with shared knowledge and questions, and allow them to write and to common on one another's work with some authority.
All writing assignments impose upon students a range of cognitive stresses, including the stress of simply mastering the material. Themes let students build and refine their knowledge over a series of assignments, so that the overall strain of grappling with new material decreases.
One of the primary goals of ENWR courses is to introduce first-years to academic problem solving. Different discourse communities approach problems in different ways; behavior psychologists, for example, make different kinds of claims about childhood and use different kinds of evidence quite different from those of literary critics. Themes turn our classrooms into miniature discourse communities, where students become more and more familiar not just with the thematic content, but with the conventions of the field.
Click here for the characteristics of a good theme.
Click here for a list of recent ENWR themes.