Across the Disciplines: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Language, Learning, and Academic Writing

Bartholomae and Matway, The Pittsburgh Study of Writing

The Pittsburgh Study of Writing

APPENDIX D: Faculty Interviews

  • In D. F.'s Senior Seminar (Music) students write a series of four short papers that culminate in a longer "critical" paper. The first short paper assignment asks students to discuss (describe) one movement of the Mozart Requiem with attention to orchestration, to harmonic language and modulation, and to the text to be sung (declamation and expression). The second short paper assignment asks students to place the description in a larger context—and the larger context has to do with the "meaning" of the text and the composer's choices. The assignment announces its objectives: to give students experience "in writing about harmonic progressions in prose rather than labeling each chord"; and to give students experience working with a short passage rather than an entire movement. The third short paper is a return to the project of the first. Students are asked to analyze harmony in one of four prescribed passages from Fauré or Verdi. The fourth paper is to be based on the harmonic analysis of the third. It is to be a critical paper and should also take into account "orchestration, vocal setting, and texture." Students are invited to "expand the paper to include a larger segment of the movement, or the entire movement."
  • L. P. (Anthropology) and I. F. (Psychology) have students conduct a semester-long research project and prepare a research report. A key element for both is the writing of a Proposal or Prospectus. Here students are shown what it means to have a research problem that is specific, manageable and interesting. Both give substantial attention at this early stage; if not, the students' work for the semester can be wasted. From that point on, the assignments are written to organize the student's research and their understanding of the genre and audience for a report.