Words have power. Learn how to harness it — to express yourself and make a positive impact on your community — with a major in Writing and Rhetoric.

Develop your ability to persuade your audience as a campaign speechwriter, an advocate for policy changes, or a marketing copywriter. Learn digital techniques and skills that will prepare you for work in newsrooms and other media outlets.  Train your editor’s eye to notice mistakes and improve a piece of writing. Use your skills to make the world a better place, by writing copy for nonprofits or winning grants that let them expand their mission.

Austin is packed with opportunities for strong writers. Intern with an award-winning advertising agency, a policy research organization that’s analyzing bills during the Texas legislative session, or one of the many publications that cover news and profile the capital city’s incredible characters.

  • Technical writer at Amazon Publisher Services
  • Communication chief in the Dallas Mayor’s Office
  • Content strategist for IBM
  • Information specialist for the American Cancer Society
  • Graduate student at the Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University
  • Assistant Editor at Better Homes & Garden
  • Editor for the Texas Legislative Council
  • Reporter at the Houston Chronicle

For more information about the Writing and Rhetoric major, please contact Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Mary Rist, chair of the Department of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric

From Writing and Rhetoric to Fulbright Winners

From Writing and Rhetoric to Fulbright Winners

Writing and Rhetoric majors Lilli Hime and Logan Stallings were winners of Fulbright awards, a highly selective scholarship and grant program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Read about how they are going full on — successfully.

Four Writing & Rhetoric Tracks and Degree Requirements

The recently updated Writing and Rhetoric (WRIT) major offers four courses of study or "concentrations." Students can choose a structured Creative Writing, Professional Writing, or Journalism and Digital Media concentration, or opt for the flexible General concentration, which offers a broad range of genres and writing situations.

Creative Writing

Students will select courses from traditional genres such as poetry, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and writing for stage and screen, as well as writing in emerging and hybrid genres. Our Creative Writing faculty is led by award-winning working artists. In addition to traditional workshop-based writing courses, this concentration includes courses in literature and professional writing to create customized writing experiences and broad skill sets.

Professional Writing

The professional writing concentration provides students with timely experience that they can apply in the job market. The professional writing faculty, whose experience ranges from the courtroom to the conference room, help students to develop an array of skills and problem-solving strategies. Students can choose coursework in editing, magazine writing, advertising and public relations, and technical and business writing, as well as courses in journalism and creative writing. 

Journalism and Digital Media

Students in this concentration take courses in reporting and writing news, digital media production and design, copyediting, and media standards. They select additional courses in various areas of journalism and digital media, including magazine writing, opinion writing, broadcast journalism, documentary production, entertainment writing, and sportswriting. Students interested in a range of careers receive highly marketable instruction designed to prepare them for the workplace. Those pursuing careers in journalism and digital media, whether covering politics, science, the arts, or other areas, need strong writing and research skills. Public relations and business professionals benefit from learning clear communication for branding, marketing, and pitching new ideas. Every student can benefit from learning effective, clear, and concise communication because employers value strong writing, reporting, and multimedia skills. 


For students who would like to develop their versatility as writers and scholars, the general track provides a concentration with a wide variety of options. With a solid foundation in grammar, style, and rhetorical theory, students can choose to customize a course of study that may include classes in Legal Writing, Entertainment Journalism, Grant Writing, or Humor Writing, just to name a few.

Our Faculty

The Writing and Rhetoric faculty are experienced, passionate, and invested in each individual student's success. Their work has appeared in professional journals, short-story collections, books, newspapers, and more. They are a part of a larger group of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric faculty.

Dr. Alan Altimont

Alan Altimont, Associate Professor of English

Specializing in modern and contemporary poetry and poetics and drama, Dr. Altimont also teaches courses in British Literature, American Literature, erotic/romantic literature, and writing for live stage and screen. Along with his own poetry, he has published or presented papers on the poetry of John Berryman and Andrew Marvell, and on Shakespeare's plays. He is currently translating the secular and sacred Latin poems of the early medieval bisexual priest, Marbod, Bishop of Rennes.

Dr. Amy Clements

Amy R. Clements, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

Before becoming a professor of writing and rhetoric, Dr. Clements worked for a variety of book publishers as an advertising manager and freelance copyeditor. She is the internship coordinator for the WRIT program and also serves as the faculty advisor for Arete, our award-winning journal of student research and essays. She regularly teaches Writing for Advertising, PR, and Public Relations; Career Preparation; Writing in the Digital Age; and courses in grammar and editing.

Prof. Beth Eakman

Elizabeth A. Eakman, Visiting Instructor of Writing and Rhetoric

Beth Eakman Re specializes in courses with practical and professional applications, such as Grant Writing, Magazine Writing, Humor Writing, and courses in workplace and social media writing. Her students regularly publish articles they've written in these classes and win funding for local charitable organizations with their grant proposals. Professor Eakman has experience as a professional and creative writer in a wide variety of genres, including technical manuals, creative non-fiction essays, and scripts for children's television.

Dr. Barbara Filippidis

Barbara Filippidis, Professor of English

Professor Filippidis teaches classes in Victorian, modern, and postmodern literature, the British Literature survey, Principles of Style, and an honors course called The Printed Page and the Silver Screen. As former Honors Program Director, she developed the Honors Thesis Symposium and created the first honors Living and Learning Community at St. Edward's. She enjoys mentoring students as they prepare papers to present at conferences both on and off campus and is the 2015 Undergraduate Advisor of the Year. Her scholarly research focuses on literature in its cultural and social contexts.

Jena Heath, Associate Professor of Journalism and Digital Media

Professor Heath teaches Journalism and Digital Media and coordinates the Journalism and Digital Media program.  She spent 20 years in newsrooms as a reporter and editor before joining the St. Edward's University faculty. Journalism and Digital Media students analyze and think critically about the news. They also report and produce stories for today's digital newsrooms. Her research and creative work explores the experiences of people adopted from China through oral history. She collaborated with the digital and archiving staff at the Munday Library on Our China Stories, a digital storytelling collection featuring the stories of adoptees from China. Professor Heath also serves as Associate Dean in the School of Arts and Humanities.

Drew M. Loewe, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

Dr. Loewe teaches a variety of rhetorical theory and criticism courses in the Writing and Rhetoric major, as well as writing courses in the general-education core, legal writing, and Honors Thesis Prep. He also directs the university's Writing Center. Before he went back to school to earn his MA and PhD, he practiced law in California and in Texas. More about his work can be found on drewloewe.net

 Dr. Ila M. McCracken

Ila M. McCracken, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

Dr. McCracken directs the Year 1 and Year 2 Writing Program, which emphasizes student engagement and transferable skills about writing and rhetoric, including writing in disciplinary contexts. Required of all students at the university, these courses aim to strengthen the writing skills students will need to succeed at St. Edward’s University and beyond. She also teaches courses in the Writing and Rhetoric major, including  courses in grammar, document design, and rhetoric and composition theory. 

Dr. Catherine Rainwater

Catherine Rainwater, Professor of English, Area Coordinator of the Literature major

Dr. Rainwater teaches primarily American Literature and specializes in Native American literature. She also teaches literary theory and criticism, and creative nonfiction courses. She has authored and edited several books and critical essays, and has been recognized with the Norman Foerster Award, the Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award, and a Choice Award from the American Library Association. Her current work in progress is a scholarly study of Native American writers' conceptions of personhood.


Dr. Mary Rist

Mary Rist, Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

Dr. Rist is currently chair of the Literature, Writing, and Rhetoric Department. Dr. Rist's areas of research and teaching include principles and practices of grammar, editing, discourse analysis, and second- language writing. Recent publications involve writing program administration and, particularly, the development and assessment of undergraduate writing degree programs.


Prof. Mary Helen Specht

Mary Helen Specht, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

Professor Specht teaches fiction and creative nonfiction writing workshops in the department of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric. A former Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria and Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellow, Professor Specht's debut novel, Migratory Animals, was an editor's choice by the New York Times and the Austin American-Statesman, and has won multiple awards. Specht's fiction and nonfiction have been anthologized and appeared in numerous publications. Texas Monthly has named her one of "Ten Writers to Watch."

Prof. Sasha West

Sasha West, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

Dr. West teaches classes in poetry, creative writing, the hybrid genre, and creativity studies. She is interested in the intersections between the visual and literary arts and the ways artists help us understand social issues. Sasha West’s first book of poems, Failure and I Bury the Body (Harper Perennial 2013), was a winner of the National Poetry Series and the Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush First Book of Poetry Award. Her poems and reviews have appeared in numerous publications.



           View all faculty in the Literature, Writing and Rhetoric department.​

Outside of the Classroom

Student Publications

In the WRIT major, students have the opportunity for hands-on experience writing, editing, and publishing in a variety of media and genres. Participating in student publications is an excellent way to build a portfolio.

Hilltop Views is our award-winning student-run newspaper. In both print and electronic formats, student journalists, editors, photographers, designers, and writers constantly report news and develop content that informs, entertains, and reflects the St. Edward’s community.

Sorin Oak Review is our award-winning creative writing journal. Sorin Oak publishes poetry, prose, scripts, visual art, and hybrid genres for this annual publication. Students produce this journal from concept to design to production.

Arete is our award-winning academic journal. Published annually, Arete is a showcase for outstanding academic work by students across disciplines. Students jury, select, and edit submissions and collaborate to design and produce the journal.

New Literati, like Sorin Oak, is a creative expression publication that was originally produced by the university’s adult education branch. It is now published in collaboration with the traditional undergraduate program.


Our location in Austin opens doors to real-world application of writing skills learned in the classroom, gives an inside look at potential careers, and provides students with important networking opportunities. All WRIT majors are required to complete at least one internship for course credit. For more information, contact Dr. Amy Clements at amyrc [at] stedwards.edu. Our students have interned at a wide variety of employers, ranging from local nonprofits to regional publishers and global corporations including:

  • The Writing Barn
  • Feeding Texas
  • Latinitas
  • The Austin American-Statesman
  • Texas Monthly Custom Publishing
  • The Walt Disney Company
  • National Instruments

The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series

The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series brings working writers to campus to read from their work, talk about their writing, and interact with students. As a student, you'll have the opportunity to meet award-winning novelists, poets, and playwrights during our many events over the course of the semester. Past visiting writers include Eula Biss, Jonathan Safran Foer, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Mindy Kaling, among others.

About the Minor

Students interested in learning more about the study of how humans write, argue, express themselves, and communicate are encouraged to pursue a minor in Writing and Rhetoric, which requires 24 hours of coursework.

Required Courses:

  • Writing in the Digital Age
  • Grammar and Style
  • Analyzing Rhetoric
  • Intro to Professional Writing or Intro to Creative Writing
  • Digital Media Production and Design or The Craft of Editing
  • 9 hours of upper-division coursework from select courses in WRIT and JOUR

Are you a current student? Contact your advisor for next steps on declaring your major or minor.