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New Courses

Cynthia Messenger is on sabbatical leave for one year, starting July 1, 2013.
If you have questions about the Writing and Rhetoric Program, please contact one of the following:

If you have questions about the Writing Centre, please contact one of the following:


Innis One Student Wins John M Coles Prize for Class Essay

The inaugural Innis One program has already produced an award-winning writer: Leelan Farhan has been awarded the John M Coles Prize offered by Victoria College for an essay she wrote for the Innis One course Creative Writing and the Natural City (INI 102). The prize is awarded to a first-year student of Victoria College “who has shown exceptional ability in the use of language ... in his or her work in any degree course at the University.”
In INI 102, taught by Sharon English, students to
explore their relationship to the natural world in an urban setting through creative non-fiction. Farhan’s piece, called “Wild Youth,” reflected on her experience of the changing landscape in Maple, ON, which went from rural to suburbanized,  and the impacts on her identity.


Program Enrolment

The Writing and Rhetoric Minor is now a Type 1 program. You may sign up for the program directly through ROSI.

Students may take INI courses even if they do not wish to enrol in the Writing and Rhetoric Program.


First Year Courses

INI 103H and 104H count toward Writing and Rhetoric Minor requirements, whether or not they are taken in first year.

First-year students who are interested in enrolling in the program in second year (or a later year) should take one or both of these courses in first year. (Upper-level students are also welcome to take first-year courses.) Any course that counts toward program requirements may be taken before a student formally enrols in the program.

INI104H is not offered in 2012-13.


Note on Registration in "P" indicator courses

Are you having trouble enrolling in second-year and third-year INI courses?

They may be restricted to W&R program students until early August. Try again on the day on which the course restrictions fall away (August 9th, 2012 @ 6 a.m.).


List of Innis College Writing and Rhetoric Courses on offer in 2013-14:

INI 103H1F Writing Essays;
INI 203Y1Y Foundations of Written Discourse;
INI 204Y1Y The Academic Writing Process;
INI 300H1F Strategic Writing in Business and the Professions;
INI 302H1F,S Writing in Business and the Professions for Rotman Commerce students;
INI 304H1S Critical Thinking and Inquiry in Written Communication;
INI 310H1F Editing;
INI 311Y1Y Seminar in Creative Writing;
INI 410H1S Creative Non-Fiction.



INI 410H1S - Creative Non-Fiction: Analyzing Essays

(NEW COURSE: Spring 2014)

In this course, students will read and analyze non-fiction prose by writers and commentators such as Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, Christopher Hitchens, Mark Kingwell, Louis Menand, Daniel Mendelsohn, Cynthia Ozick, Salman Rushdie, Peter Schjeldahl, Valerie Steele, and James Wood. The course will focus on non-academic essays, which take a number of forms. The essays assigned in the course reflect the following genres: literary analysis, political commentary, book reviews, arts reporting, writing on material culture, and personal essays. Many of the essays studied might be broadly characterized as creative non-fiction.


Instructor: Thea Lim

Thea Lim has been teaching creative writing, composition and rhetoric since 2008, to writers of every stripe, from fine arts students to engineers to culinary students to first years to autoworkers.  She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, where she also served as the Nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast.  Her short fiction and essays have been published by The Guardian, Salon, Utne Reader, the Millions, Bitch Magazine, the Hart House Review, and Second Story Press, and three essays written during her tenure as the Deputy Editor at Racialicious.com have been published in essay-writing textbooks.  Her novel, the Same Woman was released by Invisible Publishing in 2007, and she has since received multiple grants and fellowships for her work, most recently from the Toronto Arts Council.  She was born in Toronto and grew up in Singapore, and she is currently at work on a time travel novel and a collection of essays on fandom.

  • SYLLABUS (please note that the location listed in this draft is no longer valid; the class will be held in UC87)
  • TIME: Wednesdays 1-4 p.m.

Note: W & R program students do not have priority. This new course is open to all students who have four completed credits.

('Permission from instructor' requirement is waived for this year's offering of INI410H1S.)

Innis One course - INI 102H1F,S "Creative Writing and the Natural City"

Instructor: Sharon English

This related course is part of the Innis One program (but not eligible for a W&R credit because it is a College One course). Please see the Innis One page and the College One Programs page for more information and registration information.

The personal essay plays a significant role in social discourse today, being used often in media to comment on society, to explore and express experience, and to offer the reader insights and ideas worth considering. This course introduces students to creative writing techniques and their use in the personal essay form. Personal essays explore topics subjectively, and while they can include research, the aim is not to present a tight argument. In style and content these pieces range enormously, from the more casual to the deeply artful.

In this course, our topic is “the natural city.” The anthropologist Desmond Morris observed that the city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo. If so, how can the cages be opened? One answer would be to remove the false distinction between “nature” and “city,” to explore how “nature” suffuses the city simply because nature is our living environment.

Through course discussions and writing assignments, students will develop their conscious connection to the living environment in the city. They will work towards a major personal essay that explores their relationship to one natural element and artfully incorporates the techniques learned in class.

1. To introduce students to the basic techniques of composition used in writing creatively and in the personal essay specifically.
2. To hone students’ sensitivity to their own experience, and teach them how to expand and shape experience into material for writing.
3. To help students explore and develop their conscious relationship with the living environment in the city.
4. To broaden and deepen students’ engagement with language.
5. To develop students’ critical reading skills.

The course will involve weekly lectures and class discussions of readings, as well as guest speakers. Students will frequently write exercises and short response assignments. Two class field trips to outdoor locations in the city will help teach students about developing their connection to the living environment and gathering material for writing. Students will work on a major personal essay assignment for the end of term.

Course readings will include a short text on writing with style; personal essays on aspects of our relationship to the natural world; articles about our concepts of and relationship to nature, consciousness, technology, and indigenous peoples; and one film.

Prerequisite: Admission to Innis One
Exclusion: New One, St. Mike's One, Trinity One, Vic One, UC One, Woodsworth One
Distribution Requirement Status: This is a Humanities course
Breadth Requirement: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
Method of instruction: seminar

Writing & Rhetoric

@ Innis College

The Writing and Rhetoric minor reflects the belief that strong skills in critical thinking and written communication are central to a liberal education. The mission of this unique minor is to facilitate the intellectual and academic development of undergraduate students and to provide them with a powerful tool that will prove useful in graduate schools, professional schools, and the workplace. This non-remedial program responds to the University's repeated calls for initiatives that address the written communication skills of students from across the disciplines.

Innis College has played a leading role in providing writing instruction at the University of Toronto for over thirty-five years. Innis College's Writing and Rhetoric Program is built on a foundation of long-standing Innis courses in academic and creative writing and on more recently mounted courses in professional writing, rhetoric, and media. The Writing and Rhetoric Program draws on relevant U of T courses in a range of disciplines. The program's design reflects three interrelated themes.


Writing Studies as a discipline involves more than instruction in composition skills. Writing is related to rhetoric, logic, reasoning, and critical thinking. Writing is therefore most fruitfully studied, not in isolation, but in a multidisciplinary program such as the one Innis has designed. One of the main goals of the program is to ensure that students graduate with exposure to various modes of writing and with well-developed written communication skills. (Graduates of the new program could pursue postgraduate degrees in rhetoric, professional writing, medicine, law, communications, management, creative writing, journalism, and media studies, to name several possibilities.)


One of the oldest disciplines in the liberal arts, rhetoric is an evolving area of scholarship that has illuminated the making of meaning in a large number of academic fields. Today's "rhetoric" reaches well beyond notions related to the art of persuasion. Contemporary definitions of rhetoric focus on the relationship between discourse and social forces. For the purposes of the program, rhetoric will signify the patterns of communication identifiable in a variety of disciplines and environments. Students will be taught to recognize and use rhetorical strategies in their written work. The program is committed to the ethical use of rhetorical strategies, and therefore ethical decision-making is a component of program offerings.

Critical Thinking:

Innis writing and rhetoric courses all strive to teach students that good writers have learned to read and think critically. One of the tenets of the Writing and Rhetoric Program is shared by many of the University's Arts and Science disciplines: that problem-solving and creative, persuasive, and effective writing depend on the ability to analyze discourse critically. Students in the program will learn to identify strengths and weaknesses in the texts they study. They will learn that the critical analysis they engage in when they write is intimately connected to the rhetorical strategies they adopt, the emphases they impose, the tone they create, and the organizational plan they choose.