Frederick Douglass by Jacob Lawrence, 1939

On the trivial matter of learning to think and write…

In the classical tradition of liberal education, foundational studies in developing the art of inquiry and expression were know as the trivium (3 courses): logic, rhetoric, and grammar. In effect, students learned how to do things with words. Upon this foundation, what we might think of as the more scientific studies of the quadrivium, were then added: arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy.

The WCR workshop offers a second, pedagogical look at the writing published in its issues. Organizing around the 3 categories of the trivium, we identify strong and compelling elements of writing that will be of use to faculty and students engaged in the work of our Writing Program.


In following the links below, you will find WCR essays repurposed with annotations composed by our editors or tutors from the Writing Center. These annotations identify effective elements of argumentation and critical thinking (logic); of the arrangement and development of the essay (rhetoric); and of the language, style, and expression (grammar) that are working in the writing.


Logic: elements of argumentation, critical thinking, use of evidence, effective discussion of perspectives and counterarguments

Rhetoric: elements of the arrangement, organization, and development of the writing

Grammar: elements of style and language that make the expression both effective and engaging