Hidden Courses: Writing and Speaking

Eli Anton, Staff Writer

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Eli Anton
“Light the Dark” edited by Joe Fassler is a collection of essays written by authors who were inspired to write by other authors. It is used in the ENG-110/112/113 courses.

Eli Anton
“Voice and the Actor” by Cicely Berry, used during the THE-144 course.

Among the plethora of courses Elgin Community College has to offer are a group of courses that not many hear about or fully understand. So here are two courses that may interest you as you pick out your Spring 2019 schedule.

In the English department there are a string of advanced writing courses under the names “fiction”, “poetry”, and “literary nonfiction”, which are numbers 210, 212 and 213 respectively, only offered during the spring. If you are still taking your general education courses, you may have seen these as you were looking at the English composition classes, which are ENG 101 and 102.

Unlike normal courses, these three sections are combined to form a workshop course. Throughout the semester, students are required to write and work together to eventually create their own portfolios.

All students will have worked on, revised and finished their piece or pieces by the end of the semester. For fiction and nonfiction students it will be 20 pages, and for poetry students, it will be eight to ten poems using varying forms and voices.

“It is reading and writing intensive,” said Rachel Stewart, one of the two instructors that teach this course. “It is a good class for returning adult students who have an interest in writing.”

According to Stewart, the dropout rate for this class is next to zero as all the students who have joined are serious about writing and know what they are getting into.

The course is repeatable, so if your passion is to write or you would like to train your skills further, consider signing up.

Please note that unless you have completed ENG-110, you will need the instructors’ permission to register for this class. Spring 2019 will be instructed by Rachael Stewart and Spring 2020 will be instructed by Christina Marrocco.

An even rarer course is “Voice and Speech for Stage” (THE-144) that runs every other spring and is combined with Acting II because not that many students sign up for it.

This course goes over how to properly use your vocal abilities and how to enhance expression through these abilities. Material aids like poems, monologues and other pieces of literature are used to help the teaching and performing process, so there is an element of acting involved.

“[Your voice] is like an instrument, you have to learn how it works, you have to learn what you can do with it and you have to practice it,” said Susan Robinson, the instructor for THE-144 and other acting courses.

This class is physical, making you work on your body as a whole so that your body and voice remain connected.

“It’s not just your voice, it’s the body,” Robinson said.

Be aware that this does not mean you cannot join if you have a disability; just be prepared to communicate with Robinson so accommodations can be made.  

“You have to do the paperwork, the research and the homework before you can perform,” Robinson said.

Just like with any other class, there is work involved and requirements to be met. Students must watch one of the performances done at ECC, perform three times, create a vocal or physical warm-up that could be taught to others and complete two self-evaluations. The final will be a performance of one or possibly all three previous performances.

Robinson aims to let students know what they are getting into from the start.

“We try to [explain] in the first couple of days to really make it clear of where they’re headed,” Robinson said.

Keep in mind, acting students are not the only ones who join. Presenters, public speakers, singers and even those who just want to do something fun alongside their more technical classes can and do join.

As previously stated, both courses only run during the spring. So if you are interested in either, now would be the time to sign up. For those who are financially curious, the full price for each course mentioned is $396 as they are all three credit hour courses. If you have any questions, contact the instructors mentioned.