Who is teaching the class?
Instructor: Edmond Chang
What are the course texts and materials?
• Stygall, Gail. Reading Contexts. 2005. (required)
What is English 131?
Ursula K. Le Guin once wrote, “First sentences are doors to worlds.” In a manner of speaking, English 131 is the first sentence of your university experience. This class is a first step, a first look, and often a first in-depth exploration of academic writing, of reading for writing, of scholarly research, and of rhetoric. The class takes as a basic assumption that writing is a skill and that, like any skill, it can be improved through guided practice. In this class, we will work to develop, challenge, and enhance the writing skills you already possess into the skills and intuitions necessary for academic and professional success. In a fundamental way, English 131 is a gateway class, a class that will set a critical and analytical standard and inform and influence and hopefully enrich your other courses.
English 131 promises a quarter of writing, reading, discussion, library research, asking questions, more writing, revision, more reading, more discussion, critical thinking, analysis, fun, and even more writing and revision. It is a writing class after all. We will engage texts small and large, everyday and theoretical and pay close attention to the tactics of writing and rhetorical devices the authors employ. This particular incarnation of 131 also promises a healthy inclusion of popular culture, cultural studies, politics, gender studies, everyday activism, new media, and experiential learning. Through all of these things, you will learn the principles behind academic arguments, claims, evidence, and analysis; you will develop rubrics of proofreading, revision, workshopping, research, and MLA citation; and you will learn how to apply these skills in your writing persuasively, responsibly, thoughtfully, and stylistically. By the end of the quarter, the goal is that you will be well versed in the English 131 course outcomes and be prepared to face the writing and reading challenges you encounter with the confidence and competence of a critical reader, writer, student, and citizen.
What are the course goals (Course Outcomes)?
1. To produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.
• The argument is appropriately complex, based in a claim
that emerges from and explores a line of inquiry in multiple ways.
2. To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts purposefully in order to generate and support writing.
• The writing demonstrates an understanding of the readings
as necessary for the purpose at hand.
3. To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different rhetorical situations.
• The writing employs style, tone, and conventions appropriate
to the demands of a particular, genre, rhetorical situation or discipline.
4. To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.
• The writing demonstrates substantial and successful revision.
What do I need to do to get the most out of the class?
Improving your writing requires working simultaneously on different skills in different ways. This course combines several different activities and exercises to teach, improve, and illuminate the reading, thinking, and writing process. This course will include the following:
Participation: A classroom is a community. Both classroom and community provide support, safety, shared resources, conversation, and interaction. All students are expected to come to class prepared with readings and work done and to engage in the discussion and activities. Participation is important and you are encouraged to ask questions, create conversation, and respect one another. Negative class participation can hurt your grade. See the later section on grading.
Conferences: This course requires that you meet with me individually twice during the quarter to discuss your papers and your progress. Conferences give you the opportunity to get individual feedback and to express any concerns or questions or suggestions. Conferences are mandatory and if missed will affect your class participation and must be made up.
Papers/Portfolio: Your main work in the course consists two sequences of papers. Each of the sequences is made up of three to five short assignments and one longer, major paper. Each assignment in a sequence is designed to build one upon the other and must be done in the order specified and turned in on time. In order to pass this class, you must have a complete portfolio. See the later section on grading.
Style & Language Exercises: Improving your writing comes through practice and understanding of what makes other writer’s writing work. The course will focus on specific language features to be practiced and incorporated into your extended writing. In class, we will do a great deal of language play, sometimes pushing certain devices to excess just to see what happens.
Peer Review/Workshopping: Working in groups is one vital skill that this course hopes to foster. Collaborative learning and collaborative teaching add interest and investment in any classroom. Peer reviews, workshopping assignments, and general group work will help you brainstorm, learn and teach concepts, analyze examples, and develop the basic skills required to constructively critique other students’ work.
Class Blog: Beyond the formal written assignments, you will participate in the class web log. Please bookmark the blog address, check the site regularly, and feel free to comment and post regularly. The class blog will be used for announcements, assignment reminders, updates to the syllabus, as well as questions, inquiries, provocations, and an extension of in-class discussion. Blog commenting and posting will be taken into account in evaluating class participation. See the class blog for details on blog etiquette and rules of engagement.
Do I have to come to every class?
Attendance is strongly recommended. If you miss a class, you miss the explanation of an assignment, the clarification of a persuasive strategy, an in-class exercise, the chance to have your draft critiqued, an opportunity to help someone else improve, and overall the class as a learning community. It is in your best interests to come to class. Also, you are expected to be in class on time. Class will start immediately at the appointed time. In the first minutes of class I may make important announcements, establish the agenda for the class meeting, begin immediately with an important lesson, or field questions. Therefore, it is particularly important for you to arrive on time. If you come in after I start class, even by only a few minutes, you are late and I will mark you as such.
Chronic or conspicuous attendance problems will negatively affect your class participation grade. If you know you are going to miss class, please let me know ahead of time (via email), provide any pertinent documentation, and we will make any necessary arrangements. And when you do miss class, always find another student to get class notes and see me in order to make up missed work in a timely manner. If you miss a great deal of the quarter, you are recommended strongly to take the course during a quarter in which you can more easily attend class.
What do I need to get an ‘A’ in this class?
Your grade should not be the sole exigence or motivation for this class. It is the hope of the course that you walk away from English 131 with something more. Find some pleasure and some edification and some knowledge from this class (or any class really) and success is usually not far behind. With that in mind, your grade will be a reflection of improvement, engagement, and effort. Your grade is made up of two parts: your writing portfolio and class participation.
In this course, you will complete two major assignment sequences, each of which is designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes. Each assignment sequence requires you to complete a variety of shorter assignments leading up to a major paper. These shorter assignments will each target one or more of the course outcomes at a time, help you practice these outcomes, and allow you to build toward a major paper at the end of each sequence. You will have a chance to revise significantly each of the major papers using feedback generated by your instructor, peer review sessions, and writing conferences. Toward the end of the course, having completed the two sequences, you will be asked to compile and submit a portfolio of your work along with a portfolio cover letter. The portfolio will include the following: one of the two major papers, four to six of the shorter assignments, and a cover letter that explains how the selected portfolio demonstrates the four outcomes for the course. In addition, the portfolio will need to include all of the sequence-related work you were assigned in the course. A portfolio that does not include all the above will be considered incomplete.
Participation forms a large component of your final grade. Reading and commenting on the work of your peers, discussing ideas, and engaging with the classroom community are all important parts of this course. You can see why it is essential that you attend class and participate. For example, class discussion, conferences, and peer-review sessions cannot be made up. Missing class may seriously compromise your ability to do well in this class. Again, negative participation will hurt your participation grade.
Participation is determined by 1) your respectful presence in class, 2) your willingness to discuss, comment, and ask questions, 3) your overall preparedness and completed work, 4) your engagement in group work and peer workshops, 5) your use of the class blog, and 6) conferences with me. In addition, failure to turn in homework, incomplete assignments, or late papers will negatively impact your participation grade.
Grading in English 131 is reserved till the very end of the quarter for your Portfolio assignment. The focus of assessment will be on commenting, evaluating rhetorical success, steady progress and improvement over time, and most importantly, revision. It may be disconcerting not to get letter or number grades on each assignment, but the methodology and pedagogy of 131 is to your advantage. First, withholding grades encourages revision and discourages “I can live with that” attitudes. Second, the portfolio gives you choice over what you think represents your best work. Finally, you will be graded on finished, revised, polished work. Practice makes perfect, after all. Over the course of the quarter, assignments will receive feedback and comments that will identify what you are doing well and what still needs improvement. Consider the following evaluation rubric as signposts or a kind of legend to your progress:
• Outstanding (3.7-4.0): Offers a very highly proficient, even memorable
demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), including
some appropriate risk-taking and/or creativity.
What do I do if I need to turn in an assignment late?
All assignments must be done completely and turned in on time. Lateness will subtract from your overall class participation and work must be turned in by the next class meeting after the original due date. Note that I will not comment on late work. However, you still need to complete late work and include it in your portfolio, as your portfolio must be complete in order for you to pass the course. If you miss class on the due date of a paper, you must notify me and make arrangements to get the paper to me as soon as possible. Unless previously arranged, I do not accept assignments via email. Remember that a paper has not been officially handed in until it is in my hands. Never turning anything in late is always the best policy.
What do the assignments look like?
All papers must be typed or produced on a word processor. Word processing is preferable because it makes the mechanics of revision—-rearranging, adding, and deleting—-easy. If you do not have your own computer with word processing capability, computer labs are available on campus with a variety of software that is easy to learn.
All papers should be submitted with the following manuscript guidelines:
1) 1” margins top, bottom, left, and right on each page;
Papers that do not follow these format guidelines will not be accepted. They will be returned unread to you. Papers will be regarded as late until they are resubmitted in the proper format.
Always make a backup copy of every paper you turn in, lest you be one of the unhappy people whose paper is eaten by the computer. You may even want to take the precaution of e-mailing your paper to yourself as an attachment at least a couple of times during the drafting process and certainly BEFORE you exit the document for the last time and leave the computer lab, your friend’s computer, or even your own computer. This way, even if you lose your disc or your paper gets mysteriously erased, you still have a copy in your e-mail files.
Where can I find help?
My office and office hours are listed at the front of the course policies. I am available during that time and by appointment to help you. I encourage you to come see early in the quarter even if it is just to talk about the class, about the assignments, or about school in general. I may ask you to meet with me when I think a conference would be useful. My office is located in the Lewis Annex, Room 206. The phone number is (206) 685-1845.
Please also use the course reflector list or the class blog to solicit help from me and your peers. Further resources, both on- and off-campus can be found on the Links page of the course website.
You can find additional writing help at the English Department Writing Center located in B-12 Padelford Hall. The Writing Center’s hours are Monday through Friday 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Call (206) 685-2876 or email email@example.com with questions or to make an appointment. You must make an appointment to see a writing tutor.
The Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE) is also a good resource for this class and your other classes. CLUE is located in Mary Gates Hall Commons and is open Sunday to Thursday from 7:00 PM to midnight. It offers tutorial sessions for most freshman lecture courses, skills courses, access to computer labs, and drop-in centers for math, science and writing. They can help you one-to-one with paper planning, structure, revision and grammar. You do not need to make an appointment.
If you have a registered disability that will require accommodation, please see me immediately. If you have a disability and have not yet registered it with Disability Resources for Students in 448 Schmitz Hall, you should do so immediately. Please contact DRS at 206-543-8924 (Voice) or 206-543-8925 (V/TTY) or 206-616-8379 (FAX) or via their website. I will gladly do my best to provide appropriate accommodation you require.
Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else’s ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people’s thoughts and writing -- as long as you cite them. Many students do not have a clear understanding of what constitutes plagiarism, so feel free to ask questions about these matters at any time. Plagiarism includes:
• a student failing to cite sources of ideas
If you have any doubt about how to cite or acknowledge another’s writing, please talk to me. It is always better to be safe than sorry. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review. Please refer to UW’s Student Conduct Code for further information.
Concerns and Complaints
If you have any concerns about the course or my engagement with the class, please see me about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with me or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the following Expository Writing staff in Padelford, Room A-11:
Anis Bawarshi, Director: 543-2190 or bawarshi @ u.washington.edu
> Course Policies
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