English 110: Freshman Composition

Course Description

Freshman Composition is an introductory course in academic writing designed to develop your ability to write clearly, logically and effectively in order to prepare you for writing at the college, and ultimately, professional levels. This is a writing course and you will be writing every week. Our goal will be to engage with the ideas of others to produce “inquiry” papers, not persuasive or argument essays exactly, but rather papers that focus on exploration and analysis. We will be working directly on incorporating, in appropriate and interesting ways, references to a variety of types of texts as evidence for your analysis. The key word for this semester is analysis.

We will be using a combination of texts and your own observations to investigate the question of what it means to be a college-level writer. One of the ways we’ll explore that question is to follow a Writing About Writing approach where you capture, then analyze, your experiences with writing, considering how they connect with those of your classmates and other published accounts. While there are many more aspects to who you are as a writer than just being enrolled at CCSU, your role as a college student is crucial when it comes to determining the types of writing situations you will encounter. That’s why we’ll be spending the semester investigating it.

Course Approach: Writing About Writing

Writing About Writing is an approach to teaching courses like English 110 that takes advantage of decades of research into how people (especially college students) actually produce writing. It is partly based on the understanding that it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict every type of writing students will encounter in your college career, let alone their post-college experiences. What can be predicted, however, is that they will be asked to write, and to write in a variety of genres and for a variety of audiences.

Self-reflection and guided practice are the hallmarks of this approach because the opportunity to think back on an experience, and to try a task again after receiving feedback, is the best way to learn. In addition, Writing About Writing relies on readings and assignments based in the Writing Studies, or Composition Studies, field of research.

Key Features

Selected Texts: They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing (Graff and Birkenstein); Essays on Writing (Bryant and Clark); Sondra Perl’s “Understanding Composing”; Andrea Lunsford and Karen Lunsford’s “‘Mistakes Are a Fact of Life’: A National Comparative Study”; and Deborah Tannen’s “Agonism in the Academy”; and Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts.”

Draft Option: For the first two essays of the semester, students have the option of submitting, on the due date, either a FINAL version to be graded or a DRAFT version to be reviewed for revision. For those who choose this option, the submitted draft does not receive a grade, nor a complete evaluation. Instead, I provide my impressions of the paper’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as some advice for revision via an MP3 file. Once students receive the file back, they have at least five days to revise and submit the paper as a “Final.”

Assignment Sequence

Fall 2012 Syllabus: English 110

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