Honors 140: Writing and Research I (Being a Writer in the 21st Century)

Note: This course was team-taught.

Course Description: Principles of critical thinking and persuasive writing, with applications to written and oral presentations.

Section Topic: Being a Writer in the 21st Century

Section Description: This introductory course to college-level writing and thinking will investigate what it means to be a writer in the twenty-first century. Students will use a variety of methods such as self-reflection, textual analysis, observation assignments, and multi-media technologies to analyze and inquire into the kind of writing they can expect to produce in their near futures. While the emphasis will be on writing, a broad perspective will be taken of what “counts” as writing in contemporary contexts. By examining science fiction texts and nonfiction analyses, as well as conducting primary research assignments, students will explore this question from multiple perspectives and experience the extensive, guided writing practice necessary to prepare them for their college writing careers.

Course texts (selected):

  • Asimov, Isaac, Nightfall (novella, on-line)
  • Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein, They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing
  • Bradbury, Ray, Fahrenheit 451
  • Lamott, Anne, “Shitty First Drafts”
  • Wyche, Susan, “Time, Tools, and Talismans”
  • EPIC 2014

Course Structure

Draft Option: For the two essays of the semester (units 1 and 3), students had 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 did not receive a grade, nor a complete evaluation. Instead, I provided my impressions of the paper’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as some advice for revision via an MP3 file. Once students received the file back, they had at least five days to revise and submit the paper as a “Final.”

What is College-Level Writing? (Unit 1)

Major assignments:

  • Extended essay on topic of “who are you as a writer”
  • In-class essay practice and reflection paper on the timed writing “genre.”

Key texts:

  • They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing.
  • Composition Studies readings (via Blackboard)

Intermodal Communication (Unit 2)

Multimedia assignments:

  • Graphic representation
  • Online participation
  • ‘Kiosk’ presentation

Key texts:

  • Nightfall (novella)
  • Others TBA

Warnings about Technology (Unit 3)

Major assignments:

  • Extended essay on interpreting a science fiction text
  • Research proposal

Key texts:

Independent Research (Unit 4)

Major assignments:

  • Extended research essay based on proposal from Unit 3
  • Multi-media presentations in conference panel style

Key text: N/A

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