ENGLISH 110: Introduction to Academic Writing
Writing Ourselves: Revising Cultural Prescriptions
ENGL 110 offers students an entire semester of sustained engagement with their writing. This engagement is specially attuned to the particular concerns of academic discourse. The aim of the course is to assist students’ development of reading, writing, and research practices that will serve them throughout college and beyond. Effective writing depends upon and conveys careful thought, which itself depends upon a critically-oriented encounter with the world of the writer and his or her audience. Writing is a helpful (though generally overlooked) tool for generating ideas, for evaluating your own and others’ ideas and texts, and for expressing critical arguments. Our class, then, focuses deliberate attention on ideas about our world, on the many, varied ways people express such ideas, and on the effects generated by their different approaches in expressing them. Students’ views and verbal expression of those views—in speech and writing—will guide that conversation.
This particular section of ENGL 110 approaches the task of thinking and writing through studying how we are encouraged to proclaim our identity as members of contemporary American culture. We will investigate how we are invited to participate (and at times discouraged from doing so), paying close attention to how language and education are arenas where that culture is produced. To do this, we will read and interpret texts by published writers and by the members of our class.
The course consists of three units, each aimed at developing a particular set of analytical and writing skills. First, we will observe a range of strategies for analyzing visual texts that will supplement our familiar strategies for analyzing written texts and will provide us a perspective for reflecting on them. In part two of the course, we will apply those approaches to questions of how our language is used to define and promote essential cultural beliefs. In the last unit, a factor that is implicit throughout the other sections of the course will be addressed head-on: how we learn to think in the ways, and through the words, that we do. At the conclusion of the course, you will apply all of this to a researched argument.
Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. NY: W. W. Norton, 2009.
James S. Miller. Acting Out Culture: Reading and Writing. 2nd edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011.