The purpose of English 110 is to teach you essential skills in academic and college-level writing. Director of Composition at UD Joe Harris summarizes the design of this course, I think, quite well: “English 110 is set up as an academic seminar—as a course in which we all read a set of books and articles together and then share what we think and write about them with each other.” As a required part of your college education, this course should provide you with some meaningful tools for working with and writing about texts while developing your critical thinking skills. Critical thinking will be what we do in written argumentation, making effective use of other texts through close readings to develop our own lines of thinking. We should be able to do this better and better as we work on writing throughout the semester.
Close reading (and, in turn, close writing) requires you to not only think about things you may or may not already think about, but to think through them. This semester, we will focus our writing and discussions around a series of texts dealing with issues related to the university. We should read these texts with aims of becoming in conversation with them and continuing the conversations they encourage us to have with questions of our own. What kind of issues on college campuses are being discussed nationally? How can we become engaged with the issues directly related to our own college community, and how can we better understand our own environment through studying issues in other universities? What kinds of students do we want to be–political ones, partying ones, silent ones? How can we participate in national conversations in order to better understand our own places in the university? Finally, how can becoming involved in intellectual discussions about our university prepare us to be productive citizens and participants in our future professional and political environments?
Answering these questions will involve learning how to develop a line of thinking, and then working to communicate it or act on it. I look forward to attempting to tackle them with you throughout the semester!