written language

This course will have two main parts, the first focused on building basic skills, the second on refining and bettering those skills.  By the end of the semester, my hope is that you will have a comfortable handle on:

  1. Academic writing that will be expected of you through the course of your college education, and
  2. Some key issues relevant to the university.

Both parts of the course will attempt to meet these goals, however they will have slightly different emphases.

Throughout the semester, we will be reading a number of articles, essays, book chapters, and pamphlets that detail some issues current to discourse around the university.  In addition, for our “textbooks,” we will read They Say, I Say (you can buy a new edition but I have only read and will be teaching from the first, which is 1 penny on Amazon), along with some excerpts from Joe Harris’s Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts (I will provide pdfs).  These texts are both, I think, uniquely engaging ones on academic writing that describe a number of key moves writers make when writing about texts.  While They Say, I Say provides wonderful practical skills we can apply in our writing, Harris’s Rewriting should encourage us to think theoretically about writing and how we approach our work.  Many other books on academic writing (such as the Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing, which many other sections of this course use) are filled with how-to charts and lists not reflective of the kind of writing their readers will actually be doing.  They are also, in my opinion, very, very boring.

These texts will set the stage for work we do in our writing throughout the semester in several shorter writing assignments as well as longer essays.  We will practice analyzing and unpacking ideas from our readings in class and on WordPress for the first half of the semester.  In addition, we will be discussing finer points of academic writing and what you should be doing when you write your essays.  Accordingly, your first essay (see Essay One) will reflect an attempt to engage intellectually with some authors’ ideas.

During the latter half of the semester, we will devote more time to discussing writing and methods of effective argumentation.  Your second essay might be on any issue relevant to local and national discussions about the university, however you will find it a bit more approachable if you attempt to think of it as an expanded version of the first one, wherein you choose an argument to respond to and support your own points with evidence.  This essay will be longer, more engaged, and better-researched than your first (see Essay Two).  In it, you should sharpen the analytical and argumentative skills practiced in your previous essay and DQs.  Both essays will be taken through three stages of drafting where you, your peers, and I will provide feedback and suggestions for revision to your work.

****It will benefit you to follow the news (Try following a few outlets on Facebook or Twitter or whatever.  I recommend Al Jazeera or The Atlantic.  do NOT recommend Fox News or CNN.) to practice connecting conceptual material learned in course readings to everyday life and, more importantly, coming to value the importance of developing informed, relevant opinions about complex, often troubling issues.  Though this is not required, those of us up-to-date on current events will likely find it impossible not to relate our readings to contemporary events.