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Instructor Class Description

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Lowell A Brower
ENGL 111
Seattle Campus

Composition: Literature

Study and practice of good writing; topics derived from reading and discussing stories, poems, essays, and plays. Cannot be taken if student has already received a grade of 2.0 or higher in either ENGL 111, ENGL 121, or ENGL 131.

Class description

In the broadest possible terms, this course is designed to improve your writing by introducing and elaborating upon the skills you will need to write successfully in college and beyond. Together, we’re going to engage in the process that will allow you to produce effective, inventive, and consequential academic writing. We’ll learn to identify and craft our own arguments and claims, examine various rhetorical strategies, and practice writing in diverse genres. We’ll get a handle on invaluable writing processes such as researching, pre-writing, drafting, structuring, revision, proofreading, citing and editing. We’ll practice writing for all manner of audiences - a convention of Martians vs. your grandparents vs. an arena of screaming fans vs. the Rhodes Scholarship Committee - and for various purposes - to persuade, to challenge, to get published, to annoy, to further illuminate. We’ll think about what makes writing matter, and ask a whole lot of questions, some fairly concrete - when should I use a semi-colon? Is it okay to use “I? in an academic paper? - and some more abstract - what is critical thinking anyway?. Besides learning writing processes and strategies, you’ll to learn investigate texts thoroughly, thoughtfully, and critically, not merely in order to understand them, but in order to expand upon, engage with, or otherwise utilize them in the creation of your own original articulate viewpoint. We will push past summary – instead we’ll interrogate, evaluate, converse with, and apply our challenging course readings. You will not only be asked to react or respond, you will be asked to enrich the discussion. Ideally, by the end of the quarter you will produce writing that is beyond competent or merely grammatically correct. It is my hope that you will be writing papers that are lucid, stylish and engaging. Essays that provoke and that linger, that you’re proud of and surprised by. The ability to write in this way will serve you well in the university community, whether your likely course of study is studio art or chemical engineering. And to accomplish all of this, mostly, you’ll read and write. A lot. The best — I daresay the only — way to improve as a writer is to read, write, and think about what you’ve read and written. The theme for this quarter, since we’re supposed to have one, will be, quite simply, darn good writing. Darn good writing can come from anywhere and be about anything. It can, predictably, be found in canonical literature - a little bit of which we’ll be reading - but it can also leap out at us from the pages of Sports Illustrated, surprise us in the middle of a scientific treatise, or emerge in half-audible lyrics over the thumps of a drum machine. All this is to say that this quarter we’ll be reading wildly divergent texts – everything from contemporary African poems to medieval war journalism to scientific argumentation to short stories to political essays to theorhetical philosophy to comic strips to rap lyrics. We'll read about disgruntled soldiers and failing strippers, mourning mothers and lovesick gold-miners, articulate cannibals and silicone-dripping pop icons. Our literary journey will take us around the world, from Nigeria to Michigan, as we examine the variations and convergences of Darn Good Writing. We’ll read all sorts of works, written by all sorts of people, for all sorts of purposes, in order to become better writers ourselves. Through sustained engagement with the written work of others, active participation in workshops and discussions, and enthusiastic dedication to improving your own writing, you’ll gain the invaluable ability to clearly and stylishly articulate your ideas – and that, after all, is what lies at the heart of all darn good writing.

Required texts will include the abridged version of Situating Inquiry, a hefty coursepack, and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Student learning goals

To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.

To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.

To produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.

To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.

General method of instruction

Course materials will generally be taught through in-class discussion, collaborative projects, and the occasional group lecture series. Students will be expected to integrate topics discussed in class in their writing.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Students will be assigned 4-6 short papers, 2 long papers, and a number of weekly and in-class assignments for participation. At the end of the quarter, students will submit a final portfolio of their finished work for a final grade.

Grades are divided between 30% participation credit and 70% final portfolio.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Lowell A Brower
Date: 12/18/2008