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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Meredith A. Bauer
ENGL 121
Seattle Campus

Composition: Social Issues

Focuses on the study and practice of good writing: topics derived from a variety of personal, academic, and public subjects. Includes a service-learning component allowing students to engage with and write about social issues in applied ways.. 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

I am indifferent; the pros and cons weigh equal. WHATEVER. Ain’t no skin off my back! 6 in one, ½ dozen in the other. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Each of these quotations expresses, approximately, indifference. Each quotation is in English, using language conventions appropriate to the particular situation motivating the expression and the audience on the receiving end. In the composition classroom, we could "correct" each statement until they all resemble the statement at the top, or we could strive to understand the varying circumstances surrounding these various ways of speaking.

This course is based on the idea that language is socially constructed. That is, rather than Merriam-Webster’s dictionary decreeing what words mean, Merriam-Webster reflects a certain consensus—in a certain group of people—around how different words are typically used in communication. The English language is a living, dynamic system made up of everyday interactions between people, and as such it cannot be easily learned in one go by memorizing a long list of rules. Every time an individual uses words, the potential to alter the ways those words are used—the language—exists.

This course is a service learning course, meaning that each student will need to complete 20-40 hours of community service throughout the quarter in order to complete the writing assignments and to pass.

This course is also a Computer Integrated Classroom (CIC) course, meaning that we will spend half our class time in a computer lab in service of our learning and writing goals.

Student learning goals

This course is designed to provide a theoretical foundation and a space for critical reflection to accompany service learning in the fields of literacy and language learning. We will explore what “fluency” in reading and writing English means in a world where standard English is a dominant language for international diplomatic and business communications, and where different englishes exist in different communities and situations. Through investigating what English and englishes are, you will learn how to better adapt what you say and write to fit your particular audience, and to think critically about the shared values and assumptions on which textual expression, whether in an advertisement, marketing brochure, blog, or academic article, depends.

General method of instruction

Service Learning: Service learning provides a unique opportunity to connect coursework with community experiences through public service. Offered as an integral part of many UW courses, service learning provides students an opportunity to experience theories traditionally studied within classrooms come to life, through serving with community-based organizations. Choosing to sign up for this course, which integrates service learning, requires commitment to your community and depends on our ability as a class to link academic studies to practical, real-world experiences.

LOGISTICS: Each student in English 121 will sign-up for a placement at a service organization in the fields of literacy and language learning. The Carlson Leadership and Public Service Center (MGH 120, 9:00-5:00 Monday-Friday) facilitates contacts with placement organizations and will help you to coordinate your service hours. You can visit them, email them at serve@u.washington.edu, or call them at (206) 616-2885.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


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 Meredith A. Bauer
Date: 11/11/2013