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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Tyler Francis Scowcroft
ENGL 131
Seattle Campus

Composition: Exposition

Study and practice of good writing: topics derived from a variety of personal, academic, and public subjects. 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

Let’s cut right to the chase: this is a writing class so it should come as no surprise that you are going to write a lot. There will be four-five 2-3 page Short Assignments (2-3 per four-week sequence), two 5-7 page Major Paper Assignments (one per four-week sequence), and a final portfolio of your revised work complete with a reflection paper indicating which works most effectively demonstrated the course outcomes (listed below) and how your papers demonstrate said outcomes. The papers and portfolios will be discussed in greater detail below. First, however, let’s introduce the core principles of the class.


Now, I know what you’re thinking– “Why did he just start the next section of the writing class’s description with the word “caribou”? It is a valid question. I would venture, however, that a more interesting line of inquiry would emerge if you asked the following– “Is employing the word ‘caribou,’ without any context, an effective stratagem for introducing the core principles of an introductory writing course to a group of incoming students? Why or Why not?” (Yes, this is going somewhere) The first question is straightforward and can be answered with similar simplicity– “He thought it was funny.” The second question is, obviously, more complex and the answer you find may lead to further questions:

–No, it is not an effective strategy because it’s not appropriate. –Why is the strategy not appropriate? –It does not establish an appropriate context for the genre. ¬¬–What is the genre and what is the context? –Instructors designed the genre of course descriptions, “to clarify bullshit-vague course listings” (Scowcroft, 2012). Thus, one could argue that the term “caribou”……. (See where I’m going with this?)

This series of questions and answers sounds like it has the potential to become a conversation in which the writer (YOU) is making claims (arguable statements rising from the questions). Developing this line of inquiry further would, undoubtedly, allow arguments and counterarguments to arise from said claims and raise interesting points about other complex texts (e.g. Supreme Court Documents, novels, scholarly essays) that address the same topic. Throughout the quarter, we will be working together (I will give you much better “argument crafting” examples than the caribou debate above) to build and reinforce re-employable skills (hinted at in the bold terms) that will allow you to write successfully at the university level. You will struggle and you will question the need to learn such habits (I certainly did) but, you will also come to find just how useful these tools are and how fun it can be to learn them. Lastly, we will examine these skills through the study of humor/comedy and the importance of humor in politics and other contexts.

Student learning goals

Students will learn to demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.

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

Students will learn to produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.

Students will learn to develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.

General method of instruction

Lecture, discussion, in-class activities, random asides, allusions, analogies, and some fantastic puns.

Recommended preparation

You must be a current UW student or an actual husky to apply. More seriously, come with an open mind, a positive attitude, and a good sense of humor. Also, buy the textbook, it is invaluable.

Class assignments and grading

The assignments will involve intense physical challenges... No. Wait. That's "The Amazing Race." My bad. The assignments for ENGL 131 involve writing. Surprise!

30% Participation 70% Final Portfolio (Not as terrifying as it sounds) All assignments are given feedback and evaluated throughout the quarter, but grades are only assigned at the end of the course.

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 Tyler Francis Scowcroft
Date: 11/23/2013