Stephanie L Costa
Writing papers communicating information and opinion to develop accurate, competent, and effective expression.
Writing is a performance. That is: it is not an innate skill, but a craft that can be learned, studied, practiced, and adapted to elicit different responses from audiences. English 281 is an Intermediate Writing Course intended to further develop students’ composition skills with the goal of improving the performance of writing. In this class, we will hone our skills in genre analysis, audience awareness, tone, argumentation, and research by studying performances and writing about them. We will read about and watch various types of performances (live ones in Seattle theatres, recorded in film and television, and spontaneously in the world around us), and contemplate, interpret, analyze, and evaluate their merits as works or art (or entertainment) as well as how they are crafted to critique and comment on American culture. Assignments include 3 short papers (3 – 4 pages each) in various genres, as well as a scholarly essay (7 – 9 pages) about performance(s) of your choice. What you choose to write about is up to you, but you will be required to attend at least 2 live performances during the course of the quarter. (At the end of your syllabus, you’ll find a calendar of shows in Seattle with various price points and student ticket options.) Several shorter “writing challenges” will also be required. These challenges are informal exercises that will help you develop specific skills that will make you a stronger writer. As this is a class concerned with the performance of writing (and writing about performance), we will also incorporate some theatrical exercises designed to help you improve the clarity of your writing for audiences. THIS COURSE ASSUMES that students have previous experiences in college-level writing (such as ENGL 109/110, 111, 121, or 131 or equivalent), as we will be building on those skills and techniques begun in those introductory courses. With that in mind, this class also takes as a basic assumption that writing is a skill and that, like any skill, it can always be furthered and improved through guided practice and experimentation. We will work to develop, challenge, and enhance the writing skills students already possess into the skills and intuitions necessary for successful writing.
Student learning goals
To give students an awareness of how writing, rhetoric, and genre function
To incorporate explicit attention to writing, rhetorical awareness and disciplinarity
To help students understand the demands of particular writing situations, of performing in different genres, of how and why particular writing situations require specific rhetorical "moves"
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading