Academic WritingUniversity of Maryland, College Park • ENGL101 • Fall 2019 • Back to Teaching
Last updated 1 November 2019. This page is always the most up-to-date version of the syllabus. For course policies specific to UMD, please refer to the .pdf version hosted on ELMS.
Welcome to English 101 at the University of Maryland. The purpose of this course is two-fold. First, it prepares you for the scholarly writing you will pursue in your work here at UMD, whether in humanities, social sciences, or science and technology fields. In this regard, the course trains you in research, argumentation, and effective expression. And second, it introduces you to a kind of writing and thinking that will enable you to communicate effectively both inside and beyond a university setting.
To achieve these ends, this course is grounded in inquiry and rhetoric. We inquire into questions about issues and ideas, and in doing so develop vital research skills. And we use rhetorical skills to construct knowledge and arguments built on the foundations of that research. In other words, through inquiry and rhetoric, we practice engaging in existing scholarly conversations. In English 101, you will hone the skills of clarifying issues, asking questions, leveraging rhetorical strategies, entering into scholarly conversations, researching topics, using evidence, and engaging in peer review.
Our course outcomes, shared with all ENGL101 sections, are:
- Demonstrate understanding of writing as a series of tasks, including finding, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing appropriate sources, and as a process that involves composing, editing, and revising.
- Demonstrate critical reading and analytical skills, including understanding an argument’s major assertions and assumptions, and how to evaluate its supporting evidence.
- Demonstrate facility with the fundamentals of persuasion, especially as they are adapted to a variety of special situations and audiences in academic writing.
- Demonstrate research skills, integrate your own ideas with those of others, and apply the conventions of attribution and citation correctly.
- Use Standard Written English and revise and edit your own writing for appropriateness. You will take responsibility for such features as format, syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the connection between writing and thinking and use writing and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking, and communicating in an academic setting.
You are not required to purchase any materials for this course. I will regularly distribute readings through the ELMS platform. You must bring the readings to class on the day they are assigned. When we discuss readings together, it’s of paramount importance that you have the readings accessible to reference.
You are welcome to refer to the readings on a laptop or tablet or to print them out. My laptop policy is that you are welcome to use a laptop in class. Note that relying solely on mobile devices may make some in-class activities such as peer review challenging. If you don’t have a laptop available, I recommend checking one out from McKeldin Library.
Many of our readings will be drawn from the University of Maryland Academic Writing Program’s textbook Fearless Writing: Rhetoric, Inquiry, Argument. You are welcome to purchase this textbook should you choose, but you are not required to.
ENGL101 is organized around a seven-part assignment sequence. The breakdown of your final grade is:
- Participation and smaller writing assignments: 10%
- Assignment #1, Summary: 5% [due 9 Sept.]
- Assignment #2, Rhetorical Analysis: 15% [due 24 Sept.]
- Assignment #3, Annotated Bibliography: 5% [due 7 Oct.]
- Assignment #4, Inquiry Essay: 15% [due 18 Oct.]
- Assignment #5, Digital Forum: 15% [due 1 Nov.]
- Assignment #6, Position Paper: 20% [due 22 Nov.]
- Assignment #7, Revision and Reflection: 15% [due 11 Dec.]
You can find an in-depth description of each assignment here. What follows is a brief précis on each assignment to give you a picture of your progression through the semester.
A Note on Deadlines and Submission Protocols
Assignments are due at 11:59 PM the listed days. I’ll reduce the grade one full letter grade each day that it’s turned in late (A becomes an B; B- becomes a C-; and so forth). I won’t accept assignments turned in more than a week late. If you have an extenuating circumstance that’s making it difficult for you to reach a deadline, please write me, ideally well in advance, so we can discuss alternatives. The reason for such stringent deadlines is that there are a lot of assignments in this class, and each one builds upon those previous. We all need to stick to this schedule to make sure that I can give you feedback in a timely fashion and that you have the time to complete each assignment.
You should submit assignments through ELMS in a .docx file format. I will not accept: Apple Pages files, PDFs, or links to Google Docs. I’m stringent about file formats because I use track changes to give you comments, and Microsoft Word doesn’t play nice with all other formats and programs. I will give you substantial comments on all of your assignments. In order to see these comments, you will have to open up the .docx file I return to you in Microsoft Word. If you don’t see my comments, please open my returned file in Word before writing me with questions. Microsoft Word is available for free to all UMD students through the Terpware platform.
The litmus test for participation is simple: do you come to class prepared and engaged? And when you contribute to the class in any medium, be it speech or text, do you do so in the spirit of collegiality, respect, and mutual betterment?
Note that “class participation” doesn’t mean always raising your hand at opportune moments. Indeed, dominating a class conversation can be the precise opposite of effective and respectful participation. As such, I take a wide view of “participation” to include the thoughtfulness of your contributions to the class as a whole. This includes your collegiality in online discussions, peer review, and office hours.
You are allowed six unexcused absences over the course of this semester. This is an incredibly generous departmental policy for ENGL101 classes that comes with a fairly harsh penalty: for each additional unexcused absence before six, your final grade will be lowered by one full letter grade. Note also that you cannot make up in-class work you missed due to unexcused absences, which may affect your grade on other assignments.
The course begins with a 300-word summary of a provided text. Summary is an element of critical reading, which is in turn the cornerstone of academic writing. With this assignment, you take the first step in practicing many skills crucial to successful writing, including concision and quotation.
For this assignment, you will analyze a persuasive text by taking into consideration rhetorical appeals, the rhetorical situation, intended audience, exigence, style, and organization. Your goal is to make an argument about the effectiveness of the text for its given audience. Like the summary, you will select your text from a provided bank of texts. 1200 to 1500 words.
This assignment initiates your semester-long exploration of an issue. You will identify a research topic that connects in some way to your academic, personal, or civic interests. You will investigate your topic and learn the issues and debates within it. The purpose of the inquiry is not to take a position on a topic (“I think that the answer to problem A is B.”), but rather to map out the conversation about an issue as it currently exists (“Scholars think X, Y, and Z about problem A.”). 1200 to 1500 words.
The annotated bibliography supports your work on the Inquiry Essay. You will identify five sources on which you will draw in the Inquiry Essay, cite them in MLA format, and summarize and evaluate their arguments in a short caption of approximately 150 words.
The digital forum assignment achieves three ends. First, you shift gears in your medium, from writing academic prose to creating a website intended for a more popular audience. Second, you extend the work of your Inquiry Essay by identifying new conversations within your chosen issue. And third, you collect five new primary sources that will support your work on the Position Paper. Approximately 1800 words in total.
This paper is the culmination of the inquiry and exploration you have conducted throughout the semester. You will compose a 2000 to 2500 word essay that takes an argumentative position on your issue. In doing so, you will refute competing positions and organize your ideas effectively and efficiently. You will also draw on five more sources; including the sources from your previous assignments, this brings your total to fifteen.
Revision and Reflection
Finally, this assignment gets you thinking about your identity as a writer, your writing process, and the feedback you’ve received. You will select either your Inquiry Essay or Rhetorical Analysis and substantively revise it, taking into consideration what you’ve learned over the semester. Your goal in this revision is to rethink important aspects of the assignment, not just add more words to it. You will also write a short reflective memo that identifies the aims of your revisions, how you’ve reached those goals, and your rationale for specific choices. The memo is approximately 1000 words long; the revision will vary on a case-by-case basis.
NB: Readings with FW are from Fearless Writing and will be preceded by “fw-” in ELMS. Rubrics and example assignments will be in the “rubrics and example assignments” folder.
Week 1: Introduction to the course
M 26 Aug
- Introduction to the course.
W 28 Aug
- Discuss the syllabus and assignment sequence; introduce the summary assignment.
- Read: The syllabus and associated documentation
F 30 Aug
- Discuss Morrison’s “Nobel Lecture” and the summary assignment
- Read: Toni Morrison, “Nobel Lecture, 7 December 1993”
Week 2: Summary
M 2 Sept
No class on account of Labor Day.
W 4 Sept
- Continue discussing Morrison; practicing summarizing
- Read: FW, “From Writing Summaries and Paraphrases to Writing Yourself into Academic Conversations”
F 6 Sept
- Draft workshop on the summary assignment
- Submit: Your summary draft in advance of class
NB On Draft Workshops: Each assignment will have one or two days of draft workshopping. During these days, you will peer review each others’ work. Attending these workshop days is a vital part of the writing process; as such, missing a draft workshop will reduce your grade on that assignment a full letter grade.
Week 3: Rhetorical Analysis I
M 9 Sept
- Introduce rhetorical analysis assignment
- Due: Summary assignment
- Read: FW, “Rhetorical Analysis”
W 11 Sept
- Read: Dan Greene, “It Runs Deep and We Can’t Talk It Out: On Campus Racism and the Murder of Richard Collins III”
F 13 Sept
- Discussing Greene; analyzing exigence and audience
- Do: Skim the texts below; you’ll select one for your rhetorical analysis:
Week 4: Rhetorical Analysis II
M 16 Sept
- Analyzing style and rhetorical appeals
- Read: Review your chosen text, as we’ll use it for in-class activities this week
- Do: Sign up for one-on-one conferences.
W 18 Sept
- In-class workshop: practicing thesis statements
- Read: FW, “Drafting and Revising a Working Thesis”
F 20 Sept
No class on account of Jeffrey is traveling.
- Do: Virtual draft workshop by the end of the day
- Submit: Your rhetorical analysis draft in advance of class
Week 5: Conference Days
M 23 Sept
- Introduce Inquiry assignment
- Due: Rhetorical Analysis assignment (now due T 24 Sept)
- Read: FW, “The Inquiry Essay”
W 25 Sept
No scheduled class.
- Conference day #1 for Inquiry
- Read: FW, “From Identifying Issues to Forming Questions” before coming to your conference meeting
F 27 Sept
No scheduled class.
- Conference day #2 for Inquiry
NB: The university has mandated that all classes after noon are cancelled on account of a football game. We will endeavor to schedule conferences earlier in the week so as to limit our time on campus on Friday, 27 Sept.
Week 6: Inquiry I (Annotated Bibliography)
M 30 Sept
- Stasis theory
- Read: FW, “Invention: Generating Ideas with Stasis Theory”
W 2 Oct
- Meet in McKeldin 6103 for a research session
F 4 Oct
- Evaluating sources and MLA citation
- Read: Selections from the MLA 8th Edition Handbook
Week 7: Inquiry II
M 7 Oct
- Breaking down the Inquiry Essay
- Read: Shannon Mattern, “Maintenance and Care”
- Due Annotated bibliography
W 9 Oct
- Practicing outlining
- Draft workshop #1 on Inquiry Essay
F 11 Oct
No class on account of Jeffrey is traveling (to a conference at UMD, so not even anywhere fun).
- Post: Your introductory paragraph and outline to ELMS.
Week 8: Inquiry III
M 14 Oct
- Reverse outlining assignment
- Read: FW, “Thirteen (Lucky!) Strategies for Revision”
- Bring: A copy of your rhetorical analysis, plus any writing you have for your inquiry essay.
W 16 Oct
- Draft workshop #2 on Inquiry Essay
- Bring: A printed-out copy of your inquiry essay
F 18 Oct
- Introduce (revised) digital forum assignment
- Read: Jin, “Click Bait vs. Journalism”
- Due: Inquiry Essay
Week 9: Digital Forum I
M 21 Oct
- Critiquing multimedia composition
- Read: John Branch, “Snow Fall”; Jenn Abelson, Amy Brittain and Sarah Larimer, “A Dangerous Delay”
W 23 Oct
- Practicing multimedia design; in-class activity
F 25 Oct
- Workshop day (make sure to bring your computers)
Week 10: Digital Forum II
M 28 Oct
- Revising digital composition
- Read: FW, “Meditations on Revision: Experiments with Digital Composing”
W 30 Oct
- Draft workshop on digital forum
F 1 Nov
- Introduce position paper
- Read: Tsoi, “Discriminatory and Unconstitutional”
- Due: Digital Forum assignment
Week 11: Position Paper I (Argumentation)
M 4 Nov
- Critiquing argumentation
- Read: Ami Thaivalappil, “Daughters of Sabarimala”
W 6 Nov
- Arguments of definition and causality
- Read: FW, “Arguments of Definition”; “Causal Arguments”
F 8 Nov
- Arguments of evaluation and proposal
- Read: FW, “Evaluations”; “Proposals”
Week 12: Position Paper II (Structure)
M 11 Nov
- Crafting counterarguments
- Read: FW, “Crafting Counterarguments”
W 13 Nov
- Structuring arguments
- FW, “Structuring Arguments”
F 15 Nov
- Logical fallacies; in-class writing workshop
Week 13: Position Paper III (Workshopping)
M 18 Nov
- Draft workshop #1
W 20 Nov
- Draft workshop #2
F 22 Nov
- Introduce the revision and reflection assignment + coordinate Thanksgiving Break conversations
- Due: Position Paper
Week 14: Thanksgiving
- Do: In lieu of in-person conversations, I’ll ask you to send me a short email during the break so I can get a handle on your approach to the revision and reflection assignment. More news on this as the semester develops.
Week 15: Revision
M 2 Dec
- Planning the revision
- FW, “Shitty First Drafts”; “What Makes for a Substantive Revision?”
W 4 Dec
- Thinking about reflection
- FW: “Reflection and Reflective Writing”
F 6 Dec
- Draft workshop on revision and reflection
Week 16: And Reflection
M 9 Dec
- Last day of class
- Due: Revision and reflection due on Wednesday 12/11.
As it currently exists, this syllabus is substantially drawn from UMD’s standard ENGL101 syllabus, and so I thank Jessica Enoch and her team in the Academic Writing Program there for making a bedraggled graduate student’s job all that much easier. I also thank Tim Bruno, John Macintosh, and Justin Thompson for their suggestions, additions, and overall advice for tackling the genre of “intro to composition.”