Course Syllabus

Course Description

Welcome to English 131, the introductory writing course for the University of Washington!

Whether you’re an engineering major, a biology major, an English major, an art major, or a music major, writing is an essential component for all of your classes. Even if you plan on entering the job market right after graduation rather than going to grad school, many principles and skills involved with academic writing can be applied to a professional workplace. Whatever path you choose, writing will help you succeed in any field. Therefore, the main objective of this course is to teach you the writing skills, practices, philosophies, and habits that will prepare you for your academic coursework and future careers.

Throughout the quarter, this course will allow you to develop your skills and knowledge of the writing process, namely:

  1. Adopting a rhetorical awareness of the writing strategies that you and other writers may use in a variety of settings and contexts
  2. Analyzing different readings in strategic ways in order to find the evidence necessary to generate and support timely, complex, and convincing arguments
  3. Revising and editing your writing through each draft to improve your writing as much as possible

We will use the textbook to supplement class exercises and discussions, either through further readings that will expand your understanding of the topics we cover each day or with a selection of essays that you will read and analyze to practice and apply the course’s learning outcomes. No matter what we read or what assignments we work on, it’s important that we remain critically engaged with the material, come prepared to class each day, and remain considerate of others’ viewpoints and experiences. Finally, try to be constantly thinking about what these readings and assignments can teach us about being more efficient, productive, and thoughtful writers.

Let’s begin!


Course Outcomes

  1. To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.
  • The writing employs style, tone, and conventions appropriate to the demands of a particular genre and situation.
  • The writer is able to demonstrate the ability to write for different audiences and contexts, both within and outside the university classroom.
  • The writing has a clear understanding of its audience, and various aspects of the writing (mode of inquiry, content, structure, appeals, tone, sentences, and word choice) address and are strategically pitched to that audience.
  • The writer articulates and assesses the effects of his or her writing choices.
  1. To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.
  • The writing demonstrates an understanding of the course texts as necessary for the purpose at hand.
  • Course texts are used in strategic, focused ways (for example: summarized, cited, applied, challenged, re-contextualized) to support the goals of the writing.
  • The writing is intertextual, meaning that a "conversation" between texts and ideas is created in support of the writer's goals.
  • The writer is able to utilize multiple kinds of evidence gathered from various sources (primary and secondary - for example, library research, interviews, questionnaires, observations, cultural artifacts) in order to support writing goals.
  • The writing demonstrates responsible use of the MLA (or other appropriate) system of documenting sources.
  1. To produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.
  • The argument is appropriately complex, based in a claim that emerges from and explores a line of inquiry.
  • The stakes of the argument, why what is being argued matters, are articulated and persuasive.
  • The argument involves analysis, which is the close scrutiny and examination of evidence and assumptions in support of a larger set of ideas.
  • The argument is persuasive, taking into consideration counterclaims and multiple points of view as it generates its own perspective and position.
  • The argument utilizes a clear organizational strategy and effective transitions that develop its line of inquiry.
  1. To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.
  • The writing demonstrates substantial and successful revision.
  • The writing responds to substantive issues raised by the instructor and peers.
  • Errors of grammar, punctuation, and mechanics are proofread and edited so as not to interfere with reading and understanding the writing.


Course Texts and Materials

Required: Contexts of Inquiry: A Guide to Research and Writing at the University of Washington, a UW email account, Microsoft Office, and loose sheets of paper for in-class writing activities.

Recommended: CIC Student Guide ( and The Elements of Style by E. B. White and William Strunk, Jr.


Assignments and Final Portfolio

In this course, you will complete two major assignment sequences, each of which is designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes. Each assignment sequence requires you to complete a variety of shorter assignments leading up to a major paper. These shorter assignments will each target one or more of the course outcomes at a time, help you practice these outcomes, and allow you to build toward a major paper at the end of each sequence. You will have a chance to significantly revise each of the major papers, using feedback generated by your instructor, peer review sessions, and writing conferences. Toward the end of the course, having completed the two sequences, you will be asked to compile and submit a portfolio of your work along with a critical reflection. The portfolio will include the following: one of the two major papers, three to five of the shorter assignments, and a critical reflection that explains how the selected portfolio demonstrates the four outcomes for the course. In addition to the materials you select as the basis for your portfolio grade, your portfolio must include all of the sequence-related writing you were assigned in the course (both major papers and all the shorter assignments from both sequences). A portfolio that does not include all the above will be considered “Incomplete” and will earn a grade of 0.0–0.9. The grade for complete portfolios will be based on the extent to which the pieces you select demonstrate the course outcomes. The portfolio will be worth 70% of your final grade.

Class Participation

The rest of your grade (30%) is determined by your participation in and out of class through:

  1. Attendance: Come to class on time each day, ready to participate in the in-class writing activities, group work, or class discussions. If you are unable to attend class or will arrive late due to extenuating circumstances, please email me sooner than later to let me know.
  2. In-class Discussions and Activities: This will come in the form of completing the reading, responding to questions, participating in group work, providing feedback in peer reviews, and completing the freewriting exercises each day. When interacting with other classmates, please be respectful to others’ ideas and refrain from using your electronic devices (cellphones and laptops) in a way that is distracting to others. Food is allowed in class so long as it’s not distracting to your classmates or the instructor.
  3. Conferences: You will have two individual conferences with me throughout the duration of the quarter. Attendance to both conferences is mandatory in order to earn full points. I will send around a form for you to sign up for a conference at a time that works for you. Again, if you are unable to attend a conference on time or will be late, please let me know as soon as possible.

Note: I will provide opportunities for extra credit throughout the quarter.


Late Work

All assignments are due at 11:59 p.m. each Thursday through the class website on Canvas (unless instructed otherwise). If you are unable to meet these deadlines, let me know ahead of time so that we can work something out. Otherwise, I will not give feedback on any assignments that are turned in late. That being said, I am always available during office hours to discuss late work. You will still need to complete the assignments turned in late because your portfolio must include all of your class papers in order for it to receive a passing grade. Consistently turning in late work will result in an incomplete portfolio, which will result in a failing grade.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else’s ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people’s thoughts and writing as long as you cite them properly. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.


If you need accommodation of any sort, please let me know so that I can work with the UW Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) to provide what you require. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials. More information about accommodation may be found at


As a matter of EWP policy, if you have any concerns about the course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the following Expository Writing Program staff in Padelford A-11: Director Candice Rai, (206) 543-2190 or or Assistant Directors AJ Burgin,; Jacki Fiscus,; Denise Grollums, If, after speaking with the Director or Assistant Directors of the EWP, you are still not satisfied with the response you receive, you may contact English Department Chair Brian Reed, (206) 543-2690.

Campus Safety

Preventing violence is everyone’s responsibility. If you’re concerned about your own safety, tell someone. And remember:

  • Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
  • Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
  • Don't walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
  • Stay connected in an emergency with UW Alert. Register your mobile number to receive instant notification of campus emergencies via text and voice messaging. Sign up online at

For more information, visit the SafeCampus website at


Fall Quarter 2015

Note: this schedule is more of a guideline and is subject to change. I will send an email each day to assign the homework and readings for the next class period.









Wed 9/30


First Day of Instruction

Introductions, Course Syllabus,

and Learning Outcomes

Read syllabus and Introduction to Contexts for Inquiry, pg. 1–10

Thurs 10/1


Academic Writing: Line of Inquiry and Writing as a Conversation

Introduction to SA 1

Read Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts,” pg. 15–18, 21–25, 33–34




Mon 10/5

Introduction to Rhetoric and Understanding the Rhetorical Situation

Introduction to MP 1

Read pg. 37–40, 94–96 and Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue”

Tue 10/6


Introduction to Genre and Writing within a Genre

Read pg. 55–58 and Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Wed 10/7


Writing for an Audience

Read pg. 463–468

Bring hardcopies of SA 1 for peer reviews

Thu 10/8


Peer Review Workshop

Introduction to SA 2

SA 1 due at 11:59 p.m.

Read pg. 131–144 and Beverly Gross’ “Bitch”




Mon 10/12

Rhetorical Analysis, Strategies, and Conventions

Read pg. 173–180, 214–220, 228–229

Tue 10/13

Analyzing a Text: Reading Rhetorically, Close Reading, and Summaries

Read pg. 159, 198–203 and Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

Wed 10/14

Understanding and Dissecting an Argument

Using Quotes

 Introduction to Citing Sources

Visit Purdue Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL) for more help with citing sources or schedule an appointment with me

Thu 10/15

Genre Analysis and Conventions

Introduction to SA 3

SA 2 due at 11:59 p.m.

Read pg. 97–112 and The Onion’s “Gap Between Rich and Poor”




Mon 10/19

Genre Analysis Discourse and Communities

Read pg. 321–337 and President Obama’s “A More Perfect Union”

Tue 10/20

Forming an Argument

Paper Organization and Structure


Read pg. 411–433

Bring hardcopies of SA 3 for peer reviews

Wed 10/21

Peer Reviews Workshop

Contact me if you need help with SA 3

Thu 10/22

Genre Production and Metacognition

How to Give Formal Presentations

SA 3 due at 11:59 p.m.

Read pg. 112–127, 252–273




Mon 10/26

Library Research (Conferences)

Write and revise MP 1

Tue 10/27

Conferences (No class)


Wed 10/28

Conferences (No class)



Thu 10/29

Class Presentations

Major Paper 1 due at 11:59 p.m.





Mon 11/2

Class Presentations (continued)


Read pg. 301–318, 289–297

Tue 11/3

Identifying an Issue and Initiating a Line of Inquiry Interviewing and Gathering Data


Read pg. 321–328 and Rosina Lippi-Green’s “Teaching Children How to Discriminate”

Wed 11/4

Evaluating an Academic Argument


Read pg. 328–337

Thu 11/5

Creating a Complex, Arguable Claim

Introduction to MP 2

SA 4 due at 11:59 p.m.

Read pg. 276–288 and Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”




Mon 11/9

Writing Proposals


Read pg. 379–395

Begin researching MP 2

Tue 11/10

Persuasive Arguments

Logical Fallacies

Read pg. 339–346 and Emily Martin’s “The Egg and the Sperm”

Wed 11/11




Thu 11/12

Analyzing Evidence and Assumptions

Annotated Bibliographies

SA 5 due at 11:59 p.m.

Read pg. 412–433 and start researching for MP 2







Mon 11/16


Library Research

Read pg. 428–446 and Alastair Pennycook’s “Language, Localization, and the Real”

Tue 11/17

Constructing and Organizing an Academic Argument

Read pg. 449–462

Wed 11/18

Organization of an Academic Paper: Introductions, Conclusions, Topic Sentences, and Paragraphs


Read pg. 469–475

Thu 11/19

Transitions, Coherence, and Style

SA 6 due at 11:59 p.m.

Continue revising MP 2 (visit Odegaard Writing and Research Center)





Mon 11/23

Revisions Based on Higher Order Concerns


Tue 11/24

Citing Sources (continued)

Distribute electronic copies of your paper to your group members for online peer reviews

Wed 11/25

NO CLASS – Peer review latest drafts of MP 2, finish revising, and travel safe!


Thu 11/26







Mon 11/30



Major Paper 2 due before the end of class!

Read pg. 891–917

Select past assignments to revise for portfolio

Tue 12/1


Submitting Portfolios


Wed 12/2

Conferences (No class)


Thurs 12/3

Conferences (No class)





Mon 12/7

Grammar: Proofreading at a Sentence Level

Read pg. 476–483

Tue 12/8

Proofreading at a Sentence Level (continued)

Read pg. 483–494

Wed 12/9

Final Tips on Editing, Proofreading, and Portfolios



Thu 12/10

Lifelong Writing Habits

Conclusion to Course


Finish revising portfolios

Holidays:  Veterans Day, 11/11 and Thanksgiving, 11/26–27

Last Day of Instruction:  Fri 12/11

Finals Week:  Mon 12/14–Fri 12/18

Course Summary:

Date Details