English 101 sometimes gets a bad rap. Many first-year students dislike having to take a 101 course, especially when they have already taken so many English classes in high school. But our English 101 isn’t like any English course you’ve ever taken before.
What you’ll do in English 101…
English 101 is all about building and sharing big ideas. You will learn writing techniques to brainstorm, outline, and develop a research topic of your choosing. You’ll then work closely with other students to extend your idea and find a real-world audience who will care about it. As your idea develops, you’ll learn to create a wide range of texts, including infographics, research proposals, scientific posters, and interactive websites. You’ll finish the quarter with a portfolio full of writing that reflects your own research process and shows off your growth as a savvy 21st century writer.
What the class is about…
English 101 is way different from a literature-based writing class. You won’t be analyzing any novels, poetry, or films. Instead, the class is about writing itself: how it works, how it’s made, how we learn to do it. For instance, we will learn about the concept of rhetoric–the way written or spoken texts influence audiences and create meaning in the world. We will examine how different audiences respond to different kinds of texts, both the ones we read together and the ones you write. Here’s a taste:
We’ll also address two other key topics: literacy and multimodality. Literacy, basically, is the ability to read and write. We will study how we learned to read and write in the first place, and what kinds of reading and writing we will need in our future professional and academic lives. Multimodality refers to the way communication often goes beyond words on the page. It could be as simple as incorporating pictures into an essay. But it could also be as complex as making a multi-page website with integrated video, audio, and links. With each extra layer of communication, we add complexity and expressive possibilities.
What class will be like…
This class is very, very light on lecture and very heavy on in-class discussion and rapid writing activities. You will work by yourself, with partners, and in small groups. Each class only enrolls 24 students, so you’ll probably get to know and work with everyone in the class, at least a little bit.
You will have small writing assignments due nearly every week, and you’ll almost always have to submit both a rough draft and a final draft. These small assignments will build up over time and combine into your large-scale project for the quarter, a multimodal research project on a writing-related topic of your choosing. This project will require you to do primary research (using interviewing or survey research) as well as secondary research (using published articles from academic journals). The project will also involve presenting your research on a range of platforms, including a final website project. You will do about half of the major projects for the class with a partner. This will require you to coordinate your time and learn to accommodate another person’s writing abilities.
Take a closer look…
In most cases, your instructor for English 101 will be one of the excellent graduate writing instructors from our master’s of arts and master’s of fine arts programs. Your instructor will be a highly experienced academic writer, able to serve as a mentor and guide to you throughout your FYW experience. Through required personal conferences and the extensive written feedback you’ll receive on each piece you write, you will work closely with your instructor throughout the class.
All sections of English 101 use a common syllabus designed by the Director of Composition, who, along with the Assistant Director, offer continual training and mentorship to the graduate writing instructors throughout the year.
Below you’ll find a few syllabi that have been used for English 101 in the past. The curriculum of English 101 tends to change from year-to-year as the Director of Composition re-designs the assignments and alters the focus for the course. These syllabi represent three approaches to the class. They won’t necessarily represent what your English 101 will be like.
- Jeremy Cushman’s Winter 2017 course:Cushman W17