If you are interested in improving your writing, many will say, you would do well to spend a good deal of your time reading and writing. As you read and write, your thinking and writing will get better, the argument goes. Words and sentences, paragraphs, details and connections–the more you become aware of what these linguistic elements make possible the more possible making interesting things with words becomes. And if you are teaching students to become effective writers, it follows, you would provide students with ample opportunities to read and to write.

This section of English 215 will therefore keep you reading, thinking, and writing:

  • We will be practicing recitation (reading aloud) and the touch of pencil/pen and paper (marginal notation, annotation, doodling)
  • We will talk about slow reading and fast reading, close and distant reading, print and digital reading, as well as the tacit dimensions of reading that involves remarkably complex, and creative, cognitive activity.
  • We will discuss reading and writing as interrelated activities and the process of writing as a mode of (re)reading and thinking, of connecting texts to other texts (intertextuality) and to historical and cultural contexts
  • We will explore writing, both generically and through discipline-based problems, questions, and issues
  • We will practice gathering and using textual (and contextual) evidence, especially to support arguments and claims, and forms of writing that develop ideas by using evidence effectively
  • And we will talk about the writing process to weigh different (and differing) perspectives, examine (and re-examine) assumptions, and imagine the expectations (and experience) of readers.

You have two responsibilities as a writer in this course:

Short Essays Each week you will complete an end-of-the-week “second-thoughts” or reflective essay. These thoughts will be posted on your “Thinking” page after the week’s classes–but no later than the following Monday if you wish to receive credit. The purpose of this writing is to review the reading, thinking, talking, listening and note taking you have completed and to find your way to second thoughts–that is, you will be writing to integrate what you have learned with what you might already know, and to elaborate, make connections,  and/or  pursue  interesting questions that come up in our work.  We will use these short essays to talk about writing from questions, engaging intellectual problems, and the mechanics and art of composing clear and purposeful analysis. Each essay will be about 500 words in length and will have a title and a date in boldface type

Writing Projects The description and guidelines for these longer essays will be posted on the Projects page. We will discuss the project descriptions in class