Thinking and Writing is based on the premise that writing is a process requiring sustained thought over time. Effective writers approach the writing process as a way of thinking that necessarily requires re-invention and re-thinking and revision.

During weeks 2-5 you will be reading a book and completing a series of tasks focused on reading as a writer. Weeks 5-15 will be dedicated to individual writing projects and to thinking together about how you can most productively use the writing process .

The Schedule page offers a detailed breakdown of the timeline and due dates. Below you will find an assignment for each of the shorter essays (including the optional Book Review) and the specifications for each assignment. You will also find below the writing project stages (click on the highlighted text for the assignment) and what you need to do at each stage of the writing project.


Reading as a Writer This sequence of short writing tasks begins with reading the book you choose from the list of books on the course blog. The due dates for these short essays are listed on the course schedule

Week 2 Rationale: a one-page single-spaced essay that explains why you chose the book. The essay will talk about your interest in the subject matter, and will note relevant information about the author (academic or intellectual training, cultural background, etc.), the context or time period when the book was written/published, the genre of writing, and the field of study or inquiry

Week 3 Quotations: two pages of single spaced quotations that demonstrate your ability to choose significant passages from an extended narrative or sequence of essays and Page About a Page: one page single-spaced description that addresses what is being said and how it is being said. Attention to the details of how the language you choose is working and why it is worth attending to  

Week 4 Summary: a two-page single-spaced essay that offers an accurate and detailed summary of the salient themes, content threads, argument(s), conclusion(s) in the book and a Commentary: a two-page single-spaced description of something in the book that you find of interest that includes analysis (textual and contextual) to explain why it might be of interest to others

Week 5 Book Review (Optional) 3-5 page review of the book to complete sequence 1. The review will make use of relevant parts of the shorter essays in a fuller description of the significance and value of the book. The review will make reference to the salient or relevant historical, social, religious, economic, and biographical, and textual contexts as part of making the book

To receive a passing grade each essay must show me that you can do the things I describe above. Each essay will also be 1) documented correctly using in-text page citations, 2) presented in standard manuscript format with few if any errors in grammar, punctuation, or formatting, and 3) submitted at the beginning of class on the due date

If you do not receive a passing grade on any of the short essays in this sequence you will have the opportunity to revise the essay. The revision will be completed no later than the following class meeting

The Writing Project The writing project is designed so that you will have sufficient time to move from simple to a more complex understanding of the subject you are writing about. This process requires intensive and ongoing reading, thinking, research, and writing

WEEK 5 Statement of Purpose and Motivation  This statement of intent will be two single-spaced pages in length and will answer the following questions: In what ways has the book you read inspired your area of interest? What specifically are you planning to investigate? Do you have one or more questions you hope to answer in your research? What is motivating your inquiry?

WEEKS 6 & 7 Research Installments Once you have settled on an area of interest, you will set out to learn as much as you can. There are two research installments. The first is due during week 7 and the second is due during week 8. Each of the two written research installments has two parts: 1) a narrative summary of what you have read and how that reading has furthered your thinking and writing and 2) an annotated works cited page (in a sentence or two, summarize the argument or purpose of each piece of writing) with at least five entries organized by author’s last name, just as you would a bibliography or works cited page.

WEEK 8 First Version of Essay The first version of the essay will be 5-10 pages in length. It will answer the following question: How does what we know about this subject help us better understand the fullness and complexity of our place in the world? The answer to this question will provide you with a provisional claim, a statement that summarizes your position, and explains that position to your readers.

WEEK 12 Second Version of Essay This version of the essay will be 10-15 pages in length. It will demonstrate your thinking has moved from a more simple to a more complex understanding of your subject. The claim of the essay will marshall adequate support using examples and evidence to make the argument accessible (understandable) to others (an audience) and persuasive.

WEEK 15 Final Version of the Essay The final version of the essay will be 15-20 pages in length and will move a reader from a simple to a more complex understanding of your subject will require you to get a reader interested in your perspective. A reader is going to ask, at some point, “so what?” Why is it important for me to see the world in this way? Why care about this subject? How does your perspective offer us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and our world?

The Writing Portfolio the portfolio will include a cover letter that describes what you have learned in this course and all of the pieces of writing (with comments and feedback) listed in sequence one and sequence two.