ENGL 150: Writing and Inquiry

Course Description, Spring 2016
In this course, we will explore the ways in which our identities are influenced by our society and culture. I believe we compose our lives in ways that are similar to composing a piece of writing. Certain events and relationships help shape our sense of self and influence the way we live in the world, and we receive these messages through various oral, written, and visual “texts.” I also believe we can (and should) critically examine these texts to make conscious decisions about the things that shape our life narratives. We are often told that we as individuals have the power to shape our own destinies. While I think there is truth to this statement, I also feel we are constantly influenced by our surroundings, especially in an increasingly digital world. Writing is a powerful tool we can use to reciprocally shape our socio-cultural environment because it allows us to communicate our ideas, beliefs, and lives to a larger community.

So how do we critically examine our life narratives, and how does writing contribute? We will spend the next 16 weeks exploring these questions. It is my hope that as a learning community we can develop critical thinking and writing strategies that will serve you throughout your academic, professional, and personal lives.

I believe writing is a process. Therefore, we will spend time on every aspect of writing an essay: generating ideas, outlining, composing rough drafts, peer review, and revising, revising, revising! We will also examine published “model texts” for rhetorical strategies we can add to our writing toolboxes.

Writing Projects
Below are brief descriptions of the writing projects we will complete in this course.

Project 1: Collage Essay: The purpose of this project is to explore a new form of essay writing and investigate a topic from multiple (and not always obviously connected) perspectives. Ideally, the core of your essay should hold some personal meaning for you. (4-5 pages)

Project 2: Pop & the Personal: The purpose of this project is to critically examine your relationship with a pop culture artifact. For this essay you will need to incorporate a combination of personal narrative and research. (5-6 pages)

Project 3: Explorations of Identity and Privilege: The purpose of this project is to examine the ways that different forms of privilege, which are dictated by the greater social hierarchy, contribute to the ways we view ourselves and others. For this essay, you will need to incorporate a combination of personal narrative, research, and cultural criticism. (5-6 pages)

Project 4: Final Portfolio: The final portfolio contains the following 3 components (you will be provided with a detailed assignment sheet for this project towards the end of the semester):

  • A 3-5 page (double-spaced) general reflection essay
  • A 1-2 page (double-spaced) reflection on peer workshop
  • A 1-2 page (double-spaced) reflection on a Blackboard post that you feel best shows off your critical thinking/analytic skills in action