Welcome to English 131: Expository Writing. While this course is designed primarily as an introduction to writing for an academic purpose, our discussions and assignments will be geared towards the development of skills that can be applied to a variety of writing situations. In other words, the skills that you will develop in English 131 will enable you to write effectively in a number of contexts, ranging from English courses to Engineering courses to cover letters and argumentative emails with your friends and loved ones. Below you will find a list of course outcomes which have been selected by Expository Writing Program as indicative of successful writing. These outcomes are goals that, by the end of this course, you should be able to demonstrate in your own writing.
The thematic focus of this course will be consciousness and experience. As such, the texts that we read will explore ideas like thought, perception, knowledge, and encounter, and these texts will do so from a wide variety of angles. You will be exposed to genres ranging from philosophical and historical essays to studies in cognitive science. Each of these texts—as well as the texts that you write—will explore, in one way or another, the ways in which we experience, encounter, and understand the world. Perhaps most specifically, we will ask questions about degree to which our experiences are formed and mediated by our own culturally influenced representations of reality.
While our thematic focus will be consciousness and experience, it is important to note that this is not a philosophy, history, or cognitive theory course: The central focus of this course is your development as critical readers, thinkers, and writers. Our thematic focus is intended primarily as a means of developing a common vocabulary and common knowledge base through which to explore the fundamentals of critical thought and writing.
This will be a challenging course, but it will also—I think—be very fun and engaging. I ask that each of you be willing to take risks and experiment as writers. Taking risks and learning from your successes and failures, after all, is what this course is all about. I also ask that you honestly engage the material and that you keep an open mind as we write and discuss this semester. Some of the ideas that we discuss will be, frankly, weird. But when we turn and face the strange, exciting things can happen.