ENGL 111 C: Composition: Literature

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 12:00pm - 1:00pm
THO 234
Maya Smorodinsky

Syllabus Description:

ENGL 111C: Composition/Literature

Represent! Represent!
Issues of Representation in language, media, and literature

Summer 2014
M-Th 12pm-1pm

Maya Smorodinsky
Padelford B-5M
Office Hours: Tu/W 1:15pm - 2:15pm (or by appointment)

Course Description

English 111 is a course designed to introduce you to academic argumentation about literature. As this is a course primarily geared towards claim-based arguments, and not expressly about grammar or writing mechanics, it is expected that you enter this course with basic writing skills. Through your active engagement in our course readings and writing assignments, these skills will be enhanced so that you leave English 111 with the ability to write compelling and persuasive arguments. In this course we will focus on how to enter into a critical conversation with academic and literary texts, how to put forward defendable claims, how to support your argument, and how to target your writing to a specific audience. Throughout the course, we will also identify reading practices and analytical skills that better position you to think critically at every stage of the writing process.

All of our work will be targeting the four “outcomes” — or goals — of the course. By the end of the quarter, you will be able:

1. To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.
2. To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.
3. To produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.
4. To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.

Since this is primarily a composition class, all our of our explorations will be funneled through writing. This class will challenge you to think about literature and culture more critically by guiding you to show that thinking through well-structured arguments that are supported with textual evidence and analysis. The main focus of this class is argumentation: in order to succeed in this writing class, as well as any other writing venture, you need to be able to develop strong arguments that matter in academic contexts. Please note that there is a paper due every week, along with in-class writing, readings and homework assignments. This is the nature of all 100-level composition classes, so plan your calendar accordingly.

Course Calendar

Writing Deadlines

Weekly Readings

Course Theme

What is representation? What does it mean to represent? Is it to repeat something in a different way? To stand up for something? To imagine something creatively? To speak for something? In this class, we will explore what it means to represent through all sorts of mediums: spoken language, writing, literature, academia, advertising, film, television, government, history, social media, etc. We will take as our object of study the question of why representation matters in various social/historical/cultural contexts. Why does it matter, for example, if different kinds of people are or are not represented in film? Or, why would someone care about Miley Cyrus's performance at the VMAs? What does that have to do with "representation"? We’ll read various styles and genres of arguments to gain a sense of the academic conversation about representation. This will give us a shared vocabulary and a theoretical framework with which to study and analyze representation issues all around us. We’ll read Adichie’s latest novel Americanah and ask how literature (and especially immigrant literature) tackles the question of representation. By the end of the quarter, you’ll gather and harness your analytical tools to choose a representation matter of your own and make your own claims about the nature of, meaning, and importance of representation.

Class Requirements

*Laptop or tablet with Word processor -- bring to class everyday
*Contexts for Inquiry (available at the bookstore)
*Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013) (please purchase this novel on your own; I recommend half.com or amazon.com)
*Additional reading materials will be posted to our canvas site or handed out in class 

Course Breakdown

Portfolio: 70% (a compilation of your work, revised, and a final reflection)
Participation: 30% (class discussion, quizzes, group work, homework, conferences, peer reviews, Facebook)

Facebook: Since we are studying “culture” this quarter, you are required to have a working Facebook account. We will have our own group on Facebook, where you are required to post regularly (at least once a week). That means sharing your own thoughts/links and commenting on others’ posts). I will be observe the group, but will not participate directly. This is a student-led and student-centered space. 

What is a good post? Facebook is a great sharing tool, and since we are bombarded with videos, images, ads, twitters, articles, and other online “texts” constantly, I want you to start looking out for how these “texts” relate to the conversations we are having in class. For example, if we are talking about how TV shows (mis)represent women in science, and you’ve just read an interesting blog post that speaks to this issue, find the link and share it for our group. Write a few words or sentences about what you think of the link. I also expect you to comment on your peers’ posts. The idea is to continue our conversation via another medium. With a constant stream of “texts”, both in class and online, we can create a web of artifacts that enhance our understanding of contemporary culture.

This group is also an excellent place to contact your peers, ask clarifying questions about the class, request extra peer reviews, etc.

General Class Policies and Expectations

*Grading Policy: you will receive a cumulative grade at the end of the quarter.

*Conferences: I will be holding two one-on-one writing conferences with each of you throughout the quarter. Active engagement at these conferences counts towards your participation grade.

*Class participation: I expect that you come to class prepared to discuss all assigned readings and homework. In addition, you are expected to bring a laptop (or tablet that has a word processor), the syllabus, the readings assigned, and a notebook to class everyday. Taking notes is one of the best ways to achieve success in this class. Our classroom will be a small community. It will also be a supportive and inclusive place. That means that we will all engage—take seriously and pay attention to—each other’s ideas to ensure that all of us (you, your classmates, and I) have a productive learning experience in these ten weeks, our classroom will need to be an active, engaging, and welcoming environment.  We will learn with and from each other–discussing and writing about ideas, giving and receiving feedback on writing, and supporting one another in class and out.  Please come to class (on time, every day) ready to engage in your learning and growth and in that of your classmates.

*Online work: We will be making use of our class website on canvas quite frequently. All assigned papers, homework, discussion posts, and peer review will be uploaded to this site. Our Facebook group is also considered part of class participation that occurs online. 

*Missing class: If you have to miss class, please notify me beforehand, and we can work something out. Otherwise, missing class means losing the opportunity to participate in the day’s activities, and subsequently losing participation points. If you miss class, you are responsible for any assignments or handouts given out on that day. Make sure to get someone’s email address during the first week of class. [Please note that I rarely check email on weekends and not after 6pm on weekdays – except for emergencies, expect a buffer for me to respond to any email requests].

*Late work: I will accept late papers up to one week after they are due, though I will not comment on them, and you will lose participation points for every day that the paper is late. You must hand in all papers before they appear in your portfolio. I will not accept late portfolios.

*Extra Credit: see our wiki page for ways you can get extra credit: Opportunities For Extra Credit

*Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing—as long as you cite them. Any student found to have plagiarized will immediately be reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.

*Respect for diversity of all kinds–in terms of race, ethnicity, age, sex and gender, sexual orientation, ability/disability, political and cultural beliefs–is vital to creating a classroom community where we can all explore new and different ways of seeing, as well as feel safe to contribute our own points of view. This is important, as we will be discussing topics relating to cultural, social, and political issues throughout the quarter. You will find that members of the university setting utilize these differences in exciting and profound ways. This means I want you to kindly respect the other members of this class by listening intently and engaging with others’ opinions and ideas with care.


In this course, you will complete a major assignment sequence which is designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes. The assignment sequence requires you to complete a variety of shorter assignments (“Short Papers”) leading up to a “Major Paper.” You will have a chance to revise each of your papers significantly using feedback generated by peer review sessions, writing conferences, and my comments. Toward the end of the course, having completed the two sequences, you will be asked to compile and submit a portfolio of your work along with a critical reflection. The portfolio will include the original version of all papers, a revised version of all papers, and a critical reflection that explains how the portfolio demonstrates the four outcomes for the course. You do not have to include the homework assignments that you’ve completed in between the short or major paper. Keep all first drafts, and all drafts with my commentary on them: you will need these for your final portfolio. A portfolio that does not include all the above will be considered “Incomplete” and will earn a grade of 0.0-0.9. The grade for complete portfolios will be based on the extent to which the pieces you select demonstrate the course outcomes.

UW Campus Resources

*Writing Centers:

The CLUE Writing Center is a free multi-disciplinary tutoring service that is open to all UW undergraduate students. Their goal is to complement, but not replace, the relationships students have with their teachers and advisers. The CLUE writing center is staffed by experienced undergraduate and graduate students and instructors—many of whom teach on campus: http://depts.washington.edu/aspuw/develop/writing-center/.

The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) has carved out a space for all writers no matter what your experience level, or what type of project you're working on, or how far along you are. This is the place to come and chat with peer tutors and librarians, to grow as a writer in the context of whatever project is foremost in your mind. The OWRC can't magically “fix” papers for you (it wouldn't help you long-term if we could), but they can ask all kinds of smart questions and talk with you about your work: http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/.

*Q Center:

The University of Washington Q Center is a primarily student run resource center dedicated to serving anyone with a gender or sexuality: UW students, staff, faculty, alum, and community members. It hosts student groups and regular programming events, as well as includes a queer centered library and student blog. You can access the Q Center website at http://depts.washington.edu/qcenter/wordpress/.


Please let me know if you need accommodation of any sort. I am happy to work with the UW Disability Resources for Students (DRS) to provide what you require, and I am very willing to take suggestions specific to this class to meet your needs. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials—just ask.  More information on support at UW may be found on the DRS web site at http://depts.washington.edu/uwdrs/.

UW Counseling Center workshops include a wide range of issues including study skills, thinking about coming out, international students and culture shock, and much more.  Check out available resources and workshops at: http://www.washington.edu/counseling/.


Feel free to come talk with me about any concerns you have about this course: I hold office hours for two hours each week. If you’re not comfortable talking with me, you can contact Gary Handwerk, Chair of the UW English Department, at handwerk@uw.edu or Anis Bawarshi, Director of the Expository Writing Program, at bawarshi@uw.edu

Catalog Description: 
Study and practice of good writing; topics derived from reading and discussing stories, poems, essays, and plays. Cannot be taken if student has already received a grade of 2.0 or higher in either ENGL 111, ENGL 121, or ENGL 131.
GE Requirements: 
English Composition (C)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 21, 2016 - 4:40pm