ENGL 111 S: Composition: Literature

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
THO 335

Syllabus Description:

comic book covers.jpg

ENGL 111-S Composition through Literature

Science Fiction Comics and Social Criticism

T, Th 1:30pm – 3:20pm | THO 335 | Spring 2015


     Alexandria Gray


     B5D   Padelford  (B=Basement)

Office Hours:

    3:30 – 4:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays






Required Texts (print copies are much preferred for discussion, but digital copies are acceptable):

Contexts for Inquiry: A Guide to Research and Writing at the UW

Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1, “Back on the Street,” Warren Ellis and D. Robertson, 1997, (978-1401220846)

Channel Zero, Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan, 1997,  (978-1595829368)

WE3, Grant Morrison, 2006 (978-1401243029)

Alex + Ada, Vol. 1, Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn, 2014, (978-1632150066)

Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1: The Five Nightmares, Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca, 2009

Saga, Vol. 1, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, 2012, (978-1607066019)


Texts are available on Amazon, from local comic shops, and some may be purchased digitally from:


Course Description:

This course explores a range of provocative science fiction comics and graphic novels from the last two decades. Comics and science fiction have tremendous subversive potential; long considered “low” art and a product of mass culture, their blazing social commentaries often go unrecognized. As the course progresses, we will uncover their capacity to resist cultural and political authority and the ways in which they explore alternatives to current conditions with moments of estrangement and wonder.


Readings will engage themes that include state surveillance, censorship, animal rights, corporate hegemony, war, terrorism, and consumer culture.


The coursework will give you the opportunity to think about issues through writing, to discover connections or conflicts between texts and ideas, and finally to demonstrate you can meaningfully orient and create persuasive arguments in a larger social or cultural context.


While we will study and discuss literature, this course focuses on writing; the objective is to provide composition skills that can be transferred across disciplines. These strategies will help develop the content, structure and style of your writing in ways appropriate for different audiences. We will work towards an understanding of how varied rhetorical elements of composition act together to create persuasive arguments.


Important note: These primary texts feature instances of graphic language, violence, and sex. We will treat the subject matter respectfully, but if you find this objectionable, please choose another ENGL course to fulfill your composition requirement. Every ENGL course – and there are dozens – uses different primary texts.


Course Policies

Participation and Attendance – (30%)

What does it mean to participate? Participation is intellectual work that makes a significant contribution to the life of a classroom.  It is a process of working through critical concepts and problems and being able to articulate a response among a group of peers who are engaging with the same material. While I do not expect you to speak every day, our goal is to create a learning community in which everyone participates. Both class and conference attendance are essential to pass the course.


Final Portfolios –  (70%)

You will complete two major assignment sequences. Each assignment sequence consists of two shorter assignments building to a major paper. You will have a chance to revise those papers using written and conferenced feedback from the instructor. At the end of the course, you will be asked to compile and submit a portfolio of your work along with a critical reflection.


The portfolio will include the following:

  • One of the two major papers (revised) for evaluation
  • Three of the short assignments (revised) for evaluation
  • A critical reflection essay that explains how the selected assignments demonstrate the four course outcomes.
  • Copy of the remaining short assignment and major paper.

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.



We must meet twice during the quarter in conferences to discuss your work. These conferences give you the opportunity to get feedback about your papers/projects and to express any concerns, questions, or suggestions you might have about the course or the assignments. I will provide you with detailed instructions about how to prepare.


Late Work

Late work will not receive feedback and will diminish your participation grade.


Assignment Format / Submission Guidelines

All assignments should be typed according to MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines. This includes: 12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1” margins, double-spacing, page numbers w/ last name, MLA style citation/Works Cited page.

CRITICAL NOTE – Name each assignment file in the following format:

[Last name]_[Assignment Title].docx

Course Website and Email:

In case of changes to the course structure (calendar, assignments, etc.), we will discuss them in class or you will be notified via email. It’s crucial that you check your UW email account often and that you use the Catalyst course website.


Writing Resources

There are two fantastic writing resources for you here on campus at UW. And I offer EXTRA CREDIT for visiting them!

Odegaard Writing and Research Center allows you to schedule tutoring sessions in advance at: http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/

CLUE Writing Center is located in Mary Gates Hall, and offers late-night drop-in tutoring.  http://depts.washington.edu/clue/dropintutor_writing.php



University Policies

Evaluation Rubric

Throughout the quarter, your papers will receive feedback to help you identify what you are doing well and what you need to improve. The following evaluation rubric will be used as part of my feedback:


Outstanding (3.7 – 4.0): Offers a very highly proficient, even memorable demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), including some appropriate risk-taking and/or creativity.

Strong (3.1 – 3.6): Offers a proficient demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), which could be further enhanced with revision.

Good (2.5 – 3.0): Effectively demonstrates the trait(s) associate with the course outcome(s), but less proficiently; could use revision to demonstrate more skillful and nuanced command of trait(s).

Acceptable (2.0 - 2.4): Minimally meets the basic outcome(s) requirement, but the demonstrated trait(s) are not fully realized or well-controlled and would benefit from significant revision.

Inadequate (1.0 – 1.9): Does not meet the outcome(s) requirement; the trait(s) are not adequately demonstrated and require substantial revision on multiple levels.


Academic Integrity Clause

Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else's ideas or writing as your own. I have a zero tolerance policy in this regard. I encourage you to refer to other people’s thoughts in your writing for this class—just be sure to cite them properly. We’ll go over proper citation in class, and if you have any question about how to cite or about whether you need to cite something, play it safe and cite it. Any student found to have plagiarized will be reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.



Further Notes on the Evaluation and Grading of Essays

A" paper explores a literary or critical issue in a manner that is both lucid and elegant. It represents an intellectual problem or critical stance, and shows how that problem or stance is best resolved. The A paper illuminates its subject in a fashion that surprises the casual reader, and calls him or her to reconsider the issue in light of the essay's claims. The A paper takes intellectual risks: its topic is challenging, and its treatment thorough and insightful. It is virtually free of errors, and it goes beyond issues that we have discussed in class, or casts new light on those issues. The thesis in A papers will be clear, complex, and immediately engaging.

A "B" paper is most characterized by good organization and depth of analysis. It makes a worthwhile point about a particular text through careful analysis. It separates the different levels of an argument, and shows how those levels underlie, support, and limit one another. It is marked by smooth transitions, close readings, and quotations from relevant passages. The argument is strong enough to withstand the most obvious opposition, and the paper responds to potential counter-arguments. The essay shows a good, strong understanding of the text. It is for the most part well written. Although there may be grammatical errors, there are none that obscure the writer's intention. The B paper does not achieve the level of elegance or the depth of insight found in the A paper, but it nevertheless represents a fine achievement.

A "C" essay demonstrates a generally good grasp of the text, and a generally workable idea, but its analysis may be weakened by problems with expression, or else it is well written but misses significant points in its interpretation, or else its articulation of the idea is too vague to be captivating. In other words, the paper's argument may be theoretically good but superficially rendered. The paper makes good points and demonstrates an understanding of the text or subject, but it is not well organized or backed up by a close examination of that subject. It tends to present summary in the place of analysis. The author may not have accounted for obvious counter-arguments. The grammar occasionally
obscures the author's intention, or interrupts reading. It shows a want of careful proofreading. Absence of a thesis will invariably keep a critical paper in the C, or more likely, the D range. The C grade is not an indictment, but it is an indication that the writer ought to revise and develop the essay more thoroughly.

A "D" essay attempts to address a reasonable subject, but lacks a sophisticated thesis (or any thesis at all). The paper thus does not have a clear point to make, and the reader will be confused about what the essay is trying to accomplish. In the absence of an organizing argument, the paper will be hard to follow in a number of places. It may entail misreadings of the text, or grammatical errors that obscure meaning. Like the C paper, it tends to present summary in the place of analysis, and it shows a want of careful proofreading.

The "F" paper does not fulfill the assignment in a reasonable or competent fashion.


Further Notes on the Evaluation and Grading of Participation


- Demonstrates excellent preparation: has analyzed texts exceptionally well, relating it to readings and other material (e.g., readings, course material, discussions, experiences, etc.).

- Comments are insightful & constructive; uses appropriate terminology. Comments balanced between general impressions, opinions & specific, thoughtful criticisms or contributions.

- Listens attentively when others present materials, perspectives, as indicated by comments that build on others’ remarks, i.e., hears what others say & contributes to the dialogue.


- Demonstrates good preparation: knows texts well, has thought through implications of them.

- Offers interpretations and analysis of texts.

- Comments mostly insightful & constructive; mostly uses appropriate terminology. Occasionally comments are too general or not relevant
to the discussion.

- Mostly attentive when others present ideas, indicated by comments that reflect & build on their remarks.


-        Demonstrates adequate preparation: knows basic aspect of the texts, but does not show evidence of analysis.

-        Comments are sometimes constructive, with occasional signs of insight. Student does not use appropriate terminology; comments not always relevant to the discussion.

-        Student is somewhat inattentive and unresponsive to other’s remarks.


-        Student is absent and/or consistently inattentive.


Outcomes for Expository Writing Program Courses


1. To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.

  • The writing employs style, tone, and conventions appropriate to the demands of a particular genre and situation.
  • The writer is able to demonstrate the ability to write for different audiences and contexts, both within and outside the university classroom.
  • The writing has a clear understanding of its audience, and various aspects of the writing (mode of inquiry, content, structure, appeals, tone, sentences, and word choice) address and are strategically pitched to that audience.
  • The writer articulates and assesses the effects of his or her writing choices.


2. To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.

  • The writing demonstrates an understanding of the course texts as necessary for the purpose at hand.
  • Course texts are used in strategic, focused ways (for example: summarized, cited, applied, challenged, re-contextualized) to support the goals of the writing.
  • The writing is intertextual, meaning that a “conversation” between texts and ideas is created in support of the writer’s goals.
  • The writer is able to utilize multiple kinds of evidence gathered from various sources (primary and secondary – for example, library research, interviews, questionnaires, observations, cultural artifacts) in order to support writing goals.
  • The writing demonstrates responsible use of the MLA (or other appropriate) system of documenting sources.


3. To produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.

  • The argument is appropriately complex, based in a claim that emerges from and explores a line of inquiry.
  • The stakes of the argument, why what is being argued matters, are articulated and persuasive.
  • The argument involves analysis, which is the close scrutiny and examination of evidence and assumptions in support of a larger set of ideas.
  • The argument is persuasive, taking into consideration counterclaims and multiple points of view as it generates its own perspective and position.
  • The argument utilizes a clear organizational strategy and effective transitions that develop its line of inquiry.


4. To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.

  • The writing demonstrates substantial and successful revision.
  • The writing responds to substantive issues raised by the instructor and peers.
  • Errors of grammar, punctuation, and mechanics are proofread and edited so as not to interfere with reading and understanding the writing.



Spring Quarter 2015:  T, TH Schedule

*Lesson plans will include homework, in-class writing, and group work.



in-class activities

BE Prepared with:




Close Reading



Tues 3/31


Topics: Syllabus / Outcomes / Introductions

Terms: Metacognition, Genre, Context, Critical

Understanding Writing Situations (Genre)

Handout: Atwood’s “Aliens . . . Angels”


Thurs 4/2


Discuss: Transmetropolitan #1-3

“Back on the Street”

Writing Topics: Close Reading & Annotation

Reading Science Fiction

Reading Comics / Visual Rhetoric


CFI 1-15, 361 - 371

McCloud’s Understanding  Comics

Transmetropolitan 1-3 “Back on the Street”






Arguments / Claims Evidence

Tues 4/7

Discuss: Transmetropolitan #5

“What Spider Watches on TV”


Writing Topics: Integrating Quotation, Citing Evidence

Due 5pm: SP1

Close Reading


Read: CFI 228 - 249

Transmet #5

Thurs 4/9

Discuss: Channel Zero

Introduction by Warren Ellis

“Jennie One” 144 - 209


Writing Topics: Developing Basic Claims

Recognizing Assumptions


Read: CFI 191 - 202

Intro by Warren Ellis and

“Jennie One” 144 - 209









Tues 4/14

Discuss: Channel Zero 1-140



Channel Zero 1-140

Thurs 4/16

Writing Topic: Establishing Context

Introduction Paragraphs

Conclusion Paragraphs

Establishing Stakes

Due 5pm: SP2

Compare & Contrast  

  Read: CFI 301 - 306






Structure &


Tues 4/21

Topics: Style Matters / Revision Strategies

Writing with Concision (handout)


*Bring a copy of your draft to work on

Due 5pm: MP1 Draft


Read: CFI 411 - 416

Thurs 4/23

NO CLASS: Midterm Conferences

(see sign-up sheet for times)


Bring questions









Tues 4/28

Discuss: WE3


Read: WE3

Thurs 4/30

Due: Major Paper 1 (Revised)

Writing Topics: Library Research, Annotated Bibliographies

Due 5pm: MP1 Revised

Read: CFI 252 - 273






Tues 5/5

Discuss: Alex and Ada


Luna’s Alex and Ada

Thurs 5/7

Writing Topic: Logos, Ethos, Pathos


Read: CFI 379 - 391





Rhetorical Strategies

Tues 5/12

Discuss: Invincible Iron Man


Invincible Iron Man

Thurs 5/14

Writing Topics: Developing Complex Thesis Statements

Concessions & Counterarguments

Due 5pm: SP3

Rhetorical Analysis

Read:  CFI 321-338






Tues 5/19

Discuss: Saga

Read: Saga

Thurs 5/21

Library Research Day

  Independent Research

Due 5pm: SP 4

Annotated Bib.




wrap up second sequence



Tues 5/26


Due: Major Paper 2 (Draft)

Writing Topics: Style Matters / Revision Strategies

*Bring a copy of your draft to work on  

Due 5pm: MP2 Draft



Thurs 5/28



Portfolio Development / Reflection Essays  




 don’t forget to give course evaluations



Tues 6/2


NO CLASS: MP2 & Portfolio Conferences


Due 5pm: MP2 Revised


Thurs 6/4


Closing Remarks, Evaluations

Final Portfolio Questions


 Final Portfolio Due: Monday, June 8th


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: 
February 19, 2016 - 9:29am