ENGL 111 J: Composition: Literature

Meeting Time: 
Shane McCoy

Syllabus Description:

For PDF version of the syllabus, click here: McCoyENGL111J, Winter 2016 (Updated Dec 29, 2015).pdf


ENGLISH 111J: Composition/Literature

“Texts that Teach: The 'Outsider Within’”

Winter 2016

Tuesday/Thursday, 10:30 AM-12:20 PM

MGH 082 (Tuesday, computer lab) and MGH 082A (Thursday, traditional classroom)


Professor: Shane McCoy

Email: smccoy3@uw.edu

Office: Padelford B417

Office Hours: Thursday, 12:30-3 PM

Class URL: https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1022235

Course Description

Have you ever read a novel, short story, or watched a documentary or film that taught you something and maybe even moved you to reconsider your assumptions about a given topic? Put another way, have you ever read a novel, short story, or watched a documentary or film and you learned something about history, society, and/or culture? This class situates texts (and by texts I mean anything that can be interpreted, decoded, or read) as historical, social, and cultural artifacts. To focus our course, we will journey through narratives that feature the perspective of social and cultural ‘outsiders,’ or what Patricia Hill Collins adequately terms, “outsiders within,” in order to understand how “outsiders within” perceive taken-for-granted topics and ideas. We will read, discuss, intellectually engage and learn about immigration, gender, sexuality, class, race, colonialism, and imperialism from the perspectives of “outsiders within.” Sequence 1—Contextualizing Black Feminist Thought engages with the significance of Black feminist thought in literary texts, namely Michelle Cliff’s Abeng and Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy. Sequence 2—Towards Synthesis privileges film as a primary text, namely José Antonio Vargas’ Documented. I invite you to take what is for many an unfamiliar journey into stories that trouble our common, taken-for-granted assumptions, stories that might even make you reconsider your assumptions and where you will (hopefully!) learn something from “outsiders within.”

Finally, this class is first and foremost a writing intensive class where we focus on writing and the ways in which writing can be employed, deployed, and analyzed. The emphasis of the class is to practice evidence-based thinking, which is the use of evidence to instantiate claims and arguments. Thus, you will be assessed on how well you provide evidence for your thinking in written assignments throughout the quarter and in your portfolio. Moreover, the course is intended to provide a sound basis for the elements of writing in multiple (and across) disciplines. Therefore, we will spend much of our time on learning how to write and how to engage with texts in order to produce complex claims in written assignments.

Please note: This class is specifically a Computer-Integrated Classroom (CIC), thus specific rules of the class will be explained later in the syllabus.


Course Objectives

  • To learn how to write and engage with texts in order to produce complex claims in written assignments.
  • To practice evidence-based thinking in written assignments.
  • To develop critical awareness of the strategies writers’ use in various contexts
  • To learn how to discern between ineffective arguments and arguments that matter in academic contexts.
  • To understand the writing process, which is the ability to produce, revise, edit, and proofread one’s own writing as well as the rhetorical choices made in one’s own writing.
  • To learn how to write academic arguments and present lines of inquiry.
  • To effectively demonstrate course outcomes in critical reflections on writing assignments.


Required Primary Texts

Michelle Cliff, Abeng (1984)

Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy (1990)

Jose Antonio Vargas, Documented (2014)

Chelsea Handler, Chelsea Does, episode 3: "Chelsea does racism" (2016)


Required Secondary Texts

Patricia Hill Collins, “Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought” (1986)—available on Canvas

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, “Rethinking Racism: Toward a Structural Interpretation” (1997)—available on Canvas


Other Required Materials

Contexts for Inquiry: A Guide to Research and Writing at the University of Washington (2013)

*Note: there are two editions of Contexts for Inquiry. For our class, you only need to purchase the abbreviated edition (white cover).


Extra Credit Primary Text

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

Jose Antonio Vargas, Documented (2014)


Recommended Materials

Birkenstein, Cathy and Gerald Graff. They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: Norton, 2009.

Gill, C.M. Essential Writing Skills for College and Beyond. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest, 2012.


Student Responsibilities

As a student in this class, you are responsible for processing and understanding the course material as well as finding out how to demonstrate the writing strategies presented in class in your writing assignments. You are responsible for coming to class prepared to engage with your peers and share your thoughts on the course material. In the unlikely event you cannot come to class a particular day, it is your responsibility to ask your peers what occurred in class and whether or not there were any changes to the syllabus/class assignments/daily readings. In addition, you should check your email daily because I will often send you reminder emails, changes to the syllabus, etc. We are only in class two days a week and it is vital that you check your UW account regularly. Note: I will always give you advance notice of any changes made to the syllabus in class. It is your responsibility to be aware of these changes.


Coursework and Grading

Because this course is designed to reflect a student’s success in the writing process, grades will not be given throughout the course of the quarter. Your grade is contingent upon your ability to demonstrate the outcomes outlined by the Expository Writing Program in your final portfolio. I will provide you with written feedback on short assignments and other writing activities throughout the quarter. 70% of your grade is based on your final portfolio and the other 30% is based upon your participation in class.


Portfolio (70% of your final grade)

In this course, you will complete two major assignment sequences, each of which is designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes. Each assignment sequence requires you to complete a variety of shorter assignments leading up to a major paper. These shorter assignments will each target one or more of the course outcomes at a time, help you practice these outcomes, and allow you to build toward a major paper at the end of each sequence. You will have a chance to revise significantly each of the major papers using feedback generated by your instructor, peer review sessions, and writing conferences. 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 following: one of the two major papers, three to five of the shorter assignments, and a critical reflection that explains how the selected portfolio demonstrates the four outcomes for the course. In addition to the materials you select as the basis for your portfolio grade, your portfolio must include all of the sequence-related writing you were assigned in the course (both major papers and all the shorter assignments from both sequences). 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. The portfolio will be worth 70% of your final grade.

Portfolio Grade Breakdown:

Outcome Reflections…………….35%

Revised Essays…………………..35%


Participation (30% of your final grade)

30% of your final grade will be based on your participation in class. This includes (but not limited to) coming to class and engaging with your peers, turning in assignments on time, attending conferences (two times a quarter) with me, coming to class on time, going to the writing centers, attending lectures at the Simpson Center, visiting me during office hours, taking notes in class, participating in peer review, etc.

Things that will negatively impact your participation grade include (but not limited to) texting in class, talking in class when another person is speaking, not taking notes in class, not participating in peer review, not attending conferences with me, not speaking in class and engaging with peers, not attending class, arriving late to class, turning in assignments late, and not attending office hours.

At any time during the quarter you are worried about your participation grade, I highly encourage you to visit me during office hours.

Participation Grade Breakdown

Due Dates…………………………….................6%

Class Participation and Discussions................9%

First Conference……………………..................3%

Portfolio Oral Exam (second conference)……..7%

In-class Critical Reflection………......................5%

                                                                Total: 30%


Cell Phone Policy

If caught using your cell phone during my class, I reserve the right to dismiss you. Using your cell phone during class (texting, using social media, etc) signals to me that you would rather spend your time elsewhere. Furthermore, using your phone during class is disruptive and does not allow you to fully engage with information covered during class, class discussions, and workshops. Failure to offer your full and undivided attention in class will result in a much lower participation grade for the course.


Email Etiquette

When emailing me (and other professors), please include a salutation and your name in the email. Do not email me to discuss your papers and revisions for essays or questions that have already been answered during class and in the syllabus. I am a firm believer in face-to-face interaction as the best type of communication. If you are unable to attend office hours, you should email me a time/times that you are available to meet.


Submission Guidelines

All assignments and major papers will be submitted on Canvas. Submission guidelines for assignments and major papers:

  • Times New Roman 12 pt. Font,
  • 1” margins
  • correct MLA citations (Outcome 2)
  • correct MLA formatting (Outcome 2)
  • Works Cited page on ALL assignments

Response Papers are 2-3 pages, which excludes the bibliography. Major papers are 6-7 pages, which excludes the bibliography. All assignments must be double-spaced.


Late Paper Policy

Failure to turn in a paper on time will result in the deduction of participation points from your final grade. Late papers will not receive written feedback. If you have an unforeseen circumstance that arises, please contact me via e-mail no later than 24 hours before an assignment is due and provide sufficient documentation (doctor’s note, police report, etc). In the unlikely event that your paper is late, you will need to visit me during office hours in order to receive verbal feedback.


Extra Credit

The Odegaard Writing and Research Center and the CLUE (Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment) writing center are both available to assist you whenever you need extra help or tutoring for writing. When visiting (or planning to visit) the writing center, please obtain your tutor's signature on the assignment(s) to show proof. OWRC is available by appointment only and the CLUE writing center is on a first-come, first-serve basis. I strongly encourage you to use the tutors at these writings center and please remember that they are not there to proofread your essays and correct grammatical mistakes. They are interested in the “higher order” concerns of your writing rather than your ability to demonstrate correct grammar. 


Class Attendance

This class will move fairly quickly over the course of the quarter. Attendance is necessary in order to participate. I will use class activities (i.e., quizzes, free-writing exercises) to determine attendance. In the event that you must miss class, you are responsible for obtaining the notes for that class and delivering any assignment due that day to me. Please do not arrive late to class or leave early. Both are considered distractions and will negatively impact your participation grade.


Student Conferences

You are required to visit me twice for student conferences during the quarter. For your first conference, you should visit me during my office hours (Thursdays, 12:30-3 PM). Your second conference will be held at the end of the quarter at a designated time. In the event that you cannot attend your scheduled conference time, you must notify me 24 hours in advance to make alternative arrangements. If you are unsure where you stand in the class in terms of your grade, please do not wait until your scheduled conference time to see me. Also, do not wait until the portfolio is due to speak with me (as it will be too late to save your grade). I highly encourage you to use my office hours to come speak with me about any concerns you might have about the course.


Civility in the Classroom

We will be discussing social, cultural, and political topics that may be uncomfortable for some. The goal of these discussions is not to make everyone think alike; in fact, criticism and dissent are highly encouraged. However, with that said, it is important that respect is exercised in the classroom. Therefore, if you disagree with what someone is saying or a position that is being articulated in discussion, please do so respectfully. Discussing controversial topics in a respectful manner is an important skill to acquire in the university classroom and only civil opinions will matter. I reserve the right to dismiss any student who behaves in an inappropriate or threatening manner. Acts of violence (both physical and verbal) will not be tolerated.


Computer-Integrated Classroom Rules (CIC)

  • Do not browse the internet during class. You will have time to research and brainstorm during lab days.
  • No eating by computers. Water in resealable bottles is fine.
  • No online chat programs.
    • If you are caught doing any of the above, you will lose participation points. The 2nd time you are caught, I will dismiss you from class that day.
  • Remember to always save your work, either via an external hard drive (USB) or emailing it to yourself.
  • Always log off your computer after class and shut down the computer.
  • Never unplug any of the cables connected to the computer. If you’re having trouble with your computer, notify your professor.



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. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.



If you have any concerns about the course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the following Expository Writing staff in Padelford A-11:

If, after speaking with the Director or Assistant Directors of the EWP, you are still not satisfied with the response you receive, you may contact English Department Chair Brian Reed, (206) 543-2690.



If you need accommodation of any sort, please let me know so that I can work with the UW Disability Services Office (DSO) to provide what you require. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials. More information about accommodation may be found at http://www.washington.edu/admin/dso/.


UW SafeCampus

Preventing violence is everyone's responsibility. If you're concerned, tell someone.

  • Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
  • Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
  • Don't walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
  • Stay connected in an emergency with UW Alert. Register your mobile number to receive instant notification of campus emergencies via text and voice messaging. Sign up online at www.washington.edu/alert

For more information visit the SafeCampus website at www.washington.edu/safecampus


Counseling Services

The Counseling Center is staffed by psychologists and mental health counselors who provide developmentally-based counseling, assessment, and crisis intervention services to currently-enrolled UW students. The center is open all year, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays. To schedule an initial appointment, please call the Counseling Center (206) 543-1240 or stop by the Center at 40 Schmitz Hall.


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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.


For detailed quarterly calendar, click here: Detailed Quarterly Calendar (Updated Dec 29, 2015).pdf


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 - 9:07am