ENGL 131 C: Composition: Exposition

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 10:30am - 11:20am
CMU 326
Me at the Wordsworth Trust, Summer 2014
Shane R. Peterson

Syllabus Description:

Course Description

Welcome to English 131, the introductory writing course for the University of Washington. Whether you’re an engineering major, a biology major, an art major, or a music major, writing is an essential component for all of your classes. Even if you plan on entering the job market right after graduation rather than pursuing graduate studies, many principles and skills involved with academic writing can be applied to a professional workplace. Whatever path you choose, writing will help you succeed in any field. Therefore, the main objective of this course is to teach you the basic writing skills, practices, philosophies, and habits that will prepare you for your academic coursework and future careers.

Throughout the quarter, this course will allow you to develop your knowledge of the writing process, namely:

  1. Adopting a rhetorical awareness of the writing strategies that you and other writers may use in a variety of settings and contexts
  2. Analyzing different readings in strategic ways in order to find the evidence necessary to generate and support timely, complex, and convincing arguments
  3. Revising and editing your writing through each draft.

We will use the textbook to supplement class exercises and discussions, either through further readings that will expand your understanding of the topics we cover each day or with a selection of essays that you will read and analyze to practice and apply the course’s learning outcomes. No matter what we read or what assignments we work on, it’s important that we remain critically engaged with the material, come prepared to class each day, and remain considerate of others’ viewpoints and experiences. Finally, try to be constantly thinking about what these readings and assignments can teach us about being more efficient, productive, and thoughtful writers.

Let’s begin!


Course Outcomes

  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.


Course Texts and Materials

All that’s required in this course is Contexts of Inquiry (black cover with supplemental readings in the back), a UW email account, and a Microsoft Word account.


Course Assignments

For this class, you will complete two assignment sequences designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes, both of which consist of two shorter papers leading up to a major paper. The first sequence will be about analyzing rhetorical situations and genre conventions; the second sequence will involve research and formulating an academic argument. These assignments will target one or more of the learning outcomes. For information about each assignment, please see each assignment prompt that will outline each requirement. These assignments won’t necessarily be graded, but I will provide ample feedback that should help you improve your writing as much as possible. Furthermore, all of your course assignments must be completed in order for them to be included in the final portfolio (please see below). If you have questions about each assignment, please let me know.



As said before, you will complete two major assignment sequences, each of which is designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes. You will have the chance to revise a selection of these assignments, 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 to two of the two major papers, three to four of the shorter assignments, and a critical reflection that explains how the selected portfolio demonstrates each of 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 failing 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 and will be worth a total of 400 points.


Class Participation

The rest of your grade (30%) will be determined by your participation in and out of class, including:

  • Attendance: You must come to class on time each day, ready to participate. If you are unable to attend or will arrive late due to extenuating circumstances, please email me to let me know sooner than later. Failing to attend class or arriving late will cost you points.
  • In-class Discussions and Activities: This will come in the form of responding to the instructor’s questions, participating in group work, providing feedback in peer reviews, and freewriting each day. When interacting with other classmates, please be respectful to others’ ideas and refrain from using your electronic devices (cellphones and laptops) in a way that is distracting to others.
  • Reading Responses: Before every class period (unless told otherwise), you’ll complete a reading assignment and confirm that you’ve read it by completing a short reading response on the Canvas discussion board. They will be due before the next class period starts each morning.
  • Submitting Weekly Assignments: Almost every week this quarter, you will submit either a short assignment or a major paper every Friday at 11:59 p.m. Be sure to meet this deadline in order to receive full credit of 3 points each week.
  • Conferences: You will have two individual conferences with me throughout the duration of the quarter. Attendance to both conferences is mandatory in order to earn full points. You’ll receive 10 points per conference.

As a grand total, you’ll receive 1 point for attending class, 1 point for participating in class, 1 point for completing the reading response online each day, and 3 points for turning in the weekly assignment each week, adding up to a total of 15 points per week, 20 points for two conferences, and 170 points for the entire quarter. (It may not seem like much, but continually turning in assignments late or not participating in class will end up counting against you. Also keep in mind that your participation grade could mean the difference between an A and a B+).


Point Breakdown

Attendance: 40 points

Reading: 40 points

Class Participation: 40 points

Assignment Submission: 30 points

Conferences: 20 points

Final Portfolio: 400 points

Total Points: 570 points


University of Washington Grading Scale

Percentage Earned 

Grade-Point Equivalent

Letter-Grade Equivalent

































et cetera


Late Work

All assignments are due at 11:59 pm each Friday through Canvas (unless instructed otherwise). If you are unable to meet these deadlines, please let me know ahead of time so that we can work something out. Otherwise, you will lose all 3 points, and I will not give feedback on any assignments that are turned in late. That being said, I am always available during office hours to discuss late assignments. You will still need to complete late work because your portfolio must include all assignments in order for it to receive a passing grade. Remember that consistently turning in late work will result in an incomplete portfolio, which will result in a failing grade.


Academic Integrity

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 Program staff in Padelford A-11: Director Candice Rai, (206) 543-2190 or crai@uw.edu or Assistant Directors AJ Burgin, aburgin@uw.edu; Jacki Fiscus, jfiscus@uw.edu; Denise Grollums, dgroll@uw.edu. 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 Resources for Students Office (DRS) 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/students/drs/.


Campus Safety

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.



Note: This schedule is more of a guideline and is subject to change. I will send an email each day to assign the homework and readings for the next class period. Those emails will take precedence over this course outline.




Mon 1/4


First Day of Instruction

Introductions, Course Syllabus,

and Learning Outcomes

Read syllabus, sign up for Microsoft Office, and begin writing preliminary essay.

Tue 1/5


Academic Writing: Line of Inquiry and Writing as a Conversation

Introduction to SA 1

Read Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” on pg. 15–18 and pg. 21–25, 33–34 of the textbook.

Wed 1/6


Introduction to Rhetoric and Understanding the Rhetorical Situation

Read pg. 37–40, 94–96 and Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue”

Thurs 1/7


Introduction to Genres and Writing within a Genre

Preliminary Essay due at 11:59 pm

Read pg. 55–64 and Richard Feynman’s “The Value of Science” and select a publication for SA 1




Mon 1/11

Writing for an Audience

Introduction to Arguments


Read pg. 301–319

Tue 1/12


Formatting an Academic Essay and Line of Inquiry


Read pg. 121–125, 463–468

Bring hardcopies of SA 1 for peer reviews

Wed 1/13


Peer Review Workshop


Thu 1/14


Peer Review Workshop (continued)

Introduction to SA 2

Read pg. 131–163 and Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

Fri 1/15

SA 1 due at 11:59 pm

Pick one of the readings to analyze for SA 2




Mon 1/18

Martin Luther King Day – NO SCHOOL


Tue 1/19

Rhetorical Strategies

Read pg. 198–203 and Steven John’s “Watching TV Makes You Smarter”

Wed 1/20

Analyzing and Creating Arguments


Read pg. 214–220, 222–227, 246–250, 339–346, 349–356

Thu 1/21

Citing Sources and Integrating Quotes

Introduction to MP1

Read pg. 321–337 and Stanley Fish’s "How to Recognize a Poem When You See One"

Fri 1/22

SA 2 due at 11:59 pm

Start gathering genre samples for MP1




Mon 1/25

Genre Analysis and Conventions


Read pg. 252–273 and Beverly Gross’ “Bitch”

Tue 1/26

Analyzing and Using Evidence

Read pg. 97–121, 365–370 and John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing”

Wed 1/27

Visual Rhetoric

Read pg. 411–428

Bring hardcopies of MP1 for peer reviews

Thur 1/28

Tips for Class Presentations

Peer Review Workshop

Read pg. pg. 411 to 446 (read at least one of the sample essays)

Fri 1/29

First Draft of MP1 at 11:59 pm





Mon 2/1

Conferences (No class)


Tue 2/2

Conferences (No class)

Revise drafts of MP1 accordingly

Wed 2/3

Organization of a Research Paper


Prepare presentations for MP1

Thu 2/4

Class Presentations


Fri 2/5

Major Paper 1 due at 11:59 pm

Read pg. 276–288 and Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”




Mon 2/8

Class Presentations (continued)

Introduction to MP 2 and SA 3

Select a topic for MP2

Tue 2/9

Satire, Irony, and Proposals


Read pg. 301–320, 289–297 and Christine Rosen’s “Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism”

Wed 2/10

Identifying an Issue, Initiating a Line of Inquiry Interviewing, and Gathering Data

Read pg. 328–337

Thu 2/11

Creating a Complex, Arguable Claim

Introduction to SA 4


Read pg. 379–391 and Emily Martin’s “The Egg and the Sperm”

Fri 2/12

SA 3 due at 11:59 pm

Begin researching for annotated bibliographies




Mon 2/15

President’s Day – NO SCHOOL


Tue 2/16

Analyzing Evidence and Assumptions

Annotated Bibliographies

Read pg. 339–346

Wed 2/17

Library Research Session


Thu 2/18

Library Research (continued)


Fri 2/19

SA 4 due at 11:59 pm

Read pg. 289–297




Mon 2/22

Gathering and Interpreting Field Research

Read pg. 372–395 and Anadi Ramaurthy’s “Constructions of Illusion”

Tue 2/23

Making Persuasive Arguments

Logical Fallacies

Read pg. 449–453

Wed 2/24

Constructing and Organizing an Academic Argument

Finish writing drafts for MP 2

Thu 2/25

Transitions, Coherence, and Style


Fri 2/26

First draft of MP 2 due at 11:59 pm

Read pg. 891–917




Mon 2/29

Introduction to Portfolios

Select assignments to revise for final portfolios

Tue 3/1

Submitting Portfolios

Finish revising MP2

Wed 3/2

Grammar: Proofreading at a Sentence Level

Read pg. 476–483

Thurs 3/3

Proofreading at a Sentence Level (continued)

Read pg. 483–494

Fri 3/4

Major Paper 2 due at 11:59 pm





Mon 3/7

Conferences (No class)


Tue 3/8

Conferences (No class)

Read pg. 469–475

Wed 3/9

Writing with Style


Thu 3/10

Course Evaluations

Conclusion to Course

Continue revising portfolios


Catalog Description: 
Study and practice of good writing: topics derived from a variety of personal, academic, and public subjects. 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 - 9:27am