ENGL 131 D: Composition: Exposition

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
FSH 108

Syllabus Description:

Syllabus_ENGL 131D.docx

Instructor: Cameron Quan Louie                    

Email: cqlouie@uw.edu

Class Location: FSH 108 (Fishery Sciences Building: uw.edu/maps/?fsh)

Class Times: Tues/Thurs 10:30AM - 12:20PM

Office Location: Padelford, Room B25C

Office Hours: Tuesday (1:00PM – 2:00PM) & Thursday (1:00PM – 2:00PM)


ENGL 131D – Winter Quarter 2015


"The way to write is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, (First We Read, Then We Write, Robert D. Richardson, 2009)



English 131 will introduce the craft and practice of academic writing. The goal of this course is to present strategies that will help students approach writing – not as a tiresome, cryptic struggle, but as an architecture, a set of habits, and a way of thinking. While strong writing skills will support your college career, they’re also necessary for life in general: whether you become CEO of a start-up, an environmental policy maker, or a Hollywood actor, you’ll be called upon to express your ideas coherently and reliably. With the intention of aiding you in your personal and academic pursuits, this course aims to help you develop some specific skills:


  • awareness of tone, audience and conventions in many different kinds of texts
  • the ability to describe complex arguments and perspectives
  • practice making nuanced claims that are based on rigorous research
  • the ability to make meaningful connections between texts
  • practice with writing habits, such as revision and proofreading


This section of English 131 will approach rhetorical and critical analysis through the lenses of pop culture and modern literature. The creation of culture requires us to think about context, and compels us to engage and interpret complex texts. Our class theme should give students from all different backgrounds a chance to enter the conversation, and to engage challenging ideas in their critical work while improving their academic writing skills.


One important caveat: our theme will not be exhaustively interrogated, nor will it be the main focus of the class; the idea is not to survey the entire history and meaning of “culture,” but to use culture as a vehicle that will enrich our discussion of writing. Hopefully, this subject will provide a gentle nudge towards complex, stake-driven claims of your own.


By the end of this class, students will experience greater ease in recognizing the elements of good writing and in employing those elements in their own work. Ultimately, my hope is twofold: to help students meet the required course outcomes, and to provide students of diverse academic backgrounds with skills that they can translate into any discipline.



Required Materials:

  1. Contexts of Inquiry with readings (book w/black cover)
  2. A bit of money for printing your papers and making copies (maybe $10-15 or so)
  3. Internet access, UW Net ID and password, UW email account that you check every day
  4. Some kind of organizing folder to put all your materials for the class
  5. Some kind of notebook/device to take notes in for in-class discussion




  • Please come to class prepared to participate in the activities for the day. You can keep up with the course schedule by referring to the course calendar (attached). The course calendar is subject to change. I will email the class email-list after class most days with an overview of what we discussed in class and what is for homework.
  • To each class, please bring: your textbook, a notebook (or something to take notes in), and your homework (when it is assigned). I will assume that everyone has done the assigned reading before class begins. Those students that do not keep up with the reading will likely see that reflected in their participation grade.
  • Handouts: I will be printing and distributing various handouts throughout the course. In the unlikely event that you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get a copy of the handout(s) from one of your peers or from the course website.


  • The more you engage in this academic community, the more you will learn. As with class attendance, it is important for you to participate in class discussions as thoroughly as possible; we want our time to be productive. Even if you have a hard time participating in discussion, for whatever reason, I ask that you give it your best shot. Participation in classroom discussion will be part of your participation grade, and we will discuss your participation grade in conferences so there are no surprises.
  • Respect: Because the exchange of ideas is so important to this class, it is necessary for everyone to be respectful of one another. Differences can be discussed, but not fought over. Derogatory or discourteous language is never necessary in any situation, except maybe in Wilmer Valderrama’s great, but sadly discontinued Yo Momma.


  • You will be expected to set your cell phone to silent or airplane mode before class begins (NOT vibrate).
  • Don’t text during class. It is extremely disrespectful. You will lose participation points if you do so.
  • A similar policy applies to laptops. If you use your laptop to take notes during class, actually use it to take notes during class. Don’t e-mail during class, don’t check Facebook, and don’t do work for your other classes during this one.


  • I do my best to post notes and assignments as far in advance as possible, but due to the idiosyncratic nature of each class, this doesn’t always work out. We will inevitably deviate from our calendar in order to accommodate relevant, spontaneous questions and issues (and rightly so), and so assignments and reading materials may change. If and when I make any changes to the course structure (calendar, assignments, etc.), I will always send out a class email explaining the changes and I will direct you to the course web page. Therefore, it’s crucial that you check your UW email account often, and that you use the course website—it will reflect any updated changes that have been made to the class.
  • When you e-mail me, which I invite you to do when you have any questions/concerns/etc., I will get back to you within 24 hours (48 on the weekends). Please be aware that I check my e-mail only once a day, before 5pm. So if you e-mail me after 5pm, I won’t respond until the next day. Please don’t wait until the last minute to contact me.


  • Please do not bring a full meal or any smelly food to class. It is distracting to others, especially those of us who are hungry and like smelly foods. If you find that you get hungry during our class, bring a small snack.



In the highly unlikely event that I would ever have to cancel a class, I would let you know by 8:00 am the day of class. However, if I am ill or have an emergency, it is most likely that you would simply have a substitute that day. If for some reason (also highly unlikely) that I am not present when class begins, please wait for twenty minutes (9.50 am) before leaving.




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 four total assignments, one of which must be a MP (you may therefore turn in 1) 2 MPs, 2 SAs, or 2) 1 MP, 3 SAs) 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.



Throughout the quarter, your papers will receive feedback to help you identify what you are doing well and what you need to improve. Some of this feedback will take the form of endnotes in your Short Assignments and Major Papers, while some of it will take place through rubrics. The following evaluation rubric will be used as part of my feedback:


  • Outstanding: 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: Offers a proficient demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), which could be further enhanced with revision.
  • Good: 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: 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: Does not meet the outcome(s) requirement; the trait(s) are not adequately demonstrated and require substantial revision on multiple levels.



Your participation in this course will be a necessary element to the success of the class. You may go to any of the writing centers as “extra credit” to help your participation grade. I will count up to two visits, and you must write a one-page reflection of how the experience helped you (submit on canvas). We will be discussing your participation grade throughout the quarter, so that your participation grade is no surprise to you at the end of the quarter.

10% Conferences: You must meet with me twice per quarter (see syllabus for when they are scheduled). 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 a sign-up sheet for these conferences with detailed instructions about how to prepare for them. I ask that you come to these conferences prepared to discuss your work and do the pre-work that I assign.

10% In-Class Discussion: Your willingness to contribute to class discussions by making comments, asking questions, and your engagement in group-work and peer workshops.

10% Preparation for Class and Meeting Deadlines: Your overall preparedness in completing all reading and writing assignments on time, and the timeliness of your papers. Remember that class discussions and peer-review sessions cannot be made up if you miss class. Please pay attention in class (texting during class leads to low participation points). And please be on time—everyone is late once in a while, but you will lose participation points if you regularly arrive after class begins.



All assignments are due (using Canvas) on the time and date specified, and I will not accept any assignments submitted in any other way unless given approval ahead of time. Unless you have spoken with me ahead of time, late work is due by the next class meeting and you will lose participation points. I will also not give feedback on any assignments that are turned in late or incomplete (at least two full pages for short assignments and at least five full pages for major papers). Further, you will not be able to use late or incomplete assignments as one of the Big Four (the assignments you chose for me to grade) in your portfolio. However, you will still need to complete late work, as your portfolio must include all assignments in order for it to receive a passing grade. As with attendance, turning in late work will affect your participation grade. If you are having trouble and may be unable to turn things in on time, speak with me before the assignment is due.


Please Note: Portfolios are due on Canvas by 5:00 PM on Monday, March 14th. This due date is NOT negotiable. A late or incomplete portfolio will result in an incomplete portfolio mark, which will result in an incomplete in the class.





We will be using Canvas to submit all our papers unless I specify otherwise for a particular assignment.


All assignments (unless otherwise noted) should be typed according to MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines. This includes (but is not limited to):


  • 12 pt. Times New Roman font
  • Standard Margins
  • Double-spaced
  • Page Numbers w/ Last Name
  • MLA style citation/Works Cited


If you feel unsure about what any of this means, or if you have a concern about this matter, please, see Writer’s Help, and/or come talk to me. For assistance with MLA formatting and such, I also recommend the Purdue OWL website (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/).



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/.



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://depts.washington.edu/counsels/



The University of Washington Q Center builds and facilitates queer (gay, lesbian, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, intersex, questioning, same-gender-loving, allies) academic and social community through education, advocacy, and support services to achieve a socially-just campus in which all people are valued. For more information, visit http://depts.washington.edu/qcenter/.



Foundation for International Understanding through Students: FIUTS is an example of a campus organization that can bring together your social and academic learning. "FIUTS is an independent non-profit organization which provides cross-cultural leadership and social programming for UW's international and globally minded domestic students. FIUTS is local connections and global community!" FIUTS also offers a free international lunch on the last Wednesday of every month beginning with a lunch on September 28 from 11:30-1:30 in the Kane Hall Walker-Ames room. Consult FIUTS' web site for a detailed calendar of events and links to many resources http://www.fiuts.washington.edu.



There are two particularly fantastic writing resources for you here on campus at UW. Both are free of charge, and I would very strongly encourage you to take advantage of these resources. The Odegaard Writing and Research Center allows you to schedule 45-minute tutoring sessions in which to talk about your writing or specific writing assignments for any class. You may book these on-line at: http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/ (and I would suggest booking early, as they tend to fill up quickly!) The CLUE Writing Center is located in Mary Gates Hall, and offers late-night drop-in tutoring. You can get all the details here: http://depts.washington.edu/clue/dropintutor_writing.php.



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.



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.



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.

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 - 9:07am