ENGL 121 F: Composition: Social Issues

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
THO 231
Nancy Bartley
Nancy Bartley

Syllabus Description:



Pre-doctoral Instructor: Nancy Bartley

Office hours: Thursday  12 p.m. Padelford, # B402, Email: bartln@uw.edu

Winter Quarter 2019: TTh schedule, 1:30 to 15:20, Thomson

Required text: Writer, Thinker, Maker

 English 121 is a course that requires volunteer time at an approved social-service agency which will be the basis for your inquiry into social issues.  You will sign up for placement the first week of class and should plan on volunteering a minimum of 20 hours during the quarter.

How does service-learning function in the course?

Community-based service-learning will allow you to write about, with, and for local service providers which may include Roots, Tree House and others. Experiences at one of these will be the focus of writing and conversation in the class. Service learning offers you the concrete opportunities to enrich your critical thinking skills, repeatedly examining your own assumptions, and analyzing your own choices in specific situations. It also provides you with the chance to produce, circulate, and respond to texts that emerge from both practice and theory and to consider the actual implications of your studies in the public sphere. This course will thus stress how public work can be integrated with academic discovery and how academic contexts can support and enrich volunteering at your agency. My hope, then, is that social issues literacy will lead to a greater understanding of the systemic causes of poverty and the impact on childhood.


Class goals

            In this writing class our goal is to learn to think and write critically, challenging our perceptions of the world by acknowledging  the biases we hold dear and, instead supporting our work on research.  In other words, this is a metacognitive and intertextual approach to writing, which means we will learn to think about the way we think and we will do that by venturing out of the field of language to consider social issues rhetoric as it applies to poverty.

            In the first part of the quarter, we will discuss the history of childhood. Treating children as humans in a vulnerable state of development is a 20th Century phenomenon coming out of the Progressive Era. We will look at the impact of that and how policies are shaped, especially as they pertain to criminal justice and families, homelessness and race. We will read press accounts of homelessness and do rhetorical analyses. Are stereotypes there? What assumptions do the authors make?

            We will examine the role of race and poverty, including viewing the video, “Slavery by Another Name.” We will look at voting literacy tests in southern states.  What do these practices imply about our relationships with those who are different?


            You will write four short papers and two longer papers, five to seven pages each. You will peer review each other’s papers. At the end of the quarter you will turn in portfolios of all your work. You will receive feedback but no grade until the portfolio is turned in. For the calendar of upcoming assignments and other information, see the complete syllabus in files under Engl121bartley.

Catalog Description: 
Focuses on the study and practice of good writing: topics derived from a variety of personal, academic, and public subjects. Includes a service-learning component allowing students to engage with and write about social issues in applied ways.. 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: 
Service Learning
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 10:30pm