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ENGL 111 H: Composition: Literature

M 10:30am - 12:20pm / MGH 076
W 10:30am - 12:20pm / MGH 074
A photo of nanya in a black shirt standing in front of a pink, orange, and beige background.
Nanya Jhingran

Syllabus Description:

Location: The Internet; Your Computer

Time: MW 10:30-12:20; asynchronous

Course Website:


Instructor: Nanya Jhingran

Office: Online

Office Hours: MW 10:30 – 12:20 or by appt


English 111: Composition (Literature)

Towards Radical Witness: Creative Documentary in Multiethnic Art

To articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it “the way it really was” (Ranke). It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger.

Walter Benjamin, Illuminations (1968)


Bring only

what you must carry—tome of memory,

its random blank pages. On the dock


where you board the boat for Ship Island,

someone will take your picture:


the photograph—who you were—

will be waiting when you return.

                                                            Natasha Tretheway, “Theories of Time and Space”


I'm the truth, I am a fact

They lie on me, I have to laugh

I write it down, it happens next

So be it, see to it

(Their science is a-lyin' on me and you

That don't make it true)

                                                                        Jamila Woods, “OCTAVIA”


Welcome to English 111! We all find ourselves, in this moment, living through what we all sense is a world-historical event. When we look back at this time, we will likely recall how for most of us our lives were rendered utterly changed within a matter of days. We have all suddenly become witnesses of how the world, and with it also the smallest rituals of our everyday lives, can suddenly be unimaginably different. We experience this change at multiple scales – from the world to our homes, our relationships, our bodies. In times of crisis, experience can become the site of injury, but also empowerment.

In this class, we will explore how artists of color (understood broadly as writers, musicians, visual artists, film-makers, dancers, etc.) have used the mode of documentary to give witness to their experience of the historical. We will explore a broad variety of “texts” (essays, films, poems, music, paintings, etc.) and to ask:

  • How do artists use and stretch the idea of “documentary” to give witness to that which is usually erased by dominant tellings of history?
  • How do they make choices about language, sound, color, scene, form, genre, style, audience, and medium to put forward their message or disrupt dominant understandings of history?
  • How do they conduct archival research to expand their experience of history beyond themselves and their communities so as to be critical, accountable, and ethical in their representations of the past?

We will finally mobilize the toolkit we develop from this study to produce own mini-documentary projects which draw on critical concepts of history, archives, witness, experience, and representation and make a complex claim about a topic of our choice. Over the course of the quarter, we will sharpen our capacities (or explore new ones) to share our and our communities’ experience of the world in ways that are creative, rigorous, ethical, and personally vitalizing. It is my hope that each of us can build the capacity to draw insight from how we experience the world and put that experience in productive and perhaps transformative conversation with history, both dominant and submerged, such that we can be vital and accountable witnesses to the world in which we live.

Most importantly, we will constantly harness our learning to the task of developing accountable and critical reading and writing skills. This is a writing class, and we will be writing a lot. Together, we will learn how to: develop focused questions about texts; locate and analyze important claims made by texts; develop critical and well-formed argument based on critical readings of texts; reach our audiences while responding to our rhetorical situation in an effective, and impactful manner; and finally, revising our writing through feedback from peers and self-reflection. In developing a strong compositional practice, we will work towards four major course outcomes:

Outcome 1: Develop the ability to recognize and compose for different audiences and contexts

Outcome 2: Incorporate multiple types of evidence in order to generate and support our compositions

Outcome 3: Produce complex, persuasive arguments that demonstrate stake and value

Outcome 4: Learn strategies that will allow us to revise and edit our compositions both effectively and efficiently

To this end, we will be working with not only literary texts but also film, visual art, music and other pop culture artefacts. Through these texts, we will explore how composers effectively use witness and documentary, as metaphors and genres, to make persuasive, stakes-driven claims in their works. We will also, and especially, be interested in how they experiment with different genres and modalities to articulate stronger arguments.

The skills that we will develop over the course of this quarter will help us create an intentional and responsible writing practice which will translate across discipline and context. This is a writing course that satisfies the university’s composition requirement (the “C” designation). All “C” courses at the UW are designed to develop your strategic organization and expression or ideas—both in your original work and in response to the works of others. To achieve this, please be prepared to read and/or write in preparation for every class meeting.

Course Texts and Materials

  1. Writer/Thinker/Maker: Approaches to Composition, Rhetoric, and Research for the University of Washington (Blue Book) (wait to buy this until we have our first meeting)
  2. Access to class canvas page for assignment submission and all readings.

Course Assignments

This course will have two types of assignments: a) regular, ungraded Twitter-based discussion posts and b) formal, to-be graded “short” and “major” assignments. On the Canvas page, you will find more instructions on what to expect from Twitter-based discussion posts and how they count towards your final grade. Also on Canvas, all formal assignments will be available on your to-do list with due dates. Of the formal assignments, expect 5 “short” 2-3 page assignments, and 1 “major” 8-10 page assignment (divided into two parts). All formal assignments must be completed to pass this class, any missed assignment not completed by the end of the quarter will render your portfolio incomplete without which you will be unable to pass. Additionally, you can also expect to complete worksheets, peer reviews, and one-on-one conferences with me.

Assessment and Grades 

Portfolio (70% of Final Grade) 

In this course, you will complete five short assignments and one major project, all of which are designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes. The short 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 project at the end of the quarter. You will have a chance to significantly revise any of your assignments using feedback generated by your instructor, peer review sessions, and writing conferences. Toward the end of the course, having completed all assignments, you will be asked to compile and submit a portfolio of your work along with a critical reflection. The portfolio will include the following: your major project, two to three of the shorter assignments, and critical reflections that explain 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 short assignment and major project writing you were assigned in the course (the complete major project and all the shorter assignments from the class). 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.

Participation (30% of Final Grade)

This class will depend on far more than just digital lectures for learning. Seeing as the nature of the theme demands introspection and collective brainstorming, please be prepared to think actively and write thoughtfully while working through module assignments. Your participation grade is dependent on timely completion of all homework (10%), participation in class discussions, ungraded writing activities and group projects (including regular tweets for each reading) (10%), peer review sessions and conferences (10%). This will amount to 30% of your grade.

Attendance Policy

Designated class time will be used this quarter as a chance to meet virtually with your instructor and peers as you deem necessary. Attendance at those times is NOT mandatory, and can be used as an opportunity to troubleshoot any difficulties you’re having, ask questions, discuss readings more in depth. etc. If you intend to attend a class meeting, please fill out the appropriate space on the google form to let me know. As this course will primarily be held asynchronously, your attendance is only measured through timely submission of course module materials and participation through online discussions and twitter posts. All modules are clearly labeled with due dates. Your timely completion of these modules is required and your participation grade will be affected by this. Please communicate with me as much as possible about any obstacles or challenges you might face in doing so. 

Late Policy

Late work will not be given any written feedback. Students submitting late work are welcome to attend office hours to receive oral feedback. Missing a single Short Assignment or Major Assignment leads to a failing portfolio. Be sure to manage your time wisely and anticipate upcoming deadlines, which are all listed on the course schedule. If you do need an extension, email me no later than 24 hours prior to the due date. And always come talk to me if you are struggling to keep up with the pace of the class; I understand our current working conditions are less than ideal for many of us. I’m happy to help in any way I can. 


You are required to attend two conferences with me during the quarter. I’ll be scheduling these mandatory conferences once at the middle and once at the end of the quarter. You are also welcome to call and talk to me during office hours any time, too. If you can’t make my office hours, I’m also happy to schedule an appointment with you outside of my office hours. I highly recommend you take advantage of this opportunity.

Extra Credit

There will be a few opportunities to receive extra credit throughout the quarter. Extra credit is worth one missed homework assignment or missed class session. These assignments are also a great way to get some extra practice and feedback. To earn extra credit, take your work to the Odegaard Writing & Research Center ( In order to receive extra credit for meeting with a writing tutor, you will want to get the tutor’s signature, along with the date and time of your visit. Before visiting the tutor, you must prepare at least 3 questions regarding your work. You must also turn in a reflection that answers the following questions in at least 250 words: 1. What did you ask the tutor to look for in your paper? 2. What feedback did you receive? 3. How will you incorporate this feedback into this (and future) work?

University Policies

Statement of Commitment 

We at the English department are committed to valuing the lived experiences, embodied knowledges, and scholarship produced by people of color and Indigenous peoples; queer, trans, and disabled people; immigrants and refugees, and other targeted identities who have historically been excluded from sites of knowledge production; denied access to wealth, resources and power; and forced to negotiate multiple interlocking forms of structural and institutional oppression and violence. This commitment emerges from and reflects our shared vision for a just and equitable world that actively affirms and values the humanity of every individual and group. It is this vision that informs our pedagogical practices. 

Code of Conduct

We at the English department have a zero-tolerance rule for hate speech. According to the American Bar Association, hate speech is “any speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.” While this could and does apply to many groups, one of the tenants of this course is that hate speech is a violence, and that these violences do not impact everyone equally. Rather, the force of their impacts is dependent on systems of power. Marginalized communities and people are vulnerable to and impacted by such speech in ways that groups or individuals in power are not. With this in mind, I will specify that I interpret “hate speech” to be any forms of speech that targets already vulnerable people/communities. Racism and xenophobia will not be tolerated in this course, nor will transphobia, homophobia, ableism, classism, or other statements or practices that uphold white supremacy.

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 or Associate Director of Writing Programs, Michelle Liu, If, after speaking with the Director of the EWP, you are still not satisfied with the response you receive, you may contact English Department Chair, Anis Bawarshi;, (206) 543-2690.

University of Washington Resources for Students


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


Religious Accommodations Clause

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Faculty Syllabus Guidelines and Resources. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form available at

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

For more information visit the SafeCampus website at

Writing Resources 

I encourage you to take advantage of the following writing resources available to you at no charge!

  • The CLUE Writing Center in Mary Gates Hall (141 suite, CUADSS lobby) is open Sunday to Thursday from 7pm to midnight. The graduate tutors can help you with your claims, organization, and grammar. You do not need to make an appointment, so arrive early and be prepared to wait. 
  • The Odegaard Writing and Research Center is open in Odegaard Library Monday - Thursday 9am to 9pm, Friday 9am to 4:30pm, and Sunday 12pm to 9pm. This writing center provides a research-integrated approach to writing instruction. Find more information and/or make an appointment on the website:

Counseling Center 

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: 

Q Center

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


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


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)
Last updated: 
March 5, 2020 - 10:50pm