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ENGL 121 F: Composition: Social Issues

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
LOW 217

Syllabus Description:


In this course, students will examine social issues of Seattle and how those social issues came to be. We will study the history of Seattle through writing, reading, and research to unpack how economics, politics, culture, and the landscape shaped the inequities, attitudes, and environment of Seattle today. As history is closely tied to rhetoric, we will examine both how language shapes the understanding of the past and how composition as social action can shape the future. Students will experience writing not as a static, isolated, individual act, but rather as a dynamic, social, communal process grounded in the specificities and complexities of the writing situation.

This course introduces students to strategies, tools, and processes necessary to writing effectively. Focusing on four foundational and interrelated outcomes, we will study key concepts that can be applied to all writing situations.

  • Outcome 1: How do we recognize different audiences and contexts, then compose for a specific writing situation?
  • Outcome 2: How do we engage with complex information in order to incorporate it into our writing?
  • Outcome 3: What is an inquiry-driven argument? How do we craft arguments that matter?
  • Outcome 4: How do we revision writing—our own and others'? What makes a piece of writing "finished"?

Our overall objective is to write into questions. Why write it if you already know exactly what you want to say? The questions, problems, and concerns raised at the university level are complex—so much so that they often do not have a single, straightforward answer. In fact, the best questions inspire many thinkers and writers to respond in order to reveal the complexity and nuance of an issue. The writing process (encompassing reading, research, conversation, and publication) is exploratory. Experimentation, in the service of getting to know ourselves as writers, is required. By beginning with questions, exploring, and experimenting, the writing process becomes meaningful, leading to broadened perspectives and discoveries.

Along with these skills, we will be focusing on the rhetoric strategy of feedback (or feed-forward!) Writing, which is a method of communication, is inherently social. In addition, giving, receiving, and incorporating feedback are important skills for college and beyond. We will ground our feedback in how to be of best use to the author and the purpose of the piece, and we will study different approaches for feedback, all within a structured environment with risk-taking. Practicing productive and kind feedback for our selves and others allows us to see our own writing more clearly, ultimately becoming flexible, nimble, and confident writers.

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)
Last updated: 
March 11, 2020 - 10:50pm