ENGL 131 A: Composition: Exposition

Meeting Time: 
MW 8:30am - 10:20am
DEN 258
Christina (Ting Ting) Shiea

Syllabus Description:

ENGL 131: Fall Quarter 2021, Section A

Personal Inquiry: Digging Deep


Class Time: MW 8:30–10:20

Location: Denny Hall 258

Instructor: Christina (Ting Ting) Shiea

Office: Savery Hall 417, Desk 1

Office Hours:  MW 1:00–2:00 p.m. online on Zoom at https://washington.zoom.us/j/3254872650 (Links to an external site.)


Course Description

The day is young. The air is crisp. The trees are green. The spiders are thriving. The sun is (often) nonexistent. Welcome to ENGL 131, Section A, MW 8:30–10:20.

ENGL 131: Composition: Exposition is a course that focuses on, as its description so straightforwardly says, compositional writing. Through examining a variety of texts, we will focus on the rhetorical strategies within to understand how and why such texts are created and in turn, for you to consciously and effectively apply the methods and rationale you observe to your own writing. While it is impossible in this class to explore every potential type of writing situation you may encounter in college, it is possible to learn writing processes, skills, and reading and research strategies that you can apply to various writing-related situations across different disciplines. To do this, we will engage in inquiry, analysis, synthesis, and meaning-making—all writing habits emphasized by our course outcomes, which appear on this syllabus and which we will discuss throughout the quarter. This course will help prepare you with the skills needed so you will emerge with a deeper understanding of what the act behind expositional writing entails.

We will engage with various topics as we learn writing skills that are transferable across multiple contexts, with the 4 main outcomes being:

  • to produce context-appropriate writing based on deducing the necessary elements of a written piece;
  • to conduct meaningful research via the effective utilization of a variety of sources and proper citations;
  • to create complex arguments that are reinforced with analysis and consideration for the audience;
  • to understand writing as an ongoing, interactive practice that necessitates visiting and revisiting composed pieces, providing and receiving constructive feedback, and honing writing to resonate with intended audiences.

In this section of EWP 131, our assigned material will very broadly focus on the theme of personal inquiry. We will be perusing various mediums of expression (many of which utilize writing but may be multimodal as well) and examining how one’s journey is informed by experiences that are grounded in a mixture of cultural, social, scientific, and/or personal significance. Some of the questions we may consider over the course of the quarter include: How does writing reflect identity and the self? What commentary does writing present about authenticity or the lack thereof? How closely is writing tied to an act of self–translation?

We will read the same texts as a class, but your contributions will be unique to your background and viewpoints. Do not worry about whether you have narratives of your own that are compelling enough to write about; rather, the class material will act as a point of departure for us to examine ourselves and to investigate what is conveyed through the written word. Part of your challenge in this course will be to discover ways in which you can become personally invested in the material related to this theme: you will be asked to think about your own assumptions and to articulate in nuanced and thoughtful ways to yourself and to others.

I would like to emphasize that your writing will be read by others, so choose topics that you feel comfortable being edited and shared. There will also be alternate writing prompts provided, should you want to explore topics that do not directly focus on your experience. I hope that, through this class, we can learn together, grow together, and expand our viewpoints together, in ways that will imbue your writing with fresh cognizance and awareness.

Outcomes for Expository Writing Program Courses

University of Washington

Outcome 1

To compose strategically for a variety of audiences and contexts, both within and outside the university, by

  • recognizing how different elements of a rhetorical situation matter for the task at hand and affect the options for composing and distributing texts;
  • coordinating, negotiating, and experimenting with various aspects of composing—such as genre, content, conventions, style, language, organization, appeals, media, timing, and design—for diverse rhetorical effects tailored to the given audience, purpose, and situation; and
  • assessing and articulating the rationale for and effects of composing choices.

Outcome 2

To work strategically with complex information in order to generate and support inquiry by

  • reading, analyzing, and synthesizing a diverse range of texts and understanding the situations in which those texts are participating;
  • using reading and writing strategies to craft research questions that explore and respond to complex ideas and situations;
  • gathering, evaluating, and making purposeful use of primary and secondary materials appropriate for the writing goals, audience, genre, and context;
  • creating a ‘conversation’—identifying and engaging with meaningful patterns across ideas, texts, experiences, and situations; and
  • using citation styles appropriate for the genre and context.

Outcome 3

To craft persuasive, complex, inquiry-driven arguments that matter by

  • considering, incorporating, and responding to different points of view while developing one’s own position;
  • engaging in analysis—the close scrutiny and examination of evidence, claims, and assumptions—to explore and support a line of inquiry;
  • understanding and accounting for the stakes and consequences of various arguments for diverse audiences and within ongoing conversations and contexts; and
  • designing/organizing with respect to the demands of the genre, situation, audience, and purpose.

Outcome 4

To practice composing as a recursive, collaborative process and to develop flexible strategies for revising throughout the composition process by

  • engaging in a variety of (re)visioning techniques, including (re)brainstorming, (re)drafting, (re)reading, (re)writing, (re)thinking, and editing;
  • giving, receiving, interpreting, and incorporating constructive feedback; and
  • refining and nuancing composition choices for delivery to intended audiences in a manner consonant with the genre, situation, and desired rhetorical effects and meanings.

Required Materials

1) Access to the internet and Canvas

You will need to be able to access readings and assignments on Canvas. Please fill out the questionnaire (already posted in the Canvas announcements) regarding your learning needs.

2) Your UW email account

Please check your inbox regularly for class-related announcements and communication.

Recommended Materials

Writer/Thinker/Maker: Approaches to Composition, Rhetoric, and Research for the University of WA

This is the EWP 131 textbook that we will be reading over the quarter. Obtaining it for your own perusal is recommended; however, as we will not be reading all of it, you are not required to purchase the book, and I will share necessary materials on Canvas as needed.

Grade Assessment

Portfolio (70% of Course Grade)

Toward the end of the course, you will be asked to compile and submit a complete portfolio of your work. Your portfolio will consist of the work you complete for 2 writing assignment sequences over the course of the quarter. Each sequence is designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes and consist of several shorter papers leading up to a major project. In this class section, the first assignment sequence will focus on writing personal narratives, with the first major project revolving around the act of self-translation. The second assignment sequence will introduce research-based skills, with the second major project being an integration of a personal narrative with research elements.

Complete portfolios will be graded based on the extent to which the pieces you select demonstrate the course outcomes. Your portfolio must include the following material to be considered complete:

  • Self-selected 1–2 major assignments(5–7 pages each) and 2–3 shorter assignments (2–3 pages each), significantly revised using feedback from my comments, peer review sessions, and writing conferences;
  • critical reflectionthat explains how your selected portfolio pieces demonstrate the 4 outcomes for the course;
  • A “compendium” of all the sequence-related writing you were assigned, excluding writer memos (this includes all major papers and shorter assignments from both sequences).

A portfolio that does not include all of the above components will be considered “incomplete" and will earn a grade of 0.0-0.9 (the letter grade equivalent being D and below).

Unless otherwise specified, all written assignments should be formatted with 12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins, and double-spaced. If an assignment is at minimum 2 pages, this means 2 full pages, not 1 page and the first four lines of the next.

Writer’s Memos

You are expected to turn in a brief memo (about 1 page) after every short assignment and major project are due. More information can be found here.

Keep in mind that your progress throughout the quarter will be denoted by verbal feedback and rubrics, and you will not receive a letter grade until the end of the quarter. This grading policy may sound scary at first, but it honors the idea that writing is an ongoing skill that is continually honed, including beyond this class. Instead of being expected to meet a prescriptive standard, you will be assessed on how you learn and grow throughout the quarter.

Participation (30% of Course Grade)

Your participation grade consists of the following:

  • Attendance: coming to class on time, being communicative and respectful overall
  • In-class engagement: thoughtful peer review feedback, responding to and asking questions, joining in group activities, actively listening to peers, contributing to class discussions, staying on task
  • Written participation: answering Canvas discussion questions and submitting writer’s memos in a timely manner
  • Conferences: coming on time, prepared, and willing to discuss

You are expected to meet with me for two writing conferences this quarter. That is, we must formally meet for the purpose of writing conferences; discussions during office hours do not count.

Missing class also means missing the opportunity to participate. You are allowed two absences without explanation; that said, I am willing to work with you if you communicate to me whether you need more time. Please note that you are expected to be present for peer review workshops and conferences, and that being absent too many times will affect your participation grade. If you are absent, come to my office hours and/or ask your peers to find out what you missed.

Extra Credit

You can earn extra credit from visiting either the Odegaard Writing and Research Center or the CLUE Writing Center; details are provided in the “Resources” section of this syllabus under “Writing Centers”. After attending your appointment, which can be online or in person, turn in a summary (1 page at most) of what you discussed with the writing tutor.

University Policies

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.

Some specific examples of plagiarism are:

  • copying without proper documentation (quotation marks and a citation) written or spoken words, phrases, or sentences from any source;
  • summarizing or paraphrasing without proper documentation (citation) ideas and phrases from another source (unless such information is recognized as common knowledge);
  • borrowing facts, statistics, graphs, pictorial representations, or phrases without acknowledging the source (unless such information is recognized as common knowledge);
  • collaborating on a graded assignment without the instructor’s approval;
  • submitting work, either in whole or in part, created by a professional service and used without attribution (e.g., paper, speech, bibliography, or photograph).
  • recycling work from another class.

As your instructor, I would much rather read something you have written yourself, even if you are concerned about receiving a lower grade for a piece you are not satisfied with. Since this class section has a heavier focus on writing related to your own experiences and thoughts, I hope that encourages you to produce your own work!


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 Stephanie Kerschbaum, kersch@uw.edu or Associate Director of Writing Programs, Michelle Liu, msmliu@uw.edu. 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; bawarshi@uw.edu, (206) 543-2690.

COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines

In order to ensure the health and safety of the university campus community and the public, face coverings are required to be worn at the University of Washington, regardless of vaccination status. Please wear your mask properly (covering your mouth and nostrils) in class.

Prior to arriving on campus and before entering class, you should follow all university requirements related to conducting a personal health screening and self-monitor for COVID related symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of respiratory illness. Those experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms (even if you have the seasonal cold or flu, which are contagious) should not come to campus and notify me via email right away. If you test positive for COVID or have been exposed to someone who tests positive, please notify me as soon as you know.

Class Policies

Office Hours and Communication

My office hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m. on Zoom. I can meet online or in person (in my office at SAV 417 or elsewhere on campus) at other times by appointment; please make appointments with me at least a week in advance. Outside of office hours, email is the quickest way to reach me. As I may take a day or two to reply, please don’t put yourself in the position of needing an immediate response.

Late Work

All course assignments (writing assignments, discussion questions, writer’s memos) are due before class starts at 8:30 am.

Late writing assignments will be accepted, so long as they are completed before portfolios are due. (This does not include time-sensitive work such as writer’s memos and discussion questions.) Unless you have made prior arrangements with me, I will not give written feedback on late assignments, but am available to discuss them during office hours. Note that you still need to complete late assignments, as your portfolio must include all assignments in order for it to receive a passing grade. Also, keep in mind that consistently turning in late work will make in-class activities, time-sensitive activities, and successful completion of the portfolio considerably more difficult endeavors.

Make-Up Work

If you are feeling unwell, please be considerate to your peers and yourself and do not attend class. When you miss class, check with your peers for missed material and email me so we can discuss alternative plans. If you experience any physical or mental health concerns or other issues that impact your learning in class (especially in this prolonged pandemic), I am committed to working with you to provide reasonable accommodations which may include extended deadlines, make-up work, helping you catch up with class materials, and so on. Please contact me via email or during office hours to discuss and help you explore options.


Course material will be uploaded to and writing assignments will be submitted on Canvas. Please bring your tablet/computer to each class, and remember you are expected to stay on task. Using technology during class time for reasons that are not relevant to classwork will negatively impact your participation grade.

If you do not have access to a tablet/computer, please let me know as soon as possible so we can discuss options.

Learning Attitude

It is all right not to know the answer, and it is impossible to always know; the question, then, becomes what to do when faced with something we do not know. This class is meant to promote the spirit of inquiry—that is, moving away from fixed positions of opinion and towards questions that may never be answered in their entirety. This is not to say that we should not endeavor to answer those questions, but to approach them with nuance and consideration.

When contributing in class discussions, do not worry if your idea is not fully-formed or definite in its stance. Any thoughts you have—questions, observations, thoughts or feelings that came to mind as you read or wrote—are acceptable as responses, so long as you are making an honest effort to engage with the material and trying to foster an environment that encourages discussion and thought for yourself and your peers.

You do not need to be personally invested in every text and assignment in the class schedule. Chances are, you won’t be; there are enough texts dispersed throughout the quarter that you will most likely have your preferences. Nevertheless, you are expected to find ways to create meaning for yourself in the class material, to come prepared and, of course, to write!

Peer Interaction and Peer Review

We will inevitably touch upon ideas and subjects where disagreements and variances in thought will occur. Differences can and should be discussed, but these conversations should maintain mutual respect and disrespectful language or behavior will not be tolerated. I would like to emphasize that this class is meant for discussion, not debate; the goal of interacting with your peers is to exchange ideas and experiences and to deepen your own understanding. Should you wish to interact with your peers’ ideas, please do your best to first listen and ensure you understand their points before answering. Similarly, constructive peer feedback is less about offering one’s opinions so much as first taking the time to comprehend your peers’ ideas and then inquiring about and discussing their work.

While all students in this course are expected to challenge themselves to become more effective and accomplished writers, we will not spend extensive time being concerned about grammatical aspects of English that take years to acquire (i.e., articles, verb tense, prepositions), but instead focus on expression of ideas, communicative competence, and rhetorical savvy. Hence, edits and discussions regarding grammar should revolve around how to best express your ideas, rather than around the usage of standard English.

Campus Resources

Everyone’s access needs matter, and we will try collectively to meet them as they arise. Access needs are needs that when met enable participation in the course to the fullest; therefore, they are wide-ranging and can be met in wide-ranging, creative ways. Please let me know if you encounter any difficulties in class, and we will discuss and come up with options that will best help you and your learning experience.


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/ (Links to an external site.).

Religious Accommodations Policy

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 https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/ (Links to an external site.).


The University Libraries are staffed by knowledgeable and helpful professionals and should be one of your first research resources throughout your time at UW. Find their website here: https://www.lib.washington.edu/ (Links to an external site.).

Writing Centers

The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) offers free, one-to-one, 45-minute tutoring sessions for undergraduate, graduate, and professional writers in all fields at the UW. We will work with writers on any writing or research project, as well as personal projects such as applications or personal statements. Our graduate tutors and librarians collaborate with writers at any stage of the writing and research process, from brainstorming and identifying sources to drafting and making final revisions. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please see our website (https://depts.washington.edu/owrc (Links to an external site.)), or come visit us in person on the first floor of Odegaard Undergraduate Library.

The CLUE Writing Center offers free one-on-one tutoring and workshops in Mary Gates Hall. It's first come, first served, so arrive early and be prepared to wait if necessary! CLUE also offers tutoring on a range of other subjects, including math, science, and so on. Read more here: https://academicsupport.uw.edu/clue/subjects/writing-center/Links to an external site..

Both OWRC and CLUE offer tutoring sessions over Zoom and in person.

Campus Safety

 Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 at any time—no matter where you are on campus—to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others, to report non-urgent threats of violence, and for referrals to UW. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested.

Don’t walk alone at night and at late hours; 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 (Links to an external site.). For more information visit the SafeCampus website at www.washington.edu/safecampus (Links to an external site.).

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: https://www.washington.edu/counseling/ (Links to an external site.).


The Foundation for International Understanding through Students, or FIUTS, is an example of a campus organization that can bring together your social and academic learning, and describes itself as "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!" Consult FIUTS' web site for a detailed calendar of events and links to many resources http://www.fiuts.washington.edu (Links to an external site.).

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 http://depts.washington.edu/qcenter/ (Links to an external site.).

Any Hungry Husky

The Any Hungry Husky program helps mitigate the social and academic effects of campus food insecurity. By providing students, staff, and faculty with access to shelf-stable, non-perishable goods and community resources at no cost, this initiative aims to lessen the financial burden of purchasing food and supplement nutritional needs. This resource is for everyone in the UW community. Learn more here: http://www.washington.edu/anyhungryhusky/ (Links to an external site.).

Course Schedule

This course schedule is updated to the end of Writing Sequence 1. It is tentative and subject to change based on classroom needs.

WTM refers to our textbook, Writer/Thinker/Maker; pages will be uploaded to Canvas.

SA: Short Assignment

MP: Major Project


in-class activities


Wed 9/29

First Day of Instruction

Syllabus, introduction to Canvas

Choosing subjects

Student accommodation survey


WTM Ch. 5: 112–119 (Reading Rhetorically);

James Baldwin: “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me What Is?” WTM p. 440–441;

Selected pages from WTM Ch. 5 (Rhetorical Reading)


Sequence 1: Rhetoric Reading and Analysis


Mon 10/4

Rhetorical Reading

WTM: "Composing a Rhetorical Analysis," Ch. 6, 123–124; "Examining Arguments Based on Emotion: Pathos/Character: Ethos/Reason: Logic"," Ch. 6, 128–134

Wed 10/6


Rhetorical Analysis, Part 1

Sample SA 1

What is a Writer’s Memo? WTM Ch. 4: 86

WTM Ch. 3: 51–54 (skim sample on 54–57) and 69–71 (skim sample on 71–77);

Work on SA 1


Sequence 1: Genre and Audience


Mon 10/11

SA 1 Due


Amy Tan: "Mother Tongue";

Understanding and Writing for an Audience (WTM Ch. 2, pp. 31–37);

SA 1 Writer's Memo

Wed 10/13

SA 1 Writer’s Memo due


Sample SA 2

WTM Ch. 6 134–137 (Arrangement, Tone, Style);

Kulwicki: “Growing up Trilingual”


Sequence 1: Conferences


Mon 10/18

SA 2 Due

The Personal Narrative

Rhetorical Grammar: WTM  pp. 371–394

Go over SA 1

Conference Materials: Sign-up sheet, questions

What to do during a conference?

SA 2 Writer’s Memo;

Prepare for conference

Wed 10/20

SA 2 Writer’s Memo Due

No class: Conferences


Work on MP 1;

Marjorie Stewart: “Weaving Personal Experience into Academic Writings”



Sequence 1/2: Transition


Mon 10/25

MP 1 Due

Mid-quarter student survey

Tying personal narrative and academic writing

WTM Ch. 12: 274–283 (The “Big 5” of Complex Claims);

New Zealand videos

Wed 10/27

MP 1 Writer’s Memo Due

Complex Claims

Case Study: The Haka


Mini-assignment: Complex Claims


Sequence 2: Proposals and Claims


Mon 11/1

What is a Research Proposal?

Identifying Issues and Complex Claims

Class Activity: Convert Complex Claim into a Proposal

WTM pp. 362–367 on Peer Review: “Writing as Collaboration”

Wed 11/3

Case Study for Complex Claims: Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek”

Class Activity: Building Sample SA 4

Mid-Quarter Survey



Sequence 2: Peer Review


Mon 11/8

What is Peer Review?

Peer Review Activity

Introduce SA 4

Read Purdue University’s texts on annotated bibliographies

Wed 11/10

MP 1 Talk

Mid-Quarter Survey Talk

Annotated bibliographies

Work on SA 4


Sequence 2: Using Evidence


Mon 11/15

SA 4 Due

Introduce MP 2

Go over sample MP 1 assignments

Juli Berwald’s Spineless

Wed 11/17

SA 4 Writer’s Memo Due

Synthesis and Intertextuality

Helen Macdonald: H is for Hawk


      Sequence 2: Metacognition and Revision


Mon 11/22


Rhetorical Grammar


Wed 11/24

No class: Thanksgiving

Work on MP 2


Sequence 2: Portfolios


Mon 11/29


MP 2 Due

Introduction to Portfolios

Portfolio Samples


Select pieces for portfolio

Wed 12/1


MP 2 Writer’s Memo Due

No class: Conferences

Work on Portfolio


Sequence 2:


Mon 12/6


Portfolio peer review


Wed 12/8


Portfolio planning workshops

Course evaluations

Course wrap-up



Portfolios Due no later than Monday, 12/13 by 11:59 pm

Catalog Description: 
Study and practice of good writing: topics derived from a variety of personal, academic, and public subjects. Prerequisite: may not be taken if a minimum grade of 2.0 received in either ENGL 111, ENGL 121, or ENGL 131.
GE Requirements: 
English Composition (C)
Last updated: 
October 1, 2021 - 6:54am