ENGL 198 A: Interdisciplinary Writing/Social Science

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 3:50pm
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Headshot of Madison Heslop
Madison Heslop

Syllabus Description:

ENGL 198A: Interdisciplinary Writing in the Social Sciences

Instructor: Madison Heslop

Email: mlheslop@uw.edu

Office hours: Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 pm

Zoom link: https://washington.zoom.us/j/93703970194


How to plan, execute, and write an academic research paper in the social sciences. You will practice reading and research strategies, how to construct effective arguments, how to engage with different genres of historical writing, and to use critical reading and writing skills to evaluate some of the most consequential stories of United States history.


  • Complete all contracted assignments on time (more on contracts below)
  • Participate in group discussions and peer review exercises
  • Expect to spend several hours per week outside of class on preparation and writing
  • Ask questions


Expect an announcement from me every Sunday which will serve as a reminder of our weekly schedule and any upcoming due dates. I will share these announcements on Canvas.

I will post an approximately 10-minute tutorial video every Monday at the start of our scheduled class time (2:30 pm). These videos will come with PDF copies of any slides and may be viewed at any time for your convenience.

In order to assist with skill building and keep everyone on track, I will host workshops via Zoom on Wednesday during class time, 2:30-3:50 pm. These workshops are an opportunity to practice the skills covered in the week’s tutorial in a group setting rather than on your own. You can access the Zoom meetings via Canvas and will need to be signed in to your UW NetID account in order to access the meeting.

I am aware that students may not be able to attend class “live” twice a week for a variety of reasons. With that reality in mind, you are encouraged but not required to attend Zoom class sessions. Any resources I create for the workshops will be available to everyone on Canvas.

It is possible to take this class entirely asynchronously. It is important to realize, however, that asynchronous does not mean that you work at your own pace. Assignments are due each week in order to keep everyone on track to finish your research paper by the deadline.


This is a fully online course and therefore requires a computer with Internet access. The Student Technology Loan Program has a lending program for students who need to borrow computers or other equipment for the duration of the term.

All course materials can be accessed through Canvas. To access the ENGL 298C Canvas page, log into your MyUW account and follow the “Canvas LMS” link on the right-hand side. Canvas will have the following:

  • Course calendar
  • Assignments, including PDF copies of any readings
  • Resources and handouts
  • Important announcements
  • Final grades

Canvas Accessibility Statement and Privacy Statement.


The final outcome of this course will be a research paper and podcast episode that follows a similar prompt as the final paper for HSTAA 105. For this course, the project will be divided into three main parts:

  1. Research prospectus: A two-paragraph description of your proposed research topic and a bibliography of related sources.
  2. Rough draft of the complete paper.
  3. Final draft: The final draft should be at least 8 pages, double-spaced.

Along the way, you will have regular writing exercises, discussion boards, and primary source analyses that work as building blocks to help you successfully complete each of the above tasks.

Discussion Boards

There will be four writing exercises that you will be asked to post to discussion boards. Every exercise asks you to practice a writing skill we will have covered in class and you can incorporate into you final research paper, such as formulating a research question, writing an introduction, or creating well-structured paragraphs. In addition to sharing your work on the board, you will be asked to provide peer feedback. The number of exercises you need to complete will depend on the grade contract you select.

Primary Source Analyses

Reading a primary source is different from reading a textbook or article. Primary sources do not speak for themselves—they have to be interpreted. This assignment will require you to investigate the past by asking questions. The number of analyses you need to complete will depend on the grade contract you select.

The analyses will consist of 500-word papers that question and interpret a primary source relevant to your research topic using the following criteria:

  • Identify the kind of source. Is the source a historical narrative, government document, work of fiction, art work, etc.?
  • Place the source in its historical context. Who wrote it and what do you know about them? Where and when was it written? Why did the author write it? What do you know about the intended audience?
  • Understand the source. What point is the author trying to make? What are the key terms and what do they mean? What evidence does the author give to support this thesis?
  • Evaluate the information provided in the source. How similar is this source to others from the same time period? Do the other sources support the information in this source? How widely was the source circulated? What problems, assumptions, and ideas does the source share with others from the time period? Is the source reliable/credible?


The goal of this course is to improve your writing skills through focused practice. As your instructor, my priority is to give you constructive feedback, not to penalize you for mistakes. For that reason, assessment for this course will be determined by grade contracts.

Each student will determine to what grade they want to aim at the start of the term and will select a contract laying out the expectations necessary to achieve that grade. This system puts you in control of you own workload. A student who wants a 4.0 (A) will sign up for a different level of work than another student who wants to work toward a 3.2 (B+).

As long as you satisfactorily complete your work, you will receive the grade for which you contracted. What matters is the work you put in, not a perfect final product. This means, however, that you need to plan ahead and think about all your obligations and responsibilities this quarter before you determine what grade you want or need in this course.

More information on what contract grading is and how it works for students.


Deadlines are not meant to cause problems for students. Instead, deadlines ensure that we are all thinking about and working on particular concepts in the same time frame and to keep work at a reasonable pace. This is especially important for assignments in which sharing is crucial to everyone’s learning. Deadlines also help me focus and provide you with timely feedback.

But sometimes other parts of life get in the way. If you fall behind, here are some strategies to help you get back on track:

  1. Contact me and let me know what is going on—don’t just disappear. You do not need to share all the details of your situation. Simply keep me informed enough that I can help you manage the expectations of this course.
  2. Read through recent course communications, instructional notes, and discussion posts. This will help you get up to date on critical issues related to the course.
  3. Try to block off a bit of time each day—or every few days—outside of class time to focus exclusively on the course. Being intentional about setting aside time is a smart step to avoid being overwhelmed.
  4. Connect with someone you know or admire in class. Peers can often share strategies for success or chat with you about difficult concepts covered in class.


I take student privacy seriously. For that reason, you are encouraged but not required to turn on your webcam during synchronous class sessions. Feel free to use a (non-distracting) virtual background:

  1. Sign in to Zoom desktop client
  2. Click “Settings”
  3. Click “Virtual Background”
  4. Click on an image to select your desired virtual background or add you own by clicking “+Add Image”
  5. To disable your virtual background, select the option “None”

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) dictates that instructors cannot share student grades with anyone but the student. As my university email messages could be subject to a public records request, I cannot disclose grades over email. If you would like to discuss your progress with me, drop into office hours or email me to set up an appointment.


If you need technological assistance, contact campus Tech Support. You can contact them at help@uw.edu or by calling 206-211-5000. If the issue persists and will affect your ability to access or submit coursework, please notify me as soon as possible.


Great! See me during office hours or make an appointment to meet at another time. The community forum is also a great place to ask questions if you think others will benefit from the answers as well.

If you need accommodation to do your best work, contact Disability Services (dso@uw.edu  or 206-542-6450) and we can coordinate. Accommodation will never result in a lower grade.

The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) is also a resources students can consult for assistance with their work. The staff is providing both research and writing consultations by Zoom appointment this quarter.

Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the Dean of Students for support. Further, please notify the instructor or a professor if you are comfortable doing so.

Catalog Description: 
Expository writing based on material presented in a specified social science lecture course. Assignments include drafts of papers to be submitted in the specified course, and other pieces of analytic prose. Concurrent registration in specified course required.
GE Requirements: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
March 5, 2021 - 11:52pm