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ENGL 490 A: Looking Forward: Professionalization and Public Life

Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
* *
Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges
Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges

Syllabus Description:


This course offers methods for students to identify, highlight, and present transferrable skills and proficiencies gleaned while completing the English major. By connecting specific skills of literary/theoretical and critical reading, writing, dialogue, and analysis to the larger demands of contemporary workplaces and civic life, this class offers students the opportunity to consider their post-college goals in relation to broader questions about the position of the humanities in 21st century society. It provides a venue in which students can reflect on their experience at UW while also developing an e-portfolio to help present their skills to publics beyond the university, including potential employers. It will focus on the relevance of the English major to a global and rapidly changing world, both in terms of professional development and civic engagement, helping students articulate how their studies have prepared them to be successful and productive citizens. This course will help students assess the content and learning outcomes of previous English courses, and their own work throughout their major as a way of developing metacognitive competency regarding English studies and a discipline and the public value of the humanities in a democratic society.


The course is open to English majors with junior or senior standing. Students are strongly encourage students to enroll in an internship (ENGL 491) concurrently to ENGL 490. The UW Career & Internship Center ( can help you identify and apply for internships relevant to their interests. You may also apply for an internship limited to English 490 students by contacting C.R. Grimmer (

Learning Goals

  • Articulate skills acquired across various English courses
  • Relate the study of English to professional and personal goals
  • Discuss the public relevance of the humanities
  • Produce an e-portfolio showcasing skills, knowledge, and relevant experiences
  • Gather, edit, and showcase a dossier of projects in multiple genres
  • Produce a metacognitive essay reflecting on the English major

Course Organization

English 490 is primarily asynchronous, with live meetings taking place from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Pacific on 1/14, 3/4, 3/9, and 3/11. Students engage in weekly assignments, discuss their work and course readings with peers, and brainstorm approaches to upcoming projects. The course is organized into modules that run from one to three weeks. Module overview pages introduce content, list learning goals, and link to readings, discussion prompts, and assignments. Students can pose questions about readings, assignments, and other module content in our Community Forum.

Module List

  • Module 1: Introductions and E-Portfolio Basics
  • Module 2: The Humanities and Public Life
  • Module 3: Looking Back Metacognitively
  • Module 4: Fieldwork and Materials Creation
  • Module 5: Preparing for EPortfolio Construction
  • Module 6: Creating the EPortfolio and Working Toward the Metacognative Essay

Course Requirements

Note that you will submit all assignments via Canvas, even if you use third-party tools like Google Sites, Wordpress, or LinkedIn to complete them.

  • Class participation, which includes contribution to online and in-person discussion, sharing short assignments, responding to peers’ short assignments and commenting on others’ draft e-portfolios.
  • Short assignments, which include a self-introduction, self-assessments, reading responses, fieldwork reports, job or graduate-school application materials, network maps, and other discussion postings.
  • Fieldwork, which includes alumni interviews, researching a professional field, informational interviews, professional society meeting attendance, mock interviews, resume consultation, and online workshop attendance.
  • E-portfolio and portfolio-building assignments, which include paper prototyping, wireframes, and page, site, and navigation scheme drafts.
  • Metacognitive project, in which you may either compose an analysis of your learning over the course of the English major or propose a redesign of the English major in light of the academic, professional, and civic connections drawn in this course.

Connecting with Others

In addition to interacting with others in asynchronous discussions and live class sessions, you have other opportunities to connect with peers and the instructor:


  • Community Forum: The Community Forum is an asynchronous space where you can ask general questions about the course, readings, or assignment prompts. Posting questions in the Community Forum helps others with the same question. It also allows students to share answers the instructor might not have.
  • Conversation Café: The Café is an informal Zoom space open every Tuesday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Pacific). Attendance is completely optional. Come to chat, catch up, and share your experiences with other people in the course.
  • Drop-in Hours: You need not have a specific question about the class, course texts, an assignment, or work-in-progress to attend drop-in hours. The instructor will be on Zoom every Tuesday from 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Pacific) to talk about your interests, experience in the major, future plans, or even the class.



English 490 uses a contract grading system. The grading contract document lists obligations required to earn grades in the A, B, C and below-C ranges. During week 2, you will indicate the grade you plan to earn. Grade contracts address the degree to which you:


  • Consistently and productively participate in class activities.
  • Produce work that meets content and length requirements.
  • Submit assignments on time.
  • Provide thoughtful commentary to peers.
  • Use feedback to substantively revise draft work.


The contract grading system allows you to focus on your learning—you can experiment with content and format and decide what feedback to incorporate or reject without fearing for your grade. The contract system also makes grading more transparent and gives students agency in a process that seems subjective. While I will provide feedback on individual assignments, I won’t assign a numerical grade.


Technology Requirements

Because all course learning takes place online, the following technology is essential to accessing materials and submitting assignments:


  • Reliable Internet access
  • Web browser and computer specifications adequate for using the Canvas Learning Management system and Zoom
  • Webcam and microphone or phone camera and microphone or computer/phone audio
  • Word processing software. Note that although you may use any software, you must submit written assignments in PDF or Microsoft Word format (.doc or .docx). If you use any other program, use the Help function for instructions on converting your files to PDF or Word format. Students may get Microsoft Office 365 and Windows 10 for free via UWare (
  • Headphones or speakers (internal or external) to hear video content.
  • PDF viewer (Adobe PDF Reader or Apple Preview)
  • Basic image editing tool that allows image cropping (Paint, Preview,, Photoshop Express)
  • UW Net ID and Email. The class email list uses your UW email. If you want UW email to go to another account, you must configure forwarding preferences with UW Net ID account management tools.


Lateness Policy

Assignments and responses are due on the dates/times indicated on the course Canvas site. The grading contract specifies the number of assignments you may submit late and how much time you have to make up missed work. I will make exceptions to the lateness policy only when students become ill, experience family emergencies, or make prior arrangements with me.


Technology glitches do not constitute valid excuses for lateness. To avoid computer problems, you should save frequently while working, and you should back up work saved on a hard drive to Dropbox, iCloud, UW Google Drive, or your personal file space on Canvas. When submitting files or URLs to Canvas, you are responsible for copying/pasting the correct URL or selecting the correct file. If Canvas breaks down, contact UW-IT technical support ( and email your work directly to me ( 




Academic Integrity

English 490 adheres to the University of Washington’s Student Conduct Code, which prohibits academic misconduct like distributing instructional materials outside class without permission and plagiarism, or the unacknowledged use of others' words or ideas. All readings, visual aids, assignment prompts, discussion threads, and handouts are for enrolled students only. When drawing upon sources in short assignments, discussion postings, and projects, make clear to your audience that you are incorporating others’ work by placing quotation marks around exact words and noting the author’s name whenever you quote, summarize or paraphrase. Failure to credit sources, submitting work produced for another class without permission, or submitting work authored by another may result in a failing grade for the assignment, a failing grade for the course, or other disciplinary action. Disseminating course materials without permission may result in sanctions, including dismissal. If I see evidence of academic misconduct, I will make a report to the Community Standards & Student Conduct Team.


Disability Accommodations

Disability accommodations grant students with ongoing or temporary disabilities access to educational opportunities. Disability Resource for Students (DRS) works to ensure access for students with disabilities by designing and implementing accommodations. If you experience educational barriers based on disability, please visit Disability Resources for Students (DRS) online for more information about requesting accommodations. Although the building that houses DRS is closed, staff are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. to speak with students by phone, TTY, video chat, or email (

Religious Accommodations

In accordance with state law, UW provides reasonable accommodations for 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 Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (

Catalog Description: 
Offers methods for students to identify transferrable skills gleaned while completing the English major. Connections between specific skills of literary/theoretical and critical reading and writing, and the demands of contemporary workplaces and civic life offer students the opportunity to consider their post-college goals. Students will develop an e-portfolio to help present their skills to potential employers. Offered: AWSp.
Last updated: 
October 22, 2020 - 11:00pm