ENGL 298 C: Intermediate Interdisciplinary Writing - Social Sciences

Meeting Time: 
MWF 1:30pm - 2:20pm
AND 010
Brendan McElmeel

Syllabus Description:

ENGL 298C: Intermediate Interdisciplinary Writing in the Social Sciences
Instructor: Brendan McElmeel (bmcel@uw.edu)
MWF 1:30-2:20
Office hours for now to be held by appointment on zoom. I will always be available Wednesday before class from 12-1, but we can arrange a meeting time during any weekday over email.


This is the interdisciplinary writing course linked with JSIS 201. Our thematic focus will be grounded in lectures and readings from “The Making of the 21st Century,” but we will work on building the academic writing skills that will help you in that course and beyond. These include critical thinking and reading, deliberate note-taking, editing, and persuasive, evidence-based writing—in short, key communication skills for success in college and in the world. Whether you plan to pursue a career in social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, or the business sector, the ability to write clearly and persuasively will serve you well. Historian Lynn Hunt argues that “writing leads to thinking and not the other way around.” So this course will be an opportunity for you to wrestle with the global-historical concepts and questions presented in JSIS 201, more fully developing your own thoughts on how our world came to be the way that it is.

Required texts

We will primarily use the course material for JSIS 201 in this class. Supplementary readings specific to our writing practice will be posted in the Pages tab in advance; no other book purchases are required. However, I recommend acquiring Kate Turabian, The Student's Guide to Writing College Papers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), which is a famously helpful resource. It is available on any online vendor, so I would not suggest downloading it for free from a questionably legal site like z-lib.org

Assignment Sequence and Major due dates*

This course is structured around two major assignments that are designed to improve your research paper for JSIS 201 and a minor reflective essay. We will model the practice of writing and revising over time, incorporating feedback, and giving feedback to peers. We will complete smaller homework or in-class assignments to develop the habits of research-based writing, improve the organization of your papers, and your skills in writing essays for exams. Because this process is labor-intensive, several class sessions are set aside for workshopping—that is, actively making progress on the assignments together as a group. At key points in the quarter, class will be cancelled so you can have individual conferences with me about your work, either in-person or by zoom.

**Note: Weekly assignments and readings are available in Pages**

Major assignment 1: Short Primary Source Analysis (2-3 pages)

  • 1.0 Library Visit by Jan 14th, post selfie in the stacks and three sources you found
  • Draft 1.1 (rough) due Jan 21st (min 2 pages)
  • Draft 1.2 (final) due Jan 28th

Major assignment 2: Revised JSIS 201 Analytical Research Paper Draft

  • 2.1 Outlines presented in class Jan 31
  • 2.2 Revised outline due Feb 2
  • (Rough draft of paper 1 due to JSIS 201 Feb 10th; also send copy to peer review groups and me)
  • 2.3 Revised Rough Draft due to me Feb 18th
  • 2.4 Present research to class (depending on grade contract)

Minor final assignment: Reflective writing

  • Write 250-350 words reflecting on your experience in the course

*Sequence and due dates are subject to change according to the needs of the class or instructor; in such an unusual case, every effort at advance notice will be given.

Email policy
I try to respond to all emails within 24-48 hours. If you do not receive a response in that time, do not be shy about sending a follow-up email. Messages do sometimes get buried. Emails to bmcel@uw.edu seem to have a more reliable notification record than Canvas messages.


One of the primary assumptions of this course is that writing is both an individual and a collective process. You are encouraged to experiment with methods that work best for you, but you are expected to approach the methods presented in this class with an open mind and give them a try. This includes discussing your research and writing with your peers, engaging fully in peer review activities, and taking feedback of peers and instructor(s) seriously. Regardless of the chosen topic, discussing and critiquing writing can feel very personal; you are all expected to be respectful of each other’s’ views and work, offer balanced and constructive criticism. Given the current state of the world, our course will be split between remote and in-person segments, so building our online/offline community will require a bit more effort, understanding, and open-mindedness from each of us.

Learning Goals

By the end of this course, students will have:
1) Developed strategies for approaching longer, research-based writing assignments

2) Explored both the conventions of academic writing and UW’s research/writing resources

3) Written an evidence-based argument in a short primary source analysis

4) Practiced editing and revising their work and that of their peers

Full syllabus doc


Catalog Description: 
Expository writing based on materials presented in a specified social science course. Assignments include drafts of papers to be submitted in the specified course, and other pieces of analytical prose. Concurrent registration in the specified course required. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
December 6, 2021 - 5:22pm