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ENGL 302 A: Critical Practice

Meeting Time: 
MW 8:30am - 10:20am
MEB 246
Dr. Anu in a red dress in conversation
Anu Taranath

Syllabus Description:

English 302A: “The Politics of Writing Ourselves and Others”

Instructor: Dr. Anu Taranath. Please call me Dr. Anu. You can find out more about me and my work at my personal website  or my English department profile

Class Time:  Mondays and Wednesdays, 8:30am-10:20am 

Office Hours:  Wednesdays 2:30-3:30pm. My office hours will be virtual, so please send me an email at to let me know you're coming to office hours. Use this zoom link for office hours:

Email:  Please note: I'm pretty old school. I don’t check email on my phone and need to be in front of my laptop to access email. I have a lot going on outside of this class, and sometimes take a day or so to respond to non-urgent messages. Rest assured though, I do respond to all student notes, and I’ll definitely write you back. :)


Course Description:  Join us as we delve into the politics, practices and peculiarities of writing about oneself and others. We'll discuss the ways that genres influence how we write about whom, and what we feel we can say or can't say and why. We'll also read examples of how different authors thread together their various identities and experiences on the page. This is a praxis class which means we will examine how specific authors navigate these issues, and also practice doing so ourselves in our own writing. Students are invited to get to know their classmates and create an intentional learning community where we can share and converse together as colleagues. 


Required Texts:

A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity and Narrative Craft in Writing—David Mura

Craft and Conscience: How to Write About Social Issues-- Kavita Das, ed.

Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World-- Anu Taranath

a few assorted readings on Canvas


Course expectations:

  • All readings & assignments completed on assigned days; attendance and participation in classes, good faith effort with assignments, course work to be turned in on time; engagement and respectfulness toward classmates, colleagues and course ideas. Late assignments are not accepted unless you've communicated with me in advance or something dramatic is happening in your life. In that case, please do reach out!
  • If you are absent from class, check with classmates to find out what you have missed. Once you do this you can then contact me for additional information.
  • I will be posting reading prompts, short questions, and other course information via Canvas announcements, so configure your email and notifications appropriately.


Assignments and Grade Distribution:

Assignment One: "Me and My Writing"-- 10%

Assignment Two: "Three Moments and a Deep Dive"-- 10%

Assignment Three: "Connected to Class"-- 10%

Assignment Four: The Final Portfolio: 30%

In-class participation and writing engagement: 40%


I use the following grading system and scale:


Schedule of Readings & Assignments, subject to revision


week 1—

Mon Oct 2nd:

  1. Read the first chapter from Ruth Behar's book The Vulnerable Observer. Pages 1-33. Take notes, be ready to discuss the chapter. 
  2. Peruse my website. Pay attention to the use of voice, representation, story, visual images and writing style. What are you noticing? How might the writing offer a feeling or emotion for some readers? What does the website suggest about "writing oneself" and "writing others"? Write two paragraphs minimum answering these questions, and bring this to class for us to discuss. 

Wednesday Oct 5th:

  1. Read for class: A Stranger’s Journey (pages 1-20)

Sunday Oct 8th by noon:

Assignment One: "Me and My Writing," due Sunday Oct 8th by noon

Use the prompts from David Mura's A Stranger's Journey pages 239-240, "Assignment One: Some Questions About Process." You will be answering each of the 20 prompts. You don't have to rewrite the prompts in your paper. Just use the prompt number to number your answers and dive right in. This assignment will be evaluated for its thoughtfulness, curiosity, and self-reflection. Recommended length 800-900 words.  Submit and upload your assignment on Canvas. This assignment is worth 10% of your class grade. 


week 2—

Monday Oct 9th:

Read for class:

  1. Beyond Guilt Trips (Prologue, Chapters 1 and 2)
  2. Bring a hard copy of your Assignment One to class. Double-spaced preferable. 

Wednesday Oct 11th:

Read for class:

  1. Beyond Guilt Trips (Chapters 3 and 4)
  2. Craft and Conscience (Foreword and Introduction, xi-xix)


week 3—

Monday Oct 16th:

Read for class:

  1. Beyond Guilt Trips (Chapters 5, 6, and 7)

Wednesday Oct 18th: 

Read for class:

  1. Beyond Guilt Trips (Chapters 8, 9 and Epilogue)


week 4—

Monday Oct 23th:

Read for class:

  1. A Stranger's Journey (pages 22-42)
  2. Craft and Conscience (Chapter 1)

Wednesday Oct 25th:

Read for class:

  1. Craft and Conscience (Chapter 2 and 3)

Saturday Oct 28th midnight:

Assignment Two "Three Moments and a Deep Dive" due:  List three moments in which you felt like you were not yourself. Choose one of these moments, and take a deep dive. Write about what happened in as much detail, voice, perspective and craft you can. Stretch your writing, and practice what we have been reading about in all our texts. Recommended length 900-1000 words.

Include an Artists Statement in which you offer insight and reflection into your creative process. Recommended length 225-250 words. 


week 5—

Monday Oct 30th:

Read for class:

  1. Craft and Conscience (Chapter 2 and 3)

Wed Nov 1st:

Read for class:

  1. A Stranger's Journey (pages 52-75)
  2. A Stranger's Journey (pages 76-86; 100-105)


week 6—

Mon Nov 6th:

Read for class:

  1. Journey: pages 117- 131. 
  2. Journey: pages 151-159, 164-171.

Wed Nov 8th: 

  1. Craft and Conscience (Chapter 6 and 7)


week 7—

Monday Nov 13th: Special Guest: Amy Hirayama! 

Amy Hirayama is a writer-in-residence with Seattle Arts and Lectures' Writers in the Schools program teaching creative writing to public school students. She is also the Workshop Administrator for the Clarion West six-week residential program, and the co-founder of Beam Pedagogy, which provides support and community to public school teachers through workshops and retreats. Amy will be providing a special 2-part writing workshop for our class!

Read for class:

  1. Craft and Conscience (Chapter 4 and 5)

Wed Nov 15th: Special Guest: Amy Hirayama!


week 8—

Monday Nov 20th:

Read for class:

  1. Ijeoma Oluo, "Sometimes Writing is Just a Job" essay 
  2. Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own" essay

Wed Nov 22nd: 

No in-person class today. Today is a asynchronous class. Spend time working on your writing. Set an intention for what you'd like to practice, start a timer for 15 minutes, and begin. Take a short break, set another intention, start the timer and do it again. And again. Commit to three rounds of this activity. Fill out the brief check in on Canvas. 


week 9—

Monday Nov 27th:

  1. Alicia Elliott, “On Seeing and Being Seen: The Difference Between Writing With Empathy and Writing With Love” essay

Wednesday Nov29th: 

Read for class:

  1. Rey Katz, "Writing Nonbinary Characters" essay


week 10—

Monday Dec 5th:

Read for class:

  1. Kelly McMasters, "The Ethics of Writing Hard Things in a Family Memoir" essay
  2. Assignment Three: Connected to Class, due. Attend a free lecture, poetry reading, book talk, presentation or other virtual or in-person event that focuses on the broad issues we are discussing this term. Events may be held either on or off campus. To make sure the event you plan to attend will count for this assignment, run your idea by a classmate first. Write a report that briefly describes the event and explores the connections to our class readings and discussions. Suggested length 600-700 words. Submit on Canvas, AND bring a print copy of your assignment to class today. 

Wednesday Dec 7th: 

Writing workshop toward the Final Portfolio


Finals Week:  Tuesday Dec 12th midnight Final Portfolio due

The Final Portfolio consists of 8 individual components:

  1. "The Art of the Review" -- 3 reviews & 1 reflection

Write a review of each book you have read this quarter (Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World, Craft and Conscience, and A Stranger's Journey) and post them to Goodreads. If you don't have a Goodreads account make one. Each of your three reviews should be approximately 400-500 words. 

Review Reflection: Write a brief reflection on the process of writing reviews. Some prompts to consider:

What's Goodreads like? What's interesting about it to you, what's not?

How might your identity, experience, context and interests influence your reviews?

Suggested length of the review reflection: 600-700 words.

  1. "Writing about Myself and Others: A Retrospective"- 1 reflection

Assemble all your formal submitted assignments, and the in-class brainstorms and free-writes that you've worked on this term. Read through everything slowly. Write an Artists Statement in which you offer insight and reflection on the full body of work you've produced this term. Engage with these prompts:

What do you notice in your writing journey this quarter?

What stands out to you?

Consider voice, representation, story, images, content, curiosity and writing styles.

How has your writing shifted, expanded, changed, deepened, or something else this term?

Why might this class be exactly what you needed at this stage in your writing journey and in your life? Suggested length 1000 words. 

  1. "Looking Ahead"- 1 future plan

What are 2-3 of your writing goals for the future? How will you fulfill them? Make an intentional plan for yourself. Describe your plan and commitments. Suggested length 300-350 words. 

  1. Assessments -2 forms

Fill out this assessment if you were not in class on the last day. 

Answer in Canvas the assessment about your Final Portfolio. And you're DONE!  







In-class Participation and Writing Engagement:

  • The format of the class consists of discussions and in-class writing and workshopping. Therefore, a significant portion of your final grade depends on your consistent and collaborative contributions to the course. On the most basic level, you should come to class on time and stay for the duration, completed the readings, think about the readings in preparation for participating in class discussion, and engage in our in-class writing activities. For a full participation grade, you will contribute thoughtfully and consistently to in-class discussions. Grades will be based on the consistency, frequency, content, and relevance of spoken and written participation.

There are multiple opportunities to participate and engage with one another including: 

    • attending virtual office hours
    • engaging with peers through any or all forms of class discussion 
    • maintaining a participation journal;
    • posing and/or responding to questions on the canvas discussion board;
    • demonstrating effort toward creating a presence in our classroom community
    • offering support to other students; 
    • arriving in class on time and prepared, etc.
    • collaborative engagement with class colleagues;
    • overall good faith effort to contribute to a positive and engaging classroom space.



Catalog Description: 
Intensive study of, and exercise in, applying important or influential interpretive practices for studying language, literature, and culture, along with consideration of their powers/limits. Focuses on developing critical writing abilities. Topics vary and may include critical and interpretive practice from scripture and myth to more contemporary approaches, including newer interdisciplinary practices. Prerequisite: minimum 2.0 in ENGL 202.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
April 15, 2023 - 6:24am