Sample English 281 Courses

(Winter 2018) ENGL 281 A - Taking Power, Making Power: Exploring Genres of Indigenous Resurgence Writing

Course Description:

The primary aim of this course will be to further develop the writing skills you have acquired in other university writing courses, specifically by examining how genre informs writing strategies. We will do this by way of an exploration of the different genres contemporary Indigenous authors have used to discuss Indigenous politics. This will entail questions of audience, argument, and genre, rooted in an exploration of the broader topic of Indigenous ways of knowing and contemporary Indigenous politics.
We will examine these different genres and then create our own. This will culminate in a writing portfolio where you explore a same topic through a number of different genres, one of which will be a research project and presentation.

(Winter 2018) ENGL F - The Politics and Rhetoric of Urban Space

Course Description:

This course has two primary and equally important goals: to hone your skills in rhetorical and analytical awareness and to cultivate understanding in writing and research. This particular course will achieve this from the perspective of understanding and thinking critically about how urban space operates in the social imagination. We will read and analyze a variety of texts including film, sociology, literature, art installations, and more. Our discussions of these texts will be oriented around questions such as: how do we discuss, describe, and represent urban space in the United States? To what extent do dominant rhetorics of urban space function as a means to contain, control, and manage race, class, gender, and sexual differences? And, how do writers, artists, and performers use urban space to speak back to narratives that seek to contain, oppress, and control marginalized populations and spaces?
Alongside engaging closely with these issues, we will also be entering into a dialogue with each other; this course is necessarily interactive and self-reflective, meaning that we will approach our own writing and that of our peers with the same analytical frame of mind. As such, drafting, revising and reflecting on your rhetorical choices will comprise a significant part of the class as well. Your assignments are shaped around this aim, providing you with ample opportunity to explore writing as a process rather than a verdict. Further, while no course can build in absolutely everything you need to know to write successfully, developing the analytical and compositional skills required to articulate your thinking will benefit you in many of the writing and reading situations you encounter in the future, both inside and outside of school.  
THIS COURSE ASSUMES that students have previous experiences in college-level writing (such as ENGL 109/110, 111, 121, or 131 or equivalent), as we will be building on those skills and techniques begun in those introductory courses. With that in mind, this class also takes as a basic assumption that writing is a skill and that, like any skill, it can always be furthered and improved through guided practice and experimentation. We will work to develop, challenge, and enhance the writing skills students already possess into the skills and intuitions necessary for successful writing.

(Autumn 2017) ENGL 281 A - Genres of Nonfiction

Course Description:

Whenever you sit down to write a truthful representation of our reality that is beholden to verifiable fact, whether for the purpose of entertaining people, informing them, or persuading them, you are composing a piece of nonfiction. As a category of literature, nonfiction refers to broad genre of prose that includes personal essays and memoirs, profiles, nature and travel writing, narrative and lyric essays, observational or descriptive essays, general-interest technical writing, argumentative or idea-based essays, general-interest criticism, literary journalism, and so on. Whether you are writing a research paper for a sociology class or an op-ed for your local newspaper, you are working within a genre of nonfiction.  
In this course, we’ll investigate the differences—both small and large—between the various genres that make up the category of writing referred to as “nonfiction.” While nonfiction is often understood as the opposite of fiction because of the way it is beholden to some “truth” or set of verifiable facts, we’ll examine how different concepts of “truth” are employed in different works and different subgenres. Not only will we analyze the conventions of several nonfiction subgenres and examine how different writers employ and break the rules of their chosen form, but we’ll also create our own works of nonfiction in which we attempt to replicate what we like, avoid what we don’t, and attempt to say something meaningful about the subjects in which we are invested.