These courses aim to prepare students to meet the writing requirements they will face in their major and other upper division courses. Further, the courses help our students discover the nature of academic ideas and disciplinary conversations that interest them.
Theme and Topic
This course challenges students to read, think, and write critically on a particular topic and theme for a variety of audiences. The topic and theme of the course are conceived by the instructor and motivated by a series of difficult but rewarding texts. Because 211X/213X are writing courses, not literature courses, comprehensive coverage of topics is not a primary concern. Rather, the focus is on exposing students to a few key texts–as few as four and as many as eight–that allow them to interrogate the chosen topic and theme from various perspectives and genres.
The reading-thinking-writing curriculum in this course is built over two major units. Each of these is anchored by a research-based writing project with a focus on audience. The first unit challenges students to write a report or paper that contributes to an academic conversation on the topic of the course; i.e., the audience for this project is an academic one and should engage in the appropriate conventions and language. The next unit turns student attention on a public rather than academic audience. In this unit, the final project challenges students to reconsider the course theme and topic for a public audience. This project may be multimodal, and some teachers choose to make it collaborative. For example, some courses ask students to practice grant proposals or public service announcements – again, designed on the topic or theme of the course. Each unit includes class discussions on the notion of authority, conventions, and key terms in each conversation and address the concept of “conversations’ or dialogue.
In the Classroom
These courses familiarize students with the discourse and conventions of academic and public writing communities by collectively developing a working vocabulary that describes how these modes of writing operate. Students are encouraged to draw on this vocabulary, developed in the classroom, as they engage in the work of the course.
Each course provides students with guidance and practice in a variety of micro writing. These assignments require students to do the following: answer a question, define a term, respond to a quotation, analyze a passage, solve a problem, support a thesis statement, summarize an issue, etc. The micro writing builds toward a research-based writing project for either an academic or a public audience, as explained above.