English 105: Advanced Composition for Freshman

“I loved this class. The assignments that were given were relevant and helped me understand the material. I came out of this class feeling like a learned so much and I know my writing has improved. The things I learned in this class will transfer easily to others.” —ENG105 student

“The course itself is pretty boring but English is boring and it’s hard to make it fun. But she did it.” –ENG105 student

Course Description and Goals

English 105 is an honors course that satisfies both the English 101 and English 102 requirements. Because English 105 is the only first-year writing course honors students are required to take, it needs to cover the rhetorical and writing process concerns of English 101 as well as the writing with research concerns of English 102. A student in English 105 should expect to write and revise essays in multiple genres, each with a clear purpose and sense of the writer’s presence and position. The student should also expect to create and answer questions through research and writing that draws upon written texts and other sources. A student in English 105 can expect to write four to six papers during the term, including at least one extended research essay, totaling about 20 to 25 pages of text.

As a result of this course, you should be able to produce writing that:

[Rhetorical Knowledge (responding appropriately to a variety of rhetorical situations)]

  • Focuses on a clear and consistent purpose
  • Analyzes and responds to the needs of different audiences
  • Employs a tone consistent with purpose and audience
  • Uses a variety of genres or adapts genres to suit different audiences and purposes, including writing with research sources
  • Chooses detail and evidence, including evidence from research sources, consistent with purpose and audience

[Critical Reading and Thinking (analyzing rhetorical positioning of texts)]

  • Demonstrates awareness of the role of genre in making meaning from a given text
  • Demonstrates understanding of knowledge and information, including information from research sources, as existing within a broader context
  • Represents and responds to multiple points of view, including the positioning of research sources


  • Identifies a research question and develops a research strategy
  • Identifies, evaluates, and uses research sources to discover and focus a thesis
  • Demonstrates through reflection awareness of their own writing processes across multiple drafts
  • Demonstrates strategies of invention, drafting, and revision
  • Demonstrates ability to critique own work and work of peers


  • Demonstrates control over conventions of format and presentation for different purposes and different audiences
  • Demonstrates control of such surface features as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling
  • Uses conventions of structure and format appropriate to the rhetorical situation, including purposes and conventions of documentation and multiple methods of citation

In addition, I hope students in this course will develop a critical and responsive approach to language norms, conventions, and academic constructs, and to their own choices as writers and readers engaged in the construction of meaning, which they will evidence through reading responses and textual and multimodal compositions.

Grading Contract

Your final grade for this course will be based on two things: your participation in class according to the contract outlined below, and the quality of the writing you include in your final portfolio. If you follow the contract for the entire semester, you will receive a B for the course. If the writing you include in your final portfolio is exceptionally strong, your final grade may be higher.

Contract grading is intended to shift your focus productively: it assures you that, if you work hard and complete the contract, you will receive a grade that is above the average for English 105 courses. Despite not assigning grades to papers and assignments throughout the semester, I will provide thorough feedback for how to improve as a writer, student and classmate along the way. I hope this will permit you to concentrate on improving your writing and taking risks with your style and content, rather than feeling pressure to master everything at once.

To earn a B for this course, you must:

  1. Engage actively during every class period, and always use classroom time productively. Everyone has an off day from time to time, but for nearly every class meeting, your brain should be working from 2:30 to 3:45.
  2. Participate actively during every discussion and workshop, and push yourself to provide your classmates with consistently thorough, thoughtful, helpful feedback. You should help your classmates to become better writers throughout the semester. Taking their work seriously enough to think hard about how it can be improved is crucial for your success, and theirs, in this course.
  3. Thoughtfully complete all homework assignments and submit them on time. Homework assignments are designed to further your thinking about readings and writing strategies, and are necessary for improving your practice as a writer and critical language user.
  4. Use the feedback provided by your instructor and your classmates to improve your writing. You do not have to make every change suggested by your readers, of course, as readers will sometimes disagree. But you must take all feedback seriously, and your drafts should show evidence of your careful consideration of your readers’ suggestions.
  5. Produce complete, thoughtful drafts of every assignment, and turn all work in on time. Post every assignment to Blackboard by the deadline, and bring a complete, printed draft to every workshop.
  6. Revise thoroughly and thoughtfully after every workshop. Revision means substantially clarifying your ideas, reorganizing your argument, rethinking your claims, strengthening your evidence, deepening your research, adjusting your style, and/or re- imagining your relationship to your audience. Even if you have not received thorough feedback during a workshop, make at least one substantial revision before the next workshop and before turning in the final draft.
  7. Proofread final drafts to eliminate distracting surface errors and typos. Final drafts do not have to be perfect, but you should learn any grammar rules that consistently cause you trouble, by talking with a classmate, using the Purdue OWL resources, and/or meeting with me.
  8. Attend all scheduled conferences with me, and come prepared to use the conference time productively. If I indicate on a draft that I would like you to schedule an appointment to talk with me, do so within the week.
  9. Avoid plagiarism by (a) taking careful notes to help you distinguish between your own ideas and language and those you have borrowed from sources, (b) attempting to cite all sources correctly even in first drafts, (c) mastering citation conventions and citing all sources correctly in all final drafts, and (d) never attempting to disguise another’s work as your own, never purchasing essays online, and never engaging in any other act of academic dishonesty. New ideas only come about because we are all constantly borrowing ideas and sharing our work with others; be generous about attributing and citing those whose work has influenced your own.
  10. Show respect for your classmates and your instructor. This includes using respectful language, taking each others’ ideas seriously, and refraining from distracting behaviors, such as falling asleep, reading the Cardinal newspaper, or checking Facebook during class. Never respond to text messages during class.
  11. Be on time for class consistently, and be absent very rarely. Three tardies equal one absence. Being more than 20 minutes late for class counts as an absence. Four absences throughout the semester or missing any day when a workshop is scheduled will break the contract.
  12. Be prepared for class consistently. Complete the required reading, print any required handouts, and bring your laptop and whatever drafts, revisions, or research I’ve required.
  13. Submit a complete, fully revised Portfolio that meets all outlined requirements by the due date.
  14. Present your final translation/form-finding assignment to the class during your assigned class period.

If you break the contract, your contracted grade for the course will be lowered as follows:

  1. For minor breaches (excessive tardies, a non-workshop absence, or a slight drop in the quality of your workshop participation, for example): in each Unit, I will permit you one “Mulligan”—one minor misstep that will not break the contract. But two minor breaches during any Unit will lower your contract grade to a B-; two minor breaches during the next Unit, and your contract grade will be lowered further to a C+, and so on. These lowered grades can still be improved by an exceptionally strong portfolio, but final grades for breached contracts will not exceed a B.
  2. For major breaches (missing a draft workshop, failing to participate actively in group activities, or failing to turn in or revise an assignment, for example): no Mulligans; your contract grade will immediately be lowered to a B- after the first major breach, C+ after the second, and so on. These lowered grades can still be improved by an exceptionally strong portfolio.

You are responsible for being aware of and following the contract stipulations. I will help you remain aware by notifying you, at the end of each unit or roughly every five weeks, of minor or major breaches of contract.

Finally, if you have any questions, please ask. I am here to help you and to ensure this course works for you. If you ever have any questions, concerns or worries about the course, readings, assignments, etc. or if you just want to talk, my door is always open. You have but to ask (or e-mail).

Major Assignments

Assignment 1: Language/Literacy Narrative

In this essay you will relate an experience or event that seems to have been important in shaping the kind of writer/reader/language user you have become, or an experience that illuminates the role of literacy in your life. The purpose of the assignment is to explore this experience in order to gain insight into who you are as a writer/reader/language user and to examine the role literacy plays into your life. It should also allow you to make some personal connections to our course readings: consider how this experience or event reflects the values of your primary Discourse; what language values shaped or were shaped by this experience; do you think differently about this event or experience after the readings or discussions from this course thus far?

 Content. For this assignment you might choose a discrete event that was somehow important in your development as a writer and reader, a series of related events, or a phase or period of your life in which certain literate or language activities figured prominently. You might, for example, tell the story of an especially important moment in your life that profoundly shaped you as the literate person and language user you are today. That moment could be related to a specific school assignment or a specific text that you read or wrote (e.g. a book that deeply influenced you or an important letter that you had to write) that was significant to you for some reason. It might be related to an experience of being judged or judging, of correctness or error, of social injustice, of a breakdown in understanding, frustration , etc.

By contrast, you might focus on a time period during which you had experiences that affected you as a writer or a reader. For example, you might have taken a specific college course that shaped you as a writer or met a teacher or faculty member who became an important influence in your life as a writer or reader. Or you might write a narrative that is some variation of all these.

Whatever experience you choose to focus on, keep in mind that it should be central in some way to your development as a writer/reader/language user. You are trying to present your literate/language-using self to your readers (your classmates); that is, you are trying to convey a sense of who you are as a writer/reader/language user and how you became that person. You are also telling a story that might offer insight into yourself as a literate person and into literacy/language use in general.

Remember, too, that although this essay will be autobiographical, it is not to be an autobiography. In other words, you are not trying to tell the comprehensive history of your development as a literate person; rather, this should be a narrative of a specific experience or set of experiences that helped transform you into the literate person you are, and should ideally allow you to make intellectual connections to questions of literacy, language and discourse explored in this class.

Assignment 2: Researched Argument

For this assignment, you will conduct research on a controversy about writing/reading/language. You will engage meaningfully with multiple sources and then organize, analyze and synthesize information from those sources to position your argument about the controversy.

Goals. This assignment is designed to :

  • Help you integrate various viewpoints into your own argument
  • Increase your familiarity with sources that demonstrate different genres and audiences
  • Give you practice creating the genre of research paper
  • Give you practice researching for specific sources
  • Increase your ability to evaluate different sources
  • Give you practice with conventions of MLA citation.

Audience. Your classmates, who may have some knowledge of the controversy, but not of the trends in research or of your argument about it.

Sources. Unless negotiated prior to writing, your annotated bibliography and paper must use the following ten sources:

  • 3 “scholarly” sources (peer reviewed journal articles, university press or academic publishing book)
  • 1 encyclopedia entry (Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Brittanica or a specialized encyclopedia from the university library reference section)
  • 2 mainstream news sources (examples: ABC News, Time Magazine, The New York Times)
  • 2 web sources (website; YouTube)
  • 1 pop culture source (examples: film, fiction, music, games, TV)
  • 1 social media source (Facebook, Twitter, etc)

Content. This task will be broken down into two major tasks:

  1. Annotated Bibliography—documenting your research and making connections between and among sources
  2. Final Research paper– integrating a variety of sources and forwarding an original argument or claim

Style, Length, and Related Matters.

Annotated Bibliography. An annotated bibliography is an MLA formatted list of sources that includes a paragraph or two “annotation” for each source. Each effectively completed annotation will probably be between 350 and 650 words in length and will completely address each of the following:

  1. Summary: An effective summary would include the author’s thesis, his main points, and his conclusion.
  2. Purpose and Audience: Identify the purpose(s) the author had for writing the article, including who her imagined audience seems to be.
  3. Synthesis: A sentence (or more) about how this source aligns with, adds to, complicates, overlaps with, or contradicts one or more other sources on your list.
  4. Rhetorical Differences: A sentence (or more) about the rhetorical differences you see between this article and others you’ve read.
  5. What it does for you: A sentence (or more) detailing what this source might offer to your own argument. What kinds of arguments could this source be used to help you make? How are you thinking it might fit into your researched argument paper?

 Paper: This is an academic assignment intended for an audience of your classmates and instructor, as well as peers who share an interest in writing research. As such, the style and approach should mirror that of the course readings, following the conventions of academic discourse within Writing Studies that we have discussed this semester, the conventions of written English and the expectations of your audience (who has some familiarity with research about writing, but may not be experts and may not have read the articles you discuss).

Your finished essay should be approximately 6-9 page (1500-2250 words) words in length.

How to Begin.

  1. Identify a specific research question. Ask yourself: who would write about this issue? How/why would different groups represent this issue differently? What are the keywords related to this issue? Are there other related words people might use to discuss this issue? What are related controversies and questions that might overlap with my question?
  2. Locate and read at least ten articles (as enumerated above). You will read more articles than you use for this assignment—include only sources that directly pertain to your research question.
  3. As you locate sources, take thorough notes about where they came from (to be presented in MLA citations eventually). Also take notes that will help you address each aspect of the annotated bibliography assignment.
  4. As you complete the annotated bibliography assignment, remember that you will also be writing a researched argument on this topic. As such, you should be taking notes about how your own thinking and your own argument is developing as you read. You should also record any quotes that seem like they would be useful (with citation info so you can locate them again later).

Assignment 3: Multimodal Translation/Form-Finding Assignment

“We need to think of student writing as a ‘metagenre,’ a kind of experimental, knowledge-building writing which contains many other kinds of writing …form-finding necessarily remains a central issue in the classroom, a means for form to become process and process to become form…Genre choices are generated by the student, rather than by a curriculum, an artificial sequence of activities, or the requirement of an assignment” -Ruth Mirtz “The Territorial Demands of Form and Process”

For this assignment, you will have the opportunity to “re-vision” one of your previous compositions from this course (either the Literacy Narrative or Researched Argument) into a multimodal composition. The key to this process will be analyzing and addressing your own rhetorical situation: What is it you want to do with this writing? Who needs to hear/see it for you to achieve your goal? What form will best suit your goals and be most effective for reaching your audience?

 Goals. This assignment is designed to:

  • Help you identify and select appropriate audiences, genres, and forms for your own project
  • Develop beginning proficiency in digital composition with the support of the Digital Media Suite
  • Allow you to identity and compose for an authentic public audience
  • Engage in significant and sweeping revision of your ideas and writing in response to new audiences and goals

 Parts of the Assignment. This assignment will be broken down into three distinct but interrelated parts:

1) Multimodal Composition. This will be an audio essay, a short video, a digital narrative, webpage, or other digital project. What exactly this will be is flexible based on the goals of your composition and audience you are trying to reach, but all projects will be proposed in writing and approved by me. The idea is, though, that you will be allowed a great deal of flexibility and creativity here, in service of your own rhetorical goals.

2) Presentation. You will have the opportunity at the end of the semester to present your digital compositions to the class. These presentations will be fairly informal, but you will be expected to showcase the highlights of your project and describe your compositional decisions to an audience of your classmates. In this presentation, you will be expected to briefly address your goals for the project, your intended audience, and any other considerations you made during composition.

3) Reflective Essay. This brief reflective essay (3-5 pages) will introduce me to your project and the decisions you made in its composition, including audience considerations, visual rhetoric and design, selection of genre and medium, choices about inclusion of data or information to make your argument, etc. I also ask that you reflect on the process itself—what challenges did you face? What did you expect going into this project and how did the process align or not with your expectations? How did this project complicate your ideas about what composition is or entails?

Audience. There are three primary parts of this assignment: a multimodal composition, a presentation to the class, and a reflective essay. The audience of the multimodal composition will be determined by each student in response to their own goals and compositional choices. The audience of the presentation will be your classmates. The audience of the reflective essay will be me and yourself.

How to Begin.

  1. Attend an orientation at the Digital Media Suite (DMS) on 3/18 and think about which kind of project you might want to do.
  2. Attend tutorials on several digital media that you are considering working with at the DMS on 3/20.
  3. Decide which previous assignment you want to work with and make an appointment to discuss your idea with me (3/24-3/26). Write a brief proposal (about one page) describing your project idea, including your goals, your audience, and what medium would be most effective to reach that audience- by 3/27.
  4. Create a storyboard to get an idea about what media you will use, what modes, and how to approach the project effectively- by 4/1
  5. Make an appointment to work on your project in the DMS with the support of their staff at least twice. I will be asking them for reports. Work outside class on your projects to have a draft by April 10th.