Course Description

The Vietnam War protests. The Civil Rights movement. Occupy Wall Street. The University of Missouri protests. The Black Lives Matter movement. What unites these civic actions? All took place either in part or in whole with young protesters, and on college campuses. This class will explore what goes into college activism and what makes college students a collective force of social and political engagement. We will look at issues such as war, violence, racism, class, and sexual and gender identity, and we will explore the college classroom as a template for what makes students valuable activists. The class will move through two units: the first where we focus on the writing of movements, and the second where you will identify a cause you feel passionately about and advocate for change. In unit one, you will create a digital project mapping both the history of a particular movement and how this movement has affected the social or political climate. In unit two, you will develop several writing projects such as writing to a local government official advocating change for an issue of interest, and the class will culminate with a research and writing project in which you identify an important cause and explore how college students can help to move the cause forward.

Course Goals:

English 110 will help you:

  • Write clearly about complex texts and ideas. Academic essays are almost always composed in response to and conversation with other texts. You will learn to engage with the work of others clearly, accurately, and with attention to nuance and detail.
  • Consider issues of audience and context in your writing. No matter what you write, you always write to a particular group of readers in a particular situation. You will learn how to shape and support your ideas to address the needs of particular readers and contexts.
  • Respond thoughtfully and constructively to the work of other writers. As part of a classroom community, you will read and offer advice on your classmates’ work in progress. Doing so will help you hone, clarify, and communicate your own ideas in writing.
  • Research the various perspectives on a question or topic and contribute to the scholarly conversation about it. Good academic writing exhibits not only your own perspective on a topic, but also a thorough understanding of what others have said about it. You will learn to find credible sources and use them to position yourself within a community of writers that extends beyond English 110.
  • Compose both print and digital texts. The composition process is more than just putting words on the page or screen. In addition to writing print-based texts, you will also practice composing online, often making use of visual and audio forms.

Course Practices:

As a student in English 110, you will:

  • Write frequently, write for different audiences, and write pieces of varying length and complexity. You will compose both print and digital texts for various purposes and readers. In addition to a formal research paper, you will develop your skills in regular, shorter writing assignments, composed both in and out of class.
  • Participate as a member of a community of writers. English 110 is designed as a seminar—a course in which the writing of students is regularly brought to the table for discussion. You will often be asked to participate in a writer’s workshop, sharing your work in progress with several of your classmates and reading and responding to theirs.
  • Read as a writer, and write as a reader. You will read texts not simply for what they say but for how they say it. That is, you will consider texts not only as sources of ideas but also as models of rhetorical and compositional strategies you can use in your own writing.
  • Take several pieces through a process of drafting, workshopping with peers, revising in response to feedback, and editing. Good writing doesn’t usually happen all at once. Instead it usually involves an ongoing process of composing, sharing, and reworking a piece over several drafts. You will use feedback from your classmates and teacher to develop and refine the pieces you write for this course.
  • Reflect on your aims and strategies as a writer. You will reflect on both your processes of writing and the actual texts you compose. In doing so, you will cultivate habits of mind and work that will help you develop as a writer beyond English 110.


  • Mapping the Movement: This project will get you working through the ways that writing is used to connect students to activism. Through your own WordPress blog, you will use media, pictures, graphics, videos, and posts to document how student activists are working to make change.
  • Mapping the Movement Process: As you work to create your blog and document the movement you chose, you will complete several steps to draft your website. You will block out an outline that you will submit for comments from me, you will create a second draft for peer workshops, you will work to compile a list of sources for your final assignment, and you will write a revision plan and a revision letter.
  • Advocating Change: You will complete smaller assignments throughout the semester to get hands-on experience about how to advocate for change through writing. These will be completed outside of class for credit.
  • Researched Argument Paper: As the culminating assignment of this class, this will have you working with a cause you believe in. You will use all the skills of the previous assignments to create a thesis that defends your stance and use your sources to support your assertions accordingly. Your final draft will be at least 2500 words, about 7-11 pages.
  • Researched Argument Process: You will complete smaller assignments throughout your work toward your final researched argument paper. You will write an outline, an annotated bibliography, a first draft for peer workshops, a second draft for comments, and a revision plan and revision letter as you work toward your final paper.
  • Daily Work: You will be graded on the work you complete during the class period, either as a group or on your own. You will also get points for any homework you complete that does not directly contribute to the This grade also includes any assignments done during the class period and homework you are asked to bring to class.
  • Participation: You are required to come to class prepared for the day’s work and to contribute to the overall discussion. You will be graded on your preparation and your overall involvement in the discussion and any group work.