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Course Description:

Welcome to ENGL 105, Writing at the Research University! In this course, we will investigate how writing works across the disciplines at the research university (specifically the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities). We will discover how different disciplines frame research questions, evaluate evidence, and make knowledge claims. In order to accomplish the objectives set for this course, you cannot think about writing as merely an assignment that satisfies a list of requirements to achieve a grade. Thinking about writing only as a means to this end renders it artificial, solitary, and static.

Instead, I want you to view writing as dynamic and problem-based. In this class, you will participate in writing activities that call upon you to think about and place yourself in realistic rhetorical situations. Your writing will become dynamic by actively responding to practical situations common to academic communities and engaging with those communities. I want you to view your writing, as well as yourself as a writer, as a work in progress. This course is more than a series of essays for grades; it is a progression of encounters with rhetorical situations and genres that will prepare you to be an effective writer and communicator in college and in your professional lives after college.

These specific sections of ENGL 105 (sections 079 and 091) have been deemed “Face-to-Face/Hybrid” courses. The vast majority of our class sessions will take place remotely via the Zoom classroom link (specific to your section of ENGL 105) you have been provided. That link is also posted prominently on our Sakai course site. Do not share this link with anyone outside of our class section. Unless otherwise specified, plan to attend our class sessions via Zoom. If students wish to meet with me in person individually or in small groups, I will do so at your request outside of normal class time.


Course Objectives:

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Employ conventions, genres, and rhetoric practiced in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
  • Conduct research using a variety of methods, databases, and sources.
  • Discuss and present research-based arguments and information.
  • Identify how best to use research and evidence in discipline-specific compositions.
  • Compose using written, oral, and multimedia modes.
  • Review and revise one’s own work and assist others in revising their work.

Specifically, we will work toward the following goals:

  • Reimagine, redefine, and understand the complexities of “writing” and “rhetoric.”
  • Develop skills and awareness around your own writing and writing process.
  • Develop writing strategies, awareness, and self-assessment skills to help you confidently approach future writing challenges that you encounter in your academic and professional lives at UNC and beyond.
  • Tailor compositions to specific audiences and rhetorical situations by analyzing and adapting genre conventions in multiple communities.
  • Develop a social and process-oriented approach to composition in which collaboration and revision are central components.
  • Compose across technologies and modalities in words, sounds, images, video, and hypertexts.
  • Identify, evaluate, and appropriately use relevant research and resources to support your compositions.

See also “Additional Learning Outcomes for Feeders and Unit Projects,” posted here and also on Sakai under “Resources.”


Course Design:

The course will be organized around the following principles:

  • Student-centered: As opposed to a presentational lecture format, ENGL 105/105i classes will be taught using a workshop approach that promotes interactive, experiential learning. The class will function as a seminar with 20 or fewer students, which means that each student will have a voice in the class and will be called upon to participate fully. My instruction will emphasize process: how to read, write, analyze, interpret, understand, and create oral, written, or multimedia texts. My role in this class is not that of a traditional teacher who stands at the front of the room and lectures. Rather, I am someone who offers structure, motivation, support, perspective, and feedback as YOU engage with your classmates and the course projects. While I will ultimately take on the role of the evaluator at the end of the semester, my main focus is on empowering you to make decisions about your writing because that’s when you learn the most.
  • Group-oriented: Classes will be taught using a workshop approach that emphasizes the role of learning by writing and promotes interactive, experiential learning. Each of you will become a member of a small working group. These groups will serve as writing groups, discussion groups, and smaller cohorts in the larger classroom community. We will be using Sakai(UNC’s online course management system) as forums for posting and responding to drafts in progress and as a communication system so that you can access the syllabus and daily homework assignments electronically. We will also use Google Docs for various in-class group activities. If you feel your partners or group members are not putting forth substantial effort to collaborate with you, please let me know.
  • Community-centered: ENGL 105/105i will introduce you to key campus resources and may engage you with projects that seek an audience outside the class. In addition to introducing you to the world-class library resources available at UNC, you may also engage with a range of other campus partners, such as the Media Resources Center (MRC), rare books and special collections at Wilson LibraryAckland Art MuseumCarolina Performing Arts, and PlayMakers Repertory Company.
  • Activity-focused: Each class will consist of a sequence of activities that engage students in the writing process: how to read, write, analyze, interpret, understand, and create texts. You will always be working on a project; each week you should be working on components of that project in class and between classes.
  • Process-based: We will move through three units, each one containing short “feeder” assignments that build into one substantial unit project. The feeder assignments are generally designed to give you practice with a particular skill (such as finding potential grants or analyzing secondary sources) while the unit projects will ask you to synthesize primary and secondary research. Using a process-based approach, you will write multiple drafts, receive ongoing feedback from your peers and instructor, and participate in evaluating your own and others’ projects throughout the composition process.
  • Project-based: The three unit projects will engage you in rhetorical situations that explore real-world contexts for writing and research that start from a problem or research question.
  • Genre-based: The projects include a range of genres, forms, and mediums. You will get experience with genres such as the conference paper, journal article, business pitch, digital exhibit, or recommendation report. These genres will offer spoken and written modes as well as different mediums—including print and digital formats.
  • Research-based: You will undertake research projects that involve a variety of research methods. These methods could be textual, library research, or they could also include archival research methods and/or other types of empirical methods—such as interviews, observations, or experimentation.
  • Publication-oriented: Addressing the audience specific to each project’s genre (rather than the teacher/grader) is key. ENGL 105/105i students are asked to “publish” their projects for these specific audiences through a course structure using options such as portfolios, conference presentations, submissions to journals or digital publications.


Next syllabus item: Evaluation and Grading

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