English 131: Unlearning Programming
English 131: Unlearning Programming
English 131: Unlearning Programming
English 131: Unlearning Programming
English 131: Unlearning Programming
English 131: Unlearning Programming

English 131: Unlearning Programming

Winter 2007, Spring 2007 (22 Students)

Course Site No Longer Live

The Syllabus


Computer-Integrated, Writing Intensive Course (designed and taught with approval from the University of Washington English department)

Full Course Title: “Composition: Exposition (Robots, Zombies, and Other Automata: Unlearning Cultural Programming?)”

Course Description

English 131 is not a grammar or literature course.  It is about writing as a process through which you engage and interact with the world.  You already have writing skills.  In English 131, you will develop them and even learn a few more.  Designed to prepare you for making, examining, and refining arguments at the university level, English 131 makes your writing matter in various contexts and gives you confidence as a writer.

English 131 is not geared specifically toward the English major.  Rather, English 131 helps you establish a voice in academic discourse.  Together, we will investigate the subtle differences between disciplines; why genre, audience, and context are integral to writing; and, perhaps most importantly, how you can transfer the writing skills and habits you learn in English 131 to the major that you ultimately choose.

We will explore a variety of media – from popular culture to theory, fiction to film, social spaces to everyday objects, blogs to music – through exciting, diverse, and creative ways.  Yet you will not be asked to “master” the course material.  Instead, you will be asked to write and revise often, at least three pages per week.  Through your writing you will be actively involved in a quarter-long inquiry that might include some nervousness and frustration, but also some really good questions, some convincing and sophisticated analyses, and some fun times.

The theme of the course is “Robots, Zombies, and Other Automata: Unlearning Cultural Programming?”.  Using “Robots, Zombies, and Other Automata” as a thematic, we will examine how, through habituation and routine, we are often unaware of and thereby neglect certain socio-cultural perspectives.  As such, we will ask the following questions:

How do audience and everyday practices influence writing?

Why is context fundamental to writing choices?

Culture, but for whom, by whom, how, and to what purposes?

Don’t fret.  The course does not require background knowledge in robots, zombies, or other automata.  The terms are merely vehicles for English 131, tools through which you can focus your writing and consider how different writing genres function. Consequently, you will have the opportunity to explore “Robots, Zombies, and Other Automata” in various ways of “writing,” from blogging to e-mails, wikis to letters, autobiographies to academic essays.

Learning Outcomes for the Course

Students should:

Demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.

Read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.

Produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.

Develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.

What I Learned

By teaching two iterations of this course (in my first year of teaching English composition), I had the opportunity to develop and retry several workshops (e.g., on peer review, use of evidence, and claims-making), fine-tune prompts, experiment with several approaches to collaboration in the classroom, and become more comfortable with my own teaching persona. I also learned to cut back on course material, privileging a “less is more” approach.

Course Evaluations

Available upon request.

(All images on the left are screen shots of the course site and blog, which I designed.)