English 131: Composing a Virtual Campus
English 131: Composing a Virtual Campus
English 131: Composing a Virtual Campus
English 131: Composing a Virtual Campus
English 131: Composing a Virtual Campus
English 131: Composing a Virtual Campus
English 131: Composing a Virtual Campus
English 131: Composing a Virtual Campus

English 131: Composing a Virtual Campus

Summer 2007 (17 Students)

Course Site No Longer Live

The Syllabus

Syllabus

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

Full Course Title: “Composition: Exposition (Composing a Virtual Campus)”

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 or have already chosen.

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.

This class will largely consist of exploring UW campus spaces, documenting them (often through digital means), and analyzing how they are “written.” By the end of the quarter, the class will have collectively mapped the UW campus through a variety of media and narratives and then, based upon the collective map, argue for the inclusion of “new UW spaces.”

Mapping practices will serve as a way to focus on the course outcomes by:

Considering how context, audience, genre, and medium impact the composition of campus spaces,

Strategically gathering and evaluating multiple kinds of evidence through collaboration,

Using digital and print archives to generate persuasive, academic arguments, and

Providing and responding to peer feedback for the purposes of revision.

As a class, we will be composing various texts to support these outcomes, including a class blog, photographs, videos, group presentations, and formal, academic arguments, with an emphasis on why the differences between these approaches matter.

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.

The Course on Campus

English 131 (and, more broadly, the “Geolocating Compositional Strategies” project) gained some traction with students and staff on campus. Joel Shapiro, from The Daily at the UW, interviewed my colleague, Curtis Hisayasu, and I about the project. The interview is embedded below and is also available at The Daily‘s website.

What I Learned

Although I had taught other versions of English 131 prior to this class, this course was the first integrating neogeography (e.g., Google Maps) into the composition process. Through this emphasis on neogeography (which I expanded in “Mapping the Digital Humanities” and “Geolocating Compositional Strategies”), students had the opportunity to blend experiential learning with new media and place-based composition.  I found that such forms of experiential learning made theories (e.g., by Michel Foucault, Michel de Certeau, and Henri Lefebvre) about the production of space more approachable and less intimidating, especially for undergraduates. Experiential learning also became one way to integrate new technologies (including mobile technologies) into humanities inquiry.

Course Evaluations

Available upon request.

(The final image on the left is a screen shot of Jessica Vu’s final paper for the course, as ultimately published in the electronic journal e.g. All other images on the left are taken from the course sites, which I designed.)