FYW 101 English-Writing and Inquiry

First-Year Writing 101: Writing and Inquiry

Syllabus for Spring 2016



Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. New York: Anchor, 2003.

Harris, Muriel and Kunka, Jennifer L. The Prentice Hall Reference Guide, 9th edition. Boston: Pearson, 2015.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Cat’s Cradle. New York: Dial Trade, 2010 (1963).

Weisman, Alan. The World Without Us. New York: Picador, 2007.

You should buy these books immediately (today). Not having a book is no excuse for not completing an assignment.


Notebook paper (8.5 x 11, lined) for homework and in-class writing

Blue or black ink pens

Green, yellow, orange and blue highlighters (for reading & peer review)

Flash drive (for back up of all assignments!)


Writing and Inquiry invites students to explore questions and to think of themselves as writers, constructing answers rhetorically in academic and community contexts. During the writing process, students will consider their own and others’ perspectives on a variety of vital personal, historical, philosophical, and social issues. Taking their experiences and their peers’ perspectives as credible sources of knowledge, students will expand their inquiries beyond the personal into complex discussions in academic, literary, and public textual forms. Students will also practice appropriate use and critique of technology, using digital sources as support for their arguments and grounds for further inquiry. Students must complete FYW 101 with a grade of “C” or better to register for AWR 201.

We will write four major essays in our course (each about a thousand words in length): a critical reflection essay, a textual analysis essay, a rhetorical analysis essay, and a source integration essay. We will also have a final exam essay that will be written in class during the final exam period. Each of the essays will constitute a course unit that will revolve around the process of inventing, arranging, revising, and delivering the major essay, and each of the essays themselves will revolve around a topic that relates to the theme of sustainability in some form or another. Thus, over the course of our semester you will get an opportunity to reflect upon your own composing processes and to study strategies that will help to improve those processes. With each unit, you will sharpen your understanding of the writing process and revise your composing methods to make them more efficient.  Ultimately, this will be a course about what good writing does: how it begins with good reading; how it intersects with our contemporary moment and particular situation; how it brings together a constellation of voices and texts in a complex and coherent way; and, finally, how that constellation contributes to the formation of new constellations, conversations, and texts.


This section of FYW 101 centers on the future and the ways in which science, technology, economics, politics, and religion play central roles in our most optimistic and apocalyptic visions of it. Over the next fifteen weeks, we will be reading, thinking, and (most importantly) writing about such questions as: What are the potential benefits and consequences of manipulating our environment on both the macro- (e.g., urbanization) and micro- (e.g., genetic modification) levels? What influence do belief systems have on the way we approach the future of our species and our planet? How might we adapt to changes in the climate, food supply, and population? What would it be like if humans no longer inhabited the Earth? You are expected to exercise your critical thinking and academic writing abilities while examining these issues and others, and to display a level of engagement consistent with the outcomes of this course.


Upon completion of FYW 101, a student should demonstrate:

  • rhetorical awareness including a clear understanding of audience, purpose, genre, and context;
  • critical thinking through writing;
  • an understanding of the multiple processes and strategies involved in writing, including drafting and revising in response to feedback from other writers and readers;
  • the ability to critically analyze and evaluate other writers’ texts and offer useful, constructive feedback for the purposes of revision;
  • the ability to identify, choose, and use effective writing techniques (e.g., summary, narration, description, comparison) within specific contexts;
  • attention to the conventions of standard written English and of academic prose;
  • an understanding of the role of research in academic writing, including locating and evaluating appropriate sources;
  • the ability to integrate and appropriately document outside sources into original writing.


You will write a 1,200+ word persuasive essay that carefully examines one of the main concepts that we’ve discussed this semester (e.g., genetics, environmentalism, faith)

Directions: First, choose your topic. Then, begin to develop the position that you will take in your paper. Do not base this solely on your personal opinions. Explore the topic by thinking about the issues involved and looking at them from different perspectives. Remember, a lot of the issues that we’ve discussed are fairly complex. You’ll want to research the topic and decide what information is relevant and credible. Do not discount information simply because it doesn’t fit your position; counter-arguments need to be addressed and can even strengthen your position by displaying an awareness of other points of view (even if you don’t agree with them). Beware of logical fallacies!

Once you have a clear sense of purpose, consider the audience who you are trying to persuade. What do they already know about the topic? Which aspects do you need to inform them of? What is the context in which you would present your arguments? Develop strategies to persuade your target audience to accept your position or act upon it. What appeals will you make? How will you structure your arguments so that your essay is effective? Try testing your ideas on people who represent your target audience. Is your purpose clear to them? Ask for their feedback.

Now it’s time to start organizing your paper. Compose a thesis statement that tells your audience how you will interpret the significance of the topic under discussion. Remember, a thesis is an interpretation of a question or an issue, not the topic itself; it must be debatable and it must be focused. List all the arguments that you will include in your paper. How will you arrange these arguments so that they make sense and support your thesis? Will you start with your strongest argument or save it for last? Try outlining your paper to see how your ideas fit together. Group related ideas and arrange them from general to specific or from abstract to concrete – whatever you think will get your target audience to do something (within their ability) to help solve this problem.

In addition, you must integrate at least 5 primary and/or secondary sources into your essay and include clear citations for all sources, including an MLA Works Cited page. Since you will be submitting the final draft online, I also want to encourage you to incorporate images as part of your paper (just be sure to give credit to the source).

As you begin writing, do not hesitate to rearrange your ideas or expand your arguments if you feel that this will contribute to the overall persuasiveness of your paper.

Length: at least 1,200 words

Format: Double-spaced, 1-inch margins, standard 12-point font. Make sure your name, assignment, and due date are in the upper left hand corner of the first page. Last name and page numbers should appear in the upper right hand of each page.

You will also deliver a 10-minute (including Q&A) in-class presentation on your topic during the last week of class, which will be included as part of your final grade.

Draft due Tuesday, April 19th. Final paper due Thursday, April 28th.


Weekly Schedule (subject to change)

Week Date Assignments and topics Reading (HW = next class)
1 T 1/19

R 1/21

Introductions; Diagnostic essay

Course Themes; Critical reflection


Harris & Kunka, pp. 1-37

2 T 1/26

R 1/28

Writing process; Practice peer review; Blog 1 due

UNIT 1 DRAFT DUE; Peer review; Organization


Weisman, pp. 9-46


3 T 2/2

R 2/4


Revising, proofreading & editing; Blog 2 due

UNIT I ESSAY DUE; Discuss World Without Us



Weisman, pp. 113-139


4 T 2/9

R 2/11


Conducting surveys; Blog 3 due

Discuss World Without Us; Rhetorical analysis



Weisman, pp. 301-353


5 T 2/16

R 2/18

Discuss World Without Us; Interpreting results

In-class presentations; Short paper due




6 T 2/23

R 2/25

Making appeals; Thesis statements; Blog 4 due

UNIT 2 DRAFT DUE; Peer review; Visuals



Vonnegut, pp. 1-135

7 T 3/1

R 3/3

Discuss Cat’s Cradle; Logical fallacies; Blog 5 due

UNIT 2 ESSAY DUE; Textual analysis


Vonnegut, pp. 136-287


8 T 3/8

R 3/10

9 T 3/15

R 3/17


Discuss Cat’s Cradle; Genre analysis

Writing in the disciplines; Literary devices

Harris & Kunka, pp. 43-55

Atwood, pp. 1-169


10 T 3/22

R 3/24

Discuss Oryx & Crake; Blog 6 due

In-class presentations; Short paper due


Atwood, pp. 173-374


11 T 3/29

R 3/31

Discuss Oryx & Crake; Timed writing; Blog 7 due



12 T 4/5

R 4/7

Individual conferences

Individual conferences


Harris & Kunka, 331-395


13 T 4/12

R 4/14

Library research; Blog 8 due

Avoiding plagiarism; MLA style review


Harris & Kunka, pp. 398 – 440
14 T 4/19

R 4/21

UNIT 4 DRAFT DUE; Peer review; Multimedia

The future of writing; Wrap-up; Blog 9 due

15 T 4/26

R 4/28


UNIT 4 ESSAY DUE; Presentations; Blog 10 due

16 R 5/5 FINAL EXAM (8:30-10:30 a.m.)


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