English 111
Introduction to Composition Through Poetry
University of Washington
Winter 2000

Texts  — Course Description  — CIC  —  Work  —  Requirements

Instructor:  Meg Roland

Office:  Padelford, A 309
Office Hrs:  M 3:00-4:00, W 11:30-12:20, and by appt.
Email:  mroland@u.washington.edu


Course Description and Goals

For hundreds of years, poetry was the primary form in which writers expressed themselves. Legends, the role of women, kingship, love, death, life, God--all of these issues were addressed in the form of poetry. If it wasn't written in verse, it was hardly considered literary. In the 1400's this began to slowly change and the prose form (such as the novel) began to emerge as an accepted literary form. But poetry, broadly defined, has remained a vital form of expression of the human experience in poetic form itself, as drama, as "poetic prose," as song lyrics, and, of course, as a link to the past.

This course is designed primarily to strengthen your skills as a critical reader, a critical thinker, and as a persuasive, intellectual writer. Focusing on poetry and poetic language in a range of forms will help us key in to the power and play of language. This is not a survey of poetry class, but rather a class in composition in which we will study selected poets and poems as a means of studying writing.

  • Unit One: English romanticism - John Keats
  • Unit Two: Medieval and Arthurian romance - Marie de France and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Unit Three: Poetic Prose - Henry David Thoreau "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"
  • Unit Four: Contemporary Forms: song lyrics, rap, poetry slams, other ideas?
  • You will be writing argumentative essay for each of the first three units. An academic, argumentative essay is one in which you:

  • present a strong, arguable, and significant claim;
  • explain, develop, and organize complex ideas;
  • analyze textual evidence in support of your claim;
  • research, use, and cite "secondary sources" (that is, ideas from other studies); and
  • write persuasively for an academic audience.
  • Computer Integrated Composition (CIC)

    This course is a section of UW's CIC writing program. The wired classroom offers many benefits not available in the traditional classroom: access to electronic resources like the electronic Oxford English Dictionary and the UW library ; a bulletin board for electronic class discussions; and word processing programs which allow for in-class writing and electronic peer response. In addition, CIC students (and only CIC students) also have access to the LAN during its open hours, as well as limited printing possibilities. However, English 111 is still first and foremost a writing class, one which is supplemented by technology. Here are some of the LAN policies.


    Essays  — Readings  — Presentations

    Essays: You will compose three essays, each four to six pages in length (a minimum of 1000-1500), typed, double-spaced, and in a standard twelve point font. We will follow a process approach to writing: we will work collaboratively with other writers, receiving and offering thoughtful feedback. You will become insightful readers not only of poetry but of each other's (and your own) writing by participating in regular peer response workshops. Your response to your peers will form a part of your grade and it is a crucial step in the revision process. It is important that you work hard to be an insigtful peer respondent.

    When you submit your final drafts, include your previous drafts and the comments received. Essay deadlines need to be met: credit will be deducted for every day your essay is late, including weekends. Expect to spend about twelve dollars on photocopies for this class.

    Academic Honesty: According to university and department policy, plagiarism is considered theft of someone else's words/ideas, and constitutes grounds for failure of the assignment, probable failure of the course and even suspension from the university. Papers copied from the web or other students, in addition to being obvious, would be more work than writing the paper yourself in that you would have to create response papers, rough drafts, etc to match! It is fair for you to know that I subscribe to all the major on-line sources of student papers and I check them periodically. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or if you are having such difficulty writing that you are tempted to use or buy someone else's work, you should come see me instead; we can work together to help you develop and present ideas that are you own. In class, we will discuss the proper way to cite sources in your essays.

    Readings and Response Essays:  Come to class having read the day's assignment. Active reading (underlining, making notes, marking questions, re-reading) is essential. You will write response essays as the first step in a three-part sequence that will help you to develop a strong essay:

  • a initial response essay which includes a close reading of the poem and your thoughts and reaction to that reading,
  • a rough draft that will go through a peer response process, and
  • a revised draft.

    Class discussions and the essay assignments will be based upon the readings, so read closely and be prepared to share your responses to the readings in class.

  • Presentations: Each student will give a reading of one poem this term. In addition to the reading, each student will provide background on the poet and poem, an analysis of the poem, a short bibliography of resources, and several critical questions raised by the poem.

    Course Requirements

    Attendance  — Conferences  — Portfolios  — Grading
    Electronic Literacy  — English Writing Center  — Out-of-Class Assistance

    Attendance:  Attendance is fundamental to your success in this course. That is, although this is a computer integrated class, it isn't a distance learning course. Excessive absences will hurt your participation grade by causing you to miss in-class work that cannot be made up later. E-mail me in cases of emergencies.

    Conferences:  Each member of the class will meet with me twice during the term, during the regularly scheduled class time, to discuss your writing and work in the class.

    Portfolios:  At the end of the quarter, you will select one essay to revise a final time. The portfolio will include the revised essay, a reflective letter, and one of your response essays. In order to submit a portfolio, you must have completed all the essay assignments. We will discuss portfolios in greater detail at a later date. Remember to save all of your drafts and all of your in-class writing as you may need it to submit as part of your portfolio.


    Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

    • Essay One: 10%
    • Essay Two: 15%
    • Essay Three:20%
    • Three Response Papers: 15%
    • Presentation and Participation: 20% Includes class discussions, bulletin board discussions, written peer responses, and poetry reading/presentation.

    • Final Portfolio: 20%

    Electronic Literacy:  E-mail and the internet will be used frequently. Establish your "dante" e-mail account as soon as possible, and then check it often. You will learn how to save your work to an e-folder on the "L" drive in the LAN. We will also have a discussion bulletin board which will provide another venue for discussing the readings as well as insights/questions about the writing process. I encourage you to consider the bulleting board a form of "pre-writing" for your response papers.

    English Writing Center, B-12 Padelford:  The English Department Writing Center is staffed by trained tutors who will consult with you about your writing. This is an excellent resource for writers of all levels and I strongly encourage you to make an appointment. In fact, I will give extra credit (one time during the term) on any essay which includes a visit by the writer (that's you) to the writing center. Call 685-2876 to make an appointment or drop by the writing center (open M-F 10:30-4:30) with your paper.

    Out-of-Class Assistance:  If you have any concerns about the course or your writing, please let me know as soon as possible. Feel free to come by during my office hours, or if that time is inconvenient, arrange an appointment with me. The best way to contact me outside of class is to e-mail me at mroland@u.washington.edu.

    If you would like to talk to someone else about English 131 or have additional concerns, you can contact Professor Gail Stygall, Director of Expository Writing at 543-2190, Padelford Room A-11 (stygall@u.washington.edu). Any of the assistant directors, also in A-11, will also be able to address your concern. Shawn Wong is the department chair and may be reached at 543-2690, Room A101 in Padelford Hall.

    Schedule- -Links