English 111
Introduction to Composition Through Poetry
University of Washington
Fall 2001

Texts  — Course Description  — CIC  —  Work  —  Requirements

Instructor:  Meg Roland
Office:  Padelford, B5D
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. Poetry has remained a vital, if sometime sidelined, form of expression of the human experience. A recent article about the September 11th bombing asserted that tragedy "sends people to poetry . . . living through a day like Sept. 11th . . . can leave people craving language that's as precise as their pain." In this class, we will explore this potential for precise language, this circumscribed ring of language--words to articulate grief, joy, a story, a moment.

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 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: Beowulf and The Lord of the Rings
  • 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 ia 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--in whole or in part--from the web or other students, in addition to being obvious, are more work, and less of a learning experience, 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 two poems this term. The first will be a reading of a poem of your chosing; the second will be part of a group project which, in addition to a reading, 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. Because we are in computer-integrated classrooms, I expect your presentation to utilize some aspect of the technologies available.

    Course Requirements

    Attendance  — Conferences  — 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. E-mail a classmate if you have missed a day and need to get caught-up.

    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.

    Grading: Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

    • Poetry Reading: 2.5%
    • Three Response Papers: 15%
    • Essay One: 15%
    • Essay Two: 20%
    • Essay Three:25%
    • Presentation and Participation: 20% Includes class discussions, bulletin board discussions, peer responses, e-anthology, and group presentations.
    • Reflective End-of-Term Essay: 2.5%

    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