Composition I

This course will introduce students to the practice and art of reading, writing, and researching. By actively negotiating how texts, and ourselves as writers, work within digital, cultural, political, and historical contexts, we will read and write about how various media (as well theorists, writers, scholars, celebrities) engage with complex and intersecting issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nation. With that, we will also consider how we posture ourselves, and our values, when we write and take stances that reaffirm who we are in our majors, disciplines, professions, and communities.

As writers, we will consider our own contexts – our relationship to place and audience – and how we can then engage with the ethical responsibility of putting forth arguments for awareness, social justice, or change. In class, we will approach pop culture with an eye toward writing about how we are implicated in, and may want to resist, what is being argued, sold, or perpetuated through these various texts – how social issues inevitably rise from or are ignored in them. What is at stake for these authors, artists, and writers, and how does this inform our own stakes in producing responses? What strategies do they use for different audiences, and how can we then address the cultural consciousness? This will also lead us to consider the social dynamics of technology – how we access information and entertainment as well as how we write our lives into being.

Our readings and discussions may range from advertisements, social media, song lyrics, music videos, television shows, and film, to op-eds, speeches, essays, and literature. Students will also be asked to engage with each other not only in the classroom, but digitally across our Laulima discussion board and Twitter.


Three major essays ranging between 3-7 pages long:

  • personal essay (~1,000 words)
  • analytical essay (~1500 words)
  • Twitter essay/thread/”hot-take”
  • research-based project (~2,500 words)

Required texts/materials:

All readings will be made available on Laulima, and it will be your responsibility to have access to these readings on the day they will be discussed.

Course goals:

  •  Become a critical and close reader
  •  Engage in writing as process: brainstorming, outlining, drafting, proofreading, revision, and peer review
  •  Practice writing in various modes: personal, analytical, persuasive, argumentative
  •  Build research skills in analyzing, evaluating, contextualizing, and integrating sources
  •  Sharpen technical skills such as voice, style, sentence structure, grammar, word choice, transitions, thesis writing, and organization

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Compose college-level writing, including but not limited to, academic discourse, that achieves a specific purpose and responds adeptly to an identifiable audience.
  2. Provide evidence of effective strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading a text in order to produce finished prose.
  3. Compose an argument that makes use of source material that is relevant and credible and that is integrated in accordance with an appropriate style guide.