Composition I

Composition I: Writing During a Pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into disarray. In this moment of rupture, how can we use writing to explore and make sense of the multiple crises—social, environmental, racial, economic—through which we’re living? How can writing help us not only to nurture community in this age of social distancing but also to survive, or at least be better prepared for, future moments of crisis? In this course, we will reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the world as we work on gaining the analytical and rhetorical skills required to be active participants in academic communities as well as other communities to which we belong. We will closely examine writing in a range of modes and forms—poetry, blogging, music, news reportage, fiction, film, critical essays—and experiment with many of these types of writing as a way of generating insight and organizing ideas about living with and through the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the topics in the course might include: self-care; public health as a common good; domestic space as safe/unsafe; incarceration; the ongoing crisis of racial, social, and economic inequality; and histories of race and disease in the modern world. You will leave the course with experience 1) writing with clarity and purpose for specific audiences 2) revising and editing prose and 3) composing argumentative essays that incorporate a range of source material.

Assignments and Expectations: Over the course of the semester, in addition to informal writing assignments, you will write a series of short papers (3-4 pages) and one longer paper (8-10 pages), which you will formally present to the class. For each round of papers, you will work in small writing groups to provide feedback on prose (organization, style, etc.) as well as overall reasoning and impact. The topics for the three short papers will be determined by class interest and discussion, but the modes will certainly include autobiography, observation, and analysis. The longer research paper provides you with an opportunity to acquire and sharpen your research and analytical writing skills, as well as your oral presentation skills.

Required Texts: Texts will be provided to you online or as handouts. The suggested style guide for the course is MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th Edition.