Rethinking a successful course

Our writing program has moved to some current ideas as points of connection between all the first-year classes we run. Asking students to write in multiple genres and couching the learning in our classes in terms of “transfer” have increasingly become important to the consistency of the program. I’m hoping to revise this class so that it addresses these rhetorical moves in healthy ways, using texts as models to help the students write. Even though this class relies upon texts, I’m still categorizing it as 101 because the texts we are using aren’t fictional, but rather “paraliterary,” to use a term one of my lit professors used once.

Joonna Trapp

English 101.011 “Enacting Forgiveness”

Fall 2015, TTh 8:30-9:15 a.m., Callaway N204

In this class, we’ll continue to learn to write in interesting and compelling ways, ways which draw a reader in. We’ll apply what we learn to a topic that seems to get short shrift today—we’ll consider together the topic of forgiveness. Forgiveness as applied in personal, communal, and national contexts will provide insight to a kind of ethic which enacts powerful change. You will read a variety of “texts,” write multiple drafts of several papers, and also write less formally by reflecting about your own writing and the readings. Your writing will be read by me and by other students in our class. Seeing how others handle the same assignment can often help improve your next assignment and your overall writing and thinking skills. And most of all, you will learn how to write in various contexts and in different genres and how reading and research feed and provide the support needed for the assertions and claims you make. You will learn that being able to argue is powerful and especially so when it is in the service of others and done ethically. Texts begin considered for this class include a documentary, “The Prodigal Son,” a book about the Amish school house shooting, works by Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, and web texts of organizations such as the Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut. We will also use Elbow and Belanoff’s Being a Writer: A Community of Writers Revisited (McGraw-Hill).

“Forgive” by Tony Webster

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