English 133 and 134 Curriculum

The curriculum of our first year writing courses is divided into “sequences,” which means that shorter assignments prepare students to write the major (4-6 page) essay that is due at the end of the sequence.  Below you will find descriptions of these major assignments. 

Sequence I: Your Writer's History

This essay is often written during the first week of English 133 and 134 – although some instructors require students to revisit and revise it again at the end of the quarter.  In these essays, students reflect on their experiences as writers, drawing attention to the importance of developing a writing process, the challenges of writing, and the sense of accomplishment they experience after recognizing their development as writers.  Ultimately, these students are assessing their own abilities as writers so they can better understand the work they have before them.   

Sequence II: Profiling a Person, Place, or Event

For the profile sequence, instructors select a theme – such as the environment, the media, or local culture – and ask students to interview people who work within this area, while other instructors simply ask students to use this assignment to become better acquainted with an aspect of someone’s life, a well-loved place, or even social trends.  For many instructors, conducting an effective interview is essential for this sequence because the interviewee’s vantage point needs to be fully depicted in the essay.   

The profile sequence challenges students to synthesize multiple texts and viewpoints: including their own critical response to their interviewee’s work, the interview itself, and, when appropriate, the students’ own experiences and responses.  In addition, students must account for and write to an audience that does not have knowledge of their essay’s subject matter.  Students are encouraged to carve out distinctive approaches to the assignment – approaches that permit them to explore exceptional elements found in cultures surrounding them.   

Sequence III: Public Rhetoric and Argumentation

For this sequence, students choose a public issue and write a persuasive essay supporting their viewpoint.  Students explore complex subjects in which they have a personal investment and address the concerns of those who hold different positions.   

Students learn that a well-written and fully-supported argument requires them to conduct research both to support their own claims and to fairly depict opposing viewpoints.  They also learn to use the rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos to persuade and connect with their chosen audience.  Regardless of the topic they choose, students are encouraged to select a focus that matters to them, something you want to understand better.  Moreover, as students engage with rhetorical inquiry, they are urged not to approach their topic and their research with firmly held points-of-view that can shut out competing perspectives.  

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