About English 110

The Goal of the Course

In English 110, we aim to prepare Queens College students to use the conventions of scholarly writing in all of their General Education courses.   We recognize that college-level writing looks very different and functions very differently across disciplinary boundaries, but we hope to help our students meet those wide-ranging challenges with aplomb. 

To achieve that goal, we organize our syllabi around interdisciplinary topics, rendering English 110 not an “English” class in the conventional sense.  We aim to place no particular emphasis on literary study, because we take seriously our obligation to teach our students how scholars across the curriculum gather and analyze evidence in writing. 

We know that one semester is woefully insufficient to meet this goal.   A recent high school graduate will not instantly write with the authority of a professional in any field—much less every field—but we hope to set her on that path with solid footing by articulating for her the expectations of the scholarly community we share. 

The Assignments

 To ensure that we achieve that goal, we design our assignments around a skeletal form that is shared by every section of College Writing 1.  The content of each course varies with the topics, so the assignments vary accordingly, too, with this structure in common.

Students in this course write four formal essays, of which at least three resemble essays that they would write in a General Education course.  One of those essays entails original research, and all of them enable students to practice a writing process that includes pre-drafts and revisions.  Students’ written and oral conversations with each other and their instructor inform those revisions.

The assignments can be sequenced in one of two ways.

Option 1: All four formal assignments give students practice in common forms scholarly writing.

Essay 1: Analyze a single primary source to support an arguable thesis.

Essay 2: Develop an argument to analyze the tension you see between two sources (either two primary sources, or one primary and one secondary).

Essay 3: Use a secondary source as a lens to analyze a primary source, and support your thesis with evidence.

Essay 4: Develop an analytical argument using original research that includes both primary and secondary sources.

Option 2: Three of the four formal essays give students practice in scholarly writing.  The fourth gives students an opportunity to present scholarly evidence to an audience that is specified (e.g., readers of The New Yorker; policymakers considering an issue of relevance to the course; scholars in the field of anthropology). 

Essay 1: Analyze a single primary source support an arguable thesis.

Essay 2: Use a secondary source to analyze a primary source, and support your thesis with evidence.

Essay 3: Develop an analytical argument using original research that includes both primary and secondary sources.

Essay 4: Present your research within the conventions of a particular genre (e.g., an annotated bibliography, an op-ed piece, a review essay, a personal essay) that is particularly relevant to the course topic.  

Ground Rules for the Assignments

 -Every assignment enables students to write a wide variety of theses.  Binarisms (pro/con; compare/contrast) and leading questions are eschewed.

– Every assignment asks students to go beyond descriptive theses.  The imperative to write a thesis with a motive is clearly stated.  

– Assignments are reducible to a single sentence.

– Every assignment articulates the need for evidence and analysis.

To learn more about how ENG 110 supports the Gen Ed curriculum, see also: http://writingatqueens.org/page/6

Goals for 110

Guidelines for 110


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