EH 1301.88 -- ENGLISH COMPOSITION I
Welcome to English Composition!
Welcome to the first of two courses in writing and reading you will be taking at Faulkner University. I decided to write this letter so you would know up front what I expect from you and what you can expect from me.
The best way to become a better writer is to write. So we will. You will write every week. You will turn in five"formal" writing assignments, but you will also be doing a lot of "in-class" writing.
I hope that during the semester writing will become a more natural process for you -- one that you can engage in as successfully as you engage in conversation. I hope you noticed that I said "process." The product, the paper you turn in, will have to be evaluated, but the writing process will be our primary focus. We'll examine what happens when you write, how you write, how other "successful" writers write.
The most important thing you need to know as a writer is how you think and verbalize and how you might use these skills in your writing. Writing begins as focusing on, narrowing and editing what is in your head, what William James called the "stream of consciousness." Going to the library and reading what someone else has written about a topic and then summarizing and paraphrasing it is not the way to achieve this focused setting.
You will write about your own eyewitnessing, memories, interviews, feelings, reflections, attitudes and reactions. As you can see, these are subjects that have not been previously interpreted. Doing your own interpretation will bring you closer to the realization that writing is thinking and discovery. Writing about people, events, issues, and feelings is a way to discover and know them. Writers must focus and see what they're writing about to be able to show it to their readers. I hope you'll learn to trust yourself as a writer (and me as a reader) enough to write honestly.
To be successful in this course, you will have to be deeply engaged in the writing you do. As I've already said, there is a close relationship between writing and thinking. Your writing should reflect this relationship. I expect more than CORRECTNESS. The kind of writing you do just to get a grade won't get you very far in this course. Good writing requires a real investment of a writer. I want to see real thinking and hear a real voice.
I'll respond to your writing as a reader instead of an English teacher. I'll write comments like "I can't see him. Where is he standing?" instead of "vague." You'll need to show me what you see. My interest lies in the deep structure of your writing. Surface structure only concerns me when it interferes with or obscures the deep structure (what you're really saying or trying to show me, and how genuine and meaningful it is). I don't mean that I'll ignore the surface structure (grammar, punctuation, and mechanics), just that it is not the focus of this course. You should already be in control of it.
All papers must be typed, double-spaced, following MLA guidelines and sent through email as a Word document attachment. Put your name, the date, the course number and section, and the exercise number in the upper left-hand corner of your paper. Do not include a cover page. You will return all of your essays to me at end of the semester, so make sure that you save them.
Please do not ask, "How long does my paper have to be?" because I will answer, "As long as it takes to communicate your message."
We will work together throughout the semester to help you achieve your goals. Please communicate via email often. If you don't let me know what is going on, I can't assist you!
- Dr. Cindy Walker