First-Year Writing

ENGL 123—First-Year Writing Seminar (5396)

Course Description and Policies, Fall Semester 2015 


Professor: Dr. Trevor Hoag


Office: McMurran Hall (MCM), #213 

Office Hours: MW (x:xx), TR (x:xx), and by appointment (Always Email Me First!)


Class Librarian: Lauren Wallis


Office: Trible Library #162

Office Hours: MW (x:xx), TR (x:xx), and by appointment (Always Email Me First!)


Class Time: MWF 13:00 – 13:50 (1:00 PM – 1:50 PM) 

Meeting Place: McMurran Hall (MCM), #257 

Course Blog:

Course Websites:

All Readings and Required Materials are Available Online  


Course Description 

The First-Year Writing Seminar introduces students to the conventions of reading and writing appropriate for liberal arts learning, in particular, the ability to analyze and produce sophisticated arguments, proposals, reports, analyses, and other academic genres that position their views within ongoing social and cultural questions. Individually and collectively, students will read and discuss challenging texts, evaluating text styles, conclusions, and evidence. They will also draft and revise essays that reflect deeper critical thought, an effective prose style, an ability to evaluate outside research to complement their writing, and consideration of an audience’s expectations. The course offers students frequent written and oral feedback on their writing and prepares students for the Second-Year Writing Seminar by providing guidance for students to incorporate multiple print and electronic resources into their writing. Students must earn a C- or higher to satisfy University degree requirements.



The French philosopher-historian Michel Foucault argued a critical relationship exists between power, knowledge, and discourse. For Foucault, power is not merely exercised by the powerful (those in charge); rather, power can come from anywhere and everywhere, including those who seemingly are powerless. One way by which the “powerless” can facilitate power moving through them to affect social change is not merely by “gaining” knowledge–as those in power determine what counts as knowledge–but by producing knowledge, which can spread truths that those in power will attempt to block/control. According to Foucault, knowledge is bound to various discourses, blocs of phrases and utterances (language), which means that knowledge is a tangible, material entity that can be shaped (for “better” or “worse”). As inhabitants of the 21st-century, we can move beyond thinking about “discourse” as only alphabetic text to include images, video, sound, and more. Our task for the course will be to deploy various discourses broadly defined to both “gain” and produce knowledge so as to critique and challenge powerful regimes that would problematically control our bodies and their movement. To do so, however, it will have been necessary to .C.hallenge.N.ormal.U.nderstanding.


Coursework and Grading:

(Twitter) x2 per Meeting: — 5%

(One “Readings” Question, One in-class Observation)



(Wiki) Media Monitoring Journal — 5%

(Blog) Media Monitoring Comparative Analysis — 10%


(Wiki) Autoethnographic Field Notes — 5%

(Blog) Autoethnography — 10%


(Wiki) Wikipedia Topic Proposal(s) — 5%

(Wiki) Uncontrolled Vocabularies Activity — 5%

(Blog) “Your” Writing Processes — 5%


(Artifact/Presentation) Rhetorical Analysis of Wikipedia sources — 10%

(Blog) Rhetorical Analysis of Wikipedia source(s) — 10%


(Wiki) Ethos and Web Presence Activity — 5%

(Artifact) Wikipedia Entry Contribution/Modification w/Revision — 10% + 5%

(Artifact/Presentation) Infographic, Video, or Slideshow — 10%


Letter Grades:

A:        100 — 93%                  B-:       82 — 80%                    D+: 69 — 67%

A-:       92 — 90%                    C+:      79 — 77%                    D: 66 — 63%

B+:      89 — 87%                    C:        76 — 73%                    D-: 62 — 60%

B:        86 — 83%                    C-:       72 — 70%                    F: 59% and below


Important Course Statements 

Assignments: All assignments are due for posting at the beginning of class. If you cannot meet a due-date, you need to contact me in advance.  Please note that “revision” assignments require a completed peer review and will not receive full credit without one.

Participation: Because of the content and small size of this class, participation is invaluable. For example, please keep up with the readings/assignments. Not only is class discussion essential to learning in this course, but we will be bored to tears if no one has read the readings and we have nothing to do but stare at each other (or I am required to pontificate for the entire class)!

Attendance: Attendance is absolutely required for this course. Moreover, if you are not in class, you will likely find the material more difficult when you attempt to write about it (which, of course, you are required to do almost daily). Also, attendance and participation are considered when figuring grade “bumps” at the end of the course.

Close Reading: A key outcome of this course is learning to read closely. Thus, from day one, we will always write with a pen or pencil in-hand, taking notes. Periodically, I will check to see if you’ve been taking them and reward you accordingly.

Disabilities: In order for a student to receive an accommodation for a disability, that disability must be on record in the Dean of Students’ Office, 3rd Floor, David Student Union (DSU). If you believe that you have a disability, please contact Dr. Kevin Hughes, Dean of Students (594-7160) to discuss your needs. Dean Hughes will provide you with the necessary documentation to give to your professors.

Students with documented disabilities are required to notify the instructor no later than the first day on which they require an accommodation (the first day of class is recommended), in private, if accommodation is needed. The instructor will provide students with disabilities with all reasonable accommodations, but students are not exempted from fulfilling the normal requirements of the course. Work completed before the student notifies the instructor of his/her disability may be counted toward the final grade at the sole discretion of the instructor.

Success: I want you to succeed in this course and at CNU. I encourage you to come see me during office hours or to schedule an appointment to discuss course content or to answer questions you have. If I become concerned about your course performance, attendance, engagement, or well-being, I will speak with you first. I also may submit a referral through our Captains Care Program. The referral will be received by the Center for Academic Success as well as other departments when appropriate (Counseling Services, Office of Student Engagement). If you are an athlete, the Athletic Academic Support Coordinator will be notified. Someone will contact you to help determine what will help you succeed. Please remember that this is a means for me to support you and help foster your success at CNU.

Academic Support: The Center for Academic Success offers free tutoring assistance for CNU students in several academic areas. Staff in the center offer individual assistance and/or workshops on various study strategies to help you perform your best in your courses. The center also houses the Alice F. Randall Writing Center. Writing consultants can help you at any stage of the writing process, from invention, to development of ideas, to polishing a final draft. The Center is not a proofreading service, but consultants can help you to recognize and find grammar and punctuation errors in your work as well as provide assistance with global tasks. Go as early in the writing process as you can, and go often!

You may drop by the Center for Academic Success to request a tutor, meet with a writing consultant, pick up a schedule of workshops, or make an appointment to talk one-on-one with a University Fellow for Student Success. The Center is located in the Trible Library, second floor, room 240.


ENGL 123 Course Schedule*



Syllabus and Introductions


In Class: Set up PBworks, WordPress Blog, and Twitter Accounts
 F      8/28 What is Rhetoric/Multimodal “Writing?” (Ethos, Pathos, Logos, Kairos)

What is 21st-Century Literacy?

Begin Tweeting (x2) during Class Discussions

M     8/31 Discussion of Readings: Media Oligopolies

Begin Media Monitoring Project (Wiki Journal/Group Analysis)

Workshop: Timelines



Tweeting the #triblib

Visit Alice Randal Writing Center and Student Success Center

 F      9/4 Share Media Monitoring Journals (small groups)




In Class: Media Monitoring Discussion

(Intra-group Discussion, Informal Group “Reports”)



Discussion of Readings: Digital Labor
 F      9/11 Media Monitoring Blog Post Due (w/ in-class Peer Review)
M     9/14 Discussion of Readings: Autoethnographies

Prof. Wallis’ and Dr. Hoag’s Autoethnographies

Introduce Autoethnography Assignment



Discussion of Readings: Filter Bubbles

Workshop: Mindmaps and Comparing Peer Search Queries (Freemind, Text-2-Mindmap, Schematic Mind)

 F      9/18 Share Autoethnographic Field Notes (small groups)

What’s Wrong with the 5-Paragraph Essay?

What’s Wrong with just “Expressing Myself?”




Critical Perspectives on Race and Class in Digital Environments


Critical Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality in Digital Environments
 F      9/25 Autoethnography Blog Due (w/ in-class Peer Review)
M     9/28 Government, Information, and Privacy


Social Media Activism

Workshop: Social Media and Challenging Authority (Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, tumblr, reddit, Facebook

 F      10/2 Wikipedia Topic Proposal Due (small groups) 




Discussion of Readings: Open/Closed Information Systems


Research in Open/Closed Information Systems

Workshop: Critical Research Skills

 F      10/9 Uncontrolled Vocabularies

Workshop: Critical Research Skills Part #2

In-Class: Uncontrolled Vocabularies Activity (Attendance REQUIRED)

M     10/12 FALL BREAK!


Discussion of Readings: Big Data and Visualization

Workshop: Digital Analysis with Lexipedia, Voyeur, Rap Genius, Many Eyes

 F    10/16 Writing Processes Blog Post Due (w/ in-class Peer Review)




Rhetorical Analysis Presentations using Digital Media (Wikipedia Topic)


Rhetorical Analysis Presentations using Digital Media (Wikipedia Topic)
 F    10/23 Rhetorical Analysis Presentations using Digital Media (Wikipedia Topic)

Rhetorical Analysis Blog Due (w/ in-class Peer Review)

M    10/26 Discussion of Readings: Wikipedia


Wikipedia How-To Workshop
 F    10/30 Discussion of Readings: Creative Commons and Intellectual Property

Video: Lawrence Lessig, “Laws that Choke Creativity”




Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon #1


Thinking critically about Citation: MLA, APA, Chicago

Video: Kirby Ferguson, “Embrace the Remix”

 F      11/6 Film: _The Internet’s Own Boy: the Story of Aaron Swarzt_
M     11/9 Wikipedia Project Conferences, IDEAs


Wikipedia Project Conferences, IDEAs
 F    11/13 Wikipedia Project Conferences, IDEAs




Rhetorical Fallacies Part 1

Workshop: Digital Argument with Infographics and Fliers (, Piktochart,, Smore)



Rhetorical Fallacies Part 2

Workshop: Digital Argument with Slideshows and Videos (Prezi,, Slideshare, Animoto)

 F    11/20 Wikipedia Entry Due (w/ in-class Peer Review)
M    11/23 In-Class: Ethos and Web Presence Activity (Attendance REQUIRED)

Video: Juan Enriquez, “Your Online Life: As Permanent as a Tattoo”







Argument Presentations using Digital Media (Wikipedia Topic)


Argument Presentations using Digital Media (Wikipedia Topic)
 F    12/4 Argument Presentations using Digital Media (Wikipedia Topic)

Wikipedia Entry Revision Due

*The instructor reserves the right to revise any portion of this syllabus throughout the semester.


Student Signature: ____________________________________________________

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