ENGL611 - Approaches to College Composition

Prerequisite: Permission of ARHU-English department. Additional information: Required for graduate assistants (optional to other graduate students).

A seminar emphasizing rhetorical and linguistic foundations for the handling of a course in freshman composition.

English 611: Approaches to College Composition introduces you to some of the major pedagogical conversations in composition studies that should inform and energize your work as a teacher of writing. Over the course of the semester, we will explore key principles and practices at the heart of effective college-level writing instruction, including emphasizing the rhetorical nature of writing, recognizing the complexity of students’ writing processes, enabling students to analyze and practice writing in a variety of genres and for a variety of audiences, highlighting the relationship between writing and technologies, and providing timely feedback on student writing. We will also focus on specific learning goals for the University of Maryland’s English 101: Academic Writing course, with a particular emphasis on how to teach students to compose effective arguments. Of course, we will not only listen to what scholars have had to say about these various aspects of writing instruction but also engage these conversations ourselves, reflecting on how and why certain scholarship might resonate with our own pedagogical investments as well as with the programmatic goals of Maryland’s Academic Writing course. By the end of the semester, you won’t have all the answers about to how to teach writing—no one ever does!—but you will have gained a deeper understanding of composition studies’ major pedagogical concerns. These theories should enable you to become a more thoughtful, reflective, and engaged teacher during your time here at Maryland and throughout your career.


Required Texts

I’ll provide a majority of readings as PDFs, but I do ask you to purchase one book for the course:


Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Elizabeth Wardle, ed. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2015.


I will also distribute copies of the English 101: Academic Writing textbook, Fearless Writing. Throughout the semester, we will several chapters from this textbook as well as selected essays from Interpolations: A Journal of Academic Writing, which showcases exemplary essays from previous English 101 courses; you will access those essays via the journal’s website: <https://www.english.umd.edu/academics/academicwriting/interpolations/spring-2015>.


Meets the Theory, Genre, or Rhetoric requirement in the MA Literature track