ENG 103: Basic Writing

Course Objectives

This course develops ideas and practices central to the Concept: “Spring Arbor University is a community of learners distinguished by our lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts, total commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning, and critical participation in the contemporary world.”  By defining our relationships with each other and with the world we share in common, words enable us to form healthy communities. Given this central role in our meaning-making work, our semester of playing and working with words should be time richly spent.

Our topics this semester roughly follow the traditional order of the Trivium: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Each week we’ll spend lots of time reading and writing, so that by the time we finish the semester, you’ll have plenty of experience with these two foundational skills and will be well-prepared to succeed in the rest of your college courses and beyond.

Following is a list of the concrete objectives that you can expect to achieve during this course:

  • Learn the eight parts of speech in English
  • Learn the various functions of punctuation in English
  • Explore and analyze sentence structure in English
  • Explore and analyze paragraph structure in English
  • Practice the craft of close reading for comprehension
  • Learn the basics of rhetoric, with an emphasis on logic
  • Practice the rules of analytic thinking
  • Learn the shape of sound argumentation
  • Observe basic fallacies of critical thinking
  • Practice the craft of paraphrasing and summarizing an argument
  • Articulate how critical reading and thinking are necessary to develop as a critical writer.

Grading Breakdown:

Course Grading Scale: A 100-93; A- 92-90; B+ 89-87; B 86-83; B- 82-80; . . . F 59-0.

There is one way to earn bonus points (should you care).  Students who miss one or fewer classes will get an extra percentage point added to their total grade.


All required readings can be found in our course folder on Box.

Course Calendar

Course meets MWF from 8:55-9:55 in Pol 204

This schedule is subject to change.

Week 1

  • Friday 1/26: Introduction

Week 2: Parts of Speech

  • Monday 1/29: Read Francine Prose’s “Close Reading
  • Wednesday 1/31: Re-read Francine Prose’s “Close Reading
  • Friday 2/2: Essay 1 due; quiz on Parts of Speech

Week 3: Punctuation

Week 4: Diction

  • Monday 2/12: Read David Bently Hart’s “A Perfect Game
  • Wednesday 2/14: Focus
  • Friday 2/16: Essay 3 due; quiz on Diction

Week 5: Sentence Structure

  • Monday 2/19: Read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Hard Corps
  • Wednesday 2/21: Re-read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Hard Corps
  • Friday 2/23: Essay 4 due; quiz on Sentence Structure

Week 6: Paragraph Structure

Week 7: Syllogisms and Warrants

  • Monday 3/12: Read Frank Furedi’s “Books are Dangerous
  • Wednesday 3/14: Re-read Frank Furedi’s “Books are Dangerous
  • Friday 3/16: Essay 6 due; quiz on Syllogisms and Warrants

Week 8: Analogies

Week 9: Definitions

  • Monday 3/26: Essay 7 due; quiz on Analogies
  • Wednesday 3/28: Read Wendell Berry’s “Think Little
  • Friday 3/31: Good Friday

Week 10: Definitions continued

  • Monday 4/2: Easter Monday
  • Wednesday 4/4: Re-read Wendell Berry’s “Think Little
  • Friday 4/6: Essay 8 due; quiz on Definitions

Week 11: Fallacies

  • Monday 4/9: Read C. S. Lewis’s “Bulverism
  • Wednesday 4/11: Re-read C. S. Lewis’s “Bulverism
  • Friday 4/13: Essay 9 due; quiz on fallacies

Week 12: Putting Arguments Together

  • Monday 4/16: Read William Cronon’s “Only Connect
  • Wednesday 4/18: Re-read William Cronon’s “Only Connect
  • Friday 4/20: Essay 10 due; quiz on arguments

Week 13: Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Week 14: Responding to Sources

  • Monday 4/30: Read David Freedman’s “How Junk Food Can End Obesity
  • Wednesday 5/2: No class: conferences. Sign up here for an appointment.
  • Friday 5/4: Peer-review of final portfolio; bring 3 copies of your portfolio

Week 15

  • Monday 5/7: Final Portfolio due
  • Final on Friday 5/11,1:00-3:00