ENG 104: College 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.”  We will explore how rhetoric, one of the three liberal arts, enables us to learn in community, participate in the life of the Word who became flesh, and cooperate in his redemption of our world.

Right now you may view education and this class in the context of the marketplace; perhaps you want to exchange money and homework (as little of both as possible) for a grade that will maximize your earning potential.  What I believe, however, is that real learning about words—both received (read) and given (spoken or written)—can occur only when we get past this contractual model.  This is because language is a gift that originated in the divine community and has been given to human communities.  So while many of the words that bombard us today are intended to provoke buying and selling, these functions do not exhaust the power of language.  Thus my hope is that you will have the opportunity this semester to learn more deeply that language is a gift offered in community, a gift I encourage you to receive and actively practice.

To meet these broad goals, the Spring Arbor English Department has developed a list of specific objectives for ENG 104:

  • To hone the writing skills necessary for college coursework;
  • To establish thesis, analyze audience, and understand purpose;
  • To emphasize strategies appropriate for college writing such as analysis and argument;
  • To take a position and support it with a clear line of reasoning;
  • To develop critical thinking skills in order to recognize assumptions, analyze arguments, and assess implications through sound reasoning;
  • To detect logical fallacies so as to evaluate arguments;
  • To learn to provide peer critique and to receive peer editing in a group;
  • To develop college-level research and documentation skills;
  • To produce 20 pages of academic writing;
  • To develop proofreading skills through the editing of the student’s own work and the work of others;
  • To exhibit positive communication and listening skills as students work in groups, prepare oral presentations, and attend class lectures;
  • To analyze, research, and organize a paper or papers in MLA format, and to become familiar with research resources.

Course Requirements

To accomplish these objectives, we will complete four units.  Each unit will build on the skills introduced in the previous units.  Our classes will consist of some lectures, but much of the time will be spent in small group discussion and individual work.  I can demonstrate critical thinking and effective writing, but only individual practice will enable you to master these arts.   Furthermore, I am still learning myself about the ways rhetoric can lead and form us, so I expect to be taught by each of you during our discussions.

Grading Breakdown:

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

The grades for units 1 and 4 are broken up as follows: 15% process work (in-class writing, class participation, reading quizzes, peer reviews, and drafting), and 85% completed essay.  Because units 2 and 3 involve more intensive preliminary assignments, the process work comprises 25% of the unit grade and the completed essay fulfills the remaining 75%.  In order to pass this class, students must complete all four units, the reading notebook, and the final.

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.


  • The Office of Assertion: An Art of Rhetoric for the Academic Essay, by Scott Crider.  ISBN: 9781932236453
  • They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein.  ISBN:  9780393933611
  • Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. ISBN: 9780802848642

Course Calendar

Course meets MWF from 8:55-9:55 in SMC 111

This schedule is subject to change.

Week 1

  • Wednesday 9/2: Introduction
  • Friday 9/4: Read OA chapter 1 “Introduction: Rhetoric as the Liberal Art of Soul-Leading in Writing”; Reading Notebook entry on “Why Worry about Words?” due

Week 2

Week 3

  • Monday 9/14: bring 200 word summaries of two of these three essays to class, following the directions in TS/IS 30-40
  • Wednesday 9/16: bring one copy of a draft of your essay
  • Friday 9/18: bring two copies of your essay; Reading Notebook entry on “Tell the Truth” due

Week 4

  • Monday 9/21: Intro to Analysis Unit; essay 1 due (please format this essay, and all subsequent essays, according to this guide).
  • Wednesday 9/23: Watch this introductory video to the SAU archives (note you can also access the Powerpoint which includes links to varies artifacts); Reading Notebook entry on “Don’t Tolerate Lies” due
  • Friday 9/25: Archive Day. To set up an appointment to visit the archives, email Susan Panak.

Week 5

  • Monday 9/28: read OA chapter 2 “Invention: The Discovery of Arguments”;  bring a good question about your artifact: “the value of a question is determined . . . by the specificity and richness of the answers it produces [and] by the quantity and quality of the new questions it raises” (Postman, The End of Education 187)
  • Wednesday 9/30: No class, Fall break
  • Friday 10/2: read OA chapter 4 “Style: Words and Sentences”; Artifact Analysis due; Reading Notebook entry on “Read Well” due

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

  • Monday 10/19: Citation overview; read TS/IS 42-52, and 55-67; read OA chapter 3 “Organization: The Desire for Design”
  • Wednesday 10/21: no class—make an appointment to meet with me via Zoom here; outline due at meeting; Reading Notebook entry on “Love the Long Sentence”
  • Friday 10/23: no class—conferences

Week 9

  • Monday 10/26: no class—conferences
  • Wednesday 10/28: Logical fallacy discussion; Reading Notebook entry on “Practice Poetry”
  • Friday 10/30: annotated bibliography due

Week 10

  • Monday 11/2: read OA 5 “Re-visioning: Products and Processes”
  • Wednesday 11/4: bring a draft of your essay; Reading Notebook entry on “Attend to Translation”
  • Friday 11/6: bring a draft of your essay

Week 11

  • Monday 11/9: peer review day
  • Wednesday 11/11: peer review day
  • Friday 11/13: essay 3 due.

Week 12

  • Monday 11/16: In-class analysis of “new” media
  • Wednesday 11/18: Re-mediation project proposal due; Reading Notebook entry on “Play”
  • Friday 11/20: Re-mediation workshop

Week 13

  • Monday 11/23: No class, Thanksgiving Break
  • Wednesday 11/25: No class, Thanksgiving Break
  • Friday 11/27: No class, Thanksgiving Break

Week 14

  • Monday 11/30: read OA 6 “Conclusion: Rhetoric as the Office of Assertion”; Reading Notebook entry on “Pray”
  • Wednesday 12/2: Reading Notebook entry on “Cherish Silence”
  • Friday 12/4: Presentations

Week 15

  • Monday 12/7: Presentations
  • Friday 12/11: Final Exam 1:00-3:00; Remediation essay due