About the Courses
What Will You Learn and Do in Freshman English?
The primary emphasis in Freshman English is on analytical writing that uses source texts. The focus is neither on literature nor on personal writing, though some sections might use fiction or poetry as sources. You will learn to read non-fiction prose or essays that exemplify (or model) some of the literate moves that Freshman English aims to teach (e.g., ways of making an argument, ways of responding to the ideas of others, etc.) In this way, Freshman English does not teach reading on its own, for its own sake, or for the sake of the subject matter of the source materials, but for the purpose of teaching you how to compose your own meaning in dialogue with others. The modest quantity of assigned reading serves this goal of teaching composition – i.e., teaching you how to work with different kinds of sources as a writer, not in order to “cover” a topic. To this end, in-class and take-home activities focus less on direct discussion of the course readings and much more on teaching you the various moves and strategies that reader-writers use, including how to write with (or in response to) complex sources.
Depending on the number of pre-drafts and informal writings and readings that precede them (and the number of revisions that follow them), students in all sections write 3 – 5 formal, graded essays. You will receive grades on at least two of your formal essays before the withdraw deadline. These essays are about four pages, minimum; one of them is at least five pages long. Each of these 3 – 5 formal essays receives substantive written response from your instructor, and you will be required to revise at least two of these essays after getting feedback on them. In fact, revision is central to the work of the course. This means both sequential and textual revision. In sequential revision, you will be asked reconsidered earlier ideas and readings in light of new readings and responses, or to consolidate your informal writing into formal essays. In textual revision, you will rework drafts of your individual papers after receiving feedback from your instructor (and often from your peers, too).
Freshman English teaches many of the important moves that critical readers and writers make, especially those that you will need in order to pass UMB’s Writing Proficiency Requirement (once you have earned 60 credits): Among other things, you will learn to paraphrase a source text, exemplify an idea, argue a point, synthesize ideas and readings, analyze a concept, and define complex terms). In addition, Freshman English courses actively teach you how to develop, use, and reflect on the following:
- a range of pre-reading, reading and rereading strategies that you can use
- various methods and kinds of note-taking and annotation as you work with readings
- drafting and discovery techniques that will lead you to ideas you can write about
- ways of providing productive peer response to your classmates
- ways to use and reflect on the teacher and peer commentary you receive
- strategies for revising your writing
- strategies for editing and proofreading your writing
- ways to increase your awareness of audience and of your own reading and writing processes.