Composition Program

Composition at UMass Boston is a carefully designed sequence of two required General Education courses that teach critical reading and writing as interconnected activities: English 101 and English 102.

In all Composition sections, you will learn to write as a reader and to read as a writer in ways that prepare you for college-level assignments. Composition at UMass Boston is not a course in interpreting literature or in personal writing; instead, it teaches you to make academic arguments that use source materials, to write thoughtful analyses of complex readings, and to understand or articulate your experience in relation to the sources with which you are learning to work. Although different sections of the same course use different topics and texts, all sections of Composition share common expectations that are articulated on this website (see Program Policies below) and in each instructor’s syllabus.

We also offer equivalent sections of Composition courses designed expressly for multilingual students who will benefit not only from explicit attention to their particular concerns about writing, but also from collaborating with other students who share their concerns. These courses receive the same credit and the same transcript designation as other Composition courses.  (An intensive preparatory sequence of work for English language learners is also available, offered through the university’s Academic Support Office.)

Our core beliefs about academic reading and writing shape the teaching methods and materials in all of these courses. Each is designed as a sequence of writing assignments that allow you to reach higher levels of articulation and understanding through a sustained process of inquiry. This process involves activities that continue throughout the semester: developing strategies for reading and interacting with academic texts, writing informal responses to these sources; writing reflectively about how your experience relates to ideas and arguments in source materials; researching ideas; and engaging in drafting, peer response, and revision of your essays. Because writers learn though guided practice, you will be asked to revise your drafts after you receive feedback from your instructor and from your peers. Through revision and sequenced activities, you will develop a stronger understanding of how to see a writing project through at the college level and to make you own mark on a subject.

The instructors, who meet regularly to discuss and share ideas, are experienced composition teachers dedicated to making UMass Boston’s diverse freshman classes a place for sharing and extending knowledge. Enabled by your instructor, you will learn to experience this diversity of perspectives and backgrounds as a rich source of meaning for your writing. The word “meaning,” which is easy to take for granted, is in fact the most important word in this statement of the Composition Program’s philosophy. Our aim is to teach you to make your meaning the center of your reading-and-writing process. Constructing your own meaning in relation to what others have written, you will become a real writer (and not just someone merely filling assignments). And while everyone who teaches Composition values good organization, an eloquent phrase, and correct punctuation and spelling, we also know that a grasp of these features alone will never produce a real writer.  Instead, powerful questions, compelling ideas—new meanings – make writers. Our goal is that you begin to acquire a deep sense of yourself as a writer.