Course Goals and Practices

English 110: Seminar in Composition

Seminar (3 credit hours). An introduction to the process of academic writing that centers on the composition of analytical, research-based essays. RESTRICTIONS: Required of all students. Should be taken in the first year on campus.


English 110 will help you:

  • Write clearly about complex texts and ideas.

Academic essays are almost always composed in response to and conversation with other texts. You will learn to engage with the work of others clearly, accurately, and with attention to nuance and detail.

  • Consider issues of audience and context in your writing.

No matter what you write, you always write to a particular group of readers in a particular situation. You will learn how to shape and support your ideas to address the needs of particular readers and contexts.

  • Respond thoughtfully and constructively to the work of other writers.

As part of a classroom community, you will read and offer advice on your classmates’ work in progress. Doing so will help you hone, clarify, and communicate your own ideas in writing.

  • Research the various perspectives on a question or topic and contribute to the scholarly conversation about it.

Good academic writing exhibits not only your own perspective on a topic, but also a thorough understanding of what others have said about it. You will learn to find credible sources and use them to position yourself within a community of writers that extends beyond English 110.

  • Compose both print and digital texts.

The composition process is more than just putting words on the page or screen. In addition to writing print-based texts, you will also practice composing online, often making use of visual and audio forms.


As a student in English 110, you will:

  • Write frequently, write for different audiences, and write pieces of varying length and complexity.

You will compose both print and digital texts for various purposes and readers. In addition to a formal research paper, you will develop your skills in regular, shorter writing assignments, composed both in and out of class.

  • Participate as a member of a community of writers.

English 110 is designed as a seminar—a course in which the writing of students is regularly brought to the table for discussion. You will often be asked to participate in a writer’s workshop, sharing your work in progress with several of your classmates and reading and responding to theirs.

  • Read as a writer, and write as a reader.

You will read texts not simply for what they say but for how they say it. That is, you will consider texts not only as sources of ideas but also as models of rhetorical and compositional strategies you can use in your own writing.

  • Take several pieces through a process of drafting, workshopping with peers, revising in response to feedback, and editing.

Good writing doesn’t usually happen all at once. Instead it usually involves an ongoing process of composing, sharing, and reworking a piece over several drafts. You will use feedback from your classmates and teacher to develop and refine the pieces you write for this course.

  • Reflect on your aims and strategies as a writer.

You will reflect on both your processes of writing and the actual texts you compose. In doing so, you will cultivate habits of mind and work that will help you develop as a writer beyond English 110.