E100 – “So What?” Composition and Public Engagement

Sun ThumbnailWhat does it mean to be a writer in the world today? As members of the Internet generation, we face a media environment that our ancestors could never have imagined. Many Americans spend their waking hours immersed in an endless stream of text and images online—from Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook posts, to podcasts, video blogs, and discussion forums—not to mention the “old media” genres, such as newspaper articles, that still make up a part of daily life. How are we to negotiate such a constant influx of content?

Some people are intimidated by the Internet’s impact on the way we interact with the written and spoken word. After all, having so much information at our fingertips makes it difficult to identify which texts are trustworthy and even harder to make our own written work stand out in the crowd. At the same time, however, our exposure to this wide range of media offers us many exciting opportunities to develop strategies for showing others why the things we care about matter. In this course, I invite you to explore the choices you make in your everyday writing—to consider why we write differently for a variety of audiences and how to make the most of future writing opportunities.

 Some of the more specific questions we’ll consider include:

  • What are the differences among genres? (Written, spoken, visual, digital…?)
  • How do common narratives and media forms influence the way we see the world? How can we work with and against these traditions?
  • What are our responsibilities as writers?
  • Is there an ethical dimension to writing?
  • Is the word of experts more “correct” evidence for a written argument than the experiences of a community of ordinary people?
  • Does creating a web site or blog entry that conveys its point as much through images as through text count as “writing?”


Course Calendars:


(Note: Due to copyright limitations, most of our assignments and readings are located on our course Learn@UW page. Please speak with me if you have any problems logging in to your L@UW page.)