Your work for this course will center on researching, drafting, and revising two mid-length critical essays. I will ask you in the first half of the semester to write an essay in the mode of Virginia Woolf in a A Room of One’s Own. The final draft of this piece will be due on your return from spring break. After that, I’ll ask you to define and research a project in which you write a text that particularly engages you in a voice that feels your own. This second essay will be due the last week of classes. (See Essay One and Essay Two for details.)
But you will be writing all the time. This is a course that rewards consistent and thoughtful work. Beginning in week three, you will have a piece due each Monday—either a draft or revision of one of your two main essays. You’ll also be asked to do about 30 pages or so of reading for most of our class meetings, especially in the first several weeks of the term, and I may give spot quizzes to make sure you have done so. (See Schedule for details.)
You will also learn about the actual process of writing a critical essay: How to distinguish between, drafting, revising, and editing; how to make thoughtful use of feedback on your work; how to offer helpful advice to other writers; and how to design a stylish and effective document. As part of this work, we will also read and talk about a book I’ve written on the moves and strategies of critical writing, Rewriting: How to Do Things With Texts.
You’ll take both essays you write for this course through at least three drafts. You’ll get a lot of feedback on and support for your writing as you work on these pieces, and so my expectations for the quality of your writing will be high. At the end of this semester, you should feel that you’ve been part of some interesting conversations, and that you’ve done some writing of which you feel proud. Take the work of this course seriously, and I promise you that will happen.