English 1130: Academic Writing

Schedule: Week 1-5


CP = course pack Q. = Question to think about before class

Reading or Viewing = Text to read or video to view BEFORE CLASS

Bring hard copy to class = print a copy or bring the hard copy from the course pack

PDF of longer texts by Calvino, Migglebrink, & Havrilesky; PDF of Cox text here

WEEK 1: Rhetoric

There are no required readings for the first week. We’ll go over the course site (focusing on the Introduction and the first few weeks of the schedule), and then jump into rhetorical analysis of a Coke ad, a Don Jon trailer, a clip from Friends, a Jann Arden lyric, and the opening credits of Lord of War.

Note that your participation will often take the form of group work, which comes in many forms. You might work in a small group or with your neighbour for a few minutes to generate ideas, after which you may or may not report to the class on what you’ve come up with. Sometimes you will 1) discuss in-depth in groups of four or five, 2) draw and write on the board, developing an insightful thesis statement and using words, phrases, quotes, and images to support your argument, and 3) explain your work to other groups.

Optional viewing: a rhetorical analysis of a Proctor & Gamble ad, a Taylor Swift video, a Coke ad, a Budweiser ad, a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis video, and videos on How to Write Essays and Research Papers More Quickly, rhetorical analysis, strategies, 7 strategies, devices, and analysis.

Note that Douglas College has all sorts of help for writers. You might start with the Learning Centre’s tutorial help, grammar resources and handouts, and their PDF on the academic essay. For citation and bibliographical information, see Purdue University’s OWL (Online Writing Lab). You could start at “Research and Citation Resources.” The University of Richmond has an extensive user-friendly site, which covers a wide range of topics, including writing in other disciplines. The University of Wisconsin also has an excellent handbook.

You may want to consult the open online Composition and Literature: A Handbook and Anthology, especially its helpful list of terms and its review of grammar and basic writing in Appendix A: Glossary of English Rhetoric, Grammar, and Usage. On this ryc.space site Marking has sample expression errors and corrections, as well as abbreviations used in marking.

Note that the information on this site supersedes any information you may find on other sites or books. In general this isn’t an issue, yet it may be an issue when it comes to marks.

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Before next class, look closely at 1. Outline 2. Essay Structure  3. Rhetoric, and 4. Rhetorical Analysis Samples. Also take a look at Atwood’s use of comparison in CP “Canadians: What Do They Want?” and at the sample essay “The Bristling North” (in Rhetorical Analysis Samples).


There are only two short readings required for class this week. This will give you time to work on your first essay and to do the readings listed above.

PDF here for the following texts by Mark Twain and Al Gore

Reading - "A Wonderful Book" (Mark Twain, in Twain & Gore). Q. What is the structure of Twain’s text?

Reading + bring hard copy to class - “Ships in the Desert” (Al Gore, in Twain & Gore). Group Work: You’ll develop a scratch outline explaining the structure of Gore’s text. We’ll also look at Mad Men opening credits, a Simpson's parody, a split-screen comparative version, a sample essay on the opening credits (in Rhetorical Analysis Samples), and the final scene of Mad Men’s "The Phantom" (S5 E13), which contains the song "You Only Live Twice" (lyrics for the song are in Mad Men Notes). While our focus will be on rhetorical analysis, this class will also serve as an introduction to Mad Men (the focus of your second essay).

WEEK 3   

We’ll compare two trailers for Men, Women, and Children (MWC 1 and MWC 2) and analyze rhetoric in a clip from Gandhi (Gandhi). 

Reading + bring hard copy to class: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (Carr, CP). Bring the hard-copy of the article to class. Group Work: You’ll work on a time line and scratch outline explaining Carr's use of time and metaphor. How does Carr connect his historical references to the present? How does he use metaphor to make his point? While our focus will be on rhetorical analysis, this class will also serve as an introduction to the topic of your third and final essay: the effect of the Internet.


As an introduction to the Gandhi clip, I’ll touch on the larger course theme of democratization. I’ll suggest that the notion of rhetorical structure can be seen in many things — even in the historical context of an English course:

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Here's a chart that gets at some key moments in the history of human communication technology. What would you add to this chart? What did Carr include and what did he leave out? Why?

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Reading + bring hard copy to class - "The Farthest Channel" (Italo Calvino). A PDF is here. Group Work: You’ll develop a scratch outline that makes an argument about the way Calvino structures his text. This is a challenging text, with several layers that are relevant to this course.

Viewing: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (S1 E1), written by Matthew Weiner, directed by Alan Taylor. Group Work: You’ll construct an argument about this episode based on its structure. You can come up with whatever argument you want, or you can come up with an argument on 1) the relation of the opening credits to the first episode, 2) the way space or setting determines or reflects the predicament of a character or the complexity of an issue, 3) feminism, 4) the way the director makes us aware of the historical situation in 1960, or 5) the way the frame (that is, the first and last couple of minutes) works in relation to the major themes or structures of the episode.

Your thesis should go something like, “Taylor suggests ___ by ___________ .” The trick is to express the director’s aim in a brief way, so that you can focus in more detail on the way he uses a strategy or a combination of strategies. The goal is to fill the second blank with a strategy or a combination of strategies, a large number of which you can find in the 16 Categories in Rhetoric. I suggest watching the episode once for overall understanding, and then watching it again to understand its rhetoric.

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Library Visit

In the first half of class you’ll attend a library seminar on finding peer-reviewed sources. I suggest immediately applying what you’ve learned, looking for peer-reviewed articles on 1) feminism in Mad Men and 2) the topic you’re considering for the final essay on the effect of the Net (look again at the topics under Week 14 — and see if there’s enough peer-reviewed material for your particular angle).

Come back to the regular classroom at 8:00.

Essay # 1 (25%) is due at the start of class October 1 (Tuesday class) or October 2 (Wednesday class). — see “Essay Instructions” below.

After you hand in your papers, we'll evaluate several clips from My Cousin Vinney (1992) and “The Mighty Rogues” (Boston Legal, S4 E16), highlighting the perspective of the judge in each. In doing a rhetorical analysis you should try to think like a lawyer and in doing an evaluation you should try to think like a judge.

Essay Instructions

Write a rhetorical analysis on one of the trailers or opening credits listed below under “Topics”. For several of these, you can opt to compare trailers. This option is indicated by / (= and/or).”

Check to make sure you’re watching the trailer (or opening credits) that is listed below; often there are different versions, and you want to be sure that the trailer you write on is the one I’m thinking of when I mark your paper. For this reason I’ve included the full address.

You must include a scratch outline (125-225 words) in the same format as the samples on the opening credits of Mad Men (in Rhetorical Analysis Samples) and Lord of War.

The essay must be typed (using 12-14 point font), double-spaced, and no more than 650 words. Late essays will be docked 5% per day. Essays longer than 650 words will be marked down.

❧ Include word counts for the outline and the essay  ❧ Put your name in the upper right hand corner  ❧ Put your scratch outline before your essay  ❧ Give your essay a title (it can be creative) ❧ Don’t use a cover page, paper clips, or folders; just staple the pages together ❧ Indent the first lines of paragraphs five spaces, or leave an extra space between paragraphs without indentation.


Remember to follow the proper formats. See Rhetorical Analysis Samples for scratch outlines, Essay Structure for essays, and Marking for quotes and italics.

Remember that there’s no ‘right answer’ or single way to interpret literature. Poetry in particular tends to be ambiguous, that is, open to interpretation. Just make sure to 1) make an insightful, rigorous argument, and 2) prove your argument with reference to the text. 

You can find a Douglas College library PDF here on how to avoid plagiarism.


/ = and/or on Netflix = N on Amazon Prime = AP

Aladdin (trailer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcMtWwiyzpU

Avengers: Infinity War (trailer 1—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwievZ1Tx-8

          / (trailer 2—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZfuNTqbHE8

Black-ish (trailer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2oHMze7RwY

Call My Agent (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXu3gOi8HxI

The Crown (season 1 trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He7-0rT5t78

/ (season 2 trailer—N) https://youtu.be/dasSmCKNlRE

Dear White People (opening credits—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYKgHvPVACE

The Fellowship of the Ring (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V75dMMIW2B4

Greenleaf (opening credits—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UHJ9ebI8YA

Knock Down the House (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wGZc8ZjFY4

The Lunchbox (trailer) www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJIGJtb_N7E

One Strange Rock (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrC4vDcWmxk

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 1 trailer—AP) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOmwkTrW4OQ

/ (season 2 trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76bH1b9XreE

Monkeys: The Monkey King 2 (trailer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygTmV3K57_8

/ The New Legends of Monkey (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzfJUib2y-Y

(some background on the story of the Monkey King)

Neerja (trailer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHza99Hc3lQ

Salt Fat Acid Heat (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oKbs4jAf7M

The Night Manager (trailer—AP) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqJGDsePuvk

Persona (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0gQKqbtz2o

Piku (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPLcI7ajjn0

Roma (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BS27ngZtxg

Suburra (trailer—N) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GcC9kduhO4

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (trailer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg52up16eq0

Vice (trailer) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO3GsRQO0dM

The essay is short, so I suggest writing a very short introduction and don’t repeat yourself in your conclusion. If you end the body of your essay on a final or concluding note, you don’t need a conclusion. The sample essays on Mad Men and Moulin Rouge! both end this way.

You don’t need to provide a bibliography or cite the credits or trailers. You’re not required to use other sources (articles, books, etc.), yet if you do, cite them according to MLA or APA format. For bibliographical information and format, see Purdue University’s OWL site and “Research and Citation” (screen grab below).


Work hard on your scratch outline

The scratch outline is a requirement of this essay, yet it should also help you see the structure of your argument — especially how your thesis statement is connected to your topic sentences.

Make arguments, rather than summaries or observations

- Make arguments that are structured according to the standard academic essay format – that is, with a thesis statement and topic sentences. To do this well, you must understand what an outline is.

- Make arguments that aren’t summaries or observations.

- Make arguments that don't confuse summary with rhetoric, or rhetoric with evaluation.

Become familiar with the Purdue OWL website

This site will help you cite sources and create bibliographies — which will become increasingly important in this course. Remember: 1) you don't need to cite the Youtube video itself; 2) you don’t need to use outside sources for the first essay, but if you do use a source you must acknowledge it.

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