Introduction to English 1130: Academic Writing

Course Goals - Course Site - How to Get a Good Mark

Welcome to Academic Writing!

This section of English 1130 explores writing from various rhetorical and critical perspectives. The term is divided roughly into three parts: rhetoric (week 1-4), evaluation (week 5-10), and research (week 11-14). You will write an essay for each part.

For essay # 1, see Week 5 in the Schedule

For essay # 2, see Week 10

For essay # 3, see Week 14

There’s considerable overlap between rhetoric, evaluation, and research: an understanding of rhetoric (how and why we shape communication) is required in evaluation and research; in-depth evaluation requires research; and in doing research we must evaluate claims, sources, arguments, and evidence.

We’ll be analyzing a wide variety of writing and media — essays, reviews, magazine articles, scholarly articles, scholarly chapters, several lyrics, a short story, ads, trailers, videos, TV shows, etc. You’ll be required to write three essays and to participate in group work and peer-editing sessions.

This course site supplies all the requirements and assignments for the entire course. This can be a bit overwhelming, since there are many pages. Yet if you look closely at the course site information below, which should give you a clear idea of where to find things, you shouldn’t be overwhelmed for long. In addition, because you know exactly what to prepare for, you should be able to structure your time efficiently during the term.

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Course Goals

In general, this course aims to improve critical thinking, academic writing skills, and research abilities.

To think critically involves 1) rhetorical analysis — looking at forms of communication and figuring out their aim and structure structure, 2) evaluative analysis — figuring out whether or not communication makes sense, and 3) research — examining ideas in light of other ideas, arguments, contexts, and considerations. Critical thinking also involves coming up with your own arguments and counter-arguments.

You’ll write three essays, all in the traditional academic essay format: — The introduction takes your reader from a general state of awareness to your particular subject. — The thesis statement tells the reader exactly what you’ll be saying about your subject; it presents your overall argument in a condensed form. — The topic sentences show your reader how each subsidiary point you are making advances your overall argument. — The conclusion highlights your overall point, and either completes any scenario you developed in your introduction or suggests further avenues of enquiry. 

Increasingly, the quality of your research will be central to the arguments you make. In the first essay you’ll look at a primary source. In the second essay you’ll use a variety of primary and secondary sources. In the third essay you’ll find your own scholarly sources and use them to support your own original argument. You can document your sources in MLA or APA style.

Course Site


The table of contents lists all course site pages along with their contents. For general course information and requirements — office hours, participation, attendance, grading policies, etc. — see the outline.


Detailed requirements for each class and for the essays and peer edits are in the schedule.

higher learning

This page explains the general goal of post-secondary English courses: to increase writing skills, analytical skills, original argument, and critical thought. It also explains the rationale behind the academic essay format.

essay structure — samples

Look closely at the pages on essay structure and the samples of rhetorical analysis and evaluative analysis. I suggest returning to these pages before handing in a paper or doing the in-class essay. Pay attention to things such as how to connect thesis statements to topic sentences, how to integrate quotes, and how to make arguments rather than observations or assertions.


Because we’ll be examining material that includes musical and graphical elements, I’ve added several pages dealing with description of music and use of graphics. The latter includes samples of boardwork from previous literature classes, yet we’ll be doing similar boardwork in Academic Writing. These examples should help you to come up with creative visualizations and to formulate your own thesis statements. Here’s an example — on Wilfred Owen’s WWI poems “Anthem for Doomed youth” and “Dulce et Decorum Est”:

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I’ll require that you use and create structural charts during group work. Here are portions of two charts we’ll be looking at in class:

  • on the first episode of Mad Men:

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  • on the history of communication technology:

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I’ll be asking you to create original structural charts and to integrate graphic elements into them.

How to Get a Good Mark

Make Time for This Course

Reserve at least 30 minutes of distraction-free time every day to work on this course.

Do the Assigned Reading & Viewing

Acquaint yourself early with all the assigned readings and viewings. Check the schedule often.

Spend Extra Time on Three Key Readings

Make sure to read very carefully 1) “The Farthest Channel,” 2) “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” and 3) “So Much Woman.” We’ll be looking at these three texts on numerous occasions throughout the course.

Take Group Work Seriously

Group work is crucial to the classroom learning process and to your participation mark. Students who read the assigned material for the first time in class will lower the quality of group learning.

Think Ahead

1. Your rhetorical analysis is due at the start of class, Week 5. Get on it right away.

2. Your evaluative analysis will be written in class, Week 10. Start ASAP watching Mad Men and reading Cox. As you watch the show, ask yourself, Is Cox right? Why or why not? Viewing requirements: Season One plus “The Mountain King” (S2 E12) and “The Summer Man” (S4 E8).

3. Your research paper is due Week 14. Look ASAP at the topics under Week 14 and at Research, especially the sub-section, “Things to Remember for Essay #3." Feel free to discuss your topic with me — or show me an outline — at any time. Do as much preliminary research as you can.

Avoid Summary and Mere Observation or Assertion

The biggest problem students have is summarizing, observing, and asserting when they should be analyzing, arguing, and proving. If you’re repeating content, explaining something that’s obvious to an educated reader, or asserting something without giving the reason why what you’re saying is true, then you’re not making a successful academic argument.


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Schedule: Wk.1-5 6-10 11-14

Table of Contents for English 1130