What is this class about?

English 16 is an introductory course required for the English major and the Professional Writing minor. You will be introduced to the discipline of writing studies and tour key concepts at the center and margins of conversations in the fields of rhetoric and composition and technical and professional communication. By surveying these conversations, we will consider what different methodological focuses reveal about writing itself and what they reveal about the discipline that studies it. 

English 16 is also an Advanced Writing course, and so we will look throughout the quarter not just at what the scholars we read say about researching, teaching, and practicing writing, but also at how they say it. We will look at the the methods these writers use and how they draw on the work of others to make their arguments. There will be a heavy emphasis in this class on research, both disciplinary and your own in order to enrich your writing processes/experiences, analysis, argumentation, and research strategies.

What if I need an accommodation?

Your success in this class is important to me. We will all need accommodations because we all learn, think, and write differently. This course affirms students’ right to the languages and dialects you grew up speaking, or those in which you find your own identity and style. We will find ways to honor and respect what these languages can teach about writing and rhetoric. If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or exclude you, please let me know. Together we’ll develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course.

For official accommodations

If you need an official accommodation, you have a right to have these met. I encourage you to visit The Office of Disabilities Resources, located in Benson Center, Second floor, Room 216 or visit https://www.scu.edu/disabilities/register-with-dr/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. The Office of Disabilities Resources will request documentation and make a determination regarding the nature of the accommodation to which you are entitled.

For pregnant and parenting students

Pregnant and parenting students can often arrange accommodations by working directly with me. In alignment with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and with the California Education Code, Section 66281.7, Santa Clara University provides reasonable accommodations to students who are pregnant, have recently experienced childbirth, and/or have medical needs related to childbirth. If you experience related medical conditions, you may request accommodations through Disability Resources located in Benson Center, Second floor, Room 216 or visit https://www.scu.edu/disabilities/register-with-dr/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..


What materials do I need? Where do I access course materials?

  • Adler-Kassner, L. and Wardle, E. (2015). Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts in Writing Studies. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

  • Your own website (using a platform of your choice) where you will submit all assignments by posting them there: responses to readings, praxis assignments your pathing project. For your final you will revise this site into a portfolio site cohesive portfolio

  • Your SCU email (for communication) and its associated google drive account (for PDF readings, and receiving your grades).

  • When possible, I will use open-source and freely available texts. I will provide PDFs or links to journal articles that will be noted on the schedule. Readings that are only available as PDFs can be found in our google drive folder here. You must be logged in with your scu email account to view.

What are the goals of this course?

Adapted from the SCU core curriculum:

Critical Thinking: The ability to identify, reflect upon, evaluate, integrate, and apply different types of information and knowledge to form independent judgments.

Complexity: An approach to understanding the world that appreciates ambiguity and nuance as well as clarity and precision.

Communication: Interacting effectively with different audiences, especially through writing, speech, and a second language.

What will I be able to do after this course?

1.1 Read and write with a critical point of view that displays depth of thought and is mindful of the rhetorical situation of a specific discipline. (Critical Thinking, Complexity, Communication)

1.2 Write essays that contain well-supported, arguable theses and that demonstrate personal engagement and clear purpose. (Critical Thinking, Complexity, Communication)

1.3  Independently and deliberately locate, select, and appropriately use and cite evidence that is ample, credible, and smoothly integrated into an intellectually honest argument appropriate for a particular discipline. (Complexity, Communication)

1.4 Consciously understand their writing processes as modes of learning and intentionally manipulate those processes in response to diverse learning tasks. (Critical Thinking, Complexity)

What will I learn?

During this course, you will learn to

Articulate disciplinary identities by describing such things as rhetorical practices, genres, locations, and contexts

Evaluate the role of writing in shaping institutions and professions

Reflect on your writing practices and expertise

Explore the changing character of writing as a result of advances in technology and the resulting transformations in society

Design research—such as focus groups, observations, and participatory design—designed to help writers understand the dynamics of a rhetorical situation

What assignments will I do?

Annotations | informal reading notes

Before each class, you will post your reading notes to your own website. These are informal—maybe you interact physically with readings by writing on books, post-its, or on paper—take pictures and post those to your website. Maybe you interact with a text digitally, using apps like onenote or zotero. Screenshot your notes and post them. However you annotate should serve you in identifying what struck you most about the readings, how that aspect relates to the article/chapter as a whole, and why it struck you. These annotations and notes give me an idea of how you engage the readings, they jump-start in-class discussion, and will provide you with artifacts that you can use in your eportfolio at the end of the quarter.

Group research project | interactive presentation on a journal in the field

Once during the quarter, you and a group (2 other classmates) will choose a journal in Writing Studies (College, Composition, and Communication Journal, Kairos, Computers and Composition, College English, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Technical Communication, Written Communication) and will provide a review along the following criteria: origin of journal, length of time publishing, topics/subject areas, review of most recent issue.

Praxis assignments | short Exploratory writing projects

Praxis, as a concept, attempts to explore the generative, active possibilities of theory for action and the propensity of that action to re-inform, amend, or outright challenge our initial theories…a notion echoed by James Dubinsky’s (2004) characterization of praxis as a Möbius loop. Attention to praxis requires inquiry into both the practicable effects of theory and also acknowledgement of the theory-building possibilities of practice.
— Kristen Moore and Daniel Richards

You will write four short praxis essays (1000-1500 words, unless otherwise noted) throughout the quarter. These praxis assignments will correspond to our readings for that week, inviting you to apply what we are reading to your own experiences, and are as follows:

  1. React: address one or more of the threshold concepts and readings from the course. Ground your reaction in 1) your own areas of expertise and interest 2) your experiences.

    Due 1/18/19

  2. Respond : compose a thoughtful, critical response to one reading in the course. Use other readings from the course, or readings you find from journals (College, Composition, and Communication Journal, Kairos, Computers and Composition, College English, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Technical Communication, Written Communication) to support, show nuance, and add complexity.

    Due 1/27/19

  3. Replicate : choose one research study from the course to (informally, but accurately and ethically) duplicate an experiment using the resources you have. Your reading will serve as a guide, duplicate their planning, their methods (data collection and analysis) using your own data. Then, write up your findings, noticing what findings are confirmed with your own data set, and what findings are now complicated.

    Due 2/10/19

  4. Reconcile : using readings from the course and your own interests, experiences, and expertise, create a threshold concept for writing studies. You might review the threshold concepts we have learned, then choose one to build on or expand, or perhaps you might notice something missing but relevant to the fields we discuss.

    Due 3/3/19

Pathing Project | Your revised and curated eportfolio

Your final project will be built on your course website, with some significant revisions. First, you might consider—what threshold concepts allow you to cross into areas relevant and interesting to you as a SCU student? As a young professional in your career path? What threshold concepts can help you articulate your skills or serve as a launchpad to something else? Use those goals and concepts as your guide for the following elements:

Website redesign: Because we know writing is multimodal and that disciplinarity is enacted through writing, you will update and revise your website’s visual design (typefaces, colors, media, layouts) and its structure (instead of organizing by praxis, annotations, etc, consider how other people in your discipline present their work). This work will require you to create new sections on your website, delete others, organize elements topically, based on genre, based on process, or something else.

Digital artifacts: Unlike your course website, your eportfolio will feature only the pieces that are most relevant and representative of your path. On your site, you will select, curate and reorganize artifacts (annotations, praxis assignments, informal writing in our class, perhaps materials from outside our class, maybe CVs or resumes) in order to visually serve as evidence of your path.

Written content: As you assemble your eportfolio, add contextualizing elements like an a brief introduction to your work that articulates your scholarly and professional goals, maybe an about me section, and brief reflections about the artifacts you assemble and how those artifacts are a part of your trajectory. These written pieces are important so that visitors to your site can follow the path you have envisioned for yourself.

Due 3/18/19

What will we do in class?

Using language is inherently a social process, which makes our writing social acts although we might not think of them as such. Many people find discussions with trusted mentors, colleagues, friends, or family to be an invaluable way to develop and polish ideas. Professionals in most disciplines, for example, attend conferences so that they can discuss ideas with colleagues and leading researchers. Writers in business and scientific contexts commonly work in teams with individuals responsible for their areas of expertise, such as marketing language, audience, finance, research, and editing.  Many writers do not feel comfortable beginning a new project until they have discussed their ideas with others. Successful writers do not wait until they have completed a project before seeking constructive criticism. Instead, they share early drafts with critics.

Because of the social nature of writing, we will share our work and thoughts even if we aren’t comfortable. This collaborative agreement will guide interactions in this course. With each other, we will clarify expectations and foster an environment of mutual respect and collaborative inquiry. We will revisit these guidelines throughout the quarter to reflect on group process or to frame potentially challenging conversations.

  • Confidentiality and comfort. We want to create an atmosphere for open, honest exchange. Knowing that, have the confidence to speak out and share opinions and ideas because we are all learning and we are all together.

  • Our primary commitment is to learn from each other. We will listen to each other and not talk at each other. We will read each other’s writing, not as a fixer, evaluator, or critic. We acknowledge differences amongst us in backgrounds, skills, interests, and values. We realize that it is these very differences that will increase our awareness and understanding through this process.

  • Be honest, be helpful, never harsh. Don’t tear your classmates down, instead give specific and detailed feedback that is constructive. We will not demean, devalue, or “put down” people for their writing, experiences, lack of experiences, or difference in interpretation of those experiences.

  • Listen, delay judgements and assumptions. We will trust that people are doing the best they can.

  • Challenge the idea and not the person. If we wish to challenge something that has been said or written, we will challenge the idea or the practice referred to, not the individual sharing this idea or practice.

  • Speak your discomfort. If something is bothering you, please share this with the group. If you make a mistake and say something you didn’t mean to say or write something that came off differently than you intended, recognize your mistake with Oops. If your feelings are hurt by something said or written, vocalize it with Ouch. Often our emotional reactions to this process offer the most valuable learning opportunities.

  • Step Up, Step Back. Be mindful of taking up much more space than others. On the same note, empower yourself to speak up when others are dominating the conversation.

  • Take group work seriously. Remember that your peers’ learning partly depends upon your engagement.

  • Be careful about how you use humor or irony in class. Keep in mind that we don’t all find the same things funny.

  • Understand that we are bound to make lots of mistakes in this class, as anyone does when learning a new language, a new way of thinking, and new ways of writing. Take risks and support others in their risk-taking.

How will I be graded?

Our classroom serves as a workspace for invention, creation, and practicing of different ways of thinking and writing. Similar to an art studio, we will use a studio approach to strengthen your understanding of writing through reading, discussion, and practice—that means we are constantly at work in the classroom: generating new ideas, tinkering with writing we’ve already drafted, sharing strategies for improving some writing we are looking at together, etc. We will talk about and practice writing in various genres, formats, and media to work with and examine the approaches to writing teaching and development described in the readings. In-class activities will also help you approach the major writing assignments in the class. As a result, grading in this class is inspired by labor-based grading contract models, a model that focuses on work processes of students rather than quality of work alone. Because so much of the laboring in writing and thinking is often invisible to professors, you will have a midterm and final grading conference with me where we will discuss your laboring and determine your grade together.

...labor is work the body does over time. Labor in the writing classroom is the experience of languaging. No matter what our pedagogical assumptions are about learning or literacy, about grades or how to evaluate student writing, we all take for granted that our students must labor in order to learn. They must read or write, take notes or discuss. All pedagogies ask students to labor, to do something in order to gain something else. However, typical grading systems rarely account for students’ labor in any way...Because labor is neglected in such conventional grading systems, they often are unfair to diverse groups of students.

They [labor-based grading contracts] open a space for practices that can fail or miss the mark, allowing students the freedom to take risks, and try new things in their writing without the fear of losing points or failing the course. They allow students and teacher chances to redefine failure more productively (see also Inoue, “Theorizing Failure”), since failure is just a situated judge’s assessment of a performance that assumes a single standard, without acknowledging other differently situated judges and standards.
— Asao Inoue

Final grade

Area 1: Praxis Assignments

Area 2: Participation

Area 3: Pathing Project


exceeds all areas


exceeds 2/3 areas

meets 1/3 area


exceeds 1/3 areas

meets 2/3 areas


meets all areas


meets 2/3 areas

does not meet 1/3 area


meets 1/3 area

does not meet 2/3 areas


does not meet any areas


What is academic integrity? What is plagiarism?

The Academic Integrity pledge is an expression of the University’s commitment to fostering an understanding of -- and commitment to -- a culture of integrity at Santa Clara University. The Academic Integrity pledge, which applies to all students, states:

I am committed to being a person of integrity. I pledge, as a member of the Santa Clara University community, to abide by and uphold the standards of academic integrity contained in the Student Conduct Code

Students are expected to uphold the principles of this pledge for all work in this class.

Plagiarism is a complicated issue for students and faculty alike. We will discuss plagiarism in the digital age as part of our class inquiry. Yet, I need you to understand that I will follow Santa Clara University’s academic honesty policies. You can read more about SCU’s policy here: http://www.scu.edu/studentlife/resources/upload/Academic-Integrity-Protocol-Document.pdf (Links to an external site.)

What if I see or face harassment and discrimination?

Santa Clara University upholds a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct. If you (or someone you know) have experienced discrimination or harassment, including sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, or stalking, I encourage you to tell someone promptly. For more information, please consult the University’s Gender-Based Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy at http://bit.ly/2ce1hBb  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.or contact the University's EEO and Title IX Coordinator, Belinda Guthrie, at 408-554-3043, bguthrie@scu.edu. Reports may be submitted online through the Office of Student Life https://www.scu.edu/osl/report/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or anonymously through EthicsPoint https://www.scu.edu/hr/quick-links/ethicspoint/ (Links to an external site.)

What if I don’t feel good?

Santa Clara University is a Jesuit Institution wherein the value of cura personalis, translated to care for the whole person, holds a place of incredibly high importance. Caring for oneself in both a physical and mental sense is paramount to a student’s ability to live an enjoyable life at Santa Clara University, excel in academia, and reach their full potential in all aspects of their personhood.

  • Try to get an appropriate amount of sleep each night; the recommended amount of sleep for adults ages 18-25 is 7-9 hours.

  • Visit the Wellness Center’s (currently located at 852 Market Street) website to see what resources are available on campus to aid and promote student well-being at https://www.scu.edu/wellness/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

  • Utilize the six free counseling sessions you are given from Counseling and Psychological Service. The number to make an appointment with CAPS is (408) 554-4501. Visit the Counseling and Psychological Services website to learn more about these sessions and more at https://www.scu.edu/cowell/caps/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

  • If you are sick, please check in with me regarding your ability to attend class. By continuing to attend class while feeling sick, you are not only harming your own health, but likely the health of those around you as well. If you are feeling ill, visit Cowell Health Center during the operating hours of 8:30 am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Visit the Cowell’s center website to learn more about the various services this health center provides at https://www.scu.edu/cowell/