Introduction to College Writing

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Authored by Simone Pilon

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Course Code: OLART-111

Next Term Starts June 25

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition

$1,479

Non-Credit Tuition

$1,229

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary—it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.

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– Somerset Maugham

When you write, you are essentially entering into a conversation with yourself and with your reader. Sometimes you are initiating this conversation. Other times you are starting in the middle, in which case you need to recognize previous discussions on the topic and set a path for the future. Learning how to navigate various situations and participate in written conversations is essential to your academic, professional, and personal success.

Think about when you apply for a job, for college, or for a grant. Your résumé, cover letter, or proposal are the first glimpse your future employer, your admissions officer, or the granting agency will get of you. Were you polite and respectful? Did you show an attention to detail by using proper punctuation and spelling? Did you show that you are organized by having a well-structured letter or proposal? How you present yourself in these materials could make (or break) your chances.

In this course, we will explore the writing process as a tool for thinking and a mode of exploration. And we will work on helping you develop a strong, individual, and creative voice.

The overall focus of Introduction to College Writing is for you to develop academic writing and expository prose techniques for creating clear and coherent written works. The course covers a wide range of skills necessary for college-level work including elements of argumentation, sentence-level issues, paragraph structure, organization, form, and style. Additional lessons will focus on writing styles appropriate to audience and purpose, and the process of writing and revision. We will also work on developing critical thinking skills as we look at how to evaluate, utilize, and cite printed and electronic sources.

It’s also worth noting that this is not just any writing course, but a Berklee Online writing course. We will, therefore, use music and art as the inspiration for our studies, and the focus of our work.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Apply conventions of academic writing to a variety of texts and styles
  • Clearly articulate your ideas in your own voice
  • Understand that writing and other creative outputs are recursive processes
  • Demonstrate critical reading comprehension and evaluation skills
  • Show an understanding of authorship and academic honesty
  • Formulate and defend a thesis
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Syllabus

Lesson 1: Getting Started: The Basics

  • Writing and Speaking in Different Contexts
  • Words that Are Commonly Confused
  • Editing Commonly Confused Words
  • Tips for Writing a Letter
  • Assignment 1: Write a Basic Letter

Lesson 2: Writing Contexts

  • Understanding Different Rhetorical Contexts
  • Applying These Rhetorical Elements to Written Texts
  • Generating Ideas
  • Understanding the Components of a Sentence
  • Organizing and Drafting a Response
  • Assignment 2: Selected Author’s Response

Lesson 3: Recording and Developing Ideas

  • Recording Ideas
  • Diaries
  • Concision vs. Lengthiness
  • Understanding Commas
  • Understanding Verbs and Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Assignment 3: Selected Author Response Revision

Lesson 4: Exploring Personal Narratives

  • Key Elements of a Personal Narrative
  • Analyzing a Personal Narrative
  • Understanding Pronouns
  • Grammatical Tools to Best Express Ideas
  • Assignment 4: Moth Radio Hour Assessment

Lesson 5: Writing a Personal Narrative

  • Opening Sentences
  • Organizing a Personal Narrative
  • Developing Paragraphs
  • Connecting Paragraphs
  • Choosing the Right Words
  • Assignment 5: Personal Narrative

Lesson 6: Talking about Literature

  • Literary Vocabulary
  • Editing Sentences
  • Reading a Text
  • Analyzing a Text
  • Assignment 6: Personal Narrative Analysis and New Versions

Lesson 7: Thesis Statements

  • What Is a Thesis?
  • Analyzing a Text
  • Developing a Thesis Statement
  • Writing a Literary Analysis
  • Assignment 7: Revised Thesis Statement and Outline

Lesson 8: Exploring Poetry

  • Poetry
  • Analyzing Poems in Verse
  • Quoting
  • Assignment 8: Essay Submission

Lesson 9: Making an Argument 

  • Elements of Argumentation
  • Analyzing a Text for Argumentation
  • Editing Pronouns
  • Editing Verbs
  • Assignment 9: Essay Revisions

Lesson 10: Supporting Your Argument

  • Setting the Stage
  • Finding Sources
  • Integrating Other People's Ideas into Your Text
  • Applying These Concepts
  • Assignment 10: Article Analysis

Lesson 11: Documenting Your Sources

  • How Authors Use and Document Their Sources
  • Style Guidelines
  • Chicago Manual of Style
  • Style Guidelines in Relation to Quoting and Paraphrasing Texts
  • Assignment 11: Revised Thesis Statement and Final Essay Outline

Lesson 12: Other Forms of Writing

  • The Critique
  • The Proposal
  • The Report
  • Bringing It All Together
  • Assignment 12: Final Essay

Requirements

Prerequisites

Students should have native or near-native fluency in English.


Required Textbooks

The Little Seagull Handbook with Exercises (Third Edition) by Richard Bullock, Michal Brody, and Francine Weinberg, W. W. Norton & Company


Software Requirements

All Users

  • Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or Apple Pages

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Instructors

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Author & Instructor

Simone Pilon serves as chair of the Liberal Arts department at Berklee College of Music. Prior to her position at Berklee, she worked for more than a decade at a private liberal arts college where she taught French language and literature and built international partnerships and programs. She has been a Fulbright-Hays scholar to Morocco and Tunisia, has published in international journals, and has presented at national and international conferences. She has served as technical reviewer for Cliffs, Dummies, and Everything books, and has published a student edition of Louis Hémon's canonical novel Maria Chapdelaine, with Molière and Company. Simone holds a PhD in Québécois Literature from Université Laval and an M.A. in French Literature from McGill University.

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Introduction to College Writing can be applied towards these associated programs:

Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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