Introduction to College Writing
Authored by Simone Pilon
Course Code: OLART-111
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.
– 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
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
- 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
- Analyzing Poems in Verse
- 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
Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements
Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Students should have native or near-native fluency in English.
Notice to Berklee Boston and Berklee Valencia students:
LENG-106 (ESL-3) or native fluency are prerequisites for transferring this course to the Berklee Boston or Valencia campuses. This means that before you take this course you must either be a native English speaker, have successfully completed ESL-3, or have taken the Berklee English Placement Exam and demonstrated English proficiency sufficient to enroll in Introduction to College Writing. For more details, please review the online equivalencies information on the Berklee Registrar's Office site.
- The Little Seagull Handbook with Exercises (4th Edition) by Richard Bullock, Michal Brody, and Francine Weinberg (W. W. Norton & Company, 2022, 2016)
- Note: The 3rd Edition is also acceptable.
- Word processing software, such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs (free), Apple Pages, Apache Open Office (free), etc.
- Digital or paper journal. Digital options include Google Keep, Penzu, Notes for Mac, Notepad for Windows, Evernote, etc.
General Course Requirements
Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course.
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Zoom meeting software
- Speakers or headphones
- External or internal microphone
- Broadband Internet connection
Simone Pilon serves as Dean of Academic Affairs for Berklee College of Music’s campus in Valencia in Spain, where she oversees four master’s programs as well as undergraduate programs. She is the former chair of the Liberal Arts department at Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, a position she held for seven years. 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.
Mark Polanzak is the author of POP! (Stillhouse Press), a hybrid work of memoir and fiction. His short stories have appeared in The Southern Review, The American Scholar, and elsewhere. His story "Giant" will be included in the anthology Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2017. A runner-up for the Italo Calvino Prize for Fabulist Fiction, Mark is a founding editor for draft: the journal of process, and a producer for The Fail Safe podcast. He received an MFA from the University of Arizona. Mark teaches Literature, Composition, and Creative Writing at Berklee in Boston. He lives in Salem, MA.
Gretchen Shae Moore teaches writing in the Liberal Arts department at Berklee College of Music. In addition to teaching, she also enjoys performing, writing songs, and singing with her own band: Gretchen Shae & The MIddle Eight, as well as Gretchen & The Banshees (A SIouxsie & The Banshees tribute). In 2014, she performed with U2 at the TD Bank Garden in Boston, MA. Boston's WZLX named Shae's song “Dionysius” in its Top Ten Local Picks of the year. Another passion of Shae’s is working with New Beginnings Re-entry Services as a board member. Founded in 2016, New Beginnings Reentry Services, Inc., is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization working in partnership with community agencies to empower and provide supportive services to formerly incarcerated women to successfully rejoin their communities; it is the first in the state of Massachuesetts. Her course on Mass Incarceration combines all of her passion to end mass incarceration, educate others, and inspire artists to create thoughtful works in response to this topic. Shae received a Berklee Urban Service award in 2019 for her work.
When taken for credit, Introduction to College Writing can be applied towards these associated programs: