English 101: Composition (Genre As Social Action)--Alisa L. Russell

University of Kansas
Department of English
Level of Instruction: 
Genre Analysis and Criticism
Genre Production
Brief Description of Course Content and Objectives for Students: 

Working with Prof. Amy Devitt at the University of Kansas, Alisa L. Russell teaches English 101 through genre as a lens through which to view composition. In the detailed course description, please find the generously specific course description. 

Writing is, quite simply, fundamental to a functioning society. No matter your major or career goals, writing will be part of your regular routine because writing is how we record, communicate, argue, inform, understand, and share ideas across time and space. Thankfully, writing shouldn’t be foreign to you; you encounter and generate writing everyday, such as news articles, websites, social media posts, text messages, blogs, and emails (to name a few).  

In this class, we will explore how various elements of writing (i.e., evidence, focus, appeals, audience awareness, organization, tone/style, and format) come together in patterned ways to achieve particular actions in the world – otherwise known as GENRE. Think about the variety of written genres you’ve encountered just to arrive in your seat today: the KU website, college applications, an entrance essay, test scores, letters of acceptance and further info, course requirement booklets and pamphlets, registration forms, emails, advertisements, textbooks, and (now) syllabi. Each of these genres integrates form and content to organize our world and make things happen. 

We will also heighten our awareness of the ways in which different genres act in different contexts. We will try our hand at writing in some of these genres – always understanding, though, that writing cannot be divorced from the context in which it acts. Even more, we will keep a critical eye on these genres (i.e., how do they position the writer and the reader? who gets included and excluded? what values do they emphasize?), and we will even play with the boundaries of genre to investigate their flexibility. 
Finally, we will explore how the composing process is a messy one: a rigid series of steps for producing effective writing does not exist. Instead, you will discover a number of processes and decide which ones work for your learning style and preferences as a writer, and you’ll also realize that writing is an inherently social activity. You will use your peers (and me) as resources for feedback and growth in your writing skills as part of your process. 

By the end of the semester, you should be able to: 
• Analyze and critically evaluate written genres across contexts to understand how their rhetorical choices and language achieve their purpose
• Demonstrate your ability to make effective rhetorical choices across genres, audiences, situations, and contexts, including when critically innovating genre boundaries 
• Receive and deliver writing feedback through collaboration with other writers and readers, and revise (both global and local elements) based on that feedback