English Composition I

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About this Course

You will gain a foundation for college-level writing valuable for nearly any field. Students will learn how to read carefully, write effective arguments, understand the writing process, engage with others' ideas, cite accurately, and craft powerful prose. Course Learning Objectives • Summarize, analyze, question, and evaluate written and visual texts • Argue and support a position • Recognize audience and disciplinary expectations • Identify and use the stages of the writing process • Identify characteristics of effective prose • Apply proper citation practices • Discuss applying your writing knowledge to other writing occasions


Professor Image
Dr. Comer, Denise Comer, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Writing Studies and Director of First-Year Writing at Duke University, has over fifteen years of experience teaching first-year writing students the strategies, confidence, and skills they need to be successful writers in and beyond the academy. Her leadership, collaboration, and innovation designing first-year writing courses and training first-year writing faculty have helped earn Duke University’s Thompson Writing Program national recognition with the 2006 CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence and the 2012 U.S. News & World Report, which commended Duke for “making the writing process a priority at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum.”

She has led several initiatives for Duke and the Durham community that demonstrate her investment teaching writing to all learners: launching a writing course for students who need more time and preparation with college-level writing, many of whom are first-generation/low-income; integrating responsiveness to English Language Learners across all first-year writing courses; developing writing workshops for low-income, high-potential urban middle-school children; and creating a writing-based program for chronically and fatally ill children staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Durham. Prior to Duke, she taught writing for public universities, community colleges, and a military base. Her scholarship explores writing pedagogy, writing program administration, and the intersections between technology and the teaching of writing. She has published a guide for dissertation writing (co-authored with Barbara Gina Garrett): It’s Just a Dissertation: Transforming Your Dissertation from Daunting to Doable to Done (Fountainhead Press, 2014). She also has a textbook forthcoming that features a transfer-based, multidisciplinary approach to writing, Writing in Transit (Fountainhead Press, 2015). 

Objectives Summary

  • Week 1 - The Writing Process
  • Week 2 - Critical Reading
  • Week 3 - Project 1: Visual Analysis
  • Week 4 - Revision Strategies and Visual Analysis Revision
  • Week 5 - Project 2: Case Study
  • Week 6 - Writing Cohesively and Case Study Revision
  • Week 7 - Project 3: Op-Ed
  • Week 8 - Crafting Powerful Prose and Op-Ed Revision
  • Week 9 - Transferring Writing Practices, Skills, and Knowledge to New Contexts
  • Week 10 - Writing in the Humanities, Social Science, and Natural Sciences


  • To start our course, we will examine your own writing process and what it means to respond to the writing of others. We will also think about what academic writing means.
  • This week will concentrate on the skill of reading critically. Additionally, we will learn about the conventions of academic writing, including integrating evidence and schools of citation. Finally, you are encouraged to write your own critical review of "The Sweet Spot." This is an optional writing assignment, but it is a requirement to receive a honor's certificate.
  • This week, the central topic is visual images in academic writing. The goal is to practice interpreting and writing about images convincingly. Plus, Dr. Comer will help you think about what area of inquiry you would like to focus on in this course and what it means to write a draft. Finally, you will write your visual analysis and learn how to give meaningful feedback.
  • Based on the feedback of your colleagues improve your visual analysis. After you receive feedback on your final submission, submit a self-reflection quiz about your experience writing this project.
  • This week, various aspects of effective research will be discussed, such as creating an annotated bibliography, research strategies, and avoiding plagiarism. You will conduct research for your next project, a case study, contribute to an annotated bibliography, and submit your case study draft.
  • In preparation for improving your case study, Professor Comer will present strategies of writing more cohesively. After receiving your final feedback, please submit a self-reflection about this project.
  • This week, Professor Comer introduces the idea of public scholarship, how academic writing can be transformed for a broader public. Her guest, David Jarmul, will give an overview of how to write an op-ed. You will then have the opportunity to write your own.
  • This week Professor Comer will address the topic of concise writing; how to convey meaning with fewer words. Your task is to rewrite your op-ed.
  • This final week is dedicated to how to move forward with your writing and apply the skills learned in this course to new contexts. Your final assignment is a self-reflection about your development as a writer over the last several weeks.
  • Additional videos that highlight differences in academic writing across disciplines.

Course Info