Language-Themed English 101 Course

ENG 101: Composition I



English 101 introduces students to some of the strategies, tools, and resources necessary to becoming successful communicators in a range of academic, professional, and public settings.  English 101 students learn not only to think carefully through writing, but also to reflect critically about writing by engaging a variety of discursive forms, from the academic essay to opinion pieces, from essays to advertisements.

This semester, our class will be focused broadly around the idea of language. We will explore how language both shapes and is shaped by the world in which we live through readings about language and culture, identity, literacies, education, family, and slang (among other topics). We will talk about the rules for Standard Academic English (as well as questioning who gets to make those rules and what their implications are) and look for models of language in the work of other writers, as well as exploring how language is used in our everyday lives beyond the composition classroom.


  • Lunsford, Andrea, et al. Everyone’s an Author with Readings. New York: Norton, 2012.
  • Blackboard Supplemental Readings
  • A notebook OR a laptop/tablet for taking notes during class.
  • Paper and pen for in-class writing assignments
  • A dedicated notebook for your journal OR a laptop/tablet with journal entries in a single Word file.


To access the online components of this course, you must first go to, then follow the log-in instructions. You will need to have your EMPLID and password (the same information you use to access SOAR and register for classes). If you have any questions or run into difficulty accessing the Blackboard material for this course, please call the iTech Help Desk at 601-266-4357 or You can also get specific instructions on how to use components of Blackboard by visiting

I also strongly suggest, but do not require, an account with an online cloud storage system, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, to store your class writings and essay drafts. This eliminates the danger of computer crashes and lost jump drives, and ensures that nothing you write will be permanently lost. These services are free, and easy to use.


ENG 101 is a GEC-required course at USM, and students taking this course are expected to meet the following GEC learning outcomes:


  1. the student is able to develop a topic and present ideas through writing in an organized, logical, and coherent form and in a style that is appropriate for the discipline and the situation.
  2. the student can observe conventions of Standard English grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage.
  3. the student can  write a coherent analytical essay [considering the] rhetorical situation or through written communication effectively analyze the components of an argument.
  4. the student can find, use, and cite relevant information.

In order assist students in meeting these GEC learning outcomes, the Composition Program at Southern Miss has identified specific learning outcomes for each of its first-year writing courses that are meant to complement the GEC outcomes.  At the completion of ENG 101, students will be able to:

  • See that writing is a form of social interaction;
  • Analyze rhetorical situations and make effective choices based on audience and context;
  • Responsibly synthesize material from a variety of sources;
  • Make claims and support them with appropriate evidence;
  • Use writing to critically explore, explain, evaluate, and reflect on their experiences and on those of others;
  • Understand and effectively use a range of genres/forms;
  • Use conventions of expression appropriate to situation and audience;
  • Effectively revise and provide substantive feedback to others on their writing;
  • Articulate a revision strategy based on an understanding of their own writing processes;
  • Recognize the importance of technology in research, writing, and other forms of social interaction.



In order to receive at least a “C” grade in this course, you must satisfactorily complete all of the following:

  • complete all major writing projects;
  • complete the final portfolio project, to be submitted at the end of the semester (in lieu of a final exam);
  • maintain a language journal that relates to our course readings and discussions;
  • complete all reading assignments and homework, actively participate in class discussions and workshops, and maintain regular classroom attendance.



Writing and thinking are complex processes that take time to develop. Thus, your overall grade for English 101 is as dependent on how much your writing improves over the course of the semester, your demonstrated commitment to learning and support of your peers, the careful completion of homework and class assignments, and your own assessment of your strengths and progress, as any strict calculation of paper grades. Indeed, a portion of your final grade for this course will be determined by your Final Portfolio Project, which you will submit at the end of the semester. The following should serve only as a guide for how grading will be approached:

Project One: Literacy Narrative (10%)

A brief paper (3-5 pages) in which you will analyze and reflect on a moment in your life that involves your literacy development and make it relevant to an outside audience.

Project Two: Analytical Report (15%)

A longer paper (4-6 pages) in which you will report on and analyze a person, place, or community for an audience outside of that community.

Project Three: Analytical Argument Portfolio (30%)

A three-part assignment that asks you to develop an academic summary (5 pts), an analytical response (15 pts), and an argument essay (20 pts) utilizing course readings revolving around language.

Class Participation (5%)

Participation:  Your contributions to class discussions; your participation in collaborative assignments; participation in peer review workshops; and completion of assigned readings.

Informal Writing Assignments (10%)

Language Journal:  Because we will be looking critically at ideas of language, you will keep a language journal over the course of this semester. This journal exists in two parts, as a handwritten or typed personal journal, and as an individual blog on Blackboard:

  1. For each reading, you will choose a section of the text (a sentence or two) that you feel is particularly well-written. You will copy it into your journal, then write a few sentences exploring why this piece of writing works—examining its organization, structure, rhythm, word choice, and so on. Finally, you will write an imitation of this section using your own words and ideas. You are required to write one of these entries for one essay or article from each day’s reading (but not explanatory textbook chapters).
  1. Throughout the semester, you will look at the wider world—blogs, news articles, advertisements, your friends’ and families’ conversations, and so on—to consider how you and others use language, and post blog entries about the language you encounter outside the classroom. These entries (200-400 words) should record the language in question (I encourage you to consider using audio/video recordings and photographs), and critically reflect on how the language around you fits in with course readings and discussions. Over the course of the semester, you are required to write a minimum of ten of these entries, and to write thoughtful responses to your classmates’ blogs. In addition, you will occasionally be assigned specific topics for your blog posts. You get two free “passes” for assigned journal entries per semester—use them wisely.

I will collect your imitation journals at announced points in the semester for grading (if you choose to type yours, you’ll need to print them out), as well as asking you to share entries during most class days.

Final Portfolio Project (30 pts)

Two papers, one systematically revised and the other polished, as well as completion of the reflective essay assignment, which will ask you to critically reflect on and discuss nearly every aspect of your work for this course.

Note: For program assessment purposes, some final portfolios may be randomly selected for institutional review at the conclusion of the semester. In such cases, portfolios will be collected anonymously from among all available sections of English 101. This review is intended solely to improve the quality of the curriculum and will not affect your grade in any way.



In addition to completing all reading and writing assignments, preparing for class means being ready to discuss and intelligently question issues raised by the material. This does not mean, however, that you must master the material. On the contrary, it is perfectly reasonable that you may be confused by some readings the first time we encounter them. But in such cases you should be prepared to discuss what you specifically found puzzling, aggravating, thought-provoking, engaging, or difficult about the assignment. In other words, if you feel you have nothing to state about a piece of writing, you should actively develop a list of questions about it. Remember, much of your grade in this course will be determined by how much you improve over the course of the semester, so there is really no such thing as a stupid question, provided that you ask it in the spirit of honest inquiry.


Being physically present in class is not enough; you must also be mentally present.  Sleeping, engaging in distracting behaviors (such as interrupting discussions, texting, playing on social media, doing work for other classes, etc.), or refusing to participate in class activities and discussions is unacceptable and is grounds for being counted absent.  If you have a hard time staying awake, concentrating, or sitting still at your desk, you may stand up or move around, provided you do so in a non-distracting way.


The framework of this course – with its emphasis on class discussion and group work – demands that you attend class regularly. Failure to complete in-class work, such as peer reviews, in-class writing assignments, and group meetings will result in the lowering of your overall grade. Indeed, no in-class activities (including quizzes) may be made up due to tardiness or absence, and students who accumulate more than two absences over the course of the semester will automatically have their final grades lowered by up to one full letter grade for each additional absence. More than four absences in a semester will result in failing the course. There are no distinctions between excused and unexcused absences, so use your allotted days wisely. You are responsible for keeping track of your own attendance record. If you have a legitimate emergency, you must contact me within 24 hours of missing class to make arrangements for missed assignments.



Please plan to arrive on time and stay for the entire length of the class. If you arrive more than five minutes after the beginning of class, you will be considered late, and I will also note early departures. Four late arrivals or early departures will count as one absence. If you arrive more than fifteen minutes late or leave more than fifteen minutes early (without prior approval from me), you will be counted absent.



Late work will only be accepted if you can demonstrate that you have encountered a valid obstacle before the deadline (i.e., that you’ve been working on the project in good faith, but have run into some problems). If you feel you may be unable to complete an assignment on time, you should contact me as soon as possible, but no later than two days before the due date. After reviewing all the work you’ve done on the assignment, we will set a new deadline together. In all other cases, late work will automatically be docked one letter grade per day past the deadline, beginning on the day the assignment was due and including weekends.

Note: All major papers will be turned in through Blackboard this semester, and due by 5 p.m. on the due date. I will explain the procedure for using the technology in class, but it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that your work is properly uploaded and readable. I will not accept papers submitted via email or hard copies of work magically appearing in my English department mailbox without a prior agreement.


Students are encouraged to utilize portable electronic devices (such as tablets and laptops) for constructive purposes.  Students who choose to use these devices for our electronic readings must show evidence of annotation and analysis via an annotation program (iAnnotate, Good Reader, etc.). Texting, checking email and social media sites, gaming, listening to music, doing work for other classes/purposes, and other distracting uses of technology are unacceptable. Unless you are using your smartphone for class purposes, phones must be turned off  and put away during class (unless you have a legitimate reason—a young child for whom you are an emergency contact or an ill parent/grandparent, for example—for keeping it on, which you have cleared with me before class). If I notice that you are using technology in an inappropriate way, I will not (further) distract the class by pointing it out, but I will deduct a point from your final average for each infraction. In some cases, you will be asked to leave class and take an absence for the day.


All members of the academic community at the University of Southern Mississippi are expected to take responsibility for academic honesty and integrity. Plagiarism – the willful copying/presenting of another person’s work as if it were your own – and other forms of cheating are unacceptable. The penalties for such behavior can include failure of the course and, in some cases, even expulsion from the university. If you have any doubts about what constitutes plagiarism, please refer to your student handbook, to USM policies on Academic Honesty, or come talk to me.


We will do most of our writing in digital spaces—some formal, some informal. As we will discuss throughout the semester, different spaces and situations require different styles of communication. An informal message to a classmate, for example, may be casual in style and tone, while a polished project should have a style and tone appropriate for an academic audience. An important part of learning to be a successful student and writer is knowing what is appropriate in a given situation. As a way to practice professional email etiquette (a skill you will need in most situations in the future), an email to me, to any other faculty or staff member on campus, or to anyone in any position of authority must be respectful and professional in tone, should come from your official USM email account, and should follow this format:

Subject: Request to schedule an appointment *A subject line is always required and should clearly and briefly represent your purpose for emailing. Emails with no subject line may not be read.

Dear Ms. Rothenbeck, *Always use a formal address, such as Professor, Dr., Ms., Mr. Never use the person’s first name unless you have been given explicit permission to do so.

I am a student in your ENG 101 H01E class, and I would like to schedule an appointment with you in your office to discuss my draft of the argument essay. I am having trouble with my thesis statement and hope to get your help in clarifying it. Are you available to meet this Wednesday afternoon? *State your question, concern, or request briefly and clearly, using standardized English. Maintain a polite, respectful tone and avoid using exclamation points, emoticons, texting abbreviations, or coarse language. Avoid asking questions that are answered on the syllabus or assignment sheet, such as “When is our paper due?” or “What is our homework for tomorrow?” Emails that are not professional in style or tone, or that ask questions that are clearly answered on the syllabus or assignment sheets, may be ignored.

Thank you, *Use a formal closing, such as “Sincerely,” “Respectfully,” “Thank you,” or “Best regards.”

Kim Jones *Always sign your full name at the end of your email.


The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to providing equal access to its programs, services, and activities for people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that reasonable accommodations be provided for students with physical, sensory, cognitive, systemic, learning, and psychiatric disabilities. If you feel you may need accommodations in this or any class, please contact the Office of Disability Services (118 College Dr. #8586, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001) at 601-266-5024 (Telephone), 601-266-6837 (TTY), or 601-266-6035 (FAX).



The Writing Center is a free program available to all student writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. It offers one-on-one help with any kind of writing project, at any stage of the writing process. The Writing Center is located in Cook Library 112.  The Writing Center will play an important role in the design of this course.  For more information, and hours of operation, you may contact The Writing Center at 601-266-4821, or visit the website at:


The University of Southern Mississippi offers a Speaking Center, with consultations available at no cost to all students, faculty, and staff.  The center is available for advice on all types of oral communication—formal individual presentations, group presentations, class discussion, class debates, interviews, campus speeches, etc.  Tutors at the Speaking Center will work with you on brainstorming, organizing and outlining, editing and revising, and practicing delivery.  The center also offers several practice rooms for recording presentations and practicing with delivery aids (PowerPoint and internet access are available).  Visit the center in Cook Library 117, call the center at 601-266-4965, or visit the website at



EAA: Everyone’s an Author

BB: Blackboard Readings

*This schedule is subject to change at my discretion. I will notify you in class of any changes.

Week 1

8/22       Introductions/Writing Sample   


Week 2

8/27       EAA “Thinking Rhetorically”; “Rhetorical Situations”; “Writing Processes”; “The Need for                Collaboration”; BB “Six Things You Should Say to Your Professor”;  “Guidelines for Discussion”          (handout)

8/29       EAA “Writing a Narrative”; “Literacy: A Lineage”; “The Sanctuary of School”; “Compulsory Reading”         


Week 3

9/3         EAA “Blue-Collar Brilliance”; “Moving from Social Media to Academic Writing”

9/5         BB Ann Lamott “Shitty First Drafts” (excerpt); Mike Rose “Lives on the Boundary” (excerpt)

Week 4

9/10       BB Richard Rodriguez “Aria”; BB Amy Tan “Mother Tongue” (excerpt)

9/12       Project 1 Draft DUE; Peer Workshops

Week 5

9/17       Project 1 DUE; Decompression

Introduce Analytical Report—Language and College; EAA “Reporting Information”

9/19       EAA “Collecting Field Research”;               BB “The Power of Slang”; “Do You Speak College Slang?”


Week 6

9/24       BB “Bros Get Wasted, Girls Get Tipsy”; “Now I Gotta Watch What I Say,” ;“Jeah! We Mapped Out            The 4 Basic Aspects Of Being A ‘Bro’;

9/26       EAA “Synthesizing Ideas”; “Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing” ; BB “ Sex on Campus: She               Can Play That Game, Too” ; “Advice for the Young Women of Princeton”; “Media Coverage of      the Post Title IX Female Athlete”


Week 7

10/1       EAA “Tweets to Reports”; BB “Bathroom Graffiti at Humboldt State”; “Bathroom Graffiti and the              Overarching Implications for Social and Historical Analysis”(Prezi presentation); “Pompeii ‘Wall             Posts’ Reveal Ancient Social Networks”

10/2       Last day to drop without academic penalty

10/3       Field Research Presentations

Week 8

10/8       Field Research Presentations; Writing Workshops/Introductions

10/10     Field Research Presentations; Developing your case study


Week 9

10/15     Project 2 Draft DUE; Peer Workshops

10/17     No Class—Fall Break


Week 10

10/22     Project 2 DUE; Decompression; Introduce Project 3; Discuss Summary; Introduce Analytical         Argument Portfolio—Language and Identity

10/24     BB “The Quare Gene”; “My Yiddish”

10/25 Midterm grades due


Week 11

10/29     Academic Summary Draft DUE; Peer Workshop; BB “You Are the Second Person”; “The Grammar of       Urban African American Vernacular English”

10/31     Academic Summary DUE; “Nobody Mean More to Me Than You”; “Language on               Trial” (NPR audio              clip)

Week 12

11/5       BB “A New Gender-Neutral Pronoun in Baltimore, Maryland: A Preliminary Study;” “Nuances of gay       identities reflected in new language”

11/7       “The 11 Differences of Dating a Boy vs. a Man”; “Reclaiming Critical Analysis: The Social Harms of               ‘Bitch’”

Week 13 

11/12     Analytical Response DUE

11/14     BB “Writing on the Bias”; “Not Too Late to Take the Sanitation Test”

Week 14 

11/19     In-class writing workshops

11/21     Analytical Argument Draft DUE


Week 15

11/26     Analytical Argument DUE; Decompression; Introduce Project 4

11/28     No class—Thanksgiving Holidays


Week 16

12/3       EAA “Assembling a Portfolio”; Portfolio Workshops

12/5       Portfolio Workshops

Exam Week

Final Portfolios DUE



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