Department of English

Core Composition

Welcome to Composition at Auburn University. Here you will find information related to our course sequence, from a general overview of the program to more particular details related to English 1100 & English 1120. Situated within a liberal arts tradition, our courses value diversity, promote the open exchange of ideas, and aim to provide a space where students can develop their craft as writers, refine their ability to read, research, write, and think critically, and in general, take part in conversations not only with their classmates and teacher but also with the broader university community.

Last Updated: October 04, 2016

The Composition sequence is designed to equip students with a combination of rhetorical knowledge, technical skill, and critical habits of mind that will contribute to their personal and intellectual development as writers, both in school and across the diverse contexts of work and community life. The first course, English 1100, introduces students to the fundamentals of college-level prose writing, research, and argumentation; the second course, English 1120, adds depth and nuance to the sequence through a focus on rhetorical principles and textual practices commonly associated with academic research writing. Both courses emphasize inquiry-driven learning and reflect the belief that skill in writing can be developed through principled study and guided practice.

Two textbooks are commonly used for English 1100 & 1120:

  • English 1100 (Composition I)—Joining the Conversation: A Guide for Writers
  • English 1120 (Composition II)—From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A Text and Reader

Each of these texts owes some debt to Kenneth Burke’s metaphorical “parlor conversation.” Consider the following passage taken from The Philosophy of Literary Form:

Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress. (pp. 110-111)

Drawing on Burke’s parlor metaphor, Joining the Conversation (JTC) positions students to see themselves as writers who are constantly learning to participate in new communities and “conversations.” Informed by scholarship in the field of rhetoric and composition, the text highlights the social dimensions of writing—including the various roles we adopt as writers in different situations—and emphasizes processes related to reading, writing, and research. Similar to JTC, the textbook for English 1120, From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A Text and Reader (IAW), invites students to join a “conversation of ideas.” It narrows the scope of instruction, however, by focusing on conventions we tend to associate with academic research writing in particular. Ideally, IAW thus serves to reinforce the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind introduced in English 1100—what we might think of as the fundamentals of college-level prose writing—but also to imagine English 1120 as a transitional point for students as they begin to anticipate the writing situations they will encounter in their prospective disciplines.  

So why concern ourselves with Burke’s insights? A couple reasons: first, Burke suggests that language is not a neutral or objective representation of reality; rather, it is a form of “symbolic action” that we employ to shape how audiences think and act. Second, Burke’s conversational metaphor is inclusive in spirit and invites students to see themselves as capable writers who are learning to engage with diverse ideas, audiences, texts, arguments, and social practices. A common goal for faculty who teach in the Composition program is to help students develop into adept, lifelong writers—a foundation of liberal education—but also to understand that what is timely or appropriate or persuasive is going to change depending on the particulars of any given situation. Under this description, the Composition sequence seeks to balance the need for transferrable skills with the need for a rhetorical consciousness that enables students to join, and potentially contribute to, the many conversations taking place in the university community and broader culture.

Shared Principles for English 1100 & English 1120

Our ability to assist students in writing across the course sequence relies to some extent on our ability to reinforce particular habits—intellectual, rhetorical, social, cultural, technical—that they can strengthen and refine within and beyond the scope of our courses.[1] These include the following:

  • Curiosity (desire to know more about the world)
  • Openness (willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world)
  • Engagement (a sense of investment and involvement in learning)
  • Creativity (ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas)
  • Persistence (ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects)
  • Responsibility (ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others)
  • Flexibility (ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands)
  • Metacognition (ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge)

 

Particular experiences with writing, reading, and critical analysis further contribute to the way we develop habits of mind. These experiences include the following:

  • Developing Rhetorical Knowledge

    Rhetorical knowledge is the ability to analyze and act on understandings of audiences, purposes, and contexts in creating and comprehending texts.

  • Developing Critical Thinking Through Writing, Reading, and Research

    Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation or text and make thoughtful decisions based on that analysis.

  • Developing Flexible Writing Processes

    Writing processes are the multiple strategies writers use to approach and undertake writing and research.

  • Developing Knowledge of Conventions

    Conventions are the formal rules and informal guidelines that define what is considered to be cor­rect (or appropriate) and incorrect (or inappropriate) in a piece of writing.

  • Composing in Multiple Environments

    Composing in multiple environments refers to the ability to create writing using everything from traditional pen and paper to electronic technologies.

A general objective for our instruction is to teach students the craft of writing but also reinforce habits of mind that they can eventually transfer into disciplinary contexts. And while these “experiences” help us to ground our teaching, we also have more precise objectives for English 1100 & English 1120. These are outlined in brief below.

 

[1] The language used in the following sections comes from the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing (a document created through the collaborative efforts of the Council for Writing Program Administrators, the National Council for Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project).

Last Updated: October 04, 2016

English 1100—Joining Public Conversations

English 1100 emphasizes rhetorical principles and textual practices commonly associated with college-level writing, research, and argumentation. In particular, students develop a semester-long inquiry in which they 1) explore a topical public issue and 2) lend their voice to a “conversation” they would like to join based on their research and personal interests. Focused largely on public discourse, English 1100 invites students to identify problems, formulate questions, and develop their inquiry across three major projects that guide them toward increasingly sophisticated levels of reading, writing, analysis, and argumentation.

Each project will include two graded assignments: 1) a writing exercise, and 2) a major paper. Writing exercises focus on rhetorical invention and are designed to help students generate ideas, narrow their inquiries, develop their arguments, and refine their prose style; major papers build on these exercises, focus on rhetorical exposition and argumentation, and are designed to help students compose texts that increase in length and complexity over the course of the semester. In addition to writing exercises and major papers, students will compose “Author Notes” that encourage them to reflect on their writing, and writing processes, and refine their craft based on feedback they receive from the course instructor. These “notes” will also be used to develop a final exam essay and/or portfolio of written work that students submit during finals week.

Evaluation and Grading

Instructors of English 1100 will use their expertise, experience, and professional judgment to evaluate and grade each assignment. The criteria described below are designed to help guide instructors in their evaluation and can in turn help students understand what will be expected of them in their writing and in the various assignments they complete throughout the course. Please Note: Instructors may also develop additional requirements that will factor into the grade students earn for particular assignments, and subsequently, for the course. These factors should be consistent with program philosophy and course objectives.

Auburn University provides the following descriptors for its grading scale:

  • Superior (A)
  • Good (B)
  • Acceptable (C)
  • Passing (D)
  • Failure (F)

Guided by the above scale (A/Superior to F/Failure), instructors evaluate most student writing based on categories represented in the following heuristic:

Argument & Exposition

The writer develops a compelling argument or exposition that is in keeping with assignment guidelines; the writer’s thesis is clear and discernible to the reader and carefully developed throughout the paper; the writer uses an appropriate method of analysis or exposition, textual evidence, and/or expert sources to support his or her argument; the writer draws reasonable conclusions that logically follow from the introduction and body of the paper; the writer offers a non-summary conclusion that brings closure to the argument but points toward possible areas for further investigation; overall, the writer demonstrates knowledge of rhetorical conventions typical of college-level writing, research, and argumentation.

Organization

The paper has a discernible structure that is in keeping with assignment guidelines; the writer provides clear topic sentences that he or she fully develops at the paragraph level; the writer provides clear transitions between paragraphs that lend coherence to the paper as a whole; the structure of the paper contributes to a cohesive reading experience and cogent argument or exposition; overall, the writer demonstrates knowledge of structural conventions typical of college-level writing, research, and argumentation.

Prose Style

The paper is written in an active and engaging prose style; the writer’s use of language is clear and precise; the writer’s diction is appropriate to the rhetorical situation, including purpose, audience, genre, and context; the writer demonstrates a firm grasp of word meanings and common usage; the writer exhibits a distinctive voice; overall, the writer demonstrates knowledge of stylistic conventions typical of college-level prose writing, research, and argumentation.

Grammar & Mechanics

The paper contains no grammatical errors that detract from the paper’s meaning or the author’s credibility; the paper contains no mechanical errors that detract from the paper’s meaning or the author’s credibility; the writer cites sources consistently and correctly throughout the paper; overall, the writer demonstrates knowledge of grammatical and mechanical conventions typical of college-level prose writing, research, and argumentation.

The following descriptors further define the qualities of student writing according to the grading scale and categories described above:

  • A superior paper achieves the highest standards of quality as described in the heuristic and represents an original, coherent, persuasive, and fully developed response to the assignment.
  • A good paper achieves a competent standard of quality as described in the heuristic but lacks the originality, consistency, and persuasiveness of a superior paper. The writer demonstrated a grasp of the assignment but did not accomplish a fully developed response.
  • An acceptable paper achieves only a moderate standard of quality as described in the heuristic and lacks the competence of a good paper. The writer appears to understand the basics of the assignment but was able to accomplish only a partially developed response.
  • A passing paper achieves few if any standards as described in the heuristic and meets only the most basic requirements of the assignment. The writer appears not to understand the basics of the assignment and was not able to accomplish a developed or coherent response.
  • A failing paper does not achieve the minimal standards as described in the heuristic and does not meet the basic requirements of the assignment.
Last Updated: October 04, 2016

English 1120—Joining Academic Conversations

English 1120 builds on fundamentals introduced in English 1100 but emphasizes rhetorical principles and textual practices commonly associated with academic research writing. More specifically, students develop a semester-long inquiry in which they 1) learn and practice the conventions of academic scholarship (including methods and genres); 2) compose in different textual genres (including proposals and annotated bibliographies); and 3) generate a substantial research paper that contributes a novel perspective to an existing scholarly and/or discipline-specific conversation. Focused largely on academic discourse, and based on a theme selected by the course instructor, English 1120 invites students to identify relevant problems, formulate precise questions, and develop their inquiry across three major projects that guide them toward increasingly sophisticated levels of reading, writing, analysis, and argumentation.

Each project will include two graded assignments: 1) a writing exercise, and 2) a major paper. Writing exercises focus on rhetorical invention and are designed to help students generate ideas, narrow their inquiries, develop their arguments, and refine their prose style; major papers in turn focus on rhetorical argumentation and are designed to help students compose texts that increase in length and complexity over the course of the semester. In addition to exercises and major papers, students will compose a final exam project in which they “remix” their research and communicate it to a non-academic audience. All assignments build on one another and seek to prepare students for the type of rhetorical situations they can expect to encounter as they transition out of the core and into disciplinary contexts.

Library Instruction Sessions

Many of the assignments students complete for the course require them to locate, analyze, and synthesize different types of academic research. Some of these tasks can be completed via regular Internet search (e.g., Google Scholar); some of them, however, will require them to access and use resources provided by Auburn’s Ralph Brown Draughon Library. To facilitate student use of these resources, instructors typically schedule 1-2 class periods where the class meets with an instructional librarian. These sessions are vital opportunities for the course instructor and instructional librarian to collaborate and, together, work with students to help them develop knowledge of academic inquiry and research writing that will transfer into more advanced disciplinary coursework.

Evaluation and Grading

Instructors of English 1100 will use their expertise, experience, and professional judgment to evaluate and grade each assignment. The criteria described below are designed to help guide instructors in their evaluation and can in turn help students understand what will be expected of them in their writing and in the various assignments they complete throughout the course. Please Note: Instructors may also develop additional requirements that will factor into the grade students earn for particular assignments, and subsequently, for the course. These factors should be consistent with program philosophy and course objectives.

Auburn University provides the following descriptors for its grading scale:

  • Superior (A)
  • Good (B)
  • Acceptable (C)
  • Passing (D)
  • Failure (F)

Guided by the above scale (A/Superior to F/Failure), instructors evaluate most student writing based on categories represented in the following heuristic:

Argument & Exposition

The writer develops a compelling argument or exposition that is in keeping with assignment guidelines; the writer’s thesis is clear and discernible to the reader and carefully developed throughout the paper; the writer uses an appropriate method of analysis or exposition, textual evidence, and/or expert sources to support his or her argument; the writer draws reasonable conclusions that logically follow from the introduction and body of the paper; the writer offers a non-summary conclusion that brings closure to the argument but points toward possible areas for further investigation; overall, the writer demonstrates knowledge of rhetorical conventions typical of academic writing, research, and argumentation.

Organization

The paper has a discernible structure that is in keeping with assignment guidelines; the writer provides clear topic sentences that he or she fully develops at the paragraph level; the writer provides clear transitions between paragraphs that lend coherence to the paper as a whole; the structure of the paper contributes to a cohesive reading experience and cogent argument or exposition; overall, the writer demonstrates knowledge of structural conventions typical of academic writing, research, and argumentation.

Prose Style

The paper is written in an active and engaging prose style; the writer’s use of language is clear and precise; the writer’s diction is appropriate to the rhetorical situation, including purpose, audience, genre, and context; the writer demonstrates a firm grasp of word meanings and common usage; the writer exhibits a distinctive voice; overall, the writer demonstrates knowledge of stylistic conventions typical of academic writing, research, and argumentation.

Grammar & Mechanics

The paper contains no grammatical errors that detract from the paper’s meaning or the author’s credibility; the paper contains no mechanical errors that detract from the paper’s meaning or the author’s credibility; the writer cites sources consistently and correctly throughout the paper; overall, the writer demonstrates knowledge of grammatical and mechanical conventions typical of academic writing, research, and argumentation.

The following descriptors further define the qualities of student writing according to the grading scale and categories described above:

  • A superior paper achieves the highest standards of quality as described in the heuristic and represents an original, coherent, persuasive, and fully developed response to the assignment.
  • A good paper achieves a competent standard of quality as described in the heuristic but lacks the originality, consistency, and persuasiveness of a superior paper. The writer demonstrated a grasp of the assignment but did not accomplish a fully developed response.
  • An acceptable paper achieves only a moderate standard of quality as described in the heuristic and lacks the competence of a good paper. The writer appears to understand the basics of the assignment but was able to accomplish only a partially developed response.
  • A passing paper achieves few if any standards as described in the heuristic and meets only the most basic requirements of the assignment. The writer appears not to understand the basics of the assignment and was not able to accomplish a developed or coherent response.
  • A failing paper does not achieve the minimal standards as described in the heuristic and does not meet the basic requirements of the assignment. 
Last Updated: October 04, 2016

Department of English Composition program policies are under revision.

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Last Updated: August 31, 2015
  1. What are the Composition Requirements, and how can I meet them?
  2. I was told that I could test out of taking ENGL 1100 and ENGL 1120. How do I do it?
  3. I received a high score on the CLEP test. Do I have to take ENGL 1100?
  4. I took a course at another university that is supposed to be its version of English Composition. How can I be sure?
  5. I've tried registering for ENGL 1120, but the computer says that I haven’t met the prerequisite. But I did meet the prerequisite, so why can't I get in?
  6. I want to drop my Composition course and get into a different one, but the computer won't let me do it. What do I do?
  7. I think I'm going to have to drop English Composition. How do I do this?
  8. Is there an attendance requirement for Freshman Composition?
  9. What grade do I need to pass the course?
  10. What if I do not receive the grade I believe that I deserve?
  11. Where do I go if I have specific questions or problems with Composition?

1. What are the Composition Requirements, and how can I meet them?

Answer: You are required to take two semesters (or their equivalent)of English Composition to graduate from Auburn University. You can meet this requirement in one of the following ways:

  • Take ENGL 1100 and ENGL 1120 at Auburn University and earn a grade of C or better in each course.
  • Take the equivalent of Auburn's ENGL 1100 and 1120 at another college or university and earn a grade of C or better in each course. (NOTE: If you take one of these courses at another school, you will have to take the other one at Auburn.) You will be able to transfer these courses to Auburn for credit and will be exempt from taking them at Auburn.
  • "Test out" of English Composition I and take English Composition II at Auburn or another university.

2. I was told that I could test out of taking ENGL 1100 and ENGL 1120. How do I do it?

Answer: You can test out of ENGL 1100 in one of the following ways:

  • A score of 30 or higher on the ACT, English
  • A score of 680 or higher on the SAT I: Verbal
  • A score of 4 on the AP test in English Language and Composition or English Literature and Composition
  • A score of 5-6 on the International Baccalaureate English A1 Exam, higher Level

If you make one of these scores, you will receive three semester hours for English Composition I and will not have to take the course. (You will still have to take English Composition II unless you meet the requirements below for ENGL 1120 credit.) If you have any one of these scores and you are blocked from registering for ENGL 1120, see the Coordinator of Composition. You are also exempt from taking ENGL 1100 if you tested out of the equivalent course at another school then took and passed a subsequent composition course.

Answer: You can test out of ENGL 1120 in one of the following ways:

  • A score of 35-36 on the ACT, English
  • A score of 720 or higher on the SAT I Verbal or Written
  • A score of 5 on the AP test in English Language and Composition or English Literature and Composition
  • A score of 7 on the International Baccalaureate English A1 Exam, higher Level

If you make one of these scores, you will receive three semester hours for English Composition II and will not have to take the course. (You are eligible to take Core Literature.) If you have any one of these scores and you are blocked from registering Core Literature, see the Coordinator of Composition.

3. I received a high score on the CLEP test. Do I have to take ENGL 1100?

Answer: Yes. Auburn University does not award credit or advanced standing for the CLEP test. You will have to take ENGL 1100 unless you met one of the test scores listed above.

4. I took a course at another university that is supposed to be its version of English Composition. How can I be sure?

Answer: Some schools have freshman writing courses that don't go by the name of English Composition (or a similar name). If you think the course meets the requirements of Auburn's ENGL 1100, bring the course syllabus or an official university description of the course to the Director of Composition. You may get credit for the course if its primary focus is on writing instruction and if you wrote expository essays comparable in scope and requirements to those written in ENGL 1100.

5. I've tried registering for ENGL 1120, but the computer says that I haven’t met the prerequisite. But I did meet the prerequisite, so why can't I get in?

Answer: If you're transferring Composition I from another school(with a grade of C or higher), or if you tested out of Composition I, the computerized registration system at Auburn may not recognize these as meeting the prerequisite. The Director of Composition will have to place you into ENGL 1120. 

6. I want to drop my Composition course and get into a different one, but the computer won't let me do it. What do I do?

Answer: The Director of Composition may move you to another section of English Composition only if these conditions are met:

  • the course you are now in conflicts with another course you need to take as a requirement for your major or the university core, or conflicts with your employment schedule, or conflicts with personal obligations such as child care;
  • there is a seat open in another course; and
  • the change takes place no later than the second day the section you want to get into meets.

You will need to provide  documentation that the conflict exists. Please note: the Director of Composition will not make the change after the second day the class has met. The department will not make the change because you want a different teacher, or because the class meets at a time that is inconvenient for reasons other than those mentioned above.

7. I think I'm going to have to drop English Composition. How do I do this?

Answer: If it's before midterm, you should be able to drop the course through the online drop/add system. If you do so, your teacher will receive notification later, and your grade will be recorded as a W for withdrawal. There is no grade point penalty or benefit for a grade of W. If it is after midterm, you can drop the course only with the permission of your Dean. You will need to get the Dean's approval on a form that your teacher will also sign. Again, the grade will be a W.

8. Is there an attendance requirement for Freshman Composition?

Answer: Your instructor's attendance policy should be spelled out in the syllabus you will receive at the beginning of term. Most instructors will follow the recommended policy given in the Student Guidelines, but some will establish their own policy. Regardless, make sure you know your teacher's policy, because most teachers have a provision whereby a certain number of unexcused absences will result in a grade of FA, failure due to excessive absences.

9. What grade do I need to pass the course?

Answer: The real question is: what grade do you need to meet the requirements of English Composition I and II and to satisfy the prerequisites for the next English course and graduation? The answer is: you need a C or higher in ENGL 1100 to take ENGL 1120, and a C or higher in ENGL 1120 to take Core Literature.  A grade of D is, technically, a passing grade, but if you get a D in either Composition course, you will need to retake it. That is a state-mandated requirement.

10. What if I do not receive the grade I believe that I deserve?

Answer: The first thing to do is to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the Academic Grievance Policy given in the Policy eHandbook found in the Auburn Bulletin. The policy will tell you that your first step is to discuss your grievance with the teacher. If you are unable to meet with your teacher, or if you have met but are not satisfied with the results, your next step is to make an appointment with the Coordinator of Composition, who will meet with you and recommend a procedure to have your work reviewed.

11. Where do I go if I have specific questions or problems with Composition?

Answer: You will need to visit the office of the Director of Composition or email to arrange a time to meet.

Last Updated: September 11, 2014
Last Updated: August 31, 2015

For more information

Chad Wickman

Chad Wickman
Associate Professor
Director of Composition
cew0016@auburn.edu
8054 Haley Center
(334) 844-9061

Last Updated: October 04, 2016