I hope to make the transition between instructors as smooth as possible for you. If you have questions or encounter difficulties, please don't hesitate to contact me: ehoefler[at]
- Eric Hoefler


Introduces students to critical thinking and the fundamentals of academic writing. Through the writing process, students refine topics; develop and support ideas; investigate, evaluate, and incorporate appropriate resources; edit for effective style and usage; and determine appropriate approaches for a variety of contexts, audiences, and purposes. Writing activities will include exposition and argumentation with at least one researched essay.

General Course Purpose

ENG 111 will prepare students for all other expected college writing and for writing in the workplace through understanding the writing process and creation of effective texts.

Course Goals and Objectives

Goal One: The Process of Writing
ENG 111 will help students understand that writing is a process that develops through experience and varies among individuals.
  1. Students will engage in all phases of the writing process: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and reflecting.
  2. Students will incorporate reading and experience into their writing processes.

Goal Two: Critical Thinking for Writing
ENG 111 will develop students’ ability to analyze and investigate ideas and to present them in well structured prose appropriate to the purpose and audience.
  1. Students will competently read, summarize, and respond to college-level texts – their own and others' – of varying lengths.
  2. Students will create unified, coherent, well-developed texts that demonstrate a self-critical awareness of rhetorical elements such as purpose, audience, and organization.
  3. Students will appropriately employ grammatical and mechanical conventions in the preparation of readable manuscripts.
  4. Students will learn how to use and evaluate outside sources of information, incorporate and document source material appropriately, and avoid plagiarism.
  5. Students will produce 15-20 pages of finished, graded text, including at least one documented essay.

Resources & Materials

Grading and Assignments

  • 10% = Reading Responses
    • Ch. 8 Responses (the "extra credit" quiz on 10/11)
    • Ch. 9 Responses (10/25)
    • Ch. 11 Responses (10/29)
    • Ch. 12 Responses (11/2)
  • 25% = Documented Research Paper
    • Documented Research Paper (approx. 1,500 - 2,000 words - 11/16)
  • 30% = Micro Essays
    • College Essay (10/25)
    • Media Analysis Essay (approx. 400-500 words - 11/8)
  • 15% = Exercises
    • Research Topics Freewrite (10/19)
    • Argument Exercise (10/23)
    • Summary of Belief Exercise (10/25)
    • Article Summaries Exercise (10/25)
    • Quote Analysis Exercise (10/29)
    • Syllogymnasium Test (10/29)
    • Opposing Viewpoints Essays notes and response (11/8)
  • 10% = Participation (Based on in-class work and discussion, entered on 11/16)
  • 10% = Final (11/16)


October 9
  • Introductions
  • Review course to date (writing process; context: SOAP / expressive, poetic, transactional; writing as a persuasive act)
  • Parts of Discourse

October 11
  • "Ch. 8 - Analysis: Making Evaluations" (Sundance 265-270)
  • "How to Lie with Statistics" by Darrell Huff (Sundance 294-304)

October 15

October 17
Senior Meeting

October 19
  • Discuss articles from popular sources, analyzed for parts of discourse
  • Discovering Topics (topics for research paper and college essay continued). Some tips when working with topics (adapted from Rosenwasser and Stephen):
    • Become conversant with the material/subject (which means, be able to talk easily about your topic without referring to notes, and with the material, playing sources off one another).
    • Look for questions rather than answers
    • Reduce the scope of your topic as much as possible
    • Expect to become interested
    • Be suspicious of your first responses to a topic: write, reflect, question, and research your way to complexity and nuance
    • Look for areas of uncertainty and/or disagreement related to your topic
    • Ask "So what?"
    • Complicate binaries
    • Focus only on significant similarities or differences
    • Test definitions against evidence and/or explore competing parts
  • EXERCISES: Using the topic you're considering for your documented research paper, complete the following:
    • Your initial and current thoughts about the topic
    • A list of significant questions related to your topic (whether or not you have answers yet)
    • A list with brief descriptions about the "problem areas" of your topic (i.e., your doubts and uncertainties)
    • A list of possible sub-topics for your topic (don't be afraid to get really small)
    • A justification of why this topic is important and worth pursuing to you ... and a response to this question: "To whom are you defending this topic?"
    • THEN: Share your document with TWO other people. Have each add comments, suggesting other perspectives, questions, subtopics, etc.
  • College Essay Tips:
    • offers good suggestions for generating topics on their "General Essay Writing Tips" page.
    • EXERCISE: Read through the 12 prompts on the above link and respond to at least three.
    • The College Board offers suggestions for writing a college essay on their website. Their tips include
      • Think about yourself (to make the essay uniquely yours and relevant to your personality and interests); choose a positive quality to emphasize; tell a story
      • Keep your focus narrow; prove your assertions; be specific; be honest; be concise (see this page for examples)
    • Avoid both slang and "Engfish"
    • Augment with imagery, make it move with active verbs
    • You might also check Jay Mathews' "Ten Stupid Ways to Ruin Your College Application"

October 23
  • Bunnyman Research
  • Entering the Argument: Writers not only need to supply a clear thesis, but also the larger conversation that thesis is responding to (Graff and Birkenstein 18). This is provided through "statement of fact" and "refutation." Consider this example from Graff and Birkenstein:
    • Version A: "The characters in The Sopranos are very complex." A reasonable response: so what?
    • Version B: "Some say The Sopranos presents caricatures of Italian Americans. In fact, however, the characters in the series are very complex." A reasonable response: Hmm ... hadn't thought of that before. Let's hear the rest of the argument and evidence ...
  • Some templates for introducing the other side of the argument:
    • They Say: "A number of sociologists have recently suggested that Dr. X's work has several fundamental problems ..."
    • Standard Views: "Americans today tend to believe that ..."
    • Making It Yours: "I've always believed that ..."
    • Making the Implicit Explicit: "Although none of my teachers have said so directly, they have often given me the impression that ..."
    • Ongoing Debate: "In the discussion of X, one controversial issue has been ... On the other hand, X argues that ... Others contend that ..."
  • EXERCISES: For each of the following statements, create a sentence (or sentences) that situation the ideas within a larger conversation/argument using one of the templates above.
    • Our experiments suggest that there are dangerous levels of Chemical X in the Ohio groundwater.
    • My own view is that this novel has certain flaws.
    • Football is so boring.
    • Male students often dominate class discussions.
    • In my view, the film is really about the problems of romantic relationships.
    • I'm afraid that templates like the ones given here will stifle my creativity.
  • Research Tips

October 25
Working with Summaries:
  • To write an effective summary, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re summarizing. Otherwise, your summary will be obviously biased and undermine your credibility. You must also be sure to represent your source accurately because you’re using your sources to enter a conversation. Therefore, you have to first make sure you are accurately representing the views of your sources, or your entire conversation/argument will be based on a misunderstanding.
    • Read “Don’t Blame the Eater” by David Zinczenko
    • Now, consider this summary: “In his article, ‘Don’t Blame the Eater,’ David Zinczenko accuses the fast-food companies of an evil conspiracy to make people fat.” What are the problems with this summary?
    • Beware the “closest cliché syndrome,” in which what gets summarized is not the actual view of the author, but a familiar cliché that the writer mistakes for the author’s view
  • EXERCISE: To try this out, pick a topic about which you hold a strong belief. First, write a summary of the position you actually hold on the topic. Then write a summary of a belief about that topic with which you strongly disagree (in other words, summarizing an opposing belief about this topic). Share both summaries with a few other classmates (who don’t already know your beliefs on this topic). If they can’t tell which position you actually hold, then you’ve succeeded.
  • On the other hand, as you summarize, you have to prepare your reader for where you’re going next. How you summarize a source may vary—not in accuracy, but in emphasis—depending on how you plan to use that source in your own argument. Be sure to match the “they say” and “I say” to avoid missing this.
    • For example, suppose you want to argue that parents, not fast-food companies, are to blame for children’s obesity. To set this up, your summary of Zinczenko should emphasize what he says as it relates to parenting.
    • Consider: “In his article, ‘Don’t Blame the Eater,’ David Zinczenko argues that today’s fast-food chains fill the nutritional void in children’s lives left by their overtaxed working parents. For example, when he was a young boy, and his single mother was away at work, he ate at Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and other chains on a regular basis …”
    • How might the summary change if you were using this article to write about the need to more closely regulate corporations or the need for more, and more specific, warning labels on certain kinds of food?
  • EXERCISE: Write two different summaries of the Zinczenko article. Write the first one for an essay arguing that, contrary to what Zinczenko claims, there are inexpensive and convenient alternatives to fast-food restaurants. Write the second for an essay that agrees with Zinczenko in blaming fast-food companies for youthful obesity, but questions his view that bringing lawsuits against those companies is a legitimate response to the problem. (Note: you’re not writing the essay, nor are you expected to provide the argument for these viewpoints. Just focus on how different uses of this source will change the emphasis, but not the accuracy, of your summary.)
  • College Essay Draft Due
  • For Next Class: Read and note sections 52 and 53 in Rules for Writers (pages 402-413) in preparation for next class's discussion of working with evidence. Read and note the introductory material for chapter 10 - "Process" (pages 407-411) and "Desperation Writing" by Peter Elbow (pages 431-434) in The Sundance Reader.

October 29
  • Reading Response: Ch. 9 - "Division and Classification" and "Our Three Languages" by Northrop Frye
    • In your own words, describe the difference between a "division" and a "classification."
    • In your own words, re-state the four suggestions for working with division does your text offer?
    • In your own words, re-state five suggestions for working with classification does your text offer?
    • Briefly explain the three languages Frye delineates.
    • What value can you see in Frye's essay, either specifically or generally? In other words, why would someone write something like this, and why should anyone else pay attention to it?
    • How does the information in chapter 9, and the example provided in Frye's essay, relate to the concepts we've been discussing in summarizing source material?
  • Two Major Problems:
    • Unsubstantiated claims: learn to recognize assertions missing support
    • Unexplained evidence: you must explain how evidence confirms or qualifies your claims, or serves to refute oppositional claims
  • Analyzing Evidence:
    • It's generally better to make many points about a single representative piece of evidence/example than to make the same basic point about many pieces of evidence/examples.
    • So: once you have a sufficiently narrow focus, select a representative example, provide in-depth analysis, then test your results in similar cases
    • You must be sure that your selected evidence for analysis is truly representative of the data, and you also have to demonstrate this to your reader
    • Be careful to avoid logical fallacies when working with evidence
  • The Art of Quoting
    • Quote Relevant Passages: be careful to not over-quote, but also don't under-quote; don't rely on memory to reconstruct the author's intentions; don't quote things just because they sound good or to "prove" you've really read the work ... think about how the quote fits in your argument.
    • Frame Quotations: once you've found truly relevant quotes, you also have to "frame" them by appropriately introducing and explaining the quote. First, you introduce the quote by telling the reader who said it, the authority of that person/text, the context or time in which it was said (if important), etc. Then, you have to explain how that quote relates to the point you're trying to make ... don't make the reader do this for you! You can start with templates like:
      • X, a prominent philosopher and professor, states, ""
      • In her book, Book Title Here, X maintains that "_"
      • In other words, X believes _
      • In making this comment, X argues that _
      • The essence of X's argument is that _
    • EXERCISE: Return to "The Brain on the Stand" article and notice the evidence and quotes supplied. For the quotes, make a list of at least three different ways the author introduces the quote. Then, analyze three cases where the author goes on to explain the quote and/or its significance. Finally, note any areas for which you would recommend a change/improvement.

For Next Class:
  • Read and Note Ch. 11 "Cause and Effect" (462-469), John Taylor Gatto's "Why Schools Don't Educate" (473-476), and Stephen King's "Why We Crave Horror Movies" (477-480). Choose one of those essays and prepare a brief (300 word) response. In the response, you can discuss whether or not you agree with the essay, but also be sure to make the causes and effects explicit (in list form if you choose).
  • Take "The Syllogymnasium" Test, then we'll discuss how you did
  • Review "Evaluating Arguments" (Rules for Writers 358-368)
  • Try a few other logic games on The Philosopher's Magazine online, particularly:

October 31
  • Reading Response/Discussion: Ch. 11 "Cause and Effect" and the "Sylloggymnasium" exercise
    • In your own words, describe the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning.
    • In your own words, re-state the six strategies provided by your text for thinking critically about cause and effect.
  • Discussion: "Why Schools Don't Educate" and "Why We Crave Horror Movies"
    • Choose one of those essays and prepare a brief (300 word) response. In the response, you can discuss whether or not you agree with the essay, but also be sure to make the causes and effects explicit (in list form if you choose).
  • Review online resources
    • Falls Church Resources
    • NVCC Resources
  • Conference: topics, research, preliminary thesis
For Next Class:
  • Read Ch. 12 intro and essays
    • Discuss the three persuasive appeals in your text. In your own words, describe each and discuss advantages and disadvantages. Provide an example for each of the three pulled from popular media.
    • In your own words, re-state the six suggestions in your text for dealing with "refutation."
    • Respond to the "Evaluating Strategy" questions for the "Part-Time Work Ethic" essay on page 531.
    • Respond generally to "In Praise of the 'F' Word"

November 2
  • Discussion of the reading and responses
    • "Ch. 12 - Argument and Persuasion: Influencing Readers" (Sundance 518-522)
    • "Part-Time Work Ethic: Should Teens Go for It?"
    • "In Praise of the 'F' Word"
  • EXERCISE: A quick practice in arguing.
    • Consider this quote about Americans from 1780s: They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Ducth, Germans and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans have arisen ... He is an American who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labor and prosperity will one day cause great changes in the world.
    • Reflect: Is this still true and relevant to America today? Should it be? Think of this in terms of contemporary immigrants to the U.S. (from various countries, of various ethnicities). Should they hold fast to their old culture and language, embrace fully their new American culture and the English language, or some mix of the two? You may want to skim the two essays "Kiss of Death" and "Cultural Baggage" from chapter 12.
    • Write: After you've thought about this issue a bit, write a brief (300 word) description of your position, providing arguments and evidence where possible. Compose your draft for a general, public audience (considering that the audience will likely contain both multi-generational American citizens and recent immigrants).
    • Metacognitive Writing: How much did your emotional investment in this topic (or lack thereof) influence your writing? If you could request any facts or figures related to this issue and have them immediately delivered to you, what would you request and why?
    • Discuss: Share your writing with two or three others in a small group. Read both the argument and the metacognitive writing. Compare your thoughts, focusing on the strength of the arguments and evidence offered.
  • Conferences and online research continued
For Next Class:
  • Media Analysis Writing: Select a recent (no more than three years old) film or television series that you enjoy and that is considered "popular" among your peers. Using the Stephen King essay as inspiration, discuss your theories about why that film/series is popular. Also address the question of whether or not it's a "good thing" that the film/series is popular for the reasons you suggest.
  • Read and prepare questions for "Appendix: Writer's Guide to Documenting" (Sundance A-1 through A-8)
  • Read the "Opposing Viewpoints" sections listed below. For each set of essays, prepare notes that highlight the arguments with which you agree or disagree, your position on the issue, and whether or not your position changed during the reading.
    • The "Abuse Excuse" on pages 494-501
    • Reparations for Slavery on pages 540-547
  • Continue research on topics

November 8
  • Media Analysis Due
  • Discuss/Review MLA Format
  • Discuss "opposing viewpoints" and the evolution of a thesis:
    • EXERCISE: Now that you've read the two viewpoints in the "Abuse Excuse" articles, write a statement expressing when past abuse should be accepted in defending a person accused of committing a crime. Is this current statement different from your earlier beliefs on this issue? If so, explain in what ways and the reasons for the change.
  • Small Group Discussion: Media Analysis Writings
  • Conferences if necessary: research progress

November 12
  • Workshops/Conferneces

November 14
  • Workshops/Conferences

November 16
  • Documented Research Paper Due