Download PDF syllabus here

Course Description

This first-year writing course asks students to intellectually engage with texts, in a variety of forms, that demonstrate the intersection of writing and social justice and affirm the concept of art as a form of activism to confront, challenge and ultimately change the existing status quo. In doing so, students will be able to recognize and adhere to the rhetorical conventions (i.e. author, purpose, audience, exigence, genre, stance) that govern a given piece of writing and apply this knowledge to assignments that ask them to contribute to written discourse about a social issue of their choice.

Furthermore, students will holistically consider what it means to write academically at the college level through regular self-reflection and revision. This course encourages students to develop an iterative writing process that they will be able to apply to written assignments across genres and disciplines throughout college and beyond.

Note: This is an asynchronous online course. While you will complete a significant portion of the coursework independently on your own time, you will be asked to regularly engage with your peers and instructor through email, discussion boards, social networking, and other collaborative learning tools.

First-Year Composition Mission Statement

First-year composition courses at CCNY teach writing as a recursive and frequently collaborative process of invention, drafting, and revising. Writing is both personal and social, and students should learn how to write for different purposes and audiences. Since writing is a process of making meaning and communicating, FYC teachers respond mainly to the content of students’ writing as well as to recurring surface errors. Students should expect frequent written and oral responses on the content of their writing from their teachers and peers. Classes rely heavily on a workshop format. Instruction emphasizes the connection between writing, reading, and critical thinking; students should give thoughtful, reasoned responses to the readings. Both reading and writing are the subjects of class discussions and workshops, and students are expected to be active participants in the classroom community. Learning from each other will be a large part of the classroom experience.

Course Learning Outcomes

  • Explore and analyze, in writing and reading, a variety of genres and rhetorical situations.
  • Develop strategies for reading, drafting, collaborating, revising, and editing.
  • Recognize and practice key rhetorical terms and strategies when engaged in writing situations.
  • Engage in the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes.
  • Understand and use print and digital technologies to address a range of audiences.
  • Locate research sources (including academic journal articles, magazine and newspaper articles) in the library’s databases or archives and on the Internet and evaluate them for credibility, accuracy, timeliness, and bias.
  • Compose texts that integrate your stance with appropriate sources using strategies such as summary, critical analysis, interpretation, synthesis, and argumentation.
  • Practice systematic application of citation conventions.

Required Material

This is a Zero Textbook Cost course. There are links to reading assignments that live online, and I have uploaded additional materials in portable document format (.pdf).

CUNY Academic Commons: Other reading and writing materials, PowerPoint slideshows, educational links, and videos will be posted online on the CUNY Academic Commons throughout the semester. Note: You must use your CCNY email address in order to access the Academic Commons. Register for an account at in order to receive important course announcements.


Photo: “Raise a fist” by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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