The Course

What is the one-credit Composition Tutorial (CT), and how is it related to SC?

ENGCMP 0201 Composition Tutorial (CT) provides additional support for SC students whose placement essays show difficulties with certain basic conventions of edited written English or with certain organizational skills integral to academic writing. If you are enrolled in CT, you will meet with a Writing Center consultant each week to work on sentence-and paragraph-level issues that arise in your writing for SC. You can read more about Composition Tutorial on the Writing Center site.

How can SC prepare students with diverse writing backgrounds and majors for the various kinds of college writing they’ll eventually need to do?

SC focuses on the process of composing the mature, thoughtful, and precise writing that is significant to all majors. Though your class may begin with twenty students, all of whom have had different high school writing instruction and experience and all of whom have different college and career plans, you will interact as a dynamic group of undergraduates engaged in significant intellectual work: composing well-crafted writing that sparks important thinking.

Does the course involve many different kinds of writing or only concentrate on formal academic essays?

While the assignments of SC sections may vary widely (see Choosing a Section for further information), in general the course focuses on essay-writing, broadly defined. This does not mean that all assignments in any SC section will require formal or conventionally expository writing. SC focuses mainly on nonfiction writing, but not solely on composing conventionally defined or structured essays.

Who teaches the course? What sort of teaching background/experience do SC instructors have?

English Department faculty and graduate students with a wide range of teaching experience and interests teach SC. This diversity creates enriching opportunities for faculty collaboration and mentoring. No matter who is teaching your SC section, certain core goals and standards defined by the Composition Program will remain its central concern.

Does the fact that SC is an English Department course mean that most assignments will require students to write about literature (short stories, poetry, novels, or plays)?

All SC sections require some critical writing about written texts, but the actual material assigned can vary widely. Some sections do include assignments about short stories, poetry, novels, or plays. Others focus on writing about nonfiction prose. Some sections include frequent opportunities for students to write about their own writing and that of other students. In addition to requiring writing about written texts, certain sections also provide opportunities to write about audio or visual material or about more direct life experiences.

What are the grading standards for SC? How are individual submissions evaluated? Is a standard exit exam or portfolio review required for all sections?

The evaluation appropriate to SC must take into account both the writing you submit and your investment in the seminar’s work. Many SC sections ask students to discuss an assignment’s possibilities, compose notes or a draft, discuss that writing with classmates and/or receive an instructor’s comments, and then revise. SC does not require a standard exit exam or portfolio review. Your final grade will reflect your instructor’s judgment of the seriousness with which you have made both written and spoken contributions to the seminar and your progress with the SC essentials defined by the Composition Program.

Why does SC place so much emphasis on revision? Shouldn’t responsible students get the job done well before submitting their work the first time?

Revision’s centrality to the work of SC does not lessen students’ responsibility to submit careful work for all assignments. With writing, as with any art, a careful first try at addressing a complex task can provide fertile basis for deeper inquiry, more resourceful experimentation with style, and more refined technique. Through the sustained attention to a writing project that revision makes possible, Seminar in Composition students can become more meticulous and perceptive critical readers of their own writing and develop the habits of inquiry essential to mature composing.