Dr. Kristi Siegel                                        

Assistant Professor

Mount Mary College

2900 North Menomonee River Parkway

Milwaukee, WI  53222

(414) 258-4810, #461


Intermediate Composition - EPW 210sb

Thursdays, 6:00-8:50 pm

NDH 249 (Smart Classroom)

Office Hours: Thursday, 4:30-5:50 pm and by appointment

Office: Fidelis Hall, Rm. 223




  • Writing journal (for your purposes; journal will be not be collected unless necessary)

  • Dictionary, grammar handbook, and thesaurus

  • Folder or 3-ring binder to keep handouts

Course Description:


Intermediate Composition is designed for those who have some idea how to write, but want to learn how to write.  Knowing how to write well—versus merely writing competently—gives you immense power and influence.  A famous expression (paraphrased) stated that to gain control of a country you should first kill the poets.  The point is, of course, if you can write well your options are limited only by your imagination.

 Although innate talent always helps, writing is a skill.  As in any other acquired skill, writers learn to write by developing their skills chunk by chunk, a Lego block at a time.  We will do the same.   A good portion of our class time will be devoted to analyzing prose and doing workshops on various elements of writing: e.g., using effective style, developing a writing voice, creating effective sentences, learning how to pace material, incorporating secondary material optimally, and so forth.

 The best way to approach writing is to remember this thought:  Writing should be written by the living for the living.  






  • to develop or improve your writing “voice”

  • to develop or enhance your writing “style”

  • to break down writing into manageable skills that may be practiced

  • to learn new narrative strategies (comparison/contrast, description, definition,

    classification, etc.);

  • to learn how to effectively edit and revise your writing;

  • to review the basic mechanics of good writing;

  • to become confident as a professional writer, i.e., write to be published; don’t write for the expectations you presume your English teacher might have.

  • to find and incorporate secondary material into your writing seamlessly and ethically; and

  • to learn how to write compellingly for your target audience.


Grammar and punctuation: While intermediate composition presumes knowledge of grammar, we will review language skills as necessary during the semester.  Language mechanics will not be a major focus of the course.  If you have difficulties in one or more areas of usage, please take advantage of the computer language skills resources as well as purchasing a good language handbook or basic text in grammar.

Assignments: There will be several shorter skill-based exercises assigned throughout the semester, and I consider these practice exercises as important as many of the final papers you’ll produce.  You’ll also be presenting one short (and fairly informal) oral presentation, as this form of communication is as important as your written skills.  Topics will be announced.  There will be four papers assigned.  Each of these papers may be revised, but only two formal revisions will be required.  Ideally, I like you all to be developing the skill and confidence to know when a paper is good.  However, I will be happy to accept revised papers and will weigh the revised grade higher than the original. 

  •  Paper no. 1................Classification/Analysis/Cultural Critique

  •  Paper no. 2............... Researched Essay on a work of literature

  •  Paper no. 3............... Persuasive Argument

  •  Paper no. 4............... To be announced

Portfolio:  You will receive detailed information later in the semester.

Attendance:  Attendance is expected.  More than two absences may result in a “no-credit” for the course.

Reading assignments: Throughout the semester, you will be given assigned readings.  The readings give us a chance to look at excellent writing in detail and to provoke discussions that help generate ideas for your own writing.  Since our limited class time prevents us from discussing all the essays, you should view the essays as a resource guide providing excellent examples of various writing strategies.

Grading and Evaluation: All papers, with the exception of in-class impromptu or exercises, must be typed.  Late papers will not be accepted without prior arrangements, and may be subject to a lower grade.

The grade breakdown for the course will be as follows:

  • Workshops, short assignments, and participation..........30%

  • Essays......................................................................45%

  • Oral Presentation........................................................10%

  • Final Portfolio.............................................................15%


Aug 30 - Week 1

  • Introduction to course; introduction to each other.  Background information.

  • Read and discuss the link on my website entitled, “Engfish Handout”

  • Vocabulary assessment and Short Grammar Assessment

  • Impromptu

  • Read the link on my website entitled, "Engfish Handout"

  • Read Roland Barthes, "The World of Wrestling"

  • Discussion of writing.  How do you write?  What do writers do?

                      Sept 6 - Week 2

  • Discussion of assessment results and strategies for enhancing strong/weak areas

  • Discussion of Writing:

    • How do you write?

    • What pre-writing techniques do you use?

    • How do professional writers write?

    • How do you handle writer's block?

  • Discussion e-mail attachments (if necessary)

  • Using the "Track Changes" feature in Word 97

  • Explanation and handout on Proofreader's symbols

  • Workshop on Grammar and Vocabulary

  • Cultural Critique assigned (due Sep 20)

  • Handouts on Cultural Critique

 Sept 13 - Week 3

  • Workshop on grammar and vocabulary

  • Workshop on basic shortcuts using Word 97/2000

  • Strategies for Assessing and Improving Style

  • Workshop on sentence variety and rhythm

  • Workshop on glossing paragraphs for coherency and transitioin

  • In-class work on Cultural Critique

  • Mini-conferences

Sept 20 - Week 4

  • First version (not rough draft!) of Cultural Critique due

  • Workshop on grammar and vocabulary

  • Workshop on using quotations effectively

  • Literary Analysis assigned (due Oct 18)

  • Literary "packets" distributed

Sep 27 - Week 5

  • Cultural Critiques returned and discussed (revision due Oct 4)

  • Workshop on grammar and vocabulary

  • Workshop on tightening sentence structures and eliminating wordiness

  • In-class work on Literary Analysis

  • Mini-conferences

Oct 4 - Week 6

  • Revisions of Cultural Critique due

  • Workshop on grammar and vocabulary

  • Workshop on documenting sources correctly

  • In-class work on Literary Analysis

Oct 11 - Week 7

  • No class - Quarter break

Oct 18 - Week 8

  • First version of Literary Analysis due

  • Workshop on grammar and vocabulary

  • Workshop on using effective description and diction

  • Persuasive Essay assigned (due Nov 1)

  • Handouts

Oct 25 - Week 9

  • Literary Analyses returned and discussed (revision due Nov 8)

  • Workshop on grammar and vocabulary 

  • Elements of an effective argument

  • Discussion of handouts from Oct 18

  • In-class work on persuasive essays

  • Mini-conferences

Nov 1 - Week 10

  • First version of Persuasive Essay due

  • Workshop on grammar and vocabulary

  • Workshop on editing

  • In-class work on Literary Analysis revisions

Nov 8 - Week 11

  • Persuasive Essays returned and discussed (revision due Nov 15)

  • Literary Analysis revisions collected

  • Workshop on grammar and vocabulary

  • In-class work on persuasive essays

  • Portfolios assigned and discussed

  • Oral presentations assigned and discussed

  • Sign-up for Oral presentations (given either Nov 29 or Dec 6)

Nov 15 - Week 12

  • Revision of Persuasive Essays due

  • Grammar quiz (editing)

  • Vocabulary Quiz

  • In-class work on presentations and portfolios

  • Mini-conferences

Nov 22 - Week 13

  • No class - Thanksgiving Holiday

Nov 29 - Week 14

  • First seven oral presentations based on persuasive essay

Dec 6 - Week 15

  • Second seven oral presentations based on persuasive essay

  • Portfolios collected

  • Course Evaluations

Dec 13 - Exam week

  • Meet in NDH 239 at regular time

  • Portfolios returned and discussed