Dr. Kristi Siegel - Associate Professor, English
EPW 210 - Tuesdays 9:00 - 11:50 am
Fidelis 223 - Office Hours 1:00 - 3:00 pm (and by appointment)
Phone: (414) 258-4810, ext. 461
e-mail: siegelkr@mtmary.edu
website: www.kristisiegel.com

Course Description and Objectives:

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.

Course Materials:

Barnet, Sylvan and Marcia Stubbs, eds. Practical Guide to Writing. 8th Edition.

Other Materials:

  • Writing journal (for your purposes; journals will not be collected)
  • Dictionary and thesaurus
  • Folder or 3-ring binder to keep handouts


  • 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.
Grading and 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 three major papers assigned. Each of these papers will be revised at least once. Ideally, I would like you all to be developing the skill and confidence to know when a paper is good.
  • Papers no. 1 and 2 - Personal Essay and Revision
  • Papers no. 3 and 4 - Analysis/Persuasion/Critique of Media or Advertising and Revision
  • Papers no. 5 and 6 - Researched Essay on a work of literature and Revision


Class Schedule
Week One
August 27
Introduction to course; introduction to each other. Background information.
Read and discuss “Engfish Handout”
Vocabulary assessment.
Learning Record Essay
Discussion of writing: How do you write? What do writers do? What pre-writing techniques do you use? How do you handle writer’s block?
Sending and receiving e-mail attachments.
Using the “Track Changes” feature in Word 97.

Personal Essay (Paper no. 1) – complete typed rough draft for next class.

Read Chapters 1 & 10, “Graduation” by Maya Angelou, pp. 483–490.

Week 2
Sept 3
Discussion of Learning Record philosophy and impromptu essays.
Discussion of reading (Chapters 1 & 10) and Angelou’s personal essay.
Discussion on writing groups.
Writing Groups on Personal Essay
Workshop on description.
Read web links: “Sample Narrative,” “Pre-Writing Techniques,” “Pacing,” and “Effective Dialogue”
Read “Texas, 1961” by Mary Karr, pp. 520–523
Week 3
Sept 10
Discussion of web link readings and Karr personal essay.
Group evaluations on essays.
Informal grammar assessment.
Mini-Conferences and in-class writing.
Word root presentation (mine).
Complete Personal essay – due next class.
Read Chapters 3 & 4
Assign “word root” oral presentations (in groups).
Bring in advertisement for next class
Week 4
Sept 17
Collect Paper no. 1 (Personal Essay) – task analysis.
Word root presentation
Analysis/Cultural Critique of advertisement (Paper no. 2) assigned.
Analysis of ads (brought in)
Discussion of advertising techniques (handout) and topic building.
Read Chapter 8 - Analytic Thinking and Comparing
Read “The Endless Autumn” by Nicolaus Mills, pp. 184–88.
Week 5
Sept 24
Personal Essay returned – revision due October 1
Discussion of Mills’ essay.
In-class analysis and discussion groups on American Tobacco company ad.
Writing Groups on Cultural Critique and topic building.
Word root presentation.
Read link on my website on “sentence variety.”
Read Chapter 12 – Persuading (again, hit the high spots) and read my website links entitled “Crafting an Argument” and “Backing up Assertions.”
Complete typed rough draft of cultural critique for next class.
Week 6
Oct 1
Personal Essay (revision) collected.
Sentence Workshop.
Writing groups on Cultural Critique essay.
Word root presentation.
Video on advertising.
Read: “Advertising, Pornography, and Public Space” by Delores Hayden, p. 155
Read: “My Father’s Photograph” by Samantha Campbell, p. 178
Week 7
Oct 8
Personal Essay revision returned.
Cultural critique writing groups.
Mid-term evaluations and learning record impromptu paragraphs
Stylistic analysis of writing sample (use the cultural critique essay, if possible).
Create brief summary of writing strengths and writing weaknesses based on stylistic analysis. Select one or two items as your focus, and include the summary and your identified focal points with your cultural critique (due next class). Your paper should demonstrate your attempt to reduce or eliminate the one or two areas you’ve identified.
Cultural critique due next class.
Week 8
Oct 15
Cultural Critique collected – task analysis.
Literary research essay assigned – due November 5.
Handout on literary terminology – oral reports assigned.
Handout on effective oral presentations.
Readings for literary analysis:
Poetry: select from “Sonnet 73” (William Shakespeare), p. 418, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” p. 418, or “Immigrants” by Pat Mora, p. 419.
Short stories: select from “Cat in the Rain” by Ernest Hemingway, 407, “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, p. 410, or “If You Touched my Heart” by Isabel Allende, p.412
Week 9
Oct 22
Cultural Critique returned – revision due October 29
Workshop on Writing Effective paragraphs. Exercises assigned.
Literary Terminology Oral Reports/Skits
Discussion of poems and short stories.
Topic building.
Rough draft of literary analysis due next class (for writing groups).
Week 10
Oct 29
Cultural Critique revision collected.
Read Chapters 16 and 17 – we’ll be discussing these concepts over the next few classes
Writing groups on literary analysis.
Literary analysis due next class.
Week 11
Nov 5
Literary analysis collected – task analysis.
Word root presentation.
Workshop on eliminating passive voice and other ongoing mechanical or stylistic weaknesses.
Week 12
Nov 12
Literary analysis returned – Revision due November 19
Discussion on literary analyses.
Handout on PORTFOLIO.
Writing groups and in-class work on literary analysis revisions.
Revised literary analysis due next week.
Week 13
Nov 19
Literary Analysis revision collected.  
Week 14
Nov 26
Literary Analysis returned.
In-class work on portfolios,
In-class work on learning record essays.
Portfolios and learning record essays due next class.
Week 15
Dec 5
Portfolios collected
Dec 12
In lieu of a final exam, portfolios will be discussed and shared
(Exam period scheduled for 10:15am to 12:15am) – Nosh welcomed!!






Mount Mary College