The course is designed to help students learn to read deeply, think critically and write effectively about complex texts taken from The New Humanities Reader.
All three activities play a central role in “Expos.” The first weeks of the course focus primarily on reading to understand, explain, and interpret. Then the focus shifts to connecting the ideas of multiple authors who are writing on related subjects. Later, the principal emphasis falls on the crafting of a coherent and well-developed thesis.
We conceive of a thesis as an argument which answers the assignment question in an essay form and does one of the following:
In Expos, “argument” does not mean “taking sides.” Instead, it presupposes that the writer will arrive at an informed position of his or her own. This kind of writing differs from an opinion paper because it requires a more detailed use of evidence and more attention to the strengths of different points of view.
Students complete five five-page papers in the course of the semester. They follow this sequence:
Assignment One: One Text, Making Connections Within a Text and Tracing Lines of Thinking
The first graded assignment asks students to make connections within the first assigned reading.The assignment asks students to use the text to formulate a claim of their own.
Assignment Two: Two Texts, Independent Thesis
The second graded assignment asks students to make connections between texts. When texts are placed in “conversation” this way, the two may not address the same explicit topic or employ the same key terms, but careful reading and analysis will reveal commonalities that can be developed into a sustained claim or a line of thinking. Finding connections and developing claims are essential to writing in virtually every field.
Assignment Three: Three Texts
The third assignment adds one additional reading. Again, students need to explore and explain inter-textual connections, but the third assignment also requires them to develop an independent thesis that synthesizes all three readings. The first three assignments present students with multiple points of view, and ask them to make connections, solve problems and arrive at a new level of understanding based on creative and synthetic thinking.
Taken together, Assignments One, Two, and Three constitute the first “sequence” of the course. The second half of the course will be devoted to a new sequence of assignments with new readings. The second sequence closely parallels the first, but greater emphasis falls on the following areas:
Assignment Four: Two Texts
The fourth assignment introduces a new reading, which students will connect with one of the previous essays read.
Assignment Five: Three Texts
The final assignment adds a new reading, and students are asked to synthesize three readings, as they were asked to do in Assignment #3.
The final grade for the course is based on a student's highest sustained level of achievement, over at least two papers, at the end of the term.
All instructors grade students' papers according to the same standards in Expository Writing. We suggest that students refer to this grading criteria throughout the writing and revision processes. Learn more about grading criteria.