While you can use individual translingual activities and assignments (see "Teaching Resources"), you can also teach entire courses from a translingual approach to language difference. This page includes sample syllabi for a English 10803: Writing as Inquiry themed course (jump to 10803) and a English 20803: Writing Argument course (jump to 20803). Please note that these syllabi have not been reviewed by the Composition Committee (yet).

10803T: Language, Literacy, and Power

Course Description: Language and literacy allow individuals to develop their identities and make connections across communities. However, language and literacy can also be used as a tool to reify and oppress communities that do not use the dominant discourse. Therefore, this course will explore the connections among language, literacy, and power, moving from the (trans)national to the personal. As a themed course of 10803, the first three units will embody the notion of writing as inquiry and will conclude with students taking a position on an issue of language and literacy. Genres for this course include presentations, ethnographic reports, and literacy narratives. Topics for the course will include translingual approaches to writing, language and race/racism, discourse communities, and current conversations/controversies about language-use.

Course Overview and Writing Projects: This course moves from the macro to the micro to help students learn about language issues first and contextualize their experiences second. The first three units embody the notion of writing as inquiry—the class investigates on-going conversations/controversies about language-use, analyzes how literacy creates communities through discourse and literacy practices, and reflects on how language and literacy shape individual experiences. Finally, once the class has a clearer awareness of how language and literacy are negotiated, policed, shaped, and embodied, students enter the conversation by establishing a position on an issue for a specific community in your chosen genre.

Unit 1: How is language controversial?   This unit explores the current state of language use in the United States and transnationally to help students understand some of the on-going conversations and/or controversies about language and literacy. In groups, students investigate an issue (ideas are provided, but they may also choose their own), gather multiple perspectives, and present their findings to the class. These presentations include an overview of their findings with visuals and a handout that includes relevant information (context of the issue, perspectives, selected bibliography, etc).

Unit 2: How does literacy create communities?   This unit explores how language and literacy create, distinguish, and sustain communities. Students individually research a discourse community they are unfamiliar with, but want to learn more about. The written component is a formal report detailing their findings and analyzing the discourse and literacy practices of that community. Primary research includes observations, interviews, and documents produced by the group and is supplemented with secondary research, such as news reports, journals, websites, etc.

Unit 3: How does language and literacy shape an individual?   This unit considers how language and literacy shape individuals by having students read, analyze, and write literacy narratives. Literacy narratives are a form of personal essay focused on an individual’s literacy development over a period of time or a specific, significant series of moments. Student's literacy narratives will include narrative, reflection, and analysis.

Unit 4: Ethically Entering the Conversation   This final unit encourages students to enter an existing conversation about language diversity and power. Students research and take a position on a specific language or literacy issue that affects a particular community. The final project can coulda variety of forms (op-ed for a paper, infographic that provides information to a specific group, short video, TedTalk-like presentation), but includes secondary research, a nuanced position, and targets a specific audience.

Full syllabus:

Translingual 10803T Syllabus Website

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20803: Argument, Contested Territory

Course Description: “Argument” is one of the most frequently taught genres in higher education. We also engage in argument on a regular basis, from trying to pick a restaurant or TV show to watch to discussing current political debates and everywhere in between. Therefore, this course takes argument as one of the genres you will write in, but also its subject. In the first two units, you will explore how argument functions in different mediums and how it changes across different discourse communities. Then, we will transition to discuss academic argument as one type of approach to argument while learning about argumentation in different disciplines and cultures. Finally, you will leverage your knowledge to craft an argument, in the medium and for the audience of your choosing, on a current topic of conversation. The goal of this course is to consider argument as contextual, negotiated, and malleable, rather than rigid and monolithic.

Course Overview and Writing Projects: Two out of the four projects are paired or in groups to facilitate collaboration. The first half of the course focuses on how the conventions of argumentation change based on medium and discourse community. This allows students to understand that the conventions of argument shift in mediums and discourse communities they may be familiar with. Then, the class considers how arguments are shaped by culture by presenting on alternative forms of argument. This unit explores and then contextualizes Western modes of academic argument with other approaches to writing instruction and argumentation. Finally, each student crafts their own argument for a particular audience in a medium of their choosing.

Project 1: Argument Across Mediums     This unit discusses and analyzes how forms, conventions, and expectations of argument change across mediums (print, digital, video, news, social media, etc) to help students better understand how argument functions in our society. The writing project is a rhetorical analysis of the conventions of argument in at least two different mediums.

Project 2: The Rhetorical Ecology of an Argument     This unit considers how arguments shift as they move across discourse communities and become transformed by and for different audiences. In pairs, students will trace the rhetorical ecology, or circulation, of an argument across different discourse communities and mediums to create a visual or physical representation of the circulation of an argument and an explanation for the ecology. Because the ecologies take various forms, there is no specific requirement for the “length” of the project, but ecologies should look at five to seven moments in the circulation of the argument.

Project 3: Argument in Different Discourse Communities       This unit transitions to examine how discourse communities create different types of arguments, rather than how arguments respond to discourse communities. In groups, students research and present on how arguments function within a specific discourse community. As a class, we begin by examining the assumptions of argument in Western writing courses in the United States—a discourse we are all engaging in by taking this course. Then, in groups students select an alternative discourse community, either cultural or disciplinary, to study new forms of argument. Groups present their findings to the class with a short lecture with visuals, a handout, and either an example or an activity.

Project 4: Engaging Discourse Communities         In the final unit, students develop an argument about a current topic of conversation for a particular audience. Using knowledge developed in previous units, students craft a unique argument in a medium and discourse of their choosing. One phase of the assignment is a short presentation of proposed final project. Proposals include some background on the issue, identification of the stakeholders, target audience, and potential form. The final project can coulda variety of forms (op-ed for a paper, infographic that provides information to a specific group, short video, TedTalk-like presentation) and length depends on the form, purpose, medium, audience, etc.

Full syllabus:

Translingual 20803 Syllabus Website

Download PDF

Download .DOC file (with comments to provide support)

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