ENGL105 introduction to composition & rhetoric

“Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them." -Nathaniel Hawthorne

GREENLAW 103; MWF 12:20pm-1:10pm; FALL 2018; SEC 041



Top L to R: Johannesburg, South Africa; Atlanta, GA; Mbabane, Swaziland | Bottom L to R: Johannesburg, South Africa; Pilar, Paraguay

Contact Info:

Get to know your instructor:

I received my BA in English with a minor in Creative Writing from Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, AL in 2008. I then received my MA in English from DePaul University in Chicago, IL in 2010. I have extensive experience as a writing tutor, editor, proofreader, freelance copywriter, and private instructor in the areas of writing, composition, and literary analysis. I served as the Teaching Fellow for the Yale University summer session study-abroad course HLTH350/FLM340: Visual Approaches to Global Health (2015 and 2016), which combined traditional epidemiological methods with visual storytelling in Johannesburg, South Africa and Mbabane, Swaziland. I am also currently on retainer as a writer of promotional videos, short narrative films, and documentary films for Creative Cabin Studios of Atlanta, GA and Visual Epidemiology of New Haven, CT.

This is my second year at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I am currently a doctoral candidate in English Literature, planning to concentrate on the long twentieth-century American Literature (from 1865 to contemporary) and its intersection with Trauma Studies.

As an instructor of ENGL105, I look forward to the opportunity to introduce all of you to a variety of disciplines, genres, and modalities for communication, expression, and composition. It is my fervent belief that critical thinking, as a tool for better understanding the perspectives of others, when combined with improved abilities for careful and effectively thoughtful communication, can be tools to create better interpersonal connections on an individual, local, national, and international scale, ultimately creating a better world for us all.

For a brief list of some of my work see the following:


Welcome to ENGL105! In this course, we will investigate how writing works across the disciplines at the university (specifically the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities). We will discover how different disciplines frame research questions, evaluate evidence, and make knowledge claims. In order to accomplish the objectives set for this course, you cannot think about writing as merely an assignment that satisfies a list of requirements to achieve a grade. Thinking about writing only as a means to this end renders it artificial, solitary, and static.

Instead, I want you to view writing as dynamic and problem-based. In this class, you will participate in writing activities that call upon you to think about and place yourself in realistic rhetorical situations. Your writing will become dynamic by actively responding to practical situations common to academic communities and engaging with those communities. I want you to view your writing, as well as yourself as a writer, as a work in progress. This course is more than a series of essays for grades; it is a progression of encounters with rhetorical situations and genres that will prepare you to be an effective writer and communicator in college and in your professional lives after college.


By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Understand rhetorical knowledge through genre awareness.
  • Apply critical thinking skills.
  • Approach composition as a process.
  • Identify and employ conventions.

Specifically, we will work toward the following goals:

  • Reimagine, redefine, and understand the complexities of “writing” and “rhetoric.”
  • Develop skills and awareness around your own writing and writing process.
  • Develop writing strategies, awareness, and self-¬assessment skills to help you confidently approach future writing challenges that you encounter in your academic and professional lives at UNC and beyond.
  • Tailor compositions to specific audiences and rhetorical situations by analyzing and adapting genre conventions in multiple communities.
  • Develop a social and process-¬oriented approach to composition in which collaboration and revision are central components.
  • Compose across technologies and modalities in words, sounds, images, video, and hypertexts.
  • Identify, evaluate, and appropriately use relevant research and resources to support your compositions.

The course will be organized around the following principles:

Student-centered: My instruction will emphasize process: how to read, write, analyze, interpret, understand, and create oral, written, or multimedia texts. My role in this class is not that of a traditional teacher who stands at the front of the room and lectures. Rather, I am someone who offers structure, motivation, support, perspective, and feedback as YOU engage with your classmates and the course projects. While I will ultimately take on the role of the evaluator at the end of the semester, my main focus is on empowering you to make decisions about your writing because that’s when you learn the most.

Workshop format: Classes will be taught using a workshop approach that emphasizes the role of learning by writing and promotes interactive, experiential learning. Each of you will become a member of a small working group. These groups will serve as writing groups, discussion groups, and smaller cohorts in the larger classroom community. We will be using Sakai (UNC’s online course management system) as forums for posting and responding to drafts in progress and as a communication system so that you can access the syllabus and daily homework assignments electronically.

Process-based approach: We will move through three units, each one containing short “feeder” assignments that build into one substantial unit project. The feeder assignments are generally designed to give you practice with a particular skill (such as finding potential grants or analyzing secondary sources) while the unit projects will ask you to synthesize primary and secondary research. Using a process-based approach, you will write multiple drafts, receive ongoing feedback from your peers and instructor, and participate in evaluating your own and others’ projects throughout the composition process.


Please remember that the syllabus functions as a contract between the instructor and the students. You are responsible for knowing and abiding by these policies. Everyone has an “off” day now and then, but when you are here, you need to be present, both physically and mentally.


The honor code applies to everything that we do at this university, including our use of outside sources in our research and writing. Our work in this class will conform to the principles and procedures defined in the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance (http://instrument.unc.edu/). The research that we do this semester, whether primary or secondary, print or online, formal or informal, will require careful documentation on your part. We will review citation guidelines early and often throughout the semester. The need to cite your sources applies to all of your work, including drafts as well as final versions of your feeders and projects. When in doubt: CITE.

If I suspect you of plagiarizing all or part of a paper, even unintentionally, I am required to report the offense to the Honor Court. If you think you are running into trouble with an assignment, PLEASE come and speak with me.


We can never guarantee that a classroom will be a completely “safe” space. However, I believe that our classroom should be a sacred space where students can share their thoughts and ideas without fear. We are here to collaborate, to learn with and from each other. I value a free exchange of ideas as long as that exchange prioritizes mutual respect and tolerance. During our coursework, we will share and comment on each other’s projects. We will engage in difficult discussions and provide comments and feedback on each other’s work both within the classroom and via other forms of communication such as the Sakai discussion forums or dropbox, etc. Some of our discussions or interactions may be especially challenging. During all of our interactions, however, we will always maintain an environment of tolerance and mutual respect.



Computers: Please bring your computer to class every day. Be sure that it is fully charged because our classroom has limited and inconveniently placed outlets.

Cell Phones: You can use your cell phone as a classroom tool to take pictures of the board or print materials, record short lectures, navigate Sakai, view our readings, etc. However, cell phones should not be used for endeavors unrelated to class during class sessions.

Other Devices: Tablets and any other devices are welcome as long as you are using them for work related to this course.

In this class, we will use Sakai (www.sakai.unc.edu), UNC’s online course management system, for a number of course assignments. If you have difficulty accessing our Sakai page, please let me know ASAP.

Remember:Just because you have access to the internet during class does not mean that you should be using our class time to post on social media, check your email, etc. If I notice that your participation is suffering due to technological distractions, I will ask you to come in for a conference so that we can discuss a plan of action.

Finally, it is important that you check your UNC email and our course Sakai site daily for messages and updates, as these will be our primary forms of communication inside and outside of class. Please keep all correspondence courteous and professional. I aim to respond to email within 48 hours during business hours (Monday-Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm). Note: I will not acknowledge or respond to emails that include questions that could be answered by looking at the syllabus and/or unit project assignment prompts.

Non-Discrimination Policy

The University is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment and to ensuring that educational and employment decisions are based on individuals’ abilities and qualifications. Consistent with these principles and applicable laws, it is therefore the University’s policy not to discriminate on the basis of age, color, creed, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status as consistent with the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct. No person, on the basis of protected status, shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation under any University program or activity, including with respect to employment terms and conditions. Such a policy ensures that only relevant factors are considered and that equitable and consistent standards of conduct and performance are applied.

Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are Civil Rights offenses subject to the same kinds of accountability and support applied to offenses against other protected categories. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, I encourage you to investigate these resources:

Accessibility Statement

Disabilities can be visible and invisible, and I am dedicated to ensuring that all students succeed in my course. If there are circumstances that may affect your performance in this class, please let me know as soon as possible, so that we can work together to develop strategies for adapting assignments to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course. If you have information you wish to share with me about a disability, disorder, or neurodiversity issue, if you have emergency medical information you think I should know about, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please set up an appointment with me to discuss this during office hours.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ensures that no qualified person shall by reason of a disability be denied access to, participation in, or the benefits of, any program or activity operated by the University. In compliance with UNC policy and federal law, qualified students with psychological, physical, and other disabilities are eligible to receive “reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access to education opportunities, programs, and activities” (http://www.unc.edu/depts/lds/faculty-policies.html).

If you anticipate such accommodations and/or have concerns that should be discussed, please notify me as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Additionally, you may seek out student support services at the Accessibility Resources and Services Office (ARS). UNC-Chapel Hill facilitates the implementation of reasonable accommodations for students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health struggles, chronic medical conditions, temporary disability, or pregnancy complications, all of which can impair student success. See the ARS website for contact and registration information: https://ars.unc.edu/about-ars/contact-us or https://accessibility.unc.edu/students.

Other student support services are available through the Learning Center (http://learningcenter.unc.edu/) and through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). CAPS is strongly committed to addressing the mental health needs of a diverse student body through timely access to consultation and connection to clinically appropriate services, whether for short- or long-term needs. Go to their website (https://caps.unc.edu) or visit their facilities on the third floor of the Campus Health Services building for a walk-in evaluation to learn more.

-For University policies, see http://policies.unc.edu/.


In addition to various handouts or other resources I will post to our Sakai course site, there are a wide variety of resources to help you succeed in this class and beyond.

The UNC Writing Center, located in SASB North and in Greenlaw Hall, Room 221, offers free tutoring services for students. You may visit the Writing Center to ask for help with a specific paper, whether you are concerned with developing ideas and content, organizing your assignment, or working on style issues. To make an appointment, browse the Writing Center’s online resources, or send a draft online, please go to http://writingcenter.unc.edu/. To make the best use of your time there, please bring a copy of both your assignment sheet and your draft with you. The Writing Center will not proofread papers or discuss grades with you. The Writing Center also has an excellent array of tips and tools at http://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/.

Additionally, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/) and your textbook, The Tarheel Writing Guide, are fantastic resources for learning more about mechanics, style, grammar, and citations. I’d also be happy to recommend other useful style guides, tools, reference materials, etc. if you ask.

The sister organization to the UNC Writing Center is the UNC Learning Center, which offers valuable resources for all other learning-related issues or needs, including tips for adjusting to college life, study strategies, and time-management skills: http://learningcenter.unc.edu/.

The UNC Libraries also have amazing resources and dedicated, knowledgeable individuals who will assist you with your research: http://library.unc.edu/. This includes one-on-one consultations with a librarian who can assist you in forming or executing a research plan. These consultations are specifically for ENGL105 students and can be extremely valuable: http://library.unc.edu/house/105help/.


This course will function on a simple point grading system.

  • Feeder Assignments: 5% each x 6 = 30% total
  • Unit 1 Final Project: 15%
  • Unit 2 Final Project: 15%
  • Unit 3 Final Project: 15%
  • Class Participation and Engagement: 25%
"Class Participation and Engagement": Attended all class sessions and conferences; always arrived on time and fully prepared; engaged during class discussions; actively participated in group work; completed all peer review activities; displayed significant investment in the revision process.

Note: There is no final exam for this course.

Feeders will be graded based on completion, prompt submission, and attention to assignment details. Unit projects will be evaluated by rubrics developed by the instructor according to Writing Program standards and individual assignment expectations.

Each unit will reflect a particular discipline: the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. Additionally, one of these units will integrate a business writing component, one will integrate an oral communication component, and another will integrate a digital literacy component.

Whether we are doing group work, peer editing, having a class discussion, or taking a trip to the library, you should be alert and willing to participate in all activities. Not being on task, checking Facebook, or failing to bring a draft to class will significantly lower your participation grade. Participation grades may also be lowered for inappropriate or disruptive behavior during class.

Final letter grades are determined based on the following scale:

  • A (93-100)
  • A- (90-92)
  • B+ (87-89)
  • B (83-86)
  • B- (80-82)
  • C+ (77-79)
  • C (73-76)
  • C- (70-72)
  • D+ (67-69)
  • D (63-66)
  • F (below 63)

I will use traditional rounding to determine grades that fall between whole values. Any mixed number with a decimal value of five tenths or higher will round up to the next whole number. (For example, 92.5 will round up to an A as a 93, but 92.4 will not.)

Late Assignments

Each assignment should be completed and prepared in the correct format for submission on the day it is due. This includes homework, feeder assignments, drafts, presentations, and unit projects. Daily homework assignments are usually due via Sakai the night before a class session by 11:59pm. Late submissions will significantly affect your participation grade. Regarding graded assignments, I will typically not accept late submissions. Plan ahead to prepare for potential conflicts or submission issues so you can avoid them. If your assignment is late or is going to be late, however, I urge you to communicate with me immediately and attempt to submit the assignment as soon as possible to see if we can determine a work-around.

  • Attend all class sessions. This is a workshop-based course, which means your participation is vital to the overall success of the course, both for you and your peers. You can’t participate if you’re not here, both physically and mentally present. I expect you to attend every single class session. Failure to do so will affect your participation grade. Note that missing student-instructor conferences will count as an absence. UNC policy states that there is no such thing as an excused absence except for missing a class session in order to participate in a mandatory university-sponsored activity or if approved by the Dean of Students due to extenuating circumstances. Being sick, family trips, and doctor visits are not excused absences and will affect your participation grade. If you miss a class session, it is your responsibility to reach out to me or your classmates to find out what information you missed, including upcoming assignments, etc. The UNC Writing Program’s policy states that students must attend 75% of class sessions, and, in a MWF course such as this one, those who miss ten (10) or more sessions may fail the course.
  • Arrive on time. Class begins strictly at 12:20pm, at which point you should already be in your seat, ready to engage with the day’s material. Tardiness will affect your participation grade.
  • Be prepared daily with assignments, drafts, readings, etc. If you show up to class without your assignments, rough drafts, or laptop, you will be unable to engage with the material for the day and unable to contribute to class in a meaningful way, which will inevitably affect your participation grade.
  • Engage actively in all in-class exercises, writing workshops, and activities. Participate intensively and diligently with your peers. Collaborate with your classmates by offering consistently thoughtful questions, reactions, feedback, and discussion related to their work and ideas. By closely engaging with your peers’ work, both you and your classmates will grow as writers, and we will all learn and benefit from a collectively engaged community.
  • Complete every assignment thoroughly, thoughtfully, and punctually. I expect your best effort and attention to all reading, writing, and day-to-day activities in the course. Please note that absence does not excuse you from completing any missed assignments. It is your responsibility to figure out what assignments you have missed and to work out an appropriate timeline with me for making them up. (Most, if not all, assignments will be submitted electronically. If an assignment is due for a class session you miss, you are still responsible for submitting that assignment on time.)
  • Give thoughtful peer feedback during class workshops and work faithfully with your group on other collaborative tasks (such as sharing papers, commenting on drafts, peer editing, online discussion boards, answering peer questions, etc.).
  • Sustain effort and investment on each draft of all assignments (at least 2-3 drafts on average).
  • Make substantive revisions when the assignment is to revise, extending or changing the thinking or the organization, not just editing or touching up. While you do not have to make every change suggested by your readers, final drafts should show growth from original drafts and evidence of your thoughtful engagement with peer and instructor feedback.
  • Copy-edit successfully all final revisions of assignments so they conform to the conventions of edited American English. While we will prioritize higher-order concerns (ideas) over lower-order ones (sentence-level issues), your attention to detail reflects your level of professionalism. The same standard for print projects applies equally to multimedia projects.
  • Be consistent. All assignments, unless otherwise specified, are to be completed and submitted in standard academic format: Microsoft Word, 1-inch margins on all sides, double-spaced in size 12 Times New Roman font, with a header in the top-right corner that consists of page numbers accompanied by student’s last name (such as Blom 1, Blom 2, etc.).
  • Tues. Aug. 21: FDOC (first day of classes)
  • Wed. Aug. 22: First day of class for ENGL105
  • Mon. Sept. 3: Labor Day (no classes held)
  • Fri. Oct. 12: University Day (no classes between 9:30am and 12:30pm)
  • Wed. Oct. 17: Fall Break begins at 5:00pm (we will still have class)
  • Mon. Oct. 22: Fall Break ends (classes resume at 8:00am)
  • Wed. Nov. 21: Thanksgiving Break begins (no classes held)
  • Mon. Nov. 26: Thanksgiving Break ends (classes resume at 8:00am)
  • Wed. Dec. 5: LDOC (last day of classes)

(Again, there is no final exam for this course.)

  • Feeder 1.1: Tues. Sept. 4
  • Feeder 1.2: Fri. Sept. 14
  • Unit Project 1: Wed. Sept. 26
  • Feeder 2.1: Fri. Oct. 5
  • Feeder 2.2: Tues. Oct. 16
  • Unit Project 2: Wed. Oct. 24 (paper), Thurs. Oct. 25 (script/visual for presentations on Oct. 26, 29)
  • Feeder 3.1: Wed. Nov. 7
  • Feeder 3.2: Wed. Nov. 14
  • Unit Project 3: Sun. Dec. 2 (to be presented on Dec. 3 and 5)

Note: These due dates are for the final drafts of each of these assignments. You will be expected to complete and turn in earlier drafts of all of these assignments throughout the semester. All assignments are due by 11:59pm on the given due date.


I cannot stress enough the need for clear communication. It is your responsibility to check your email and our course Sakai page for updates and announcements. If you miss a class session, it is your responsibility to reach out to me or your classmates to find out what information you missed, including upcoming assignments, etc.

Additionally, if you are experiencing larger issues that are affecting your performance as a student or your college life in general, please feel free to reach out to me directly or to contact various on-campus resources that can assist you, including the resources mentioned above in the “Policies” or “Resources” section of this syllabus as well as the Dean of Students, Campus Health Services, and the Office of Campus Safety. These resources can offer assistance and support and, at your discretion, can communicate your situation to your instructors through an official capacity. UNC is a very supportive academic environment; we all genuinely want each of you to succeed, but no one can help you if you don’t reach out, to me or to those other resources.

If you need help, ASK! These writing courses are small so that we can all get to know and trust one another. If you are falling behind or need extra help, please let me know. We can discuss brief concerns before or after class, and we can have an extended conversation and/or writing conference during my office hours. To schedule an appointment, please email me at paulblom@live.unc.edu.

If you have questions, need clarification, want more assistance, or need to discuss anything else regarding this class or other issues, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am here to HELP as you transition into this new stage of your educational and professional journey.

Please Note: I reserve the right to make changes to this syllabus as needed, including assignment due dates. These changes will be announced as early as possible.

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Note: This site is the unofficial version of the course syllabus for Section 041 of ENGL105, Fall 2018, taught by Paul Blom. The official syllabus has been formally submitted to the University and is also available as a Word document on our Sakai course site under "Resources."

Created By
Paul Blom


Created with images by DariuszSankowski - "old retro antique" • Jonathan Smith - “Paul with lions” • Alan Smith - “Paul writing” • Jonathan Smith - “Paul at the stage” • Jonathan Smith - “Paul with Annabel the cheetah” • Max Candia “Paul and Jon with team” • jarmoluk - "old books book old" • Engin_Akyurt - "coffee pen notebook" • MIKI Yoshihito. (#mikiyoshihito) - "Classroom." • Frantichek - "meeting modern room" • myrfa - "files paper office" • dalliedee - "Discussion" • falco - "hand children child" • alexindigo - "Paperwork" • soukup - "Angry Man! / Spew Love" • Activ-Michoko - "sunglasses written school" • Free-Photos - "day planner calendar organizer" • Myriams-Fotos - "agenda appointment calendar coffee" • keithriess - "books resources reading" • FirmBee - "office notes notepad"