Class #TopicsReadings / ViewingsAssignments DueIn-Class Activities
Unit One: First Essay; Writing Focus: Personal Narrative
1Intro to the Class as a Writing Community

Writing about Social and Ethical Issues
  Distribute: Syllabus, Course Calendar, Writer's Letter assignment, Course information sheet, Exercise 1.1, Essay Assignment #1
2Reasons to Believe: The Roots of Ethical and Social Values

Introducing Personal Essays

In Writing for Change

  • Marion Wright Edelman. "A Family Legacy." Pp. 24-30.
Exercise 1.1, Notebook Exercise on Edelman, Writer's LetterDiscuss: Sample student essay
3Reasons to Believe and Act   
4Developing and Sustaining Ethical and Social Values

The Personal Essay: Crafting Engaging and Effective Introductions

In Writing for Change

  • John F. Kennedy. "Inaugural Address." Pp. 89-92.
  • William F. Buckley. "A Call to Arms." Pp. 125-133.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. "A Letter From Birmingham Jail." Pp. 285-299.
  • P.W. Alexander. "Christmas At Home." Pp. 100-103.
  • Jeremy Taylor. "Service Learning: Education with a Purpose." Pp. 193-199.

Film Clips: Eyes on the Prize.

2 Notebook Exercises (Class #3, Class #4) 
5The Writer as Social Activist: A Literary Tradition Draft Essay 1 (2 copies + cover letter. (Due two days after class #5)

Workshop students: email drafts (as Word documents) to classmates
Read/Discuss: Assigned Readings.

Bring in: Introductions, Essay 1 (4 copies).

Workshop Preparation; Distribute Workshopping Letter
6Writing Workshop, Draft Essay 1; The Craft of Revision Workshop letters to classmates. (Copies to instructor)Distribute: Handouts on Revision (3)
Unit Two: Second Essay; Writing Focus: Investigative Essay/Comparative Analysis
7Representing Social Issues and Problems; Images   
8Narratives of Poverty and Homelessness
  • Selection, Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol.
  • Jonathan Kozol. "Are the Homeless Crazy?"

In Writing For Change

  • Peter Marin. "Helping and Hating the Homeless…." Pp. 270-283.

Film Clip: A Christmas Carol

Notebook Exercise: Comment comparatively on the power of Marin's and Kozol's essays (1½-2 pp.)

Revision, Essay #1. (2 copies + cover letter and marked-up Draft) (Due two days after class #8)

Review: Essay #2 assignment.
Introduction to Community Research
9The Writer as Witness, Participant and Investigator: Inside the World of Poverty and Low-wage Labor
  • Excerpt, Barbara Ehrenreich. Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America. (Handout)

Film Clip: America and Lewis Hine.

Proposals, Essay #2. (Five copies)

Notebook Exercise on Ehrenreich
10The Writer as Interpreter of Social Issues: The Value Of Comparative Analysis: Research Strategies  Pairs Workshops: Proposals #2

Library Session
11Writers Engage With Media Culture and Beauty Imagery

In Writing For Change (student essay)

  • Amanda Morgan. "When Beauty Is the Beast." Pp. 356-363.   

Film: Killing Us Softly 3

 Read/Discuss: Assigned readings (distributed in class)
12Writers Address Contemporary Debates: Race, Gender and Issues of Equality

Approaches to Comparative Analysis: Options in Introductions/Conclusions

In Writing For Change

  • Ronald Takaki. "Breaking Silences: Community of Memory."   Pp. 219-232.
  • Susan Faludi. "Blame It on Feminism." Pp. 238-250.
Notebook Assignment: Compare Takaki and Faludi 
13Writers Confront Contemporary: Educational Inequality, Past and Present: Individual Portraits

In Writing For Change

  • Maya Angelou. "Graduation." Pp. 155-165.
  • Jonathan Kozol. "Corla Hawkins." Pp. 176-181.
  • Mike Rose. "I Just Wanna Be Average." Pp. 165-176.

Notebook assignment: Compare Rose and Kozol or Angelou

Draft, Essay #2 (2 copies + cover letter) (Due two days after class #13)

Distribute: Workshop #2 letter
14Writing Workshop, Draft, Essay #2 Workshop Letters 
Unit Three: Third Essay; Writing Focus: Investigative/Advocacy Essay
15Writers as Investigators and Advocates: Modern Classics in the Literature of Social Change

Excerpts from:

  • Betty Friedan. The Feminine Mystique.
  • Rachel Carson. Silent Spring.
  • George Orwell. "Politics and the English Language."
Notebook Exercise on Friedan or CarsonReview Essay #3 Assignments

Reading Films Critically (PDF)

Film: Girl, Interrupted.  
17Writers Explore Contemporary Issues: Mental Health


  • Susanna Kaysen. Girl, Interrupted. (Excerpt)

In Writing for Change

  • Tracy Thompson. "The Wizard of Prozac." Pp. 347-356.

Film: James Mangold. Girl, Interrupted.

Notebook Assignment: Girl, Interrupted

Proposals, Essay #3 (5 copies)
18Writers Define Contemporary Issues and Advocate Solutions: Education

In Writing for Change

  • E. D. Hirsch. "Cultural Literacy." Pp. 188-193.

Notebook Assignment on Hirsch and Orwell

Revision, Essay #2. (2 copies, coverletter + marked-up Draft) (Due two days after class #18)

Small Workshops: Proposals, Essay #3
19 Film: Dead Man Walking.  
20Writers Debate Policy Issues: Capital Punishment

Incorporating Personal and Public Voices
Film: Tim Robbins. Dead Man Walking.
Notebook Exercise, Dead Man Walking

Incorporating Interview Material and Secondary Sources

Models of  Advocacy Essays: Student Essay (MURJ)


Writers Debate Policy Issues: Capital Punishment

Incorporating Personal and Public Voices


Film: Tim Robbins. Dead Man Walking.

22Approaches To Advocacy

In Writing For Change

  • Randy Fitzgerald. "Owls Are Not Threatened, Jobs Are." Pp. 419-423.
  • Cynthia Hamilton. "Women, Home and Community: The Struggles in an Urban Environment." Pp. 412-418.
Revisions #2Oral Presentations
23Writers as Visionaries: Fiction as a Laboratory for Utopian Ideas and Dystopian Critiques

In Writing For Change

  • Ernest Callenbach. "Ecotopia." Pp. 440-446.
 Oral Presentations
24Writers as Visionaries: Fiction as a Laboratory for Utopian Ideas and Dystopian Critiques

Excerpts (distributed in class):

  • Aldous Huxley. Brave New World.
  • George Orwell. 1984
  • Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale.

Notebook Exercise: Compare your own Visions of utopia and dystopia

Drafts, Essay #3 (Due one day after class #24)

27Revision Strategies for Advocacy Essays   
28Advanced Revision/Publication Workshop  Oral Presentations
29   Workshop, Draft Essay #3
30   Oral Presentations; Course Evaluations
31Last Class: Celebration  Portfolios due by end of day (with revision #3)