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Writing Program

The General Education Writing Program

The English department's general education writing curriculum is designed to teach students to handle the demands of college-level writing through an exploration of fundamental concepts of rhetoric and the development of more sophisticated and effective composing habits. Over the course of two semesters, students write essays for a variety of purposes and audiences and in different genres.

Our program prepares students to write more effectively in their other college classes and in civic or professional situations, to continue learning about the art of writing as they progress through their career at Catawba, and to use writing as a means of making their liberal arts education more rewarding — and more enjoyable.


While each section of our composition classes has the same goals, our instructors do not all use the same textbooks. All courses, however, require the same reference handbook: Richard Bullock &  Francine Weinberg's The Little Seagull Handbook (Norton; 2nd edition).


English 1101: Introduction to College Reading and Writing 
This course is designed for first-year students whose writing samples indicated they may benefit from more experience and instruction before they are prepared to successfully undertake the writing tasks assigned in E1103. This course emphasizes writing that is derived from personal experience, observation, and casual reading (newspapers and popular journalism). It asks students to write with different aims (expressive, informative, or persuasive) in mind or by using different modes of discourse (narration, description, exposition, comparison/contrast, categorization, etc.) as principles of structural development. Students do not work extensively with secondary texts in this course and do not learn about research or documentation strategies.

Students will:

  • Identify main points and supporting evidence in the texts they read;
  • Compose essays that are directed by a main point, supported by evidence, and clarified by transitional words and phrases;
  • Effectively summarize assigned course readings in writing;
  • Use drafting and revision as effective writing practices;
  • Produce standard edited American English.


English 1103: Critical Reading and Writing
This course is the first course the majority of new first-year students take when they come to Catawba. E1103 introduces its audience to basic concepts of rhetorical thinking as tools for both reading (analyzing) and producing academic and civic writing. The course emphasizes summarizing as a method for understanding challenging texts and teaches the practices of effective paraphrase and quotation. In addition to considering these basic methods for avoiding inadvertent plagiarism, the course also teaches students how to correctly and effectively gather and evaluate information from different sources, both digital and print, while studying an issue or topic from an academic perspective and also covers MLA documentation conventions. Finally, the course also covers in organization/structure, punctuation, diction, usage, and style.

Course Learning Outcomes - Students will:

  1. Use basic rhetorical concepts – audience, purpose, genre, style, occasion or exigency – as reading and writing tools;
  2. Summarize and analyze individual texts;
  3. Synthesize multiple texts;
  4. Evaluate  information found using bibliographic tools;
  5. Use drafting and revision as effective writing practices;
  6. Produce standard edited American English.


English 2111: Reading and Writing Arguments
In E2111, students receive advanced instruction in the genres of civic and academic argument, which can only be covered briefly in English 1103. Students will also receive advanced instruction in prose style beyond issues of simple correctness. Finally, students will have continued exposure to the tasks of locating and integrating outside sources into their writing as they produce various types of argumentative essays.

Course Learning Outcomes - Students will:

  1. Analyze and evaluate arguments;
  2. Compose different types of arguments;
  3. Integrate reasons and evidence derived from various sources;
  4. Use drafting and revision as effective writing practices;
  5. Produce standard edited American English.