Syllabus approaches

English 106 is offered in a variety of “syllabus approaches” that allow instructors some ability to customize the content of their courses while respecting our standardized student learning outcomes. This structure acknowledges the diversity of our instructors and offers them opportunities to teach up-to-date courses which match their research interests and abilities.

English 108 courses, excepting 108-S courses, which are focused on community engagement, sometimes use syllabus approaches. A few special sections of English 106 use experimental approaches which are being considered for more widespread use.We currently have five approaches:

  • Academic Writing & Research
  • Composing With Narrative
  • Digital Rhetorics
  • Documenting Realities
  • UR@

Academic Writing & Research

Academic Writing and Research (AWR) familiarizes students with the discourse that researchers use to define the intellectual boundaries of their academic disciplines. The act of thinking always precedes writing, and ENGL 106 students spend sufficient time eliciting, summarizing, and reviewing major points from the literature to achieve cogency in the argumentative paper that follow. Coherent academic writing begins with a solid plan, and thus, ENGL 106 students at Purdue are taught both the planning and act of academic writing which follows its own rules and guidelines. Accommodating both international and domestic students, Academic Writing and Research provides a contextually-grounded perspective on learning how to write in the language of academia.

For more, see the most recent syllabus renewal documents, which includes rationale for the approach, as well as sample assignments and syllabi.

Approach leaders:
Sharry Vahed ( and Patrick Hoburg (

Composing With Narrative

At its core, the Composing with Narratives syllabus approach believes that clear, effective writing can be strengthened through extensive, critical exploration of cultural artifacts and narratives. As cultural texts demand a high level of attention to detail, clear, logical thought, audience awareness, and an understanding of narrative and subjective bias, they encourage an unrivaled space for reflection and interpretation. Moreover, such texts provide opportunities to explore diverse audiences, situations, and contexts, to effectively compose and critically respond in a range of forms for different purposes while, relatedly, providing constructive feedback grounded in the shared experience of common narratives, and conducting evidential research coextensive with TA research experience. From considering the rhetorical situation of advertisements that sell a capitalist narrative to presenting summaries of banned books, and from exploring racism, sexism, classism, and more in texts to composing a research paper synthesizing television series, books, movies, and music videos with theory, this syllabus approach has been designed so that the interrogation of cultural artifacts and narratives serves as the vehicle to bolster student writing, promote critical reading and thinking, and develop research skills commensurate with ICaP goals, means, and outcomes. By the end of CWN courses, students will not only command the skills required to analyze written and visual texts but to also communicate their ideas efficiently and effectively in clear, well-developed, and rhetorically savvy prose.

For more, see the most recent syllabus renewal documents, which includes rationale for the approach, as well as sample assignments and syllabi.

Approach leaders:
Margaret Sheble (

Digital Rhetorics

The Digital Rhetorics Syllabus Approach aims to situate students within digital discourses while they investigate the applications of digital spaces in their classes, their work, and their lives. If we see and understand these digital spaces and the information, connections, and productions contained within as inexorable from the real world, then students must become literate within these spaces or risk lacking the tools to work and compose effectively. These concerns will shape the entirety of the course, while also directing the students’ writing, reading, and projects. While the course is grounded within textual composition, writing concerns, and rhetorical appeals, students will also focus on questions of access, literacy, play/invention, genre/medium, and fair use/ownership. These questions will apply both to the students themselves and their audiences as they work with digital rhetorics on and offline, with new technology, and with digital spaces such as sites, forums, wikis, blogs, and YouTube.

During the course, we establish digital rhetorics as an umbrella term for the way in which we interact with information today. This course does not aim to study digital rhetorics as a type of cultural studies separate from ourselves, but instead as the very grounding of our ability to find, interpret, and use information in the digital age. With more and more information being stored and created digitally, students need to develop a research literacy that will help them not only understand these issues, but overcome and utilize them as well. This does not mean simply covering these concepts during class lectures, but rather putting these ideas into practice.

For more, see the most recent syllabus renewal documents, which includes rationale for the approach, as well as sample assignments and syllabi.

Approach leaders:
Alisha Karabinus ( and Bianca Batti (

Documenting Realities

Documenting Realities asks students to engage, analyze and explore the ways in which the world around them is documented. This syllabus approach asks students to critique the various methods that society uses to document and present the world, and participate in the process as they document their own realities. Students analyze familiar methods of documentation, including web, print, and video media websites, television, newspapers, and magazines, from a critical and rhetorically informed perspective. They are also challenged to consider the effectiveness of less obvious media that purport to document reality, such as art, film, and music. Using a genre approach to writing, this syllabus asks students to adapt their writing to a variety of rhetorical situations and audiences, allowing them to better understand the multifaceted purposes to which writing can be directed.

While this approach allows for both the analysis and creation of various documentary methods and media, instructors have the freedom to focus upon methods and media that interest them or lie within their area of expertise. Instructors also have the option of choosing one overarching theme for the entire course, such as an environmental, ethnographic, or multicultural approach. Frequently courses focus on an exploration of current local, national and/or international events of importance. Students learn to cultivate their critical thinking skills through a variety of assignments and class discussion topics.

For more, see the most recent syllabus renewal documents, which includes rationale for the approach, as well as sample assignments and syllabi.

Approach leaders:
Alex Long ( and Mac Boyle (


UR@ sees the act of composition as a process of locating oneself within and engaging with interdisciplinary discourse in order to move through networks of relations within and across spaces. In short, this approach encourages students to locate themselves in relation to contemporary cultural domains and engage with various media, such as film, music, text, and web text. While incorporation aspects of traditional composition, this approach also provides space for play, which enables movement and flow, invention and discovery, all necessary components of creative composition. In addition, UR@ acknowledges that the shifting landscapes of technology requires an agile and sophisticated command of new compositional strategies.

In UR@, students explore the interconnectedness of contemporary literacies, stretch this interconnectedness through play, and write in as many genres and media as possible: students understand (read and interpret), play (investigate and experiment), and then compose (write and design). The ways in which particular instructors enact this third element and the ways in which students play emphasize UR@’s flexibility and dynamism.

For more, see the most recent syllabus renewal documents, which includes rationale for the approach, as well as sample assignments and syllabi.

Approach leaders:
Eugie Ruiz (, Derek Sherman (, and Elizabeth Geib (

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