Intermediate Composition

Soundwriting & Research Methods
EN 201, Fall 2016 – Spring 2017
UW-Madison

“Research and Listening: Toward a Feminist Sonic Pedagogy,” co-authored with Meg M. Marquardt and based on this course, has been accepted for inclusion in Amplifying Soundwriting. Eds. Kyle D. Stedman, Courtney S. Danforth, and Michael J. Farris.

Using Sarah Koenig’s Serial — a real life investigation into an unsolved crime — this course will think about what strategies are available for finding and evaluating knowledge and how in the University, our careers, and our lives we can approach them. Major writing assignments will ask you to test out research methods in pursuit of a mystery. We will work on engaging a public audience by telling the stories of our explorations through collaborative podcasts. 

Course Objectives

English 201 is a 3-credit, intermediate-level writing course that satisfies the university Communications B requirement for enhancing literacy skills, with a particular emphasis on writing. This course aims to help you develop:

  • critical thinking, careful reading, and effective communication skills
  • an increased awareness of your writing ability, process, style, and strengths
  • an understanding of how writing and speaking vary according to contextual factors such as situation, audience, a speaker or writer’s purpose, and genre
  • strategies for adapting your communication skills in response to such contextual factors
  • effective and appropriate use of evidence and research in relation to an issue

Sequences and Assignments

Sequence 1 Projects: Podcast pitch & narrative episode (10%)
Inspired by Serial, Mystery Show, and RadioLab, compose a pitch for a podcast serially investigating a mystery — anything you want to know but can’t figure out from a simple Google search or asking an expert. The audience for this pitch will be a board of producers at WSUM, making your audience the UW community, especially students.

Sequence 2 Projects: Podcast Episodes (30% – 6 x 5% each)
In groups of 2-3, you will work this semester to produce the selected podcast pitches. Each episode will ask you to not only continue digging into your question, but to try out different research methods to do so. 

  • Episode 1: Narrative introduction
  • Episode 2: Secondary Research
  • Episode 3: Interview
  • Episode 4: Observation and Testing
  • Episode 5: Archival Research
  • Episode 6: Deduction and Hypothesizing

Sequence 3 Projects: Final episode (15%)
Using all of the methods and skills you’ve acquired, revise your work into one narrative of your exploration. This final podcast episode will be full length (about 30-40 minutes).

Sequence 4 Projects: Connections (15%)
We will end our semester by bridging connections between the work we’ve done this semester and your own disciplines. Final projects will include a resume and cover letter.

Workshops and Revisions (10%)
Twice this semester, you will submit a piece of writing to the group for workshop. This can be any writing that you are currently working on, personal or professional, but should be no more than about 1000 words. You may submit assignments for this class, other classes, for your work, an application, creative writing, a difficult email, etc. After receiving feedback, you will revise this piece, and submit a reflection along with the revision.

Participation (20%)

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