First-Year Writing

https://firstyear.barnard.edu/first-year-writing

417 Barnard Hall
212-854-2116

Mission

First-Year Writing: Critical Conversations courses invite students into the vibrant scholarly life of the college by honing their critical reading and academic writing skills. Working in small, discussion-based seminar classes over the course of one semester, we read challenging literary texts and critical scholarship, helping students to develop fundamental skills in analysis and academic writing that allow them to take their place in vitally important scholarly conversations. Students choose one of three rubrics – Legacy of the Mediterranean, Women and Culture, or The Americas – each of which explores and questions a particular literary tradition.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this one-semester course should be able to:

  • closely analyze evidence to develop persuasive claims
  • develop claims into sophisticated, consequential ideas
  • communicate ideas clearly through well-organized, lucid writing
  • develop skills in critical reading and academic writing that transfer to courses across the curriculum
  • conduct interdisciplinary research to ground literary works in different contexts (historical, theoretical, etc.)
  • document sources and incorporate scholarship into original analytical arguments
  • avoid plagiarism and other academic violations of Barnard's Honor Code
  • gain confidence in speaking as well as writing skills in a small seminar setting

Director: Wendy Schor-Haim, Lecturer in English
Associate Director: Cecelia Lie-Spahn (Term Associate, English; Director, First-Year Writing (Workshop))

Postdoctoral Fellow: Meredith Benjamin

Lecturers: Benjamin Breyer, Vrinda Condillac, Andrew Lynn, Alexandra Watson

Adjunct Instructors: Elizabeth Auran, Maureen Chun, Monica Cohen, Michelle Fredman, Mary Helen Kolisnyk, Linn Carey Mehta, Barbara Morris, Donna Paparella, Stefan Pedatella, Jennifer Rosenthal, Sonam Singh

Every Barnard first-year student is required to take First-Year Writing (formerly known as First-Year English) during her first or second semester at Barnard.  Students choose to study one of three rubrics: I. Legacy of the Mediterranean investigates and interrogates formative texts whose ideologies have shaped Western culture; II. Women and Culture challenges traditional dichotomies that cast gender as an essential attribute rather than a cultural construction, and interrogates the categories of both "woman" and "culture" themselves; or III. The Americas features a curriculum of texts that exemplifies the dynamic relationship between North, South, and Central American literatures. All three rubrics develop critical reading and academic writing skills that are central to courses across the curriculum.

Transfer students who did not pass a satisfactory course at their previous institution are not required to take First-Year Writing, but must take ENGL BC3103 The Art of the Essay or ENGL BC3104 The Art of the Essay or a 3-point literature course (not a creative writing course) from the Barnard English department offerings.

Cross-Listed Courses

English (Barnard)

ENGL BC1204 First-Year Writing (Workshop): Critical Conversations. 4 points.

(Formerly called "First-Year English: Reinventing Literary History (Workshop).") Close examination of texts and regular writing assignments in composition, designed to help students read critically and write effectively.  Sections will focus on Legacy of the Mediterranean or Women and Culture and meet three times a week.  For more information on the curriculum, please visit the course website: http://firstyear.barnard.edu/rlh

Fall 2018: ENGL BC1204
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 1204 001/06169 M W F 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 4 0/12
ENGL 1204 002/03033 M W F 11:40am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 4 0/12
ENGL 1204 003/08212 T Th F 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 4 0/12
ENGL 1204 004/05833 T Th F 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 4 0/12

ENGL BC1210 First-Year Writing: Critical Conversations: Women and Culture. 3 points.

“Re-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction—is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. “ Adrienne Rich, “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision.”


This course offers a revisionist response to the constraints of "the canon," wherein women are often portrayed as peripheral characters, their power confined to the islands of classical witches and the attics of Romantic madwomen. The Women and Culture curriculum challenges traditional dichotomies that cast gender as an essential attribute rather than a cultural construction, and interrogates the categories of both "woman" and "culture" themselves. No two syllabi are exactly the same, but works studied in the fall term readings include Hymn to Demeter; Ovid, Metamorphoses; Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book; Marie de France, LaisKebra Negast; Shakespeare, sonnets; Beauty and the BeastWest African Bride Myth; and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, selected poetry. Spring term readings include Milton, Paradise Lost; Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman; Luisa Valenzuela, selected stories; Eliza Haywood, Fantomine; Lady Hyegyong, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong; Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights; Emily Dickinson, selected poetry; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway or A Room of One's Own; Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mother's Gardens ; and Yvette Christiansë, Castaway. Critical scholarship sources include Sara Ahmed, Gloria Anzaldua, Judith Butler, Laura Mulvery, and Michel Foucault.

Spring 2018: ENGL BC1210
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 1210 001/05989 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
403 Barnard Hall
Elizabeth Auran 3 15/15
ENGL 1210 002/07047 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
407 Barnard Hall
Vrinda Condillac 3 15/15
ENGL 1210 003/06266 T Th 11:40am - 12:55pm
405 Barnard Hall
Vrinda Condillac 3 13/15
ENGL 1210 004/07970 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
403 Barnard Hall
Vrinda Condillac 3 15/15
ENGL 1210 005/08599 T Th 1:10pm - 2:25pm
404 Barnard Hall
Meredith Benjamin 3 15/15
ENGL 1210 006/03564 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
404 Barnard Hall
Meredith Benjamin 3 15/15
Fall 2018: ENGL BC1210
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 1210 001/05989 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 1/15
ENGL 1210 002/07047 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1210 003/07970 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1210 004/08599 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1210 005/07753 T Th 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1210 006/03946 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1210 007/06891 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15

ENGL BC1211 First-Year Writing: Critical Conversations: Legacy of the Mediterranean. 3 points.

"Custom and authority are no sure evidence of truth." Isaac Watts, Logic; or, The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth (1802)


Where do our (often unconscious) assumptions about our world and our place in it come from? This course explores key intellectual moments in the literature of the Mediterranean world, whose ideas gave rise to the structures governing much of the Western world today -- structures that sustain and perpetuate ideas about power, authority, gender, and morality that influence our lives in ways both visible and invisible. We read these texts, primarily imaginative literature, to see how they reify, comment upon, resist and/or imagine alternatives to existing social and ideological structures; reading in this way allows us to consciously name and examine how ideology both shifts over time and, in vital ways, remains constant, inviting us to question the myth of progress at the heart of canonicity. No two syllabi are exactly the same, but works studied in the fall term include Homer, The OdysseyThe Homeric Hymn to Demeter; Euripides, The Bacchae; Virgil, Aeneid; Dante, Inferno; Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe; and Shakespeare. Works studied in the spring term include Milton, Paradise Lost; Voltaire, Candide; ; William Wordsworth (selected poetry); Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Darwin, Marx, and Freud (selected essays); Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land; Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse; Zora Neale Hurston, Of Mules and Men and Their Eyes Were Watching God; Toni Morrison, Beloved; and Nella Larsen, Passing. Critical scholarship from a variety of traditions (feminist, queer, post-colonial) and thinkers (bell hooks, Christine Froula, Edward Said, Karen Horney, Toni Morrison) allows us to interrogate these texts and the traditions they support, complicate, challenge, etc.

Spring 2018: ENGL BC1211
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 1211 001/04730 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
404 Barnard Hall
Benjamin Breyer 3 15/15
ENGL 1211 002/02058 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
403 Barnard Hall
Stefan Pedatella 3 15/15
ENGL 1211 003/08189 M W 8:40am - 9:55am
406 Barnard Hall
Donna Paparella 3 15/15
ENGL 1211 004/06252 T Th 1:10pm - 2:25pm
405 Barnard Hall
Wendy Schor-Haim 3 16/16
ENGL 1211 005/02446 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
407 Barnard Hall
Sonam Singh 3 15/15
ENGL 1211 006/04318 T Th 8:40am - 9:55am
404 Barnard Hall
Benjamin Breyer 3 14/15
ENGL 1211 007/09315 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
405 Barnard Hall
Benjamin Breyer 3 15/15
Fall 2018: ENGL BC1211
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 1211 001/07758 M W 8:40am - 9:55am
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1211 002/04816 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 1/15
ENGL 1211 003/06165 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1211 004/03034 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1211 005/07763 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1211 006/07291 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1211 007/01880 T Th 11:40am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1211 008/08081 T Th 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1211 009/06760 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15

ENGL BC1212 First-Year Writing: Critical Conversations: The Americas. 3 points.

This course transcends traditional and arbitrary distinctions separating Caribbean, North, South, and Central American literatures. The Americas emerge not as colonial subjects but as active historical and aesthetic agents.  Emanating from what might be called the geographical site of modernity, American literature is characterized by unprecedented diversity and innovation.  In addition to classic novels, short stories, and poetry, this multicultural curriculum features works ranging in scope from creation accounts to autobiographies, as well as indigenous genres including captivity and slave narratives that belie New World declarations of independence.  No two syllabi are exactly the same, but works studied in the fall term include the Popul Vuh; William Shakespeare, The Tempest; Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, selected poetry; Phillis Wheatley, selected poetry; William Apess, A Son of the Forest; Esteban Echeverria, "El Matadero"; Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Hope Leslie; Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself; Herman Melville, Benito Cereno. Spring term readings include Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson; Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; José Marti, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, selected poetry; T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land; Pablo Neruda, The Heights of Macchu Picchu; Machado de Assis, Dom Casmurro; William Faulkner, "The Bear"; Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Spring 2018: ENGL BC1212
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 1212 001/06055 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
102 Sulzberger Annex
Alexandra Watson 3 15/15
ENGL 1212 002/02444 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
406 Barnard Hall
Alexandra Watson 3 15/15
ENGL 1212 003/03119 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
406 Barnard Hall
Alexandra Watson 3 15/15
ENGL 1212 004/04338 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
405 Barnard Hall
Barbara Morris 3 14/15
ENGL 1212 005/05446 T Th 11:40am - 12:55pm
403 Barnard Hall
Jennifer Rosenthal 3 15/15
Fall 2018: ENGL BC1212
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 1212 001/03496 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1212 002/04330 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1212 003/08520 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15
ENGL 1212 004/02776 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
0. FACULTY 3 0/15