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What do teachers teach? English 1A Course Descriptions

Every instructor chooses specific topics for discussion in English 1A; scroll down and discover what topics teachers teach.

Not all instructors teach every semester. Check the "Schedule of Classes" fto identify who is teaching that semester, and then read the course description here.

Alancraig M.- “Monterey Bay”

This class is a celebration of the beauties and mysteries of the Monterey Bay region.  What does an ecologist see when facing the ocean at Point Lobos? Who were the first peoples who lived there? What immigrant groups came here to work the fields and how were they treated? What stories and poetry has this place inspired? In order to explore the science, history, anthropology and literature of this area, we’ll get out into it.  You’ll touch much of what we study by running your fingers inside an Ohlone grinding stone or hiking through the Forest of Nisene Marks. The class promises provocative readings, field trips, hard work and fun!

Bañales V.- "Current Events"- Multi-Cultural Section

In this class we will critically think, read, and write papers about current events pertaining to race, class, gender, and sexuality.  We will begin looking at systems of inequality from a historical and theoretical perspective, followed by weekly course segments dealing with a selected range of contemporary issues.  Topics include: prisons, immigration, same-sex marriage, and domestic violence.  Because this is a course that requires research-based writing, students will conduct extensive library investigative work.  By the end of the course, students should be able to think critically about complex political issues, successfully perform library research, select and organize materials, compile and integrate information, cite bibliographic references, and write effective research papers.  Your instructor, peers, and librarian will help you navigate through the research and writing process.

Bass J.- "Find Your Voice and Style"

Welcome to English 1A!  This course will help you sharpen your skills as a thoughtful reader, thinker, and writer.  You will read the works of accomplished authors, write in and out-of-class essays, respond to readings, participate in class discussions, work collaboratively, engage in writing and editing workshops, and learn how to incorporate research with your own ideas.  As we progress, English 1A will provide you with the tools necessary to write coherently and clearly as you explore the process of writing and find your voice and style.

Emphasizes the expository essay and research paper; readings serve as models and topics for discussion. Students write at least 6,000 words, focusing on clarity and accuracy.

Carter J.- “Challenging Ideas: Rethinking the Humanities”

What ideas, debates, and controversies face the contemporary college student? In English 1A we will explore changes in the humanities in the today’s university through the works of influential writers such as the revolutionary Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, French philosopher Michel Foucault, the Palestinian-American English professor Edward Said, as well as the American poets Alice Walker and Adrienne Rich, among others. Through journaling, academic research papers, and classroom discussions, students will develop their own ideas on such questions as democracy and education, race and identity, and surveillance and social control. The final research project will be an ethnographic study of sub-cultures in the United States.

Christianson J.- "The Research Paper"

This class will emphasize the research paper, in conjunction with Library 10/on-line (plus a session at the library, re. research strategies, MLA requirements, and the like). Thus, there will be a scaffolding of writing assignments pursuant to developing that paper as the term goes on: the abstract/prospectus, a 2-page synopsis on the chosen topic, main objectives, an indication of sources germane to the project; the annotated bibliography, reviewing and rating 4-5 sites located in a preliminary search; first draft (“rough”) submitted 8th or 9th week; second draft (“cleaner,” shaped & focused) around the 12th week—for final instructor feedback; leading to completed version due last meeting of Finals Week (at the latest).

Conard K.- "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

In today’s world, where, with enough money and time, almost any part of the globe is accessible, more and more people are traveling. Travel can make global citizens and provide a glimpse into the unknown. But is it a good idea to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef? To climb Mt. Everest? To join the crowds at the top of the Eiffel Tower? Is there such a thing as a traveler or is everyone a tourist? Is it more responsible to stay at home?

Looking at the impact of travel on the individual, environment, and community, students will read historical texts and contemporary travel pieces and write a variety of essays, including a research proposal and a 10 page research paper on any aspect of travel and tourism – topics could include anything from dark tourism to theme parks to adventure travel to cruise ships.

Fague A.- "Choosing Your Path"

Welcome to transfer-level English composition! Now, what exactly does that mean? How do we go about getting the credits we so desire and developing the skills we’ll need for our fruitful careers, or at least to help us through the rest of our studies? This class focuses on individual development while drawing on the wealth of experience and diverse backgrounds we’ll undoubtedly find in the classroom. Students will choose class readings from either an anthology of the “best” professional essays in the U.S. or from a collection of essays by college students, and we’ll learn to ask questions in both contexts in order to develop engaging, thoughtful essays of our own. There’s even an option to do service learning as a way to explore first-hand the topic you choose for your final analytical research project. Ultimately, English 1A will be what we make of the course objectives, both on the individual and communal level.


Fields R. -"Subversive Discourse: 'How Language and Identity Collide and Collaborate'"

This class is designed to not only immerse you into college composition, but also to explore the idea of yourself as a
writer presently and as a writer evolving. For this reason, I have chosen to focus our class readings and discussions
on language and individual identity in order to examine their particular connection. We will explore in various
reading material, such as the novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, how human beings have negotiated their identity through language, more particularly how they do that through Subversive Discourse, or rather secret language. In addition to considering and exploring this topic, we will be studying a variety of essay genres and styles that you will adopt for a series of assignments in order to investigate these issues for yourself. My goal is to provide stimulating material and discussion to excite your intellectual participation, and in turn, allow for assignments where you can practice at conventions of academic writing in order to prepare you to write at thec ollegiate level.

Founds K.- "Research Memoir"

In Unit I, we will read Enrique’s Journey:  The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite With His Mother, by
Sonia Nazario.  Enrique’s Journey tells the story of a Central American teen who journeys by train from Honduras
to the United States.  Following in Nazario’s footsteps, you will conduct your own primary research, interviewing a
family or community member who has overcome a great hardship or endured an arduous journey. Your Unit I paper will document your subject’s story.  We will also analyze the movie Sin Nombre, comparing and contrasting it with
Enrique’s experience.   In Unit II, we will read Art Spiegelman’s Maus.  In this graphic novel, Spiegelman tells the story of his father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor.  For your Unit II paper, you will write your own memoir piece and create your own graphic novel excerpt. In Unit III, we will read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures.  This fascinating book examines how social and cultural context impact communication between groups.  For your Unit III paper, you will use library resources to add analysis of social and cultural context to your Unit I interview paper. Finally, in Unit IV, you will writea memoir of a profound life experience, weaving in library research to illuminate our subject matter.

Gorsky S.- "Finding a Voice"

Crafting a successful composition is a powerful form of critical thinking.  Effective reading is honest, active, efficient, and careful; it involves understanding the meaning and appreciating the use of language.  Effective thinking requires approaching texts and ideas with an open mind, evaluating concepts logically and critically, making connections, and delving beneath the surface.  Effective writing is clean and clear, purposeful, precise, convincing, and substantiated; it acknowledges the audience and demonstrates that the writer can evaluate his/her work.

As you work on these areas through readings, discussions, projects, and especially writing, you can develop your own voice.  We will focus on groups or individuals “silenced” by race, gender, class, ethnicity, life-style, or beliefs, and on ways they strive to overcome silence.  Within that broad theme, you may choose your own research topic and related readings.

Graecyn L.- “Eating English”

"What people eat (or don’t eat) has always been determined by a complex interplay of social, economic, and technological forces…A nation’s diet can be more revealing than its art or literature” Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, 3. We will analyze and evaluate assigned and researched texts on our topic, food, that will lead us to examine issues as important and diverse as immigration; the environment; race, class, and gender; social justice, oil dependency; health care; our relationships with animals, and how we affect our world through our food choices.

We will grow as writers, thinkers, and community members as we write essays, including research-based writing, that demonstrate rhetorical strategies, source documentation, and critical analysis. We will discover the personal and political relevance of our topic as we examine how the fact that "Food has changed more in the last 50 years than in the last 10,000" (Micahel Pollan, Food Inc.) dramatically influences the health and sustainability of our societies.

Please visit our class website to learn more:

Hancock J.- "Analysis and Writing"

English 1A is a college composition class. Students entering English 1A have either passed English 100 or assessed into English 1A via Cabrillo College Assessment. The class presents strategies for analytical essay writing and critical analysis of non-fiction. Students are expected to be familiar with basic essay structure and grammatical conventions prior to entering English 1A. Using expository writing strategies taught in the class, English 1A students write 6000-8000 words during the semester, which culminates in a research project with MLA citations.

Lau D.- "Utopia Exists"

This “college composition” class will explore what it means to imagine another world through the study of some famous and lesser-known works of ancient and contemporary literature. We will culminate in an intense study of this world, surveying of some basics of the world economy after 1945. To this end, we will write 2 distinct papers honing the writing technique of exegetical commentary through quotation and analysis of The Republic of Plato; we will write one interpretive research essay based on one of the course novels (The Dispossessed or Inherent Vice); we will write one paper on one of our class poems; we will prepare for one in-class writing exam; and we will write a final research paper on one country’s situation in the global economy.  

Leal J. -"Reading and Writing Postmodern Culture"

In this class, students examine a variety of diverse cultural texts throughout the semester—which may include literature, film, music, art, and internet materials—and are encouraged to explore topics that engage postmodern culture.  What do we mean when we speak of morality and ethics?  How do we engage power?  What is the purpose of a college education?  Students, moreover, write several critical close reading responses to assigned readings, but the interdisciplinary structure of the course simultaneously encourages students to explore cultural issues of interest in the extended research papers.  The extended research essay assignments emphasize the synthesis of secondary sources according to the MLA guidelines.  Students are encouraged to assess discursive postmodern structures connected to notions of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationalism, animal rights, food production, and the environment, among other pressing issues.  As we write, we will aspire to communicate with each other in a hospitable environment that is open to all experiences and impressions about life.  This course is designed specifically for students interested in building a community of writers and thinkers.   At the end of the semester, students will be asked to show total competence in college level research and writing abilities.  Welcome!

Marshall T.--Academic Writing & “Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History”

This course will help you develop skills in four useful modes of academic essay writing: comparison & contrast, cause & effect analysis, definition, and argument & persuasion. There will be a chance to learn about each mode by studying and discussing examples of its use in student and professional essays, doing in-class writing exercises, fulfilling a writing assignment focused on use of that mode, workshopping it in small groups with each other, and revising it to hand in for grading. In the last few weeks, we'll study Walter Mosley’s book-length essay called Workin’ on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History and thenget into the research paper project and develop it carefully step by step. This paper will be outlined to include support from all four of the modes we have studied and from careful research on one of the key topics in that book.

McCallum G.- "The Hero’s Journey Through Revolution, Religion, & Relationships"

Dealing with change, whether cataclysmic or personal, is one of the challenges of being human.  How does the Hero or Heroine deal with revolutions and upheaval in his or her culture, family, relationships, or cultural and political society?  How do we incorporate the lessons of life in order to increase our understanding, our tolerance, our communication, and our general happiness and well being?  These are some of the questions and topics we will think, read, and write about in English 1A.

Najarro A.- Puente Project-STARS-Multi-Cultural Section - "The Next America"

The course theme is “The Next America.” We will explore how we form identities as individuals within a complex society and how race and ethnicity affects our lives and how our society is changing. First we will look at the African-American experience in the US; next we will investigate the US Latino experience. The course will conclude with a research project where you choose a social issue that affects what the “The Next America” will be. We will contribute to the existing body of US Latino literature by compiling a class book that will contain one piece of writing by each class member. Most class sessions include group work where you may be asked to share your writing. I have organized the class in order to create a learning environment where we work as a writing community in support of each other’s efforts.

Najarro A.-“The Next America”

The course theme is “The Next America.” We will explore how we form identities as individuals within a complex society and how race and ethnicity affects our lives and how our society is changing. First we will look at the African-American experience in the US; next we will investigate the US Latino experience. The course will conclude with a research project where you choose a social issue that affects what the “The Next America” will be. Most class sessions include group work where you may be asked to share your writing. I have organized the class in order to create a learning environment where we work as a writing community in support of each other’s efforts.

Dr. Omosupe E.- Multi-Cultural Section -

1AMC is a theme centered course.  The course readings and videos offer a survey of social issues and human experiences from the margins and the center locations of the United States of America.  Our course readings are from various genres that include social theory, history, short stories, autobiography, and more.  Listed are some of our goals and learner outcomes:

  1. Work together as a community of writers.
  2. Create a safe space for taking risks, since speaking and writing for public consumption are risky ventures.
  3. Emphasize revision as a part of the writing process.
  4. Foster close readings of texts and other materials for comprehension and the further development of critical reading, thinking, speaking and writing skills.
  5. Develop critical and analytical thinking skills in writing, reading and speaking.
  6. Engage in your own writing as process and product.  That is, you will free write, share your writing in class, submit formal essays, give critical feedback to other students, and keep a Reader-Response Journal.
  7. Work with grammatical and rhetorical structures for the benefit of overall clarity and cohesiveness in presentations of arguments and researched data.
  8. Foster the development of your sense of self as a writer who is engaged in creating and speaking in various discourses that circulate publicly, politically, and socially.

Paul M.- “Writing as Discovery!”

It is often noted that we do not know what we really think and feel about something until we write about it. This section of English 1A will focus on writing as exploration and discovery. By exploring the writings of others, we will enter into conversations, both oral and written, to discover where we stand on contemporary issues. This course emphasizes the expository essay and research paper; readings serve as models and topics for discussion. You will write at least 6,000 words, focusing on clarity and accuracy, paying particular attention to the power of the word. You will write essays, including research-based writing demonstrating academic rhetorical strategies, documentation of sources, and critical analysis. You will also analyze and evaluate assigned and researched texts.

Pizzuti G.- "Elements of Argument"

English 1A College Composition emphasizes the elements of argument in writing essays and research papers; readings serve as models and topics for discussion. Students write at least 6,000 words, focusing on clarity and accuracy.  By the end of the semester, students should be able to write essays that are consistently thorough and thoughtfully conceived, conscious of the demands of the assignment, purposeful and controlled, effectively developed and edited.  Topics include media, technology, gender, and popular culture.

Putnam D.- "Sustainability"

This class is organized around a theme of "sustainability" as defined broadly and through various perspectives. Students read and discuss different points-of-view on sustainability early in the semester and then craft a substantial research essay over several weeks. Students will identify their own research topics (related to class themes) and recommend possible solutions to the problems posed in their papers.

"In problem-posing education, people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation."--Paulo Freire, "The Banking Concept of Education."

Sander B.- “Questions and Answers”

Questions and answers are all around us.  Sometimes forming the question is half of the work.  This class will focus on creating questions and then exploring the answers through expository and research papers.  You will focus on clarity and accuracy in your quest to further your skills, thinking, and knowledge.

Schessler S.- "Writing the Self"

Our class will consider ways to use your own experience to craft strong arguments. You consider a number of different perspectives on writing and develop critical reading and thinking skills as you craft arguments based on your own interests. In this online class, you’ll work closely with your classmates each week, though at your own pace (there’s one due date per week). You’ll participate in an online community of your peers, reading each other’s work, offering feedback, and receiving comments and suggestions from your classmates as well as from me. Interaction is the heart of communication, and the heart of this class.

Simon L.- "Children and Families"

What are some important ideas and debates about children’s education, health care, nutrition, and physical and intellectual development?  Through readings about children and families and the community organizations that sustain them, students will develop research projects resulting in a final paper.  They will include an interview with a  chosen community leader who makes life better for families.  Students will also read and analyze children’s literature and films. and write at least 6,000 words, focusing on clarity and accuracy.


In this course you will investigate critical thinking and argumentation through the lens of satire (satire=any expressive work that uses exaggeration, personas, humor and ridicule to change others’ views. Satire is sometimes funny, but it’s always pointed as it makes its argument for what could change). You will study logical principles, fallacies, and techniques in the writings of many satirists, and you will produce your own absurdly well-argued, hare-brained schemes for ridding the world of its social problems. Since critical thinking involves thinking critically about the biases and assumptions which underlie any spoken or written position, including your own, this class will ask you not only to argue for positions you believe in, but for positions which you cannot abide. You need not be funny to write satire!

Woolsey K.- "Small but Strong: Essays Worth Reading"

Bharati Mukherjee clearly articulates the trade-offs of belonging in America.  David Sedaris hilariously recounts his difficulties with obsessive-compulsive behavior.  James Baldwin reflects on a lifetime of changing family and race relations.  Steven Johnson claims that video games are good for kids.  Stephanie Ericsson claims that it’s better to tell an outrageous lie than a subtle one.  Each writer presents a clear and compelling picture of his or her perspective, and none of them takes more than twenty pages to do it.

In this course we will look at the essay as a powerful little genre in its own right.  An essay is not a five-paragraph ordeal, but a punchy little piece of writing that uses its very succinctness and focus to advance or test a position, to communicate a linked set of ideas, or to quickly explore one tight topic.  The essay is small but strong: well-written essays have changed the way people think about philosophy, democracy, and justice, as well as about what it feels like to live as a certain kind of person in a certain time and place.  They can be funny, angry, argumentative, authoritative, wistful, or all of these things and more.  Each essay finds its own purpose and the right style to express its ideas.  In this course, we will read different types of essays, including the ones mentioned above, from different essayists with a wide range of perspectives and opinions.  Students will write several different kinds of essays representing a range of writing that applies across university disciplines and discourses and beyond, from communicating a personal experience to presenting your reader with conclusions based on research.  We will discuss strategies for recognizing persuasion and perspective in others’ essays, and for determining your own purposes and best strategies for writing.































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