Paper Topics

When you write a paper topic, you are writing a report about your plan for an essay, not the essay itself. To write this report, you need to be upfront about a few major elements of your topic:
  1. The idea from the article that you are using to launch your own discussion
  2. The one particular experience, question, or problem that you will develop based on first-hand experience
  3. The stages you will put in the middle part of your essay to elaborate on your idea
  4. Your thesis statement and the relevance of your topic

So, your Paper Topic should include four components, in this order, in one paragraph:

1. Introduce the complex idea from the article you chose

You may not use a general idea to start your topic, nor should you summarize the article. Your topic should be be inspired by an idea from a reading assignment and clearly show your intent to take the idea in a new direction according to your own concerns.

2. Focus on ONE particular experience, question, or problem that you can base on first-hand experience

Your essay cannot be "about the article," or about several different ideas. If you want to analyze an experience, you should look at a single incident. If you want to look at a consequence of, reason for, or improvement to a problem, you must look at a single consequence, single reason, etc.

3. Announce and explain the stages that will develop your central idea in a logical sequence, not a list

The ultimate goal of your paper is to extend an idea from an article with a discussion of your own. Whatever that topic is, and there is a lot of room for different kinds of topics, the discussion has to lead the reader through a sequence of stages. Instead of summarizing the article or giving a list of examples, you will fashion a complex discussion.

4. Indicate a possible thesis and the relevance of the topic

The thesis statement has to give a reason for some idea that you think is true--just be sure that your thesis is about your particular topic, not a general conclusion. For relevance, explain why your topic matters. Even if your topic is well-developed, its importance will not automatically be clear, so make sure you offer a reason that the paper topic will be worth reading. The relevance of a topic could come from any direction, but it needs to be openly stated so that the purpose of writing the essay is well-defined.

First Day

Welcome to your English 1101 course! I hope this semester will be both fun and challenging for you! Your professor's name is Dr. Matthew Horton (that's me!), but you can call him Dr. H. I have high hopes that this semester will help you improve your skills as a college-level writer!

Click on these icons and see what you can do! This course is about writing, sure, but it is also about using technology to help you discover new possibilities with writing. Writing's not all just about typing papers and turning them in. In fact, this course strives to be as PAPERLESS as possible! This might be a little scary for some of you, but I assure you, the skills you'll learn will be just as important as effective writing!

Also, go ahead and look through some of the most important resources on this course website:

Read the syllabus
Check the agenda
Using Google Drive

Additional resources are available by clicking the tabs across the top and various links in the right-hand margin. As much as you can, familiarize yourself with this course website. My contact info is in the right-hand margin at well, towards the top.

Check out these articles:

The Ivy League, Mental Illness, and the Meaning of Life
Spirit Guides
The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher
Why Teach English?
Inescapably, You're Judged By Your Language
The Perfect Essay
In College, Nurturing Matters
My Little Bag of Writing Tricks
Young Minds in Critical Condition
The Streamlined Life
The Value of College: It's Not Just Correlation
College, the Great Unleveler
Class, Cost and College


Description of Course
English 1101 is English Composition I, a 3-credit hour course offered by the English Department in the College of Arts and Letters that fulfills one of two Area A "Communication Skills" requirements. You must earn a "C" in English 1101 in order to move on to English 1102.

Fall 2014 Semester

Writing for Teacher, Writing for School, Writing for What?

Students entering First-Year Writing courses often feel intimidated by the composition tasks thrown their way, in part because the writing methods they practiced prior to college keep them trapped in a routine of “school writing” and uninspired thinking. Based on this idea and others from The Transition to College Writing, we will explore how writing can be learned, how writing might be taught, and the barriers to learning and teaching such a complex skill. Topics of discussion will include the overthrow of grading, some cures for selfcensorship, the myth of “practice makes perfect,” and the unexpected benefits of messing up. To aid in our reflection on ways to learn and teach writing, students will use Google Drive to compose, and to share what they compose, in the paperless freedom of the cloud.

In this course, you can achieve the following goals:
  • Approach writing as a process of improvement
  • Discuss your thoughts about current issues, especially in higher education
  • Develop a helpful writing process for yourself
  • Learn the parts of an essay to compose smart, lively papers
  • Gain confidence in communicating with an audience
  • Use Google Drive to produce, share, revise, and respond to digital documents, including your own.
  • Evaluate sources on a recent and personally important issue


Each item on the agenda can be clicked to reveal a description, if any. All assignments are due on their deadline days, but the times will vary depending on the assignment.


In addition to the book we are reading, The Transition to College Writing, your reading material will consist of various magazine articles about a few discussion-worthy themes, such as education, technology, and social responsibility.
The following magazines have free and interesting reads. If you choose an article that is not on the list above, be sure that it has a similar length and clear it with me first.

Mother Jones

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education

  • Education:
    Social Responsibility: