English 1 Course Description: 

This introductory course in rhetoric (a fancy word for persuasive writing, which is writing that presents an argument) emphasizes clear, effective written communication and preparation of the research paper. The course begins with simple paragraph exercises and progresses through shorter papers and research assignments that lead to the completion of the research paper. 


Getting Started:

To begin, go to the Modules section of the course and follow the instructions for Module O. This Module provides orientation to the course and  to our online learning community.

In Module O, you will engage with the other students in the class and the instructor in a welcome discussion, read about the course requirements, and discover many of the resources that are available to you through SMC and elsewhere.

Introduction to Your Instructor:

Your instructor for this course is Natalie Hansen. I have been teaching at SMC since 2011. The best way to reach me it to message me through the Canvas Inbox (in the vertical blue bar on the left side of your screen). You will find more information about me in Module O.


We will be using online resources throughout this course, some that are created for you by SMC and others that are online educational or research tools. I suggest bookmarking the following two online resources that we will use frequently:

  • The Online Writing Lab (OWL) (Links to an external site.) is created by Purdue University and will be our central resource guide for learning about and applying the MLA format. (MLA stands for Modern Language Association, which is the organization that sets the rules for how papers in English Departments must be formatted.)
  • The SMC Library HomepageLinks to an external site., which includes links to their many online trainings and resource guides, including using the MLA format and how to find research sources on in the library’s digital archives.


  • Please message me through Canvas Inbox (see the blue vertical bar on the left of any Canvas page).

Course syllabus

Jump to today

  • Course Description
  • English 1 is an introductory course in college composition, concentrating on analysis and interpretation. The course focuses on how the student writer might present and develop a particular point of view in a clear, logical, and convincing manner. Students read from a variety of texts offering different ideas, traditions, contexts, and cultural perspectives. Students then write essays in response to issues and concerns derived from a critical reading of those texts, taking into account the writer’s audience, point of view, purpose and tone. The course features extensive individual and small-group instruction in composition.
  • Student Learning Outcomes
  • 1. The student will demonstrate the ability to read, comprehend, and analyze college-level writing and respond with thesis-driven analytic essays. As assessed by: analytic essays, exams
  • 2. After defining a topic and using any combination of library, web-based, and/or field research, the student will write a research paper that uses carefully evaluated and well-documented research material to support a clearly articulated thesis. As assessed by: research paper, research.
  • Transferable Skills
  • Synthesize ideas; recognize structural, logical, and thematic relationships in texts; draw sound conclusions from data in a variety of forms; evaluate strengths and weaknesses in essays; evaluate essays on the basis of formulated criteria; use writing as a means of learning and understanding.
  • Analyze, interpret, and critically evaluate college level expository writing written by and for authors and audiences of diverse backgrounds. Identify how authors use language to establish tone and advance the rhetorical goals of writing.
  • Apply knowledge of purpose and audience to writing. Use the writing process to compose college-level expository writing assignments characterized by 1) a limited topic, 2) a thesis, 3) coherence and logic, 4) clear organization and structure, and 5) general and specific support. 
  • Employ quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing to integrate material from a variety of sources into writing. Differentiate between types of research resources and evaluate, document, and interpret those sources.
  • Compose a variety of correctly structured sentences with appropriate and varied vocabulary. Independently recognize and address mechanical limitations in writing, following the conventions of standard edited American English.
  • Learn more about yourself and your writing through independently recognizing and addressing strengths and weaknesses in your own course work.

Weekly Discussions 

Each week you will also be responsible for writing a blog entry on Canvas and posting two responses to other students’ posts. These will help you learn to write for a specific audience and respond to writing in writing. Each week, you will be given a prompt for your discussion entry, and you should write an approximately 300-word response to that prompt. Your two responses to other students’ blogs should be approximately 100 words each. Any students who do not follow these guidelines will receive a 0 for their blog entries for the week, and if there is a continual problem, there will be further consequences. DUE DATES: Each main post should be made by Thursday night and all secondary posts by Sunday of that week. You cannot make up a post. Each post will be worth 20 points. The grading breakdown is as follows: 10 points for content, 5 points for the timeliness, and 5 points for the secondary posts.

Disability Accommodations

Santa Monica College makes reasonable accommodations for qualified students with documented disabilities.  If you have a disability that qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), impacts your work for this class, and necessitates accommodations, you should contact Disabled Students Programs and Services or Student Services Center for information on appropriate policies and procedures.  Disabilities covered by ADA may include learning, psychiatric, physical disabilities, or chronic health disorders, among others.  Students can contact DSPS if they are uncertain whether a medical condition/disability qualifies or if they feel they may have a learning disability.

Academic Honesty / Plagiarism

The work you turn in for this course must be your own original compositions, and the use of other sources or materials must be properly acknowledged.  Plagiarism means misrepresenting someone else’s words or ideas as your own or without appropriate credit, turning in someone else’s work as your own, turning in work in one course that was produced to satisfy the requirements of another course, or unacknowledged collaboration on assignments. Please consult the section on plagiarism and how to avoid it in our writing handbook, or, if you have any doubts or questions, just ask!  You can also read the “Academic Honesty and Dishonesty” section in the Schedule of Classes. If you are found to have plagiarized, you will receive a zero on the assignment. 

Reading Quizzes

In this class, we will have both small and large quizzes on the readings in this class. They will all be scheduled and can be taken before they are due, but they cannot be made up after the due date. 

Formal Writing Assignments 

Specific guidelines for each assignment will be handed out and thoroughly discussed over the course of the semester. We will also be carefully planning, prewriting, drafting, and revising each assignment before it is due as a final draft. All of these parts of the writing process are a required component of each assignment. These prewriting assignments include the reading quizzes and class discussions. 

About Me

Where to start? I’ve lived most of my life in Southern California. I started out in San Diego, moved to Palm Desert, and then ended up in Los Angeles. Whew! I am also a product of the community college system. I attended Grossmont College for two years, and then transferred to CSUSM, which is where I got both my B.A. & M.A. in Literature and Writing. I live happily with my wife Brandi (who is a photographer) and our daughters Ruby and Remi. Writing is also a hobby of mine. I normally publish short stories. Also, I will make frequent pop culture references, so please join in with me! 

People always ask about my favorite books. Here’s a partial list. 

  • “White Noise” and “Mao II” by Don Delillo 
  • “Civilwarland in Bad Decline” & “In Persuasion Nation” by George Saunders 
  • “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez 
  • “City of Glass” & “Country of Last Things” by Paul Auster 
  • “Mumbo Jumbo” by Ishmael Reed 
  • “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison 
  • “Cat’s Cradle” & “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut 
  • “Herland” & “The Yellow Wallpaper” (short story) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • “How We Are Hungry” (short stories) & “A Hologram for the King” by Dave Eggers 
  • “Nine Stories” & “Franny and Zooey” by J.D. Salinger 
  • “The Wrestler’s Cruel Study” by Stephen Dobyns 
  • “On Writing” by Stephen King 
  • “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morison 
  • “Post Office” & “Factotum” by Charles Bukowski 
  • “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller 
  • “The Crying of Lot 49” by Thomas Pynchon 
  • “This is Not a Novel” & “Wittgenstein’s Mistress” by David Markson 
  • “The Broom of the System” by David Foster Wallace 
  • “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” by Michael Chabon 
  • “The Road” & “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy 
  • “A Moveable Feast” & “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway 
  • “Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century” by Patrik Ouredník
  • “Being and Time” by Martin Heidegger 
  • “Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’: A Reader’s Guide” by William Blattner (You’ll need it.) 
  • “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin 
  • “Simulacra and Simulation” by Jean Baudrillard 
  • “The History of Sexuality Book 1” & “Madness and Civilization” by Michel Foucault 
  • “On the Genealogy of Morality” & “The Gay Science” by Friedrich Nietzsche 
  • “Civilization and its Discontents” by Sigmund Freud