ENG 5010: Advanced Expository Writing

Exploring Multimodal Non-fiction Composition

Wayne State University

[Winter – 2017]


Instructor: Nicole Guinot Varty                   Office: 9205.4 Maccabees

Time: M-W 2:30pm-3:45pm                          Office Hours: by appt.

Place: State Hall 323                                        e-mail:

Advanced Expository Writing is designed to build skills in composing multimodal nonfiction. Students will engage in practical and theoretical aspects of nonfiction composing, while also considering the rhetorical aspects of composing across various modalities and platforms. By reading, analyzing and composing multimodal nonfiction, students will explore the affordances and challenges of writing in digital environments. Students in 5010 will compose written works in various genres and modalities, including podcasts and a website organized around their developing rhetorical strategies for composing their personal online presence. Most classes will be devoted to discussion and workshopping; grades will be largely based on the completion of four multimodal projects that should fit together and ultimately find a place on the students’ portfolio sites they will create at the end of the semester.

Course Learning Outcomes

  • Reading: Evaluating, Analyzing and Synthesizing theoretical and methodological texts in a variety of genres; engage in scholarly conversations in the field as a part of advanced research.
  • Writing: Composing non-fiction expository pieces in a variety of genres and modalities, including digital, print and audio formats; write arguments that are coherent, organized and consistent.
  • Using Technology: Applying appropriate field-specific theoretical and methodological knowledge to use tools and software for composing expository texts.
  • Reflecting: Use reflective writing to understand, apply, analyze and evaluate course concepts and one’s own composing process, relating both to issues in English Studies.

Required Texts

Here are the required texts for ENG 5010. The full boat will run you about $50 from; you are also encouraged to locate used or library copies for class use when possible.


Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writer’s Guides (TTS)


On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (OWW)


Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (BBB)

*relevant supplementary readings and articles will be provided as needed


In addition to a variety of short responses to each week’s readings, you will submit four substantial compositions, including a biographical writing, an essay about a place or event, a piece designed for audio, and a book proposal webpage/blog. All assignments will be submitted online (via your portfolio site or through Blackboard). Each assignment will have specific standards of evaluation, but all will also be evaluated by general grading standards (see below). 20% of your grade is based on your participation in class and on your completion of posts and drafting exercises that will be assigned throughout the semester. Due dates for assignments can be found on our course schedule.

Credit breakdown for assignments is as follows:

  • Project One (Rhetorical Strategies and Foundations): 15%
  • Project Two (Group Resource Site): 20%
  • Project Three (Foray into Podcasts): 20%
  • Project Four (Website and Content Proposal): 20%
  • Short Writings/SMEP 15%
  • Participation 10%


As this is a discussion and workshop-driven class, attendance of all participants is particularly important, and expected. Because we do so much discussion, writing, revising, explaining, collaborating and just plain working in class, you really only hurt yourself if you’re not here. In the event of an absence, regardless of the reason for your absence, you are responsible for any material that you miss. If you miss more than two class sessions (i.e. a week of class), you would expect a significantly lower grade, not only in relation to the participation grade, but also in terms of the material/ announcements/ turn-in dates you would miss.

Academic Dishonesty

According to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences policy on plagiarism, instructors are required to report all instances of academic dishonesty and the responsibility to notify the student of alleged violations and the action being taken. Both the student and the instructor are entitled to due process in all such cases. Acts of dishonest may lead to failure in a given course, suspension, or exclusion.

The above is plagiarized from the Wayne State Policy on Academic Dishonesty; for more about the definition of plagiarism, consult your local library.

Incomplete Policy

As detailed in the WSU Undergraduate Bulletin, the mark of “I” (Incomplete) is given to a student when he/she has not completed all of the course work as planned for the term and when there is, in the judgment of the instructor, a reasonable probability that the student can complete the course successfully without again attending regular class sessions. The student should be passing at the time the grade of ‘I’ is given. A written contract specifying the work to be completed should be signed by the student and instructor. Responsibility for completing all course work rests with the student.

The Warrior Writing, Research and Technology Zone

The WRT Zone is a one stop resource center for writing, research, and technology. The WRT Zone provides individual tutoring consultations, research assistance from librarians, and technology consultations, all free of charge for graduate and undergraduate students at WSU. Tutoring sessions are run by undergraduate and graduate tutors and can last up to 50 minutes. Tutors can work with writing from all disciplines.

Tutoring sessions focus on a range of activities in the writing process – understanding the assignment, considering the audience, brainstorming, writing drafts, revising, editing, and preparing documentation.  The WRT Zone is not an editing or proofreading service; rather, tutors work collaboratively with students to support them in developing relevant skills and knowledge, from developing an idea to editing for grammar and mechanics.

Librarian and technology support is a walk-in service. Consultants will work with students on a first come-first serve basis. Consultants provide support with the library database system, finding and evaluating sources, developing research strategies, organizing sources, and citations. Consultants will also provide technology support including, but not limited to: video editing, graphics creation, presentation building, audio recording, MS Office support, and dissertation formatting. The WRT Zone has several computers with the Adobe Creative Suite for students who want to work on multimedia projects. Our location is also equipped with two Whisper Rooms where students can work on multimedia projects in a more private and sound isolated environment.

To make a face-to-face or online appointment, consult the WRT Zone website:

For more information about the WRT Zone, please contact the Director, Jule Wallis (email:

Student Disability Services

Students who may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss specific needs.  Additionally, the Student Disabilities Services Office coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. The office is located in 1600 David Adamany Undergraduate Library and can be reached by phone at 313-577-1851. Please consult the SDS website for further information: