Composition (English 100/101/102)

We believe that writing is both a serious, powerful activity and a highly pleasurable one. Writing can be powerful because the writing you do matters: it affects people. It is pleasurable because putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to shape sentences, paragraphs and essays engages one with the tones, rhythms, and textures of language. It is also pleasurable to communicate successfully something that matters to others.

We also approach writing as a social, even ethical, activity because, when we write, we have to think carefully about the relations we already have with one another and about the ways the choices we make in our writing may bring about new or different relationships. Sometimes when we write, we write to figure out what we want to say: we write to learn or to discover, without thinking of the writing as communication. But mostly when we write, we write to other people because we want or need to do something that only writing can enable us to do.

We hope, then, that in your writing classes you both take writing seriously and have some fun with it. Continue to play with words and sentences as you have been doing since you first began to speak (and later write).

Finally, we make a request of you: please remember that these are classes about writing and communication, so please communicate throughout the semester with each other in class and with us. Let us know what you think about your composition classes and what you think about the writing you are doing here at UWM.

Goals for First-Year Writers

While each composition course has a set of specific goals and practices that are particular to its place in the sequence of courses, all composition classes share a common set of goals:

Critical Reading/Critical Writing Connections: Writers will use writing and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking, and communicating.

Writing Process Strategies: Writers will use their writing as a means of developing a critical perspective on their reading.

Shaping and Communicating Meaning: Writers will develop purposeful essays that provide adequate context for readers.

Knowledge of Academic Writing Practices: Writers will develop knowledge of academic writing conventions.

Critical Reflective Practice: Writers will reflect critically on, evaluate, and revise their own reading and writing practices in light of academic and other reading and writing practices and course goals.

Sequence of First-Year Writing Courses

English 100 – Introduction to College Writing and Reading

(4 credits, 4 graduation credits)

English 100 introduces students to college-level reading and writing strategies in a supportive workshop community. Components of the course include a three-credit reading and writing course, a one-credit weekly discussion lab, and required attendance at the UWM Writing Center. Through a sequence of assignments, students will critically interpret texts and reflect upon their interpretations. In doing so, students will develop skills of rhetorical analysis and essay writing, culminating in a final portfolio of revised written work.

English 101 – Introduction to College Writing

(3 credits, 3 graduation credits)

English 101 introduces students to college reading and writing practices through a sequence of writing assignments that integrates critical reading, writing, and reflection. Thus, the course is intended not only to build on but also to complicate students’ knowledge of texts and reading and writing practices.

English 102 – College Writing and Research

(3 credits, 3 graduation credits)

English 102 introduces students to academic research writing through a sequence of assignments in which students pose and investigate questions in response to their reading of course texts. The course builds on and complicates students’ understanding of the purposes and practices of research writing by asking students to investigate and engage in academic inquiry and presents academic inquiry as a process of positioning and developing one’s ideas in relation to others. Additionally, the course asks students to critically reflect on their reading, writing, and research strategies and those of their peers.

EAP 101:  College Writing for Multilingual Students/English 101

(3 credits, 3 graduation credits)

EAP 101 is equivalent to English 101 and is taught by instructors who are experienced working with writers whose first language is not English. Class size is limited to 16, and instruction is designed to help students strengthen their reading and writing in English.

Students qualify for EAP 101 by taking the English Placement test for Non-Native Speakers of English (EPT-NNSE) or by passing a lower level EAP reading/writing course. Find more information about the EPT-NNSE and EAP reading/writing courses here:

Virginia Burke Writing Contest

The Virginia Burke Writing Contest honors first-year writers whose essays are judged the best of the year. It is named in honor of the late Professor Virginia Burke, an outstanding professor of English Composition who was devoted to undergraduate writing instruction at UWM. At the annual awards ceremony, first-place winners read their essays aloud; a reception follows the awards ceremony. This event brings students, teachers, administrators, family, and friends together to celebrate the academic achievements of UWM students.

Writing Program Administrators


First-Year Composition Program

Shevaun Watson

UWM Writing Center

Margaret Mika, Director

Writing Center locations