English 1004

Placement and Enrollment

ENGL 1004 (Introduction to Academic Writing)  is open to all students who would like to practice writing in a course with more individualized attention as preparation for the required First-Year Writing requirement. We also require some students to enroll in the course automatically. This includes students who score lower than 440 in the “Critical Reading” (aka “verbal”) section of the SAT or lower than 470 on the “Critical Writing” sections of that test. Students with ACT Reading scores of between 12 and 19, and students whose ENGL 1003 instructors have advised them to enroll in ENGL 1004 must also do so. All those enrolled in ENGL 1004 must pass the course before moving on to ENGL 1010 or 1011 in subsequent terms. To verify placement that is best for students, writing samples are required on the first day of ENGL 1010 or 1011. Upon review of those samples, instructors may direct students to enroll in ENGL 1004 for the term. See more information about course placement.

The course carries four credits, and the class limit is 17 students (on the Storrs campus; 15 at other campuses). The four credits granted for passing the course do count toward graduation.

Course Description

The course is designed to guide students in developing their writing practices and to introduce them to meaningful participation in critical conversations. To that end, the work of the class includes learning and improving strategies for taking stock of one’s ideas; reading to examine relationships among authors’ aims, methods, and materials; unpacking writers’ critical assumptions; situating oneself in conversation with writers; developing critical approaches to issues, problems, and texts; forming new ideas rather than reporting on the ideas of others; and making a contribution to the work of the class and the university.

Course Goals

In English 1004, students prepare for the rigorous reading and writing tasks required in the First-Year Writing seminars (either English 1010 or 1011), future coursework, as well as public and professional writing. The course immerses students in language through reading of a range of academic essays and literary texts and through discussion and close examination of their in conferences and small writing groups. English 1004 is an introductory academic writing course that demonstrates the social nature of such writing. As Mike Rose points out in Lives on the Boundary, “Virtually all the writing academics do is built on the writing of others. Every argument proceeds from the texts of others” (180). In English 1004, then, students practice developing writing projects, drafting and revising work, listening to and acting on other readers’ responses to their writing, experimenting with the progression of their ideas to engage readers, participating in the conventions of academic writing, engaging in ethical scholarship, and presenting their work in a way that is clearly compelling to their readers, thereby achieving their goals as writers. All students are capable of doing and are thus expected to do demanding and high quality work.


Students will be asked to read in ways that are probably different from the reading strategies they have learned to date. In particular, students will move away from reading to simply mine information and will move instead toward critical reading practices during which they raise questions about the texts, examine writers’ assumptions, envision new applications for a writers’ ideas or approaches, imagine different departure points for new work, and investigate the choices writers make and the conventions they use or avoid to craft viable prose—writing that is engaging, compelling, and fresh. Reading is always discussed in the context of writing rather than as the locus of ideas somehow separate from writing in conversation with that text. Students begin the term by learning how to come to terms with readings, advance to putting a reading into conversation with another artifact, and finally begin to account for—and offer some theories of—how ideas, practices, social forms, and written discourses take shape.

Students write in response to what they read, analyzing the rhetoric of a text, constructing projects in response to the texts, synthesizing multiple readings in an extended argument; in so doing they begin work as academic writers, undertaking work that is developed further in English 1010 or 1011 and throughout their college and professional lives. The texts for the course are generally from a non-fiction prose reader placed along other critical texts or as a frame for fiction, film, art, music, and other cultural artifacts; in addition, students are given access to a handbook of advanced writing conventions.  Students do not use a basic writing paragraph and sentence workbook because we believe that all writing is part of a whole project, each piece depending on another—rather than as discrete units of sentences or paragraphs to be snapped together as reproducible units to be deployed in any writing, regardless of the goals and contexts of that writing. We approach writing as an act of communication rather than an exercise in juggling pieces.


By the end of the term, after reading, writing, drafting, rereading, revising and so on, students should have produced 25 pages of typed, revised, edited, polished prose. Because the class size is limited to 17 students, instructors work individually with students on revision throughout the term. In addition, writing workshops for all students for drafting essays and follow-up whole class revision workshops are also part of the course. Instructors will also work with students on grammar and mechanics individually as needed.


Learning Goals for English 1004

The goals for ENGL 1004 are to invite students to engage in the kind of work we do as thinkers and as members of the university; to prepare students to participate successfully in the First-Year Writing seminars and all other university courses, including but not limited to those where writing is featured. We hope then to help students begin to understand through practice certain features of critical literacy, academic rhetoric, and writing conventions while also developing a consciousness of their own practices, assumptions, strengths, and weaknesses as writers.

Critical Literacy 

  • discerning a writer’s aims, methods, materials, critical vocabulary, and to unpack the writer’s assumptions
  • representing the relationship between one’s own ideas and ideas from reading (that is, to demonstrate how one reads by way of writing and how one writes by way of reading)

Academic Rhetoric 

  • recognizing the social nature of writing
  • understanding the relationship between writer and reader
  • developing questions and projects in response to readings
  •  responding actively to intellectual tasks outlined in writing assignments

Writing Conventions 

  • making choices about the genre, style, and progression of ideas in response to the task, the context, the issues, the goals, and the readers
  • crafting work that is compelling, engaging, and reader-friendly
  • understanding the relationships among their written ideas so they might unfold an argument rather than use each paragraph as an item in a list of examples
  • marking the boundaries between and the relationships to other writers’ work responsibly and ethically, using the appropriate citation and documentation conventions to indicate those boundaries and relationships while also offering the reader access to the intellectual context for the work

Consciousness as Writers 

  • understanding practices, assumptions, strengths, and weaknesses as academic writers
  • developing writing practices and strategies for drafting, rewriting, revising, and proofreading their work
  • adapting to and making choices based on the response of readers
  • understanding that writing changes and develops throughout their academic careers

For more information on the goals of the First-Year Writing program and the principles and practices of teaching English 1004 and the First-Year Writing seminars, please see the Course Description for English 1010 and 1011 and the materials on this website.