Welcome to Essentials for ENGL-121

This text contains the essential readings and resources for ENGL-121. It is an open textbook, which means that it is considered part of Open Educational Resources (OER). Usually, OER are composed under a Creative Commons license that invites its users to reuse, revise, remix, adapt, and repurpose content for specific needs. One important part of this text is that it supports user annotation (and commenting) via Hypothes.is. We will be using this tool to share our annotations and engage with one another as we read/analyze the readings in this text.

This introductory text has been created from a combination of original content and materials compiled and adapted from a number of open text publications. The majority of the content is adapted from Open English @ SLCC, an evolving digital book created and maintained by English Department faculty at Salt Lake Community College. This book is evolving and adaptive, offering a range of texts on rhetoric, writing and reading, with specific attention to the needs of a diverse community of users. Unlike a traditional textbook, the writing in this book invites remix, adaptation, and repurposing to match the specific needs of its users–emerging writing students and instructors primarily–but also faculty and students at other schools, course designers, WPAS, and anyone else interested in open texts about writing, language and literacy.

The book is organized around a set of six locally-responsive threshold concepts that form the conceptual backbone of how our department approaches the work of teaching reading, writing and rhetoric. These threshold concepts–transformative, integrative and troubling ideas that we feel are essential for any kind of mastery in writing and literate practices–build on foundational work in thresholds by Eric Meyer and Ray Land, in addition to more recent work on threshold concepts in writing by Linda Adler-Kassler, Elizabeth Wardle and many others.

These concepts have served as a starting point, a collection of fundamental arguments about writing that remain open to adaptation, addition, and revision. They provide a shared vocabulary and a simplified framework for teaching writing to students–a framework that is both unifying in that it makes explicit our currently shared values about writing–but also flexible and expansive in that courses and instructors across our curriculum can teach with these concepts in individualized ways, according to their strengths and interests.

Threshold Concepts in Writing

  • Writing is a resource people use to do things, be things, and make things in the world.
  • Rhetoric provides a method for studying the work that language and writing do.
  • Writing is a form of action. Through writing people respond to problems and can create change in the world.
  • Writing is a process of deliberation. It involves identifying and enacting choices, strategies, and moves.
  • Meaningful writing is achieved through sustained engagement in literate practices (e.g., thinking, researching, reading, interpreting, conversing) and through revision.
  • The meanings and the effects of writing are contingent on situation, on readers, and on a text’s purposes/uses.

Glynis Cousin has argued that a focus on threshold concepts helps “teachers to make refined decisions about what is fundamental to a grasp of the subject they are teaching.” Teaching with OERs invites the same kind of refined decision making.


Open English @ SLCC by SLCC English Department


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Welcome to Essentials for ENGL-121 Copyright © 2016 by David Buck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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