Why is there a composition sequence?
The English professors at Napa Valley College believe that the skills we teach are essential to your empowerment academically, professionally, politically, and personally. In all these areas, your success depends on your ability to think analytically and to express those thoughts clearly and confidently. The composition sequence teaches you to read analytically, write cogently, and think logically; it provides a firm foundation for a lifetime of growth as a critical thinker.
How do I know which course to take?
Just as you wouldn't want to take calculus without a firm grasp of algebra, there are skills you need to master before moving on to the next level of composition. Incoming students take the English Placement Test, which helps us determine the course level where you will be assured of the most success from you first semester at Napa Valley College on through your academic and professional life. Skipping a set of skills now will not make you feel more confident and competent later; remember, the goal is your empowerment over a lifetime as a thinker, reader and writer.
What are the different courses in the English Composition sequence?
Each composition course is carefully structured to build on the satisfactory mastery of skills taught in the previous course. In addition, the Writing Center (English 84) can be a powerful resource at every stage of growth. English 91 is specifically designed for students who wish more practice in reading and writing analytically between English 90 and English 120.
English 85 - Basic reading and writing
Non-degree Credit/No Credit, repeatable once. Prerequisite established through the English assessment process.
You will progress from writing paragraphs to 500-word essays, equaling 3,000-4,000 words of writing, much of it in-class and you will read two or more five-to-ten page essays per week. This course also stresses sentence and paragraph development, grammar, and punctuation.
English 90 - Preparing for College Reading and Writing I
Prerequisite "Credit" in English 85 or appropriate skill level established through the English assessment process.
In six to ten assignments, you will complete 5,000 to 6,000 words of writing, including in-class essays and typed essays of 500 to 1,000 words, and you will read increasingly challenging, college-level essays. In addition to its emphasis on reading analytically, this course stresses the writing process, e.g., prewriting, structuring, revising and editing thesis-driven, well-supported essays of an increasingly abstract nature. By the end of the term, these essays should be reasonably free of errors.
English 120 - Reading and Composition I
Prerequisite a "C" in English 90 or appropriate skill level established through the English assessment process.
In six to ten assignments, you will write 8,000 words, including in-class essays, a research paper, and a departmental essay. This course develops your proficiency in identifying, analyzing and applying the rhetorical and stylistic strategies of exposition and argumentation in both reading and writing. You will demonstrate college-level research skills, using current MLA manuscript and citation formats. Successful essays will be virtually free of errors.
What do I take after English 120?
Students who are successful in first-semester freshman composition (English 120) have their choice of three second-semester English composition courses. Be sure to check with your counselor to determine which course best serves your transfer or degree program; that is, only English 123 and 125 satisfy some critical-thinking transfer requirements and some schools insist on 121. All three courses require 8,000 words of highly analytical, thesis-driven argument and average of fifty to one-hundred pages per week of college-level reading. All three presuppose mastery of those skills covered in English 120, including MLA manuscript and citation format. There are two primary differences between the courses; their subject matter and the methods of analysis or critical thinking those subjects demand.
English 121 - Reading and Composition II
You will analyze texts from a variety of periods, genres, and cultures, using the strategies of literary analysis appropriate for each genre and literary movement.
English 123 - Critical Thinking About Literature
In addition to elements of classical argument, you will explore a number of theoretical approaches and analytical strategies to read and write critically about literary texts chosen by your professor.
English 125 - Critical Thinking and Composition
You will analyze and write problem-solving and argumentative essays on a variety of current and enduring questions. You will study classical elements of argument, including deduction, induction and fallacies.
The English 200 Series: Literature and Creative Writing
Why take literature or creative writing?
The reasons for taking these courses are as varied as the people you will find in an average class. Some take a 200-level English class to complete a humanities or multi-cultural requirement for transfer. Some devour one course after another on their way to a major at a university. A number of our students take literature or creative writing for the joy of it, fulfilling desires to broaden their horizons or to realize dreams often decades old.
Why take these courses at Napa Valley College?
Napa Valley College offers you an outstanding English faculty; all our creative writing professors are published writers and poets with years of teaching experience. Likewise, our literature professors bring to each classroom considerable experience and scholarly preparation, in some cases through the doctoral level. Best of all, we attract enthusiastic students, and our classes are small enough that interaction is lively.
What kinds of courses does Napa Valley College offer?
Our courses group naturally under several informal headings: Creative writing, genre studies, literary surveys, and special topic studies.
The creative writing courses offer the chance to study the craft of writing fiction or poetry in a supportive workshop.
Genre-based courses -- short fiction, the novel, dramatic literature, for example -- examine the evolution of range of a literary form through many times and places.
Our two-semester survey courses give you the chance to follow British, American, or world literature from their earliest throat-clearings to the present.
Shakespeare, women writers, and the literature of American ethnic diversity--all these special topics are explored in a variety of texts.
What will be required of me?
Eagerness, time and openness are the primary requisites for these courses. Eagerness to hear the literary voices of others is the major requirement since the reading and writing do take time--six hours or so per week. We recommend eligibility for English 120 first-semester freshman composition. All the courses depend upon active student participation, so your openness to the thoughts of others is essential.
How can I get more information?
The Napa Valley College Catalog offers brief descriptions of each course. Contact Denise Rosselli, LADS Division Chair, at (707) 253-3172 or the division secretary at (707) 253-3112 for information about content and the rotating schedule of courses. Certainly, the best sources of information are the professors themselves; all of them are eager to discuss their courses. English faculty may be reached through the division secretary at (707) 253-3112. Arrange to sit in on a class!