CompFAQ/ENGL 1101/Introduction

From Gerald R. Lucas
< CompFAQ‎ | ENGL 1101
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Writing and reading skills are essential for success in college and beyond. Whether you’re writing a research paper, a personal statement, a business proposal, a Wikipedia entry, or a personal blog, clear and effective writing can make all the difference in achieving your goals. Likewise, strong reading skills are crucial for comprehending complex texts, synthesizing information, and developing critical thinking abilities.

From Reading to Writing is designed to help you develop and enhance these skills through a variety of activities, including writing exercises, grammar and mechanics reviews, and close reading and analysis of professional essays. All of the writing activities are based on a composition FAQ that targets areas most relevant to first-year composition and core-level humanities classes.

The foundational premise of this textbook is that strong readers make strong writers. When you read carefully, you begin to notice how professional writers use language to convey meaning and emotion, and you can apply those techniques to your own writing. You also begin to understand how writers structure their arguments, use evidence to support their claims, and establish a clear and compelling arguments. All of these skills are important in effective writing, and they can be learned through careful reading.

Reading also expands your vocabulary and exposes you to new ideas, which can enrich your writing. When you encounter new words and concepts, you can incorporate them into your own writing, making it more precise and nuanced. Additionally, reading widely can help you develop a sense of what works and what doesn’t in writing. By analyzing the writing of others, you can learn to recognize the techniques that are effective and those that are not, and apply that knowledge to your own work.

In addition, reading can inspire you to write by exposing you to different perspectives, styles, and voices. By reading works that resonate with you, you can begin to develop your own unique voice and style. By reading works that challenge your assumptions or worldview, you can expand your own thinking and generate new ideas for your writing.

Reading challenging texts from multiple perspectives is crucial for developing critical thinking and empathy, as well as supporting public engagement and democracy. When we encounter ideas and perspectives that are different from our own, we are forced to think critically about them, examine our own beliefs and assumptions, and consider alternative points of view. This process of critical reflection and empathy-building is not only essential for personal growth and development, but also for actively participating in a democratic society.

By reading critically and widely, students learn to approach complex ideas with an open mind and to engage with different perspectives in a thoughtful and respectful manner. This skill set is particularly important in a diverse and rapidly changing world, where understanding and empathy for other cultures and perspectives is becoming increasingly important.

Moreover, in a democratic society, the ability to engage with different viewpoints is essential. In order to participate in public discourse and decision-making, citizens must be able to consider multiple perspectives and engage in respectful and productive dialogue with others. Reading critically helps students develop the thinking and communication skills necessary for precise and expressive communication that is crucial for active citizenship and meaningful public engagement.


This project began as part of a Title III grant initiative in 2003. I was asked to contribute a FAQ about first-year composition. I did, and it was published for a while on a university web site. It has since disappeared, but I have been meaning to get back to it for a while. This version two of the CompFAQ, what I’m calling From Reading to Writing, is wholly rewritten and expanded to include ENGL 1101 and ENGL 1102, as well as ENGL 2111—all courses I teach regularly. It focuses on key areas of composition for first-year college students: critical thinking, analysis, interpretation, research, and synthesis about texts. This coursebook concentrates on teaching and developing the skills of ENGL 1101, concentrating on college-level rhetorical devices and critical analysis that all college study demands.

Each chapter or unit uses a professional essay as a foundation to teach reading skills and introduce rhetorical and stylistic strategies that college writers should learn. The essays are analyzed thematically and rhetorically, emphasizing specific writing skills and strategies that students can apply to their own writing. Additionally, each chapter will contain grammar and mechanics reviews and exercises for the most troublesome areas of writing for college writers.

These skills and strategies are taken from the rewritten CompFAQ and arranged in groupings that support each unit or chapter. I try to arrange these logically, in a way that supports the developing writing skills of the first-year college student. The most crucial composition skills are presented in earlier chapters, while more nuanced strategies are introduced later. By the end of the class, students should have developed a stronger understanding of how to read critically and write effectively, setting them up to succeed in ENGL 1102 and beyond.

Written: 2002, 2022; Revised: 05-2-2023; Version: Beta 0.7 💬