RLC 110: Reading and Writing I
Instructor:  Dr. Lalitha C. Mehta
office # 768-4743  office: Auerbach 204C
Hours: MWF 11:30-12:15 and by appt.

        RLC 110 - Reading and Writing I will develop the reading, thinking and writing skills that are essential to all college courses. You will study reading and writing as processes that create knowledge through reflection and revision, and you will begin to analyze the complex cultural, social, and linguistic forces that shape all acts of literacy. The goal of this course is to enable you to gain greater confidence and competence with writing that critically evaluates your own beliefs and those of others. You will be asked to write complex arguments, to develop detailed and defensible positions of your own, and to place these positions in larger social and historical contexts.
        Following a manageable pace and a careful sequence of assignments, RLC 110 will teach you the reading, writing, and thinking skills that are necessary for college-level work. You might think of RLC 110 as a course that puts reading and writing under a microscope, showing you the processes of writing and reading that some college instructors simply will expect you to be able to perform.

What is RLC?

      In 1992, the Department of the Rhetoric, Language and Culture was formed as part of a national trend to teach writing in Composition or Rhetoric departments. The RLC Dept. is separate from the English Dept., which primarily focuses on the reading of literature and its analysis.  Although literary readings are assigned by many RLC 110 instructors, the main goal of these assignments is to foster critical reading and writing skills, not literary appreciation. The American Association of University Administrators in 1995 praised the establishment of RLC DEPT. and its 110-111 curriculum as an “exemplary” innovation.

What can you expect in RLC 110?

    There are three major units in this course, each culminating in a final paper. The first unit, "Discovering and Writing About Multiple Perspectives: Experiences of the Self and Others," asks you, over a series of drafts, to narrate and analyze a past conflict between you and someone else.  As you write, revise, and analyze your narrative, you will develop the ability to identify some of the larger historical and cultural forces that might have influenced your past and present perspectives. As you rewrite your drafts and respond to those by your classmates, you will learn to revise fully.
        The second unit, "Reading and Writing about Multiple Perspectives in
History: Positioning the Self," is meant to introduce you to ways of conceptualizing and understanding how different perspectives arise across time. This unit explores how you might understand these earlier perspectives, and how you are located in a particular historical time and place.  You will explore a set of readings that demonstrate how the meaning of a particular concept has changed significantly over time.  You will write about various perspectives on this concept and analyze how and why these viewpoints have developed. The class discussions will model the kinds of critical reading and writing that you will be expected to perform.
        The third unit, "Reading and Writing about Multiple Perspectives Within
Contemporary Culture: Developing Critical Positions," hearkens back to Unit I
in its focus on differences and similarities within a contemporary cultural setting.  It also reinforces many of the points taught in Unit 2. This unit focuses on differences and similarities within a single time period, whereas the history unit focuses on differences and similarities across different time frames. This complementary focus should increase your awareness of the importance of finding ways to analyze, synthesize, and organize multiple perspectives.  Building on the skills you have developed in the first two units, you will be expected to assert a position of your own, exploring how and why you
have taken this perspective.

What do you need to do?

     You will be writing 3-5 typed pages per week on average. Due to the active role expected of 110 students, this writing class may require more work than some introductory lecture courses. Writing, of course, cannot be learned by listening to a lecture. The short, frequent assignments often will serve as first drafts for parts of the final essays, and they also are meant to prepare you for class discussions. Because these
written assignments will help to direct our discussions, they must be done on time. If you miss more than three writing assignments, it is likely that you will get so far behind that you may be dropped from the course.  Each writing assignment is designed to teach you particular strategies, and each assignment builds on the previous ones, so no last minute efforts to catch up on all missed work will be accepted. Since you will be drafting and revising, we strongly urge you to write your drafts on a word processor so you can easily revise and avoid time-consuming retyping.  Learn to use a computer for word processing if you do not already, and buy a disk just for your RLC 110 course.
        Because class discussion forms an integral part of the course, your presence and participation are as important as your written work.  Your attendance is essential. You should not miss more than two or three classes this semester, and please contact me if a major illness/family crisis arises.  If a schedule conflict requires you to arrive late or to leave early, please inform me before class. If daily preparation becomes a problem, I will meet with that student to warn them of their possible failure. Persistent lack of preparation will be counted as absences. The thoughtful preparation and participation of those who make this class function well will be recognized and rewarded.  Coming to class ready to participate will lead to success in this course and others.


Your semester grade will reflect your performance in the following areas:
Unit 1 – Narrative and Analysis
Unit 2 - Historical Analysis
Unit 3 - Contemporary Cultural Analysis
Writing assignments
In-class writing
Class Participation
All major papers and writing assignments are due on dates specified on the syllabus, and late papers will be accepted for only one more class, subject to a late penalty.


Alfred Rosa and Paul Eschholz.  The Writer's Brief Handbook. Third Edition.                               Macmillan, 1998.
Bruce Ballenger.  The Curious Researcher. Revised Second Edition. Allyn and Bacon, 1998.
 (NOTE: These textbooks are sold together at a discount, so be sure to purchase them all at once.)
**A collection of readings will be placed on reserve at the library. Be sure to bring your marked copy of the assigned readings to each class. **

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