academic curriculum design

composition Instructor

University of Louisville ⋅ 2017-2019

  • First-Year Composition (ENGL 101/102)
  • Creative Writing (ENGL 202)


course evaluation(s)

“Ashley’s enthusiasm and knowledge and engagement brought out the best in her students, encouraging and enlivening them, something that’s rare in many teachers, and rarer still for one who has only recently begun teaching.  All of her evaluations were consistently among the department’s best, which I believe bodes well for her continued development as a teacher, one who is already far advanced.”

– Professor Paul Griner, University of Louisville Department of Creative Writing


english 202: introduction to creative writing

In this course, students build a vocabulary to discuss contemporary published works; learn to recognize the difference between levels of precision in language; recognize the variety of stylistic choices authors make within given forms, which may include decisions about theme, image, character, plot, setting, voice, point of view, figurative language (metaphor and simile), abstract and concrete language, etc.; learn something of the historical context for contemporary writing; become familiar with some of the basics of structure in the three genres; and learn to profitably apply all of the foregoing to the improvement and growth of their own original poems, stories, and plays, and their critiques of those of their peers.

English 202: evaluation

Students devote considerable thought, time, and energy to a variety of reading and writing practices. Students read and annotate texts, write critically and creatively in response, workshop one-on-one and in groups, and engage in a variety of drafting and revision strategies. Because the final work of the course is a portfolio, students evaluation focuses on generating new material, articulating the processes of works-in-progress, and a willingness to engage in revision.




English 202: innovative design for drama

I’ve designed this unit so that students produce a 10-minute play, adapting the rules of the 48 Hour Film Project (a film festival held in Louisville and other cities every year). Through this project, we discuss the differences between stage writing and screenwriting, and how to mold the guidelines of the screenwriting film project to the context of playwriting and stage performance.

In small groups, students select a genre (buddy film, coming of age, horror, rom-com, detective, silent, sci-fi, western, etc.). Each small group workshops the individual plays within the context of the assigned genre. Plays feature no more than 3 characters.

Each 10-minute play will be required to include:

· an assigned character (written by instructor); must have a functional role in the script.

· an assigned prop (to be determined by class); must be used or interacted with.

· assigned line of dialogue (“But wait, what if you’re wrong?”) that must be said by a character or written on something that’s incorporated into the dialogue.

english 101: American subcultures theme

In this course, students delve into the history and changing definitions of American subcultures by engaging with texts that address notions of identity, conformity, education, and the body politic. Students discover that by occupying roles of resistance, subcultures are places of radical possibility within which we are able to identify and understand larger cultural identities. Our goal will be to understand how subcultures have been defined (through language, religious and political beliefs, pop culture, and geographic location) and how the dominant culture has responded. Students engage in research of specific subcultures, presenting findings in papers, discussions, and collaborative writing projects. 

English 101 focuses on recognizing and responding to different rhetorical situations and developing effective writing processes. A student writer in English 101 should expect to: create and revise works in multiple genres; establish a clear purpose and sense of presence and position in each work; and compose the equivalent of 18-20 pages of text over the course of the semester.

English 101: American Subcultures (Literacy narrative)

Write three prompt-specific cumulative drafts, resulting in a final 1000-word literacy narrative. Purpose: to think critically about what literacy means to you and how it can be used to create (and limit) membership in certain communities.

For this assignment, pay close attention to the communities you’ve been a part of and how they influenced the development of your literacies. For example, maybe you’re an athlete and have learned to value concise, direct speech because that’s how coaches transmitted information. Maybe you are part of a gaming community that taught a specific way of digital and/or social communication. Maybe you are part of a discourse community that includes forms of hybridity (multilingual, multirole, LGBTQ+, disco-punk-blues fusion band) and learned to negotiate and defy linguistic boundaries. Focus your narrative within that discourse community.



Thinking about the concept of identity and discourse in the context of our larger society, write a 500-word response that compares and contrasts two of the assigned materials on how they discuss the topic of identity. How do the authors conform? How do they avoid or challenge conformity? How does language play a part in this relationship with conformity?



Write a 500-word response that details a particular literacy moment within a specific discourse community. How does your analysis from draft one reflect your own relationship with conformity? How has your relationship between identity and conformity influenced the way(s) you represent yourself, communicate and/or use language, and socially interact in a specific community? 



Connect both of your previous drafts into a polished 1000-word literacy narrative that focuses on the significance of the moment you detailed in draft 1.2, i.e. how did this moment within your discourse community influence your relationship with a particular type of literacy? How does this relate to the concept of conformity? How does this connection reflect the relationship between the two texts that you chose to analyze? Make sure to include return sentences as transitions that connect your drafts together and focuses your intention for the project.

English 101: American Subcultures (comparative analysis)

Write three prompt-specific cumulative drafts, resulting in a final 1000-word analysis essay. Purpose: to think critically about how writers structure arguments and appeal to audiences.



In order to clearly understand and respond to the positions of authors and speakers, we must actively interrogate what factors shape and influence their rhetoric. Write a 500-word response that contextualizes two of the assigned texts or suggested materials. To contextualize each text, identify the speaker/author(s), intended audience, genre or mode of presentation, constraints in this genre or mode of presentation, and exigence of each (what are the texts responding to?). Once you have contextualized the texts, identify the central message (i.e. what is it saying?).



Thinking about how rhetorical situations help shape an argument, write a 500-word analysis that compares and contrasts the same two assigned texts or suggested materials on how they each set up their argument and appeal to their audience. You will need to consider questions such as: How does the author build the argument? What kind of logic do they use? How do they present evidence? How does the argument rely on ethos, pathos, and logos? Discuss how the writers each use these rhetorical appeals, i.e. analyze how each of the readings works.



Connect both of your previous drafts into a polished 1000-word comparative analysis that focuses on how writers use rhetorical strategies to achieve a particular purpose for a specific audience. How does the relationship between rhetoric and context influence these similarities and/or differences between the texts? What is the significance of this relationship? Include return sentences as transitions that connect your drafts together and focus your intention.




English 101: American Subcultures (cultural theory argument)

Write a 1500-word thesis-driven argument that critically discusses three of our assigned or suggested materials.



Write an Annotated Bibliography with three 150-word entries.

Often in academic writing, scholars will apply a theory to their analysis of a text or artifact. In this process, these writers make the argument that there’s a connection between the theory and other source material. In this paper, you will demonstrate this same process. An annotated bibliography is similar to a Works Cited page, except each listed source is accompanied by a short summary and evaluation of that source. It helps you keep track of the sources you read, and allows you to summarize and explain the relevance of those sources.


For each 150-word entry, include:

  1. A source citation in MLA format (the way it will look in your Works Cited page).
  2. A brief paragraph explaining the argument and the significance of that source.



Write a 500-word synthesis of your sources. What is the conversation? If the authors from your Annotated Bibliography were hanging out in a room together, would they have similar topics of interest? Do they talk about this topic in similar or different ways? Would they agree and/or disagree with each other? What connections can you make about your sources?


  • Draft 3.3 YOUR RESPONSE [“I SAY”]

Write a 500-word response that compares and contrasts the ways in which two of the assigned texts or suggested materials engage and/or challenge one of the cultural theories on subcultures that we’ve read and discussed so far. You could consider topics like commercialization, spaces, gender identity and representation, definition and legitimacy, language; power dynamics, etc..



Connect all three drafts together into a thesis-driven argument of 1500 words that applies a cultural theory to comparative analysis. Your argument should critically discuss at least three of our assigned or suggested materials.

English 101: American Subcultures (collab multimodal project)

Compose a 60-90 second video + a 2-page explanation of the video.

Through this unit assignment, we will expand our conceptions of what counts as writing and reflect on the ways in which arguments change as the context (medium and audience) changes. Pay close attention to the rhetorical functionof your digital writing choices. How can you clearly, effectively, and persuasively convey your message to your intended audience?


Design (Pre-Production)

In the design stage of creating your video you decide what the video will look and sound like, outline the scenes, maybe write a script, choose the equipment you will need, etc.  

Proposal (initial plan for how to compose)

  • Identify the argument (message)
  • & specific community (audience)

Storyboard (specific plan that details the 60 seconds of the project)

  • Sketch each scene in an ordered sequence.
  • Make notes of dialogue, audio, visuals, and transitions.


Creation (Production)

This is where you create the video, audio, and other parts of your final video project.  At this stage, you can gather your actors, pick up equipment from or reserve studio time with the DMS.

  • Use more light than you think necessary.  Shoot near windows if possible, and add at leastone lamp to the shot.  3-point lighting is a common setup.
  • If using your smartphone as your camera, shoot in landscape mode.
  • Beware the outdoors for sound issues.  Campus is a very noisy place.
  • Consider using a separate microphone or audio recorder in addition to your video recorder.  You can sync the audio and video in post-production editing.
  • Turn on all your recording devices and silently count to five before speaking/moving/acting.  Count to five before you stop recording.


Edit (Post-Production)

All of the DMS computers come equipped with Premiere Pro (Adobe Creative Cloud)

  • Average editing time for video projects: 1 hour per 1 minute of final video.
  • Keep all your footage in the same folder on an external drive.


2-Page Explanation 

Articulate your argument, purpose, audience, writing process.

  • ½ Discuss your intent for this video.
  • ½ Reflect on your rhetorical choices.