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ENGL-101 - English Composition - Kirk Sever

Course:English Composition
Professor:Kirk Sever
  • InPerson
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Photo of instructor, Kirk Sever

Welcome to English 101! It's great to have you in class. My name is Kirk, and I've been teaching at College of the Canyons since 2017. I also teach at a couple nearby schools (Los Angeles Mission College and CSUN). Besides teaching, I like to write novels and book reviews and music reviews, and I also surf whenever the waves are good.

English 101 is all about focusing on the way we direct our minds to be critical thinkers, thoughtful readers, and insightful writers. I'm going to try to make this class as enjoyable as possible, which means I'll be upbeat and positive for the entire semester, and I hope you try to do the same. Let's work together to make this class into an awesome and positive community!

Course Description

English 101 examines the principles of critical thinking as applied to writing and reading arguments on complex issues. Focuses on close textual analysis, argumentative writing, and logical reasoning. 

What to Expect in this Course

Our course is an in-person course; welcome back! You will be required to do a specific amount of work each week, both in-class and via our online portal (CANVAS: You are responsible for for due dates and attendance.

You’re probably curious about the writing component of this course. You’ll be researching, drafting, and writing four essays that will be between 4-7 pages each (depending on the assignment).

To give you an idea what each week will look like, you’ll likely be doing the following: Reading a good amount, annotating the reading, responding to a discussion prompt, discussing challenges issues in our in-person class, and writing and drafting essays. You should expect to spend about six hours a week (including our meeting) working on our course material in order to pass the class.

In addition to the academic nature of our writing and reading, a portion of our class time will be used to look at the way different forms of creative writing can enhance our essay writing. By imbuing your work with a personal, creative touch, your writing will improve and you'll be nurturing a healthy personal connection to the course material. I want to make sure you feel like this is YOUR class, and that means your identity, expressiveness, and creativity all have a place in this class.

Types of Assessments

You'll be reading and annotating our textbook (more on that below), plus a number of essays and writings that will be provided to you on Canvas.

There will be a few reading quizzes and timed writing components.

Here's what you can expect in terms of essay writing:

  1. Timed writing assignment. One online essay prompt (about 600 words).
  2. Four multi-paragraph essays, totaling 6,000-8,000 words.
    • Rhetorical Analysis: Examine bias. Write a double-spaced, 4 page formal academic paper with standard margins and font that examines the different types of bias found in a particular news website. You will be required to research the website.
    • Evaluation Analysis: Respond to a review. Write a double-spaced, 4 page formal academic paper with standard margins and font in which you respond to a review of something, such as a movie, TV show, or video game. With a focus on VISUAL RHETORIC, analyze and respond to the review in such a way that you summarize the other author's points, make your own points about the thing being reviewed, and make connections between the two viewpoints. You will be required to research the review.
    • Persuasive Essay: Implicit argument. Write a typed, double-spaced, 4-5 page paper that convinces your reader that a book or movie or TV show is making an implicit argument (for example: The show, The Walking Dead, advocates Conservative Politics). Use research as necessary. You will be required to research the book or movie or TV show.
    • Application Analysis (Research Essay): Intertextual connections. Write a typed, double-spaced, 5-6 page formal academic paper with standard margins and font that connects a theme, argument, or a set of ideas in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead with a current issue related to politics, culture, race, gender, identity, or technology. You should consider a topic that is both interesting to you and is problematic or conflict-oriented in some way. Use multiple points of outside research.


Essays will be graded as follows:

20% Grammar 20% MLA format and citations 20% Clarity / Detail / Specificity 20% Organization / Structure 20 % Development

Additionally, each essay must be submitted with the following components: outline, first draft, revision notes, and final draft.


Textbook Information

I'm requiring the following textbook:

  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk.
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0525541330
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525541332

Buy your book or order it online right away, as we will be using it throughout the semester.

You'll also be assigned an assortment of readings, which I will provide links for on Canvas. You will have to print out many, but not all of these readings, so please make sure you have access to a printer.

Other Relevant Course Information

For the first week, do the following:

  1. Check out our Canvas Page, read the syllabus, and show up to the first day of class.
  2. Come to class on the first day! If you miss the first day you will be dropped from the class.

The first week is our chance to get to know each other and to have a positive start to the semester. I will be paying close attention to your work over the first few weeks in order to diagnose your writing. This diagnosis helps me personalize my teaching, plus it gives me the opportunity to point you in the direction of workshops or supplementary classes that might be useful for you!

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 12/09/2022 Sub#: 1239