Courses

Offering an approach unique to Johns Hopkins, Expos teaches students the elements of academic argument shared by all the disciplines. Students frame their arguments making use of what William Evans calls “The Fundamental Structure of Academic Argument.” Within this conceptual framework, students learn to summarize and analyze data, to evaluate sources, and to develop their thinking with evidence as they reason clearly and logically toward their own conclusions. Students trace the potential impact of their conclusions—their implications, consequences, or applications—and practice suggesting directions for future research or scholarship.

All courses in Expository Writing help fulfill the university’s writing, or “W,” requirement.

All courses may not be offered in all semesters. Please see the semester listings for which courses will be offered and for individual course descriptions.

Introduction to Expository Writing (060.100)

Introduction to Expos is designed to introduce less experienced writers to the elements of academic argument. Students learn to recognize “The Fundamental Structure of Academic Argument” as they learn to read and summarize academic essays, and then they apply the fundamental structure in academic essays of their own. Classes are small, no more than 10 students, and are organized around three major writing assignments. Each course guides students’ practice through pre-writing, drafting, and revising, and includes discussions, workshops, and tutorials with the instructor. In addition to its central focus on the elements of academic argument, each “Intro” course teaches students to avoid plagiarism and document sources correctly. Intro courses do not specialize in a particular topic and are available to freshmen only.

Expository Writing (060.113/114)

Expos is designed to introduce more confident student writers to the elements of academic argument. Students learn to apply “The Fundamental Structure of Academic Argument” in logically structured and clearly written academic essays of their own. Classes are capped at 15 students and organized around three major essay assignments. Each course guides students’ practice through pre-writing, drafting, and revising, and includes discussions, workshops, and tutorials with the instructor. In addition to its central focus on the elements of academic argument, each Expos course teaches students to use and document sources correctly and provides its own topic to engage students’ writing and thinking. Please see the individual course descriptions listed to decide which sections of Expos will most interest you. Expos courses are available to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, and to seniors by special permission.

Expository Writing: The Narrative Essay (060.139)

Telling stories is one of the first and most important ways that human beings aim to make sense of the world and our experience of it. The narrative art informs fiction and nonfiction alike, and is central to the writing of history, anthropology, crime reports and laboratory reports, sports stories, and political documentaries. What happened? The answer may be imagined or factual, but it will almost certainly be narrative. This course focuses on the narrative essay, a nonfiction prose form that answers the question of “what happened” in a variety of contexts and aims to make sense not only of what happened, but how and why. Students summarize and analyze narrative essays, and then, in the second half of the course, write two narrative essays of their own. They learn the power of narrative to inform and persuade as they test that power in their own writing. The course is designed for students who already have experience with expository writing, but is open to freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Expository Writing: Introduction to the Research Paper (060.155)

“Introduction to the Research Paper” is designed to introduce more experienced student writers to the fundamental skills of the research process. These include asking research questions, evaluating the usefulness of sources to answer them, synthesizing sources, reading sources critically, and developing arguments that deliver an original thesis. Students will work with a research librarian at the Eisenhower Library, with whom they will learn to navigate traditional databases as well as new media sources. The Research Paper is topic-based and divided into three linked units of instruction. The course culminates with a paper of 10–12 pages that draws upon the cumulative skills of the semester. Each course is capped at 10 students and available only to those who have taken Expository Writing (060.113/114).

Advanced Expository Writing (060.215)

Advanced Expos is designed to amplify confident writers’ abilities with the elements of academic argument. Students revisit the elements and apply “The Fundamental Structure of Academic Argument” in academic essays of their own. Classes are capped at 12 students and organized around three challenging essay assignments. Each course guides students’ practice through pre-writing, drafting, and revising, and includes discussions, workshops, and tutorials with the instructor. Advanced courses do not specialize in a particular topic or theme and are available in the spring semester only. Recommended for students who plan to enter graduate or professional schools.