About Expository Writing

The most fundamental principle of Expos is that academic writing must be understood as a dialogue. To write is to enter into a conversation; there can be no writing without reading. The concepts of thesis and motive follow from this principle. In the most basic terms, a thesis is the central claim a piece of writing makes; motive answers an implied “so what?” by explaining why such a claim is interesting or important. We will discuss these and other concepts, concepts that Expo groups together under the label “Elements of the Essay,” in considerably more detail as the semester develops.

Over the course of the semester, we will devote our attention to the following aspects of scholarly writing (here I quote the language of the Expository Writing mission statement):

  • Framing original questions and problems with reference to existing scholarly perspectives
  • Answering these questions with a thesis challenging enough to demand a sustained, complex explication
  • Fairly and ethically dealing with evidence, understood not as the final word but as the starting point for interpretation and debate
  • Engaging with counterarguments not simply to refute them, but also to continually question, hone, and deepen one’s own position
  • Organizing the parts of an essay coherently and in a compelling narrative form
  • Responding constructively to criticism from one’s peers and incorporating suggestions for improvement in successive revisions
  • Adapting one’s writing to meet the expectations of different audiences and disciplines without compromising one’s own voice or ideas

(EXPO 1213 meets the GenEd Core I Second Semester Composition requirement; EXPO 1223 meets the Gen Ed Core IV Lower Division Western Civ. & Culture requirement; either is an alternative to ENGL 1213, which also satisfies the 2nd semester comp requirement.)