What is EXPOS like?
Your EXPOS class will be small (12-16 students), and driven by a sense of writing community and collective inquiry. It will be taught by a full-time faculty member dedicated to innovative and responsive teaching, who has an advanced degree from one of a multitude of fields (from anthropology to dramaturgy, primate biology to poetry), and who has thought very carefully about how the content of their discipline connects to and is enlarged by fundamental questions about rhetoric and writing.
Our class design echoes your writing process, which is one that allows for both inductive and deductive forms of reasoning. For most lessons, you’ll complete a writing or reading exercise, most likely related to that day’s class discussion. These exercises are scaffolded, building on one another, slowly moving you towards a set of drafts for a larger graded assignment. These exercises help you develop a repertoire of techniques, like a set of dance steps, or lab assays, which you can then combine and recombine to develop a remarkably complex argument. We call this writing process—from exercise to draft to graded assignment—a progression. Each will emphasize different writing skills and techniques that occur in essay writing, but all will help you understand the fundamentals of academic argumentation: how to pose and inquire into a problem, research and analyze evidence, anticipate the reader’s needs, and develop an idea of one’s own that clarifies its debt to others. Though you will often be offered a set of readings by your professor, it’s up to you to identify and articulate the problem you want to explore, and so each student in your class will end up developing very different arguments. You won’t know what that argument is before writing; it will form as you read, write, research, draft, and evaluate your work with your classmates and professor, redraft, and then redraft again.
This is heady, challenging, exhilarating work. If you’ve been taught before that the essay is simply a vehicle for pre-formed or pre-ordained ideas, then you might be surprised by the sensation of writing-to-think, rather than thinking-then-writing. Our classes invite you to reimagine for yourself some of the most fundamental processes involved in reading, thinking, and writing that structure our intellectual and creative development. Many students describe our classes as transformative.
By the end of the semester, you’ll be more comfortable writing your way through not-knowing and reading difficult or opaque texts, and more accustomed to understanding theory and research as useful tools to generate insights about the world around you. You’ll feel more confident explaining how your lived experience inevitably impacts your understanding of the abstract. You will have a dramatically broader and more complex understanding of key writing principles you need throughout your time at college, like “problem,” “argument,” or “evidence.” You will have developed an array of tools to diversify your research and writing processes, heightened your awareness of genre, and grown accustomed to working with a community of your peers on complex writing and thinking tasks, with an expanded appetite for giving and receiving detailed and thoughtful feedback. As these outcomes are vital for your college experience in general, your EXPOS class is a form of writing, reading, and thinking preparation that helps you adapt to any new learning environment you will encounter.