Lesson 1

The Goal:

This lesson will familiarize you with the concept of MLA formatting. You will also be introduced to the concept of academic writing.

*MLA (Modern Language Association) formatting will be required in most of your humanities courses. Other courses may require citation styles such as APA or the Council of Science Editors style; however, the basic concept remains the same... follow the handbook! Good citation style allows your professors to check your sources and to recognize immediately that you are a good, honest student.

Academic writing is a special kind of essay that is used in college and university classrooms to demonstrate a student's understanding of various issues, ideas, or concepts. Your teachers will use it to assess what you're learning in a classroom and how you're processing the ideas and research to which you've been introduced.   Read this week's assignments to get a deeper understanding of what this means to you as a student.

What to Read:

  1. What is Academic Writing?'   by Lennie L. Irvin in Writing Spaces, Vol 1.
  2. Pp. 379-401 in A Writer’s Reference (7th Edition) or 396-464 in 8th edition.Note: It's extremely important that you read and understand this section of A Writer's Reference. You are required to submit all of your papers in the correct MLA format. No exceptions! If for some reason you're confused about any of the instructions in this section, please contact your instructor before turning your papers in.
  3. *“Pastoral Romance' by Brent Cunningham in Lapham’s Quarterly
  4. *“Eating Myself Silly' by Adam Platt in Conde Nast Traveler

Essays marked with an asterisk ( * ) are those you will discuss on the discussion pages for your section of the course.

Watch the following video for a tutorial on formatting MLA papers:


Look at the following (all from Perdue Online Writing Lab) for further understanding:

Pre-formatted MLA Template

MLA Sample Works Cited Page

MLA Basic Formatting for a Works Cited Page

Writing Exercise:

You will have 10 writing exercises (includes the MLA quiz) over the course of the semester that allow you the chance to improve your basic writing skills and formatting concepts.

Week 1 Assignment:

  • Write a one-page personal introduction. You should format your introduction according to the MLA guidelines you covered in A Writer's Reference.
  • Submit this assignment to your Dropbox folder. Make sure you have labeled it properly. See the "How to Submit Work" page for more information.



The Discussion Board will introduce you to some interesting ideas and topics and you will respond, similar to a face-to-face classroom, to the questions in a thoughtful and well-written manner.

All responses must be around 2 healthy paragraphs (Minimum of 100 word paragraphs - many should be longer). If your responses are shorter, you will be expected to have more than one response in a discussion (in other words, you can spread your paragraphs out and respond to other students as well as to your instructor). Most students don't mind sharing their real identity, but if for some reason you want to remain anonymous, you may pick a pseudonym, but you must share your pseudonym with your instructor, who will keep it safely guarded.

Go to the Discussion page for your section and get started!


Submission Checklist:

  • Email your instructor from your University of Alaska email account.
  • 1-page, properly formatted personal introduction submitted to Dropbox.
  • 2-paragraph contribution to the Discussion page for your section (either UX1, UX2, or UX3)