INTRODUCTION COLLEGE WRITING
Section 013: MW, 10-11:50 a.m., and F 11-11:50 a.m., HHH 321
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
PROFESSOR BOB NOWLAN
Office: HHH 425,
Office Hours: MWF
12-1 p.m., M 6:50-7:30 p.m., T 9:50-10:30 p.m.,
W 6:20-7 p.m., and
COURSE FOCUSES AND AIMS
1. Writing with style.
2. Autobiographical writing.
3. The writing process/the powers
4. Critical and argumentative
writing in relation to controversial contemporary issues.
5. Research writing as means of and
contribution toward compelling, convincing, and persuasive
6. Writing as means of and
contribution toward engaged citizenship: 'writing in the world'.
EXTENDED COURSE EXPLANATION STATEMENT
Introduction to the Statement of
Explanation of General Principles
The aim of this section of the course syllabus is to
provide not merely a description but rather an explanation, as well as
a justification, for how I conceive of and approach teaching this
course, and why so.
English 110 is an intensive, demanding, five-credit
introduction to "college writing." Although all sections of
English 110 share a broad set of common objectives, we who teach these
sections interpret meeting these objectives according to a range of
different conceptions of precisely what to teach, how to teach, and why
to teach. I (along with a number of my colleagues) teach English
composition to focus on argumentative writing, writing as ‘critical
citizenship’, and ‘writing in the world’.
What This Means, in Sum; The Importance of
and of Writing as
Social Engagement and Social Responsibility
What does this mean for what we will do together
this semester? In short, it means that I teach "college writing"
as writing designed to contribute toward what I contend constitutes the
ultimately most significant work carried out from within this social
institution, the higher educational "academy": that is, the development
and dissemination of knowledge that can enable substantial progress in
ongoing struggles for human emancipation, collective equality, social
justice, and ecological sustainability.
Who are “College Writers”?
College Writers, College Writing,
and Social Change
I conceive "college writers" to be men and women who
know and care about what is happening in the world, and who strive to
do what they can to make this world a better place, even when and where
the obstacles you confront in these efforts are great, and when and
where the freedom you enjoy to exercise genuinely democratic rights in
pursuit of these objectives is limited. In other words, you learn
to recognize and accept, to paraphrase the famous words of Frederick
Douglass, "that without struggle there can be no progress."
I teach "Introduction to College Writing" to people
whom I approach not merely as "students," but also, more importantly,
as adult human beings seeking to learn and understand, and to act and
interact-to intervene-by joining with and contributing to ongoing
struggles for urgently needed social change, change that extends far
beyond the limited confines of the classroom, the course, or even the
university. These are men and women who conceive of college
education as entailing a social responsibility, and who commit
themselves to do what they can, in practice, to meet this
"College writers" are not, as I see it, simply those
men and women who have "mastered the rules," who have "learned how to
play the game," and who can, as such, write in technically competent
and skillful fashion sufficient to enable them to "get by" in their
college courses, and to obtain "good jobs" afterward. "College
writers" do not approach their writing as a mere means of finding the
best way to "fit in," "obey orders," submit to authority, and conform
to the dictates of those in dominant positions of power. College
writers are people who can, and as necessary who will, fight this
power–a power often deployed in the interest of maintaining and
reproducing relations of oppression, exploitation, alienation, and
dehumanization–and they are prepared to do so with the critical and
oppositional power that their own writing helps provide.
Writing as a Process of Thinking and a Mode
"College writers" conceive of writing not as a mere
"product" that displays what these women and men have thought, in an
"acceptable form," after the thinking is done, and after these writers
have self-censored anything that might "upset" or "disturb" anyone
else. On the contrary, college writers conceive of writing as a
process of thinking, and as a process, more precisely, of exploring,
inquiring, reflecting, interpreting, evaluating, expressing,
communicating, and of taking up and pushing forward positions to which
the writer can and does commit herself with sincerity, determination,
passion, and enthusiasm. College writers do not hesitate to
represent unpopular positions, and to advocate for these, when and
where they do maintain these positions, because these writers are men
and women who have not given way to the cynical and despairing
conviction that they are entirely powerless and inconsequential.
Instead, college writers believe the issues their positions address are
vitally important and they have a right, as well as a responsibility,
to make their voices heard. These men and women are willing to
risk provoking, challenging, even alienating and offending their
readers, when and where it is right and necessary to do so–when and
where, that is, the issues at stake require it.
Writing with a Purpose; Writing as Unity of
Form and Content,
and of Text and
Context; and What it Means to
Think, Read, and
Writing is always intrinsically connected with
reading, thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting. What's more,
how we write always depends upon what we write, for whom we write, and,
especially, why we write. Writing can be taught as if it involved
merely a set of neutral skills and/or empty forms–and yet, in
actuality, the skills and forms that are so taught are neither neutral
nor empty of content; such ‘formalist’ approaches in fact teach us to
develop, express, and communicate the kinds of thoughts and feelings in
the kinds of ways which serve to maintain and reproduce the interests
of dominant social groups without us understanding that this is what
they are doing.
It is, therefore, of crucial importance that writing
be taught as a unity both of form and content, and of text and
context. Writing is not merely form; forms never really exist
separate from contents. Neither is writing merely text; texts
never really exist separate from contexts. In this course, you
will learn how to read and write in ways that involve the uniting both
of form and content and of text and context. In particular, you
will learn how to do this by learning how to read and write–and to
think–critically. Learning to read and to write critically means
learning to proceed beyond merely describing the ways in which texts
work, toward explaining how and especially why–in particular, for
what–they work as they do. "Composition," in sum, is not
manipulation: it is construction, design, and creation. To learn
how to compose in written language is to learn how to express,
communicate, develop, and refine ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings
of significance and urgency.
The Rhetoric and Politics of Reading and
Writing to Persuade
In the process of learning to read and write
critically, it is necessary to focus particular attention upon both the
rhetoric and the politics of reading and writing. "Rhetoric"
refers to the art of using words effectively to express and communicate
thoughts and feelings in speaking and writing. In particular, you
will learn how to produce arguments capable either 1. of persuading
others to accept and/or identify with a particular position with which
they are not already previously in agreement, or 2. of compelling these
others to reformulate and rearticulate previously maintained positions
in response to the pressure your arguments have exerted upon their
previously maintained positions. "Politics" does not refer merely
to that which it is conventionally understood to refer–campaigning and
voting for election to legislative and executive positions in
government–but rather to the entire sphere of conflict and struggle, as
well as the regulation and adjudication of this conflict and struggle,
among individuals and social groups over right of access to, and
opportunity for the exercise of, natural and cultural resources,
powers, and capacities. The "politics of reading and writing"
refers to the ways in which the activities of reading and writing–and
the texts we read and write in the process of pursuing these
activities–are both affected by and in turn affect this conflict and
struggle over access to and exercise of resources, powers, and
capacities. Rhetoric focuses upon how writing is done: how to
make it as effective as possible so as to persuade or compel its
audience. Politics focuses upon what writing is designed to
persuade or compel its audience to do and why this writing is designed
to enable such ends and serve such interests.
Argumentative Writing and Critical
The ultimate goal of learning to write critically is
to enhance your ability to engage as a critical citizen. Critical
citizens strive, within the communities of which they are a part, to
help make these better places–i.e., more just and fair as well as more
meaningful and fulfilling--for those who live within these communities
(and not just for themselves or their immediate family members and
close friends). One of the principal aims of a liberal arts
education, such as what we offer you at the University of Wisconsin-Eau
Claire, is to provide you an opportunity to reflect on how you will
engage as a critical citizen, as well to reflect on where you can do
this–and where you are needed to do this–while assisting you in
developing and refining the abilities that doing this work will require
(and these include abilities such as thinking, reading, and
writing critically; speaking forth publicly with confidence and
conviction; and arguing compellingly and persuasively).
Argument is the most fundamental and indeed
indispensable means of discourse (i.e., social use of human language)
for all kinds of serious intellectual work and especially for all forms
of effectively critical citizenship. Argument is essential to
practices of inquiring and investigating, convincing and compelling,
persuading and moving, contesting and cooperating, and negotiating and
resolving. Therefore, this section of English 110 will focus on
education in argumentative writing. This does not mean we will
neglect "other kinds of writing," as effective argumentative writing
necessarily draws upon and incorporates all of the following subsidiary
writing practices: paraphrasing, summarizing, citing and quoting,
comparing and contrasting, analyzing and synthesizing, reporting and
informing, researching and investigating, reflecting and commenting,
imagining and inventing, describing and explaining, revising and
editing, and demonstrating and presenting. Moreover, we will also
continually address questions of grammar, usage, punctuation, and
mechanics over the course of the semester, but in this course you will
develop and improve your mastery of the rules and conventions of
Standard Written English by learning how and why mastery of these rules
and conventions will facilitate and strengthen the effectivity of your
arguments on issues of social interest and concern. And, beyond
all of this, you should note well, in reviewing the schedule below,
that we will begin the semester with six weeks focused on issues of
style, and the process of revision, before turning directly toward
consideration of argumentative reading and writing.
Conclusion: Teaching Against Fascism
In conclusion, I teach "college writing" as I do
because I do not want you, as my students, to leave this course
equipped simply, passively, to follow others' instructions in solving
others' problems without being able to question, challenge, and
critique the ways in which these others have conceived and articulated
these instructions, and these problems; I do not want you merely to
"fit in" and "take orders" as dupes of the rich, the strong, the elite,
and the powerful–I teach instead in direct opposition to education
which is designed to make you into good fascist subjects.
The following required texts
may be purchased at the UWEC Bookstore in Davies Center:
1. Crusius, Timothy W. and Carolyn E. Channell.
The Aims of Argument: a Brief Guide.
4th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
2. Trimble, John R. Writing with Style: Conversations on the
Art of Writing. 2nd Edition. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000.
3. Bishop, Wendy. Acts of Revision: a Guide for Writers.
Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 2004.
4. Columbo, Gary, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle,
eds. Rereading America:
Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 6th
Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004.
You may feel free to purchase these
from any other bookstore or book outlet, including by means of on-line
ordering outlets (such as amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com), as you
wish, as long as you acquire them in time to use in and for class.
*** Please note well: all reading assignments
indicated in the schedule below are due AHEAD of the class meetings in
which we will discuss these readings. You are responsible for bringing the course
book or books to class on the days in which we will be discussing
readings from this book or these books. Failure to do so will
negatively affect your learning and contribution grade; students who
consistently fail to bring their books to class, or who fail to come
prepared to discuss the assigned readings, will suffer the loss of one
full letter grade per unit. ***
W 1/26: Introduction and Orientation, Part One.
F 1/28: Introduction and Orientation, Part Two.
M 1/31: Writing with Style,
Chapters 1-2 (“Thinking Well” and “Getting Launched”), 3-24
W 2/2 and F2/4: Writing with Style,
Chapters 3-5 (“Openers,” “Middles,” and “Closers”), 25-52.
* F 2/4:
Autobiographical Essay Assigned. *
M 2/7: Writing with Style,
Chapters 6-7 (“Diction” and “Readability”), 53-81.
W 2/9: Writing with Style,
Chapter 8 (“Superstitions”), 82-93.
F 2/11: Writing with Style,
Chapter 9 (“How to Write a Critical Analysis”), 94-98. Part
M 2/14: Writing with Style,
Chapter 9 (“How to Write a Critical Analysis”), 94-98. Part
W 2/16 and F 2/18: Writing with Style,
Chapters 10-11 (“Revising” and “Proofreading”), 99-101, and The Aims of Argument, “Appendix: A
Short Guide to Editing and Proofreading,” A1-A18.
* F 2/18:
Autobiographical Essay Due. *
M 2/21, W 2/23, and F 2/25: Writing
with Style, Chapters 12-15 (“Punctuation,” “Quoting,”
“Abbreviations,” and “Tips on Usage”), 105-159.
M 2/28: Acts of Revision,
Introduction and Chapter 1 (“Revising Attitudes”), v-x and 1-12.
W 3/2 and F 3/4: Acts of Revision,
Chapters 2, 4 (“Revising Out and Revising In” and “Revising Research
Writing: a Theory and Some Exercises”), 13-27 and 38-50.
M 3/7: Acts of Revision,
Chapters Chapters 6, 9 (“Subterranean Rulesick Blues” and “The Case of
Creative Nonfiction: Retouching Life”), 61-69 and 108-124.
* First Learning
and Contribution Reflection Paper Assigned. *
Week 7 Continued
W 3/9 and F 3/11: The Aims of
Argument, Chapters 1-3 (“Understanding Arguments,” “Reading
Arguments,” and “Analyzing Arguments: a Simplified Toulmin Method”),
3-68; Rereading America,
“Introduction: Thinking Critically, Challenging Cultural Myths,” 1-6
[“Becoming a College Student,” “What is Critical Thinking?,” “The Power
of Cultural Myths,” “Cultural Myths as Obstacles to Critical Thinking,”
and “Questioning: the Basis of Critical Thinking”], and 9-15 [“The
Power of Dialogue” and “Active Reading”]; and Rereading America, 153-172 (Moore,
M 3/14: The Aims of Argument,
Chapter 4 (“Reading and Writing about Visual Arguments”), 69-105; Rereading America, 84-90 (“Visual
Portfolio: Reading Images of American Families”) and 375-380 (“Visual
Portfolio: Reading Images of Individual Opportunity”).
* First Learning
and Contribution Reflection Paper Due. *
W 3/16 and F 3/18: The Aims of
Argument, Chapter 6.(“Looking for Some Truth: Arguing to
Inquire”), 161–208 ; and Rereading
America, 173-210 (Gatto, “The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher”; Rose,
“‘I Just Wanna Be Average’”; and Anyon, From Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of
Work), and 283-292 (Barber, “The Educated Student: Global
Citizen or Global Consumer?”).
* W 3/16: Argument
and Research Paper Assigned. *
W 3/30 and F 4/2: The Aims of
Argument, Chapter 7 (‘Making Your Case: Arguing to Convince”),
209-249; and Rereading America,
577-591 (Parillo, “Causes of Prejudice”) and 632-645 (Frederickson,
“Models of American Ethnic Relations: a Historical Perspective”).
M 4/4: The Aims of Argument,
Chapter 5 (“Writing Research-Based Arguments”), 107-158; and Rereading America, 331-347
(Mantsios, “Class in America: Myth and Realities ”) and 364-374
(Kaiser, from The High Price of
W 4/6 and F4/8: The Aims of Argument,
Chapter 8 (“Motivating Action: Arguing to Persuade”), 251-292; and Rereading America, 557-576
(Robinson, “Thoughts About Restitution”) and 591-602 (Terkel, “C.P.
* W 4/6: Argument
and Research Paper Topic, Issue, Stance,
and Working Thesis
Statement Due. *
M 4/11, W 4/13, and F 4/15: Reading and Discussion, Rereading America, Chapter 6 (“Land
of Liberty: American Mythology in a ‘New World Order’), 703-816
(Beveridge, “The March of the Flag”; D’Souza, “America the Beautiful:
What We’re Fighting For”; Hertsgaard, “The Oblivious Empire”; Andreas,
“The War on Terrorism”; Jordan, “Poem for Benjamin Franklin”; Mosley,
“An African-American Appeal for Peace”; “Visual Portfolio: Reading
Images of America’s Meaning in a ‘New World Order’”; Medved, “That’s
Entertainment: Hollywood’s Contribution to Anti-Americanism Abroad”;
Gitlin, “Under the Sign of Mickey Mouse & Co.”; Williams, “By Any
Means Necessary”; Temple, “The Sorrow and the Pity of Racial
Profiling”; Spence, “Essay in the Harness: the Tyranny of Freedom”; and
Hughes, “Let America Be America Again”).
* F 4/15: Annotated
Bibliography Due, Argument Research Paper. *
M 4/18, W 4/20, and F 4/22: Class Debate Preparation.
Week 13 and Week 14
M 4/25: Class Debate.
W 4/27, F 4/29, and M 5/2: Reading and Discussion, Rereading America, Chapter 4,
(“Myths of Gender: True Women and Real Men”), 412-545 (de Toqueville,
“How the Americans Understand the Equality of the Sexes”; Kincaid,
“Girl”; Devor, “Becoming Members of Society: Learning the Social
Meanings of Gender”; Cofer, “The Story of My Body”; Allen, “Where I
Come From is Like This”; “Visual Portfolio: Reading Images of Gender”;
Kilbourne, “‘Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt’: Advertising and Violence”;
Messner, “Center of Attention: the Gender of Sports Media”; Vazquez,
“Appearances”; Marcus, “The Bridge Builder: Katherine Boatwright”;
Faludi, “Girls Have All the Power: What’s Troubling Troubled Girls”;
Sommers, “Save the Males”; and Morgan, From Fly-Girls to Bitches and Hos).
* M 5/2: Debate Paper Due. *
Week 14 Continued
W 5/4 and F 5/6: Student Group Short Play Preparations.
* W 5/4: Argument
and Research Paper Due. *
M 5/9: Student Group Short Play Preparations Continued.
W 5/11 and F 5/13: Student Group Short Play Presentations.
R 5/19, 10-11:50: Final Examination Discussion.
THIS SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ***
THE GOALS OF THE
This university is a liberal arts
institution; education in the liberal arts (and sciences)
represents the historic, central commitment of what we do together on
this UW campus-not vocational training and pre-professional
development. Our university administration and faculty support
this commitment so strongly that they have asked that all syllabi
elaborate the official goals of the baccalaureate, as well as identify
which ones the course in question will help you achieve.
According to the UWEC administration, the baccalaureate degree shall
work to develop the following for UWEC students:
1.) an understanding of a liberal education.
2.) an appreciation of the University as a learning community.
3.) an ability to inquire, think, analyze.
4.) an ability to write, read, speak, listen.
5.) an understanding of numerical data.
6.) a historical consciousness.
7.) international and intercultural experience.
8.) an understanding of science and scientific methods.
9.) an appreciation of the arts.
10.) an understanding of values.
11.) an understanding of human behavior and human institutions.
UWEC strives to help you meet
these objectives in the course of the higher education you pursue
here. Please note that in making these our foremost aims, we at
UWEC clearly distinguish ourselves from technical colleges as well as
from all other UW schools, especially places like Stout and River
Falls. English 110, Introduction to College Writing aims to help contribute
to you meeting goals 1-4 and 10-11.
These goals cannot be met passively by the student:
each requires your striving toward it to be met. Striving means
learning actively, completing assignments in a thorough and timely
fashion, participating in class discussion, and making connections
(above and beyond those emphasized by us in the classroom) between what
we do while meeting in class and what you do when engaged outside of
ON INTELLECTUAL CHALLENGES, ACADEMIC
The English Department would like to call your
attention right away to one key difference between high school and
college. In short, at this institutional level we will
consistently address and treat you as adults, not children. Our
aim as such is to provide you with an intellectually challenging
education. This means we will often include texts and introduce
topics in our courses that may well run sharply counter to your
preconceived understanding, based upon high school experience, of what
is and is not “appropriate” for direct engagement in class. We
will, in short, candidly explore adult texts and topics, including ones
offering representations that may, on occasion, prove unsettling,
disturbing, and even offensive to some of you.
The higher educational academy is not a “safe space”
separate from the rest of the “real world” where you can expect to be
sheltered from encountering anything you might find disagreeable or
objectionable. On the contrary, we expect you to take up the
challenge to confront these kinds of texts and topics in a mature,
responsible way, and that means bringing directly to bear your negative
reactions-including your reactions of shock, dismay, and discontent-in
class discussions and in your writings and presentations for
class. If you find a position or practice represented by a text
or topic included in readings or screenings to be objectionable, it is
therefore of crucial importance that you raise your objections openly
and honestly, not simply claim personal exemption from having to see,
hear, or talk, read, and write about these kinds of matters.
After all, disturbing positions and practices exist extensively outside
of the classroom as well as in what we read, see, hear, and otherwise
confront in and for class; what we confront in class exists in this
institutional space as symptomatic of positions and practices that
operate beyond the confines of the classroom, the course, and the
university. If and when you find any text or topic
genuinely appalling, you maintain the ethical responsibility, as
a mature adult and as a responsible citizen, not simply to try to hide
from these positions and practices but rather to work to critique and
Students should expect therefore that you may well
on occasion encounter representations that you will find troubling, in
this UWEC course and in many others as well; within this Department you
will receive no right of exemption from engaging with these and no
welcome for simply complaining (especially to a higher administrative
authority) about their inclusion. Instead you should bring your
objections forthrightly to bear in your contributions to class
discussion. Finally, to conclude this particular point of
discussion, a professor differs from a high school teacher in many
respects, but one key difference is that we maintain a principal
professional, ethical responsibility forthrightly to represent the most
advanced knowledges in our fields of expertise and to proceed from
there to work toward their further development and
dissemination. In short, we must create, advocate for, and
profess these knowledges; you should expect that your professors may
from time to time take strong and indeed controversial positions on
difficult and challenging issues, eschewing the pretense of
disinterested neutrality. To do anything less than assume this
responsibility, and to do so with alacrity, would be to shirk our
professorial responsibility and to render ourselves unworthy of
maintaining our professorial positions.
MY STAKE IN TEACHING AS I DO
I believe that the knowledges and skills students
gain from college study should serve as more than merely means to the
acquisition of a degree and to the increase in wealth, status, and
power that this degree can help obtain. Students do hear and read
and talk about major social and political problems quite often, yet
they also frequently tend to think of these as problems which are
beyond their capability significantly to influence. I aim
to show my students that they do not need to accept this sense of their
own insignificance and powerlessness. I believe, on the
contrary, that you can begin to make a difference in the positions you
take up and in the practices you pursue, every day, within even the
most immediate of the local communities in which you participate.
As I see it, any serious intellectual, working as a
professor at the university level, should be open with her students
about her stance on the issues she addresses in teaching the texts and
topics that she does. In other words, he should have ideas of his
own which he represents to his students and he should be accountable to
his students for where he is coming from, how, and why. In making
my positions clear and being open about them, trusting and respecting
you as capable of dealing with these for what they are, I am inviting
contestation and I am making it all the less likely that I might in any
way "deviously" "manipulate" your own thinking. Teachers who
pretend to maintain a position of "disinterested neutrality" in
relation to the texts and topics they teach are, in contrast, those who
are far more likely to be deviously manipulative, because it is in fact
impossible to be genuinely disinterested about social issues that shape
and determine who and what we are all about, and it is also likewise
impossible to remain effectively neutral in relation to ongoing social
struggles over how to conceive and engage with these issues.
All education is political, and this includes
education that claims to be apolitical–that is, to be above and beyond,
or indifferent to and unconcerned about politics. The supposedly
apolitical classroom in fact supports the maintenance and reproduction
of the status quo because it does nothing to question, challenge,
critique, and work to change this status quo. If I were to teach
this way, I would teach in direct opposition to my own foremost
principled convictions. In effect I would be doing either one of
two things that I simply cannot and will not, in good conscience,
do. Either I would pretend to be a mainstream conservative who is
satisfied that "the way things are is the way they should be," or I
would accept the despairing conclusion that nothing can be done to
change any of this, that I am essentially powerless and
inconsequential, and that I should cynically simply "do what I have to
do to take care of myself" by merely "going along" with mainstream
conservative commonsense in order to "get along" with those who
exercise dominant positions of institutional and social power. I
refuse to do either of these things; I must stand up for what I believe
At the same time, I always seek to do justice to
positions different from, and opposing, my own–to my mind no other
stance is intellectually, ethically, or politically responsible–and I
welcome, in fact encourage, my students always to feel free to disagree
with, argue against, and critique the positions I maintain. I do not
seek to "persuade" my students to accept and identify with "my"
positions so much as to "compel" you to rethink, reformulate, and
rearticulate your previously maintained positions in response to the
pressure my arguments, those of your classmates, and those advanced in
the texts we will read exert upon those previously maintained
positions. If you agree with me, or find yourself "persuaded" to
agree with me, so be it, but that is not my principal objective in
openly representing "my own" positions in my pedagogical interaction
with you. In short, I want you to think, rigorously and
critically, for yourself, and to question all authorities, including
me. In the courses I teach no position is ever simply unwelcome and
excluded out of hand. I maintain a commitment at all times to
free and open inquiry and to critical–including
self-critical–examination, reflection, and exchange. Students are
judged not on what positions they hold and support but rather on how
well they argue and account for these and how well they do so by
engaging seriously with other positions represented by myself, by other
students, and by the writers we meet.
I encourage you to meet with me in conference during
office hours or at another mutually convenient time to discuss any
issue of interest or concern related to what we are doing in this
course. Learning that takes place in conferences can at times be
equally as important, and in fact occasionally even more important,
than what takes place in class. Please do not hesitate to meet
with me during office hours or to ask for an appointment at any time
you think this might be helpful; I regard making myself available for
conferences with you outside of class to be an indispensable part of my
responsibility as your teacher. Moreover, I always
sincerely do welcome getting to know and work with my students outside
as well as inside of class. I am ready to do whatever I can
to help you in your understanding of readings and discussions--as well
as to help you in your writing for and participation in this
course. I want to make sure that I do all that I can to help you
succeed in this course and I want to help you, as far as I can, to gain
as much out of it as possible through your participation in and work
for it. You may also feel free to write me via e-mail, and
to call me–or leave a message for me on the answering machine–at my
office. I enjoy meeting and working with students outside as well
as inside of class; I really do. I would rather talk with you
during my office hours than do anything else, so please do not worry
about “disturbing” me in coming to talk with me; my office hours are
time that I have set aside to meet, talk, and work with you.
PLEASE DO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY!
* Any student who
has a disability and is in need of classroom accommodations, please
contact the instructor and the Services for Students with Disabilities
THE WRITING CENTER
The Writing Center, located in HHH 605, provides
free tutoring for students enrolled in English 099, 110, and 112.
You should contact English Department Program Assistant Jude Agema
(836-2644) to arrange to work with a tutor.
Do not hesitate to consult a tutor about even a
relatively "minor" question, concern, or difficulty, and go to the
Center to start working with a tutor, should you decide that you need
this extra help, as early in the semester as possible–the earlier you
go, the sooner you will be able to work with a tutor and the sooner you
will be able to make progress. Please note well, however, that a
tutor will never do your work for you. An effective tutor
will facilitate your work by providing careful guidance without being
directive. For more information about tutoring and related
assistance, see the Writing Center webpage:
ORGANIZATION AND CONDUCT OF CLASS SESSIONS
Class will proceed according to a variety of
discussion formats. I will, from time to time, make short,
relatively informal presentations (and even perhaps somewhat longer and
less informal ones on rare occasion, as need be). Yet, for the
overwhelmingly majority of class time, I plan directly to involve you
in actively participating as part of the work of educating both
yourself and the rest of the class through what you have to say as well
as share with us in written form. I want you to work with
me in learning; I always find people tend to learn better, at least in
this kind of class, this way rather than by remaining quiet and taking
notes during the course of long lectures. Many times you will be
working in groups in class, and many times you will be sharing your
writing with the rest of the class, either prepared before class meets,
or during class time itself. At other points, you will be asked
to do some relatively simple research and bring the results of this
research to class to share with the rest of us. You will also be
working outside of class in groups–to prepare for the class debate and
for your short group plays at the end of the semester (and, most
likely, on other occasions as well). In addition, we may from
time to time refer to your postings on our Desire2Learn electronic
classroom while meeting and talking together in class. Throughout
this process, and in all of these projects and discussion formats, I
will help you in every way I possibly can. I want you to
I will maintain ultimate responsibility, authority,
and control for the direction of our class discussions, yet I aim to
insure that we hear extensively from everyone else. I recognize
and respect that the students enrolled in this class represent
considerable differences in prior knowledge, experience, training,
work, or other preparation versus the diverse subjects we will engage,
as well as versus the kinds of skills that the course will
require. Likewise I well know, and understand, that students
differ considerably in terms of how more versus less inclined as well
as more versus less comfortable they feel in speaking as part of class
discussions. Yet I expect that these differences, along with
differences in social, cultural, economic, political, and ideological
ascriptions, affiliations, and commitments, all will be brought to the
fore so that each member of the class can contribute to its success
from both where she is at and toward where he aspires to be.
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS OF STUDENTS
While I am providing you an elaborate framework to
direct our work together, I firmly believe that the success of any
course I teach depends as much–if not often in fact much more–on what
my students bring and give to the process of learning as what I
do. I see college teaching and learning as a collective project
and this means its success–or failure–depends upon the degree and kind
of commitment and the quantity and quality of contribution of everyone
involved. Some of the best teachers with whom I have ever worked
have insisted that they do not teach their students as much as they
teach their students how to teach themselves. Even if this
overstates the case, I do think that it is impossible to teach someone
who does not sincerely want and who does not assiduously strive to
learn. I will always work equally hard and equally seriously to
help students who demonstrate this kind of effort succeed, both within
my courses and beyond.
I expect you to approach this course as one that you
sincerely want to take, and in which you sincerely want to learn.
I expect you to work hard in this course and to approach this course
with both diligence and enthusiasm. I expect you to become, and to
remain, interested in the subject matter of the course as an end in
itself and not merely as a means to achieve a passing grade and five
I expect you to be actively engaged in class
discussion, in an intellectually serious manner. Some students
prefer courses in which teachers simply tell them what is right, what
is true, and everything that these students are supposed to do, so that
the students need merely repeat all of this back to their teachers to
obtain a good grade while not expending much of any intellectual energy
or demonstrating virtually any genuine intellectual growth. This
is definitely not that kind of course, and if you approach your work in
and for this section of English 110 as a passive learner you will do
If you experience problems at any point over the
course of the semester I expect you to contact me right away and
discuss these forthrightly with me; I am ready to do whatever I can to
help you if and when you experience problems in this course, or
elsewhere, as long as you are candid and sincere, but I can't help if
you are not upfront about what's going on and if you don't level with
SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE GRADE
In evaluating all work done for this course, I will
take account of how carefully, seriously, intelligently,
enthusiastically, and imaginatively students engage with the concepts,
issues, positions, and arguments addressed in the course and
represented by the texts we read, by me, and by each other.
This course cannot contribute effectively to
students' learning if students do not attend class. What
happens in class is an indispensable part of this course. Therefore,
the following attendance policy will apply for students enrolled in
this section of English 110:
1.) Students who exceed a maximum of four unexcused absences
will suffer a penalty of a loss of one full letter grade for each
additional unexcused absence.
2.) Students should provide me with written confirmation of a
debilitating injury or illness, or of any other serious individual or
family emergency, for the acceptance
of any further absences beyond the maximum of four unexcused
3.) In addition to the maximum of four unexcused
absences, students may miss a maximum
of four excused absences without suffering a grade
penalty. Nine total absences
will result in a loss of two full letter grades.
Students who miss more than nine
classes total should withdraw from the course and enroll again
in a subsequent semester; otherwise they will receive a grade of F.
Learning and Contribution/Learning
and Contribution Reflection Papers
What This is and Why it is Important
My foremost aim in teaching this course is to help
you to learn something of significance and value. I will judge
you to a significant degree on what you learn, how- and how hard-you
strive to learn, and on how-along with how well-you contribute to the
learning for the rest of the class.
You cannot learn or help others learn if you do not
contribute. If you don't contribute to the work of this class not only
will you fail to derive as much gain from it as would be the case if
you did contribute, but also you will deprive everyone else of the
benefit of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, knowledge, and
experience. In fact, to remain passively silent in class exploits the
work of others who actively engage.
Class participation represents an important
opportunity to learn, not just a place in which to demonstrate what you
have learned. By raising questions, testing and trying out ideas,
taking risks and making mistakes, you learn a great deal-and help
others learn a great deal as well. You learn through talking, not
just talk to show what you have learned. Don't hesitate to speak
forth in class if you have anything at all to throw into the mix.
At the same time, just talking a great deal
does not necessarily mean that you are making a quality contribution to
the class by aiding the learning that we aim to accomplish. Quality of
participation is much more important than quantity, although a
sufficient quantity is indispensable to insure quality. Still, I want
to emphasize here that I perceive talking which pulls us off on
far-fetched tangents, which remains disconnected from and disengaged
with the reading and the rest of the class, or which effectively
silences others, to be negative participation.
Quality class participation does not, moreover,
involve merely asking questions of me and responding to my questions;
quality class participation requires you to work as assiduously as you
can to advance a serious and substantial discussion with your peers
about the texts and topics subject to discussion. Students
should, therefore, be prepared to engage with and respond to each other
in class discussion, and I will take particular note of how well you do
I would like you to come to class with strong
opinions on the topics of discussion, to be ready to share your
opinions with the class, and to be open-minded enough to debate your
own and others’ thoughts and to push them as far as they will go.
In evaluating class participation, I find the
following modification of a system designed by my colleague, Professor
Mary Ellen Alea, useful: A = Nearly daily response, and with
consistently useful, insightful comments and questions; B= Daily
response, with regular, relevant comments and questions; C = Less
frequent, occasional questions and comments; D = Almost always entirely
quiet; F= Engaging in behavior that disrupts the learning processes of
you and your fellow students, such as talking while others are
speaking, not paying attention in class, or doing other work or
attending to other interests during the time class is meeting.
Forms of Contribution
Contribution to the class certainly can extend
far beyond mere speaking in class: it may include a variety of ways in
which you can bring to bear your insights to help yourself as well as
the rest of us gain from the experience of this course.
Excellent writings for and in response to class (on Desire2Learn,
see below) and as part of your learning and contribution reflection
papers (see below as well) can help make up for limitations as far as
participation in class goes. At the same time, listening
carefully, respectfully, and thoughtfully in class discussions is yet
another important means of contribution.
Contribution Reflection Papers/
Learning and Contribution Reflection Grades
Learning and contribution will constitute a
significant proportion of your overall course grade. As
part of this grade, you will write two learning and contribution
reflection papers. For these papers I will ask you questions that
will require you to sum up what, most significantly, you have been
learning as a student enrolled in this course, and to assess how, along
with how well, you have been contributing to your own learning, and to
that of others in the class.
As I see it, these papers provide you a useful
opportunity to communicate with me how you believe you are doing with
the course, as well as why so, and to demonstrate your critical
self-reflexivity, the hallmark of a liberal arts education. As
you are assessing your own learning and contribution, you may include
thoughts in reaction to issues raised in class discussion that you did
not have the opportunity or did not feel comfortable enough to share in
class; these additional reflections will help me get a better sense of
what you have been thinking about and how you have been responding to
class discussions, as well as to the readings. I will take into
account what you write in determining your learning and contribution
grade for the preceding semester period; performance on these papers
represents a vital component of your learning and contribution grade.
I will provide you specific directions in the
assignments I give you for each of these papers; please note well that
the questions you address will change from the first to the second
learning and contribution grade (including the first learning and
contribution reflection paper) will be worth 12.5% of the overall
course grade. The second
learning and contribution grade (including the second learning and
contribution reflection paper) will be worth 17.5% of the overall
Near the beginning of unit one students will be
assigned to write an autobiographical essay. The specific details
of this assignment will be announced and explained in class.
initial finished version of this assignment will be ungraded.
I will however respond to what you write by offering extensive
comments, critiques, and suggestions and recommendations for
revision. You then will take all of these into account in
revising this paper. The first revision of
the autobiographical essay will be due one week after I return the
initial finished version of this paper to you, and will be worth 10% of
the overall course grade. I will then once again
offer comments, critiques, and further suggestions and recommendations
for yet further revision. The second revision of
your autobiographical essay will take what I wrote in response to your
first revision into account, and this second revision will, once again,
be due a week after I return the first revision to you, and worth
another 10% of the overall course grade.
I strongly advise you to take time carefully to
plan out each version of your autobiographical essay before writing it,
and to write, and then revise and edit, at least one rough draft before
preparing the version you turn in to me. Be prepared for me
to ask that you give me copies of your pre-writing notes and/or
outlines, as well as your edited rough drafts in relation to any and/or
all versions of these papers.
Argument and Research Paper
During the course of unit two students will be
assigned to write an argument and research paper. The specific
details of this assignment will be announced and explained in class.
For this assignment you will be required to write an
argumentative paper drawing upon independent research on a
controversial contemporary issue exercising an urgent impact upon
college and university students today and in their future
lives. You will choose your topic, subject to my approval,
and your goal will to be persuade, or at least compel, an audience that
does not already agree with you, and which, in fact, approaches this
topic with a strong inclination toward skepticism about your position.
As indicated in the course schedule above, I will
ask you to submit the following to me prior to the time in which this
paper will be due:
1.) first, a clear, precise, concrete statement of
your chosen topic, the specific issue in relation to this topic you
choose to address, your particular stance on this issue, and your
2.) second, an annotated bibliography of the
sources you are drawing upon in writing your paper.
argument and research paper will be worth 15% of the overall course
Class Debate and Debate Paper
In unit three you will be given an assignment to
participate in a class debate organized in relation to a proposition
that relates to our reading and discussion of Chapter 6, “Land of
Liberty: American Mythology in a ‘New World Order’” from Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for
Critical Thinking and Writing. As part of this assignment
you will also be required to write a paper describing your work in
preparing for and participating in the debate, assessing how well the
debate went, and arguing a position of your own in relation to the
proposition subject to debate. Specific details of this
assignment will be announced and explained in class. The debate will be
worth 7.5% of the course grade, and the debate paper will be worth 5%
of the overall course grade.
General Formatting Requirements: Papers and
All papers should be typed, double-space, on single
sides of standard white letter-sized (8" X 11") typewriter, computer
printer, or photographic paper. You may use any standard font you
wish but your print size must remain between 10 and 12 points. Pages
should be numbered, and your name should be at the top of the first
page. The pages of your paper must be stapled together and you
are responsible for doing so; I do not bring staplers to class.
You are also responsible for proofreading your paper
before you turn it in; if you catch any typographical errors, you
should neatly cross these out and write your corrections on top of
these with a pen (but not a pencil).
I will expect you, furthermore, to observe all the
rules and conventions of Standard Written English to the very best of
your ability in writing each of these papers, including MLA format for
citation and documentation of sources.
Short Group Play Preparation/Presentation
In unit four you will work in groups to prepare and present
short plays (to the rest of the class) in response to an
assignment related to our reading and discussion of Chapter 4, “True
Women and Real Men: Myths of Gender” from Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for
Critical Thinking and Writing. Specific details of this
assignment will be announced and explained in class. The preparation and
performance you contribute to your group’s play will be worth 7.5% of
the overall course grade.
Instead of a conventional final examination, we will
hold a final
class discussion, once again on topics related to our reading
and discussion of Chapter 4, “True Women and Real Men: Myths of Gender”
from Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and
Writing–as well as the plays you previously prepared and
performed. You will receive a specific preparation guide for this
final examination discussion on the last regular class meeting, and
this will, among other things, ask you to draft notes to turn in to me
at the end of our final examination discussion. Your preparation for
and contribution to the final examination discussion will be worth 5%
of the overall course grade.
Desire2Learn Postings (Reflections,
Students will be asked to post short reflections,
comments, and/or critiques approximately every two-three weeks on a
Desire2Learn electronic classroom website that I have prepared for this
class. I will explain how to access this site and where to post,
as well as retrieve, your responses, comments, and critiques (along
with other material I post to this site).
All students must do this six times during
the semester, three
times for the first half of the course, and three times for
the second half of the course.
each posts assignment you will respond twice: first, to a
specific question or problem, and then, second, to what your classmates
have posted in response to this same question or problem. The
assignment will always relate to course content and/or issues of
In grading you on your performance for these
assignments, I will be looking for seriousness of effort and initiative
as well as careful thought and active engagement.
These posts are, nonetheless, semi-formal, meaning that I will not be a
stickler for stylistic perfection, yet you should try always to express
yourself and communicate to the rest of your classmates as clearly and
cogently as possible.
These D2L posts will give you a chance to test out
and explore ideas, as well as to raise questions and engage in
extended, serious conversations outside of class time with your peers
in the class. For those who are relatively quiet in class this is
a great opportunity to show me that you are in fact paying careful
attention and are well-prepared and seriously involved.
You should aim for
an approximate minimum average of 500 to 750 words in length, as a very
rough average, with each of your Desire2Learn posts.
Desire2Learn posts for the first half of the semester will be worth
7.5% of the overall course grade, while your Desire2Learn papers for
the second half of the course will be worth an additional 7.5% of the
overall course grade.
Please note well that if you do all of what
is required of you (above) you will receive 5 % extra credit, as
the total % of all requirements for the course grade is 105%, yet
I will divide this total (what you earn with this 105%) by 100% in
calculating your overall course grade.
Late papers will lose 1/3 of a letter grade per day
late unless you have made arrangements ahead of the time with me to
turn in these papers late due to a serious personal or family
problem. Consistently late Desire2Learn postings will lead to
lower evaluations as well.
A Word on Plagiarism and Academic
Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic
dishonesty are serious offenses. They not only undermine the goal
of learning but also are exploitative of the work of others.
Dishonesty in written work as part of this course will result in a
failing grade. In addition, dishonesty may result in further
disciplinary action on the part of the University administration;
dishonesty can ultimately lead to expulsion from the
University. It will be very difficult to buy a paper for
this course from another source, given the nature of the assignments
you will be asked to address, yet if you try to do so, please keep in
mind we in the English Department know all of the sites, and we will
catch you. Also, If you directly echo someone else’s thoughts as
articulated in the course of class discussion you should add the last
name, followed by the letters CD (for class discussion), followed by
the date, in a parenthetical citation right after the end of the
sentence, viz: (Nowlan, CD, 10/8/03).
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Last Updated: January 21, 2005