English 110, Section 013: Introduction to College Writing

    Spring 2006, UWEC, MW 10-11:50 a.m. and F 11-11:50 a.m., HHH 323

    Bob Nowlan, Professor

Office: HHH 425  
Office Phone Number: (715) 836-4369
Office Hours: MWF 12-1 pm, M 6:40-7:30 pm, T 8:50-9:30 pm,
W 5:40-6:30 pm, and By Appointment
E-mail: Professor Bob Nowlan
Website: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan

    Shane Leonard, Senior Student Mentor

    Contact: leonarsm@uwec.edu


1.    Writing with style.

2.    Autobiographical writing.

3.    The writing process/the powers of revision.

4.    Critical and argumentative writing in relation to controversial contemporary issues.

5.    Writing in relation to ‘texts’ from diverse kinds of media.

6.    Research writing as means of and contribution toward compelling, convincing, and persuasive argumentation.

7.     Writing as means of and contribution toward engaged citizenship: 'writing in the world'.



    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, and why.  I (along with a significant number of my colleagues) teach English composition to focus on argumentative writing, writing as ‘critical citizenship’, and ‘writing in the world’.

    Who are “College Writers”?  College Writers, College Writing, Social Struggle, 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.  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 responsibility.

    "College writers" are not, therefore, 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.

    Writing as a Process of Thinking and a Mode of Committed, Activist Practice

    "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.

    Writing with a Purpose; Writing as Unity of Form and Content and of Text and Context

    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.   It is, therefore, of crucial importance that writing be learned 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. "Composition" 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; Writing to Persuade and Compel

    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 Citizenship

    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.  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 five weeks focused on issues of style, and the process of revision, before turning directly toward consideration of argumentative reading and writing.


    The following required texts may be purchased at the UWEC Bookstore in Davies Center:

1.    Trimble, John R.  Writing with Style.  2nd Edition.  Prentice-Hall, 2000.  ISBN#: 0-13-025713-3.

2.     Bishop, Wendy, ed.  Acts of Revision: a Guide for Writers.  Boynton/Cook, 2004.  ISBN#: 0-86709-550-4.

3.    Lazere, Donald.  Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy: The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric.  Paradigm, 2005.  ISBN#: 1-59451-085-7.  

    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), 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 each half of the semester. ***


    WS=Writing with Style  AR=Acts of Revision

    RWCL=Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy

M 1/23: Introduction and Orientation, Part One.

W 1/25: Introduction and Orientation Part Two/Thinking Well and Getting Launched, Part One.

    Read for Class, By W 1/25: WS, Chapters 1-2, 3-24.

F 1/27: Thinking Well and Getting Launched, Part Two.

M 1/30: Openers, Middles, Closers.

    Read for Class, By M 1/30: WS, Chapters 3-5, 25-52.

    * Autobiographical Essay Assigned *

W 2/1: Diction, Readability.

    Read for Class, By W 2/1: WS, Chapters 6-7, 53-81.

F 2/3: Superstitions.
    Read for Class, By F 2/3: WS, Chapter 8, 82-93.

M 2/6: Introduction to How to Write a Critical Analysis.

    Read for Class, By M 2/6: WS, Chapter 9, 94-98.

W 2/8 and F 2/10: Punctuation.

    Read for Class, By W 2/8: WS, Chapter 12, 105-132.

    * Autobiographical Essay Due (F 2/10) *

M 2/13: Quoting, Abbreviations, Usage.

    Read for Class, By M 2/13: WS, Chapters 13-15, 133-159.    

W 2/15 and F 2/17: Editing and Proofreading.  

    Read for Class, W 2/15: “A Short Guide to Editing and Proofreading” (To Be Distributed).

M 2/20: Revision, Part One.

    Read for Class, By M 2/20: AR, “Introduction,” v-x, “Chapter 1: Revising Attitudes,” 1-11, and “Chapter 2: Revising Out and Revising In,” 13-27.

W 2/22: Revision, Part Two.
    Read for Class, By W 2/20: AR, “Chapter 6: Subterranean Rulesick Blues,” 61-69, and “Chapter 9: The Case of Creative Non-Fiction–Retouching Life,” 108-124.

F 2/24: Revision, Part Three.
    Read for Class, By F 2/24: AR, “Chapter 4: Revising Research Writing: a Theory and Some Exercises,” 38-50.

M 2/27: Revision, Part Four.

    * Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #1 Assigned *

W 3/1 and F 3/3: Introduction to Critical Citizenship.

    Read for Class, By W 3/1: RWCL, “Chapter 1: An Appeal to Students,” 3-41, and Chapter 3, “Definitions and Criteria of Critical Thinking,” 63-88.

M 3/6: Introduction to Argument.

    Read for Class, By M 3/6: RWCL, “Chapter 2: What is an Argument?  What is a Good Argument?,” 42-62.
    * Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #1 Due *

W 3/8 and F 3/10: Viewpoint, Bias, Fairness/Questioning Culturally Conditioned Assumptions and Ethnocentrism.

    Read for Class, By W 3/8: RWCL, “Chapter 5: Viewpoint, Bias, and Fairness: From Cocksure Ignorance to Thoughtful Uncertainty,” 125-147, and Chapter 6, “Questioning Culturally Conditioned Assumptions and Ethnocentrism,” 148-182.  

M 3/13: Overgeneralization, Stereotyping, and Prejudice; Authoritarianism and Conformity, Rationalization and Compartmentalization.

    Read for Class, By M 3/13: RWCL, “Chapter 7: Overgeneralization, Stereotyping, and Prejudice,” 183-203, and “Chapter 8: Authoritarianism and Conformity, Rationalization and Compartmentalization,” 204-221.

W 3/15 and F 3/17: Semantics in Rhetoric and Critical Thinking; Avoiding Oversimplification and Recognizing Complexity.
    Read for Class, By W 3/15: RWCL, “Chapter 9: Semantics in Rhetoric and Critical Thinking,” 222-243, and “Chapter 10: Avoiding Oversimplification and Recognizing Complexity,” 244-259.

    * Critical and Argumentative Thinking, Reading, and Writing Paper One Assigned (W 3/15) *

M 3/27 and W 3/29: Some Key Terms in Logic and Argumentation; Logical and Rhetorical Fallacies.

    Read for Class, By M 3/27: RWCL, “Chapter 11:Some Key Terms in Logic and Argumentation,” 260-287, and “Chapter 12: Logical and Rhetorical Fallacies,” 288-297.

F 3/31: Causal Analysis.

    Read for Class, By F 3/31: RWCL, “Chapter 13: Causal Analysis,” 298-323.

M 4/3: Uses and Misuses of Emotional Appeal.

    Read for Class, By M 4/3: RWCL, “Chapter 14: Uses and Misuses of Emotional Appeal,” 324-347.

    * Critical and Argumentative Thinking, Reading, and Writing Paper One Due *

    ** Critical and Argumentative Thinking, Reading, and Writing Paper Two Assigned **

W 4/5 and F 4/7: Special Interests, Conflict of Interest, Special Pleading; Varieties of Propaganda; Advertising and Hype.

    Read for Class, By W 4/5: RWCL, “Chapter 17: Special Interests, Conflict of Interest, Special Pleading,” 425-443, “Chapter 18: Varieties of Propaganda,” 444-467, and “Chapter 19: Advertising and Hype,” 468-482.

M 4/10 and W 4/12: Writing Argumentative Papers; Collecting and Evaluating Opposing Sources: Writing the Research Paper; Documentation; Research Resources.

    Read for Class, By M 4/10: RWCL, “Chapter 4: Writing Argumentative Papers,” 89-122, “”Chapter 21: Collecting and Evaluating Sources: Writing the Research Paper,” 512-527, “Chapter 22: Documentation,” 528-530,” and “Chapter 23: Research Resources,” 531-538.        

    ** Argument and Research Paper Assigned (M 4/10) **

W 4/19 and F 4/21: Thinking Critically About Political Rhetoric.

    Read for Class, By W 4/19: RWCL, “Chapter 15: Thinking Critically About Political Rhetoric,” 351-390.
    * Critical and Argumentative Thinking, Reading, and Writing Paper Two Due (F 4/21)*

M 4/24: Thinking Critically About Political Rhetoric (Continued)/Thinking Critically About Mass Media.

    Read for Class, By M 4/24: RWCL, “Chapter 16: Thinking Critically About the Mass Media,” 391-422.

W 4/26 and F 4/28: Thinking Critically About Mass Media (Continued).

M 5/1, W 5/3, and F 5/5: Class Debate Preparation.

    * Argument and Research Paper Due (M 5/1) *

M 5/8: Class Debate Preparation (Continued).

    * Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Two Assigned *

W 5/10: Class Debate.

F 5/12: Conclusion.

    ** M 5/15, By 12 noon in my English Department Mailbox, HHH 405: Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Due **



    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.  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 the classroom.


    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 the assigned readings for class 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 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, 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 change them.  

    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.


    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 issues addressed in discussions and readings, 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!

    Also, Shane Leonard has joined this class as a senior student mentor because he wants to work with and help you.   Shane will be helping me in teaching the class, so you should get to know him well.   Please also feel free to contact and meet with Shane outside of class about any matter of interest or concern; he too will hold regular office hours and be readily accessible to assist you.  Shane can be of great help do you; take advantage of the opportunity to work with him.  

    * Any student who has a disability and is in need of classroom accommodations, please contact the instructor and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office early in the semester. *


    The Writing Center, located in HHH 605, provides free tutoring for students enrolled in English 099, 110, and 112.  The Center is open from 9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9:00 a.m.- Noon on Friday.   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:



    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, most likely, on a number of 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 succeed.

    I will maintain ultimate responsibility, authority, and control for the direction of our class discussions,  assisted by Shane, 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.


     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.  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 credits.  Remember, a liberal arts undergraduate education means giving priority emphasis to a broad--general– education, not giving priority emphasis to a narrow–major–area of specialization.  You will do well at UWEC if you keep this in mind: this university values general education courses as much as, if not in fact more than, specialized courses within specific major fields.

    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 very poorly.

    If you experience problems at any point over the course of the semester I expect you to contact me right away to 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 me.   I am a compassionate as well as a passionate person, so don't hesitate to talk with me about problems if and when you experience them; we can work past many of these, if you contact me in time and if we work together.  Likewise, please do seek out assistance from Shane as well if you should experience problems; he is prepared to help and committed to doing so.



    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, by Shane, 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 three 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 excusing of any further absences beyond the maximum of three unexcused absences.
3.)    In addition to the maximum of three unexcused absences, students may miss a maximum of three excused absences without suffering a grade penalty.  Seven total absences will result in a loss of  two full letter grades.  Students who miss more than seven classes total should withdraw from the course and enroll again in a subsequent semester; otherwise they will receive a grade of F.

* Students are expected to arrive for class on time and to stay through the very end of class.  If you don’t do so, you won’t be counted as attending class.   In addition, you need to be awake, alert, and attentive while in class; this means you can’t expect to sleep or rest in class.  Again, if you do so, this will count as an absence from class.  And the same is true of doing other school work in class or attending to other–personal– matters irrelevant to the focus of what we are about in this course (e.g., text-messaging). *

** In addition, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT IN THIS CLASS THAT YOU COME TO CLASS HAVING DONE THE READING REQUIRED OF YOU PRIOR TO CLASS.  The quality of your own learning, and that of the rest of your classmates depends upon you taking this seriously and carrying it our conscientiously. **

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

    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 so.

    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.

    Alternative 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.

    Learning and 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 reflection paper.  The first 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 course grade.  

Additional Essays and Papers

        Autobiographical Essay

    At the beginning of the second week of the semester you will be assigned an autobiographical essay.  The specific details of this assignment will be announced and explained in class.  

    The 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 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 strongly advise you to take time carefully to plan out both versions 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 each version of these essays.   

        Critical and Argumentative Thinking, Reading, and Writing Papers; Argument and Research Paper

    During the course of our work with Donald Lazere’s Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy: The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric (from W 3/1 through F 4/28) you will write two short critical and argumentative thinking, reading, and writing papers, and one short argument and research paper.  In each case the assignment will relate directly to the specific readings and concepts from Lazere’s book that you will have been reading, studying, and discussing in classes immediately prior to, and up through, the paper assignment in question.   The first critical and argumentative thinking, reading, and writing paper will draw upon and relate to chapters 1-3 and 5-10; the second critical and argumentative thinking, reading, and writing paper will draw upon and relate to chapters 11-14 and 17-19; and the argument and research paper will draw upon and relate to chapters 4, 15-16, and 20-23.   Specific details of each assignment will be announced and explained in class.   The first and second critical and argumentative thinking, reading, and writing papers will each be worth 10% of the overall course grade, while the argument and research paper will be worth 12.5% of the overall course grade.

        General Formatting Requirements: Papers and Essays

    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 the rules and conventions of Standard Written English to the very best of your ability in writing these papers, including MLA format for citation and documentation of sources for the argument and research paper.

    Late papers

    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 Honesty

    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, 2/8/06).

Class Debate

    Toward the end of the course you will be given an assignment to participate in a class debate organized in response to a proposition that relates to our reading and discussion of chapters 15-16, and possibly also chapter 20, from Donald Lazere’s Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy: The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric.   As part of this assignment you will also be required to work extensively preparing, including researching, ahead of the actual debate itself.   At the end of the debate you will have an opportunity to evaluate your own performance, as well as those participating on your team.   Specific details of this assignment will be announced and explained in class.   Preparation for and performance in the debate will be worth 10% of the course grade.

Desire2Learn Postings (Reflections, Comments, Critiques)

    Students will be asked to post short reflections, comments, and/or critiques approximately every two 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).

    For 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 college life.

     Shane will enter into dialogue with you in relation to what you write in these posts.   I will take account Shane’s recommendations in grading you on your performance for these assignments, where 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 we will not be sticklers for stylistic perfection, yet you should try always to express yourself and communicate to the rest of your classmates as clearly and precisely as possible.

    The 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 and your senior student mentors.   For those who are relatively quiet in class this is a great opportunity to show Shane and I that you are in fact paying careful attention, well-prepared, and seriously engaged.

    Your 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.


    I strive to be as responsible and as accountable to my students as possible.  I believe it is crucial that students become aware of the ideas and the values that shape and direct their education, and I believe students should expect that all of their teachers will be prepared to explain why they teach as they do.  Please, therefore, take the time, as early as you can this semester, to read through and think carefully about my "Statement of Teaching Philosophy" that I have posted on my UWEC faculty website:


This statement explains WHY I teach as I do.  I think it is extremely important that you know and understand where your teachers are coming from in teaching you as they do.  You will find me one who trusts you sufficiently always to be frank and honest about this with you.