Section 006, MW 11 am to 12:50 pm and F 11-11:50 am, HHH 226

Office: HHH 425, Office Phone: (715) 836-4369
Office Hours: MW 1-1:30 pm, M 5:50-6:30 pm, W 4:20-5 pm, F 12-12:30 pm,
and By Appointment

KATIE FUCHS,fuchska@uwec.edu, and JOEY WISE,wisejr@uwec.edu,
Academic Apprentices


    The English Department and the University are in the process of transforming English 110: Introduction to College Writing into a course which offers an ‘Introductory Liberal Arts Seminar in Critical (and Creative) Reading and Writing’.  Each English 110 section will, as a result, maintain a specific thematic focus, enabling students, working closely with a professor and with academic apprentices or senior student mentors, to develop and refine preexisting writing abilities through engagement with issues of significant intellectual interest–and social relevance.  Our class is conceived according to this model.

    These classes engage with writing in context, and in relation to a broadly unifying thematic focus, because writing is, in actual practice, always intrinsically interconnected with reading, speaking, listening, thinking, reflecting, acting, and interacting.  Writing is neither a set of neutral skills nor of empty forms; in writing well, skills and forms must always be selected and adapted to work with what you are writing about, for whom, when, where, and why.

    English 110 emphasizes writing with a purpose.  At its best, writing with a purpose means, in turn, writing with conviction and passion.  At the college level, students are no longer treated as children expected to write merely what others tell them, or merely what others think, feel, and believe.  Instead, you are addressed as adults, and that means you are encouraged to think for yourselves, to advance your own arguments, and to offer your own thoughtful takes on matters of intellectual and social concern.  At the same time, you are encouraged to do so by beginning to enter into and find your place as part of ongoing conversations–discussions, dialogues, and debates–among intellectuals, scholars, experts, and others with substantial, credible, and reliable knowledge of the issues you are engaging.

    To make an impact through your writing you need to understand who you are writing for, so that you can determine what precise ways to write in order effectively to reach your target audience.  High school students most often write just for themselves, and just for their teachers; here you need to approach all writing assignments as if you are writing for a much broader audience, especially fellow members of this university community who are sincerely interested in what you are writing about, but who you have to work hard to interest, compel, and persuade.

    In order successfully to interest, compel, and persuade, through your writing, you need to be open to learning from people who are considerably different from who you are, as well as from those with whom you are already much alike.  You need, moreover, to inquire into how you are interconnected with myriad diverse others, including those (seemingly) most distant and different from you, in order better to understand yourself–and to recognize, in doing so, that understanding yourself, while a necessary and valuable end, is a complex, continuously ongoing process.

    Understanding yourself requires self-reflection, asking yourself questions like the following: who am I? what am I about? where am I coming from? how have I been shaped and formed to be who I am? by what and by whom? how have I developed and changed and how am I developing and changing? where am I headed as well as where do I want to head? what can I be and what can I do? what do I want to be and what do I want to do? what should I be and what should I do? And, you need to follow up, in the case of each of the preceding questions I have just elaborated, by further asking yourself: why so?  In addition, ask yourself the following questions as well: how might I have been different as someone who was born and who grew up at a different place and in a different time? how might I have been different as someone who was born and who grew a member of a different socio-economic class, class fraction, or class stratum?  how might I have been different as someone of a different race, ethnicity, or nationality? how I might I have been different as someone of a different sex, gender, or sexuality? how might I have been different as someone of a different religion, culture, or politics? and how am I connected with all of these ‘other’ (seemingly ‘different’) people, including in ways that are not readily apparent?

    You grow and change a great deal as a university student in many ways it is often impossible to anticipate.  Be humble enough to recognize, to accept, and to welcome this.  At the same time, keep in mind that UWEC aims, quite sincerely, to educate people capable of taking on roles as global leaders.  As daunting as that ambition might seem, in thinking of it as a description of yourself, you would not be here if we did not believe you are capable of eventually contributing as exactly that kind of person.  


    In this FYE section of English 110 our specific thematic focus will be “Argument, Drama, and the Problematics of Identity: Graphic Novels as Culture Critique.”  What will broadly unite all of the activities we will pursue together will be our continuous exploration of the ways diverse kinds of individual and social identities are formed and constituted.  We will consider ‘identities’ in both psychological and sociological terms, with particular emphasis on matters of growing up/coming of age, as well as relations with family and friends, along with the impacts of the following: media and consumer culture, leisure and recreational pursuit, work experience and career ambition, political and religious/spiritual values and affiliations, (socio-economic) class, race, ethnicity, nationality, regionality, locality, generationality/age, gender, sexuality, health/illness, and (dis)ability.  

    After an initial class of introduction and orientation, we will, working with the book Writing and Revising: a Portable Guide, review stages of the writing process that many if not most of you have already learned about in high school.  Here we will emphasize concepts, methods, techniques, and approaches that prove especially useful at the college level–and which will help many of you in areas where people coming out of high school experience continued problems and difficulties.  We will move from there to discuss argument and research, which is of crucial importance at the college level.  In this section I will give you a brief assignment to look up, explain, and illustrate a key concept concerned with doing research, and writing from research, while we will also meet with a UWEC McIntyre Library reference librarian who will teach you how to work with valuable research resources that you are likely not (all that) familiar with, as of yet in your college career.  Then, as a way of actively applying what we will read and discuss concerning argument and research–and as a way of learning through doing (which is often by far the best way to advance in understanding)–you will then divide into teams which will work to research and prepare for a class debate on an issue, to be announced.  You will work on researching and preparing for this debate over the course of approximately two weeks, while the actual class debate will then fill an entire class period.  Each team will prepare an annotated bibliography of relevant research sources as part of their work in preparation for this class debate.

    After the class debate, we will shift toward reading and discussing a series of four critically acclaimed graphic novels.  You will find these works the equivalent in complexity and sophistication of more traditional novels; scholars treat all four of them as serious ‘literature’.  At the same time, however, composed through combinations of words and pictures as they are, Maus, Persepolis, Blankets, and Fun Home maintain distinct qualities–while offering distinct challenges for interpretation as well as distinct opportunities for appreciation–versus novels written entirely in words alone.  Engaging with these four graphic novels will also enable us to explore connections with significant issues in history, society, politics, and culture.  And they will provide you the opportunity to develop visual as well as verbal literacies (crucially important in today’s media age).  Maus, Persepolis, Blankets, and Fun Home all focus centrally on the same issues concerning identities that we are focused on in this course; exploring the stories they each recount will stimulate your critical–and creative–thinking–about the complexity and the dynamics involved in the formation and constitution of your own identity, as well as that of others who may well initially seem, once again, far different from you.  As we proceed to work with these books over the course of multiple weeks, you will, however, likely find considerably more in common with the protagonists of these four books than you might at first recognize.

    During the course of our work in class with these four graphic novels, you will be assigned to write three out of five possible short paper assignments, approaching issues raised by these graphic novels from five different angles.  Class discussions will be closely related to the focus of these paper assignments.  And, finally, for each of the graphic novels, I will likely show you a film that deals with related issues, as well as give you a small amount of additional reading material, to help make better sense of these graphic novels by situating what they are addressing in broader contexts.

    Following our work with Maus, Persepolis, Blankets, and Fun Home, we will divide into four teams.  Each team will be working, assisted by me and your two academic apprentices, to compose, produce, and ultimately perform–in class, on our next to last two meetings of the semester–a short play dramatizing a significant section, or significant sections, from each of the four graphic novels we will have taken up prior to that point of the semester.  I will give you detailed instructions for what to do and how to do this, and I will assign the teams.  Here you will have a chance to work on translating creative work from one medium to another, as well as to find creative ways to make your translation as compelling as possible.  


    I have ordered copies of all of the following books for purchase at the UWEC Bookstore in Davies Center; all are required:

1.    Kennedy, X. J., Dorothy M. Kennedy, and Marcia F. Muth.  Writing and Revising with 2009 MLA Update.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.  ISBN#: 978-0-312-62339-5.

2.    Spiegelman, Art.  Maus: a Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History/Here My Troubles Began. [Box Set].  New York: Pantheon, 1993.  ISBN#: 978-0-6797-4840-3.

3    Satrapi, Marjane.  The Complete Persepolis.  New York: Pantheon, 2007.  ISBN#: 978-0-3757-1483-2.

4.    Thompson, Craig.  Blankets.  Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2003.  ISBN#: 978-1891830433.

5.    Bechdel, Allison.  Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic.  Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin/Mariner Books, 2006.  ISBN#: 0-618-47794-2.

    Students may feel free, as you are able and interested, to acquire copies of these books from other sources (including from online outlets such as www.amazon.com) as long as you do obtain copies by the time you need to use them in class.  I will supply copies of any additional materials you will need to read over the course of the semester.


Unit 1
M 1/24: Introduction and Orientation.

W 1/26 and F 1/28: Overview of the Writing Process and Strategies for Generating Ideas and Planning.

    Read for W 1/26: Writing and Revising, “Chapter 1: Writing Processes,” 1-10, “Chapter 4: Strategies for Generating Ideas,” 41-59, and “Chapter 5: Strategies for Planning,” 60-82.

    * Initial Paper Assigned, W 1/26 *

M 1/31, W 2/2, and F 2/4: Strategies for Drafting and Developing.

    Read for M 1/31: Writing and Revising, “Chapter 6: Strategies for Drafting,” 83-100, and “Chapter 7: Strategies for Developing,” 101-136.

    * Drafting and Developing Exercise Assigned, M 1/31 *

M 2/7, W 2/9, and F 2/11: Strategies for Revising, Editing, and Proofreading.

    Read for M 2/7: Writing and Revising, “Chapter 8: Strategies for Revising,” 137-154, and “Chapter 9: Strategies for Editing and Proofreading,” 137-189.

    * Revising, Editing, and Proofreading Exercise Assigned, M 2/7 *

    ** Initial Paper Due, F 2/11 **

Unit 2

M 2/14, W 2/16, F 2/18, and M 2/21: Strategies for Argument and Research.

    Read for M 2/14: Writing and Revising, “Chapter 10: Strategies for Arguing,” 190-203, and [From] “Chapter 11: Strategies for Integrating Sources,” 204-232.  

    * Research Term/Concept Explanation Assigned, M 2/14 *

W 2/23, F 2/25, M 2/28, W 3/2, and F 3/4: Work in Teams, Researching and Preparing for the Class Debate.

M 3/7: Class Debate.

    * Annotated Bibliographies of Research Sources for Class Debate Due, M 3/7 *

Unit 3

W 3/9: Introduction to Reading Graphic Novels; Introduction to Themes and Issues, Maus, Persepolis, Blankets, and Fun Home; Introduction to and Initial Discussion of Maus.

    Read for W 3/9: Maus: Book One, Introduction and Chapters 1-4.

    * Graphic Novel Short Paper Assignments Distributed, W 3/9 *

F 3/11, M 3/14, and W 3/16: Discussion, Maus.

    Read for F 3/11: Maus: Book One, Chapters 5-6.

    Read for M 3/14: Maus, Book Two, Introduction and Chapters 1-3.

    Read for W 3/16: Maus, Book Two, Chapters 4-5.

F 3/18: Introduction to and Initial Discussion of Persepolis.

    Read for F 3/18: Persepolis, Book One, “The Veil” through “The Sheep.”

M 3/28, W 3/30, and F 4/1: Discussion, Persepolis.

    Read for M 3/28: Persepolis, Book One, “The Trip” through “The Dowry.”

    Read for W 3/30: Persepolis, Book Two, “The Soup” through “The Exam.”

    Read for F 4/1: Persepolis, Book Two, “The Makeup” through “The End.”

M 4/4: Introduction to and Initial Discussion of Blankets.

    Read for M 4/4: Blankets, Chapters I (“Cubby Hole”), II (“Stirring Furnace”), and III (“Blank Sheet”).

    * First Graphic Novel Short Paper Due, M 4/4 *
W 4/6, F, 4/8, and M 4/11: Discussion, Blankets.

    Read for W 4/6: Blankets, Chapters IV (“Static”) and V (“I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”).

    Read for F 4/8: Blankets, Chapters VI (“Teen Spirit”). and VII (“Just Like Heaven”).

    Read for M 4/11: Blankets, Chapters VIII (“Vanishing Cove”) and IX (“Foot Notes”).
W 4/13: Introduction to and Initial Discussion of Fun Home.

    Read for W 4/13: Fun Home, Chapters 1-2 (“Old Father, Old Artificer” and “A Happy Death”).

F 4/15, M 4/18, and W 4/20:  Discussion, Fun Home.

    Read for F 4/15: Fun Home, Chapter 3 (“That Old Catastrophe”).

    * Second Graphic Novel Short Paper Due, F 4/15 *

    Read for M 4/18: Fun Home, Chapters 4-5 (“In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower” and “The Canary-Colored Caravan of Death”).

    Read for W 4/20: Fun Home, Chapters 6-7 (“The Ideal Husband” and “The Antihero’s Journey”).

F 4/22: Introduction to Class Play Assignment.

W 4/27, F 4/29, M 5/2, W 5/4, F 5/6, and M 5/9: Work in Teams, Composing, Producing, Rehearsing, and Performing Short Plays.

    * Third Graphic Novel Short Paper Due, W 4/27 *

W 5/11 and F 5/13: Performance of Short Plays and Conclusion.




    Class will proceed primarily by way of discussion, following a variety of formats. Throughout the semester you will be actively engaged in educating yourself and the rest of the class through what you have to say as well as share in written form.  I will often give short presentations, especially at the beginning of class, and here you will need to pay close attention, take notes, and be ready to ask relevant questions.  At times you will be working in groups on specific exercises related to concepts and practices you are learning, frequently involving creative as well as critical kinds of skills.  On occasion, as useful, we may watch, listen to, and discuss films, or excerpts from videos, or the internet, and on occasion, we may listen to and discuss musical recordings.  Other possibilities for extrapolation and application exist as well.  Ultimately, as mentioned in the course description section of this syllabus, you will be working intensively, in groups and teams 1.) for six class periods, inside and outside of class, preparing for and ultimately engaging in a class debate; and 2.) for eight class periods, again periodically outside as well as inside of class, in collectively composing, producing, rehearsing, and ultimately performing a short play.  Throughout the semester, I, along with your academic apprentices, Joey and Katie, will be working to help you in every way we possibly can.  I will maintain ultimate responsibility, authority, and control at all times, assisted by Katie and Joey, yet we will aim to insure that everyone participates extensively in our collective work.  We will seek to enhance and develop your preexisting strengths as writers, readers, thinkers, speakers, listeners, and doers–and we will seek to help you in learning from each other as well as from the three of us.


    The following is the official mission statement of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, a mission which includes us all, and which each of us helps realize, bringing to bear our own distinct talents, abilities, knowledges, skills, backgrounds, and experiences:

    We foster in one another creativity, critical insight, empathy, and intellectual courage, the hallmarks of a transformative liberal education and the foundation for active citizenship and lifelong inquiry.

This is a mission to aspire to meet, and each of you has a vitally important role to play in helping us do so.

    The following, in addition, are the five most important, official goals all UWEC undergraduate courses are designed to help you meet, and this class aims to help you with all five:

    1.) Knowledge of Human Culture and the Natural World
    2.) Creative and Critical Thinking
    3.) Effective Communication
    4.) Individual and Social Responsibility
    5.) Respect for Diversity Among People

These goals require your striving to meet them.  Striving means learning actively and deliberately, completing assignments in a thorough and timely fashion, participating in class discussion, and making connections between what we do while meeting in class and what you do when engaged outside of the classroom.


    I expect students in this course to strive to become sincerely interested in learning about the subject matter of this course, and to be consistently intellectually serious as well as academically diligent in their pursuit of this learning.  I expect students to strive to bring actively and extensively to bear–in your essays and contributions to class discussion–insights you gain through your engagement with the texts and topics addressed as part of this course, and I expect you to strive at the same time to relate these texts and topics as closely and as fully as possible to subjects of genuine interest and concern in your own lives, past and present.  And I expect you to let me know right away when and if you have any questions or problems about any aspect of how you are doing in and with the course, so that I can do whatever I possibly can to help answer these questions and solve these problems.

    Most important of all is recognizing that this is a university and not a high school composition course, and that we here expect you to strive to engage in class as a mature adult.  In addition, you will often find that ‘we do things differently’ here, at the university, and that what your high school teachers told you that you ‘should or should not do’ no longer applies, even at times no longer makes any sense at all.  Be ready for that–it’s one thing to write well when you are being addressed and treated as a child; it’s quite another to write well when you are being addressed and treated as an adult.  At the college level you need to take much greater responsibility for yourself, for what you do, how you do it, when, where, and why; it is easy to mess up and even to fail if you are not ready to assume that responsibility.

    Finally, you need to be ready to engage seriously, thoughtfully, and respectfully–at all times–with positions that you don’t necessarily agree with, and even with ones that you may find troubling.  After all, great works of art–including many great works of literature–are often created with the deliberate aim of disturbing, even shocking many people who will encounter these.  Often the intent is to provoke strong response, as well as thought–and action–that goes beyond what has become familiar, conventional, commonsensical, and, especially, merely “safe.”  You are capable of dealing with these kinds of challenges calmly and confidently–and I will expect you to do so.


General Standards for Evaluation of Student Work

    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 Katie and Joey; and by each other.

Attendance and Class Conduct

    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, except for students who must miss an extended period of the semester due to an emergency for which they arrange an officially authorized absence from class (in the latter case, we will work together to make arrangements to help you make up for what you miss):

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.  An unexcused absence is one where you offer no reasonable excuse for missing, but choose this to be a day that you miss class.

2.)     Students should provide me with verifiable 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 two 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 most likely 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 regularly 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 repeatedly do any of this, it 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 what we are focusing on at that point in time in class (e.g., you should avoid text-messaging, or web-searching, or facebooking, or playing games on your cell phone, or checking out youtube while in class–just to mention a few common temptations). *

** Cell phones should be turned off and put away during class time (unless I explicitly request you to take out and use your cell phone as part of a class activity).  It leaves a very bad impression to be using these during class time, and doing so will definitely negatively affect your course grade.  If you are literally addicted to using cell phones such that it is hard for you to stop doing so during class time, you can seek help for this addiction through University Counseling Services.  Students inclined to use cell phones in class almost always have excuses for doing so; rarely are these good excuses and rarely are they acceptable–so it does need to be a genuine emergency for me to grant an exception (not that you ‘need’ to be available should your mother, father, sister, brother, roommate, best friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, or boss want to contact you during class time–none of that, in and of itself, is acceptable as an excuse).  In the past I’ve taken full letter grades off of students’ overall grades who persisted in using their cell phones in class when asked not to do so, and I will not hesitate to do so again. **    

Initial Paper (and Opportunity for Revision)

    The initial paper will provide you an opportunity to apply what we will be working with in discussing and reviewing chapters from Writing and Revising.  Specific details will be explained with the assignment.  This paper will be worth 17.5% of the course grade.  You will have an opportunity to completely revise this paper once, and to replace the grade you earned for your initial finished version of this paper with the grade you earn for the subsequent revision.  In revision, you can take into account my comments, critiques, suggestions, and recommendations for revision.  

Drafting and Developing Exercise Assignment; Revising, Editing, and Proofreading Exercise Assignment; and Research Term/Concept Explanation Assignment

    During the class periods in which we will be discussing strategies for drafting and developing, you will work in pairs to apply these strategies toward each pair of students drafting and developing a short creative piece of writing.  During the class periods in which we will be discussing strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading, you will work in groups on revising, editing, and proofreading an example of ‘bad writing’.   Prior to discussing strategies for research and writing from research I will assign students individual terms and concepts, directly concerned with research, that you will come to class prepared to explain and illustrate.  Precise details for each of these assignments will be explained when they are distributed.  Each assignment is worth 2.5% of the overall course grade, for a total worth 7.5% of the overall course grade.  You and your partner will receive the same grade for your work on the drafting and developing assignment, and you and your groupmates will receive the same grade for your work on the revising, editing, and proofreading assignment.  As necessary, you may need to complete the drafting and developing assignment, as well as the revising, editing, and proofreading assignment (just like the research term/concept explanation assignment) outside of class.  

Participation and Contribution
    My foremost aim in teaching this course is to help you to learn something of significance and value.  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.  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.  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.  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, is 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 to advance a serious and substantial discussion with your peers about the texts and topics subject to discussion.

    Contribution to the class certainly can extend 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 writing can help make up for any 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.  And meeting and working with me, with Joey, and with Katie outside of class can be an important means of contributing as well.

    I will consult with Katie and Joey in determining your participation and contribution grades.  If you want to do well here you must be consistently seriously, thoughtfully, and actively engaged with what we are here to focus on, in class; you must be consistently respectful of me, of Joey and Katie, of your classmates, and of yourself as someone who is here to work and to learn; you must come to class consistently well prepared; you must consistently work well with others inside and outside of class–seeking to be helpful to your peers, in enabling their learning; you must attend class regularly and, in doing so, consistently follow the instructions, and directions, I give you; you must show, in your writing, that you are paying close and careful attention to what we are discussing in class, and working, assiduously, to learn from it; and, you must consistently strive to avoid becoming distracted, or distracting others, from focusing on the work we are in class to do.  Students who engage in behavior that disrupts the learning process for yourself and your fellow students, such as talking while others are speaking, not paying attention in class, doing other work or attending to other interests during the time class is meeting will receive grades of F for participation and contribution.  You will receive four participation and contribution grades, corresponding to each of the four semester units: participation and contribution part one will be worth 5% of the overall course grade, participation and contribution part two will be worth 7.5% of the overall course grade, participation and contribution part three will be worth 5% of the overall course grade, and participation and contribution part four will be worth 7.5% of the overall course grade.  This will mean, therefore, that participation and contribution will be worth a total of 25% of the overall course grade.

Class Debate

    You will work in teams to research and prepare for our class debate, and then on Monday 10/18 we will hold the class debate, which will run for the entire class period.  This activity will allow you to learn–through direct, extensive, and intensive application–how to advance effective arguments, and how to do effective research to support these arguments.  Teams will be required to prepare precisely accurate bibliographies of works consulted in preparing to debate, which you will give me at the end of the class debate.  You will earn a grade worth 15% of the overall course grade in response to the quality of your contribution to the research, preparation, and conduct of the class debate; individual students will receive individual grades for this activity, even though you will be working as part of teams.  Specific details will be explained with the assignment.

Graphic Novels Interpretation and Reflection Papers

    As you read and we discuss Maus, Persepolis, Blankets, and Fun Home, you will work on writing three short papers, with each of these papers addressing a different one of the four graphic novels.  The approximate average target length for each of these papers will be five double-spaced, typed pages (or roughly 1250 words).  I will give you five short paper assignments, and you will do three of them.  You get to choose which three you will do, and you get to choose which graphic novel to write about in relation to each of the three assignments you choose to work on.  One short paper assignment will ask you to analyze three short sequences of panels from one of the four graphic novels, all dealing with the same single issue, focusing in what you write on how words and pictures work together to convey meaning and exert impact.  A second short paper assignment will ask you to identify a single major issue that one of the four graphic novels deals with, as a whole, and to then interpret and explain what the graphic novel has to say about this one issue.  A third short paper assignment will ask you to research the background of the author of one of these four graphic novels, as well as what this author has to say about his or her graphic novel (e.g., how the author conceived and developed this graphic novel as well as why so); you will then reflect on how knowing about the author’s background and what the author has to say about her or his graphic novel affects your understanding and appreciation of this graphic novel.  A fourth short paper assignment will ask you to relate a specific situation, experience, or emotion confronting a major character in one of these four graphic novels to a similar situation, experience, or emotion you–or someone close to you–has also confronted.  And finally, a fifth paper assignment will ask to identify and explain a significant point of connection between one of the four graphic novels and the film (or films) I will screen for you in connection with that same graphic novel.  Precise details will come with the specific short paper assignments.  Each of the three graphic novel interpretation and reflection papers will be worth 7.5% of the overall course grade, for a combined total worth 22.5% of the overall course grade.  You will also have the opportunity to earn up to 7.5% extra credit for doing a fourth one of these five assignments (but you will not be able to earn any additional extra credit for doing all five); what this will involve and how it will work will also be precisely explained at the time I give you the five short graphic novel interpretation and reflection paper assignments.

Composition, Production, Rehearsal, and Performance of a Short Play

    Together with a team of your peers, and the assistance of Katie and Joey, as well as myself, you will compose, produce, rehearse, and ultimately perform–for the rest of the class–a short play based on and inspired by one of the four graphic novels we will be working with (Maus, Persepolis, Blankets, and Fun Home).  I will assign students to teams for this project.  Your task will be to adapt and transform a significant section (or sections) of the graphic novel you are working with, translating this into dramatic form. You may modify and add to what is written in your graphic novel as long as you strive to remain broadly true to the spirit of what you are adapting and transforming. Your goal will be to help people better understand and appreciate what your graphic novel has to say about a specific significant issue, or about a specific array of closely related significant issues.  This activity, especially as a culmination of our work together, will provide you an opportunity to bring to bear, develop, and refine creative as well as critical abilities–along with further advance and enhance your abilities in working as part of a team.  As with the class debate, students always greatly enjoy working on this kind of activity, and gain a great deal from it.  This is true even for students with no prior theatrical experience, and I will not be evaluating you in that direction, as theatre arts students, so no need to worry about that.  The key here is your ability to come up with a compellingly creative and critically insightful adaptation–in the play that you compose and in your conception of how this might be produced and performed–of a significant issue (or of a significant nexus of issues) from the graphic novel you are working with.  Specific details will be explained with the assignment.  The grade you earn for your contribution to the composition, production, rehearsal, and performance of your team’s short play will be worth 15% of the overall course grade.  Once again, as with the class debate project, even though you will be working as part of a team, students will receive individual grades for how they do in working on this project.  


     All papers should be typed, double-space, on 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.  I will expect you, furthermore, to observe the rules and conventions of Standard Written English to the best of your ability in writing these papers, including MLA format for citation and documentation of sources for research beyond the books we use in class.  


    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.  Deliberate dishonesty in written work as part of this course will result in a failing grade.  In addition, plagiarism may result in further disciplinary action on the part of the University administration; it can ultimately lead to expulsion from the University.  If you are in doubt about whether you should give credit to someone else (or something else), it is a good idea to go ahead and do so.  Also, if you directly echo someone else’s thoughts from 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, 2/7/11).    


    Late papers will lose credit 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.  Alternately, if you provide a reasonable explanation why you are late (again, due to a serious personal or family problem) shortly after the paper is due, you won’t suffer any grade penalty.  It is best to talk with me directly about this, or alternately to talk directly with Joey or Katie if I’m not available, and to make sure to do so within a week’s time of the due date at the absolute latest.  I do understand that at times real problems come up for all of us, no matter what we might intend or prefer, but please try to keep up with deadlines; it only ends up hurting you if you fall behind.  Likewise, if you are experiencing so much frustration in the course of writing a paper that you aren’t ready to turn it in on time, arrange to meet and talk with us, as soon as possible, so we can help you; no one wants you to have to suffer any of this if it can possibly be avoided.  And it usually can.   


    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 at times 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; making myself available for conferences with you outside of class is 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.  Keep in  mind–“my office hours” are for you, and 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.   These office hours are time that I have set aside to meet, talk, and work with you.     

    This is one of the advantages of attending a university like UWEC as opposed to a place like UW-Madison or UW-Minneapolis: you maintain much readier and more extensive opportunity to meet and work with professors, from your first semester onward.  And, as a further incentive, students who consult with me in conference on their work for classes I teach always do better, on average, than students who do not, often considerably better.  PLEASE DO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY!

    Also, Katie Fuchs and Joey Wise have joined this class as academic apprentices (i.e., teaching assistants) because they want to work with and help you.  Joey and Katie will be helping me in conducting class sessions, projects, and activities, and in reviewing and evaluating your work.  They will also hold regular office hours of their own and otherwise make themselves available to assist you outside of class.

    Finally, you may seek help in writing assignments for this class, and others you are taking, through the University Writing Center, in Old Library 1142.  Tutors in the Writing Center are English majors, minors, and graduate students, working with English Department Composition Director, Professor Shevaun Watson, Writing Center Coordinator Dr. Blake Westerlund, as well as other members of the university’s and the department’s professional academic staff.  Writing Center tutors are available to meet and work with you not only at the main University Writing Center, in OL 1142, but also at satellite locations in Hibbard Hall, McIntyre Library, the Diversity Resource Center, the Student Success Center, Towers Hall, Sutherland Hall, and the McPhee Strength and Performance Center.  For more information on the University Writing Center, including tutor hours and locations, check out its webpage: http://www.uwec.edu/Writing/index.htm.

    * Any student who has a disability and is in need of classroom accommodations, please contact both the instructor and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office, Old Library 2136; for more information on the services the latter office provides you, check out their webpage: http://www.uwec.edu/ssd/index.htm *


    In the interest of accountability–me to you–I am here providing you weblinks: 1.) to my statement of philosophy as a college teacher: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/philosophy.htm and 2.) to my autobiographical profile: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/PROFILE_.htm.  You are also welcome to check out 3.) my myspace page, http://www.myspace.com/insurgentseanmurphy, and to look me up 4.) on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1755562371  [If you are interested in becoming facebook or myspace friends, feel free to contact me about that.]  In addition, you can find 5.) my professional vita (the academic equivalent of a resume) at: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/VITA.htm.  I encourage you to check these sites out; it is useful for you to know who your teacher is, what he’s about, and where he’s coming from–and I like to be open, honest, and forthright with you about all of that.  I look forward to a great semester working together with yo