McIver 326, TTH 12:30-1:45
Instructor: Rebecca Jones
Office: 137 McIver
Office Hours: W 11:00 - 12:30 and TH 2 - 3:30 and by appointment
The Rhetoric of Reading and Writing Essays
The essay can do everything a poem can do, and everything a short story can doeverything but fake it.
The essay genre offers valuable literary form for practicing writing. It has vast space for an imagination to run yet has enough border to be recognizable to an audience. In this course, we will explore the borders of essays as they bulge against and absorb fiction, poetry, drama, journalism, scientific inquiry, and much more. We will read and examine various writers and their essay style as we write our own pieces. Our exploration will be based in rhetoric as we consider the relationship between the writer, reader, and subject as well as the methods and aims of prose style.
Essentially, this is a writing course. We will do a great deal of writing, but to be a good writer requires two things. You must be a good reader and you must practice writing. As a result this class will be based on analysis of anthologized and class essays and, most importantly, on revision. Though we will explore and question the various "kinds" of essays (from personal to persuasive), the topics of your writing will be generated in your own fertile mind. Though I ask that you try different forms, the ideas and topics of your writing ultimately should be of interest and especially of use to you as a writer and a thinker.
The Best American Essays
Regular Attendance and Class Participation
4-5 Essays (revised)
Essay Journal (short in and out of class writings, brainstorms, beginnings, etc
Brief Group Analysis of Essay Writer
Final Portfolio (includes revised essays and analysis)
*Your grade will be determined upon successful completion of the above requirements
Group Work:This class will be based on group work and peer review. Not only will we meet in groups to discuss readings, but all papers will be reviewed and discussed in peer workshops. As a result, missing class will put you personally behind and will let down your group. Participation in your group and in all-class discussion will make up a large portion of your grade.
Mutual Respect: Just as I will come to class on time, grade your work in a timely fashion, and treat you as an intelligent person with interesting ideas, I expect the same of you. Everyone has a right to voice their opinion in this course as long as it does not intentionally harm another student. Lively discussion is hoped for, but please think before you speak. To be respectful, you must turn off cell phones during class.
Papers: You are welcome to continue revising your papers and turning them in for additional comments until specified times during the semester. Papers should be turned in on the day they are due at the beginning of the class period, typed in a 12 pt. Font. In addition, drafts for peer review should also be typed as a courtesy to your readers.
Portfolio: A collection of your best work will be turned in on the last day of class. We will negotiate the parameters of this portfolio together. In addition, you will include a style analysis of one of your own essays.
Essay Journal: I recommend that you purchase or find some kind of notebook or loose-leaf binder to keep all of your in-class writing and out of class work. Class work will serve as material for your essays and will be useful to you at a later date. In addition, I will ask that you turn in some of these smaller writings so that I can gage your process and give you a chance to ask questions.
Conferences: We will have at least two conferences during the semester to discuss your writing. For the most part, you will be responsible for the content of the conferences. So, you will need to come prepared with questions. I hope that you will feel comfortable initiating your own conferences beyond the two required meetings.
Group Analysis: Each group will choose a particular writer to analyze and present to the class. These presentations will be very informal and serve primarily to spark critical analysis of writing styles. I hope to give you sufficient class time to complete this short project. You will need to create a handout or style sheet to give to the whole class.
The influential essayist is someone with an acute sense of what has not been (properly) talked about, what should be talked about (but differently). But what makes essays last is less their argument than the display of a complex mind and a distinctive prose voice.
Syllabus (subject to change according to class needs)
T Aug 21 Introduction
Th Aug 23 Read
T Aug 28 Read
Th Aug 30 Draft of Nature/Observation Essay Due
T Sep 4 Nature/Observation Essay Due
Th Sep 6 Read
T Sep 11 Read
Th Sep 13 Read
T Sep 18 Group Presentations
Th Sep 20 Read - "Ring Leader" Kusz (BAE), "No Wonder They Call Me a Bitch" Hodgman (BAE), "A Look at Sports Nuts
T Sep 25 Read
Th Sep 27 Draft of Personal Essay Due
T Oct 2 Personal Essay Due
Th Oct 4 Library
T Oct 9 NO CLASS