Classroom: Curry 331
Office: 02 Petty; 334-3294
Office hours: 12-1:30, MW, & by appointment
Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything. I’m a little anxious. How am I to bring off this conception? …I want to write nothing in this book that I don’t enjoy writing. Yet writing is always difficult.
Writing is difficult. Good writing demands work. During this semester, we will acknowledge the doubts and anxieties inherent to facing the blank page, but we will move beyond them and become better writers. How will we achieve this goal?
Exploration of Rhetorical Modes: Rhetoric is the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing. Learning the various forms (description, narration, argument, analysis, etc…) will help you to become more flexible, well-rounded writers.
Reading: Learning from other writers: Reading and writing are connected. We will learn how to critically read texts (this does not mean negative reading, but a thorough, insightful, questioning reading). Reading the works of good writers will inform your own work. What is the author’s purpose? How does she develop it from introduction to conclusion? What is successful or unsuccessful about the piece? When you begin to answer these question’s about another author’s writing, you will learn to answer the same questions about your own.
Peer Review: The ability to give responses to your classmates’ writing and to get their responses to your own writing may be the most important thing you learn…
Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff
All writers need feedback. Even the most prolific writers have many eyes look over their books before they are published. As writers, you will meet each week to plan, outline, brainstorm, debate, and analyze readings, and critique each other’s writing. Although writing can be a solitary activity, we are going to work as a class to share ideas and observations so that we can improve together.
Revision: I’ve never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making chances.
Why is revision such an essential part of this course? Because revision allows the writer many chances to translate their feelings and thoughts onto the paper. Good writing is always revised writing. The sooner you learn this, the better. It would be wonderful if we lived in the best of all possible worlds, and could, as if by magic, write a brilliant paper on the first try. This rarely happens. In this class, you will hand in a rough draft and several revisions.
The Writer’s Notebook: A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror.
Every two weeks you will hand in pages from your writer’s notebook (or journal). The notebook will be a place where you will reflect, dream, respond, and “try out the new step.” At least one entry a week will be a response to the reading.
Final Portfolio and Reflections on how we write: The final portfolio will be a collection of your best writing connected together by a reflection piece on what you’ve learned about writing over the semester. Throughout the semester, I will have you study your own writing process. This is another way to become a better writer. Why did you stop writing on a particular piece? Why did you start? What is giving you the most trouble? What were you thinking when you sat down with your pen? Why were you able to dig deep into the subject matter? Asking these questions and others, will allow us to become aware of how we work best as individuals.
Learning goals for 101 include:
Writing and evaluating arguments
Communicating clearly and effectively
Evaluating and using relevant information
Understanding aims and methods of intellectual discourse
Evaluating different viewpoints
The Seagull Reader
The College Writer’s Reference
Ernest Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying
A dictionary to bring to class (any paperback dictionary will do)
4-5 essays (about 20 pages of revised, edited writing)
writing reflections and responses
group presentations and activities
2 conferences with me
midterm reflection letter
Attendance: Because this class is centered on in-class discussion, assignments, group work, and in-class writing, attendance is required. Missing more than two classes, being late for more than two classes, or leaving early more than two classes for any reason will lower your grade dramatically. Note: If you are absent from class, for any reason, it is your responsibility to find out the assignment (either from me or from your classmates) and have it done on time. Absence is never an excuse to miss an assignment or a homework lesson.
Classroom Etiquette: Respect for others is expected. Any behavior that distracts (eating, talking while others are talking, etc.) or is disrespectful (personal attacks, etc.) is unacceptable. Students may be asked to leave the classroom if they choose to act in such a way. Cell phones and pagers should be turned off during class time.
Grades: Attendance and participation are crucial to your success in this class. Each paper, in-class writing assignment, and weekly notebook will not get a grade, but comments to lead you into revision and better writing. Group work and participation will have a major impact on your final grade. You will get a tentative grade before the midterm. My comments to you on journals and papers should give you a sense of my evaluation of your work, but feel free to come talk to me at any time about your grade.
Your final grade will take into account the quality of work on your papers and written assignments, as well as your participation and involvement in class activities, and your final portfolio.
Our Schedule: (Note: You will be reading Writing Matters and the English Handbook throughout and additional short readings when applicable.)
Week 1: Essay: Read Part one of Writing Matters and Handbook 20-26, by Wednesday, 8/21, Read Didion by Friday, 8/23
Week 2: Essay: Read E.B. White by 8/26, Handbook (A Writer’s Questions, Explaining Concepts, Writing to Discover), Writing Matters 73-78
Week 3: Essay: Read Welty by 9/3, Writing Matters 44-48 by 9/5, Handbook, 64-69
Week 4:Rough draft of paper #1 due
Essay: Angelou and Poe (e-reserve) by 9/9, Handbook, Writing Matters 38-43
Week 5: Paper #1 due to me
Essay: Read Hurston and short reading (e-reserve),