“We busted out of class, had to get away from those fools/
We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever did in school.”
“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about
to last him the rest of his days.”
“Children, wake up, hold your mistake up, before they turn the summer
If the children don’t grow up, our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.”
--The Arcade Fire
Texts: Mary Karr, The Liars’ Club
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Donna Tartt, The Secret History
Course Description and Student Learning Goals
The goal of this course is to provide you with reading, writing, speaking, and thinking strategies for your college work and beyond. Both speaking and writing intensive, our course will focus on analyzing, evaluating, and developing arguments. As a way into this process, we will focus on a singular topic everyone has experience with: growing up. We will discuss and write on this topic, sharing ideas, learning how to express our thoughts, and understanding how the elements of communication intersect and diverge. Along the way, through papers, group projects and presentations, we will sharpen our rhetorical skills and learn how to make intelligent and articulate arguments, both written and oral.
1. Reading and short writing assignments: This class will be reading intensive as much as writing and speaking intensive. You cannot expect to do well in class if you do not read. There will be many short writing pieces assigned throughout the semester. Failure to complete these will result in a reduction of your grade. Also, expect regular reading quizzes. If you are not willing to do the reading, this class is not for you.
2. Formal Papers/Drafts: You will write 2 formal papers, each about 4-6 typed pages. You’ll do several drafts of each essay. Please do not throw the drafts away, as you will need them to show process and progress at the end of the semester. Late papers will not be accepted.
3. Group Work/Small Presentations/Book Clubs: Throughout the semester, you will work in groups since this is one of the best ways to learn from each other. I know many students have strong feelings about group work, but it is an important aspect of this class, and we will all work to make group time valuable and enjoyable. You will choose two or three classmates and present a chapter from Bird by Bird. Also, for a large part of the semester, you will work in a book club group, reading a novel together and presenting it to the class at the end of the semester. All group members will be held accountable for what goes on in their time together, and I will regularly monitor the groups’ progress.
4. Short Individual Presentation: Remember, this is a speaking intensive class. Each class member will take a turn being the in class writing leader. This person will bring in a topic for the class to write about for the first 15-20 minutes of class. The leader’s responsibilities for the day include: 1) bringing in a topic; 2) sharing it with the class; 3) keeping time, and finally, 4) leading a brief discussion of what the class wrote. Bring in whatever you want for topics. Find something that catches your attention and you think others might be interested in as well.
5. Class Participation/Workshop Participation: Though there will be occasional lectures, this course is primarily discussion based. Again, this is a speaking intensive class. This means that participation is MANDATORY. A lack of participation will significantly affect your grade. Come to all classes prepared to talk about the reading materials. Before each formal paper is due we will devote class time to reading each other’s drafts and providing helpful advice. Do not miss these workshop days and do not show up without a draft.
A Side Note: This classroom is a writing and speaking community. Because you will all be sharing your creative work, you will all be vulnerable emotionally. It is critical that we treat each other with the appropriate level of courtesy and respect. No one should be made to feel unwelcome here.
A workshop, more than anything else, is a group of friends. This is important: you’re all friends now. Treat each other that way.
Failure to treat other students with the respect they deserve will severely
negatively impact your class participation grade.
6. Portfolios: At the end of the semester you will submit a writing portfolio for evaluation. Your portfolio will include some final versions of your essays, drafts of these essays in progress, and excerpts from informal writings. More specific information on the portfolios will be given later in the semester.
7. Conferences: You will meet with me for a one on one conference at least twice this semester. Please feel free, however, to see me anytime during the semester if you feel you need some advice or assistance with course work. A missed conference equals an absence.
8. Attendance: In this type of class, attendance is crucial and missed class time cannot be made up. You are allowed three absences. Miss four classes, you’ll be docked a letter grade. Miss six classes, you’ll be dropped from the course. I also have no tolerance for tardiness; it disrupts class. Don’t do it. If you are more than 5 minutes late to class twice, that counts as one absence. Finally, if you miss class it is your responsibility to contact me or a classmate to find out what you have missed. An absence is not an excuse for being unprepared for the next class – assignments, etc. are still due.
Semester grades will be computed as follows:
2 Formal Papers: 20%
Final Portfolio: 15%
Individual Presentation: 10%
Small Group Presentation: 15%
Large Group Presentation: 20%
Class Participation/ Quizzes: 20%
Academic Integrity Policy/ Plagiarism
All work submitted to the course must abide by the Academic Integrity Policy, which is covered in the UNCG Student Handbook and available online. Plagiarism is an extremely serious matter. It can result in a zero for the assignment, failure of the course, and possible expulsion from the university.
*Note: Readings listed beside each date should be read for that date. All readings are required.
Aug. 16 Introduction, Syllabus
Aug. 18 Bird by Bird, 3-27
Aug. 23 Bird by Bird, 28-38
In Class Writing # 1
Aug. 25 Bird by Bird, 39-53
In Class Writing # 2
Aug. 30 Bird by Bird, 54-73
In Class Writing # 3
Sept. 1 Bird by Bird, 74-84
In Class Writing # 4
Sept. 6 Bird by Bird, 85-94
In Class Writing # 6
Sept. 8 Bird by Bird, 97-109
In Class Writing # 7
Sept. 13 Bird by Bird, 110-130
In Class Writing # 8
Sept. 15 The Liars’ Club, Chap. 1-4
In Class Writing # 9
Sept. 20 The Liars’ Club, Chap. 5-10
In Class Writing # 10
Sept. 22 The Liars’ Club, Chap. 11-15
In Class Writing # 11
Sept. 27 Workshop Formal Paper 1
In Class Writing # 12
Sept. 29 Formal Paper 1 Due
In Class Writing # 13
Oct. 4 Midterm Conferences
Oct. 6 Midterm Conferences
Oct. 11 Fall Break
Oct. 13 The Secret History, pp. 1-103
In Class Writing # 14
Oct. 18 The Secret History, pp. 103-206
In Class Writing # 15
Oct. 20 The Secret History, pp. 207-319
In Class Writing # 16
Oct. 25 The Secret History, pp. 320-440
In Class Writing # 17
Oct. 27 The Secret History, pp. 441-559
In Class Writing # 18
Nov. 1 Workshop Formal Paper 2
In Class Writing # 19
Nov. 3 Formal Paper 2 Due
In Class Writing # 20, 21
Nov. 8 End of Semester Conferences
Nov. 10 End of Semester Conferences
Nov. 15 Book Club Presentation
Nov. 17 Book Club Presentation
Nov. 22 Final Portfolio Workshop
In Class Writing # 22
Nov. 24 Thanksgiving Break
Nov. 29 Book Club Presentation
Dec. 1 Final Portfolios Due