Composition as Critical Inquiry
Introduction to Creative Writing
ENG 227 – Section 002
ENG 101 – Section 057
Instructor: Ryan Edel
TBA and By Appointment
Contact the Instructor
Table of Contents
Overview of Key Policies
Personal Conduct (in-depth)
Citation and Plagiarism (in-depth)
Grading for this course will be based on points. Each assignment will be given a number of points equal to the weighting for that assignment. (For example, a 30-point assignment will carry twice the weight of a 15-point assignment.) Your average for the course will be equal to the number of points you have earned divided by the total number of points possible for the course. For larger projects, sections of each project will be assigned points following this same system. Assignments for a “typical” day will usually equal about 15 points – a 100-point paper will be worth nearly seven days of classroom work, which would cover 3 ½ weeks of the semester.
Participation Factored Into Assignments and Activities
Your participation grade will be factored in as part of the assignments and activities. If you are present and participating in the in-class activity, you will receive points for that activity – if you miss class, you will not receive points for that activity unless you complete the activity outside class per the Attendance Policy.
Grades Posted to ReggieNet
Points for assignments will be posted to ReggieNet. In the event of any questions or discrepancies, please Contact Ryan.
As a writing course, this class should teach you to read critically, research extensively, imagine generously, and produce prodigiously. And then go back and mercilessly extinguish cut the adverbs and hyperbole through revision.
Here’s a list of the types of assignments and why they’re important.
No one is born knowing how to read or write. The skill of crafting a story is indeed a skill – it can be learned, and you can improve. The first step is finding examples to follow. Over time, you learn to evaluate and question the examples. Through the readings, I want you to understand what “good” writing means in a variety of genres, and then use this to question our own preconceptions.
Quizzes / Tickets In
There will be either a quiz or a ticket-in on most of the readings. A ticket-in is like a worksheet you fill out before class (except these will usually be done online through Google Docs.) A quiz is filled out in-class. For both these assignment types, you’ll pair up with a partner to grade them in-class. You’ll have the opportunity to review your partner’s comments and points and then appeal any discrepancies. Final grades recorded by the instructor will only be available to the individual students via ReggieNet, per the 2010 Supreme Court Ruling on Peer Grading.
On the syllabus, it might say (500/1,000). This is shorthand for “you’re selecting 500 words from the 1,000 you’ve written” (or whichever numbers are present in the parentheses.) This means I want you to have two drafts: first, a 1,000 word draft that you simply pounded out or scribbled on as fast as you can – from this, you pull out 500 words (about two pages double-spaced) to share with classmates. The (rough draft) is not graded for content – you get full credit for reaching that word count. As the semester goes on, “for the class” drafts will be evaluated based on how well you’re developing your written voice.
This is your place to bring your favorite and/or most experimental work. Select some of the best work from your practice pieces, refine and revise, and then bring it in for peer review among your classmates. Note the Revisions Policy.
This is where you talk about a reading or a workshop experience, explaining what you’ve learned from it and how it changes your thoughts on writing. This is an important part of metacognition (see also Wikipedia).
When revising a paper for resubmission as a new assignment, you must follow the equation ds >= ½s (The changes made to the text must be greater than or equal to one half the original text.) For example, if you originally submitted a 500 word text for class, the new text must meet the word requirements of the new assignment, and at least 250 of the words submitted for the new assignment (½s) must be brand new.
Consistent on-time attendance is the best way to keep up-to-date in the course. Although the outside reading, activities, and projects will provide a strong learning experience, they cannot replicate or replace the experience of participating in the classroom community. We will go over assignments, review material, and even grade some of the activities during class time – missing time in class will cause you to miss much of the week’s learning. The following attendance policy is designed to discourage absences while also providing the means to keep up with the course in case you do end up having to miss class.
If you are absent (regardless of the reason), a 750-word make-up assignment must be e-mailed to me within ten days of the missed class. (An extension on this may be granted if the absence is due to extenuating circumstances such as illness or family emergency.) The make-up assignment is to check with three other classmates about what we did in class that day and then describe what they told you. You must quote these three individuals by name and note any differences between their descriptions of the day’s activities.
Any in-class activities must be completed in addition to the 750-word write-up. These are also due within ten days of the missed class.
Every absence without a written make-up will lead to a 3% deduction from the final grade. Any classroom or homework activities not submitted within the ten-day window will be marked zero.
The Math of Absence
Three absences without make-up work will lead to a 9% deduction in the final grade (in addition to any lost points for the in-class activities.) This typically drops the final grade by one full letter. However, students who miss class tend to also receive lower grades on their projects – often, a student with three or more absences will only have an 85% average on their completed assignments. Thus, a solid B quickly drops to a C.
The ten days is provided to ensure you’ll have a chance to talk with classmates before or after class as soon as you return, and then still have time to complete the make-up.
A Note to Classmates
If you find that someone is frequently missing class and then always approaching you about the make-up work, it is okay to decline to help. Also, please avoid offering help via e-mail – it’s best if the 750-word write-up cannot be written via copy-paste.
Effective learning requires a safe atmosphere for all participants. All students will be treated equally and fairly. Behavior counter to a productive professional environment will not be allowed (e.g. name-calling, personal insults, threats). Per university regulations and standard ethics, no acts of discrimination, sexual harassment, or violence will be tolerated. Students who violate these principles may be marked absent and asked to leave. In cases of repeated or blatant violations, students may be referred to the Community Rights and Responsibilities Office or other appropriate campus offices.
In the event that you have any concerns with the atmosphere of the course, please let me know. In the event you don’t feel comfortable discussing your concerns with me, I encourage you to contact the English Department in STV 409. For additional contact information for advisers, please see the department website: http://english.illinoisstate.edu/default.aspx
Bathroom Breaks and “Stepping Out for a Moment”
It’s important to me that every student feels comfortable in the course. And let’s be honest - that’s impossible if you need “to go.” So if you need to use the restroom, please feel free - just let me know that you’ll be stepping out for a moment (a quick nod or gesture to the door is fine).
However, I do ask that everyone try to plan ahead. If you’re on your way to class knowing that you need to use the restroom, then please stop there on the way. I do find it disconcerting when the same students ask to step out each day, or if two or three students at a time are stepping out.
Also, please do not use this as an opportunity to step out and take a call or answer a text. If you are waiting on an important call, please let me know at the start of class - I perfectly understand. (I have a small child. If his daycare calls while I’m teaching, I will let you know as I step out to take that call.) If, however, you jump up in the middle of class and dart out without explanation simply because your phone rang, I may mark that as an absence.
Covered Drinks are Permitted, Food is Not
Because we are working in a computer lab, I ask that you bring only covered beverage containers, and please keep all beverages on the floor when not actively consuming them.
Water bottles, coffee mugs with screw-on lids, and small-sized drinks with lids and straws are acceptable. Due to the laws of physics and a bad experience with a Super Big Gulp in my car, no large or very large take-out drinks may be consumed near the computers. If you do bring one to class, I ask that you keep it away from the computers, preferably someplace near the door but out-of-the-way (i.e. someplace where it is incredibly unlikely that someone will accidentally bump an ocean of Slurpee with the misplaced toe of a sneaker.)
Due to the fact that food always finds its way onto fingers and then into the keyboards, no food may be consumed in the computer lab. You are welcome to have food in your backpack or in a bag on the floor, but please do not take it out and start eating. In the event that you have food which must be consumed during class time (e.g. for medication, etc.) simply ask to be excused from class for a few minutes.
In Class Technology: Focus on the Course, not Texting
Respect for your classmates depends upon respect for the course itself. When present in class, please focus your attention on the discussions at hand. I will strive to make our discussions fun and educational - I prefer that you not check Facebook or personal e-mail during class time unless needed for collaboration. Texting to individuals outside of class is particularly distracting, and is also not recommended. Anyone who repeatedly violates this
policy may be marked absent and asked to leave, particularly if this behavior begins to distract other students.
Artistic and Academic Freedom versus Classroom Appropriate Material
Writing is a very broad field, and we can potentially draw material from not just written works, but other cultural modes of expression (e.g. fashion, politics, and pornography). However, our freedom as writers must coexist with our responsibilities as members of the academic community. During this course, we must confine our public projects and examples to materials which are appropriate for the classroom. For regular weekly assignments (which will only be read by me), you may consider and discuss any material of interest. Materials to be shared in class or online should be acceptable to a larger, PG (possibly PG-13) audience. No works which promote pornography, explicit violence, or illegal activities should be shared in the classroom without explicit instructor permission. But again, note that there is a difference between promoting and exhibiting - there are times when terrible actions need to be written about in order to consider what it is that makes them terrible. When in doubt, please check first - I’m happy to review any material to let you know if it’s suitable for the classroom atmosphere.
Citation and Plagiarism
Creative work is by definition original, and all writing is creative. All works submitted for class are to be the sole creation of the student (or students, for group projects). Themes from other writers and outside research should influence your work, and open discussion of works-in-progress is encouraged. “Original” work is still a social production - we are continually responding to the world and those other creative works inhabiting that world. Because of this conversational nature of writing, it’s important to recognize those outside influences. When you reference another source, proper citation (in keeping with the standards of the genre) is required.
In my experience, I’ve noted a great deal of confusion among students regarding what constitutes plagiarism. Here is a general, crystal clear definition of blatant plagiarism: if you have copied whole sentences verbatim from an outside source, and those sentences do not have quotation marks and a citation, then this is plagiarism. Outside sources include books, the internet, your classmates, essays you’ve written for other classes, or any other source which was not produced by you for this course. (And yes, it also includes work which you have submitted for other courses, so no repeats on stories or essays, please.)
Here are some examples of the “gray area” of plagiarism:
Unfortunately, the easy “share” buttons of social media and the ready duplication of copy-and-paste have left many of us with the habit to taking “snippets” of material from outside sources. These are not bad habits – they simply must be coupled with the appropriate use of citation. If you include any images, lines of text, or ideas from an outside source, simply include a note to let your readers know the original source of the material. We will discuss different modes of citation (such as Modern Language Association and standard hyperlinks), but writing a “perfect” citation is less important than providing your readers with enough information to track down your original sources. I strongly recommend reading the Wikipedia Article on Fair Use for useful guidelines regarding how to appropriate material from outside sources as part of your own creative works.
Please let me know if at any time you have questions regarding citation or plagiarism. In cases where sources are not properly cited, the final grade for a project may be lowered by up to one letter grade. Flagrant plagiarism – i.e. presenting the work of another as your own – will be addressed according to the policies set forth by ISU’s Community Rights and Responsibilities Office. Plagiarism will result in grade reduction, possible failure of the course, and possible additional sanctions.