GWRJ: Grassroots Writing Research Journal, Issue 8.1, ed. by Joyce Walker, available from the campus bookstore. Students are required to purchase this text and bring it to class on the days we discuss GWRJ articles.
The majority of assigned texts will be hyperlinked from the online syllabus, and these readings may be supplemented with handouts. Additionally, the following online textbooks will be regularly referenced:
Daily attendance is a major requirement for success in this course. I will take attendance each day. Each student is permitted two “sick day” absences – you are however still responsible for completing any missed assignments, and I will mark zeros on assignments missed due to absence. For each absence after two, I will subtract 3% from your final grade. However, if you have 8 or more unexcused absences, this will result in an automatic failure of the course, per the ISU Writing Program guidelines.
Exceptions to this policy include illness, family emergency, and ISU-sanctioned student activity (e.g. marching band, athletics.) In these cases, please contact me as soon as possible to let me know, and then we will discuss appropriate make-up work. In the event that you do have excused absences, the excused absences will automatically count toward your “sick day” absences.
Please note that employment hours will not count as excused absences. Please notify your employer of your class schedule. If your supervisor schedules you for class time, please let me know. You may also feel free to provide your supervisor with my cell phone number. If I don’t hear from them, I’ll be happy to call them myself.
The syllabus lists milestones and due dates for the major projects, typically on a Friday. For these projects, the deadline is midnight of that day. If you require additional time, please request an extension via e-mail by the day before (Thursday). If no work is submitted and no extension is requested, I may subtract up to 10% from project work for each day late. The lost points will ONLY apply to the section of your project due that particular day, not the entire project. In cases of emergency (such as illness or family emergency) I will not impose a grade penalty – instead, we will work out a new deadline based on circumstances.
For the readings and “regular” assignments, those are to be read or completed before class time on the date listed. In general, I don’t accept late assignments unless there’s an extenuating circumstances (such as illness or a family emergency.) Most days, we will have classroom activities directly tied to the reading assignments – if you don’t complete the reading in time for these activities, then you will have missed an opportunity to fully appreciate these activities.
This course will rely heavily upon online tools and resources, and I will set aside class time to ensure everyone can access key online resources. At a minimum, you will be required to have a Google Drive account, and you will need access to several Kindle Samples from Amazon. To keep textbook costs down, you will not be required to purchase any texts through Amazon – you are, however, expected to make arrangements to read the assigned samples. Google Drive and Kindle Samples can both be accessed on campus library computers with internet.
About the Course
English 101 centers upon our habits of writing, the genres we use for expression, and our audiences. To remember this, think “Author, Artifact, Audience.” I know, artifact seems a strange term to describe writing, but the written part of your writing is just that – an artifact. Words on a page, video on a screen – language that has been carved into stone. It’s the solid evidence of how authors communicate with audiences.
But communication, by its very nature, is messy. You say one thing, but people read it another way. Or your friends know what you mean before you even say it. Artifacts alone cannot tell the whole story. But sometimes, artifacts are all we have. A resume, a cover letter – a future employer might see nothing else about you. Unless they check your Facebook profile. And then decide that the one picture you took on that one day is the one picture that sums up your entire life. (Hopefully it was a good one?)
We’ll use two models to address how texts fit within society. The first, Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) identifies the processes of production, dissemination, and perception that affect our understandings of writing. The second model is the Rhetorical Triangle of ethos, pathos, and logos (frequently referred to as “traditional rhetoric.”) Through these models, you’ll come to understand why we use different styles of writing when we use different genres.
Focus: Rhetoric and the American Experience
For this section of English 101, we will draw many of our in-class examples from American political discourse, moving from 1776 to the present. We’ll be considering how social forces and writing technologies have affected (and been affected by) texts from the Declaration of Independence to Twitter. This will be a broad survey intended to indicate the varieties and complexity of rhetorical texts, and we will discuss the ways in which these texts have shaped our own individual American identities. The goal is not to “define” America, but rather to go beyond our own preconceptions, to understand that every text can be interpreted in different ways, often depending upon who’s reading it and why. From these lessons, you will learn ways to better compose your own texts, and I will provide each of you with individual feedback to help you become a more effective writer in the genres of your choice.
Respect Is Essential
During this course, we will be addressing some uncomfortable topics. It is very likely that not everyone in the class will share the same beliefs, and that members of our class will hold a variety of perspectives regarding the topics we discuss. In this, respect is crucial. I will respect everyone’s right to hold an opinion, and I will not grade assignments based on whether or not I agree with your opinion. Instead, I grade assignments based on how well you are able to articulate a perspective and then support your writing with evidence. It is my job to (1) expose all of you to a variety of perspectives, (2) provide you with research tools to gather and evaluate evidence, and (3) provide guidance to help you better express your thoughts through writing.
As a member of this class, you will be expected to also treat your classmates with a high level of respect. Disagreement is certainly okay – we don’t all need to think and feel the same things. (In fact, that would be counterproductive – a key part of learning is understanding the differences in how individuals view the world.) However, we cannot have behaviors that forces some students into silence. Name-calling, abusive language, and threats of any kind will not be tolerated. Also, we cannot have writing that is specifically designed to “hurt” someone. I don’t mean that all writing should be “happy” – in fact, much of the readings I assign still leave me uncomfortable, and addressing this discomfort is a part of learning. However, I will not allow writing that aims to denigrate another person’s humanity, that denies another student the right to an opinion, or that threatens harm to another person. Violation of these standards may lead to removal from the course and/or a report to appropriate university officials.
This course is divided into an introductory unit (“Project 0”) followed by a project about any topic you’d like to write about (Projects 1, 2, and 3.)
Daily Assignments (15%)
These are the regular assignments drawn from our assigned readings. Quizzes, reading responses, and in-class activities are a key part of learning the course concepts.
Project 0: Applying CHAT to Rhetoric (20%)
In this collaborative project, you and your group members will choose a single document or set of documents somehow related to American history. Then, using CHAT and the Rhetorical Triangle, you’ll discuss how this document came to be written and its cultural impact. Your goal is to gather quotes that define each of the CHAT terms, and then apply these terms appropriately to describe your selected document. See More about Project 0 – P0 Grading Rubric
Project 1: Genre Research (40%)
In this individual project, you’ll choose a genre related to any topic you like. I highly encourage genres that you yourself either enjoy or plan to use in a future career – Facebook, recruitment posters, websites, and texting are some of the many genres I’ve seen discussed. You’ll research the conventions of this genre, make a list of 40 quotes from ten sources, and then outline strategies to weave your research into a cogent discussion. Using your prepared materials, you’l then write 2,500 words (10pp) explaining your genre, providing appropriate source citations to support your points. This is also an excellent project to revise and then submit to the Grassroots Journal. See More about Project 1
Project 2: Multimodal Expression (15%)
Following your research project, you’ll produce examples of the genre you’ve researched, and then produce a visual “how to” guide for audiences unfamiliar with your genre. PowerPoint, YouTube, and Tumblr feeds are among the successful choices I’ve seen for this project. See More about Project 2
Project 3: Writing Program Assessment Portfolio (10%)
Our capstone to the course is a portfolio that illustrates what you have learned during the semester. How has the course changed your thoughts on writing? What surprised you about the genre you’ve researched? You will pull all your projects together into a single folder, both regular assignments and your works from Projects 0, 1, and 2. You are expected to provide at least 750 (3pp) words of discussion regarding your learning, and this should be interspersed with quotes and/or images taken from your prior works. I encourage the use of margin comments to better highlight which parts of your texts taught you the most. See More about Project 3
Writing Program Assessment (10%)
The last week of class, we’ll be taking part in the Writing Program Assessment Surveys. These surveys are designed to assess how well the course is teaching you the key skills of genre analysis. These are designed as in-class activities – if you cannot be present, you MUST notify me beforehand so we can make arrangements for you to take part.
Final grades will be determined according to the following scale:
90 to 100% = A
80 to 89% = B
70 to 79% = C
60 to 69% = D
Below 59% = F