Course: ENG 252 - Advanced Composition (#252ac)
Semester: Fall 2011
Teacher/Guide: Dr. James Schirmer (@betajames)
Office: 320D French Hall
Hours: Monday/Wednesday by appointment) Writing Center: 559 French Hall
Writing Center Phone: 810.766.6602 (call ahead to make an appointment)
Writing Center Website: http://www.umflint.edu/departments/writingcenter/ Course Description:
As what constitutes composition (advanced or not) expands due to technological influence, the kinds of writing in which we engage also change. Everyday writing can often take on greater importance, informing other kinds of composition. This course endeavors to garner greater understanding and awareness of our past, present, and future practices of writing. The what and why of writing is as of much focus here as the how.
Upon completion of this course, you will have:
- Read self-selected texts in preparation for advancing notions of writing
- Developed a broader understanding of what signifies as composition
- Practiced the application of said understanding through evaluative and reflective writing
- Prepared one or more substantial compositions for peer/public viewing
All texts will be available online or provided via email.
The grading contract outlines many parameters for the course, but not all. Below is more information about unique contributions to be made to the course by all students.
Presence: I expect you to come to class on time, prepared, having completed the assigned reading and writing, and ready to contribute thoughts to class discussions, to listen with attentive respect to the thoughts of your peers, and to participate in all in-class group work. I strongly urge you to attend every class, as most of the work done in class is necessary for successful completion of the course. Posterous: Contrary to assumptions about writing, authorship is more of a collective process than an individual endeavor. To better illustrate this, you are required to create and maintain a Posterous blog for the duration of the course. Particular requirements for blogging are as follows:
- Blog entries of 400-600 words are due twice a week by session start.
- Blog comments of 40-60 words are due thrice a week by 5pm every Friday.
Further guidelines are provided here.
Twitter: To create and sustain further conversation this semester, all students are required to maintain active presence on Twitter for a minimum of four weeks. One post (or tweet) per day is required, but there is freedom regarding content. Students are welcome to post original thoughts, "retweet" classmates' updates, @ (reply to) classmates' updates, and share course-relevant links with the course hashtag. Posts unrelated to course content are okay, but these will not count toward the requirement. I am very active on Twitter, so I encourage all students to check my profile (as well as those I follow) for potential models of engagement. Further guidelines are provided here.
Sequences: For particular course themes, there are some longer assignments. These provide opportunities for not only greater attention and focus but also practice and preparation for later projects and beyond. They are as follows:
Personal writing history
Reflecting on our relationships with writing can help us understand how and why we write and, by extension, how our own writing strategies are similar to and different from those around us. By putting such reflection into the form of an autobiography, we have a chance to get to know each other better in a unique way.
Media representations of writing
Given that what constitutes composition/writing expands, (in)accurate portrayals of composers and the act of composing persist. While some might offer evidence of future ways, others suggest more traditional methods. How various and sundry media present and represent composers and composing can often have as much influence on our thinking as what, where, and when we write.
Given the relative wealth of “distraction-free” writing programs available online, each purports to be unique in promising to deliver the same, basic thing: increased focus on the task at hand. Both the programs themselves and their descriptive pitches enable and frame the act, purpose, and value of writing in different ways. Some are very process-oriented; others are more expressive. Many exhibit stark, monochromatic styles, harkening back to simpler times. So, let’s see if any of these programs fulfill their promises.
- Writing studies project
You have the choice of putting together a critical or a creative piece for a semester-end project. This will involve several project drafts throughout the final quarter of the semester. Critical projects must be at least 2400 words; creative projects will need to be significant digital documents (produced for this class alone) accompanied by process notes that help contextualize the work.
Class Facilitation: Student groups are responsible for facilitating class once during the semester. It should last 60 minutes with each group providing readings for the rest of the class prior to the facilitation. Student groups will meet with me at least one week prior to their facilitation to finalize readings and discuss approaches.
Facilitation readings should be given to the instructor in time to allow for copies to be made (or files to be uploaded). Facilitation readings should be relevant to and provide insight on some aspect of the course.
A facilitation can take whatever format is comfortable for the student group presenting (discussion questions, in-class activities, online activities, etc.). The introduction and subsequent discussion of topics for facilitation will be based on students' interests and finalized as a class.
On Technology Usage:
Because the core of this class involves how technology changes writing as well as our sense of self and culture, we will engage a range of computer tools and web-based applications. No prior skill is needed, however, only a willingness to engage and learn. I am more than willing to take extra time; all you need to do is ask. The tools we will be using in and outside of class are web-based, so you will not need any special software. I do, however, have some recommendations (not requirements) that I will provide at the appropriate intervals. Furthermore, you should have an email address that you check regularly for this class. While I prefer to contact students via university email, I am open to other email addresses. While technology makes life easier, it can also be difficult (computer crashes, deleted work, unavailable Internet connections, etc.). So, plan accordingly. "The computer ate my homework" or "the Internet was down" are not reasons to forgo the work assigned. It is in your best interest to leave extra time, especially in the first few weeks, to ensure that technology does not get in the way of your coursework. How to Reach Me:
The best way to reach me though is by email, but you can find me on Twitter. I am online almost every day. If you email or @ me and do not receive a response within 24 hours, please feel free to email or @ me again (as I might not have received your first message) and give me a reminder. I promise not to consider this harassment. If you are more comfortable with face-to-face communication, let me know and we can set up an appointment.
Should any aspect of class confuse/concern/trouble you, don't hesitate to contact me.