Course: ENG 111 College Rhetoric (#111cr)
Semester: Fall 2011
Teacher/Guide: Dr. James Robert Schirmer (@betajames)
E-mail: jschirm AT umflint DOT edu
Office: 320D French Hall
Hours: Monday/Wednesday by appointment
Mailbox: 326 French Hall
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/
English 111 is designed to equip students with the ability and knowledge to write college-level essays that are clear, argumentative, and persuasive. Skills gained in this class will be important beyond the classroom as the ability to communicate effectively is a requirement of most professional careers.
This course is formatted to help students feel more comfortable in their writing. We will explore and discuss different strategies and steps involved in composition that will allow each student to find the system that works best for them. Writing is not only a product but also a process; therefore, revision will be emphasized and fostered with instructor, peer, and personal comments. All aspects of effective essays, such as finding a target audience, creating coherent organization, and establishing purpose will be explored.
Much of our class time will have a writers' workshop environment. When we share our writing with each other, we'll work to give friendly and helpful feedback. Because we are practicing writers, too, we'll all be able to relate to the demands of writing good essays for a college-level audience.
In addition to writing, we'll read other writers in order to help us understand the various components of successful essays. The readings should also help in generating ideas for composed pieces and develop and reinforce critical reading and thinking skills.
Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. "They Say / I Say": The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: Norton, 2006.
The First Year Writing Program: A Survival Kit: http://www.umflint.edu/english/pdf_files/Kit15.pdf
All other reading materials will be provided online.
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. Blogging: 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 each are due twice a week by session start.
- Blog comments of 40-60 words each are due thrice a week by 5pm every Friday.
Further blogging guidelines are provided here.
Tweeting: 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. Clicking on each assignment title will take you to the official assignment sheet.
Pop Up Scholarship (800-1200 words)
Given a greater familiarity with the discursive particulars of academic writing, we should now have the ability to engage in a dialogue with a text, not only noting its unique, stylistic features but also amending/changing the text itself. This assignment emphasizes Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on dialogism and that “all discourse is a response” (Ewald 88). It also stresses the creativity of the reader in the act of making meaning, encouraging an abandonment of “the notion that the text is the sole, even primary, repository of meaning in written discourse” (88).
Reverse-Engineered Scholarship (800-1200 words)
This assignment asks that you begin at the end, that you start with a finished piece of writing and work backward. It is similar to the other “Scholarship” assignments in that it asks you to pay attention to particulars of a piece of written work. While Pop Up and Mashup consider audience, grammar and syntax, organization, and source materials, Reverse-Engineered Scholarship focuses on argument, idea development, and the method or process of how we write.
Mashup Scholarship (800-1200 words)
Beyond one-to-one dialogue with a text is, of course, dialogic multiplication, the cacophonous implementation of many texts together. This means realizing and showing how well a variety of works relate to each other in terms of argument and meaning, thereby mirroring Girl Talk, Danger Mouse's The Grey Album, Wugazi’s 13 Chambers, and Jonathan Lethem's "The ecstasy of influence." Like "Pop Up Scholarship," this assignment emphasizes reader as well as writer creativity, encouraging a plagiarism of sorts to promote better understanding of textual construction.
The Big One (at least 2000 words total)
Having reflected on how we use technology and put together documents revealing knowledge of scholarly argument and discourse, it is important to put those abilities to a larger, cumulative test. Intended as a demonstration of what should be acquired in ENG 111, this assignment asks for process-oriented engagement with a focused topic, one realized through an unorthodox composition and resulting in more traditional pieces of academic work.
Class Facilitation: Student groups are responsible for facilitating class once during the semester. It should last 60 minutes with students providing readings for the rest of the class prior to the facilitation. Student groups will meet for instructor approval 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.
Because an increasing amount of writing occurs in an online format, 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. A majority of the tools we will be using in and outside of class are web-based, so you will not need any special software. I might, however, have some recommendations (not requirements) that I will provide at 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 is by email < jschirm AT umflint DOT edu >. You can also find me online via 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 a reminder. As I might not have received your first message, I promise not to consider your second message harassment. If you are more comfortable with face-to-face communication, you are welcome to schedule an appointment. My office is 320D French Hall.
Should any aspect of class confuse/concern/trouble you, don't hesitate to contact me.