ENG 112 Critical Writing & Reading syllabus, updated winter 2012 #112cwr

Course: ENG 112 Critical Writing & Reading
Semester: Winter 2012
Teacher/Guide: Dr. James Schirmer
E-mail: jschirm@umflint.edu
Office: 320D French Hall
Hours: Tues/Thurs 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/

Course Description:
The focus of English 112 is to help students be more comfortable in not only writing but also critical thinking and analytical skills. In English 112, students will receive guidance and gain focused practice with proper citations and conventions, read scholarly articles, write critiques, and make logical connections between several sources.  During the research requirement, students will gain further experience in utilizing the library’s resources while working to incorporate a variety of credible sources in writing. Skills gained in this class will be important outside of the classroom, as the ability to communicate effectively in a variety of ways is a requirement of most professional careers.

In particular, this is a course designed to encourage  exploration of what is quality and expertise within a particular writing context, that of a major/intended profession.  By first building on present cultural knowledge and then expanding beyond, this course provides the opportunity to work in greater detail with pieces of writing influential to one's major/intended profession. It also calls for students to reflect on their major/intended profession and its discourse as well as practice such discourse themselves. Students will thus further their understandings of voice, tone, purpose, style, audience, and the importance of research within a particular discipline. This course challenges students to identify, analyze, and synthesize their understandings of quality, expertise and what makes “good writing” in regards to the discourse particular to their major/intended profession.

Required Texts:
All reading materials will be available online or provided via email.

Course Contributions: 
The grading contract outlines many parameters for the course, but not all. Below is more information about the contributions required from all students:

Presence (in class): 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 work. This includes the regular, required writing in instructor-provided Field Notes memo books. I urge you to attend every class, as most of the work done in class is necessary for successful completion of the course. 

Presence (online): To create and sustain further conversation this semester, all students are required to create and maintain Pen.io and Twitter accounts. At least one Pen.io page is due every week for the duration of the semester. One “tweet” per weekday is required for at least the first four weeks of the semester. Further details on Pen.io are available here. Further details on Twitter are available here.

Sequences: For particular course themes, there are some longer assignments (800-2400 words). Unless otherwise specified, work for each sequence will be posted online via Pen.io. These sequences provide opportunities for not only greater attention and focus but also practice and preparation for the final sequence. They are as follows:
  • Major Media Representations (800-1200 words) - due Week 4
    Movies, television, and other media can be very influential in representing particular professions. What sort of precedent do various media set regarding male and female positions in a particular profession? Only by watching and evaluating different media can we attempt to answer this question. 
  • Optional: Major Online Presence (800-1200 words) - due TBA
    This assignment is for those students fed up with Twitter after four weeks of honest use. There are myriad other opportunities for online engagement, including blogs, forums, social bookmarking and networking sites, and wikis. Many of these are subject-specific or oriented to a particular profession and involved in providing information, networking, and/or recruitment. So, how is a particular profession represented online? Again, only by researching and evaluating different online spaces can we attempt to answer this question.
  • Pop Up Scholarship (800-1200 words) - due Week 6/7
    We 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).
  • Mashup Scholarship (800-1200 words) - due Week 8
    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 Danger Mouse's The Grey Album 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.
  • Discipline-Specific Scholarship (2400 words minimum) - due Week 15
    Having read, researched, compiled, annotated, commented, presented and reflected on academic sources directly related to your major/intended profession, we should have a better foundational knowledge of what constitutes quality and/or expertise within a specific field of study. Part of this greater understanding of the field also concerns expectations of quality and/or expertise in writing for future courses. Now is the time to directly apply that knowledge toward a specific end.

Class Facilitation
: Each student group is responsible for facilitating 60 minutes of class once during the semester. Student groups will meet with the instructor 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 PDFs to be loaded). Facilitation readings should be relevant to and provide insight on some aspect of the course.

The class facilitation should begin with a group-led pecha kucha presentation, but what follows that is for each student group to decide. Beyond the presentation, the facilitation can take whatever format is comfortable for the student group presenting (discussion questions, in-class activities, online activities, etc.).

On Technology:
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). Furthermore, you should have an email address that you check regularly for this class. I prefer to contact students via university email, but 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@umflint.edu>. You can also find me online via Twitter <twitter.com/betajames>. 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). I promise not to consider this harassment.

If you are more comfortable with face-to-face communication, you are welcome to schedule an appointment Tuesday/Thursday. My office is 320D French Hall.

Final Note: 
Should any aspect of class confuse/concern/trouble you, don't hesitate to contact me.