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English 101: Syllabus

Syllabus     Schedule     Online Readings     



Course Description:

English 101: Composition and Rhetoric is designed to introduce you to the kind of writing and reading which will be expected from you at the college level. At the heart of both writing and reading is thinking, and this course will challenge you to think in ways that you may have not previously been asked to think. The primary texts studied in the class are the students’ written texts; however, these texts will be supplemented by essays written by more experienced writers from a variety of academic disciplines, writing in a variety of rhetorical situations. The classroom is a workshop where students write multiple drafts of their essays and respond to each other’s works-in-progress. The classroom also functions as a discussion arena where students meet to analyze various published essays in order to discover how meaning is created in written texts and how the authors’ use of language shapes the essays. We will read eight or so essays. We will write two essays. Evaluation of your work will consist of constructing a portfolio of all your work, the final versions of your essays, and your participation in the course.


Course Objectives:
Through this course you will be able to determine the following, with reference to specific rhetorical situations:

How to gain entrance to a text (e.g. by asking and answering, "What kinds of questions lead to a worthy analysis?");

What counts as a point worth making;

How to arrange points for a particular audience;

When and how to elaborate a point;

What constitutes adequate evidence/support

How to eliminate non-negotiable errors


Course Materials and Texts:
A Writer’s Reference, 4th Edition, Diana Hacker, Bedford Books: Boston

Sharing and Responding, 2nd Edition, Pat Belanoff and Peter Elbow, McGraw Hill: New York

Online/Handout Readings

One Three-ringed Binder, with about 100 sheets of paper, "law" or "summary" ruled if possible; one divider

4 file folders

2 floppy computer disks.


Course Requirements:
You must write two essays of 10 pages each. The first of these essays will be a personal essay, while the second will begin with the personal but ultimately reach toward being a more academic essay. Through these essays, you will use a variety of rhetorical techniques and styles to accomplish the creation and elucidation of your meaning. From time to time, you will have smaller writing assignments to complete. You will also be required to keep a logbook of your reading and of your thinking. You are required to participate in class discussions and workshops and to be on time to class prepared for class.

This course concerns itself with three activities: writing, reading, and thinking. While our emphasis is on writing, and not on reading, we will constantly be developing our thinking through these two activities. You can not write and read and not think at the same time.


For each essay read you will log your reading in your reading logbook. In the logbook, write down what is going through your mind as you read: your questions about the text that arise for you; what bit of text in the essay or book led to these questions? Write the bit down as a quote. Speaking of quotes, write down any passage that strikes you, that you find interesting; you don’t need to know why it strikes you so, or what it is that you find interesting about it—yet. Just write it down. Include a page number and maybe some contextual information so you can find it easily again. Write down any connection you may have with the what the author is writing about, with the subject, or with any bit you find in the text. Any idea or tangent thinking you find yourself engaged in as a result of reading the essay, in whole or in part. We will use our logs during class discussion to "remind" us of what we though when we read the essay.


Each class day, you will write about 150-250 words in your writing logbook. I will not assign topics for you; you must choose your own topics. This writing, however, should not be just about anything. That is, you should not just have 150 words down on paper; I will not count them. Instead, I will be reading what you present to me as your thinking. Therefore, this writing is a snippet of thought that you pull from your daily life. Undoubtedly, you will want to write about your experience here at the University of Richmond’s Summer College, but I would like to hear something more "you," something that you are familiar enough about, something that you think about often and vigorously. Do you think about the untimely death of John Kennedy Jr.? Columbine High School? Your girl/boyfriend? Basketball? Baseball? Tennis? Golf? Do you spend some time during your day to reflect on why things happen to people? To yourself? To your friends? Your Family? What is it that you think about? This is what I want to read. It does not need to be personal—you do not have to be searching for the meaning of life, nor do you need to plumb the depth of your soul (but it could be these too). All it needs to be is something that happened to you today, or yesterday, or ten years ago, something that you pause to think, reflect, about. 150 to 200 words is not that much, just enough to get it down and to reflect on it a bit.

We will use for these two activities the two three-ringed binders listed under "Materials."


Essays and Workshops: You will be writing two essays this semester. Each essay will come from your writing and reading logbooks. That is, in these logbooks, you will find the necessary "subjects" to write essays about. These essays are "personal" essays. While many academic essays are not generally considered personal in nature, that is, their topics are not about your person, all writing develops from your thinking, your personal thinking, your individual thinking. So we will start there with your thinking.

In order to become more aware of your thinking as you represent them in the two essays, we will workshop each essay. That is, for each essay we will spend one or two class meetings reading our essays to our classmates and reading our classmates’ essays. During workshop time we will not be reading essays written by authors outside of the class; we will concentrate wholly on our essays. We will discuss what exactly we will do in workshops later as we begin them.


Evaluation: Because our essays are works-in-progress, that is, because all writing is subject to revision, I will not be grading essays as they being worked on. Instead, I will evaluate the essays’ final draft. You will have time to revise the essays more if you are not happy with the grade you received on them. Near the end of the semester, you will put together a portfolio which will include all the work done for the semester: final drafts, all drafts leading to that final draft, both reading and writing logbooks, and all other assignments completed in the semester. Your final grade will be based your reading and writing logbooks, your participation in the class, and your essays. The grading breaks down like this:

Two essays: ......... 60%
Participation: .........20%
Reading Logs: ....... 20%


Class Policies:

You are required to attend each class. You are further required to be on-time to every class meeting. Let me be clear here: It is the policy of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English that there are no "excused" absences; all absences are simply absences to be taken at your discretion. These days are intended for medical purposes, sick days, family emergencies, etc. However, the College and the Department recognizes that you can not fulfil the objectives of the class if you miss more than 1/5th of the classes. Therefore, you will not pass this course if you miss more than six classes. You will receive an "F" for the class if you miss more than six classes. It is my policy to remind you of this if you have missed more than 4 classes. While I do not have a strict policy on assigning definite letter grades for missed classes under six, I do reserve the right to reduce your grade based on absences and tardiness. Because I believe that all students have circumstances unique to him or her, I will handle all absence/tardiness situations on a one-on-one basis.

Disruptive behavior that results in dismissal from the class at any time during class will be counted as one absence. This includes doing work for this class during discussions or doing work for other classes during this class, inappropriate use of the computers (checking on your e-mail while in class, surfing the ‘net, etc), talking to others while someone else is talking, etc.


Late Work:
I will not accept late work. You must have assignments and drafts with you by the beginning of class, and you must have all drafts for your workshop members on the day we distribute them. From time to time, we may have to adjust our schedule; if this happens, it is your responsibility to know the changes we make.


Students with Disabilities Statement:
If you have any documented disabilities which you feel you need to be addressed, please let me know. You must self-identify that you have such disabilities in order for me to be able to make any accommodations or adjustments for you.