English I, Section 004: "Where we stand"
Class meetings: Tue. & Thur. 11:50-1:05.
Hall of Sciences 52.
Office hours: Mondas, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 2:00-4:00, &
by appointment: 118 S.W.Bowne.
Most of your college papers will ask you to make an argument--to take
a stand. But where should one stand when one makes an argument
for college? Where do other people stand? What different
position do people occupy in different disciplines? What difference
does it make where you stand? In this class we will explore the standpoint
of authors and writers. We will read the New York Times and
other national and local newspapers on-line and we will try to work out
what position each writer writes from: what assumptions do they make
about reading and writing? about their audience? about themselves? how
do you react to those assumptions? how do they influence what you
read and how much you trust it? How does it influence the kinds of
things you might have to write about it? what stands might you take
as you write responses to your readings? We will also read essays
on writing and on research and ask the same questions. Then we will
explore the stances you might make as an author of academic papers
for different audiences and purposes. Finally you will write a research
paper exploring the different stances adopted by academics and others on
a specific topic. Your task is not to create one perfectly unified
argument that might appear to be "truth." Rather, your purpose is
to explore in writing the debate--the similarities, differences, and overlaps--between
the authors you read to help the people who read your paper come to a fuller
understanding of the complexity of the issue and the factors which influence
one's position on it.
The writing in this class will be frequent and varied, ranging from
informal "dialoging" (see below), through exercises, to a formal research
paper, with many small papers and writing work-outs in between. At
times I will ask you to hand in two or more copies of a piece of writing
so that we may evaluate it in class during workshops. In order for
you to practice writing in response to a number of different stimuli, I
will design some specific writing assignments that everyone must complete,
other assignments will be collectively designed by the class, and yet others
will be of your individual choosing in response to what you have been reading
and thinking over the course of the semester. Because students come
to college with different levels of preparation, we will work on issues
of grammar, style, and general language use both in class in the context
of our readings, and in conferences and individual projects. Each
student will help me to design an “individual writing program” which will
build on areas of strength and develop two specific skills of each student's
choosing. Students will work on their program at their own pace,
and will be graded on that work as part of the final grade for the course.
Research shows that frequent writing produces stronger, more fluent,
and more comfortable writers. Writing is a skill, and all skills
need practice, so I suggest that you practice writing by keeping a Writer's
Journal. Most of you have already kept such a journal (see handout if you
would like to know more about this valuable form of writing workout);
however, for this class you are not required to keep a journal.
Instead of a journal, I will ask you to participate in weekly "dialogues"
with me. Once a week you will write me a letter. In the first
dialogue you will respond to class discussion, readings, and events on
campus, in the state, the nation, or the world. I will reply to your
letter, and you will then reply to my reply, introducing new topics or
raising questions as necessary. Each student will converse in writing
with me over the course of the semester, and in so doing will strengthen
his or her critical thinking and overall writing skills. This is
a different kind of "thinking-in-writing" than journals require, but it
will help you to achieve the same goal.
Your letters will be sent to me via e-mail (to either of the
addresses listed above) by midnight each Friday. If you send me more
than one letter in any week, I will try to reply to each letter, although
I may respond to all of them at once if they seem to be addressing the
in the world of the work place, and in many academic disciplines too,
collaboration is the name of the game. Corporations organize workers
into teams responsible for conducting necessary research, identifying problems,
brainstorming solutions, and then writing up what they find. In this
class you will engage in at least one project where the research is collaborative
although the writing will be individual. At first you may not like
this kind of research, and with some cause as it involves cooperation,
trust, and some loss of ego--things we have learned to avoid if possible.
Yet these team skills are also the very things that will make you successful
in the workplace and, more important to me, in college. There are
a number of ways to research and write collaboratively, and you will learn
them in this class. There are also strategies to make it less painful,
and you'll learn those too. The end result will be worth it.
Collaborative research allows team members to find a lot more relevant
material than individual research.
Research Assignment #1
Between 2/15 and 2/19 you will be assigned to work in the library in
small groups (see the syllabus for 2/11). At
a time convenient to all members of your group, you will meet with
a reference librarian in a follow-up session to the one you had in your
First Year Seminar last semester. For this assignment, your group
must find the following:
1) at least four sources that provide
background information on the news topic you have selected (this can include
one encyclopedia entry if you like). Try to find material from the
most academic sources you can find/understand;
2) at least four other contemporary perspectives
on the topic (this can include one cartoon, one table or graph, and no
more than two Internet sources). Your goal here is to find a range
of opinion. Look for left-wing, right-wing, and liberal news media,
academic and non-academic journals, and both reliable and questionable
You will write up your library findings by first summarizing
and then synthesizing
the background information (due 2/23) and finally comparing
the contemporary perspectives (due 3/5). As you work on the final
paper you will share your research and ideas, brainstorm connections and
review each others drafts. The papers will be written individually
with citations of any group member whose ideas you used in addition to
citation of your sources.
You will write a series of summaries for this
class, all of which will be handed in as part of your summary portfolio.
In addition to summarizing chapters from the handbook, you will write at
least six other summaries.
All of these summaries will be handed in as part
of the Summary Portfolio on Feb. 16, correctly cited and with no plagiarism
The first two summaries will be written in
class in response to two articles selected by the teacher. The first
will be a collaborative summary. The second will be an individual
summary to be finished as homework if necessary and handed in via the k:/drive.
The second two formal summaries will be written
as homework on Feb. 4-6: Select two important news stories from Thursday's
and Friday's or Saturday's New York Times (i.e.: stories that appear
near to the front) and write a 250 word summary of each. Take two
copies, typed, double spaced, to class Tuesday Feb. 9 along with a print-out
of each article you summarized.
The next set of summaries will be written
on one of the topics you selected for your Feb. 4 summaries (we will discuss
which stories are likely to remain in the news for a while and select a
list of topics based on that discussion--for a list
of topics check the library sign-up list!). For your homework
on Feb. 9, write a 150 word summary of an article from that day's Times
(or other on-line newspaper) on your topic, and write another on Wednesday
on the same topic. Take both to class Thursday 11, along with a printout
of the articles you summarized.
Your final summary will be on Feb. 11, when
we will write a summary of a table and a graph in class, which you will
revise as homework.
You will write several different kinds of synthesis
in this class. The first will be a general synthesis of the information
you summarized from the newspapers about your topic. The second will
be a synthesis of background information on your topic. The third
will be a brief synthesis of material from tables and graphs.
Synthesis #1: Informational
synthesis: On Feb.
15 you will begin work on a synthesis designed to introduce readers to
the general topic you've been following in the Times. Your
synthesis paper can adopt either of two strategies depending on the material
(and which seems most logical to you). Whichever you select, your
purpose is to introduce the story to someone else in the class who has
not been following it and provide as much information as you can in the
most practical way. (In addition to information, you may use whole
sentences from your summaries as necessary.) There are two basic
structures you can adopt for such an assignment, and depending on the story
one will probably work better than the other. They are:
(1) a narrative of the way the story
has developed since you began to follow it with paragraphs organized
chronologically, each with a topic sentence that identifies the stage/event
the paragraph will discuss, and information in the paragraph from several
sources (cited). or
(2) a basic introduction to
the story telling us about the people involved and the events that have
occurred, organized by character or pertinent information rather than chronologically.
Each paragraph will begin with a topic sentence that identifies what the
paragraph will discuss, followed by information from several sources (cited).
Bring your narrative and all the articles you found to class on Thurs.
REMEMBER TO INCLUDE CITATIONS OF ALL OF YOUR SOURCES.
#2: Background Synthesis: You will begin your second
synthesis, a background
synthesis, on Feb. 22. Look at the background information you
gathered via the Internet. Write a second synthesis, this time on
the background to the story you are following (a background synthesis).
Your thesis is "In order to really understand
the events surrounding [your topic] it is necessary to understand [list
the point(s)/information you believe to be necessary] because [state why]."
In the paper, write a paragraph for each thing that you believe we need
to understand. Each paragraph will begin with a topic sentence informing
us what this detail helps us to understand, followed by a synthesis of
the sources you found on that aspect of the topic. In addition to
information, you may use whole sentences from the introductory synthesis
Synthesis #1 and Synthesis #2 will both be handed
in as part of your SYNTHESIS PORTFOLIO, due on March 1. This portfolio
will also include the synthesis of tables and graphs begun in class on
REMEMBER TO INCLUDE CITATIONS OF ALL OF YOUR
You will write two comparison papers in this class. The first
is a short comparison of the different stances people take to the media
story you decide to follow at the beginning of the course. The second
is a longer paper that may become the basis for your final research paper
if you like.
Comparison Paper #1:
Using the Internet as a resource, you will select four
contemporary sources that take different stances on your topic (we
will discuss what constitutes an appropriate source in class). In
class on March 1 you will work with your group to describe and analyze
the stance of these contemporary sources. You will write a draft
of a paper in which you compare the different stances people in the media
take on your topic as homework for that class, revise it in class on Tues.
March 6, and hand in the final paper on Thursday March 8. (You may hand
in a revised version for the mid-term portfolio due on March 9, and for
your comparison portfolio, due on March 30.)
Comparison Paper #2
As homework for March 21-23 (when you go to the
library), you will read the
New York Times from the day you were
born and select a story, opinion, advertisement, or feature that seems
particularly dated. The first thing you need to do, then, is select
the thing you will evaluate and make a copy of it (recording the information
you will need for a correct citation of course). Next you need to
learn enough about the event, issue, of topic of the piece you have selected
to enable you understand it (yes, just like synthesis # 2). Then
you will analyze the piece itself (as you did in comparison paper #1 and
in class on the 20th). Finally, you will explore what makes the piece
seem dated to you. Based on all of this research and thought, you are ready
for Comparison paper #2.
this paper you will compare what we knew or assumed to be true when you
were born with what we know or assume now, and so draw conclusions about
the two different time periods. Your thesis will focus on what your
comparison reveals about the differences between then and now. This
can include our level of ignorance about issues, so don't worry if you
don't fully understand the significance of the story you read, that can
become part of the paper -- and if you would like to learn more about that
significance, the background, or the time period of your birth, you can
conduct research for the final paper.
These comparison papers will be due, along with
all of your drafts and notes, in the comparison portfolio on April 3.
Final Research Paper
There are two possible topics for this paper:
Topic 1: Working in a group,
or alone, your task this time is to find out the history of an education-related
topic that has been raised in the Times or The Acorn (which
you should also read every week) this semester. Looking back over
old editions of The Acorn (yes, they are in the library) and other
news media you will explore the history of your topic and take a stance
on it. Your final paper will have several parts. Part (i) will
summarize the history of the topic you have selected; part (ii) will synthesize
the opinions (stances) you have found on the topic; in part (iii) you will
take a stance on the topic and argue a position. This stance might
take the form of a call for change, a claim about the significance of the
event/topic, or a comparison and evaluation of two reactions. The
introduction to the paper will introduce readers to the three parts of
the paper and the stance (thesis) you will argue. Topics for research
can range from school desegregation, campus activism, education reform,
affirmative action, multiculturalism, or "political correctness,"
to education financing, the use of part time faculty, general education
programs, curriculum revision, faculty salaries, codes of practice, campus
Judicial Boards and/or codes of conduct or whatever issue appeals to you.
Read The New York Times for the day you were born and conduct research
on the background of one story from that paper. What do you need
to know to understand the event in question? What does it reveal
about the U.S. of your birth year that this story made the news?
Would we consider it newsworthy today? Is the issue still of concern
to us today, or has it been resolved? You may use the comparison
paper you wrote for April 3 to help you think about this topic if it
seems helpful, but the final paper must use significant research (even
if it adopts the same thesis as the earlier paper).
Topic 3: Working in a group,
or alone you may continue your research on the topic you followed for the
first half of the semester. You may draw heavily from your synthesis
papers and/or Comparison Paper #1, but the final paper must use significantly
more research and must include material found in books and/or articles
as well as from the internet. This paper must make an argument about
the topic, although you may need to conduct significantly more research
before you can identify what that thesis will be.
Course structure and goals:
English 1 is designed as a writing workshop where you will learn strategies
for writing academic papers and improving your overall writing skills.
We will work on the basic skills of effective college-level writing, especially
how we can use style, grammar, and word choice to create specific effects
in written prose. In this first section of the course you will practice
writing definitions, summaries, classifications, and comparisons.
We will analyze the prose of others, imitate their writing strategies and
prose styles, and summarize their points in a few sentences. You
will practice several expository forms including description and narration.
In the second section of the course we will focus on academic writing itself,
beginning with what academic writers must do before they begin to write:
you will learn how to analyze a topic/assignment, how to use all that you
know to best respond to it, how to focus your knowledge and organize your
ideas, and how to focus a topic for research. You will select a research
topic, find sources, and practice the skills learned in these first two
segments of the course by compiling an annotated bibliography. Next
you will learn how to refine your relationship with your audience and structure
a paper accordingly. As you read the texts you have selected for
your research, you will practice comparison, critique, and synthesis by
writing about that material. This will lead you to the final
component of the course: a thesis-driven research paper. You will
strengthen your ability to focus a topic, write a research proposal, conduct
additional research, formulate a thesis, plan a paper, and write an 8-10
page thesis-driven research paper.
At each stage of the process you will learn how to evaluate your own
writing and that of others, making you a more effective editor and writer.
As you become more of an expert writer, you will learn how to understand
the writings of others more fully: how to perceive their thesis, analyze
the assumptions they make about their audience and follow their overall
patterns of organization. This, in turn, will make you more able to analyze
questions and understand what you read. It will also, I hope, help
you to become a more confident writer who appreciates the power of written
language, is able to use that power, and enjoys doing so!
A seminar is only as strong as its laziest member, so it is essential
that each member of the seminar accepts her or his responsibility to the
other members. Thus:
You will be expected to attend every class prepared to participate and
share your ideas and writing with your writing colleagues. If you
are unprepared, the workshop will not work, your colleagues will suffer,
and you will be marked as absent. Three unexplained absences will
result in your final grade being lowered by one letter;
You must respect your fellow writers. This means that you must take
them and their ideas and writing seriously and comment constructively with
sensitivity to their feelings. Failure to do this will result in
a collapse of the trust necessary for a workshop and you will be asked
to leave (and marked as absent). Lack of respect ranges from discriminating
comments (homophobia, racism, sexism, etc.), to yawns, the pulling of faces,
drumming fingers, laughter, asides to other members of the seminar, and
The grades for this course are assigned on the basis of the distance
each writer travels during the semester in addition to the place each person
has reached by the end of the course. Specifically, grades will be
based on the following:
Mid-term portfolio (2 papers) 20%
Preparedness and contribution to class discussion and writer's workshops
(10%): Obviously if you do not attend class, sleep through it,
or otherwise fail to participate I cannot assess the extent of your preparation,
and will be forced to assume there was none. Failure to attend conferences
with me will lead me to the same conclusion.
Overall effort toward improvement (30%): I will judge this
on the basis of your weekly dialogues and the notes, drafts, and general
writing assignments given in English 1, thus it is important that you keep
drafts and notes, bring them to class, and put them in the relevant portfolios
when you hand them in. I will also determine your effort from our
conferences and your visits to my office hours.
Application of the material covered in the class (60%): This
will be determined from the two portfolios you will compile, one in the
middle and the other at the end of the semester. Each portfolio will
contain two papers and a preface in which you discuss the papers and the
reasons you selected them rather than others you have written in this class.
These portfolios will be graded by me and by at least one other person
teaching English 1 this semester. Portfolio graders will be looking
at the overall quality of the finished papers based on a list of skills
that we will discuss in class (see handout). The grades for the two
portfolios will be divided as follows:
Final portfolio (1 paper and your research paper) 40%
Please buy the following:
Chris Anson & Robert Schwegler's The Longman Writer's Companion
(the same book you used for your FYS and English 1-A)
We will read the New York Time on-line, but the on-line edition
(which is free) is only available for the day of publication (you must
pay to read archived articles on-line), so you might want to pick up a
free copy in the residence halls.
You also need:
° a good dictionary—the heavier the better (which you
should bring to class),
° pens of several colors (at least one green, purple
° two plain loose paper manila folders to hold portfolio
° a three-ring folder for handouts from this class—including
° A LAN card & cable and a LAN account (and password)
° A computer disk to backup store your work for this
COMPUTER CRASHES AND OTHER MISHAPS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE EXCUSES FOR
LATE PAPERS IN THIS CLASS. (So you are responsible for making
backups and saving on the LAN.)
This class meets in a seminar room for good reason. Classes will
be spent writing, workshopping or discussing writing, writing assignments
and examples of writing produced by writers from a variety of discourse
situations, including this class.
Students get exactly the same amount of learning out of a writing class
as the amount of effort they put in. This puts the onus
on you—if you
don't put anything in, you won't get anything out (except a bad