CRITICAL READING, THINKING, AND WRITING I
Summer II, 2000

 

English 1301-001 Office Hrs: 1:30-2:30; T-TH & by apt.
Instructor: Dr. Roemer Office: 405 Carlisle; please tell me when you will appear.
Preston 103 Phone: if you leave a message. 272-2729; include name & phone number

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR SUMMER COURSES

The greatest advantage of a summer course is that you get credit for a 15-week course in 5 weeks. The greatest disadvantage of a summer course is that you take a 15-week course in 5 weeks. If you miss two classes in the summer, you have missed the equivalent of more than a week of class time in a regular course. It is, therefore, crucial that you attend every class and present your in-class and out-of-class writing on time. Except in documented cases of health problems or other types of emergencies, I will not accept late assignments or give make-up work.

GOALS & MEANS

The primary goal of the course is to improve your writing, reading, and analytical skills that relate to college reading and writing experiences. In an attempt to achieve this goal, I will stress several assumptions about what leads to good writing: (1) a belief that the writing process is a significant means of discovering important characteristic of yourself, others, texts, and the world around you; an awareness of (2) the interrelationships between reading analyses and writing processes and (3) of the importance of having concepts of audience when reading and writing; (4) an appreciation of reading and writing as processes rather than single acts; and an understanding of the importance of (5) particular forms and styles (e.g., introductory and closing strategies, organization, use of detail and illustrations) and the importance of (6) the "mechanical" aspects of writing (especially, grammar, punctuation, and spelling).

REQUIRED TEXTS

Peterson, Linda H., John C. Brereton, and Joan E. Hartman, eds. The Norton Reader. Shorter 10th ed. New York: Norton, 2000. We will read the selections indicate below.

Lunsford, Andrea, and Robert Connors. The New St. Martin's Handbook. Boston: Bedford-St. Martins, 1999. Although I will occasionally announce specific assignments in this book (e.g., opening paragraphs, 58), each student will use the Handbook primarily as a reference guide to solving his or her specific writing problems. We will also use the abbreviated guide to MLA form included in the book (516-39).

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

After the first class meeting, each class will typically include class and group discussion of the reading assignment, as well as in-class writing directly related to the reading, or to a particular writing skill, or to one of the three papers. The dates next to the readings indicate when the reading should be completed and the brief summary/ies turned in.


INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE 7/10

Assignment: In class: brief statement (ungraded) of your writing strengths and weaknesses. Out-of-class: buy both books; read Didion's "On Keeping a Notebook" (40).

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WORDS: SPOKEN, READ, AND WRITTEN

Readings: Didion's "On Keeping a Notebook" (40) 7/11
Douglass's "Learning to Read" (224) 7/12
Kingston's "Tongue-Tied" (273) 7/12
Anzald·a's "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" (282) 7/13

Discussion Foci: What communication, interpersonal, psychological, cultural, and social needs are fulfilled by writing and reading? Do the essays relate in any ways to your experiences with language? What are the implications of the ways you can and cannot relate to the essays? Concentration of specific sections of the essays.

Writing Assignments: Brief summaries of each essay; brief in-class responses to questions about specific aspects of the essays; in-class exercises aimed at starting and organizing the first paper. First paper due: 7/17. (Optional revision due 7/24 in my mailbox, 203 Carlisle)

HOW AUDIENCE CREATES READING AND WRITING

Readings: Angelou's "Graduation" (1) 7/17
Mairs's "On Being a Cripple" (24) 7/18
White's "Once More to the Lake" (53) 7/25
Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" (471) 7/26
[7/19, 20, 24: work on the 2nd paper]

Discussion Foci: What "evidence" in the essays suggests the author's intended audience(s)? How do the authors appeal to their audience(s)? How might these appeals offend other audiences? Concentrate on specific sections of the essays.

Writing Assignments: Brief summaries of each essay; brief in-class responses to questions about specific aspects of the essays; attempts to re-write sections for different audiences; in-class exercises aimed at starting and organizing the 2nd paper. 2nd paper due: 7/31. Optional revision due 8/7 at the beginning of class.

ACADEMIC ANALYSES OF TEXTS

Readings: Swift's "A Modest Proposal" (477) 7/27
Momaday's "The Way to Rainy Mountain" (87) 7/31
Walker's "Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self" (34) 8/1
` Eiseley's "The Brown Wasps" (45) 8/2
[8/3, 7: individual conferences on the 3rd paper]

Discussion Foci: The importance of tone, style, organization, diction, imagery, "evidence," the title, openings, closings, etc. in appealing to the implied audiences. Concentrate on specific sections of the essays.

Writing Assignments: brief summaries of each essay; brief in-class responses to questions about specific examples of the elements noted above; in-class exercises aimed at starting and organizing the 3rd essay. 3rd paper due: 8/9. If you want this paper returned quickly, please turn in a stamped, self-addressed envelope with the paper. Otherwise you can pick up the paper from me in the Fall.

BRIEF WRITING ASSIGNMENTS

Brief summaries (graded): Approximately 50 - 100 words. Grading criteria: Did the student include author, title, the main topic(s)/thesis, and an indication of how the author develops/supports the topic/thesis? Are the writing "mechanics" acceptable? (See Lunsford and Connor's Handbook 491-92, for information on short summaries.)

Brief in-class essays (graded): responses to specific questions about the essays. Grading criteria: How well did the student focus on the question asked? How well did s(he) support his or her position with relevant examples from the text? Are the writing "mechanics" acceptable?

Individual and group exercises related to the three papers or to writing parts of papers in general (ungraded).

THE THREE PAPERS

For all three papers, turn in your notes, outlines, drafts, etc., with your final draft.

1st paper: 750-1250 words (approximately three to five typed pages). Discuss the implications of one or more positive or negative experience(s) you had relating to speaking, writing, and/or reading. Some possible questions to consider: What was/were the experience(s)? Describe the circumstances? Did the experience(s) have lasting effects? If so, what were they? Did the experience(s) and your response(s) reveal anything about you, your family, your community, you school(s)? If you could "go back" and change the experience(s), how would you change it/them? Why? Specific grading criteria: how well you define the experience(s) and their impact(s).

2nd paper: 750-1250 words (approximately three to five typed pages). Select any one of the assigned essays, preferably one to which you had strong negative or positive responses (or combinations of both). Begin the writing process by re-reading the essay and noting each time you have a strong response. Jot down a note indicating a possible reason for the response (e.g., past reading experiences or readings tastes, memories of experiences and/or people, past courses, immediate circumstances as you read, general attitudes and beliefs about economics, human nature, religion, gender, etc.). Note especially if there are patterns to your explanations -- certain associations that come up repeatedly. Use these patterns as the organizing principles of the "body" of your paper. Discuss at least TWO kinds of associations that shaped your responses. Specific grading criteria: I will not be grading you according to the types of associations you select. You are the expert on that. I will be concerned about (1) how well you define the association and the part(s) of the essay the association affected and (2) the "results" of the association (e.g., Did it set you up for a positive or negative responses? Did it make the relevant part(s) of the essay more or less believable? Did it incline you to ignore or highlight certain parts of the essay? Did it help to personalize the essay or place obstacles between you and the author's viewpoint?).

3rd paper: 1000-1250 words (approximately four to five typed pages). Select any one of the essays we have read except for the essay you chose for the 2nd paper. Define what in your opinion is the primary purpose(s) of the essay and its primary audience(s). Identify at least THREE elements of the essay that either contribute to or detract from a convincing statement of the purpose(s) for the audience(s). The elements can include structural, narrative, or stylistic characteristics or they can go "beyond" the text to include the assumed reputation of the author or the historical circumstances relevant to the essay's appearance or the readers' historical situation. Specific grading criteria: how well you define the purpose(s) of the essay and the audience(s); how well you use specific and relevant examples (from the essay or "external" evidence if you go beyond the text) to support your position.

General grading criteria for all three papers: Is the topic or thesis or position clearly stated in the introduction? Do all the examples and illustrations relate to this statement? Are the paragraphs unified and coherent? Does the paper have a logical and effective organization (often an order of increasing importance works well)? Are the title and introduction engaging and informative? Does the conclusion only summarize, or does it also encourage the reader to consider relevant and interesting related topics? Are the "mechanics" of the paper acceptable (including the proper use of MLA citation and bibliographic form)?

GRADING WEIGHTS AND POLICIES

Brief Summaries 20%
Brief in-class essays 20%
Three Papers 60%*

*20% for each; if you take the option to re-write the 1st and 2nd papers, the grade will be determined by averaging the grades of the re-writes and the drafts originally turned in for a grade, except in the case noted below (see "Important 1301 program policy").

The grades for English 1301 include A, B, C, Z, and F. A student who has attended regularly and turned in all the assignments but has not achieved C-level work, will receive a Z. A Z grade will not hurt a student's grade point average; but it will mean that the student will have to retake 1301 until s(he) achieves C-level work. An F grade (which does hurt the GRA) is assigned when students have not turned in all the assignments or if their grade has been lowered significantly because of poor attendance.

Important 1301 program policy: If the third paper receives a Z grade, then all other major papers (i.e., the 1st paper and 2nd paper) that originally received a Z grade will be averaged in as Zs, even if the student revised the paper(s) and received a higher grade for the revised paper. The justification for this policy is that to pass the course with at least a C, students should be able to write at least a C-level paper by the end of the semester.

WARNINGS

Except in cases of documented emergencies, I will not accept late summaries and papers or give make-up work for in-class assignments.

Attendance: The semester grade can be lowered significantly by poor attendance: for each TWO unexcused absences, the semester grade will be lowered a half grade; every FOUR instances of tardiness will equal an absence. Excusable absences or tardiness include health problems or other emergencies that can be documented. Contact me as soon as possible if you encounter such problems.

Withdrawal: Professors are not allowed to drop students for excessive absences. If you must withdraw from the course, be sure to follow University procedures. Otherwise the grade will be an F.

Academic dishonesty: Plagiarism (copying or paraphrasing someone else's words without acknowledging the source); submitting another student's work as your own; copying another student's in-class essay are all forms of academic dishonesty. Please consult with me if you have questions about this issue, especially if you are confused about plagiarism. Students suspected of academic dishonesty will be sent to the Vice President of Student Affairs for evaluation and possible dismissal from the University. The course grade will be an X (incomplete) until the situation is resolved.

ENCOURAGEMENT

Consistent class participation can raise your final semester grade. Also if your grades improve significantly, I will tend to place greater weight on the later grades.

I am more than willing to help students with documented disabilities. If you require this type of assistance, please consult with me during the first week of class,

UTA has an excellent Writing Center (411 Central Library). There are no charges for the assistance. If you have concerns about your writing abilities, I strongly encourage you to take your ideas, notes, and drafts to the Center. The tutors won't write the papers for you, but they can help you to learn to help yourself. Bring your syllabus with you so that the tutor can be aware of the nature of the assignments.

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