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Brainstorm
Services

EDUCATIONAL
MATERIALS


West Chester University

Fall 2002

West Chester University

Spring 2002

Fall 2001

 

 

 

Home

Course Information
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  Lit 165 Syllabus
  About the Instructor

Notes for Effective Writing I
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Writing Descriptively
  What Makes a Good Story?
  Building a Thesis
  Notes on 'Purpose'
  Strategies for Writing Introductions
  Strategies for Writing Conclusions
  Assignment #5: Argument
  Understanding Rational Argument

Notes for Introduction to Literature
  Fundamental Questions About Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Approaching Literature
  Ambiguity
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Notes on Four Short Stories
  The Genesis of the Short Story
  Defining the Short Story
  The Art of the Short Story
  A Vocabulary for Fiction and Beyond
  Notes on Nathaniel Hawthorne
  Responding to 'The Birthmark'
  A Guided Reading of 'Bartleby the Scrivener'
  Bartleby--Questions for Analysis
  A Cultural Context for 'Bartleby the Scrivener'
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Study Guide for Fiction Exam
  Billy Collins - 'Introduction to Poetry'
  A Catalogue of Poems for Study
  Approaching a Definition of Poetry?
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry: Imagery
  Readings from 'The United States of Poetry'
  The Craft of Poetry: Sound
  The Craft of Poetry: Structure
  Lines of Continuity
  Study Guide for Poetry Exam
  The Birth of Drama
  On Tragic Character
  Stepping Through 'Oedipus the King'
  Analyzing 'Oedipus the King'
  The Relevance 'Oedipus'Today
  Study Guide for the Drama Exam

Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Announcements
  WRT 120 Assignments
  LIT 165 Announcements
  Lit 165 Assignments

Contact

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  Writing Assistance on the Web

Join an Online Forum
  WRT 120 Composition Forum
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  ~~ Effective Writing I / WCU / wrt120 / Fall 2002 ~~

INSTRUCTOR: Stacy Tartar Esch
EMAIL: stacy@brainstorm-services.com
COURSE WEBSITE brainstorm-services.com/wcu-2002

CAMPUS OFFICE Main Hall, 417
CAMPUS PHONE 610-436-2220
ENGLISH DEPARTMENT PHONE 610-436-2822
CAMPUS MAIL Main Hall, 527
CAMPUS OFFICE HOURS Tues./Thurs. 11-12:30 and 4:45-5:45 p.m.

Course Texts and Materials
The Call to Write, 2nd brief ed., by John Trimbur
Quick Access, 3rd. ed., by Lynn Quitman Troyka
Collegiate dictionary
Pocket folder (sturdy) to use as a Portfolio, containing all completed course work

The purpose of this course is, as the official course description states, to give you "skill in organization and awareness of audience, style of writing, and levels of usage for college and post college writing." In a larger sense, this means that the course will help you write for the particular discourse community comprised of university professors and university educated people in their work settings, and will help you to understand how communication in writing works in the larger public sphere beyond campus. The type of writing that earns respect from university audiences is called "academic discourse"-a somewhat formal, grammatically sophisticated style of language that demonstrates in an organized manner your command of specialized information. Since most people tend to speak and write casually rather than formally, it can take a bit of practice to effectively communicate your own thoughts and perspectives in that "tighter" style. To make matters a little more complicated, there's really not one definitive type of academic discourse. It can take on a number of different tones, or styles, coming across as anything from witty and opinionated to scholarly, impartial, and factual. The tone that academic writing adopts depends on what its purpose is, or who its audience is. This course will instruct you in the kinds of rhetorical decisions and adjustments you can make so that you will write effectively for your university professors and in the world beyond campus as well. Writing effectively can pave a way toward understanding, respect, and power. Nurturing your ability to foster understanding, gain respect, and actualize your personal power is the deep purpose of this course.

The general education goals which this course is designed to meet include: (*) learning to communicate effectively in writing; (*) learning to think critically and analytically; (*) learning to respond thoughtfully to diversity; and (*) becoming prepared to lead productive and contributing lives.

The method of this course is participatory and collaborative. The official course description cites "explanation of the writing process, practice in writing, and feedback" as central elements of the course. This means that I may lecture (infrequently) to explain concepts related to effective writing practices, but more typically my role will be to provide you with methods to practice, to coordinate exploratory discussions and to guide editorial relationships among course participants. You will read and discuss your own work, the work of fellow students, and the work of professional writers. You should have the goal of discovering the procedures that work best for the progress of your own writing in particular. You should consider your essays as works in progress which may require much planning, drafting, and revision and editing. For each essay, you'll consider and reconsider your thesis; you'll engage in peer review and instructor conferencing to discover your audience's response. Each essay should be significantly developed, revised, and edited to achieve the most effective prose possible.

Reading assignments from the texts should help you recognize writing styles and strategies you may apply in your own essays. The text can help you better understand strengths and weaknesses in writing, an understanding you can apply in your own revisions. When readings are assigned it will be assumed that students have read the material before coming to class.

Writing assignments are the heart of the course. The majority of the writing will be several polished essays that will undergo workshops and revision; in addition there may be several brief in class or homework writing assignments related to the larger assignments. All assignments will challenge you to demonstrate rhetorical, stylistic, and grammatical control while thinking critically about a topic important to you. As part of your final portfolio assignment, you'll tag three of the best essays in your portfolio to average for the essay portion of your semester grade. DO NOT see this as an opportunity to skip any of the assignments. ALL ASSIGNED ESSAYS MUST BE COMPLETED. STUDENTS WHO DO NOT COMPLETE EACH OF THE WRITING ASSIGNMENTS MAY NOT SELECT THEIR BEST WORK AT THE END OF THE SEMESTER. If you do not complete all writing assignments, your final essay grade will be the average of all assigned essays instead of your best three. Work not completed will be scored as an F (55).

Late Work: All essays and other assignments are due on the date assigned. If a serious injury, illness, or other emergency seems likely to prevent you from meeting a deadline, make arrangements with me before the assignment is due. If no prior arrangement has been made, late penalties will ensue. Late papers will be assessed a penalty of one letter grade for every two days late. On the seventh day, the paper is officially an F, with no make up or revision possible.

Portfolio. Each student is required to hand in a portfolio of all finished formal assignments at the end of the semester. The portfolios will be accompanied by a "Portfolio Checklist" (to be distributed), and a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (to be distributed). You will be given specific instructions in class as to the presentation of your portfolio at the midterm and again at the end of the semester. So, in accordance with the Department of English policy, you must keep all of your completed essays (and other writings) in a folder, which you will turn in at the end of the semester. The department will keep these for reference until the following semester (Spring 2003), at which time (between the twelfth and fifteenth weeks of the semester) you may retrieve your folder from my office or from one of the department secretaries in Main Hall. After the fifteenth week of the semester the department discards unclaimed portfolios.

Attendance is mandatory. I take attendance each class period. Students are expected to attend every class having read assigned material or prepared assigned homework. Any student who misses more four classes can expect to receive a lowered grade. After four absences your final grade in the course will drop a third of a letter grade (from a B to a B-, say) with each additional absence. Students with extended medical problems or personal emergencies should notify the Dean of Students, who will contact me about allowing for necessary adjustments. Athletes, student teachers, band members, etc., should provide me with a note from the appropriate professor or coach documenting your need to be away from class. Chronic or extended absence throughout the semester without consultation or permission from the Dean of Students will be grounds for failure. These penalties may be waived only in the case of extreme extenuating circumstances. It is up to the student to provide official verification from the Dean's office of extenuating circumstances, and preferably to discuss these issues with me directly via office visit, phone, or email.

Conferences are an important part of the course, and you will be scheduled to have several during the semester. I will schedule conferences in lieu of class on several dates to be announced. You can also meet with me during scheduled office hours if you'd like to receive further individual attention concerning your work as a writer. Each conference is an opportunity for intensive editorial discussion and evaluation of your work's progress.

The grades you receive on your main essays will emphasize the value of the drafting and redrafting process that most writers find necessary for the achievement of effective writing. Due dates for manuscripts will be indicated in advance, and you will be required to produce the appropriate draft-either a workshop draft for discussion, or a more polished essay for potential grading-on time. Essays collected for grades will be marked with editorial comments and an overall grade (see below for further notes on my grading system). Any time you receive a grade of "D" you should plan to revise your work. Portfolios will be checked at midterm, at which time you may wish to assess your progress, and discuss your goals with me in conference. Portfolios will be collected again at the end of the semester for the same purpose, and to determine the student's final essay grade. At any point during the semester, during regularly scheduled office hours or in scheduled conferences, students may bring their portfolios to receive further specific editorial guidance and assessment.

Further notes on the grading system

An "A/B+" essay will be characterized by excellent performance in more than one category. It is extremely well focused, beginning with an effective thesis; effectively organized (unified and coherent throughout); highly developed using a variety of rhetorical strategies and demonstrating in-depth analysis, critical awareness, creativity, and originality of expression in several places; stylistically appropriate and grammatically correct, even sophisticated at times. One or two weaknesses may be present (and indicated) but the overall evaluation is that the writing is above average, highly effective academic discourse.

A "B/C" essay will be characterized by competent performance in several areas. It is satisfactorily focused, adequately organized and developed, stylistically appropriate and grammatically correct. One or two weaknesses may be present (and indicated) but the overall evaluation is that the writing is an example of average quality academic discourse.

An "C-/D" essay will be characterized by below average performance in several areas. It may be either poorly focused, organized or developed, stylistically inappropriate or too frequently grammatically incorrect. Strengths may be present (and indicated) but the overall evaluation is that the writing is an example of inadequate academic discourse for reasons indicated on the draft.

An "F" will be recorded for essays which haven't been turned in (see late paper policy above). Students with more than one F cannot pass the course.

The course grade you receive at the end of the semester will reflect several aspects of your work in the course: your ability to complete all course work in a timely fashion, the quality of your main essays and your effort in revising them effectively, the quality of your classwork, homework, and participation in class work and discussion, and your attendance both in class and in conference. The final grade will be determined as follows:

60% The average of your best three (out of five) essay grades
10% Midterm and Final Portfolio, including end-of-semester Self-Assessment Assignment
30% Classwork / homework / workshops / conferences / attendance

Writing Center: If you are having trouble with a writing assignment, do not hesitate to bring your problem to my attention or bring your essay to the Writing Center in Main 203. The Writing Center offers free professional tutoring to any student who is writing a paper for any course offered by the college. The staff will assist students at all stages of the writing process: developing ideas, organizing drafts, revising, and editing. Tutors will not serve as your proofreaders, however; their aim is to help you develop your own skills. You may need to call ahead for an appointment as the center becomes fairly busy once the semester is under way. (436-2121) HOURS: M-W (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Th (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and F (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Visit the Writing Center's web page.

Office of Services for Students with Disabilities: I will make accommodations for students with disabilities. If you have a disability, please make your needs known to me and contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at 436-3217. Sufficient notice is required to make such accommodations possible.

Diversity and Fair Language. You are required by University policy to use nondiscriminatory language and to treat all issues of diversity respectfully (including, but not limited to, race sex/gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation). Read Quick Access, pp.101-103.

Academic Honesty. Plagiarism of any type is a serious academic offense that can result in a failing grade on an assignment, failure of the course, or referral to academic judicial affairs, depending upon the instructor's judgment. You are plagiarizing if you (*) lift either ideas or word-for-word passages from a published book, article, or website without giving credit to the author; (*) pass off another student's work as your own; or (*) allow a "helper" to actually write parts of your paper for you. Don't do it!!! Read Quick Access, pp. 126-134.

COURSE OUTLINE
I'll announce more specific dates for the following assignments in class; due dates will also appear, after they are announced in class, on the course website (Announcements and Assignments).

WEEK ONE. College writing: goals and practices.
Reading: Trimbur 145-163 (Memoir Essay)
Writing: Read Soto, Dillard and Gates essays (Trimbur 147-156). In class, write a brief summary of each excerpt (a few sentences to capsulize each piece) and then discuss which memoir you found most captivating or effective, carefully explaining why.
Preview assignment in Trimbur 167-168.

WEEK TWO. Expressive Writing.
Rhetorical strategies for expressive writing. The Writing Process (Troyka 17-50)
Reading: Visual Design and the Memoir (Trimbur 163-167)
Writing: In class work on Memoir assignment. (Trimbur 167-168)

WEEK THREE. Workshopping.
Methods for effective peer review.
In class workshop for Memoir Essay (typed drafts due in class), followed by Memoir Essay due.

WEEK FOUR, FIVE and SIX. Expository Writing
Reading: Trimbur 222-241 (Profile Essay)
Preview assignment in Trimbur 242-243.
Rhetorical strategies for expressive writing.
Discuss methods in O'Neill (224), Rose (231), and Garelick (234) essays.
Writing: Trimbur (243-249) Bring your notes and/or draft to conference.
Individual and/or group conferences (in lieu of one or two class meetings) on drafting the Profile Essay.
In class workshop on Profile essay, followed by Profile Essay due.

WEEKS SEVEN, EIGHT and NINE. Expository writing, continued.
Reading: Trimbur 386-407 (Review Essay)
Preview assignment in Trimbur 407-408
Rhetorical strategies for expository writing revisited.
Writing: Trimbur 409-416
Individual and/or group conferences (in lieu of one or two class meetings) on drafting the Review Essay.
In class workshop on Review essay, followed by Review Essay due.

WEEKS TEN, ELEVEN, and TWELVE. Working collaboratively.
This assignment will be composed by groups rather than by individuals.
Reading: Trimbur 256-292 (Fact Sheets, FAQS, Brochures, And Web Sites)
Preview assignment in Trimbur 293-294.
Meet in collaborative groups; then I'll accompany groups to the library. Time can be used for research, collaborative planning, drafting, document design or conferencing with instructor.
Collaborative Essay due. (Note: retain a photocopy of the original for your Portfolio.)

WEEKS THIRTEEN, FOURTEEN, and FIFTEEN.
Reading: Trimbur 307-328 (Commentary Essay (a subtle form of argument?))
Preview assignment in Trimbur 329-330
Writing: Trimbur 331-336
Individual and/or group conferences (in lieu of one or two class meetings) on drafting the Commentary Essay.
In class workshop on the Commentary essay, followed by Commentary Essay due.

FINALS WEEK
Hand in your Final Portfolio, including:
· portfolio checklist
· all completed course work, including all graded essay assignments
· self-assessment questionnaire


FUNDAMENTAL WRITING PRINCIPLES

Focus
Focus refers to an essay's central idea, expressed as an effective thesis in the introduction, conclusion, or in different wording throughout the essay. An essay is well-focused when the thesis is carefully worded in general but explicit terms. The thesis tells the reader both the subject of the essay and the writer's particular assertion about that subject (in general but explicit terms). An unfocused essay may be too broad or general-the writer hasn't considered carefully his/her specific assertion about a general subject. An unfocused essay may be one that does not contain an effective thesis.

Development
Development refers to the amount of explanation and detail you use to get your points across to your readers. Development is the "content" of your essay. Throughout the course you'll learn several rhetorical strategies for developing your papers effectively based on your overall purpose (expressive, expository, or persuasive). A well developed essay is one that uses sufficient explanation and detail to effectively communicate its message. After a general point is made, the writer takes the time to explain and support it with specific detail. A well developed essay is one that uses rhetorical strategies such as narration, description, illustration, comparison/contrast, cause/effect analysis, process analysis, classification/division, and definition when appropriate to the writer's purpose. A poorly developed essay is one that does not develop ideas specifically, in detail, but instead makes general or vague assertions without explaining or supporting them. A poorly developed essay may not take advantage of any or enough rhetorical strategies at the writer's disposal.

Organization
Organization can refer to (1) the essay's overall structure-the presence and quality of its introduction, body, and conclusion; (2) the essay's overall unity and coherence; and (3) individual paragraph unity and coherence. The structure of an essay requires that it have an introduction to focus the reader's attention, a body to develop the essay's thesis, and a conclusion to explain what the essay has accomplished and why its ideas are significant. Unity and coherence are basic, but essential writing principles. A unified essay is one that "sticks to the point." All statements, explanations, specific detail-everything, in other words-relates back to the essay's central idea, its thesis. No unrelated tangents distract the reader's attention from the main idea. An essay without unity may make several interesting points but they do not add up to support for your thesis. A coherent essay is one that "makes sense." Coherence refers to the order of sentences and paragraphs in your essay. In a coherent essay, ideas follow one another smoothly and logically. The writer uses transitional statements or phrases when necessary so that no gaping holes open up between ideas. An incoherent essay is difficult to follow because the writer seems to ramble from idea to idea without showing any connection.

Mechanics
Mechanics is a catch-all term that I use to refer to the correctness of a paper's grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Errors can be classified as solitary (only one instance), "occasional" (more than one instance), or "frequent" (more than four instances). Solitary and occasional errors may be brought to your attention but will only result in a point deduction if there are several different kinds. Frequent errors result in point deductions, one point for each type of error.

Style
Although style can be defined several ways, in the sense that I am using it style refers to a writer's ability to distinguish him or herself through fluent, creative use of the language. If your use of language is provocative, colorful, attention-grabbing, then you have style. Your readers will find it pleasurable reading your essay. If your use of language is effective but predictable, clear but unevocative, then you lack style. Furthermore, you may have poor style if you (1) overuse the passive voice; (2) write too many windy, wordy sentences; (3) write too many short, choppy sentences; (4) use too much inflated, unnecessarily formal language; or (5) use too much slang, jargon, or colloquial language.

 

 

 

     

 


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