West Chester University

Spring 2006 and Fall 2005

West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001






Course Syllabi and Announcements
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements and Assignments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2008)
  A Reading of THE TEMPEST

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
  Goals of the Course
  Fundamental Questions about Literature
  Valuing Literature
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Literature as ART
  Approaching the Art of Fiction
  Defining the Short Story
  Evaluating Short Fiction
  Craft of Fiction: PLOT
  Craft of Fiction: CHARACTER
  Small Group Exercise
  ARABY by James Joyce
  A note about GIRL
  POE and the art of STORY OF A HOUR
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Fiction and Ambiguity - Your Questions
  Writing Workshop - Short Fiction
  Poetry Journal Project Assignment Sheet
  Defining Poetry
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  Drama and Tragedy
  Study Questions: DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
  Paper #4 Assignment Sheet
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources Worksheet
  Selecting Information
  Evaluating Arguments
  CASEBOOK PROJECT Assignment Sheet
  Approaching Persuasive Writing
  Topic Development - Profile Essay
  Generating Ideas for the Profile Essay
  Paper #2 Assignment Sheet
  Profile Exercise
  Objective Writing: Selected Readings
  Writing Workshop: Paper #1
  Expressive Writing in the NYTimes
  Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions
  Paper #1: IDENTITY
  Expressive Writing
  Open Letter Exercise and Examples
  EMERSON on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Literature related to IDENTITY
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Franz Kafka's BEFORE THE LAW
  Paper #3: Assignment Sheet
  Paper #4: Independent Project
  The Problem of Stability in BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Analyzing Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  A Reading of Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST
  From today's news (11/3/05)
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #2
  Goodbye to Dante's Imaginary World
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 10-34
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 1-10
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 32-34
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 18-31
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 12-17
  INFERNO: Structure
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 1-5
  INFERNO: Analyzing Canto 1
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Approaching Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
  A Little Help with Dante's INFERNO
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Responses to LEAF BY NIGGLE
  ON FAIRY STORIES: An Essay by Tolkien
  Notes on Axolotl
  Reading Ovid's Tales
  From Myth to Literature: Approaching Ovid's Tales
  Functions of the Genesis Tales
  Analyzing Mythic Tales
  Defining Mythology
  Filtering the Introduction to FANTASTIC WORLDS
  Commentary on LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI by Keats
  Commentary on DARKNESS by Byron
  Handout: Imagination Poems Set
  What is Imagination?
  Our Course Theme: Imaginary Worlds
  LIT 165 Assignments: Fall 2005
  LIT 165 Announcements: Fall 2005
  Imaginary Worlds: Course Syllabus

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
  Paper #4: Independent Thinking/Reading/Writing
  Casebook Preparation Checklist
  Casebook Assignment Schedule
  Evaluating Sources for the Casebook
  Casebook Project Assignment Sheet
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Assignment Sheet: Objective Writing
  Reviewing Elements of the Profile Essay
  Writing the Profile Essay
  Readings: Objective Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Expressive Writing
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  Emerson on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Mind-map: Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Assignments Page
  Announcements Page
  WRT 120 Course Syllabus for Fall 2005

ENG Q20: Basic Writing

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library


Expressive Writing


Objectives: (1) to choose, from among the ones presented, a form for expressive writing: the memoir, the open letter, or the response to literature; (2) to craft a message about personal experience that will appeal to a public audience; (3) to practice techniques for generating ideas (brainstorming, freewriting, mind-mapping); (4) to practice revision, and in revising to consider the larger rhetorical situation: the ways in which the needs of the writer, the subject, and the audience can all be successfully accommodated in a piece of writing; (5) to practice careful editing and proofreading.

Directions: Choosing one of the genres we discussed in class—the open letter, the memoir, or the response to literature—write a 3-5 page essay that explores, explains, discovers, describes, or recreates in a compelling way some aspect of your self, your identity.  The paper should be written with an expressive purpose.

Thinking about the topic. The literature you read in the first weeks of class expressed ideas related to the broad topic of “IDENTITY.”   They explore ideas related to the important question of how we come to define ourselves, the ways we define ourselves, the process of defining ourselves. 
    What is true for the characters in these literary works is also true for every individual.  We are also at work figuring out who we are, how we feel about who we are, who we want to become.  Consciously or unconsciously, we are always in the process of “finding ourselves,” and it is a dynamic process.  As one student put it in her paper, “College is about a time in a person's life when they are free from...restrictions...and now they are becoming their own person and who they want to be.”  Finding out “who you are” might mean exploring your past (in a “memoir”), or it might mean exploring your present—current ideas and attitudes or events that make you feel strongly enough about something to want to express them to a particular audience (in an “open letter”).  Reading literature can also provide an opportunity for self-exploration. By exploring your unique response to one or more of the literary works you’ve read for class or on you own (in a “response to literature”), you may be able to articulate something unique or essential about your own identity.  Whatever form you choose, expressive writing  communicates something about who you are to the world around you.  You are asking yourself, “who am I?” and finding the form you feel will help you express that best. 
Generating ideas about "Identity."  Use mind mapping, brainstorming, and/or freewriting in response to several of the questions below.  Choose the ones you’re most interested in pursuing.

  • What is “identity”?  Is this a question that’s ever troubled you or that you’ve ever given thought to?  What might be the cause of an “identity crisis” and have you or someone close to you experienced one?  Even if there is no crisis, why might it be useful to explore the topic of identity?
  • It may seem like an obvious question at first, but have you ever thought about who defines your identity?  Do you define yourself all by yourself, or do you have help (wanted or unwanted)?  Is it possible for people to define themselves without help?  Who have been your powerful influences—parents, friends, community, the “larger culture,” the shopping mall, advertisements, political leaders, mass media?  Have you ever felt the need to resist becoming someone you felt pressured into becoming? 
  • What roles do you play in your everyday life that help you define who you are?  Which of these roles are most important to you?  Have you ever needed to assume a role that was uncomfortable at first but which in the end felt right? Do  find yourself burdened by any of the roles you’ve assumed?
  • Do you feel you’ve been unfairly judged by other people who don’t know the real you? What story can you tell about a particular experience that will reveal the error of this kind of painful misjudgment and  show your readers the truth?  Alternatively, you may have a close friend or relative who’s been severely misjudged.  Can you tell that story?
  • Do you see yourself as someone developing your “individuality” or as someone developing your ability to “fit in”?  Is it possible to work on both? Which do you think is considered more “normal” and why? Does it ever feel impossible to “do your own thing” and still feel accepted?  Has your emphasis on “individuality” or “fitting in” changed at different times in your life, and what do you think brought about the change? Was it ever a source of conflict, a source of trouble, when you had the desire to go your own way, instead of what might have been expected of you? 
  • What do you consider to be the most “authentic” aspects of your identity?  Consider “authentic” to mean that aspect or those aspects of your self which haven’t been imposed on you from outside (pre-packaged and ready to wear), but which you developed more intimately, either following your own inner resources or the example of those close to you.

Getting started on the memoir…
The memoir, you recall, is a brief story that recreates for readers a snapshot of a moment from your past.  Why this moment?  That’s what your readers will finally want to know.  There’s a reason you’ve decided to give this moment the permanence of written form, and you want your memoir to communicate this reason, either implicitly or explicitly.

  • Create a mind map with the word “identity” in the middle.  Branch out in as many directions as you can think of with different ways you could choose to define yourself (i.e., interests, relationships, etc.)  Which of these descriptors seems most interesting to you?  Brainstorm some specific information relating to a few of the categories you think you’re most interested in.  As you think about your “interests,” for example (if that’s one of your categories), can you think of any interesting stories behind how you developed, or are in the process of pursuing, that interest?
  • Brainstorm a list of influential people in your life. What are some interesting stories you can tell about this person that will reveal his/her personality and influence?  Brainstorm some descriptive adjectives you’d use to describe your relationship with this person; what stories could you tell to show the readers why that adjective is so fitting?
  • Brainstorm a list of the groups you find yourself affiliated with (anything from a religious affiliation, to a sports team, to a group of friends). How does your affiliation with this group influence your identity?  What kind of “group identity” does this affiliation give you?  What is the story of how you came to associate with this group, and what’s its meaning in your life now?
  • Probe any areas of conflict you feel when you think about “identity.” Freewrite for a little while to help you discover in more detail what the conflict is all about: how it developed, what complicated, how you may have resolved it (or not).  Consider making your probing of this conflict the central focus of a memoir that is more about the present, draw on events from your past only to explain how you have arrived at your present state.

Getting started on the open letter…
The letter form helps the writer capture the “immediacy and intimacy of face-to-face conversation” (Trimbur).  Letters are used to establish and maintain relationships, and they are potentially an excellent channel for expressive writing.  Your textbook includes an open letter by writer James Baldwin to his nephew that demonstrates how the open letter form can be useful for communicating with broad as well as specific audiences.

  • Try expanding our in-class exercise into a longer letter.  The kind of advice you have to offer, and who you wish to offer it to, will tell your readers a lot about the kind of person you are.
  • Use the “Writing Assignment” directions near the end of Chapter 4 in The Call to Write. Take one of Trimbur’s suggestions to create an expressive letter.  You can use exercises in your book to arrive at a specific topic.
Getting started on the response to literature…
A response to literature is not a genre included in your textbook, but it’s another kind of writing that can be very expressive, that can tell readers a lot about who you are.
  • Literature, film, art, and music can all be excellent springboards for exploring your own experiences and the meaning these experiences hold for us personally.  Choose one of the literary works we discussed in class, or one you’ve read on your own. Compare or contrast your own experiences with the characters in the stories and poems.  Does the literature remind you of anything significant in your own life?  How does the story or poem resonate with your own experience?  How can reflecting on the differences and similarities help you clarify your own identity as distinct from the character in the text.
  • Think of the structure of your essay: Introduction: explain/desribe the element you identify in the work you've chosen. Resist the temptation to summarize more than necessary.  Keep any summary as brief as possible. Body: Probe all the interesting or relevant connections between you and the work. Use the literature as a springboard to narrate or describe your own experiences, thoughts, feelings, opinions.  Conclusion: bring your discussion to a logical and memorable close.






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