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

Effective Writing I

Spring 2006


Instructor: Stacy Tartar Esch

Campus Office Main Hall, 312
Campus Phone 610-436-2481
Campus Mail Main Hall, 527
 Office Hours MW 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
mail or

Web Look for our Course Website at

Course Texts and Materials

The Call to Write, Brief 3rd ed., by John Trimbur, 2005.
The Prentice Hall Reference Guide, 6th ed., by Muriel Harris, 2005.
Pocket folder or small binder to use as a Portfolio, containing all completed course work

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to deliver writing instruction and provide opportunities for writing practice. The central assumption is that writing is a skill to be acquired through practice and feedback rather than lecture. The materials we read and the texts that you and your classmates will write are the heart of the course. The textbook, the instructor, as well as supplementary readings and other materials will introduce students to a variety of genres which you will attempt to master through careful drafting, collaboration, revision, workshopping, and peer review. The expectation is that students will come to understand writing as a process of discovery.  During workshops, students will be offered both written and verbal feedback to guide the process of revision. The formal texts you write during the semester will not be considered final until you hand in your Portfolio at the end of the semester.

The method of this course is listed in the course catalog as “lecture,” but that will hardly be the case during the majority of our class sessions, which will be overwhelmingly participatory and collaborative. 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 you and your peers. Many of our classes will involve reading and discussing your own work, the work of fellow students, and the work of professional writers who can provide inspiration.

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.

Course Components: Reading, Discussing, Writing

The reading assignments will involve reading instructional chapters in The Call to Write or The Prentice Hall Handbook as well as supplementary materials provided by the instructor in the form of handouts (digital or paper). Students may be responsible for going online to access and print personal copies of digital handouts. These will be available on the course website or from the Library’s E-Reserves. Specific instructions will be provided any time a digital handout is assigned.

Discussion is a term that refers to several different class activities to extend or enhance your thinking on assigned material: class-wide, large group discussions; collaborative, small group discussions; and individual response papers. Students are expected to attend each class prepared to engage in any of these discussion activities when materials are assigned.

The writing assignments for this course reflect our intention to explore three broad types of essay writing: expressive, expository, and persuasive. The expressive writing you do will ask you to draw on your personal experience, your personal observations and perspectives on the world that surrounds you, and your personal response to texts we explore. The objective writing you do will ask you to acquire and/or develop critical thinking skills such as analysis, interpretation, and synthesis. The persuasive writing you do will challenge you to practice an ethical form of persuasion, highly valued in the culture of academia, by learning how to construct a rational argument.  

The reading, discussion, and informal writing you do throughout the semester will combine to form your PARTICIPATION grade at the end of the semester. Absence or lack of preparation for any of the assigned classwork or homework will affect your participation grade. The formal writing assignments you do will combine to form your ESSAY grade. If you fail hand in one of your formal essays you cannot receive more than a “D” for your final course grade, regardless of your other scores. If you fail to hand in more than one of your formal essays, you will receive an “F.”  Your final course grade is calculated by compiling your PARTICIPATION, ESSAY, and PORTFOLIO scores.

15%    Paper #1: Expressive
15%    Paper #2: Objective Writing
20%    Paper #3: Persuasive: Writing
20%    Paper #4: Independent Project

Class Policies

Late Work. All essays and other assignments are due on the date assigned. If a serious injury, illness, or other emergency prevents you or seems likely to prevent you from meeting a deadline, make arrangements with me before the assignment is due, or the day it is due. If no specific arrangement has been made, late penalties will ensue. Late papers will be assessed a penalty of one letter grade for every two days late (in our age of email, weekends count). You cannot turn in an assignment for full credit more than one week after its due date. After one week, your work can only earn a "D" (numerically 65) or lower.

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 2006), at which time (after the 10th week of the semester) you may retrieve your folder from my office or from one of the English department secretaries on the 5th floor in Main Hall. After the 15th week of the semester the department discards unclaimed portfolios.

Attendance. 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 than four classes may receive a lowered grade. (Absences necessitated by a student's participation in a University-sanctioned event are not penalized if the student follows the "excused absence" policy stated in the University catalog.) After four absences your final grade may be lowered according to the severity of your absenteeism and my own discretion. 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 have the opportunity to meet with me several times during the semester. Some conferences will take place in lieu of class and some will be conducted during class. If you need further conferencing, you can meet with me during scheduled office hours. Each conference is an opportunity for personalized editorial discussion and evaluation of your work's progress.

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, high-quality 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. The number is 436-2121. Writing Center hours will be posted shortly after the start of the semester.

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 for further support or information.

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).

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!!! If you have any questions about how to use sources properly, approach me or one of the tutors in the Writing Center.

Writing Assignment Sequence

Four formal writing assignments and several informal ones will punctuate the course.  There are no exams, although when significant reading is assigned I may choose to give quizzes to assess preparedness. Your writing, your active engagement with the materials we explore, and your participation in class activities are the sole determinants of your course grade. Keep all completed homework and classwork in case of a discrepancy between my records and yours. All formal and informal writing, when returned to you, must be stored in a Writer’s Portfolio, a sturdy two pocket folder with your name on the front. This portfolio will be checked soon after midterm (to make sure you’re maintaining it properly) and handed in to your instructor at the end of the semester.  All graded writing is placed in the Writer’s Portfolio and provides a hard record of your work in the course.  

All informal writing is scored according to a point system, with most activities worth 3 points, though sometimes there will be activities worth more. Formal writing is scored by use of a rubric which reflects my belief in a holistic approach to evaluation, and attempts to provide students with a clear, objective understanding of how their grade is derived. Five equal criteria are applied to determine the quality of your essay: focus, development, organization, style, and correctness. For each of these criteria, students can score “Achieved” (100), “Acceptable” (75), or “Not Achieved” (60).  All essays can be revised and resubmitted for re-evaluation as long as the revision is accompanied by the original and a note explaining what you attempted to improve in your revision.
Brief Description of Assignments

Paper #1: Expressive: Memoir, Open Letter, or Response to Literature
Readings: The Call to Write: chapters 1, 2, 4, 5 and handouts (poems, short stories)

Students will read and discuss materials, literary and non-fiction, related to the broad topic of identity.  We’ll explore the question of how we come to be the people we are now.  Like the characters in many of our readings, we’re all in the process, consciously or unconsciously, of “finding ourselves,” discovering that inner core, and it’s an ongoing, dynamic process.  One student wrote, “Being in college gives me a chance to see what it’s like being free from restrictions.  I can become more my own person and who I really want to be.”  Finding out “who you are” or who you really want to be might mean exploring your past in a memoir.  Or it might mean you choose to explore your present—where you are right now—your current ideas and attitudes—in an open letter.  Literary works like short stories and poetry, though brief, can be powerful catalysts for self-discovery.  Perhaps one of the readings we share will spark some response in you that you feel is worth sharing publicly. Whatever your choice, the expressive essay provides you with an opportunity to explore some chosen aspect of your self, your identity, with the purpose of communicating who you are to the world around you.

Paper #2: Objective: Profile, Brochure, Fact Sheet, or Web Page
Readings: The Call to Write: chapters 7, 8, 11 and handouts

As a class we’ll study a topic (to be announced) in order to become familiar with the ways in which several forms of objective writing can be usefully applied.  Once these forms, or “genres,” are sufficiently demonstrated, students will then choose their own topics of interest to produce objective writing that either profiles, reports upon or critically reviews its subject.

Paper #3: Persuasive:  Argumentative Casebook with Persuasive Conclusion
Readings: The Call to Write: chapters 3, 9, 10

Students will have the opportunity to work in teams for this assignment.  Each team will create one substantial casebook aimed at fully informing open-minded readers about a controversial, debatable issue.  The casebook will also include an argumentative conclusion designed to persuade readers to take a particular position on that issue, which the team has arrived at through careful study of the casebook materials.  The means of persuasion will be based on the model of rational argument discussed in class and detailed in a handout which will be distributed (“Guide to Rational Argument”).  To facilitate the search for proper sources for the casebook, our class will attend an orientation session at Francis Harvey Green Library.  The orientation will help students become familiar with the many complex search strategies needed to successfully navigate the library’s wealth of information.  Learning to critically evaluate information, whether from a library or Internet source, is one of the several important educational objectives of this project.

Paper #4: Independent Project: Critical Response to Reading Culture
Readings: The Call to Write: review chapters 3, 9, 10 and read chapter 11

Ideally, college students are at a stage in their educational careers when they undertake the challenge of becoming independent, critical thinkers.  Instead of being dependent on others to dictate how they must think, they embrace the opportunity to think for themselves.  Emerging from passive habits of dependency isn’t always an easy or comfortable step to take, but it’s a necessary part of the process of becoming fully educated.  College students are therefore expected to form their own judgments about the world they observe,  the information that’s presented to them, and the information they discover independently. The ability to  present an informed, respectful, and reasoned discussion on any significant topic is what distinctively marks an educated person.  For this final assignment students will choose a topic based on an observation of some aspect of American culture and craft a response in the form of a commentary.  The commentary, capping off our semester, requires you to bring all of your writing skills to bear.  It can be written expressively, objectively, or persuasively—or a careful blending of all three purposes—depending on the context you create. The writer should be able to demonstrate an acquired knowledge about which approach is most appropriate for the paper as a whole and at any given point in the paper by effectively analyzing the “rhetorical situation.”  When is it useful to write expressively, offering your own unique perspective and sharing your personal experience with readers?  When is it most effective to gain objective distance and explore your subject objectively?  What information do your readers need?  What’s the best way to present it to them?  What analysis can you provide?  What ideas might readers object to?  Are you going to try to persuade readers who may object to your views, simply acknowledge differences, or ignore them?   

Course Outline

Please note that the assignments and/or dates on this schedule are subject to change during the course of the semester. Changes will always be announced in class and on the course website(s).

Week #
 INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE.  Exploratory writing: how to define the “essay”? How do we recognize “good writing”—what are the qualities of good writing? Why should writers try to understand their “rhetorical situation”? What’s a useful way to think about the “writing process” and how does seeing writing as “a process of discovery” impact our goals in this course? And, what is “identity”? Readings: Handouts: “The Rhetorical Situation”; Prentice Hall Reference Guide on “the writing process” (pages 1-20). 

Begin discussing (1) the specific goals of expressive writing, genres of expressive writing, (2) “identity” in light of assigned readings, (3) “description” and “narration” as modes for writing expressively. Readings: Handouts: “You Are Exhausted By Risk”; “Poems and Stories: Identity.” Call to Write: Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5.  Writing: Write a freestyle “mini-paper” on the topic of “IDENTITY.” You choose the form, style, content, and mode of presentation. Aim for expressiveness and substance. Mini-paper due Wednesday, Jan. 25.

No class on Wed. Feb. 1
Readings due; discussion of assigned readings and handouts (possible quiz). LETTERS, MEMOIRS, AND RESPONSE TO LITERATURE.  Letter writing, memoir, and response to literature as genres for expressive writing.  Discuss (1) paper presentation options: the essay, the open letter.  (2) strategies for responding to literature and writing about personal experience. Writing: Mini-papers on memoir, open letter and response to literature.  Begin topic development for expressive essay.

Topic development for expressive essay due.  Drafting, collaborative activities, and continued discussion relating to the expressive essay.  In-class writing workshops for the expressive paper require students to bring at least 2 copies of a typed draft (3-5 pages) to class for peer and instructor review.*

Monday: Individual conferences on Expressive writing.
Expressive Essay due Wednesday, Feb 15.  In-class reflection on the writing process. Begin discussing (1) the goals of objective writing, genres of objective writing; (2) “analysis” and “synthesis” as skills for achieving an objective purpose; (3) further rhetorical strategies for writing objectively; (4) the importance of “visualizing” information, and sometimes making information visual rather than verbal. Readings:Call to Write, Chapters 7, 8.

Readings due (possible quiz); discussion of assigned readings and handouts.  PROFILES AND REPORTS as genres for objective writing.  Begin discussing project options: the profile essay; the explanatory essay; the analysis essay; the “white paper,” fact sheet, timeline, brochure. Begin topic development for objective project.

Topic development for objective project continued. Drafting, collaborative activities, and continued discussion relating to the objective essay.  In-class writing workshops for the objective paper require students to bring at least 2 copies of a typed draft (3-5 pages) to class for peer and instructor review.*

Individual conferences to discuss objective project will be scheduled. Meeting place: Main 312.
Paper #2: Objective Project due Friday, March 10.  In class reflection on the differences between expressive and objective writing.  Begin discussing writing with a persuasive purpose.  Readings: The Call to Write, chapters 3, 9.


Spring Break: No classes on March 13, 15, 17

Discuss assigned readings and handouts.  Collaborative teams will form to discuss and conduct preliminary research on potential casebook topics.  Then teams will formally submit their Casebook topics, along with a summary of their preliminary research. We’ll begin discussing strategies for evaluating and selecting Casebook sources. 

Class will meet in FHG Library (exact day/time TBA in class) for a LIBRARY ORIENTATION. A reference librarian will present specific instructions for using the library’s sophisticated information indexes and databases that will help you gather the best available sources for your casebook.  We’ll spend class time in the library allowing teams to work together to search for Casebook sources using the resources introduced during the orientation. Collaborative teams will then work on analyzing and evaluating their casebook sources and writing an argumentative, persuasive conclusion.

12 Teams will collaborate to draft, edit, assemble, and visually display their Casebook projects.

Group conferences to discuss argumentative casebook project will be scheduled. Meeting place:  Main 312.

Teams will continue to collaborate in assembling and (possibly) presenting their Casebook projects.

Paper #3: Argumentative Casebook Projects due Wednesday, April 12 / Friday April 14.

Begin discussing options for the final project.  Readings: The Call to Write, chapters 9, 11.

Discuss assigned readings and assignment sheet for the final project. 
Individual conferences to discuss independent project will be scheduled. Meeting place: Main 312.

Distribution of Portfolio Checklist and Self-Assessment Questionnaire.
In-class writing workshops for the objective paper require students to bring at least 2 copies of a typed draft (3-5 pages) to class for peer and instructor review.*

Paper #4: Independent Project due on Monday, May 1.  
Wed. May 3: optional conferences to discuss portfolio assignment, due at the Final Exam.

Finals Week
Turn in Portfolios with completed Checklist and Self-Assessment Questionnaire.  You’re finished—have a great summer vacation!







Questions? Contact me.

All materials unless otherwise indicated are copyright © 2001-2008 by Stacy Tartar Esch.

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