West Chester University

Fall 2001

Spring 2002

West Chester University

Fall 2002



Course Information
  Lit 165 Syllabus
  ENG 020 Syllabus
  About the Instructor

Notes for Introduction to Literature
  Approaching Literature
  Notes on the Art of Fiction: Early Forms
  The Short Story
  Graduate Students Define the Art of Fiction
  Bartleby the Scrivener - Questions for Analysis
  Notes on Melville
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  A Vocabulary for Short Fiction and Beyond
  Study Guide for Fiction Exam
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  A Catalogue of Poems
  Notes on Langston Hughes
  Lines of Continuity
  Poetry Take Home Exam
  The Birth of Drama
  A Doll House
  Study Guide for the Final Exam
  A Glossary of Literary Terms

Notes for Basic Writing (ENG 020)
  The Rhetorical Situation
  Essay #1 Assignment Sheet
  Workshop Assignment for Essay#1
  How to Write Descriptively
  Building a Thesis
  Overcoming Reader's Block
  Analysis and the Culture of Advertising
  Essay #2 Assignment Sheet
  Writing Effective Introductions
  Writing Effective Conclusions
  Propaganda Analysis
  Politics and the English Language
  Propaganda: A Sample Analysis
  Midterm Exam: Tips for Writing on the Spot
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Mapping the Parts of an Arugment

General Announcements
  Announcements for LIT 165
  Assignments for LIT 165
  Announcements for ENG 020
  Assignments for ENG 020


Go Exploring
  A Weblog for LIT 165
  A Weblog for ENG 020

Join the Conversation
  LIT 165 Discussion List
  ENG 020 Discussion List


~ ~BASIC WRITING Syllabus ~ ~

BASIC WRITING WCU/eng020/ Fall 2001

INSTRUCTOR: Stacy Tartar Esch

PHONE: (English Dept. Secretary) 436 - 2822
MAIL/LATE PAPER DROP: Main Hall, English faculty mailroom on the fifth floor


Basic Writing equips students with a firm knowledge of the fundamentals of composition, standard English grammar, punctuation, and style. The course develops college-level reading, writing, and thinking skills. It will introduce you to practical writing skills such as generating and focusing ideas for essays, composing drafts, and polishing (revising and editing) drafts; to critical reading skills such as annotating, summarizing, responding, discussing, and synthesizing assigned readings; to critical thinking skills such as analysis, argumentation, and persuasion. Student creativity and participation will be strongly encouraged through class-wide and small group activities and discussion.


Gosgarian, Gary. Exploring Language. 9th ed. New York: Longman, 2001.

Troyka, Lynn Quitman. Quick Access. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 2001.

A college-level dictionary.

A folder to maintain your portfolio (to be handed in at the end of the semester).

An active e-mail account. (Although you may not have a private Internet service provider, all students have WCU e-mail accounts. You can learn how to access yours at the Academic Computing Center located on the ground floor of Anderson Hall. Unless you tell me otherwise, I'll assume you'll be using your WCU e-mail address.)


Writing: Students will be expected to produce approximately three out-of-class essays (2-3 pages) and two in-class essays (the midterm and final exams). Each essay will be evaluated according to how well you focus, organize, develop, stylize, and edit your work.

Classwork exercises: Students will be expected to voice opinions in class exercises-independent seatwork sessions, cooperative learning groups, writing workshops, and class-wide forums-which call for discussion and/or written response.

Quizzes: Students will be expected to study vocabulary items arising from assigned readings and to complete assigned practice exercises in grammar, punctuation, and spelling in order to prepare for in-class tests.

Portfolio: Students will be expected to collect and maintain all graded essays in a standard file folder (portfolio) to be handed in at the end of the course.


Attendance: I take attendance each class period. If a student has four or more recorded absences then he/she risks a grade deduction at the end of the semester. In cases where the student has less than six absences, the extent of the deduction is generally one letter grade; however, be advised that 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 of extenuating circumstances.

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. You cannot turn in an assignment for credit more than three days after its due date.

Revision: Students may revise essays scoring 70% or lower after meeting with me (TR 7-8am in GO-101A) to discuss revision strategy. I will not accept any revised paper unless the original is returned along with it. Late papers and papers severely short of the required length, however, are not eligible for revision.

Conferences: At least once, but possibly twice, during the semester, I would like to meet with you individually. One mandatory conference will be arranged in lieu of class, but students are encouraged to stop by at any time during my scheduled consultation hours to seek extra help or discuss progress.

Writing Workshops: Prior to your out-of-class essays, we'll set aside time in class for writing workshops. Students are expected to bring a complete draft of the essay to class on the assigned date. The essay will be critiqued in small peer groups according to directions given in class. The purpose of the writing workshop is to encourage critical evaluation of your own and others' drafts and to promote productive revision. Also, seeing your classmates' works in progress should prove interesting and instructive.


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)

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.


All essays, classwork, and quizzes are graded on a point scale which at the end of the semester will be totaled, averaged, weighted, and then converted to a final letter grade based on the following percentage distribution:

30% Portfolio (midterm)
30% Portfolio (final)
10% Classwork
15% Quizzes (announced and unannounced)
15% Final Exam

Your final percentage will be converted to a letter grade as follows:
97 - 100 = A+
93 - 96 = A
89 - 92 = A-
87 - 88 = B+
82 - 86 = B
79 - 81 = B-
77 - 78 = C+
72-76 = C
70 - 71 = C-
68 - 69 = D+
62-67 = D
60 - 61 = D-


This schedule may change during the course of the semester. You're responsible for keeping current on any changes announced in class. Note that the abbreviation EL is used to refer to reading assignments in Exploring Language (authors' last names are used to indicate assigned essays). Exercises in Quick Access will be announced in class, depending on students' needs.

Week 1
Goals of Basic Writing.
Topics: Understanding the rhetorical situation/ Overview of fundamental principals for effective composition/ Several strategies for generating ideas
Readings: handouts/web
Assignment: Write a personal narrative using the guidelines provided in class.

Week 2
Topics: focus/thesis/expressive writing: narrative/drafting
Readings: In EL read Malcolm X (EL 53)

Week 3
Topics: Revision strategies: improving unity, coherence, structure, development
Writing Workshop for Essay#1

Week 4
Topics: Expository Writing and Interactive Reading Strategies
Readings: In EL, read Lutz (301), O'Neill (315), Leonhardt and Kerwin (326), Lewis (333)
Assignment: Students bring in ads to discuss in small groups. Groups implement analytical strategies discussed in class, and then write an analysis of an advertisement using the guidelines provided in class.

Week 5
Continued classwork on reading and writing analytically.

Week 6
Writing Workshop for Essay#2
OBJECTIVE QUIZ on readings and lectures.

Week 7

Topic: Preparation for midterm.
Readings: In EL "How To Detect Propaganda" (221); Orwell (227). Handout: "Everyspeech"

Week 8
Hand in Midterm Portfolio.
In-class writing to produce ESSAY #3 (Midterm Exam). Two class periods.
Finals Week
Final Portfolio Due at the Final Exam

Week 9
No class: INDIVIDUAL CONFERENCES in classroom.
Students are expected to bring: graded essays (portfolio)any completed exercises from Quick Access, and self-assessment.

Week 10
Topic: Argument-Taking a Position / Understanding an issue from several perspectives and then constructing your own position.
Read in EL: Case Study: GunSpeak-Political Pundits and the Public on Youth Violence in America. (246-268)
Assignment: Write an essay which defines your position on the problem of youth violence.

Week 11
Group discussion/projects on assigned readings.
Writing Workshop for Essay #4
Topics: Expository Writing and Interactive Reading Strategies
Readings: In EL, read Lutz (301), O'Neill (315), Leonhardt and Kerwin (326), Lewis (333)
Assignment: Students bring in ads to discuss in small groups. Groups implement analytical strategies discussed in class, and then write an analysis of an advertisement using the guidelines provided in class.

Week 12
Topic: Argument / Making your position persuasive.
Readings: TBA
Assignment: Students will work in groups and create team papers for this project.

Week 13
Class will meet in the library to continue discussing and drafting group project. Each group will report to me to demonstrate a completed draft.

Week 14
Writing Workshop for Essay#5
ESSAY #5 DUE. One paper per group.

Week 15
Preparation for Final Exam.
Reading distributed and discussed.


Each of your essays will be read and evaluated holistically and assigned a mark of HP, P or IP.

HP = High Pass (falls within the "A" range)

P = Pass (falls within the "C-" to "B+" range)

IP = In Progress (falls within the "D" range)

NOTE: Missing assignments are recorded as an "F," a score extremely damaging to your overall average. It's therefore to your advantage to complete an assignment you find difficult and receive an IP (and then revise) than to neglect to hand in an assignment completely. Keep in mind, however, that late papers are not normally accepted after three days.

A holistic reading of your essay involves applying the following criteria towards the overall assessment.


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 and presented prominently. The thesis is a sentence in the essay which 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 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) and your analysis of audience. 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 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 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, say, three 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.


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 non-evocative, then you may lack an engaging style, but you've communicated the necessary information. Lastly, you may have poor style if you (1) overuse the passive voice; (2) write too many windy, wordy sentences with excessive clauses or conjunctions; (3) write too many short, choppy sentences; (4) frequently use inflated, unnecessarily formal language; (5) frequently use slang, jargon, or colloquial language; (6) fail to vary your sentence structure sufficiently.

Note: Remember that any essay receiving a mark of IP may be revised, provided it was not handed in late and is not severely short of the required length. Revised essays are due one week from the date they are returned. I advise you to discuss your revision strategy with me before you start so that you optimize your chances for raising your grade. The original essay must be stapled to the revised version-I will not accept revisions without the original attached.






Questions? Contact me.

All materials unless otherwise indicated are copyright © 2001 by Stacy Tartar Esch.
The original contents of this site may not be reproduced, republished, reused, or retransmitted
without the express written consent of Stacy Tartar Esch.
These contents are for educational purposes only.