Saturday, November 05, 2005

Selections from a Syllabus

Hypertext Culture: Making Connections, Making Choices

English 1020: Introductory College Writing

Wayne State University – Winter 2006

Course Description
English Department: English 1020, Introductory College Writing, prepares students for academic writing as required in college classes and introduces them to forms of thinking, reading and writing that are applicable in multiple contexts beyond the university. The strategies involved in producing written arguments intentionally designed for specific audiences and purpose include data-gathering, pre-writing and/or outlining, organizing and developing written ideas, and revising to increase conceptual sophistication, enhance clarity, alter expression, and correct mistakes. To teach these strategies, English 1020 puts considerable emphasis upon the relationship between reading and writing, specifically upon readers' expectations about the structure of texts; the writer's reliance upon existing texts to produce new writing; and the process of collecting, interpreting, and disseminating information through texts.

This course will focus on critical thinking through reading and writing. It takes an integrated approach to writing by teaching various rhetorical strategies for reading a variety of texts in both written and visual forms, and for constructing reflective and argumentative writings in response. The term ‘Essay’ is one to be investigated, that is, we will discuss what constitutes an essay in both reading and writing. Readings in this course are chosen to enhance comprehension of challenging non-fiction texts, awareness of a text’s purpose and its intended audience, and identification of related and connecting themes and issues, and comparing and contrasting and arguing many perspectives on individual issues. You will be expected to articulate both oral and written responses about contemporary and sometimes controversial topics, and to demonstrate in writing that you can sustain your own ideas, supply sufficient evidence, and effectively synthesize primary and secondary source information.

The theme of the course is: Hypertext Culture: Making Connections, Making Choices. Using the text The World is a Text, as well as other sources, we will talk about how in contemporary society our lives are always already hypertextual, we are constantly moving in and out of diverse situations and contexts, constantly analyzing and interpreting the multitude of ‘texts’ that surround us from our own personal narratives of family and community to the movies we watch the billboards we pass on the street and the books and articles we read in both personal and professional situations. We are constantly ‘linking’ our thoughts and actions from one moment to the next, making connections mentally, socially, professionally, working always to negotiate the multiple and various pieces of our lives, knowledge, and understanding in order to make the choices that will keep us moving along a particular path both as individuals and as members of the assorted communities to which we belong and through which we move. Our reading and writing then are places or opportunities for interpretation, analysis, and discussion, places for making connections, drawing conclusions, making arguments, and asking questions. And these are spaces in which we must also make choices about how think, how to understand and interpret information, how to decide the purpose of, and the audience for, the different writing that we do, and how then writing is to be structured and presented from one context to the next.



(More detailed assignment sheets will be distributed and discussed in detail before each essay is due.)

Major Essays:

Essay 1: Personal. You will write a personal essay which both responds in a thoughtful and articulate way to two of the readings for this section, and incorporates a collection of references and images which might include: newspaper clippings, comic strips, literary references, cultural references, song lyrics and etc. You should have a minimum of 3 pages of your own writing in addition to the included references.

Essay 2: Cultural. Similar to the first essay, this assignment asks you to focus a bit differently. You are to respond to what you see as the main ideas of one or two of the readings for this section and then create a response to that idea through the incorporation and collection of references that are more specific to the particular popular cultures in which you are a part (such as entertainment, media, art, music, literature, etc). You should have a minimum of 3 pages of your own writing in addition to the included references.

Essay 3: Professional. This assignment is the same as for Essay 2, though you should create some sort of professional focus that reflects your area of study and/or professional interests. You should have a minimum of 3 pages of your own writing in addition to the included references.

Essay 4: Making Connections. (This assignment will function as some sort of MyStory in which some recurrent theme or idea from the previous assignments will be researched and presented in a personal and cultural context. Details to be worked out.). You should have a minimum of 5 pages of your own writing. MLA format for sources and citations. Four to five sources in a variety of forms (articles, books, web sites).

Additional assignments: On Mondays I will post and announce in class, a blog question related to the readings to be addressed on the class blog; due fri before class. I will also create a class email listserve for thoughts, comments, questions, things to ‘think about’ and etc. We will talk more about how to best use this resource in the context of our class.


High scoring papers (A and B range) are well above average in their sophistication, focus, development, and organization of ideas; their effective use of language and style of writing. Papers that receive a mid-range grade are functioning at a basic level and often show less clear focus, may include some undeveloped ideas, and may utilize awkward language and grammatical or mechanical problems that distract from the flow of the essay. Failing papers may not meet the requirements of the assignment, have seriously underdeveloped ideas, or include an excessive accumulation of language errors that may make the paper generally unintelligible.

Essays: All essays, other than in-class assignments, are to be typed in a 10 or 12 point font and double-spaced with margins no larger than 1.25 in. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date without exception. Papers turned in later than this will be reduced in grade by 10 points for each day, including weekends, that they are late. Please locate the various computer labs and the resources available to you on campus to help you complete your assignments in a timely and effective manner. If you are unhappy with your grade on an essay, I encourage you to set up a time to meet with me to discuss a possible revision plan. You may revise up to two essays during the semester.

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