English 297 C: Interdisciplinary Writing in the Humanities: Writing Link with English 202: Introduction to the Study of English Language and Literature
Spring Quarter 2016
Meets in Bloedel 286
MWF from 9:30-10:20
Instructor: Erik Jaccard (Department of English)
Office: Padelford B-34
Office Hours: Fridays 12 – 2 and by appointment
English 297 is an intensive writing workshop offered in conjunction with, but entirely distinct from, Professor Charles LaPorte’s English 202: Introduction to the Study of English Language and Literature course. Like most writing courses in the Interdisciplinary Writing Program, ours is organized around two fundamental assumptions: 1) writing is an effective method of promoting active learning and 2) active learning is transformed into deeper knowledge when it happens in shared, meaningful contexts. Our class runs on a dynamic which emphasizes the back and forth nature of our relationship to the linked lecture: on the one hand, the lecture provides us with content, readings, questions, and a variety of opportunities to write; on the other, in thinking through and writing about the lecture content you will come to understand it more deeply.
The writing we do in English 297 is aimed at helping you become more effective as argumentative writers generally, and more specifically as readers, writers, and thinkers in the discipline of English literary studies. As students in English 297 you will learn to analyze course materials for cues as to the underlying assumptions of the readings and assignments, the nature of the audience addressed, the beliefs about what counts as evidence, and the characteristic ways of building and supporting arguments in the discipline.
Our work will revolve around two major sequences, each of which focuses on a key text and culminates in a longer written assignment. As we focus on writing as a process, these assignments represent the final step in a series of shorter writing tasks that will help you work up to and complete them. We do this because it’s important to recognize that effective writing does not happen overnight, as the product of intense concentration and/or inherent skill or genius. Strong writing—like the thought that goes into it—is developed slowly and carefully over time. It grows from a simple idea into more complex collection of them and emerges as the careful, deliberate, and organized outcome of a longer process of drafts, feedback, revision, and recreation. To further this goal, we will perform extensive revision of not only our writing, but also of our thinking, of the deeper patterns and structures for which our writing is a necessary and vital medium.
One of the many benefits of IWP writing courses is their size. Our class will feel quite small and intimate, and all the more so due to our currently low enrollment. Together we comprise a micro-community within the larger English 202 student group and we will be interacting with each other face to face daily. This situation allows us to work together within a learning context both related to, but also separate from, the main context for learning in the lecture. I encourage you to make the most of this time, to engage with interest and depth in the topics and tasks we pursue, and to open yourself to the idea of re-thinking your own writing process within this collaborative space.
Required Materials and Course Texts
- An active UW email account (which you check daily)
- $10-$15 for printing costs associated with in-class reviews and other reading or writing-related materials
- All readings assigned for Professor Laporte’s English 202 course. While we will likely not work with all of these, it will important that you have access to them.
- A notebook that you can use for in-class free writes and other assorted exercises. Laptops are acceptable substitutes provided they are put away whenever we are not writing.
- I will likely also give you secondary readings of my own from time and time. These will be made available in class as hard copies or on our course canvas page as pdf files.
Class Canvas Website: All short and major assignments will be submitted here. It will also house important student samples, examples of MLA formatted papers, and other useful links and documents.
Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC): Make appointments with highly-trained tutors who can help coach you at any stage of the writing process, from understanding a prompt to brainstorming to organization and final editing. As a former tutor, I personally recommend the OWRC.
CLUE Writing Center: When you can't get in at the OWRC.
This course is designed to lead you through the steps of a developed writing process. You are required to complete every step. These include:
1) Actively participating in class discussions, written homework assignments, peer critiques, and conferences.
2) Completing informal writing assignments on time.
3) Providing timely, thoughtful, and engaged written feedback on peers’ drafts
4) Submitting all drafts and revisions of major essays on the date they are due.
My Role: My role is in this class is part teacher, part facilitator. When necessary, I will ‘teach’ skills, content, and effective habit. However, I am also a facilitator who helps you become more effective and mature as an academic writer. I’m here to engage—to take seriously and read attentively—your works in progress. I will coach your writing, helping you develop nascent ideas, analyze others’ arguments, and push your own arguments further in conversation with your classmates’ ideas and those contained in the texts we read.
Your Role: to grapple with the ideas in lecture and readings and in your peers’ writing and conversation. You should puzzle through and reflect on the concepts and readings offered and consistently demonstrate engaged, critical intelligence in your writing. You should come to class and conferences prepared. Perhaps most importantly, you will need to think through your own and your peers’ writing critically and engage in significant revision of your own thinking and writing. In return, you can expect your classmates and me to read your writing with care and take your reflections seriously. Think of your role here as one part of a triangle that includes me at one end and your peers at another.
Coursework and Grading:
- Major Assignments (30% each): The major assignments we complete will constitute a majority of your course grade and the major foci of the quarter’s workload. Because of this, we will devote significant time each sequence to preparing you to write the final product. We will accomplish this by writing in stages, starting from the building blocks of the assignments (analysis, free writing, organization, argument generation) and moving on to the larger steps of putting together a paper and revising it.
- Short Assignments (20%): Each of our major assignment sequences will involve a number of short scaffolded short writing assignments that will help you build up to and complete the larger writing task. Your short assignment grade will include all required online writing work, in-class workshopping, and conference-related activities as well.
- Reflective Writing (10%): Over the course of the quarter you will also be asked to participate in a number of low-stakes writing assignments which ask you to reflect critically on your own position as a writer and learner, and on the progress you make from assignment to assignment. These are intended to be spaces for free-thinking, so you should treat them as considerably less formal than the core academic writing assignments. I will, however, grade them based on a standard UW professor John Webster calls ‘Engaged Critical Intelligence.’ What this describes is the sense a reader gets that a writer is, as the phrase implies, consistently engaged in the writing task, pursuing their topic thoughtfully and critically, with the goal of creating new knowledge about—and intelligence of—the self. Before we begin, I will provide the class with samples of writing I believe demonstrates ECI.
- Participation (10%): Active and engaged participation in this course is a vital part of your grade. Participation means: completing all short writing assignments on time and to specification. It means taking in-class writing exercises seriously and using reflective writing time (in and out of class) to your advantage. It also means contributing in positive ways to the classroom community. This contribution extends to all aspects of the course, including class discussion, group work and workshops, take-home peer review assignments, and conferences. It does not mean simply showing up and taking a seat. Ideally, you will contribute to all class discussions and even come to office hours to discuss your work and course texts.
In general, I separate my assessment of your writing into two categories of varying importance. First and foremost I look for clarity in purpose and argument. I look for the ways you present details and evidence, for the way you organize your thoughts, and for the sophistication and complexity of those thoughts. I call these ‘global’ or ‘first order’ concerns. My secondary set of priorities includes the mechanics and formatting of the writing, whether it is grammatically clear and ‘correct,’ and whether any problems therein are interfering with the first order issues outlined above.
*As regards our shorter assignments: unfortunately, because of time constraints and the quick pace at which the class moves, I will not be able to comment on all of the shorter writing assignments. Since revision is integral to this course, I’ll make sure to focus my commenting on key scaffolded steps and drafts for the final papers, when comments can help you revise. I will also provide end comments for final versions and I am happy to provide more detailed feedback on these papers during office hours (or by appointment). This does not mean that any of the work we do is inessential or ‘busy work.’ I expect your full effort in all the writing we do, whether in class or out of it.
Late Work and Late Students:
I understand that, for various reasons, homework sometimes does not get done. Therefore, I am not much of a stickler about late work provided that you abide by some basic guidelines:
- It is your responsibility to get your work done, not mine.
- Therefore, if you’re going to turn in late work, let me know. I don’t bite and I’m very generous with extensions, so just email me and ask. I am most forgiving with those students who communicate and let me know what their timeframe is or will be.
- All of this comes with one gigantic caveat, which is that our class is structured in a very particular way on purpose. Having your work done on time will determine whether or not you can participate meaningfully in class exercises and doing so will generally ensure that you can keep up with the course’s quick pace.
- If you simply disappear and stop turning in work, penalties will be assigned as follows:
- Short assignment missing without any notification will be marked as a 0 and will count against your ‘Short Assignment’ grade (See above).
- Major assignments turned in late with no notification will be penalized .1 grade point (out of 4) per full day late. Therefore, if you turn in a paper three days late and you haven’t communicated with me about it, the highest grade you can possibly receive is a 3.7.
Finally, arriving consistently late to class is disruptive, disrespectful, and rude, especially in a small classroom. Please arrive on time and be prepared to begin class by 9:30. Consistent tardiness will affect your course participation grade.
Respect: This class is small. We interact with one another on a daily basis and our success as a group depends on us doing this in an atmosphere of respect. While I am most definitely not the king of the universe, I expect you to respect me while I am in front of the class. For one, that means keeping off your phones during class time. For another, it means respecting your peers, treating them and their ideas (not to mention their writing) seriously, and with regard for the diversity of opinion and argument that goes into making any classroom a vibrant and productive place to learn.
Computers, Food, and Whatnot: Because this is not a lecture course, there is little you will need to take notes on that can’t be done easily with a pen and paper. Please keep your phones, tablets, and laptops put away unless to access course readings or participate in workshop or peer review. Similarly, I don’t mind if people have food in the classroom provided that it does not become a distraction to me or the class. Small snacks and such are fine, but please refrain from bringing in big meals, unless you plan on sharing. If this privilege is abused, it will be revoked.
Paper Format: Please submit all short and major assignments in MLA format unless otherwise specified. This means 12-pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. For a header, include your name, my name, the date, and the course (English 297 A will suffice) in the upper left hand corner of your drafts. You should include a unique, specific title at the top of the first page, one line down from your header and one line above your opening sentence. You are not required to include a title page. I will post a sample paper on the course website to show you exactly what I mean.
Plagiarism: Don’t do it! If you ever have questions about documentation, please come see me—I’m happy to help answer questions and share strategies for avoiding plagiarism. In your writing for this class, you will reference a variety of texts and you should be sure to provide proper MLA citation when you reference others’ work. I do expect your words and the ideas they express to be your own except when you clearly signal and name another source. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.
Confidentiality: Barring an imminent threat, I will not discuss you or your performance in this class with third parties outside the University of Washington unless you instruct me to do so and sign a consent form. FERPA (the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) prevents me from legally disclosing student information to third parties without a release signed by you. And even if a third party (a potential employer, a government agency, etc.) contacts me for information about you and has a consent form that you have signed, I will still refrain from providing information unless you have given me a written request (email is fine). So: if you would like me to respond to queries about you from a potential employer or anyone else, you should do two things: 1) fill out and sign a release form (one the third party provides or the UW's own, found at http://www.washington.edu/students/reg/ferpafac.html); and 2) email me a request to talk with this third party, giving me a sense of the context (recommendation? background check?) and of any information I should be sure to reveal or not reveal.
Accommodations: Please let me know if you need certain accommodations of any sort. I am happy to work with the UW Disability Service Office (DSO) to provide what you require, and I am very willing to take suggestions specific to this class to meet your needs. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials—just ask. More information on support at UW may be found on the DSO web site at http://www.washington.edu/admin/dso/
Complaints: If you have complaints about the course, you are welcome to discuss them with me in person by making an appointment or dropping by office hours. However, if you are not comfortable doing so, or if such an appointment does not satisfy you, you should contact Norman Wacker, head of the Interdisciplinary Writing Program, at firstname.lastname@example.org.