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First Year Composition Course
MWF 10:40-11:30

Course Description
The intention of a first year composition course is to help students sharpen their written and oral communication and critical thinking skills. These are tools that students will find necessary to succeed in any discipline. In this class, students will be introduced to the study and practice of rhetoric to understand how they can both persuade and be persuaded in just about any situation.

I borrow James Joyce’s working title for his final work, Finnegans Wake, for this course’s name to create the state of mind that I want you to have going into this course:

  1. Writing is a process. No one can sit down, announce “I want to write about X,” and a few hours later print out a perfect paper. An important objective of this course is for you to learn how to rewrite. You should visualize the writing process as 35% researching and pre-writing, 5% spewing out a rough draft, and 60% rewriting and revision.
  2. Similarly, learning to be a good writer is a process. I do not expect any of you to walk out of here Pulitzer Prize winners; however, all of you will walk out better writers (and speakers) than you were when you started. What you learn in this class should be conceptualized as tools that you can continue to use and perfect throughout your academic and professional careers.

Over the course of the semester, you will…

  1. Gain a basic understanding of rhetorical moves and learn not only how to dissect other writers’ moves but how to apply them to your own writing
  2. Learn how to write an argument-driven college paper
  3. Practice a variety of revision strategies
  4. Perform academic research, which you will then use to write a substantial research paper
  5. Go beyond basic grammar and begin experimenting with aspects of style
  6. Recognize and avoid logical fallacies, plagiarism, and other such writing pitfalls
  7. Go beyond the page by learning and practicing the fundamental skills of public speaking

Writing Portfolio Assignments
1 page Definitional Argument
1 page Evaluative Argument
1 page Causal Argument
1 page Abstract
3-4 pages Rhetorical or Visual Analysis
3-4 pages Okay/But Argument
10-12 pages Research Paper

**All papers should be double-spaced, in 12 point Times New Roman font, and stapled. Points will be deduced otherwise. You can and are strongly encouraged to use double-sided printing for everything you print for this class.

**All your writing portfolio assignments can be revised after receiving my comments and a grade. The papers that you choose to revise will be turned in on Dec. 10 with your research paper, thereby comprising your portfolio. (All work turned in on Dec. 10 should be placed in some kind of folder.) It is not necessary to turn in papers that you do not revise.

**If you want me to look at a paper again before you turn in the final revision, you must make an appointment to meet with me outside of class.

Portfolio 70%

  • Short Papers 5%
  • Rhetorical/Visual 10%
  • Okay/But 15%
  • Research Paper 40%

Participation 30%

  • Class Participation 15%
  • Additional Writing Assignments & Presentations 15%

**Class participation means paying attention, answering questions, and providing input as well as being a productive participant of any group activity. How well you meet these expectations will determine your class participation grade. If you are sleeping, texting, emailing, doing work for other courses, etc., I reserve the right to ask you to leave and count that day as one of your unexcused absences.

**You must visit the writing center once during the semester to receive full participation credit; however, you can earn extra credit by making additional appointments. The writing center is located in Coleman-Morse 203 ( The center hosts tutors who will help you to understand the assignment, organize your thoughts, focus your thesis, and use proofs effectively. They will NOT, however, edit your paper.

  • Make sure that you check the box on the writing center form for the tutor to send me an email regarding your visit; this is how I keep track of who has gone.
  • The satellite writing center in the library is an excellent resource since you don’t need an appointment; however, a visit there will not count as your one visit.
  • The writing center tutor who works at the athletic study table will count because those sessions are treated as they would be in the writing center. Make sure that I receive an email documenting your time with the tutor.

** Everyone must see me outside of class at least once (you will sign up for this required meeting around mid-term). You can improve or supplement your participation grade by meeting with me more often (i.e. if you are shy in class, come to my office hours). Besides, it never hurts to have one-on-one time with any college instructor (**cough** recommendations **cough**).

**Please note that I have designated several class periods to working on your paper. Please bring your paper and/or sources that you are reading to class. Your class participation grade for these classes will be based on the work you do on your paper. Your grade will suffer if you fail to bring anything relevant to this class to work on.

Wed, 8/27:     Course Introduction
Fri, 8/29:        Power of Rhetoric

Mon, 9/1:       Audience Awareness
Wed, 9/3:       Claims & Proofs
Fri, 9/5:          Claims & Proofs

Mon, 9/8:       Rhetorical Analysis
Wed, 9/10:     Visual Analysis
Fri, 9/12:        Tour of the Snite Museum

Mon, 9/15:     Introduction to Workshop
Wed, 9/17:     Workshop
Fri, 9/19:        Paper Introductions

“The first draft of anything is sh#$.”Ernest Hemingway

Mon, 9/22:    Brief Student Presentations
Wed, 9/24:    Presentations Cont.
Fri, 9/26:       Logical Fallacies

Mon, 9/29:    Different Kinds of Arguments
Wed, 10/1:   Definitional Arguments
Fri, 10/3:      Evaluation Arguments

Mon, 10/6:    Causal Arguments
Wed, 10/8:    Introduction to Research
Fri, 10/10:     Library Presentation

Mon, 10/13:  Okay/But Arguments
Wed, 10/15:  Okay/But Arguments
Fri, 10/17:     In Class Writing

“That’s the beauty of argument, if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.”Nick Naylor, Thank You for Smoking


Mon, 10/27:   Workshop
Wed, 10/29:   How to Structure a Paragraph
Fri, 10/31:      In Class Writing

Mon, 11/3:     Review
Wed, 11/5:     How to Write an Abstract
Fri, 11/7:        Abstracts Cont.

Mon, 11/10:    Research in the Library
Wed, 11/12:    In Class Writing
Fri, 11/14:       Workshop Final Research Paper, Part 1

Mon, 11/17:    How to Write a Conclusion
Wed, 11/19:    In Class Writing
Fri, 11/21:       Workshop Research Paper, Part 2

“Too many scholars think of research as purely a cerebral pursuit. If we do nothing with the knowledge we gain, then we have wasted our study. Books can store information better than we can–what we we do that books cannot is interpret. So if one is not going to draw conclusions, then one might as well just leave the information in the texts.” Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

Mon, 11/24:    How to Give a 10 minute Presentation


Mon, 12/1:      Student Presentations
Wed, 12/3:      Student Presentations
Fri, 12/5:         Student Presentations

Mon, 12/8:      Student Presentations
Wed, 12/10:    Student Presentations & Turn in Final Portfolios





Other Courses:

ELAINE              ZELDA