College Writing 112 Syllabus

Critiquing Culture and Media: Personal and Academic Essays


Teacher: Bridget Marshall                 E-mail:

Required Text: Lunsford and Connors’ The Everyday Writer


Class Meetings: Tuesday / Thursday 11:15 am to 12:30 pm Herter 222


Office Hours:  Thursdays 12:30 to 2:30 (between classes) and by appointment

Office Location:  Bartlett 262; mailbox in the hallway outside room 305


This class operates on the idea that we are all writers.  While some of you may not particularly enjoy writing, it is still a very necessary part of your education.  Writing will not only help you get through school, but it will be immeasurably useful beyond school, in whatever profession you choose.  Keeping in mind the idea that you will all have many kinds of writing to do throughout your academic career and beyond, here are my goals for this class:

1)    Teach you a few of the basic forms of writing that you will use during your college career and beyond

2)    Show you how writing multiple drafts and collaboration with peers improves your writing

3)    Help you to edit your work so that it looks and sounds polished and professional

4)    Engage you in topics that will interest you and show you how to use writing as a way to develop, explore, and express your thinking on a subject

To meet these and other ends, there are six major essays for this class, each with multiple drafts.  In addition to writing and revising these essays, we will be publishing them in class magazines.  It is my hope that publishing the essays will also help to achieve the ends I have outlined above, providing you with extra incentive to write interesting, insightful, and well-edited essays.  Rather than being assignments written for me, your teacher, these essays are an opportunity to express yourself and to think critically about a variety of topics.  Outlined below are the general topics/forms we’ll use for the essay assignments.


#1        Toys: Personal Narrative and Analysis

#2        Advertisement Analysis: Engaging with a published advertisement

#3        Text-Wrestling:   Reading, discussing and responding to a written text

#4        Documented:  Open Topic, supplementing your knowledge with research

#5        Argument:  Choosing an issue and a side, making an argument

#6        Self-Analysis:  Reviewing and critiquing your writing and work


Most of these Essays will involve four drafts: an Exploratory Draft, a Mid-Process Draft, a Concluding Revision and a Publication Version.  I have explained the requirements for each draft in the handout, “The Multiple Draft Process.”  In addition to these six essays, we will be doing a lot of other writing.  This includes in-class writing prompts (which may or may not develop into an essay), a journal, letters to each other and to me, and other sorts of smaller in-class writing assignments.  In other words, get your word-processor fired up, come to class with pens and paper, and be prepared to write!
Class Requirements: 
Pay close attention to this section; it contains the very basic requirements for passing this class.

Š      Attendance is required.  You can fail the course for not attending class, even if you do all the writing.  You are given two “Freebies,” no questions asked.  For every class beyond those two that you miss, your final grade for the class will be lowered half a grade. (I.e., if you have an “A” for the class, but have missed 4 classes, you will receive a “B” for your final grade.)  Also included in your attendance are your conferences with me.  There are three scheduled conferences that you MUST attend.  I usually cancel at least one, often both classes, during conference week.  If you miss a conference, it counts as two absences.  You should also be prepared for your conference, bringing your journal and any work that is assigned for that week.

Š      Complete the six major essays, including multiple drafts and other writings associated with them. Assignments are due at the beginning of class unless otherwise noted.  When you arrive in class, you should be ready to hand in a draft, or to work with it in a peer response group.  The process of “completing six major essays’ also includes revising them. Revising is not an option; it is required.  The four-draft process does not mean that you write a bad essay and then fix your typos; always write your best. Substantial revision is part of your grade.  I will look at your drafts to see that you have expanded and refined your writing through the process.  In order for me to see this, you must save every draft.  When you turn in a final essay, you should also include all drafts, notes, peer response, etc. associated with that essay. 

Š      Also in the process of “completing the six major essays,” you will be required to share your writing and respond to the writing of your peers.  We do this to stress the point that you are not just writing for a teacher or for a grade; we are writing for a community of writers.  We will read our work aloud to each other, read each other’s papers, and publish our essays in class anthologies.  Become comfortable with sharing your writing; this is a necessary step in improving your writing and becoming part of the academic community.

Š      Class participation is required.  This includes working in small groups to both give and receive peer feedback, as well as being actively involved in group or class discussions.  Actively pay attention to your peers’ writing and comments, and contribute your own thoughts.  Included in class participation are two required class-presentation assignments.  Everyone must provide at least one journal prompt and explain one grammar point on an assigned day.  Details of these assignments are explained in the handout “Class Participation Presentations.”

Š      Remember that it is your responsibility to keep track of things.  By “things,” I mean drafts of essays that have a tendency to get lost in computers or dorm rooms, assignments from class days that you missed, and class work that hasn’t been submitted.  I keep track of everything that is turned in.  If you are unsure if you have any late or outstanding assignments, you can certainly ask me; however, I will not chase you down begging you to turn something in.

Class requirements (continued)

Š      Keep a journal.  I expect you to write at least three pages (81/2 X 11-sized, or equivalent in smaller notebooks) each week.  We will be doing some of this writing in class, but you will probably need to do at least some of the journal-writing at home.  Bring your journal to class EVERY DAY.  We will have journal writing at some point during every class in order to help you meet the journal requirement.  I will check your journals to see that you are keeping up with them at each conference, however, I will not ever collect or keep your journal, or require you to share a journal entry with your peers. Journals are a space for your private writing.  The purpose of the journal is to give you a space for private writing, and to help you make writing a habit.  While you may end up getting an essay idea from a journal entry, the journal is not a place for drafts of essays, or for your calculus homework.  Your journal should be a bound notebook of some sort (no loose-leaf, please) that you keep separate from your class notes.  Please have your journal by the third class meeting.

Š      Publishing in and participating in the creation of class magazines is required. These magazines will become the “text” for the class.  Extensive group work and cooperation will be required in order to keep up with the publications, but I think you will find them to be a fun and rewarding project.  You’ll be seeing your name (and your classmate’s names) in print, and thinking about your essays as more than just something you turn in to your teacher for a grade; these are essays for your peers to read and discuss.  I don’t want you to write what you think a writing teacher wants to read; I want you to write interesting, exciting essays that reach beyond the scope of our classroom.  We will discuss the magazine requirements in more depth as the semester proceeds.  In any case, you will be required to publish your essays, as well as to participate in the editing of group magazines for each major essay assignment. If you have one particularly personal essay, we can discuss an alternate plan; please see me if you have a serious concern regarding publishing your essay.

Š      There is no final exam. You must attend the final conference and submit your final essay (Self-Analysis) and shorter end-of-semester writings in order to pass the class.


Evaluation and Grading

Grading writing is my least favorite aspect of the course, however, grades are necessary, not only to the University, but also in many cases in order to motivate students.   I don’t have a big secret formula for calculating grades.  Basically, everything you do counts in some way or other, and I record every check, every zero, and every grade.  Here is some general information about what is graded and how I tabulate a final grade:

Š      You will receive “checks” or “zeroes” for First, Mid-process, and Concluding Revisions, as well as for peer responses and other in-class or take-home work. Occasionally, I record a “check plus” for a particularly outstanding effort on a draft or small assignment.  If you don’t have a draft on the day it is due, or your draft seems seriously lacking in effort, you will receive a zero for the assignment.

Evaluation and Grading (Continued)

Š      For the final draft of each essay, I will complete an evaluation sheet that will detail the strengths and weaknesses of your paper on a grid.  Most essays will have a possible 50 points; longer or shorter assignments may vary in point value.  This final “number” will be recorded, but it is NOT the only indication of your grade; completing drafts, class work, and peer work is also included in the tabulation of your final grade.  Please keep in mind that every draft counts; your final grade for the course will include all checks, zeroes, and number grades.  

Š      Magazine publications will also be evaluated.  There will be various requirements for each magazine and the group as a whole will be responsible for making sure that the publication is in proper format and submitted on the due date.  Due to the time required for printing the publications, late publications can seriously delay assignments and classwork.  Please be extra careful to observe the publication due dates so that we can stay on schedule! 

Š      Please keep in mind the attendance policy (already detailed in the “Requirements” section above).  Extensive absence is the leading causes of poor grades in College Writing.  Your final grade is reduced by a half grade (i.e., an A goes to an A/B, an A/B becomes a B) for every absence beyond three (3).  Extensive, excessive, or habitual lateness can also be considered an absence.

Š      If you miss class, you should send your assignment to class with a peer or leave it in my mailbox (located outside the Writing Program Office on the third floor of Bartlett).  When you return to class, you are responsible for having the assignment due on that day, as well as any work you missed on previous days.  Consult the syllabus, contact a friend in the class, or send me an e-mail in order to find out what will be due on the day you return to class.  If you know in advance that you are going to miss class, I highly recommend that you let me know this so that you can keep up with the work.

Š      If you have a concern about an individual essay grade or a question about your standing in the class, I am quite happy to talk with you.  This type of conversation is best suited to an individual conference.  You can see me at your regular conference, drop by my office hours, or schedule an appointment at another time.

Š      A final word on the unpleasant part of grades, specifically the bad ones:  I hope that all my students will strive to do their best work in this course, but if you are determined to do only the minimal amount of work and get the minimum passing grade, you might want to know what the bottom line is.  This much is nonnegotiable: you are not eligible for a passing grade of D unless you have attended at least 11 of 14 weeks worth of classes, and completed 90% of the assignments.  I hope this is never a consideration or concern for any of you, but I did want to put it in writing.


Semester Schedule

Below you will find a preliminary outline for the semester.  Please note that what we’ll do in class is subject to change.  As a general rule, we will stick with the “what’s due for class” items.  If there are radical changes to the syllabus, I will issue a new one.  If you miss a class, you are still responsible for what was due on the day(s) you missed and on the day you return, so ALWAYS consult the syllabus (or a classmate, or me) if you have missed or will miss a class.

Please note that each day’s class will consist of two standard features.  These are 1) the five-to-ten minute free-writing session, with a prompt provided by one of your classmates, and 2) a five-minute grammar presentation by one of your classmates.  You will each sign up to do one of these during the semester.


What’s Due for this class

What we’ll (probably) do in class

Thursday 27 January


Welcome to 112

Exploratory Draft of Essay #1

Tuesday 1 February

Mid-Process Draft of Essay #1

Peer response on your mid-process drafts

Distribute Syllabus

Thursday 3 February

Reactions to Peer Response

Syllabus Response

Return Mid-Process Drafts

Discussion & Writing for Essay #2

Tuesday 8 February

Concluding Revision of Essay #1


Peer Editing

Magazine Group Work

Thursday 10 February

Publication Version of Essay #1

Bring a Magazine advertisement to class (or more than one)

Process Letter about Essay #1;

Magazine Group Work

Exploratory Draft of Essay #2

Tuesday 15 February


Your advertisement

Mid-Process Draft Essay #2


Peer Response

Thursday 17 February


NO CLASS:  Bring your mid-process draft to your scheduled conference


Tuesday 22 February

Concluding Revision of Essay #2

Peer Editing and Magazine Work

Preliminary work for Essay #3

Thursday 24 February

Publication Version of Essay #2

Process Letter about Essay #2

Magazine work

Distribute articles for Essay #3

Tuesday 29 February

Read articles

Notes and response to readings

Discussion of readings

Exploratory Draft Essay #3

Thursday 2 March

Mid-process draft of Essay #3

Peer Response

Documented Essay Topic Discussion

Tuesday 7 March

Library Day: Have a topic for your documented essay

Class will meet in the library

Thursday 9 March

Concluding Revision of Essay #3

Peer Editing

Magazine Work




What’s Due for this class

What we’ll do in class

March 11 – March 19



Tuesday 21 March

Publication Version of Essay #3

Process Letter

Documented Essay Topic

Magazine Work

Discussion / beginning of Essay #4 (Documented Essay)

Thursday 23 March

Preliminary Research Plan

Citation Exercises

Tuesday 28 March

Exploratory Draft of Essay #4

Peer Response, classwork on draft development, documentation

Thursday 30 March

Research Report

Discussion of sources, Practice with citation and quotation

Tuesday 4 April


NO CLASS:  Bring your Mid-Process Draft of Essay #4 and all Documented Essay materials

Meet outside of class with at least two classmates and complete the peer response packet

Thursday 6 April


NO CLASS:  Bring your Mid-Process Draft of Essay #4 and all Documented Essay materials


Tuesday 11 April

Complete Peer Response Packet

Bring most recent draft and all source material to class

Fact-Checker Assignment

Brainstorming for Essay #5

Thursday 13 April

Concluding Revision

Peer Editing

Exploratory Drafting for Essay #5

Tuesday 18 April

Publication Version of Essay #4


Expanding Essay #5

Elements of an Argument Essay

Thursday 20 April

Mid-Process Draft of Essay #5

Peer Response

Tuesday 25 April



Thursday 27 April

Mid-Process Draft II (with revisions from peer response)

Stations of Revision

Group work

Tuesday 2 May

Concluding Draft of Essay #5

Peer Editing

Magazine Group Work

Thursday 4 May

Publication Version of Essay #5

Magazine Group Work

Exploratory Draft of Essay #6

Tuesday 9 May

Mid-Process Draft of Essay #6

Peer Response on portfolios


Thursday 11 May

Your mini-portfolio for publication

Last Day of Class Stuff

May 13th – 19th 

Final Conference: Journal check, letter to my future students, Concluding Draft of Essay #6

Discussion of the semester’s work and final evaluation