Course Overview and Policy Statements



Defining the Humanities

Text Analysis

Individual Topics

Reflective Writing

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Authors & Contributors

Policy Statement - Thomas

CO301a: Writing in the Humanities Sec. 1
Course Policies and Procedures
Instructor: L. Thomas
Office: Eddy 309; phone 491-0674
Office hours: 12-1 (on days class meets)
On-line Writing Center:

Course description: This course assumes complete control of skills developed in CO150 so that students can go well beyond introductory academic writing. Writers in the course learn rhetorical strategies for accommodating the demands of specialized arts and humanities subjects to the needs of diverse audiences, particularly those audiences outside the students' disciplines. Students will become sophisticated readers, particularly in reading from a writer's point of view. Moreover, students will enhance their critical reading skills and become comfortable as part of the community of readers of sources explored in the course. In addition to reading process, the course emphasizes writing processes with special emphasis on revising and editing. Students address topics and issues of interest in the arts and humanities. Although students may sometimes write to readers well educated in the arts and humanities, their work in CO301 is not designed to substitute for disciplinary writing in their fields. Rather, CO301a assumes that students will write to more general audiences, including the readers of publications such as Harper's, Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly, or the arts sections of a daily newspaper. The first three weeks of the course focus on analyses and responses to readings while the rest of the semester is devoted to preparing a portfolio of pieces written by the student.

Required texts and materials: Zinsser, On Writing Well, 6th edition
Readings on reserve at Morgan Library
Pocket folders for submitting assignments and portfolio
3.5 computer disk for backup
copy card (for copying sources & reserve readings)

Computer requirements: Taking a composition course in a computer classroom offers you the opportunity to use technology to enhance your learning on a daily basis. While we will use the computers nearly every class in some way, do not expect to simply spend all class time typing your papers. Be aware, as well, that you are responsible for typing well enough to complete in-class activities in a timely manner, for having a willingness to learn to use the hardware and software correctly, for helping your classmates, and for treating the equipment with care. Proper care of the equipment includes no food or drink in the classroom. You are expected to use the computers only for class activities during class time, not personal business, work in other classes, or recreational Web-surfing. Keep in mind, too, that it is your responsibility to take whatever measures necessary to avoid losing your work. "The computer ate my homework" is not a sufficient reason for not completing work on time in this class. You will receive a network directory (U:) to use during the course. While you can save files on your U:, you are advised to back them up on a disk as well. You will need an e-mail account for this course. (If you do not have one, see me for info on obtaining a free account.) Be sure to check your e-mail on this account regularly as I will periodically communicate with you via e-mail.

At the end of this course, you will have used and possibly gained in proficiency with word-processing, e-mail, an electronic forum, and on-line research. While our primary goal is to use these technologies to support writing, you will no doubt use and refine skills that are applicable to a variety of contexts.

Attendance: Class attendance is essential to your success in CO301a! You are expected to be in class, on time and prepared to participate, every scheduled class meeting. If the regular class is canceled for individual or group appointments, that appointment is considered a class meeting. To encourage you to attend every class, attendance will affect your grade in the following manner: Everyone gets up to two (2) absences excused, no questions asked. Additional absences may reduce your participation grade (see "Participation" section for more details). Be forewarned that attendance will be taken daily. If you are not present when attendance is taken, you will be counted absent. If you have any intention of missing more than one class at a time or missing more than two classes total, consult with me in advance.

Make-up work: If you miss class, you are responsible for doing the work done in class and the next day's assignment. Please do not return to class after an absence unprepared. Be advised that this is not the kind of class for which getting notes from another student will always suffice. You should, however, check with someone, preferably a classmate, for assignments, work collected, and the general activities you missed. While I am happy to clarify information you miss or help in ways a classmate cannot, please don't expect me to re-teach the class to you if you are absent. Always check the forum to read the daily post from me and new posts from classmates.

Submitting assignments: Assignments are due in class on the announced due date. Late work will not be accepted. All major assignments must be submitted in a pocket folder and must be typed. Homework does not need a folder. If you need to turn an assignment in at a time other than at a regular class meeting, take it to the English Department and have it put in my mailbox. (You're taking a risk if you leave it outside my office or under the office door.) ALWAYS keep a copy of your paper, just in case.

Workshops: We will schedule several peer review sessions throughout the course. These workshops are for your benefit and are only useful if everyone participates. Follow these workshop guidelines:

Plagiarism: Plagiarism (the intentional or unintentional submission of all or part of another's work as your own) is unethical and, in some cases, illegal. If you turn in plagiarized work, you will receive a zero on that assignment and may be reported to the university discipline authorities.

Participation: The focus of this class is learning to communicate more effectively; therefore, you need to be fully engaged in our ongoing "conversation" in whatever role is appropriate at the time.

Plan on being prepared for every class--and busy! Preparation includes completing reading assignments and written homework, as well as bringing texts and materials to class.

Your participation grade will include dailies and other in-class activities, forum postings, written homework, workshops, and postscripts. I will not collect everything I assign, but any assignment might be collected and graded. Therefore, you need to be prepared to turn anything in. In general, all assignments will be weighted the same, but workshops and postscripts will be weighted times 2.

If you are absent more than two times, each subsequent absence will result in a 2 point deduction from your participation grade.

Grading: Plus/minus grading will be used in this course. You will be given clear directions regarding what is expected of you. In addition, we will discuss how to evaluate effective writing throughout the semester. Completing all assignments on time and attending class are essential to passing this class, but work which simply fulfills the basic expectations receives a C, not a B or A. While you will receive more explicit information about grading and evaluation criteria throughout the semester, the following outline is provided for quick reference. If you have a question or concern regarding your grade at any point during the semester, please arrange to meet with me outside of class.

PLEASE NOTE: Keep all the work you do throughout this class. Not only does each assignment build on the previous one, but your portfolio of work is a record of what you have done in this class which may be needed to verify your grade, support a grade appeal, demonstrate your progress in the course, or submit (with an application, for instance) as a sample of your work, among other possibilities.

Portfolio grading. The majority of the course will be devoted to writing pieces to submit in a portfolio at the end of the semester. While you will have the opportunity to receive feedback on work-in-progress from your peers and instructor, you will not receive grades on this work until you submit the final portfolio. Ideally, you will gain the ability to evaluate your own work and revise it according to criteria we develop. Take advantage of the feedback opportunities and strive to become an effective evaluator of your writing and that of your peers.

OPEN DOOR POLICY: If at any time you have questions or concerns, please contact me. While it is your responsibility to learn in this course and to work toward the grade you desire, clear communication between us is critical to your success as well. Please let me know if you have any particular needs that require accommodation, e.g. hearing or visual impairment. Take care of small concerns and confusion early before they have the opportunity to grow into major difficulties.