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WRIT 1633 syllabus, spring 2012



                                                                  • writ	
   1 633:	
   H uman	
   R ights	
   H umans	
   W rite	
Historian Lynn Hunt argues that that the practice of literacy — i.e., of composing and interpreting
written, visual, or aural texts — is not only uniquely human; it is how we learn to be human. In this class,
we will examine literacy from a variety of angles — as expressed in art, as a local social practice, and
as a global political phenomenon — both to consider how reading, writing, and viewing define our
common humanity and to become more accomplished readers, writers, and researchers ourselves.
Much of our time will be spent discussing readings and viewings together as a class, but the majority
of our time will be devoted to four writing projects:
•   Project 1: Digital Humanism: For this project, you’ll test Lynn Hunt’s thesis that literacy teaches us
    how to be human by examining that pedagogy at work in a contemporary digital artifact.
•   Project 2: Literacy History: This project asks you to make an argument about the role that literacy
    has played in the long struggle for human rights by conducting historical research into the
    development of literacy in America.
•   Project 3: Literacy Ethnography: For this project, you’ll consider the significance of contemporary
    efforts to promote literacy and human rights by conducting an ethnographic study of a local
    literacy organization.
•   Project 4: Literacy Reflection: This project asks you to consolidate what you have learned this term
    about writing, reading, and research by reflecting upon your own work.

The following required texts are available in the University Book Store:
•   Inventing Human Rights: A History, by Lynn Hunt
•   Literacy: An Introduction to the Ecology of Written Language, by David Barton
Copies of (or links to) all other readings and viewings will be posted on Blackboard or on our course
Your own texts are also a central element of this class — so please bring your laptop to every class
•   Goals
WRIT 1633 is a writing course for advanced first-year students, emphasizing rhetorical strategies for
different academic and civic audiences and purposes; critical reading and analysis; and research.
By the end, students are expected to demonstrate, through their writing, practical knowledge of
multiple academic research traditions, the rhetorical/conventional differences among them, and the
rhetorical differences between writing for academic audiences and writing for popular audiences.
Students are also expected to demonstrate proficiency in finding, evaluating, synthesizing, critiquing,
and documenting published sources appropriate to given rhetorical situations. Students will receive
sustained practice in writing, with systematic instructor feedback, resulting in at least four finished and
polished papers, totaling some 20-25 pages by quarter’s end.
•   Class-time
Thinking and composing well take practice, practice, and more practice. So, as a general rule, we’ll
spend half of our time discussing readings and viewings and the other half composing works of our
own. The composing may involve responding to a prompt, completing an exercise, drafting or
revising, or helping each other to brainstorm or revise in small groups. You can also expect to spend
an hour or so each day working at home, and more than that when you’re working on a graded
project. Finally, because a quality composition results from many revisions, you will revise each of your
projects severally, with guidance from me and your classmates.
•   Conferences
I’m available for conferences in the dining area in Nagel Hall between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on
Wednesdays and between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Thursdays. It’s to your advantage to make an
appointment to talk with me about your work; serious students are serious about seeking out
guidance. To make an appointment, please send me an email l( etting
me know when you’re free during office hours, and I’ll find a time for us to meet.
•   Engagement
I expect you all to be active, engaged learners and thoughtful, helpful collaborators, committed to
the material, your writing, and your peers’ learning. Your level of engagement is made manifest in a
number of ways, including participation in face-to-face class meetings, in online discussions, in peer
review feedback, and in your efforts to improve not only your own learning experience but the
learning experience of the entire class. I will assess your engagement as follows:
Ø “Superior” engagement means that the student is always prepared, often adding additional in-
   sights to online discussion and providing extensive feedback to writing. S/he demonstrates active
   learning via consistently perceptive and energetic engagement with the material, his or her
   peers, and me.
Ø “Average” engagement means that the student generally seems prepared. Generally, his or her
   participation in online discussion and feedback on writing seem to encourage and support others
   in the class. The student’s presence is productive
Ø “Weak” engagement means that the student’s participation is listless, lackluster, or only
•   Attendance
Because interaction with others is a vital part of learning, I expect you to attend every class meeting,
scheduled conference, and online activity. You are allowed two absences without penalty; for each
absence after the second one, your final grade will drop by one third of a letter (e.g., from an A to
an A–, from an A– to a B+, etc.) Should you miss four class meetings, I will suggest that you consider
dropping the course and re-enrolling in a quarter during which you can devote the necessary effort.
If I determine that excessive absences have prevented you from meeting the goals of the course,
you may fail. If you miss a class, you are personally responsible for learning about any missed
material or assignments, either from classmates or from our blog. I make no distinction between
excused and unexcused absences, so save yours for illness or emergency.
•   Civility and Tolerance
The Writing Program affirms DU’s Code of Student Conduct (,
which in part “expects students to recognize the strength of personal differences while respecting
institutional values.” Because writing courses rely heavily on interactions between all members of the
class, students and faculty must act in a manner respectful of different positions and perspectives. A
student who behaves in an uncivil or intolerant manner will be asked to stop and/or formally repri-
manded and/or subject to action by the Office of Citizenship and Community Standards.
Becoming educated requires encountering new ideas and information, some of which may conflict
with an individual’s existing knowledge or perspectives. I expect students to engage such materials
thoughtfully, in ways that reflect the values and mission of the University of Denver.
•   Late Work
Assignments are due when they are due. I will accept late work only if you have cleared the
lateness with me in advance, and then only under the most extenuating circumstances. An
assignment that is turned in late without advance clearance will be graded down a third of a letter
grade (e.g., from an A to an A–, from an A– to a B+) for each day it’s late.
•   Plagiarism
The Writing Program follows the Council of Writing Program Administrators policy “Defining and Avoid-
ing Plagiarism,” which states, “In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately
uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without
acknowledging its source” ( DU’s Honor Code also maintains that all
members of the University must responsibly use the work of others. Students who have plagiarized a
project will receive an F on that project, and the instructor will inform the Director of Writing and the
Office of Community and Citizenship Standards, which may take further action. Any documented
acts of plagiarism after the first may be subject to more severe actions.
•   Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
The Writing Program will provide reasonable accommodations to every student who has a disability
that has been documented by The University of Denver Disability Services Program
( or 303.871.2455).
For each of your compositions, you will receive a provisional grade on the draft preceding the final
draft, along with suggestions for revision from me. That provisional grade will rise, fall, or stay the same
depending upon how effectively you revise as you complete your final draft. All final drafts of all
essays is due to me via Google Docs by noon on Thursday, June 7.

  assignment                                   relevant dates                           % of final grade
project 1          First draft: 4/10; revised draft: 4/12; final draft: 6/7             25%
project 2          First draft: 4/26; revised draft: 5/1; final draft: 6/7              25%
project 3          First draft: 5/22; revised draft: 5/24; final draft: 6/7             25%
project 4          First draft: 5/29; final draft 6/7                                   15%
engagement                                              —                               10%
T March 27        Introduction
R March 29        Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights, Introduction and ch. 1
T April 3         Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights, chapters 2 and 3
R April 5         Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights, chapters 4 and 5
T April 10        Project 1 workshop
R April 12        Introduction to the American Literacy History
                  • Revised draft of Project 1 due on Google Docs
T April 17        Deborah Brandt, “Sponsors of Literacy;” selctions from Harriet
                  Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
R April 19        Selections from the Library of Congress Born in Slavery
T April 24        Documents from the Freedom Schools.
R April 26        Project 2 workshop
T May 1           Introduction to contemporary literacy activism
                  • Revised draft of Project 2 due on Google Docs
R May 3           Selections from Barton, Literacy.
T May 8           Selections from Barton, Literacy.
R May 10          Selections from Barton, Literacy.
T May 15          Selections from Barton, Literacy.
R May 17          Class cancelled for Friday’s Social Justice Colloquium.
F May 18          Social Justice Colloquium.
T May 22          Project 3 workshop
R May 24          Introducing Project 4
                  • Revised draft of Project 3 due on Google Docs
T May 29          Project 4 workshop
R May 31          Revisions

Final drafts of all projects due on Google Docs by noon, Thurs., June 7.

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