English Composition I
English 1101 (CRN # )
Freshman Learning Community: American Literature
Georgia State University
Instructor: Alison Boehm
This course is designed to develop the student's writing skills while focusing on
the theme of American Literature. It focuses on the development of expressive,
expository essays in response to the readings, and also on the development of
composition skills such as researching, organization, drafting, peer review, and revising.
Hodges, John C., et. al. Hodges' Harbrace Handbook. 14th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt,
Miller, Robert Keith. Motives for Writing. 2nd ed. Mountain View: Mayfield, 1995.
Course Packet, available from The Print Shop on Decatur St.
Course Work– Assignments and Evaluation
The grades for this course will be weighted as follows:
1. Online Journal 30%
2. In-Class Assignments 20%
This grade includes attendance, in-class participation, in-class writing exercises, and peer
3. First Paper, 3-5 pages 20%
4. Final Paper, 4-6 pages 30%
Specific topics and expectations for essays and the final paper will be discussed well
ahead of time in class.
Online Journal: Please visit the course website and register as soon as
possible for the journal. If you are having any problems registering, contact me.
Every week, you will need to go to the course website listed above and post a response to
the current topic. Topics will be posted ahead of time, and will range from themes such as
expressive essays on the fiction or composition material we have read, personal
experience essays, and independent reading and response. For example, for at least one of
the topics, you will be asked to write about a book, short story, poem, or any piece of
creative writing that has not been assigned in this class. (Clearing subject matter with me
will not be necessary, though if you are having trouble finding a piece, Project Gutenberg
at <http://www.gutenberg.org> is an excellent resource. It is an online repository of
thousands of free books.) The postings should be at least one page in length. Students are
encouraged, but not required, to respond to their classmates' essays.
Attendance: Attendance is very important to your success in this class. You are
allowed three absences throughout the course of the semester. Regular attendance will
figure in to your participation grade, so it is in your best interest to attend.
Late Work: Drafts must be turned to peers on the day they are due, as we will be
workshopping these in class. Late papers will be penalized one letter grade for each day.
If you are having problems that will prevent you from turning in a paper on time, contact
me beforehand to discuss options.
Paper Submission: Please bring three copies of your paper on days when we
will be doing peer editing. Final papers should be typed in Times New Roman, 12pt font,
with one-inch margins. If you do not have access to a computer, there are computer labs
in the College of Education on the second floor, the Learning Lab (120 Kell Hall), the
Writing Center (976 GCB), and the Library South Computer Lab (106 Library South).
Your final draft submissions should have your previous drafts attached.
Cell phones: Cell phone usage is prohibited, not to mention annoying to your
fellow classmates and me. Turn off your cell phones before class.
Office Hours: My office hours are 2:00 to 3:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or
by appointment. I am always available via email to discuss any issues you are having as
Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Please review the
Standards of Academic Honesty in the student handbook or online at
Accommodations for Students With Special Needs
Students who need accommodations are asked to arrange a meeting during office
hours or at another mutually convenient time during the first week of classes, or as soon
as possible if accommodations are needed immediately. Bring a copy of your Student
Accommodation Form to the meeting. If you do not have an Accommodation Form but
need accommodations, make an appointment with the Office of Disability Services (Suite
230, New Student Center, ext. 3-9044) to arrange for accommodations.
The Center for Writing and Research
The Writing Center is located in room 976 in the General Classroom Building. It
is a free resource and provides one-on-one service and tutoring for students at all stages
of the writing process. This is a valuable resource, and I recommend that you make the
most of it. You can make an appointment on their website at
<http://www.writingstudio.gsu.edu> or simply drop in.
Notes: This is a basic outline for the class; deviations may be necessary. Be
prepared to discuss readings on the day that they appear on the syllabus. It's in your best
interest to keep up with the readings as we may be doing in-class writing for some of
them. Finally, please bring all of your books to each class, even if a particular book is not
assigned for that day. They contain resources and tips for writing, and you may wish to
consult them during class.
Tues: Introduction, Syllabus, Administration
Thurs: MFW "The Rhetorical Situation". Grammar and style review in Harbrace, Chs. 1-
Tues: MFW "Writing to Understand Reading" p. 381-391. MLA citation review in
Harbrace, p. 588-611.
Thurs: Course Reader: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper". First online
journal due by midnight Friday.
Tues: MFW "The Writing Process." Discussion of brainstorming techniques and in-class
brainstorming for first paper.
Thurs: Course Reader: Alice Walker, "Everyday Use". Online journal due by midnight
Tues: MFW "Planning." Discussion of drafting and outlining techniques.
Thurs: Course Reader: Ray Bradbury, "There Will Come Soft Rains". Online journal due
by midnight Friday.
Tues: Draft of first paper due to peers. Discussion of peer review and editing techniques.
Harbrace Ch. 33. MFW "Revising" and "Editing", p. 24-29.
Thurs: Peer review sessions. Online journal due by midnight Friday.
Tues: In-class writing on peer editing experience. Discussion on research gathering and
choosing sources; other issues of using sources effectively. Harbrace Chs. 37-38.
Thurs: Final draft of paper due. Course Reader: Joyce Carol Oates, "Where Are You
Going, Where Have You Been?"
Tues: Consider the source: discussion of online research and sources. Harbrace Chs. 37-
Thurs: Course Reader: Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find". Online
journal due by midnight Friday.
Tues: One-on-one conferences. No class.
Thurs: One-on-one conferences. No class. Online journal due by midnight Friday.
Week 9: Note: Semester midpoint. 10/16- Last day to withdraw and possibly receive
Tues: In-class writing. Revisitation of MFW "Writing to Understand Reading" and
introduction of final paper topic. Harbrace Ch. 35, p. 472-482 "Reading and Thinking
Thurs: Course Reader: Hunter S. Thompson, "A Death in the Family". Group
brainstorming on paper topics.
Tues: Regents' Test discussion. Harbrace "Writing Under Pressure", p. 461-471.
Thurs: Practice writing for Regents' Test. Online journal due by midnight Friday.
Tues: Paper topic due to me. Discussion of persuasive writing. MFW "Writing to
Persuade Others". Harbrace Ch. 35.
Thurs: Course Reader: William Faulkner, "Wash". Online journal due by midnight
Tues: Overview of argumentative writing. Harbrace Ch. 36.
Thurs: Course Reader: Ursula K. Le Guin, "Texts". Online journal due by midnight
Week 13: Note: 11/17 Last day to withdraw and receive a "WF".
Tues: Draft of final paper due to peers.
Thurs: Peer editing of final paper. Course Reader: Erskine Caldwell, "Kneel to the Rising
Week 14: Thanksgiving Holidays- no class
Tues: No assignments or readings this week! Enjoy your holiday, but continue to work on
Tues: Final opportunity to discuss any paper issues with me or your classmates.
Thurs: Course Reader: Charles Chesnutt, "Dave's Neckliss".
Week 16: FINALS WEEK.
Tues: No class. Use this time to finish polishing your final paper.
Thurs: Final paper due to me by 5 o'clock. Final online journal due by midnight Friday.
I decided to structure my syllabus around a more expressivist pedagogy, though there are
elements of others thrown in as well. For an introductory composition course, I feel that
expressivism is one of the best ways to get students engaged in writing. I chose to make
this a Freshman Learning Community as well because I wanted to include literature and
close reading of literature in a more involved way. I wanted to incorporate an online
journal to get students used to utilizing technology in the classroom, and also because
many classes are using the writing to learn journal model right now. The benefit of the
online journal as opposed to the paper journal is that it provides a greater amount of
structure to the student to have assignments due on certain dates; many people will skip
entries in paper journals and then try to write them all at once just before it is taken up.
This is less likely to happen when the responses are immediately posted to a website for
everyone to see. Also, I hope to encourage the students to comment on each others'
journals; this is a somewhat sneaky way of doing peer review without calling it that.
Feedback is always valuable and makes the students aware of their readers, even when
they may not have considered the readers while composing their writing.
The online journal prompts would be posted the Monday of the week that they are due.
This is to keep students on their toes, and also because some of the topics will deal with
things we discuss in class; I do not want to confuse students by having to change topics
around depending on whether we are ahead or behind schedule. As explained in the
syllabus above, one of the topics will be a discussion of an independent piece of material.
This is a good way to let students engage in a topic that is interesting to them, and
provides a break from prompts. Most of the prompts will be expressivist in nature,
however. Most of them will be what the student thought of the fiction we read in class;
whether it touched them, repulsed them, angered them, bored them to tears, or had any
other effect on them. The main goal is to get them talking and thinking about it, which
serves a critical thinking point of view. This critical thinking aspect is one that will be
explored in more depth in the classes in which we actually discuss the fiction as well, so
whether or not they hit on critical thinking in their journal, it will have a chance to get
Since the course was meant to have a heavier leaning on literature than a standard 1101
course, I devoted most always one day of the week to discussing the works we read. They
were chosen for their diversity, uniqueness, and ability to be thought-provoking; I didn't
want to go with the practically ubiquitous standards such as "Letter from a Birmingham
Jail" and the like. Most (but not all) of these stories are ones that students likely have not
encountered before, and hopefully they will find them interesting and be inspired to
engage in great discourse about them. (Well, I can hope, can't I?)
Since I am concerned with students' grammar abilities, I planned to spend a day with an
overview of basic elements of grammar and style. I will also be watching their journals in
the beginning to get a feel for whether or not this needs to be addressed in more depth. If
so, then one of the literature Thursdays will likely be cut short to accommodate it. I hope
that peer editing will also be useful in addressing these issues. I included the peer
workshop component in more areas than just editing as well, because I wanted to
incorporate elements of collaborative pedagogy into the class, but didn't feel that
collaborative writing or group projects were the way to go about it. I prefer peer
discussion and workshop groups, and feel that this is a good way to decenter the
classroom and allow the students to be teachers. (Given that this would be my first
semester teaching, I have to admit that I am not brave enough to attempt a truly Freireian
method of decentering the classroom. But I do think it's important to have student-led
discussions instead of boring hour and a half long lectures, so this is my concession to
The process of writing is discussed in this course as well. Students should have a good
grounding in the methods for coming up with ideas and outlining them for a paper; in my
experience, this is actually the hardest part of paper writing, and if taught about it early
on, perhaps students can avoid floundering before they even start the paper. Research
techniques were included for that same reason, as this also seems to be an area in which
students need the most help.
Before the final Withdraw date, I set aside a week to speak to each student individually
about his or her progress. I wanted to do this because I will have seen a significant
amount of their writing by that time, and they should be aware of where they stand in the
class, and if they need to potentially drop it while they can if they are truly struggling.
I briefly touched on persuasive and argumentative writing theories towards the end of the
course in order to prepare students for encountering these styles in 1102. I didn't want to
go into too much detail or assign writings based on them because that tends to be more in
the realm of 1102 at this university, from what I understand.
The Regents' Exam is viewed as a necessary evil in my course, especially since it falls in
the middle of the semester. I devoted a week to discussing what it is, how to prepare for
it, and what is expected from a student to pass it. Since the students will have experienced
different writing styles before the exam, I thought it would be interesting to solicit their
opinions on it in comparison to what they have already learned.
I didn't feel it necessary to have a final exam for the course, merely a final paper. The
final paper will combine the literary and composition elements of this course, touching on
most of the things we have talked about (researching, using sources, critical thinking,
analyzing texts, and revising). With it, I hope to achieve a synthesis of the composition
and literary aspects of the course. It is weighted for a significant portion of the grade, but
I hope that given the time budgeted the students will have ample opportunity to revise
and polish it as needed.
The assignment sheet given to them for the final paper would be this:
Final paper- write an essay on one of the short stories we have read in which you
use textual evidence and outside sources to expose and explore an underlying critical
theme. The paper should be 4-6 pages in length and use at least two outside sources. It is
necessary to present a short outline of your topic to me; this does not need to be
extremely detailed, but should be at least a paragraph. You and I will discuss your topic
briefly in class on the day it is due to me, and if necessary, will make an additional
appointment to discuss it in more detail. Please begin thinking about what you would like
to write on immediately.
This outline for my hypothetical course combines elements of several different
pedagogies, but I feel it would work fairly well.
As one final note: The textbook editions I used for this course are older than the ones
currently in use. This was because I was able to obtain the older editions more easily. I
felt I should warn about that and give an explanation. Also, I used the syllabus template
available at the Graduate English Association website,