English 289: Intermediate Composition
The University of Cincinnati
Spring Quarter 2010
Course Theme: Writing as a Social Practice
Instructor: Mrs. Heather Trahan
Office: McMicken #212
Office Hours: Tuesday, Thursday 9:30am-11am, and by appointment
Mailbox: McMicken #241 (8am-4:30pm Monday-Friday)
Materials, Texts, and Prior Knowledge Needed
An English usage handbook with a section on MLA and APA documentation styles
Access to Microsoft Word, and an understanding of how to send emails with attachments
PDF readings that you will print and bring to class
Spiral notebook (I will refer to this as your “journal”)
Blackboard—please check this frequently for assignments, handouts, etc.
A weebly.com website you will create—this will serve as a place to publish your writing.
Writing is a social practice, so it makes sense to “get it out there.”
Your UC email account
In the hopes of sparing some trees, all major papers will be submitted electronically. Please email all
papers to firstname.lastname@example.org as a Microsoft Word attachment. You will also be asked to
publish much of your writing to your weebly website.
Unless otherwise specified, all work should be double-spaced and typed using 12pt Times New
Roman or Arial font with 1-inch margins all around. Please follow the MLA or APA format (I’ll
alert you to which formatting style you need to use for which paper), paying special attention to
headings, page numbers, and source citations.
English Composition 289 is an intermediate composition course designed to build upon the writing
and reading skills developed in the first-year writing courses (English 101 and 102). The course
emphasizes critical reading and writing, more advanced research and argumentative skills, and
rhetorical understanding of discourse as it is used in various ways. You will read and respond to a
variety of materials about personal literacy, academic literacy, and community literacy. In addition,
you will write three major assignments: a focused literacy autobiography, an analysis of genre, and an
ethnographic research study of literacy within a particular discourse community.
Primary Course Goals
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
• analyze, compare, and evaluate rhetorical strategies specific to a discourse community
• interpret, assess, and write within a variety of genres to understand how meaning is
made, communicated, and debated
• identify and distinguish among kinds of evidence used in a given discourse community
• locate, evaluate, and integrate source material appropriate to research inquiry
• reflect on connections among ideas within the course and your own academic,
personal, social, and professional lives
• write and revise drafts and integrate feedback using drafting, revising, and editing
• use appropriate technologies to research and communicate findings
• use conventions of format, organization, syntax, grammar, punctuation, and language
appropriate to specific writing situations
• recognize and use specified documentation and citation guidelines and styles
Major Projects and Course Grading
Paper 1: Literacy Autobiography:15%
Paper 2: Genre Comparative Analysis (paper or presentation): 15%
Paper 3: Ethnography of a Discourse Community: 30%
3 In-class Concept Reviews: 20%
Publishing on your weebly website: 10%
Class participation, general attitude, and other informal writing assignments: 10%
I grade on a standard 10/100 point scale:
90-93.5 = A-; 94-100 = A; 80-83.5 = B-; 84-86 = B; 86.5-89.5 = B+; 70-73.5 = C-;
74-76 = C; 76.5-79.5 = C+; 66.5-69.5 = D+, 64-66 = D, 60-63.5 = D-
Possible course grades for English 289 are A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F; W
(Withdrawal), UW (Unofficial withdrawal), and I (Incomplete). Incompletes will be given only on an
emergency basis and only when an agreement has been worked out between us regarding some
portion of the requirements not yet complete.
Description of Major Papers
Paper 1: Literacy Autobiography: This is an essay about your unique relationship to writing
and/or reading. You will analyze how a handful of turning points or major events have shaped the
writer/reader you are today. This essay requires you to use subject matter that you are already
familiar with—your life. Thus, you do not need outside sources; although you are welcome to use
quotes or passages from texts that have been crucial in your life. 4 pages minimum; please use MLA
Paper 2: Genre Comparative Analysis: You will be assigned a genre, for which you are
responsible for tracking down a real-life example (via library, bookstore, friends, family, your own
bookshelf, online, etc). Next, you will obtain an example of a second genre of your choice—see
genre assignments document on blackboard, “Your Particular Genre Assignment.” The goal is to
obtain and analyze these two texts. You may choose one of these options: 4-5 minute classroom
presentation or a 2-3 page analysis essay. For either the presentation or the essay, you will
analyze/compare/contrast your 2 texts, striving to answer at least one question in each category:
Rhetorical features: Audience and Purpose, Comparison, Content Features, Structure, Linguistic
Paper 3: Ethnography of a Discourse Community: In this assignment, you will be conducting
ethnography of a discourse community. In doing ethnographic research, you will observe a group,
take notes, gathering actual textual artifacts, interview one or more of the group’s members, and
report on your findings. While this research may entail a broad range of factors, I’d like you to focus
primarily on the writing practices of this group. How do they use texts? What kinds of language
make up those texts? What texts do they use? What texts are lacking and why? The focus of this
research should not be solely on social dynamics or oral discourse (though this can certainly play a
part!), but rather on how written texts work within the group. 10 pages minimum; please use APA
Revision of Paper One
You may revise your literacy autobiography (Paper 1) after getting back your graded essay; however,
revision does not mean cleaning up errors due to poor editing. Real revision means making big
changes in content, in your ideas. A two-page letter, detailing the specific revisions you made as well
as a rationale about what guided your decisions, must accompany your revised essay. Submit your
revised essay as an attachment along with your original graded essay with my comments. You may
submit your revision at any time, but no later than the last day of class. Revision does not guarantee
a higher grade, although most revisions do end up receiving a higher grade. If you receive a higher
grade on the revision, your original essay grade will be dropped and replaced by the new grade. You
may not revise Paper 2 and Paper 3.
For this class, the word “attend” means to be physically present as well as mentally present. If you
are napping in class, you will be marked absent for the day. If you cannot participate due to
forgetting books or not completing assignments, you will be considered absent.
UC’s official attendance policy is this: you are allowed two unexcused absences. (An excused
absence is an absence due to a University-sponsored event and religious holidays.) Beyond those
two, each absence will lower your final course grade by a full letter grade. (For example, if you
miss three classes, your final grade will drop from an A to a B.) If you miss four classes, I may ask
you to withdraw from the course.
Be on time! Frequent lateness will affect your classroom participation grade. If I am ever more
than ten minutes late to class, you may leave without penalty. You must stay for the entire
class period to be considered present. If special needs arise regarding arriving late or departing early,
please talk to me in advance.
The Buddy System
If you miss class, contact your “buddy” by email or phone before the next class period to find out
what was missed. If your buddy drops the class, please let me know, and I will find you a new
buddy. If your buddy was absent, you may then contact me to find out what was missed.
Thrice during the quarter we will hold an open seminar—which is designed to let you converse with
your peers about challenging texts without the intervention of the teacher. You will generate
questions and address them; I will stay mostly out of it. If something interesting is said, I may
speak—but this will be rare.
The open seminar will resemble a book-club. It is meant to be difficult, fun, honest, and
enlightening. At first, it may seem awkward—the silence may feel awful—but soon you will learn to
talk to your peers without turning to your teacher for permission or approval. Ultimately, genuine
curiosity will drive the success of the open seminar.
Our Classroom Community
Sometimes I won’t immediately know the answer to a question. Sometimes, when I ask you a
question, you won’t have a quick response. Or, maybe it will take you weeks or months to come to
an answer. (Or maybe you won’t understand until years later, long after this course has passed.) This
is natural and good. Silence is not a thing to be feared. Saying “I don’t know” should not be feared,
either. Rather, we should embrace silence and we should acknowledge that we cannot possibly know
all things all the time.
Silence is a time for gathering ideas, for collectively considering the complexity of a situation. Issues
and questions in English classes are never right and wrong, true or false, or a choice between A, B,
C, or D. (In fact, I believe no class should ever be structured that way.) Let’s not fear silence in the
classroom, but rather recognize it as beneficial for learning. Please fight the urge to squirm if there
are long silences in the classroom. This does not mean you or I are stupid or failing. It just means we
are being honest enough not to speak yet. I’d rather hear a genuine response after a long silence (or
no response at all), rather than 20 people who don’t know pretending to know. At the same time,
however, please be brave. If you are naturally shy, please try to break that tendency and speak out.
You have valuable insights that need to be expressed!
Also important in this class is the act of asking questions. Asking a question is not a sign of
weakness, but a sign of wisdom. Remember: regard your classmates as community—instead of
competition. No question is stupid and no question is a waste of time. I might not know the answer
to your question, but you also have 22 other classmates. Let’s pool our powers and accomplish
something unique and important in this course.
Heather’s Pet Peeves…
o During writing time, please do not whisper to people around you. Please, let us have silence,
which aids concentration.
o Please do not open your laptop during class.
o Please do not text during class.
o You do not have to ask me to use the restroom.
o Please do not sleep during class. (Please grab a coffee before coming to class.)
The Writing Center Rocks!
Located in 257 McMicken, the Writing Center houses a team of qualified writers and teachers whose
job it is to give you one-on-one attention and support with your writing projects for English class or
any of your other classes. This service is free. Call 556-3912 or visit the lab to make an appointment.
The Quickest Way to Ruin Your College Career
To be frank, it’s pathetic to turn in a paper that you didn’t write. There is more dignity in earning a
low grade on your merits than there is in claiming credit for another’s work. If I suspect your paper
is plagiarized, I will submit it to plagiarism-detecting software provided by the composition program.
The penalty for plagiarism is an automatic grade of F for the course and a letter detailing the
plagiarism in your college file.
Students with disabilities
Students with learning disabilities must present to me their official documentation from the
Disabilities Services office during the first two weeks of class so that necessary arrangements may be
Unit One Schedule:
The Literacy Autobiography
Tuesday, March 30: First-Day Writing & Listening & Introductions
Read first example of the genre of literacy autobiography: Richard Rodriguez’s “The
Achievement of Desire” piece (pdf on blackboard); print and bring to next class.
Thursday, April 1: Syllabus; Working with course policies as community-building; Ann E. Berthoff’s
explanation of “concept”; concept as it relates to the homework reading; Paper 1 Assignment
Read entire syllabus
Prepare questions about course; time for Q and A on Thursday
Re-read assignment instructions for Paper 1 (located on blackboard, under assignments tab);
prepare questions for next class.
Read more examples of the genre of literacy autobiographies: “Why I Write” by George
Orwell and “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan pdfs; print and bring to next class.
Create/write 2 good discussion questions about the Orwell essay and 2 questions about the
Tan essay; you will need these for the first open seminar on Tuesday
Tuesday, April 6: Journaling, first Open Seminar, Tips for Successful papers
Write the first page of your draft of your literacy autobiography. Bring three (total) copies to
On a separate document, list three specific questions that you’d like your group to advise you
about; be as detailed as you possibly can. Bring three (total) copies of this question-sheet to
Re-read “tips for successful papers”
Thursday, April 8: Concept Review #1 (open notes), Peer Review Workshop
Work on your literacy autobiography.
Send me one or two pages of your draft by 8am, April 9, as an emailed Microsoft Word
attachment to email@example.com. I’ll send you feedback within a day or two.
Read literacy autobiography “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldua (pdf
posted to BB). Print and bring to next class; create three good discussion questions.
Tuesday, April 13:
Making a weebly website; journaling; Open Seminar about Anzaldua piece.
The following tasks are due by 5pm on Wednesday, April 14:
Create your weebly. Email to me your weebly web address.
Publish your literacy narrative to your weebly.
Also, email your literacy narrative; send as Microsoft Word attachment to
Unit Two Schedule:
Week Three continued:
Thursday, April 15: Awareness discussion; Introduction to Unit Two Assignment; sign up for
Read Scott McCloud’s “Setting the Record Straight” and Frances Fitzgerald’s
“Rewriting American History” pdfs. (no need to print these)
Add a blog function to your weebly. Write a blog post in which you informally
describe how these 2 pieces (McCloud & Fitzgerald) allow you to consider the
concept of “genre.” Please make this post as long or as short as you need to
adequately convey your questions and impressions
Send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by Saturday, April 17 letting me
know that you plan on doing the presentation. (If you miss this deadline, you will
need to write the paper.) If you are choosing the paper, you need not email me.
Read document on blackboard under assignments tab called “Your Particular Genre
Assignment” to find out what your assigned genre is.
Track down a hard copies of your assigned genre as well as the 2nd genre of your
choice (if you want to use a genre that’s not on the list, please email me and we’ll
talk); analyze; plan class presentation OR written paper; presentations given in-class
on April 29; papers due on April 29 at 8am. If selecting paper option, you’ll post
your final paper to your weebly.
Tuesday, April 20 and Thursday, April 22: Conferences about genre with instructor at Starbucks on
campus/2nd floor (required). Retrieve handout.
Write/prepare presentation or paper
Read Booth’s “Boring From Within: The Art of the Freshman Essay”; print pdf and
bring to class Tuesday. Bring one or two good discussion questions.
Tuesday, April 27: Open-seminar on Booth piece.
Blog (on weebly) about your emerging answers to the question “What is genre?” Describe
what you are coming to understand about genre.
See the master weebly list (on blackboard); check out 2 classmates’ weeblies—read their blog
posts about genre and comment.
Publish papers to weebly by deadline of Thursday, April 29 at 8am. Also email papers to
email@example.com as Microsoft Word attachment by same deadline.
Thursday, April 29: We learn more about genre from our colleague’s presentations;
Concept Review #2
Write a 1 page double-spaced report that discusses, defines, and/or analyzes what the
concept “discourse community” means. Feel free to use the following sources: a print
dictionary, dictionary.com, a scholarly source such as a journal article found on a library
database such as Academic Search Complete, Wikipedia, random web surfing, your pre-
existing knowledge, asking a friend or parent, or the New York Times archive
Write a 1 page double-spaced report that follows the same procedures as above, with the
goal of discussing, defining, or analyzing the term “ethnography”
Publish both reports to your weebly, either as a new page or onto your blog.
Unit Three Schedule:
Writing a Researched Argument using Ethnography
Tuesday, May 4: The concept of “discourse community”; introduce ethnographic research
assignment; Getting Started handout
Read and print pdf examples of ethnographies: “Learning the Language” by Peri Klass
and “Sex, Lies, and Conversation” by Deborah Tannen. Create two discussion questions
based on these readings, and bring to class Thursday.
Read Getting Started handout
Thursday, May 6: Whole-class meeting in Starbucks. Discussion groups (group with buddy). “Flash”
5 minute conferences: talk to me about which discourse community you’d like to research/observe.
Each group member blogs about their group’s discussion today.
Read John Leo’s “Journalese, or Why English is the Second Language of the Fourth
Estate.” No need to print.
Make arrangements to study your chosen discourse community: schedule
observations/interviews, send emails, make phone calls, browse websites and scholarly
sources. Create your one-month plan.
On your blog, brainstorm ten research questions that will help you focus and begin your
Tuesday, May 11: Journaling; the art of observation—outward bounds!
Thursday, May 13: the “double-entry/dialectical notebook”
Start reading your scholarly and non-scholarly sources, using your dialectical notebook to
help you think through your reading.
Tuesday, May 18: More on the dialectical notebook
Post a “process” blog entry by 8am on Thursday, May 20. Where are you in your process of
researching/writing your ethnography? What is done? What is left to do? What’s your
research or writing process like? What is going smoothly or not smoothly? What do you
expect will or will not go according to plan? What part of this process concerns you? What
are you beginning to understand about your group’s values and how they utilize writing?
(Don’t feel pressured to answer all of these; this list is just to get your brain started…)
Thursday, May 20: Process-sharing/discussion
Tuesday, May 25: APA citation style informational session with librarian Barb Macke. Langsam
Homework: Bring two pages of your ethnography draft (typed; 2 total copies) to class Thursday.
This draft does not have to be how you envision the first two pages of your paper. This can be what
you imagine to be falling in the middle or end of the whole piece. But, please try to make this draft
have consecutive paragraphs; at the top of your draft; summarize where you imagine these pages will
probably end up in the final draft and why (For example: “I think that this part will be at the end,
because it holds a call to action and it stirs up powerful emotion for the reader.”)
Thursday, May 27: Composing Peer Review Letters
Homework: Bring 2 copies of your full rough draft to class Tuesday.
Tuesday, June 2: The Dating Game
Use the feedback from today’s dating game to improve your draft.
Bring your process folders for submission Thursday
Thursday, June 4: Final Concept Review (closed notes); Course Evals; Submit folders with process
Your final ethnographic researched arguments are due by 5pm today: publish to your
weebly and also send me a copy as a Microsoft Word attachment to
firstname.lastname@example.org; make any last-minute polishes to weebly (website counts as 10%
of course grade; evaluation will be based on overall perceived effort)