English 101 – College Writing – Fall 2010
X18 MWF 8-8:55AM Kearney 312
X19 MWF 9:05-10AM Kearney 312
Professor: Dr. Jill Swiencicki (pronounced Swin-ze-key)
Office: Basil Hall 115; Office Phone: 385-8214
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours: MW 1-2:30pm and by appointment
Writing Seminar at St. John Fisher teaches writing as a way of learning, and as a
process of communicating what we have learned to others. We will pay particular
attention to the writing process, including an emphasis on reading, class discussion,
formal and informal writing, research, revision, self assessment, and peer review. You
will write frequently, both in class and outside. You will share your writing and respond
to the writing of your classmates. By the end of the course you will have developed your
writing, research, and analytical abilities, and learned a great deal about the role of
writing in your intellectual life, and in the larger culture.
You will study writing as situated, motivated discourse.
You will study the conversational and knowledge-creating nature of researched
You will practice identifying available choices in writing and making the best
You will practice producing interesting texts that reflect academic conventions.
You will learn ways to discuss academic writing and reading.
You will practice critical thinking and critical reading with an emphasis on
identifying and evaluating perspective and standpoint.
You will collect, evaluate, select, and integrate material from a variety of sources
into your writing.
Learning Community Description
The first-year learning community provides you the opportunity to take your first
semester courses in groups, or “clusters.” St. John’s organizes the first semester in this
way because research on student engagement has shown that student success, interest,
and purpose increases when students are supported in a sustained community of peers
and in a coordinated, collaborative curriculum. Courses in the learning community are
clustered together from different departments and find common ground through a focus
on a central problem.
Our course cluster with sociology is called “The Other America,” and it focuses on
issues faced by the overlooked, marginalized, or non-dominant members of our society.
Examining non-dominant experiences and viewpoints helps us to recognize the deeper
complexities of the social experiences we participate in; understand how our individual
standpoint influences our beliefs and values; and makes us more reflective, informed
participants in these experiences.
Our section of College Writing will think about how food is produced and
consumed as a way to understand the experiences of marginalized people, knowledge,
and ideas in our culture. What you consume—whether it be eating potato chips or
buying blue jeans—connects you to a larger system of social, economic, and international
relationships. Because we all eat, and because eating creates relationships of power,
reciprocity, and ethics, it offers us a clear way to see how the issues facing “the other
America” are actually ones we all have a stake in understanding.
Required Books and Materials (Available at the Campus Bookstore):
Rewriting: How to do Things with Texts by Joe Harris
Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It
by Sasha Abramsky
Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran Foer
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
A thin (60 pages should do it, you will fill all 60!), spiral notebook
A 2-pocket folder for portfolio submission
Daily access to Blackboard and campus email
Course Responsibilities, Practices and Support
I strive to create a student-centered learning environment in which you are largely
responsible for making the course meaningful. Participation is thus extremely
important. I expect you to come to class on time with the assigned reading and/or
writing completed before you come to class. I also expect you to treat each other with
respect, and to make sincere attempts to listen to and understand what your classmates
are saying. You can expect me to do the same.
Revision means “to see again” and involves much more than mere polishing or
fixing. Revision involves a thorough examination of one's intentions, style, audience, and
voice to create a unified, specific, and engaging piece of writing. You will revise your
assignments actively based on my feedback and on the feedback of your classmates. You
are responsible for keeping all your work—including invention activities, drafts, and all
responses to those drafts—over the course of the term. This will serve as a chronicle of
your progress as a writer. You will turn in all your work in a portfolio at the culmination
of each writing assignment sequence.
Conferences and Questions
I encourage you to approach me any time you have questions—about assignments,
about my comments on your work, about the movement of the course. If you have
questions about your writing, bring it to a conference and we will discuss it. If my office
hours are inconvenient for you, let me know and I will arrange an alternative time to
meet with you. You should come to my office hours with your writing at least once—
ideally more—during the course of the semester.
Attendance & Participation
Because class participation is essential to a course like this one, which uses a
discussion format, you will receive a grade for your contributions to daily class
discussions, small group work, writing workshops, etc. This grade will reflect not simply
the amount of participation, but also the quality. You should bring consistent and
dedicated involvement to class discussions and assignments. Two simple rules: If you
are more than 10 minutes late, I will consider you absent; you are allowed 2 absences,
and each absence after that counts one-half letter off your final semester grade. I make
no distinction between "excused" and "unexcused" absences.
Late or Missed Work
All assignments are due on the dates listed next to them on the course calendar. I
reserve the right not to accept late work. On their assigned due dates, you will bring a
complete, typed draft of each of the major writing assignments for peer response. You
will share your writing with a small group of classmates in order to get advice about
revising. Only a complete draft, delivered to class on time, will be acceptable for peer
response. Getting and giving thoughtful peer responses count as a significant portion of
your semester grade. Do not miss peer response days. Failure to complete all writing
and response assignments may result in failure of the course.
Plagiarism and Other Forms of Academic Dishonesty
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. This definition applies to texts published in print or
online, to manuscripts, and to the work of other student writers. Plagiarism and other
forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in accordance
with St. John Fisher policy.
Accommodations for Disabled Students
If you have a condition which may impair your ability to complete assignments or
otherwise satisfy course requirements, please meet with me to identify, discuss, and
implement any feasible instructional modifications or accommodations. Any student
with a documented disability may arrange reasonable accommodations with the Office of
Disability Services, Kearney Hall 202, 385-8034. http://www.sjfc.edu/campus-
Evaluating Your Final Course Grade
20%—“Coming to Terms” Portfolio
30%—Research Dialogue Portfolio
15%—In-class and informal notebook writing
10%—Participation (preparedness and engagement in discussions of assigned
reading, small group work, writing workshops, library research)
Writing Assignments: The Three Main Projects of the Semester
1—“Coming to Terms” Essay Portfolio Due Week 4, 9/28
5 pages, MLA format, Works Cited
Requirements: 2 drafts, 2 peer workshops, final draft submitted in portfolio form
The purpose of this assignment is to develop your ability to read and evaluate
arguments; to examine in more detail how perspective shapes discourse; and to better
understand what kinds of perspectives you are most sympathetic to and why.
The goal of this essay is to “come to terms” with one chapter from Breadline USA. In
writing this essay, you will demonstrate your ability to understand the arguments,
summarize and distill the big ideas, and assess them in light of your own deepening
We will be using analytical techniques from Rewriting: How to do Things with Texts, to
help you develop your analytical abilities. Take one chapter from Breadline USA and use
Harris’s method of “coming to terms” to explain and assess the ideas in that chapter.
“Coming to Terms” means answering such questions as: What is Abramsky trying to “do”
in the chapter on hunger that you selected? What are his key terms and concepts, and
how do they expend on and develop what he is trying to do? What are his methods, and
what uses and limits do they reveal to you? What issues, people, ideas does Breadline
forward or counter? Where do your sympathies lie in the chapter? And where do you
part ways with the author? Harris’s method requires you to select passages from
Breadline USA that correspond to the questions above; close work with Abramsky’s
writing will help you make sense of his big arguments, and also help you orient yourself
in relation to them.
Audience Your classmates and myself; please assume we have read the texts you are
Evaluation The “Coming to Terms” Portfolio is worth 20% of your final grade.
#2 – Position Paper Portfolio Due Week 8, 10/29
6 pages, MLA format, Works Cited
Requirements: 2 drafts, 2 workshops, final essay submitted in portfolio form
The purpose of this essay is to learn how to articulate your position in a respectful but
honest dialogue with the positions of others.
We’ve read Foer’s Eating Animals and Carpenter’s Farm City, and we’ve discussed the
rationales each writer has provided for not/eating meat, as well as analyzed how they
have made their arguments. In 6 pages, please take a position on consuming meat, doing
so in your own style, and in close dialogue with the claims and stories featured in both
Eating Animals and Farm City.
We will again be using Harris as a guide for doing our analysis. Taking a position in
relation to Foer and Carpenter means FIRST carefully showing you understand their
large claims, and THEN “forwarding” or “countering” them at key moments to articulate
your unique position on the matter. Using the methods of “coming to terms,”
“forwarding,” and “countering” will be important here as you grapple with specific
passages and overarching beliefs in both texts.
Audience Your classmates and myself; please assume we have read the texts you are
Evaluation The Position Paper Portfolio is 25% of your grade.
#3—Research Dialogue Project Portfolio Due Week 14, 12/5
10 page dialogue transcript, portfolio form, MLA format, Works Cited
Requirements: 3-person collaborative research, reading, writing, revision
It is vital to take your peers’ ideas as seriously as you do the ideas of published
researchers and experts, as well as gain experience in collaboration, research, and
analysis. The purpose of this essay, therefore, is to capture the dynamic interaction of
responding to the ideas and arguments of your peers on topics of ethical importance.
Our goal is to produce a 10-page transcript of the written dialogue among you and your
two group members as you come to terms with sources on a topic of your groups’ chosing.
In the written dialogue you will attempt to pose and answer a research question on food
by “coming to terms” with the sources you found, and with your own standpoints on the
issue at hand. The transcript will look like a discussion thread in an online chat, but will
consistently have more formal elements (in-text-citations of sources, smooth transitions
from one group member’s post to another, a Works Cited Page, etc.)
Please chose an issue or problem related to the readings we have been doing on
non-dominant discourses on food production and consumption. (Topics could range
from obesity, to eating disorders, to food and climate change, to food crises in
history, to hunger relief organizations—anything related to producing and
consuming food, with an emphasis on non-dominant perspectives, is acceptable).
Form a group of no more than three people total who share an interest in this
Do some preliminary research together, and from that, generate a few key
questions your group would like to research and answer. Each group member is
then responsible for bringing two sources to the group, and group members are
responsible for reading each others’ sources (6 total).
After you have read all 6 sources, one group member starts an email dialogue in
which you all attempt to answer your research question by “coming to terms” with
at least 4 of your 6 sources, and your own standpoints. You will produce screens
and screens of email discussion and analysis that you will revise and edit into a
polished transcript of your collaborative response to your research question.
Your audience is people who are outside your research group; we have not read the
sources you are discussing nor have we done any research on this question. Don’t make
any assumptions that we have prior knowledge about your research question or area of
Evaluation The Research Dialogue Project Portfolio is 30% of your grade.
Tentative Schedule of Readings, Class Activities, and Assignments
W 9/8 Introduction to the syllabus and each other
Homework: Harris, “Chapter 1: Coming to Terms.” Come to class with notes on
the chapter, and having answered the questions: what does he mean by “coming to
terms?” Why doesn’t he like words like “thesis statement,” or summary? What are
the main things you should do when you “come to terms” with a reading?
F 9/10 Discuss Harris Chapter 1 via in-class reading.
Homework: Abramsky, “Prologue,” Breadline USA. In your notebook, please
spend two single-spaced, handwritten pages “coming to terms” with the
“Prologue.” Keep flipping through Harris’s Chapter 1 to help you fully understand
what Abramsky is trying to do in this section of the book.
M 9/13 Abramsky, “Prologue;” Harris, Chapter 1, continued. Introduce
Coming to Terms Portfolio Assignment.
Homework: 1) Harris, “Chapter 2: Forwarding.” Takes notes in your notebook on
what you think Harris means by “forwarding” (why not just say quoting? Or
“taking someone’s ideas”?) and list the kinds of forwarding writers do when they
use other people’s ideas. 2) Then, skim the Breadline “Prologue” again and make a
check mark whenever Abramsky makes reference to sources that have taught him
something—experts, or ideas that are not his own. 3) Bring in a Youtube reference
to a song that samples/forwards another song.
W 9/15 Discuss “Forwarding” and Abramsky
Homework: 1) Harris, “Chapter 3: Countering.” 2) Return a third time to
Abramsky’s “Prologue” and make a mark beside each place where the author parts
ways with a belief, idea or value in order to make his own point. 3) In your
notebook, define “countering” and summarize some of the key moves involved in
F 9/17 Discuss “Countering” and Abramsky. Assign chapter groups.
Homework: 1) Read your assigned chapter from Breadline USA. 2) Fill at least 3
single-spaced notebook pages where you come to terms with the chapter, using the
method of analysis in Chapters 1-3 of Harris. 3) Make a list of the references he
makes that you don’t understand, and “Google” some to see if you can figure them
M 9/20 Small groups “come to terms” with their assigned chapter, using their
notes as a guide.
Homework: Read your assigned chapter once more, selecting what you consider to
be the key quotes/passages in the chapter.
W 9/22 Chapter groups create visuals to understand their assigned chapter
better (quote trains, forwarding and countering vectors, structural flows)
Homework: First full draft of 5-6 page essay due for workshop. Bring one typed
F 9/24 Create scoring rubric. Workshop drafts.
Homework: Revise draft according to peer feedback. Bring one typed copy.
M 9/26 Second required workshop. Discuss Portfolio submission.
Homework: Final revision of your essay due. Assemble portfolio (portfolio
contents = notebook draft; visuals/in-class writing; 2 drafts, final, cover letter).
W 9/28 Coming to Terms Portfolio DUE. In-class cover letter written.
Homework: Take notes as you do the following: 1) Talk to your friends and dorm-
mates about why they do and do not eat meat. 2) Call your family members and
ask them their feelings about eating meat. 3) based on what people in 1 & 2 told
you, what kinds of attitudes and habits do people have about meat eating? What
attitudes about food did you adopt from your family? Which ones did you break
away from? Record these answers and impressions in your notebook. 4-5 pages.
F 9/30 Discuss your survey on meat-eating. Discuss Position Paper
Homework: Read “Part One: Turkey,” Farm City. Search around on the internet
for information about Novella Carpenter. As you read Part 1 of her book, write in
your notebook answers to questions like: what’s her philosophy about eating?
About farming? About consumption of resources in general? What is she trying to
do in Part 1? Why is “turkey” one of the keywords/titles of the section? What is
useful or limiting about part 1 as you start to think about your own philosophy of
M 10/04 Discuss Farm City and your notes, small groups
Homework: Start reading “Part III: Pig,” Farm City
W 10/06 Part 1, Farm City, continued. Small groups report.
Homework: Finish reading “Part III: Pig.” Identify quotes from this section that
help us see clearly her beliefs about eating animals, her philosophy of
F 10/08 Discuss Part III: Pig, Farm City
Homework: Read “Storytelling” and “All or Nothing or Something Else” from
Johnathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals.
M 10/11 Discuss Eating Animals. Images from the famine/Holocaust.
Homework: Harris, “Chapter 4: Taking an Approach,” Rewriting. In your
notebook please note what Harris means by “taking an approach.” How would you
describe Carpenter’s approach? Foer’s? What do you want YOUR approach to be
in your position paper?
W 10/13 Discuss Harris and your notes. Assign remaining chapters to small
Homework: 1) Read your assigned chapter in Eating Animals and 2) take notes on
what that chapter is trying to do, what information it forwards and counters, the
approach it takes to the problem of meat eating. Be prepared to present this
information to the class next week.
F 10/15 No Class
M 10/18 Small groups meet and discuss their chapters. Briefly present their
chapters to the class.
Homework: Foer, “Storytelling,” final chapter of Eating Animals. Please bring
Harris, Farm City and Eating Animals to class.
W 10/20 Discuss Foer and brainstorm your position paper, finding key quotes
from FC and EA to dialogue with.
Homework: Write the first full draft of your position paper. Bring two copies.
F 10/22 Discuss peer response essay. Workshop a sample essay.
Homework: Read two of your peers’ position papers. Write a 2-3 page, typed
revision plan for each draft. The revision plan should 1) spend almost a full page
coming to terms with your peers’ essay; in other words, don’t start out critiquing
the essay, instead tell the writer what you think she’s trying to do, what her
approach seems to be, and what her key terms and big ideas are. 2) Then spend
the final half of the peer response essay discussing how the writer dialogues with
EA and FC. What quotations or passages does the writer work with well and in
detail, and what passages and quotations seem to need more analysis, seem to not
fit, or seem not relevant. 3) Conclude by discussing the three big revision
suggestions you have, and nowhere in the peer response should you mention
editing, spelling, or grammar issues: work solely on claims, organization, and use
M 10/25 Hand back 2 peer response essays, talk with writers, create rubric.
Homework: Revise your essay based on revision plans. Bring in new draft for
workshop. Student volunteer needed for whole-class workshop.
W 10/27 Workshop draft 2
Homework: Revise draft based on peer feedback and workshop advice. Assemble
portfolio (contents = notebook writing, group notes, peer essays, 2 drafts, final,
F 10/29 Position Portfolio DUE. In-class cover letter.
Homework: Have a safe and Happy Halloween!
M 11/1 Introduce the Research Dialogue Project.
Homework: Write at least 3 pages in your notebook about what issues related to
consumption make you curious, make you want to know more and learn more. See
the assignment sheet for ideas.
W 11/3 Meet in the library for instructional session on database and library
research for this project.
Homework: Post-Library Search sheet. Find some database articles and books
related to the topics of interest you listed in your notebook. Skim what you found
and see if your interest holds. Complete the Search sheet, and bring what you
found to class.
F 11/5 Create research groups of no more than 3 people. Groups decide on a
research question or problem they want to learn more about.
Homework: In your notebook, imagine the kinds of difficulties you could run into
in this project, and brainstorm some ways you could handle such problems if they
arise. Also, write about the research question you posed: what do you already
know about this question? What more do you want to know? What kinds of
sources do you hope to find?
M 11/8 Meet in the library to find your sources (each group member must
contribute 2 sources to the group that directly relate to the research question, are
from reliable sources, are lengthy, academic sources of repute and quality, and
that do not repeat/overlap/regurgitate information).
Homework: Skim all the sources you found and saved, and decide on one that
looks good. Continuing research on your own.
W 11/10 Meet in the library again and conclude your research. Share your
progress with your group,
Homework: skim the research you found in the library, and decide on the final 2
sources you will submit to your group as required reading. Email those 2 sources
to your group members by Thursday evening.
F 11/12 Group members present their 2 sources to their group, taking about 5
minutes for each source as you “come to terms” with the source for your group
members—defending why it is an academic-level source, and giving them a head’s
up on what they will find when they read the sources themselves over the
Homework: Read all 6 sources the group selected to answer their research
question. Underline/highlight each source and take copious notes on each as you
come to terms with them. Bring in all 6 source to class, as well s your notes.
M 11/16 Small group discussion of sources. Decide who will start the email
dialogue. All three members must post an email response—coming to terms with
and quoting from sources—by Tuesday evening.
Homework: Start your email conversation on the question: what did we learn
when we posed and then researched our question about food? What did we learn
about the research question, and what did we learn about ourselves/our own
consumption beliefs, habits, values, etc. Bring in a hard copy of your email thread
(one post from each group member, and each post should quote and come to terms
with 1) a source and 2) should build on and extend the ideas of the peer who
preceded you), and 3) should be at least 250 words long.
W 11/18 Email exchange workshop. Assess your first three email exchanges
and decide your next move.
Homework: Read excerpts from bell hooks and Cornell West’s dialogues in
F 11/20 Read together excerpts from bell hooks’ dialogues with Cornell West
and discuss the elements of strong research dialogue.
Homework: another round of emails. This time each group member posts twice,
remembering that each post should quote and come to terms with 1) a source and
2) should build on and extend the ideas of the peer who preceded you).
M 11/23 Instead of class, voluntary office hour drop-in to discuss my feedback
on your portfolios for an additional revision opportunity, or your research group
Homework: print out your email exchange and write all over it. Specifically,
track 1) how are we showing we are listening to and responding to each other’s
ideas from one email post to another? 2) How are we coming to terms with our
sources—quoting from them, noting what they are trying to do, they key ideas,
their uses and limits. 3) How are we comparing the information in one to source to
similar information in another source? 3) What answers to our research question
are we offering so far? 4) what sources/ideas/perspectives haven’t we covered yet?
W & F Thanksgiving Break
M 11/29 Discuss your marked-up print out of your exchange. Discuss
questions 1-4 above/where you want to go from here.
Homework: Revision and final ground of postings. Each group member posts
twice, remembering that each post should move the dialogue forward. Quote and
come to terms with 1) a source and 2) build on and extend the ideas of the peer
who preceded you), and 3) be at least 250 words long.
W 12/1 Whole-class transcript workshop—coming to terms with sources.
Homework: revise whole transcript
F 12/3 Transcript workshop—developing peer dialogue
Homework: Complete final revisions
M 12/5 Research Dialogue Portfolio DUE; in-class cover letter. Discuss
required revision portfolio. Discuss what kinds of revision have the most weight
Homework: Please read my comments from your “Coming to Terms” and
“Position” portfolios and revise the final essays. Please submit them on Friday in
the following way: Essay with my comments, revised essay, and a cover letter that
stated the revisions you made and why you think they enhanced the essay.
W 12/7 Instead of class, optional office visit during class time to help
students with revisions.
Homework: revise essays and assemble revision portfolio (contents = 2 essays
with my comments, two revisions, a cover letter that describes the revision choices
you decided to make and why you feel they were necessary and effective.
F 12/9 DUE: course evaluations and required revision portfolio.
Week Fifteen – Final Exam Week (no final exam for this course)