Overview – This is a rigorous course for students who want to learn to write well. We focus on writing profiles and narratives based on research and personal experience. We will also write two imitations and two parodies. This is decidedly not a course about writing journals, diaries, or memoirs. Student work is read and discussed in class.
The assigned reading, with one exception, consists of work by contemporary writers. All this work is legally available for free on the web or on reserve in PCL. The one exception is A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (Scribner 1964), which is available at the Co-Op as well as in used book stores. The readings are also discussed in class.
This course carries the Writing Flag. Writing Flag courses are designed to give students experience with writing. In this class, you will write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback from me to help you improve your writing. You will also have the opportunity to revise one or more assignments, and you will be asked to read and discuss your peers’ work. Your grade will mostly depend on the quality of your written work. Writing Flag classes meet the Core Communications objectives of critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and personal responsibility, established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. This course may be used to fulfill three hours of the communication component of the university core curriculum.
If you must miss class or an assignment in order to observe a religious holy day, you should notify me at least fourteen days in advance. You will be allowed to complete the missed work within a reasonable time.
Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations should contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 471-6259 (voice) or 512-410-6644 (Video Phone) as soon as possible to request an official letter outlining authorized accommodations.
Assignment %of final grade
3 Profiles 25
3 Narratives 25
2 Imitations 8
2 Parodies 7
1 Free choice 20
I read, comment on, and grade your work the way a professional editor would. I’ll be looking at the overall organization of each assignment, at the quality of the thinking and information it contains, and at the structure of sentences and paragraphs. I am very particular about grammar and usage. Your words should really mean what you think they mean; your sentences should really say what you are trying to say.
Proofread your papers carefully. Remember, running spell check on your computer is not a substitute for proofreading. It annoys me to find, for example, “night” when the intended word is “knight” since such errors are clear indications that you have only run spellcheck and have not really proofread. I do not have an arbitrary system of taking off so many points for a typo or grammatical mistake, and I will indulge a minor error here and there. But too many typos or repeated grammatical mistakes will result in a reduced grade. One good way of checking a paper is to read it out loud to yourself. Another good way is to show the paper to another person and see what advice that person may give.
All other things being equal, a paper that is clear, interesting, savvy, coherent, and surprising gets an A. A paper that is clear and interesting enough gets a B. A paper that is organized just well enough but is otherwise work-a-day and plodding gets a C. Beyond that lies the abyss. I do not give plus/minus grades.
I do not accept late assignments except… Those exceptions are rare. Don’t take the chance. Work is due at the beginning of class.
Most classes will begin with a short quiz about the reading. The quizzes will not be hard. They will be true/false questions and the like. It won’t be necessary to study for them. If you have simply read the assignment, you will get every question right.
If a final grade is on the borderline, I will look for a reason to raise it. I’m not promising I’ll find such a reason, but I am promising to look. One reason would be consistent, helpful comments during class discussion. Another reason would be a pattern of improvement. I don’t want a low grade, or even two, to be fatal, especially if those grades are on assignments early in the semester.
I consider plagiarism a serious offense. Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s writing as your own. Do not do so.
Please come see me whenever you wish, especially if you have questions or are having problems. You are welcome to stop by my office on the spur of the moment. If I am free, I will be happy to see you. It is best, however, to make an appointment by seeing me before or after class or by contacting me by email or telephone. I am in my campus office from 9:30 to 4:30 most days. Let me emphasize again, don’t hesitate to come see me
Assignments – Please turn in a hard copy of your assignment at the beginning of class on the indicated date and email the assignment to me as a Word or Pages attachment (not a pdf). Please put your name, a title, and the word count at the beginning of each assignment. Do not exceed the assigned word count. Number your pages!!!
Always bring a copy of the reading assignment to class. You will need it during class discussion.
The instructor is an experienced editor and a widely published author.