Classroom Participation (20% of course grade) Resources
Informal Writing (20% of course grade) Academic Integrity
Formal Writing (60% of course grade) Grading scale 

CLASSROOM PARTICIPATION (20% of course grade)

Attendance is vital to your success a class such as this one, since classroom discussion will be our opportunity to “do something” with the texts you read. Class discussion should come as a reward for doing the preparation before class and for being present. You should expect to participate in an active and engaged classroom experience, twice a week. Make sure you are in class, ready to begin discussion, when class is scheduled to start. Because I take roll at the very beginning of class, tardiness gets recorded as absence unless you approach me after class to confirm your attendance.

Nothing can replace your experience in the classroom, collectively generating with the rest of the class an understanding of the course material. I realize, however, that there may come a time when you need to miss a class. If you miss no more than two classes and are an active participant, your participation grade will not suffer. After that point, however, you cannot be participating at an effective level. So be warned: if you miss more than two classes, I will be concerned for your grade and your general well-being and will email you. If you do miss class, you are still responsible for that day’s work, including turning in (on time) any work due, understanding assignments, and getting the gist of class discussion. And when you’re not here, you’re reducing your likelihood of success in the course and are affecting your participation grade and in-class writing grade.

Before coming to class each day, you should do the following. Each step is necessary.

  • Read the assigned material listed on the schedule.
  • Respond: Write a blog post once each week, before Friday at 5am.
  • Prepare for textual engagement in class: Bring to class the book(s) from which you did the day’s reading.
  • Prepare to write in classBe ready to write for 7 minutes at the start of class. Preparation should be mental and physical, with pen and paper or, alternatively, with a laptop or tablet from which you can submit your response to me immediately on OAKS.

Then, when you come to class:

  • Bring all texts that will be discussed.
  • Put away your cell phone.
  • Give me and your classmates your full attention.
  • Do not text, chat, or surf the internet.
  • Remain in the room until the class ends.
  • Conduct yourself in a manner respectful to all present.
  • Be on time: I take roll at the very beginning of class, so tardiness gets recorded as absence unless you come up after class specifically to let me know I need to note you as present.

The participation grade includes required out-of-class meetings with me (the first by week 3, the second during week 6, the final one in week 14). The first meeting will need to happen during the first three weeks of the course. The meeting is informal and has no specific content. Simply show up and chat with me for 10-15 minutes. This can happen spontaneously during my office hours (T 10-12, W 1:30-3:30, and R 3-5). If those windows don’t suit your schedule, then you’ll need to email me in advance to arrange an alternative meeting time. The second meeting we will schedule later in the semester.

INFORMAL WRITING (20% of course grade)
Weekly blog post (10%) + In-class writing (10%)
Weeks 2-8 (up to Spring Break)

Blog questions + comments (10% of course grade) 

Before every class in Weeks 2-8, you will post a response on the course blog. Frequent and informal student writing has a number of goals:

  • to prepare everyone for a productive in-class discussion of the material;
  • to encourage both written and spoken informal discussion of the material;
  • to allow for those who are less active in-class participants the opportunity to participate in alternate ways;
  • to provide low-stakes opportunities for students to experiment with a range of types of written responses to the material.

Here’s how the blog post system works:

  1. Each week, 2 students will be responsible for posting to the blog questions concerning that week’s readings, for all of the other students in class to respond to. Each questioner will post one question before Tuesday’s class, based on the readings for that class meeting, and then one question before Thursday’s class, based on the readings for that class meeting. They will post their question for each day 24 hours before the class meeting (that is, by 1:40 on Monday for Tuesday’s class, etc.) Such questions should not have a single, “correct” answer. Instead, they should offer students the chance to discuss further an idea or issue raised in or generated by the reading, more like a prompt you would have for an essay assignment. [Sign up for your week as blog questioner here.]
  2. Before each class, all students in class will respond to one of these two questions, so each question will need to offer many possible responses. Questions that encourage diverse responses will earn higher grades than questions that can be answered only one or two ways.

Blog questions: Your question should be added to the blog as a Post. I recommend each question consist of 2-3 sentences: the first one making clear the subject matter (the central issue or concept that the question focuses on), and the next sentence or two presenting the question clearly. Further, the question should not simply ask for student opinion in general (“did you like the poem?” or “what did you think of the protagonist?”), but should instead require respondents to interpret and analyze the reading for the day in order to respond. If our subject matter for class happened to be, for instance, the short children’s poem “I never saw a purple cow. I never hope to see one. But I can tell you anyhow, I’d rather see than be one,” unproductive questions would be, “Why did the poet choose to make the cow purple?” or “Would you rather be or see a purple cow?” These simply ask for student opinion in general, rather than encouraging detailed analysis.

A productive question would ask, instead, “What kinds of cultural values does this poem pass on to the young audience it addresses?” or “What does the ‘anyhow’ seem to add to the meaning of the poem, making it more than filler to maintain the beat of the poem’s meter?” Successful blog questions might also draw students’ attention to confusing or ambiguous parts of the reading and seek clarification. Your questions will be graded based on how well they encourage a range of student responses (which can only happen if the question is expressed clearly, needless to say).

Blog comments: When you are not scheduled to ask a question, you will select one of the two questions posted for each class and produce a response to that before coming to class. You will always have at least 24 hours to do this. Your response should take the form of a Comment on the question.

These responses should be 4-6 sentences long. Your comment should respond directly to the question and will be even more successful if it pushes readers’ attention in new directions. This means you will need to read others’ responses before writing and posting your own. You will often find that your own response winds up responding not only to the original question but to the comments others have made. (This also means that the sooner you post, the less likely you are to find someone already having written what you would like to.)

To receive credit, your comment:

  1. must not repeat what someone has already said in a comment and
  2. must make at least one specific reference to the reading on which the question is based (for instance, a direct quote of at least 2 words but no more than a complete sentence, with the line number [for a poem] or page number [for anything not a poem] listed in parentheses afterwards).

A successful response to the first appropriate question on the purple cow poem might be something like:

The repetition of the “I,” which is the subject for each verb, makes readers focus on the speaker, whose attitude toward purple cows is thus emphasized. When the speaker says, “I can tell you anyhow” (3), the audience is expected to care about the speaker’s values, and the speaker’s resistance to purple cows seems to value the “normal,” the “natural,” the way things are. The speaker wouldn’t even like to see such a thing, much less be so abnormal.

Blog questions will receive specific comments and a grade from me as part of the grading process. Daily blog comments will receive only a grade.

(For some help with the logistics of blogging, see Get Blogging!)

In-class writing (10% of course grade)

At the start of each class, you will perform informal writing in response to a question I will present on the day’s assigned reading. You will have 7 minutes to respond to the question. Your main goal will be to call on your recollection of the reading (these will not be open-book) to respond directly and specifically, demonstrating your understanding of what you read. These daily writings will get your thoughts flowing for the day’s classroom discussion. While the blog posts are aimed at encouraging discussion outside of class, the in-class writing is aimed at encouraging discussion during class. These writings will provide me a good sense of the class’ progress throughout the semester and allow me to better help you all through the course material.

For both blog comments and in-class writings, you receive a grade out of 2 (2=solid response; 1=problematic; 0=not done). If you’d like to improve the quality of your responses (and of your grade), please see me during office hours for personal assistance.

FORMAL WRITING (60% of course grade—see breakdown below)
Weeks 8-15 (starting right before Spring Break)

The formal writing assignments will offer you opportunities to practice generating and revising the kinds of texts required in upper-level English courses. They will culminate in a multi-part project that I call “The Final Project” or, less formally, “The Big Project.”

Your first formal essay (15% of course grade) is a Representing+Responding assignment that will include an intense revision process. It will focus on a critical essay we read in the middle of the semester, while we focus on the shared text for the course, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale.

The final third of the course is committed to the extended Final Project (45% of course grade), which consists of:

1. text selection rationale (Feb 17; 2% of course grade)

2. preliminary bibliography (March 27; 5% of course grade)

3. sample formal annotation (April 1; 5% of course grade)

4. representation+response (April 4, 10; 7% of course grade)

5. annotated bibliography (April 14; 10% of course grade)

6. close reading (April 18; 4% of course grade)

7. project proposal (April 21; 4% of course grade)

8. conclusion (April 25; 2% of course grade)

9. final presentation (May 2 [final exam period]; 6% of course grade)

This project is an ongoing research project on a literary text of your choosing, which will be the subject of a hypothetical research paper. The course will focus intensely on the steps involved in preparing to generate the paper, rather than on writing the final paper. In other words, you will produce a number of the elements of an analytical research project, but not the full final draft of the essay.

A key part of the Final Project is the act of research:

locating, selecting, analyzing, summarizing, and responding to literary critical articles and books

This will include a formal proposal about your research topic and your anticipated approach to it, describing the paper you would anticipate writing as the culmination of the research process. You will also write a description of an assignment to which you might respond with the proposed paper. Then, during the final exam period, you will present your ideas to the class as a participant in a mini-conference. (Do note: You will find much more detailed assignment descriptions for all steps of the final project under the “assignments” tab.)

Since the deadlines for formal written work are so clearly spelled out in the syllabus, late papers will not be accepted except in very extraordinary circumstances. These papers will be due in the appropriate dropbox in OAKS at 5am, on the indicated date.


Office hours (74 George Street, room 101) are reserved for you to drop in as suits your schedule, to discuss your writing and/or the course: T 10-12, W 1:30-3:30, and R 3-5. Should that not suit your schedule, please email me to arrange an alternative time. Emailing is the most efficient way to communicate with me outside of class; I would discourage contacting me by phone except during office hours.

The Writing Lab is located on the first floor of Addlestone Library, within the Center for Student Learning. Here you will find many resources for your writing (for this and other classes): handouts, reference books, sample bibliographies, and consultants who have been trained to assist you in generating materials for your essay, organizing your ideas and materials, revising and editing your writing, and any step in the writing process. You can find information, including hours and schedule, at the link above.

Academic accommodation for a documented disability can be arranged through the Center for Disability Services: 843-953-1431, Lightsey Center, Suite 104. If you are approved for accommodations, you should let me know as soon as possible so we can organize appropriate arrangements.


All students, needless to say, must follow the College of Charleston’s academic integrity policy, which forbids cheating, attempted cheating, and plagiarism. Any case of suspected cheating or plagiarism (on any written response for the course) will be sent to the College’s Honor Board, and any student found guilty will receive a grade of XF, indicating failure of the course due to academic dishonesty.

“Recycled” papers written for other courses are not acceptable in this class.

College of Charleston Honor Code and Academic Integrity, from the Student Handbook:

Lying, cheating, attempted cheating, and plagiarism are violations of our Honor Code that, when identified, are investigated.  Each incident will be examined to determine the degree of deception involved.

Incidents where the instructor determines the student’s actions are related more to a misunderstanding will handled by the instructor.  A written intervention designed to help prevent the student from repeating the error will be given to the student.  The intervention, submitted by form and signed both by the instructor and the student, will be forwarded to the Dean of Students and placed in the student’s file.

Cases of suspected academic dishonesty will be reported directly by the instructor and/or others having knowledge of the incident to the Dean of Students.  A student found responsible by the Honor Board for academic dishonesty will receive a XF in the course, indicating failure of the course due to academic dishonesty.  This grade will appear on the student’s transcript for two years after which the student may petition for the X to be expunged.  The student may also be placed on disciplinary probation, suspended (temporary removal) or expelled (permanent removal) from the College by the Honor Board.

Students should be aware that unauthorized collaboration–working together without permission– is a form of cheating.  Unless the instructor specifies that students can work together on an assignment, quiz and/or test, no collaboration during the completion of the assignment is permitted.   Other forms of cheating include possessing or using an unauthorized study aid (which could include accessing information via a cell phone or computer), copying from others’ exams, fabricating data, and giving unauthorized assistance.



A 94-100 4.0
A- 90-93 3.7
B+ 87-89 3.3
B 84-86 3.0
B- 80-83 2.7
C+ 77-79 2.3
C 74-76 2.0
C- 70-73 1.7
D+ 67-69 1.3
D 64-66 1.0
D- 60-63 0.7
F 0-59 0.0