English 1101: English Composition I, Fall 2008

Section 43 (CRN 81764): TR 3:30-4:45PM Arts & Sciences 238

In Class Activities

1. Cultural Identity

Jones' Leaving Atlanta portrays African-American childhood in Atlanta in the late 1970s, and Boyarin's "Waiting for a Jew" exhibits Jewish communities in the the late 1960s. Both study communities, one from the perspective of imaginative literature, another from anthropological ethnography. Divide into groups of no more than four, discuss and answer the following questions, and elect a secretary to report your group's findings to the rest of the class.

2. Critical Reading

Our second formal paper requires you to summarize and evaluate an essay from The New Humanities Reader. In an initial preparation for that assignment, you informally wrote a summary of Faludi or Nussbaum. Today, groups of four or five will evaluate an essay using Lisa Ede's "Questions for Critical Reading" in The Academic Writer (95).

3. Rhetorical Situations

Now that we've practiced summarizing and evaluating essays' theses, arguments, and evidence, let's look at rhetorical situations—and prepare for the comparison/contrast essay. Today, groups of four or five will discuss an essay or video using Lisa Ede's "Questions for Analyzing Your Rhetorical Situation" in The Academic Writer (44-6). Who is the writer and what are her goals? Who is the reader/viewer, what are her expectations, and how is she appealed to? What is the text's genre and what kinds of evidence does it require? What is the medium, is it appropriate, and what expectations do audiences have of it? Rather than analyzing "your" situation, analyze the writer's. If you are in the Frontline group, substitute viewer for reader. After the groups report their findings to the class, we will compare and contrast rhetorical situations as well as theses.

4. Comparing and Contrasting Views on Violence and War

In preparation for our next formal paper, we are going to compare and contrast Chua and Kaldor's arguments regarding violence and war. Break into groups, elect a secretary and spokesperson, and answer the following questions. For questions 2-4, be sure to provide specific quotations and page numbers.

  1. Topic: What is the topic of Chua's article? of Kaldor's?
  2. Thesis: What is the thesis of Chua's article? of Kaldor's?
  3. Comparison: Where do the two articles' arguments overlap?
  4. Contrast: Given the overlap, where do the two article's arguments differ?

5. Documenting Oneself

Frontline looks at the online social revolution from a variety of different angles. In order to get the discussion started, as well as to gauge how accurately this January 22, 2008 documentary portrays teen lives on October 21, 2008, spend a few moments freewriting on one of the five Frontline topics that have been distributed to the class. The documentary documents teen culture; how would you characterize your own experience?

Informal Writing

The goal of the informal writing assignments is to get you to think actively about the readings and write analytically about the humanities. These short assignments of 1-2 double-spaced, typed pages with 1" margins and 12-point fonts will also prepare you to write the longer, formal papers.


Out of class responses will be due by the start of class on the due date, either as a typed hard copy or a word-processing file such as Word, WordPerfect, Works, or OpenOffice in Vista > Assignments > Informal Writing #. Hard copies submissions will be returned as hard copies in class; electronic submissions will be returned in Vista > Assignments > Informal Writing # on the same day as hard copy submissions are handed back. Click here for grading rationale and calculation of informal writing assignments.

  1. Strategies for Reading
    • Our first in class informal writing assignment is a one to two page summary of the the first section of the novel, "Magic Words." Using Lisa Ede's "Guidelines for Summarizing a Test," spend 10-15 minutes summarizing what you think a) the main event, b) the main idea, and c) the supporting points of are. Although Tayari Jones' Leaving Atlanta is a work of literature whose theme is not stated in thesis/topic sentence format, it nonetheless broaches and develops many issues of the human condition that we will discuss throughout the course. There are no right or wrong answers; different readers will find different (though most likely related) main ideas. The point of this assignment is to get you to read actively and to practice summarizing what you read.
    • Due: written in class on Tuesday, August 26
  2. Strategies for Summarizing
    • Now that you've practiced summarizing a section of imaginary fiction, practice summarizing an scholarly essay, a skill which you will use a lot in your academic career (the second formal paper is a summary and evaluation. Choose Nussbaum or Faludi. What is the thesis (feel free to quote it, then paraphrase it in your own words). What are the predominant lines of argument that support the thesis? How does the author organize her analysis? What evidence does the author use to support her controlling idea and lines of argument?
    • Due: Thursday, September 11
  3. From General Topic to Specific Thesis
    1. Brainstorm a Focused Topic: You should have come to class with a general topic. Spend the next few moments brainstorming specific issues that you relate to, care about, know about, want to analyze, and wish to construct an argument about.
    2. Freewrite Supporting Analyses and Outline Argumentative Claims : Choose one or two of the specific issue and then freewrite how the issue(s) works; analyze it, dissect it, break it down into its constituent parts. Next, write about what areas of the issue are open to question, what needs to be proven and supported with evidence, what you believe to be true about the issue but others may not.
    3. Construct a Working Thesis: Look at your claims. How do they fit together? What is the overall point you are trying to make about the issue? Construct a thesis that makes an arguable claim rooted in your analysis of the issue and will help guide your argument and structure your paper.
    • Due: written in class on Thursday, October 16
  4. Regents' Test Preparation or Additional Peer Response Memo
  5. Selflessness (and perhaps Research Paper Brainstorming)
    1. Self: Spend five minutes answering the question, "Who am I?" In other words, define your self.
    2. Selflessness: Now that you have defined your self, what would Robert Thurman and similar Buddhists say about what you wrote? How does he view the self? Record one quote that encapsulates his understanding of the self, and explain that quote in your own words.
    3. Brainstorming: If you already have a research paper topic, spend five minutes constructing a working research question, brainstorming ideas, and/or outlining your paper. If you have not decided upon a research paper topic, spend the next five minutes reflecting (in writing) upon these questions: Do you want to know more or do you have more to say about the topic of your Analysis and Argument paper? What were the ideas in that paper that you left unsaid and unexplored, either because you didn't have room or didn't have the knowledge? If you don't want to expand the Analysis and Argument paper topic, what issue do you care about, do you want to research? If you could take an entire course in a topic, any topic at all, what would it be? If you could only take one college course or if you could read only one book, what would that course or that book be about? What idea or issue is always on the tip of your mind? When you're not juggling school and work, family and friends, what do you think about? What idea or issue do you keep returning to?
    4. Due: written in class on Tuesday, November 18
  6. Practice Research Annotation
    • As you read the research for your final paper (or any research paper), you should get in the habit of summarizing and annotating your sources. Write a paragraph on the scholarly journal article you read and annotated for class today by answering the following questions:
      1. What is the source's topic?
      2. What is the source's thesis or main idea relevant to the topic you're researching?
      3. How does the source helps you answer your research question?
    • Due: written in class on Thursday, November 20

Peer Responses

The dual goals of this course are for you to read and write scholarly essay in the humanities. Peer response sessions extend the reading and writing process by allowing you and your peers to engage in direct oral and written dialogue regarding the writing process, with the ultimate goal of improving your formal papers. You have the opportunity to revise your first two formal papers based upon comments by your peers and myself. You will provide constructive criticism to 3 or 4 other members of the class as will they to you.

Note: If a group member does not submit her paper in .doc or .rtf format at least two days before the peer response session, the rest of the group is not responsible for responding to her paper.

Paper 2 Peer Response


Written Responses


Use the following issues to help you to formulate your one page, double-spaced response to each peer's paper. Even if you find the paper good, you must still comment on these issues, particularly thesis, argument, and organization. You can always engage a conversation with the writer about how you're analyzing the issue differently, for that dialogue can also help the writer in the revision process.

Peer Response Discussion


In the peer response meeting, group members will share their responses in verbal form. Writers take turns listening to their group members review their work. Specifically, the group should go around the circle and state

  1. what they think the writer's thesis is,
  2. how well the paper summarized the original article,
  3. how well the paper evaluated the original article,
  4. any other comments for revision

Paper 3 Peer Response


Written Responses


Use the following issues to help you to formulate your one-two page, double-spaced response to each peer's paper. Even if you find the paper good, you must still comment on these issues, particularly thesis, argument, and organization. You can always engage a conversation with the writer about how you're analyzing the issue differently, for that dialogue can also help the writer in the revision process.

Peer Response Discussion


In the peer response meeting, writers will read their paper aloud, and group members will share their responses in verbal form. Writers take turns listening to their group members review their work. Specifically, the group should go around the circle and state:

  1. the what they think the writer's thesis is,
  2. how well the paper analyzed the issue,
  3. how well the paper argued its stance,
  4. any other comments for revision

Paper 1 Personal Narrative

David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky assert, "Reading involves a fair amount of push and shove" (qtd. in Ede 219). We've spent two weeks in class as well as the time spent in your Circle Group discussing the ideas that Tayari Jones' Leaving Atlanta convey or "push." In this first formal paper, you have the opportunity to "shove" back, to reflect upon your own adolescence and compose a four page personal narrative that conveys an issue that was and may still be crucial in your formative experience. What does Jones' novel make you think about in your own life? You could, for instance, write about how race shaped your life. Or class. Or gender. Alternatively, what is/was your own predominant coming-of-age issue? How did your parents raise you? Your mother? Your father? Are/were you affected by a culture of fear? Choose one issue and analyze how it functioned in your life. Your personal and self-analytical narrative essay should break the issue down in order to reveal its complex operations. Your paper should have a controlling idea, be well-organized, provide specific details to support its analytical claims, and follow the rules of standard written English.

Optional Revision: You have the option to revise your paper. The revised grade will replace the original grade. While revision does not guarantee a better grade or an "A," your grade will not go down, and if you correct your grammar and your MLA style problems, it will definitely go up. Moreover, if you address substantial issues, noted in your first draft assessment, and re-see your paper, your grade will most likely increase. Should you choose to revise, you must include, at the end of the document, a one or two paragraph statement describing what you learned about your first draft from your professor, what stylistic and substantive changes you made in the second draft. Moreover, you must highlight your revisions using your word processing program's text highlighter. Note that Microsoft Works does not have a highlighting function, so you must use Microsoft Word. Optional Draft 2, with revision highlights and revision statement, is due via > Revision 1 on Thursday, September 18.

Paper 2 Summary and Evaluation

In the previous two informal writing assignments, you made initial summaries of authors' arguments, and in the first formal paper, inspired by Leaving Atlanta, you analyzed how an issue affected your life. The goal of the the second formal paper is for you to fully enter into one of the issues in one of the essays we've read in class. Choose an author (Nafisi, Nussbaum, Faludi, Scott, Tannen, Greider) whose argument you wish to either expand upon or refute. In either case, your paper should summarize, fairly and accurately, the author's argument. Evaluate that argument: analyze and criticize, affirm and interrogate, but always be fair to the author's argument. Finally, your paper should provide your own perspective, your own argument (analysis and ideas) by either agreeing with the essay but furthering its point with your own ideas, or disagreeing with the essay and offering counterargument of your own.

Paper 3 Analysis and Argument

In the first paper, you used Leaving Atlanta as a catalyst for reflecting upon a major issue in your life; you wrote about yourself. In the second paper, you not only summarized but also evaluated an essay from The New Humanities Reader; you wrote about a text. Now, you will write about the world. Write your own paper, with your own topic, your own thesis, your own argument, albeit one inspired by an issue covered in the course reading. We have discussed parenting and family (Jones), gender and social justice (Farisi, Faludi, Nussbaum, and Scott), education and work (Tannen and Greider), marketing and style (Frontline and Postrel) and violence and globalism (Gladwell, Chua, Kaldor, and Schlosser). First, choose a general topic from the list above, but not the same topic that you covered in your first or second paper. Second, narrow and focus your topic to an issue on which you could write a four-six page analytical argument. Third, write a thesis-driven, well-organized paper that analyzes the issue and makes an argument about it by drawing supporting evidence from one of the articles we've read in class, personal experience, and common knowledge (you do not have to do research for this essay). Your paper should provide good analysis, good reasons/reasoning, and good evidence. Analyze an issue: break it down and explain it. For example, more than simply taking a feminist stand, Susan Faludi analyzes and explains why hazing occurs. Argue an issue: take a stand, make your position known. For example, after analyzing gender injustice, Martha Nussbaum takes a stand on human capabilities. What do our readings inspire you to think about? What specific phenomenon regarding one of the topics we've talked about in the course do you care about? What issue do you want to analyze and argue?

Paper 4 Research Paper

In the first paper, you reflected upon an issue from Leaving Atlanta that affected your personal experience. In the second paper, you summarized and evaluated an article from The New Humanities Reader. In the third paper, you analyzed and argued an issue you knew about. For the final paper, you will research an idea or an issue that you care about and would like to know more about. There are two options for the research paper.

Either option requires that you incorporate at least four sources (one scholarly journal article, one book/chapter, one magazine article, one newspaper article) into your analysis. I strongly suggest you clear your topic with me before beginning your paper.


Because you will be submitting only one draft of this paper, it is not only important that you break down the research and writing process into manageable steps but also desireable that you get feedback on your ideas. To that end, you will submit a bibliography as well as an outline, write an informal annotation of a research source, and meet with your professor to discuss your research.

A. Research Question, List of Sources, and Copy of One Journal Article

The first step in a research paper is constructing a solid, guiding research question.


Next, use the library databases to find a number of sources to help you answer your question and analyze your issue. Your preliminary list of sources should be no less than 10, distributed as follows:

On Thursday, November 20, print out and bring to class your research question, your list of sources (formatted in MLA style), and one scholarly journal article (which you have read and annotated).

B. Individual Conferences

While everyone is reading and annotating research, we'll cancel regular class but hold individual conferences where we can talk about your final paper. Bring your research question, notes, and your working thesis, if you have one, to the meeting, and we'll shape you research and your final paper. All individual conferences will take place in my office, A&S 330. Missing a scheduled conference counts as an absence.


Monday, 11-24
Scott Dockery
Bobby Dunn
Katherine Gleaton
Tuesday, 11-25
Kayla Pippin
Brenda Bryant
Jordan Nave
Logan Helmer
Aijalon Hardy
Jay Wilhoite
Kristen Arp
Tuesday, 12-2
Amanda Moore
Garrett Korn
Andrew Meyers
Katherine Kalima
Natalie Mosher
Tamra Voll
Brooke Blackburn
Aubrie Sofala
Isaac Brown
Sean Connolly

C. Research Paper Thesis and Topic Sentence Outline

After you have constructed a research question, compiled research, and annotated your sources, the next step is to compose a working thesis and an outline of your paper. The more complete your outline is, the better. I recommend including argument and supporting evidence (like quotes) and making as complete of an outline that you can. However, at the very least, this outline, three copies of which are due in class Thursday, December 4, should include your thesis and every topic sentence of your paper.

D. Research Paper Guidelines