Writing about Identity

Writing about Identity
English 102, Fall 2010
Room: CC 3360
Instructor: Evan Peterson
[email protected]
Tues and Thurs, 6pm-8:20
5 credit hours
Office: IB 2310 C
Office hours: by appointment
Course Description and Instruction Methods
The goals of our course is to learn 1) clear, purposeful, informed, and effective essay
writing, 2) appropriate research and citation methods, and 3) critical analysis of a
variety of texts in a variety of media. Because we need inspiration and information
in order to write, we will be considering many different types of texts, subjects, and
media. You will also encounter controversial material in this class, some of which is
potentially offensive. It is difficult to address identity without attention to the
controversial. By remaining enrolled in this section, you agree to read/view/study
these materials.
We meet as a group to discuss and practice writing. Many class periods will begin as
a lecture and then become a group discussion. We will build a writing community by
sharing our work with one another. Everyone will be required to exchange a draft of
each paper with a partner and review it in class. The course lectures and materials
are taught and graded at an appropriate fluency level for a native English speaker.
Students who are still learning English will be treated equally to all other students,
with the same responsibilities as well as available assistance.
Required Texts and Materials
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818 version in three volumes)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
a blue or black ink pen
A composition book or spiral notebook, etc., for in-class writing, notes, and your
vocabulary journal (dividing into three separate sections is recommended)
Internet access for regular email correspondence
Some class materials and notes will be hosted at our course website,
Outside Resources
Purdue University Online Writing Laboratory (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/)
This is an excellent resource, in addition to Hacker's Writer's Reference, that you
may consult.
The Loft Writing Center. I highly recommend that you visit the Loft, located
upstairs in the library. If you have any personal obstacles to clear and effective
writing, please make use of this valuable resource to help you learn and achieve
higher grades. For questions or an appointment, call (206) 526-0164.
Attend class regularly to protect your grade. The following situations will be
considered one absence: text messaging in class, failing to attend a class meeting,
being over 10 minutes late to class, being more than 5 minutes late 3 times, being
without drafts on a workshop day, sleeping during class, and disruptive behavior
that prevents the class from learning
You are allowed three "free" absences. Each absence following the allowed
three will result in a 5% deduction from the final grade.
Readings and/or homework exercises should be accomplished by the time you
attend class on the day on which they appear on our course calendar, not the
following day. So, if Tuesday's homework assignment is to read Volume 1 of
Frankenstein, you should have read it by the time you attend class on Tuesday.
Participation and Responsibility
You are expected to actively participate in class discussions. Failure to do so will
result in a lower grade. Refer to the ADA statement if you require accommodations.
You are expected to leave specific, detailed comments on your partner's draft on a
workshop day. You must write your name legibly at the top of your partner's
draft so that you receive credit. We'll discuss this requirement in further detail in
You are expected to come to class prepared. Have a blue or black ink pen, your inclass journal, paper for notes, and your textbook with you each day.
Laptops, Phones, and Electronics
All phones should be turned off. Do not use cell phones, Iphones, Ipods, or any other
handheld device in class unless you have discussed it with me in advance. I allow
any device needed for a medical condition or disability (with proper
Laptops may be used in class, but they are only for note taking and discussionrelated information searches. Checking email, looking at websites unrelated to class,
and working on materials unrelated to our class will not be allowed. These activities
result in an absence.
Plagiarism occurs under three circumstances:
1) when you knowingly submit someone else's ideas or words as your own,
2) when you submit work that you have already written for another class,
3) and/or when you fail (even accidentally) to appropriately cite or credit someone
else's words and ideas.
In the first and second case, it is not only dishonest but also prevents learning. If I
suspect you of plagiarism, I will talk with you one-on-one and ask you to prove that
the work is your own. If you are found to be dishonest, you will fail that assignment
and the dean of the division will be informed.
This course offers a base total of 100 points to be earned, excluding occasional extra
credit opportunities. At the end of the course, your percentage will be reflected
easily by adding the amount of points you've earned, out of one hundred. Submit all
drafts with the final draft so that I can see the feedback you have received
from classmates. Points will be deducted for papers that are not stapled, not
submitted with all drafts in a folder, and papers that are not in standard MLA
format (discussed in class, on the Purdue OWL site, and in various writing
style guides.)
Paper 1: 10 points
Paper 2: 20 points
Paper 3: 20 points
In-class timed writing: 5 points
Paper 3 proposal: 10 points
Self-evaluation: 5 points
Two reading quizzes: 5 points each
Participation and responsibility: 20 points
Late Papers
Late papers (final drafts) will be lowered by one letter grade for each day late,
including days on which class does not meet. If you are absent on the day a draft is
due, it must be submitted by email during or before the regularly scheduled meeting
time (6pm-8:20). Drafts must then also be submitted in paper form to the instructor
on the next day you attend class. Each draft that is not submitted lowers your final
draft grade by one letter.
Resubmitting Failed Papers
If you receive a D (including D+), an F, or no credit on full-length essay, you may edit
it and resubmit a fixed draft for a possible higher grade. This new draft can be
submitted at any point before the last class meeting of the quarter, but it must be
submitted on paper. Emailed submissions will not be accepted. I will grade the
new draft and hand it back to you when I can, but it may not be until the end of the
A: Outstanding
B: Good-->Very Good
C: Average/Adequate
D: Inadequate
F: Why Bother?
Five Standards of Writing:
1. Purpose, Focus, and Development of Ideas
A: thesis is specific and detailed, points are well developed and based on
specific, detailed evidence that makes a logical point, paper
accomplishes its goal effectively and makes the thesis difficult to deny
B: thesis is simple but clear, paper stays focused on supporting the thesis,
points are somewhat developed, points are made with logical and
clear evidence
C: abrupt jumps in focus, thesis is vague, points require more development
and evidence to be effective
D: paper ignores important parts of the assignment, thesis is missing or
confusing, points have little to no evidence to support them, no
development of ideas
F: assignment is entirely off-topic, no development of ideas
2. Clarity of Information
A: clear and precise communication of information, advanced vocabulary
that is used appropriately
B: ideas are clearly communicated but may not be precise, some grammar
and spelling errors, but these do not make the paper difficult to read
C: information is vague, vocabulary is used incorrectly
D&F: ideas are illogical or otherwise confusing, grammar and spelling make
the paper difficult to read
3. Organization and Flow
A: compelling and attention-grabbing intro and conclusion, ideas are made in
a logical and efficient order, paragraphs and sentences are varied in
length and complexity, smooth transitions between ideas, no
repetition of statements
B: intro and conclusion make points rather than summarizing the paper,
ideas are usually in a logical order, paragraphs and sentences show
some variation in length and complexity, few transitions between
ideas, perhaps one or two repetitions of information
C: intro and conclusion summarize the points in the paper and are dull or
forgettable, order of ideas is inefficient, simple paragraphs and
sentences, no transitions, frequent repetition
D&F: no intro and/or conclusion, information is in random order, author
doesn't understand the form and function of paragraphs
4. Responsibility and Effort
A: clear evidence of improvement and refinement through drafts, a page or
more beyond minimum length while remaining focused and relevant,
clearly polished and proofread, efficient and appropriate formatting
B: evidence of effort to improve through drafts, minimum page length, some
oversights in proofreading and formatting
C: little evidence of refinement through drafts, clearly lacking proofreading,
several oversight formatting, minimum length
D: no evidence of refinement through drafts, drafts missing, no
proofreading, clear disregard for formatting, significantly under
minimum length
F: paper is plagiarized or is not submitted at all
5. Style/Voice
A: paper shows originality, advanced but appropriate vocabulary, and regard
for audience, and it may even be compelling or entertaining to read.
Any profanity, gore, or sex is presented thoughtfully and appears
essential to the paper. No gratuitous gore, sex, or cussing.
B: little originality present, simple but appropriate vocabulary, significant
regard for audience, possibly predictable to read
C: language and style are too informal for a college-level paper
D & F: paper lacks any regard for college-level writing
Paper 1: Media response. You will choose one text (book, film, album, t.v. show,
website, etc.) and compare its portrayal of a group of people to what you consider
the reality of that group. You must choose a text that deals in some way with issues
of identity, and you must be able to explain what is accurate or inaccurate about it. I
strongly encourage you to choose an aspect of identity that you possess (same race,
gender, culture, hobby, etc.)
How does 50 Cent's Get Rich Or Die Tryin' portray black American men?
How are First Nation (American Indian) characters portrayed in New Moon?
Do the characters on Glee seem like real high school students?
Do the women on Desperate Housewives seem like real mothers?
Consider the following in your paper:
What is your experience with this culture/subculture/identity?
On what experiences do you base your opinion of this text and its representation of
this identity?
Who created this text? Do(es) the creator(s) fall into this group of people? Have they
ever been in this group?
This may require a small amount of research and will definitely require a Works
Cited page.
4-5 full-length pages, 10% of final grade
Paper 2: Magazine-style essay. Pick an identity issue that you think is a problem—
oppression of a specific group, limited resources for certain people,
misunderstanding of a certain lifestyle or hobby. Then, propose a well thought-out
solution to the problem. Speaking logically and realistically, what can we do about
this problem? Do not write an essay that attacks a group of people and their
behavior. You may be sympathetic to a group, but you may not attack any group.
Feel free to interview people about their opinions on this issue. You may choose a
specific magazine in whose style you wish to write, as long as this magazine
presents college-level writing (no Highlights, please). Make sure to pick a topic that
isn't too broad. "Prejudice against immigrants" would be too broad. "Prejudice
against immigrants in public schools" is still too broad. "Prejudice against
immigrants at North Seattle Community College" is probably just right. Start
narrowly and then broaden your topic if necessary.
Feel free to use visual images in your essay as a way of composing across media.
Choose them wisely. Images should be used to explain and communicate
information, not to make the page look cool. Any space allotted to images will not be
considered toward the minimum page length. Do not neglect to cite the images
within the essay as well as on the Works Cited page. Visual images do not count
towards the minimum sources. 4-5 full-length pages, 20% of final grade
Paper 3: Researched response. Choose one text that we have read or encountered
during this quarter. Evaluate the text using the skills you've learned over this
quarter and in ENGL 101. To effectively evaluate the text, you must identify ideas,
issues, contradictions, themes, etc. that aren't obvious. For instance, it's obvious that
Dr. Frankenstein wants to have god-like power. It's not necessarily obvious that his
god-envy may reflect a creator that isn't Judeo-Christian but rather Shinto, Hindu,
Vodou, etc.
It's obvious that Pecola Breedlove is a powerless person. It's not obvious that her
mother may be jealous of her because Cholly is attracted to Pecola. In Paris is
Burning, it's obvious that the black and Latino dancers are mimicking "white"
images of beauty and wealth. The ways that the director's ethnic background
influences what appears in the documentary are not necessarily obvious.
Remember to conduct a close reading and to be very specific in your details. Use
sources to help you evaluate this text and add context. Find books, articles, etc.
written by others who are commenting on this same text. Every one of our texts
should have plenty of other academic critics and students commenting on it. Think
of yourself as joining a "conversation," all conducted through essays, that discusses
this text. See whose writing you can find to agree with you and which critics
disagree with you.
Some things you may wish to consider:
*What is unclear, unconfirmed, or absent from the text, and how can you use what is
there to draw conclusions?
*What metaphors are present? What is symbolic? Are you reminded of anything?
*How does this text reflect the culture (time, geography, and social trends) in which
it was written?
*If someone were to disagree with you, what evidence would they have that you're
wrong or inaccurate? Can you refute this evidence to reinforce your argument?
Select at least three sources that will help you write on this subject. Your main text
from class will not count toward your three source minimum. One of these sources
must have appeared in print at some point, whether as a book, article, or other
publication. Other sources may include documentary films, websites, interviews,
public performances, speeches, works of literature, etc.
6-10 full-length pages, 20% of final grade
Paper 3 proposal: Propose a topic for your researched essay. Tell me what you
want to research and why this interests you. Make sure to limit the scope of your
topic. For example, don't propose an essay on the enormous subject of gender in
Frankenstein. Pick a specific character, author, situation, or archetype, such as: a
comparison of young girls to grown women in The Bluest Eye, American human
oddities as reflected in Freaks, zombie fan culture and Frankenstein, Oscar Wilde's
bisexuality and Dorian Gray, etc. If you have trouble finding information after you've
narrowed your topic, please discuss this with me. I will gladly let you broaden it or
even change it entirely.
Find three or more sources that you would like to use for your research on this
topic, and tell me about why you've chosen them. Why do you consider them to be
informed sources? Write at least a paragraph about each. 2-3 pages, 10 points
Self-evaluation: Assess your progress and performance during this quarter. In
paragraph form (not point by point), answer the following questions:
How has your writing improved over the quarter?
In what areas do you still need to strengthen your writing abilities?
What more could you have done to fulfill assignments and deadlines?
What grade do you expect to receive in this class?
This is also your opportunity to tell me anything you would like me to know that
may have compromised your grades this quarter (personal difficulties, etc.). It will
not change the grades on assignments, but it can change your participation grade.
500 words / 2 pages, 5 points
Quizzes: Three short-answer quizzes will be given as an incentive to read your
homework assignments. One of these will be extra credit. 5 points each
Quizzes cannot be made up if you are absent on the day they are given.
Course Outcomes
1. You will become a more effective and confident reader and develop your critical
reading and thinking skills so that you can analyze, discuss, evaluate, and respond to
classmates' essays and academic texts.
2. You will write in order to discover the meanings in the texts of others.
3. You will write to discover your own ideas in relation to the texts of others.
4. You will develop your skills in writing to communicate ideas to a particular
audience, including other students and the teacher.
5. You will paraphrase, quote, and cite sources according to the MLA style, and
integrate source materials smoothly into your own words, adding support and
emphasis to your own writing.
6. You will produce writing that has been revised, edited, and proofread and you will
submit it on time.
7. You will continue developing your voice as a writer.
8. You will conduct limited, focused research and evaluate sources and information.
ADA Statement
The Disability Services main office is located in CC 2346A, and they may be reached at
(206) 527-3697. If you require accommodations because of a documented disability, or if
you have medical information that needs to be shared with me, please contact me either
by email or in person after class. If you use an alternative medium for communicating,
please let me know before the meeting so that appropriate accommodations can be made.
If you have a disability but have not documented it with the NSCC Support Services
office, please do so as soon as possible so that we can arrange for appropriate
accommodations. I will be unable to do this without paperwork confirming your needs.