College Now English 110: College Writing Writing Memory

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College Now English 110: College Writing

Writing Memory
Anne Posten ENGL 110: Spring 2014

Office: Klapper Hall 354 M/W 4-5:50 pm

Office Hours: M/W 12:30-1:30 pm, and by appt Razran 343

Phone: ex. 74642

English 110: College Writing Course Description:

This course explores the arts and practices of effective writing and reading in college, especially the use of language to discover ideas. Methods of research and documentation will be taught, along with some introduction to rhetorical purposes and strategies.

“This is the use of memory: for liberation...liberation from the future as well as the past.”—T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

Writing Memory Course Description:

This is a writing class, which is organized around the topic of memory. We will be using the idea of memory as a way to enter various fields of academic study in writing. Put simply: we will be exploring memory from a variety of perspectives, and writing about the ideas that we develop.

Memory is a defining fact of our lives.  Memories inform our senses of self, influence the decisions we make, and help us to predict future outcomes.  In this writing seminar, students will analyze various works that explore and attempt to explain the phenomenon of memory (and its opposite, forgetting) from philosophical, psychological, literary, artistic, historical and cultural perspectives.  As we shall see, writing memory is a challenging task, one that various writers address in unique ways. Some questions we’ll consider over the course of the semester might include (but are by no means limited to): What does it mean, exactly, to remember something? How does memory work? Does memory record reality? Or is it a more active, creative process? How does the act of writing enhance and change the substance and process of recollection? How might technology shape memory in new and unforeseen ways? Students will address these and other questions through a series of writing assignments designed to examine influential scholarly and creative works on memory, the goal of which is to produce a portfolio of polished writing that engages in the on-going debates concerning personal and collective memory.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To introduce students to the conventions of academic writing.

  2. To familiarize students with academic research methods and resources.

  3. To equip students with the tools of critical assessment, close reading and critical thinking.

  4. To impart an understanding of writing as a process of careful choice, construction, articulation and revision.

Required Materials:

Most of the texts for this class will be posted on the course blog.

In addition, one book is required:
Richard Bullock and Francine Weinberg’s Little Seagull Handbook (2011)

ISBN: 9780393911510

It is also strongly recommended that you also have a good dictionary and thesaurus. You will use these resources throughout your college career and they are a valuable investment. Finally, you need to have a notebook or binder specifically for this class, from which you can tear out pages. You will use this notebook for in-class writing, as well as for any notes you wish to take.
Course Requirements:

Participation: Participation is the key to learning anything and it begins with being present and punctual on a regular basis. If you are absent, you cannot participate and this will be reflected in your final grade. If you know that you will be absent from class, please inform me beforehand in person or via email. Lateness is a mark of disrespect and lack of professionalism and will not be tolerated. To be clear, if you arrive a half-an-hour after the beginning of class, you will be marked absent for the day.

Good participation, however, also entails coming to class prepared, having done the reading and blog responses and/or comments. It also involves having the texts for that day’s assignment with you in class, being engaged in discussions, and participating in group activities. Even if you thought the readings were stupid, meaningless, too difficult, incorrect, or even if you didn't understand them, expressing your opinions and exposing them to constructive, critical discourse is always intellectually productive—to you, to me, and to the class as a whole. As a result, your participation grades will factor in your preparedness, the quality of your engagement in class discussions, as well as your attendance and punctuality.
WHY PARTICIPATION IS SO IMPORTANT IN THIS CLASS: Learning to think critically is one of the most important skills one needs to be a good writer, and, more importantly, to be a complete, thoughtful person and an engaged member of society. Critical thinking is based on the ability to ask questions: to inquire into and investigate situations, texts, and other types of information you encounter in order to form opinions and decide courses of action. Asking questions is therefore the cornerstone of this course and, hopefully, of your academic career. In formulating questions and seeking answers to them, it is important to understand that it is the process of asking these questions through which we learn; the answers to the types of questions we’ll be exploring here are not at the back of any book. Rather, they are in your own mind and in the minds of your colleagues, with whom you will be engaging and discussing these questions. By being engaged in discussions, you have already taken the most important step towards being a good writer: you learn to think clearly, critically, and analytically, and this will be reflected in the clarity and effectiveness of your writing.

Papers: This is a writing class. Thus, you will be doing a lot of writing. These are the major formal writing assignments you will complete throughout the semester. We will discuss these assignments in greater detail as the class progresses:

Essay #1: Critique (Conference Presentation) (2-3 pg)

Essay #2: Literary / Musical / Visual Analysis (3-4 pg)

Essay #3: Research Project + Annotated Bibliography (Magazine Article) (4-5 pg, plus annotated bibliography)

Essay #4: Mnemonic Interpretation (Web Posting) (2-3 pg)
Before you turn in an essay for a final grade, a draft of it will be peer reviewed. This means you will meet with two to three classmates and will read, revise, and comment on each other's work. You will then revise your essay based on the comments you receive and will turn in your first draft and the revised draft by the following session for a grade. Assignments that have not been peer reviewed will be deducted by one letter grade (e.g. a B assignment will receive a C). Late assignments will also be penalized, whether first or revised drafts, by 1/3 a letter grade for each day late (e.g. a B+ will receive a B). I won't accept an assignment more than a week late from the final due date. If you receive a grade that you're not happy with (on an essay turned in on time), you can revise the essay and turn it in within a week after I hand it back to you. I'll average the original grade with the grade on the revision. A specific grading policy will be handed out before the first essay is due.

In-class Writings: There will be short freewriting sessions during many of our classes, usually in response to a prompt. This writing is meant to encourage exploration of the writing process and reading materials in an informal and hopefully creative space and should stimulate class discussion. Freewriting will not be formally graded, but it does count as part of your class participation.

Blog: This class relies extensively on technology, so you must have regular computer and web access. Throughout the course I will be posting announcements, readings, prompts, links, etc. on the course blog.
The URL for the course blog is:

The password for protected pages is: posten1

This blog will be accessed through You must have an active QC email address that you check at least once a day because that is the address used by It is your responsibility to contact the OCT help desk to make sure that your email account is in working order.
In addition to the class blog, each student will have his or her own individual blog. This is the space that you will use to comment on reading assignments. To blog, you must go to and sign up for a username. When you are prompted to choose either just a username or a username and a site, choose “Gimme a site!”. Once you have set up your own blog, you must email me the URL. I will post a list of all URLs on the class blog, so that everyone will be able to access each others’ sites.

--Posts: Once a week you will respond to an assigned reading on your blog. You may choose either of the two readings for the week to post on, and must post your response by noon on Wednesday. The responses need not be long, but will follow a “QCQ” format: First, you will choose a Quote from the reading that you find interesting, debatable, or puzzling. Second, you will Comment on the quote in a short paragraph. Lastly, you will raise a Question in relation to the quote.

Presentations: Two times during the semester, each student is expected to act as discussion leader for the day’s reading. These are informal presentations. Presenters should introduce the reading, including any useful background information, and talk about key points in the reading, relying on their QCQ if desired. Discussants should also come to class prepared with at least two questions about the readings to help stimulate class conversation.

**I will not accept any late blog posts or discussant presentations. These cannot be made up so remember to check your own schedule before signing up for presentation dates. Let me know well in advance (at least 1-2 weeks beforehand) if you will be absent when you are scheduled to present so we can try to reschedule.

Writing Workshops: The last thirty minutes of at least one class period per week will be devoted to writing workshops. During these workshops we will work on specific elements of academic writing or parts of the writing process. Often, I will give you this time to work on your writing of whatever formal assignment is coming up. This will therefore be a time that I can give you individual attention: clarifying, giving suggestions on work you have done so far, etc. This time is flexible, but the more prepared you are with questions or work in progress, the more you will get out of it.
Class Policies and Expectations:

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the act of stealing someone else's work and claiming it as your own. Examples of plagiarism include the act of copying a word-for-word passage from a source and pasting it into the body of your paper with neither quotes nor citation (obvious), or the act of lifting a passage from a source and changing a few of the words to make it sound more “like you” (not-quite-as-obvious-but-still-really-stupid). This is the most egregious academic offense one can commit and all instances of plagiarism will be punished accordingly. If you are caught plagiarizing, you will receive an F on the offending paper, and possibly for the course, no questions asked. In short, just don't do it. If you're unsure whether the language you are using in your paper is your own or someone else’s, quote it and cite it just to be safe. The Writing at Queens website has a very useful section on plagiarism, which you are strongly encouraged to check out:

If you have any questions or concerns about the necessity of quoting something in your paper, please feel free stop by my office during office hours or write me an email.


First Essay: 15%

Second Essay: 15%

Third Essay: 15%

Fourth Essay: 15%

Blogging: 15%

Presentations: 5%

Participation, Quizzes, and

In-Class Writing: 20%

Behavioral Policies: Though most of this falls under what I would consider to be “general knowledge,” there are certain kinds of behavior that are unacceptable for a college classroom setting.

  • Absolutely NO use whatsoever of any kind of cellphone, blackberry, iPod, pager (unless you’re an on-call physician, otherwise God help you if you still have a pager), or any other kind of digital-cellular-wifi-noisemaking whatsidaisy or gee-whiz gizmo. This includes texting, talking, web-browsing, email-checking or anything else you can do on a piece of plastic and a little screen with buttons. Make it a habit of turning them off or silencing them before sitting down. This is not a movie theater.

  • Eating small snacks and drinking (only NON-alcoholic beverages, please) is fine as long as it does not become distracting or disruptive. As a general guideline, eating a candy bar is fine; eating a platter of sushi or a messy burrito is not.

  • Treat each other with respect and dignity, i.e., no hate speech, insulting comments or superiority complexes. The classroom is a safe learning environment of open, thoughtful, inquisitive discourse where everyone should feel comfortable expressing his or her thoughts at all times. The only dumb ideas are the ones left unexamined.

Writing Center: Located in Kiely Hall 229, tutors there are trained to help you revise your writing at various stages. If you believe you need additional help with your writing, or if I ask you to set up a regular meeting with a tutor, you should make an appointment at least one week prior to when an assignment is due. You can also get online help by visiting their website at

Note About Special Accommodation: If you have a learning, sensory, or physical reason for special accommodation in this class, contact the Office of Special Services in 171 Kiely Hall at 718-997-5870 and please inform me.
Statement of Contractual Obligation
This syllabus is your contract with me. If you feel you are unable to fulfill any of the terms of this syllabus, please contact me immediately so that we can make arrangements if possible. The syllabus is a blueprint for the class, and contains all the important dates, as well as a good overview of what’s ahead. A copy of the syllabus is also available on the class blog, so there is no excuse for not knowing what is expected of you. Reading assignments are due on the date they appear in the syllabus, ie. you must come to class prepared to discuss the text on that day.
It is important that I know that you have read and understand this syllabus. In order to start the semester with a clear understanding of the goals and expectations, please send me an email stating that you read, understand, and agree to this syllabus and the stated policies. You should also tell me whether you plan to attend Tuesday or Thursday workshops and take the opportunity to ask any questions that you have. Please send this message to me from your Queens College email address so that I know it is in working order so you’ll be able to set up a blog. By February 3, everyone should have sent this email to me.
Course Calendar:

Week One:

M 1/27: Introductions, syllabus

W 1/29: Aristotle, On Memory and Recollection, “Reading Strategies,” pg 63-65 in Little Seagull Handbook

First paper assigned
Week Two:

M 2/3: Aristotle, cont’d

W 2/5: Email agreement to the syllabus due, blog URL due

Hayes, “New York Poem,” “Wind in a Box.” Emanuel, “inside gertrude stein.”

6:30 pm, Godwin-Ternbach museum, Klapper Hall: Terrance Hayes and Lynn Emanuel Reading. Extra Credit for attending reading and asking a question.
Week Three

M 2/10: Schachter, from Searching for Memory pgs. 39-56

Week Four


W 2/19: Schachter, cont’d pgs. 56-71


First draft of first paper due in class for peer review

Radiolab: “Memory and Forgetting”

Week Five

M 2/24: Proust, from Swann’s Way

Tuesday 2/25 Final draft of first paper due via email by midnight

W 2/26: Proust, cont’d

In-class listening: “Bob Dylan’s Dream,” “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” “Source Decay,” “Every Ghetto, Every City”

Second paper assigned

Week Six

M 3/3: Lehrer, from Proust Was a Neuroscientist

In class viewing: Dali: “The Persistence of Memory,” Chagall: “I and the Village,” Picasso: “Guernica,” De Chirico: “The Archaeologists,” memorials

W 3/5: Borges, “Funes the Memorious”

Week Seven

M 3/10: Arzt, Chirping Hill

W 3/12: Radiolab: “Who Am I?”
Week Eight

M 3/17: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

W 3/19: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, cont’d
Week Nine

M 3/24: First draft of second paper due in class for peer review

W 3/26: Library Orientation: Class meets in Rosenthal Library

Final draft of second paper due by midnight via email
Week Ten

M 3/31: Lindner, “New York Vertical”

Third paper assigned

W 4/2: Lindner, cont’d

Week Eleven

M 4/7: Dillard, “Seeing”

W 4/9: Individual Conferences
Monday 4/21- Tuesday 4/22 SPRING BREAK NO CLASSES
Week Thirteen

W 4/23: Hong Kingston, from The Woman Warrior

Week Fourteen

M 4/28: O’Brien, “How to Tell a True War Story”

Final paper assigned

W 4/30: First draft of third paper due in class for peer review

Week Fifteen

M 5/5: Thursday 12/5: Munro, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”

Final draft of third paper due midnight via email

W 5/7: Munro, cont’d

Week Sixteen

M 5/12: First draft of final paper due in class for peer review

W 5/14: Class summary and conclusion
Monday 5/19 Final Paper due by midnight via email and posted on blog

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