English 101 – The Craft of Writing

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SECTION 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 require that VCU provide an “academic adjustment” and/or a “reasonable accommodation” to any individual who advises us of a physical and/or mental disability. If you have a physical or mental limitation that requires an academic adjustment or accommodation, arrange a meeting with me at your earliest convenience. Additionally, if your course work requires you to work in a lab environment, you should advise the instructor or department chairperson of any concerns you may have regarding safety issues related to your limitation(s). This statement applies not only for this course but for all your courses in this University.

ENGLISH 101 – The Craft of Writing

(Writing and Rhetoric I)
English 101-902 Jeff Lodge

Fall 2002 Hibbs 306D

Business 1106 jalodge@vcu.edu

828-1329, 828-1331

Office Hours: 8-4:30, M-F

Overview of the Course:

English 101 is an intensive writing and thinking course that will progress through three stages. The first emphasizes generative sources of language and thinking, with freedom of form and content. The second emphasizes form and genre (meditative, persuasive, argumentative, and interpretive) along with the rethinking of one’s own writing and the responses one makes to the writing of others. The third emphasizes careful, critical thinking and revising in response to judgment and feedback from the community of writers that will form in the classroom as the course progresses.

Students will write short pieces and/or papers every week. Through their collaboration in small sharing and responding groups, they will establish a community of writers. Through class conversations, demonstrations, and one-to-one teacher/student conferences, students will make use of course knowledge, explore course techniques, and develop their ideas and papers. Through in-class writing, journal writing, and other written and oral communication, students will demonstrate processes and techniques for developing their work and responding to the work of others. These activities structure the class so that it becomes a supportive, encouraging force in the development of its writers.
After exposure to and participation in this course, students will be expected to

  • Recognize that writing is thinking, not just the product of thought;

  • Increase and retain natural human curiosity and initiative in searching for and developing information and knowledge;

  • Generate ideas and insights on topics of interest, as well as those that may not be of interest;

  • Develop an awareness and control of writing processes;

  • Adjust writing to needs of particular audiences;

  • Recognize the main point or focus of their own and others’ writing;

  • Locate and remedy problems in reasoning and logic;

  • Identify some basic rhetorical forms and genres;

  • Demonstrate library/electronic research and source documentation skills;

  • Analyze and evaluate sources of information;

  • Recognize the importance of feedback in the development of pieces of writing;

  • Distinguish between revising (a re-thinking, re-seeing process) and copy-editing (a “mechanical” process);

  • Revise writing into coherent and workable paragraphs, as well as into longer units;

  • Write clear, natural, lively sentences;

  • Correct problems in grammar, spelling, usage, and punctuation.


Elbow, Peter and Pat Belanoff. A Community of Writers, 3rd edition.

Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference, 4th edition.

VCU email account and access to Blackboard

Course Requirements:

Portfolio: In the thirteenth week of the semester, you will be asked to turn in a collection of three revised essays. A portfolio group consisting of writing program faculty will evaluate the portfolio on a pass/fail basis. Students must receive a passing grade on the portfolio to pass the class; a failing portfolio grade constitutes a failing course grade.

  • Portfolio Paper #1: a 3-4 page meditative essay in which the you, the writer, draw from your own experience to produce a piece of writing in which narrative and reflection are sustained by a clear focus that is relevant to an audience.

  • Portfolio Paper #2: a 4-5 page persuasive letter to the editor of a publication that argues a clear main claim developed out of your analysis of an issue found in that publication. The letter will include extensive exploration of the issue along with support for your position on the issue. The cover letter for this assignment will explore, among other things, choices you, the writer, made with regard to purpose and audience.

  • Portfolio Paper #3: a 5-7 page argumentative essay in which you take a strong position based on your own research, producing an essay with a clear main claim and line of argument that are supported by correctly documented sources.

Additional Paper: You will write an additional 4-5 page interpretive essay in which you observe and analyze a literary text to produce an essay with a clear main claim and line of argument.
Note: Papers (and drafts) should conform to the following specifications. (Your word processing software—MS Word, for example—may not have these as default settings.):

  • Font: Times New Roman, 12 point

  • Margins: 1 inch, left and right, top and bottom

  • Justification: left margin only

  • Line Spacing: double-spaced

  • Print: dark, and on one side of the paper

  • Graphics: in an appendix only

  • Documentation: MLA style

Process Journal: The process journal will have three sections: (1) writing about your own writing experiences and writing processes, (2) writing about the collaborative process of the sharing/responding groups and your roles in them, and (3) freewriting. The journal should be a separate notebook—not combined with class notesbecause it will be collected and evaluated in the sixth and thirteenth weeks of class.
Sharing and Responding: As you learn to re-envision your work and discover your process through sharing your own work in your sharing and responding groups, you will at times be asked to write responses to the work of your peers. These responses will utilize the language put forth in class and be courteous as well as thoughtful. These responses will be evaluated.
Writer’s Memo: Each main assignment (that is, each draft of a portfolio paper as well as the portfolio itself and the additional interpretive essay) should be accompanied by a cover letter in which you addresses issues of process specific to the assignment.


  • Portfolios: 50%

  • Sharing and Responding and class participation: 15%

  • Process journals: 15%

  • Working drafts and other assignments: 10%

  • Interpretive essay: 10%

Note: Participation counts; unwillingness to participate actively in workshop activities will lower your final grade. Along with my responses and comments, working drafts will be designated (check plus)-strong, (check)-satisfactory, and (check minus)-weak.

Class and University Policies:

Attendance Policy: Absences lower grades! More than six absences in the semester will result in a failing grade. You may be considered absent if you are frequently late for class. Being absent from class does not relieve you of your responsibility for completing all course work. Because of the workshop structure of the course, there can be no “make-up” work.
Note: Nearly 50% of those who fail English 101 fail because of poor attendance!
Email Policy: Electronic mail is considered an official method for communication at VCU because it delivers information in a convenient, timely, cost effective, and environmentally aware manner. This policy ensures that all students have access to this important form of communication. It ensures students can be reached through a standardized channel by faculty and other staff of the University as needed. Mail sent to the VCU email address may include notification of University-related actions, including disciplinary action. Please read the policy in its entirety: http://www.at.vcu.edu/policies/webemail.htm
Plagiarism and Academic Integrity: The VCU Resources Guide states: “Virginia Commonwealth University recognizes that honesty, truth, and integrity are values central to its mission as an institution of higher education.

Therefore, it must act to maintain these values, even to the point of separating from the University those who violate them. [The VCU honor system policy] describes the responsibilities of students, faculty and administration in upholding academic integrity, while at the same time respecting the rights of individuals to the due process offered by administrative hearings and appeals. All persons enrolled in any course or program offered by VCU, and all persons supervising the learning of any student are responsible for acting in accordance with the provisions of this policy.”

VCU has recently revised its honor policy. Students should review that policy as described in the VCU Resource Guide, http://www.students.vcu.edu/rg/policies/rg7honor.html. In this class, because coursework will be at times collaborative, particular issues of integrity arise. You should not copy or print another student’s work without permission. Any material from another source must be credited, whether that material is quoted directly, summarized, or paraphrased. In other words, you should respect the work of others and in no way present it as your own.

Student Conduct in the Classroom: According to the VCU Resource Guide, “The instructional program at VCU is based upon the premise that students enrolled in a class are entitled to receive instruction free from interference by other students. Accordingly, in classrooms, laboratories, studies, and other learning areas, students are expected to conduct themselves in an orderly and cooperative manner so that the faculty member can proceed with their customary instruction. Faculty members (including graduate teaching assistants) may set reasonable standards for classroom behavior in order to serve these objectives. If a student believes that the behavior of another student is disruptive, the instructor should be informed.” Among other things, cell phones and beepers should be turned off while in the classroom. Also, the University Rules and Procedures prohibit anyone “to have in his possession any firearm, other weapon, or explosive, regardless of whether a license to possess the same has been issued, without the written authorization of the President of the university . . .”

See http://www.students.vcu.edu/rg/policies/rg7conductguide.html for more information. Certainly the expectation in this course is that students will attend class with punctuality, proper decorum, required course material, and studious involvement.

The VCU Resource Guide:
The VCU Resource Guide contains additional important information about a number of other policies with which students should be familiar, including Guidelines on Prohibition of Sexual Harassment, Grade Review Procedure, and Ethics Policy on Computing. It also contains maps, phone numbers, and information about resources available to VCU students. The VCU Resource Guide is available on-line at http://www.students.vcu.edu/rg/.

Weekly Syllabus:

Week 1

Focus: Generating writing and building community
Tuesday, August 27

Introduction to the class

Student and teacher introductions

In-class diagnostic writing

Thursday, August 29

Reading: Mini-workshop A: Writing Skills Questionnaire (447-449); Cover letter for sharing and

responding (507-509); Workshop 1, “An Introduction to the Variety of Writing

Processes” (5ff).

Writing: WSQ; reflective response to WSQ; generating writing through invention strategies;

process journal; the collage (12-13); “Summary of Kinds of Responses” (511-520).

Sharing/Responding: SR1-10 (overview, pages 511-515)

Week 2 — September 3, 5

Focus: Generating writing for meditative essay

Reading: Workshop 2, “From Private Writing to Public Writing” (31ff) with emphasis on “The

“Open-ended Writing Process” (35-37).

Writing: Open-ended Writing process extended to five pages public writing; process journal


Sharing/Responding: SR1-4 (detailed on pages 521-530).

Week 3 September 10, 12

Focus: Developing narrative through image

Reading: Workshop 4, “Getting Experience into Words: Image and Story” (99ff).

Writing: Draft five pages in which image enriches the narrative and thoughtful reflection

supports the narrative; process journal (107).

Sharing/Responding: SR3, and questions on pages 107.

Week 4 September 17, 19

Focus: Re-seeing and re-thinking

Reading: Workshop 6, “Drafting and Revising” (149ff.)

Writing: Revise the writing from week 3, so that both narrative and reflective elements connect.

to a clear focus; process journal (161).

Sharing/Responding: SR 1-4.

Week 5 September 24, 26 Early Academic Alert week

Focus: Persuasion

Reading: Workshop 10, “Persuasion” (255ff.) with some additional reading from Workshop 9,

“The Essay” (235ff.).

Writing: Draft persuasive essay (letter); process journal (266).

Sharing/Responding: SR 1-5 (SR 5 is detailed on pages 530-532)

Week 6 October 1, 3

Focus: Purpose and audience

Reading: Workshop 7, “Revision Through Purpose and Audience: Writing as Doing Things to

People” (189ff.).

Writing: Revise persuasive essay (letter); process journal (199).

Sharing/Responding: 6, 7, 9 (detailed on pages 532-533, 534-539, 541-543)

Week 7 October 8, 10

Focus: Analyzing an argument

Reading: Workshop 11, “Argument” (277-282).

Class activity: analysis of a published piece of writing (285); process journal (286).

Week 8 October 15, 17 Mid-semester week

Focus: Mid-term evaluations

Reading: Mini-workshop D, “Midterm and End-term Responses to a Writing Course” (459-462).

Writing: WSQ: midterm reflections; writing to generate ideas for argumentative essay.

Mid-term conferences

Weeks 9-10 October 22, 24, 29, 31

Focus: Building an argument

Reading: Workshop 11, “Argument” (283-end); selections from Workshop 12, “Research” (303-

336); Mini-workshop F, “Doing Research on the Web” (469-477); Mini-workshop J, “Quotation and the Punctuation of Reported Speech” (494-496); Hacker, MLA documentation chapter.

Writing: Draft and revise a 6-8 page argumentative essay in which you take a strong position

based on your own research, producing an essay with a clear main claim and line of

argument that are supported by correctly documented sources.

Sharing/Responding: SR 10 (detailed on pages 544-547); also SR 6 and 7, and questions on

pages 279-81.
Note: Friday, November 1, is the last day to withdraw from the class.

Weeks 11-12 November 5, 7, 12, 14

Focus: Portfolio Revision

Reading: Mini-workshops G-L in Part III, “Editing” (481-504); Process journal: Cover letter for


Writing: Final revisions of all three essays for evaluation

Sharing/Responding: Choose from SR 1-10

Weeks 13-14 November 19, 21, 26

Focus: Interpretation

Reading: Workshop 14: “Text Analysis through Examining Figurative Language” (363ff.).

Writing: Interpretive essay; process journal (371).

Sharing/Responding: SR 2, 3; questions on page 371

Portfolio Due November 19

Process Journals Due November 26

Week 15 December 3, 5

Focus: End-term evaluations

Reading: Mini-workshop E, “Midterm and End-term responses to a Writing Course” (459-462).

Writing: Revision of interpretive essay; final WSQ; end-term reflections.

Week 16 December 12, 4-6:40 Exam Week

Post-diagnostic essay. Portfolio and interpretive essay return; final WSQ and reflective response to WSQ.
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