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Nicole Williams

English 1105
Office: Shanks 440
Office Phone:
Office Hours: MW 1:00-2:30
Online Hours: F 1:00-2:30
Please Note: I will not respond to e-mail after 9pm M-F or on Sat and Sun.

Text Required:
Composition at Virginia Tech: Written, Spoken, and Visual Composition. Diana George.
Pearson Custom Publishing 2009. (ISBN 10: 0-558-19908-9)

Reading Culture: Contexts for Critical Reading and Writing (7th Edition) (Paperback)by
Diana George (Author), John Trimbur (Author)ISBN-10: 0205688071

Other Materials: flash drive or other device for storing files recommended

Course Description- From Composition at Virginia Tech

“In first year composition, we see writing, visual communication, and speaking as three
important aspects of strong communication, communication which will be useful to you
both as a student and as a graduate of Virginia Tech.”

English 1105 is an introduction to college level composition. In this course you will be
introduced to composition’s rhetorical dimensions. That is to say, you will be asked to
consider the purpose, audience, occasion, and genre a writing, speaking, or visual
assignment calls for.

You will be asked to brainstorm topics, to write drafts, and to take revision seriously.
You will be asked to read each others’ papers and give feedback—an important step in
learning to respond to a reader’s concerns.

You will be asked to read challenging articles, essays, and prose and to consider
paintings, films, or other visuals. College composition begins from the assumption that
written, visual, and spoken texts can be in conversation with each other. Thus, you will
be assigned readings as a jumping off point for your own arguments and analysis, as
well as models of either good or poor composition.

Instructors Note:
As individuals in this society, you are constantly surrounded by and participate in
popular culture. This course will center around the theme of popular culture including
how you interact with it and how it shapes your life. We will examine this theme through
various reading and composing of texts throughout the semester.
University Composition Requirement
The aim of this course is to teach effective written, spoken, and visual communication
practices that go beyond much of the writing you did in high school.

Course Objectives
1. Gain knowledge of composition’s rhetorical dimensions.
2. Use writing as a tool for critical thinking.
3. Practice writing as a process via using multiple brainstorming, invention, revision,
and argument skills.
4. Write in several genres that utilize analysis, reflection, narrative, critique, and
argument skills.
5. Practice using the conventions of written, spoken, and visual composition.

Course Policies
Successful Completion: In order to successfully pass this course you
must attend class, participate in class discussions, complete in class
writings, outside readings, homework, and complete all four formal
writing assignments. Successful completion of the four formal
assignments includes turning in all required drafts and attending
workshops and conferences.

Electronic Note: In an effort to do our part to help the environment, all course work
will be electronic based. Assignments will be posted online, all work will be handed in
electronically through Blackboard, workshops will be conducted electronically, and
grades will be kept electronically. Additionally, we will go over how to use all the
technologies required for class. Together we can save hundreds of pounds of paper this
semester and, essentially, a lot of trees. I don’t know about you, but I happen to like
trees. Also, remember that computers do require electricity and use of fossil fuels, so
turn your computer off in and outside of class when it is not being used.

Attendance: What happens in class each day only works if everyone is here to
participate as much as possible; therefore, attendance is mandatory. You are allowed
three absences for the semester free and clear. I don’t need to know where you were or
what you were doing. However, each absence over three will automatically
lower your participation grade by 10%.

Tardiness: I value the time we have together in class to accomplish our goals for the
semester. I do not appreciate students that interrupt class by habitually coming in late.
It is distracting to me and to your peers. Please come to class on time.

Participation: This course depends heavily on your readiness and willingness to

contribute to class discussions and activities daily. I expect each of you to work with me
and each other to make this a real community of learners. Therefore, you must
come to class each day fully prepared, having done all assigned readings
and work, and ready to participate in class. A portion of your grade depends
upon class participation. Additionally, class activities are designed to build off of outside
work; therefore, I will know if you are unprepared and your grade will reflect it.

In addition keep in mind:

1 Being absent is not an excuse for turning in late work. All
assignments are expected to be turned in the class period they are due. If
you are not going to be in class e-mail your work to me by the beginning of
class time. Late assignments will be penalized half a letter grade
for each day they are late. For example, a B paper will go down to a
C+. Late work will no longer be accepted a week after the due

2 In class work cannot be made up so it would be wise to come to class

prepared each day.

Format for Assignments:

All formal writing (except multimodal compositions) should be:
1 Computer generated/typed
2 Double-spaced in 12 point Times New Roman font
3 1 inch margins on all sides
4 Name, date, course, and instructor should be listed on the top left, double-
5 Multiple pages should be stapled
6 Do not double space between paragraphs
7 Do not include cover sheets unless specified
8 Documented using MLA Style

Classroom Behaviors:
1 Each of you will come to class daily with a laptop, which may pose several
distractions. Checking e-mail and surfing the web during class time is
both rude and inappropriate. This behavior will not be tolerated and will
affect your participation grade.
2 Please remember to turn off all cell phones, ipods, mp3 players, and other
communication devices that pose a distraction to our class. If your
phone rings, vibrates, sings, or makes any other noise during
class I get to answer it. In return, should my cell phone ever
ring in class you get to answer it. Failure to follow the policy will
affect your participation grade.
3 Class time is not a time for private discussions amongst each other. Such
behavior is rude and disruptive to the class. Please save such
conversations for after class.

Respect: Respect for others in our classroom is non-negotiable. We will be discussing

many ideas and concepts that may challenge your current thinking. This is the fun of
college! Have respect for one another and be open to new ideas.

Virginia Tech Honor Code: The Honor Code will be strictly enforced in this course
in so far as it does not interfere with collaborative development and mutual learning. All
assignments submitted shall be considered graded work, unless otherwise noted. All
aspects of your coursework are covered by the Honor System. Any suspected violations
of the Honor Code will be promptly reported to the Honor System. Honesty in your
academic work will develop into professional integrity. The faculty and students of
Virginia tech will not tolerate any form of academic dishonesty.

Plagiarism of any work from a current or former student in this course is considered to
be an honor code violation. Through the use of peer evaluations and collaborative
development, and the use of the WWW, there is a strong possibility that you will be
exposed to concepts and ideas that you can use in your own work. Getting permission to
use those ideas and concepts from the originator (except when it is already in the public
domain such as on the Web, or in print) and giving appropriate acknowledgement in
your own work circumvents a charge of plagiarism.

Presentation of someone else’s work as your own is dishonest and unacceptable. If I

find out that you have plagiarized you will receive a zero for the assignment
and, possibly, fail the course. Be assured that I will find out if you have plagiarized,
therefore it would be wise for you to do your own work and cite any and all material you
take from other sources. Plain and simple-if it isn’t your own words or idea than tell me
where you found it.

Principles of Community: The Virginia Tech community honors and upholds

distinct principles. You can find these Principles of Community printed on the inside
cover of your VT Composition text book.

Course Adaptations: If you are a student with special needs or circumstances, if you
have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special
arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with
me as soon as possible during my office hours.

Writing Center: You are encouraged to take advantage of the Writing Center. The
Writing Center offers free one-to-one assistance on all your writing projects for all of
your classes. The Writing Center is located in 340 Shanks Hall. It is open Monday to
Friday 9-5. You may schedule an appointment by calling 231-5436.

Course Requirements

Formal Essays: For this class you will write four essays that are 3-4 pages each
outside of class. Each essay will require a draft that will be responded to by me and your
peers. Assignments will be discussed throughout the semester as the time for each
approaches. Detailed assignment sheets can be located on my website. All formal essays,
unless other wise stated, should be typed and double-spaced in Times New Roman or
similar font with one inch margins. In the top right corner place your name, instructors
name, course and section number, and date on four separate lines double-spaced.
Assignments are due at the beginning of class as stated on the course schedule. All
assignments will be turned in electronically through blackboard.

Blogs: You will be required to create and maintain a blog throughout the semester. We
will create the blogs together in class. Each week you will be required to write at least
one blog post on your own blog and at least one post on a classmates blog. Your blog
entries each week should discusses your thoughts and ideas on any of the assigned
reading for that class week and how they may relate to your own writing. This is your
chance to reflect on the reading and writing you do each week. We will discuss the
conventions of blog writing in class. Your blog can be thought of as your electronic
journal to track your learning and progress during the semester. It is also a tool to
communicate and share ideas with your peers, myself, and the world.

In-class Writing: During class time you will be asked to write on a variety of issues,
ideas, and prompts that relate to readings and class material. These writings will assist
in class discussion and serve as a tool for both of us to reflect on the work you are doing.
These will be completed on Scholar during class time. You will find that each of you has
your own section on the discussion board where you will produce these assignments.
This will allow you to view them all in one place when it comes time to put together your

Portfolios: The best way I have found to help students understand and appreciate
what it means when I say “writing is a process” is to include a portfolio component in
my writing classes. Twice this semester, once at midterm and once at the end of the
semester, you will be responsible for collecting and revising the work you’ve done in and
outside class. You will turn in both formal and informal writing, some of it revised,
some of it not. You will also include an introduction that discusses what you’ve learned
and provides a self-evaluation of your writing. These portfolios will be returned with a
formal letter grades attached that evaluate the work in the portfolio as well as your
success in the class. These portfolios will be electronic web texts.

Group Project: Once this semester you will get together with a group of your peers to
deliver a power point presentation. A detailed assignment sheet will be handed out and
posted on my website.

Readings: Outside readings will be assigned for each class period. They are listed on
the schedule. It is vital to your grade that you complete all readings and come to class
prepared to discuss them.

Conferences: You will be responsible for meeting with me twice during the semester
outside of class. One conference will be at midterm to talk about the progress of
your portfolio revisions. The meetings will be about fifteen minutes long and I will
cancel class for the week to accommodate these conferences. I will tell you very
specifically what you should bring to the meeting at the time we schedule it. Failure to
come to these conferences and/or failure to come to these conferences prepared with a
draft to work on will count as one week of absences-furthermore, do not waste my
time or your own by not showing up or showing up unprepared. I am just as busy as you
are, but if you are prepared to invest time in your writing then I am too. A sign up sheet
will be passed around as time the time approaches for conferences. It is your
responsibility to schedule a second conference with me at the end of the
semester as you prepare your final portfolio. Failure to schedule and attend will
result in an absence. Additionally, feel free to come to my office hours at any time during
the semester.

Note: All writing you do in this class-drafts, revisions, in-class writing, journals-should
be saved so you have a wide selection to choose from when putting together your
portfolio. It is imperative that you save all your writing so you can see how you have
developed as a writer throughout the course of the semester.

Evaluation and Grading Policies

In this course you will not receive letter grades on individual drafts and assignments. I
know many of you are probably thinking that I am completely crazy for doing this. I
also know not receiving a letter grade on each paper will make some of you nuts
however, it really is for the best. Using this portfolio system of evaluation allows me the
opportunity to give you credit for the things that grading individual papers does not:
such as effort and revision and improvement. Although you will not receive individual
letter grades on each draft you turn in, you will receive extensive comments and
feedback from me that will help you understand the quality of the work you are doing as
well as assist you in improving your writing. You will receive a letter grade at mid-term
and at the end of the semester when you turn in your portfolio. These two grades will be
based on the following criteria:
1 Meeting all of the requirements described above.
2 The quality of your written work, including how successful your revision
work is.
3 The quality of your effort in class, in workshops, in discussion, in groups,
in conferences, and in general.
4 Your demonstration of a willingness to try new things, think in new ways,
and explore different perspectives as both a reader and a writer.
My comments should provide you with a clear understanding of your progress in the
class; if you ever feel as though you are unsure, come see me and we will discuss it.

Grading Percentage Breakdowns

Different assignments in this course require different levels of effort. The following
breakdowns should provide you with an idea of the amount of time and energy needed
for each.
1 Blogs 10%
2 Group Project 10%
3 Participation- this includes attending class having completed all outside
reading and assignments, participating in class discussion, completing in-
class writing assignments, coming to conferences, and participating in
other class activities.
4 Formal Writing Assignments
4 essay Drafts (5% each) 20%
5 Portfolio (mid-term 25% and final 25%) 50%
Essay 1
Visual Literacy

To begin our semester together,

and your career in freshman
composition, you have the
opportunity to reflect on your
reading and writing experiences
thus far. You can choose to
discuss a certain time period, such
as a school year, or a particular
event in your life which has led you
to the reader and writer you are
today. You can choose to look Teaching at Ivy Tech
back over particular experiences
chronologically which are related
and reflect on specific events.
Your goal is to reflect on your
literacy experiences and develop
an argument about how those experiences have made you into the literate person you
are today.

The Twist
Instead of crafting your argument through alphabetic text in traditional essay form, for
this assignment you will use visuals. You can use your own photographs, images
from magazines, or pictures from the internet. If you are using photographs I
would suggest working with digital photos so you can edit and crop, as well as have
access to multiple copies for revisions. If you are using original print photos I would
suggest making copies of them so you will have them for revisions. If you are using
images that are not your own before you document those sources (we will go over this in
class). Your Visual Literacy Narrative should
identify 2-4 major points in your literacy
history and address the following:

1 The range of different

literacy practices, values, and
understandings you have

2 How you have developed

these literacies (where, how,
with who)

3 Your feelings about these San Francisco CCCC 2009

Developing A Thesis
As with any argument you will need a strong
thesis. This will require some thinking because
you are working with visual text. This means
you need to think about color, layout,
size, and contrast to state and organize
MA graduation from Ball State University your argument. We will discuss how to
develop a thesis in class.

Crafting your Visual Literacy

You can choose to present your visual literacy in any form that you wish. Feel free to be
as creative as you wish. You can make a poster board collage, make a book, create a
scrapbook, a movie, a slide show, or create any thing else that will present your
argument. Have fun with it.

Your Visual Literacy must answer the questions above, showcase 2-4 main
points, and contain at
least 6 images. Remember
this argument depends on
your visual construction. We
will discuss visual design
elements in class to assist you
in constructing your

The Written Component

As part of your literacy Virginia Tech
project you will write an
explanation to go along with
your visual essay. Your explanation should tell why you made the rhetorical
choices that you did. For instance why did you choose the colors or images that you
did? Why did you arrange them as you did? Your explanation should be at least 2
typed, double spaced pages.
The audience for your visual literacy narrative is your fellow 1105 peers. By sharing your
literacy experiences with your fellow peers you can learn about each other and learn
from each other.
Essay 2
Culture, Society, and Me

In your first assignment, you researched yourself and what role a particular literacy
moment or experience played in your life. Now you will have the chance to reflect on
that as well as other cultural events, experiences, and items that you feel define you and
explain who you are to the outside world. This assignment is not just about the
individual cultural events and items, but also about how you relate to these and how
they shape you.

The Project:
For this assignment you have the choice to create either a movie package or a cd
package. Depending on the option you chose, the formatting and content presentation
will be different. However, either option asks you to think about the following questions:

1. What events are important to you?

2. Are these events religious, political, social, cultural, personal, ethnic, etc?
3.What experiences have been important and your life? Why?
4. What material items are important to you? Why?
5. How have these events, experiences, and items shaped you?
6. How do you relate to these events, experiences, items?
7. Are these events, experiences, and items culturally significant?
8. How do others act towards these events, experiences, and items?

Most importantly, you want to think about what events, experiences, and items
represent yourself and your opinions to other individuals.


Movie Package: For this option you will create a front and back cover for a dvd about
yourself. This imaginary film can be about a small significant moment of your life, a
large time span, or your entire life thus far. It is your decision. You will design a film
cover with mainly visuals and then explain the general plot and characters on the back.
Be as creative as you wish. Imagine what
actors you would cast to play specific
characters in this movie of your life. Do your
research and examine film packages to see
what to include and the best way to capture a
possible viewers attention. Remember you
want someone to watch this film.

CD Package: For this option you will create a

cd cover, song list, and liner notes to an
album about yourself. You can choose to make
your album about a specific time period of
your life, a specific feeling or emotion,
or about your entire life thus far. Your
liner notes should include a letter
from you, additional images, and
thank yous. It may also include
anything else you may like. Be as
creative as you wish in titling your
songs. Do your research and examine
album covers, song titles, and liner
notes to see what you should include.
Remember, your goal is to get
someone to buy this album.

Overall Design:
We will discuss in class some different
options for the visual designing
component of the project including:
programs to use, fonts, colors, styles,
layouts, etc. While you have an option
between the movie or cd project each project must include:

At least 6 images
At least 500 words of text
A unifying theme/thesis

The Written Component:

As with your previous literacy narrative assignment, you will write a two page double-
spaced rhetorical explanation to go along with your assignment. I would like to know
your basic thought process on why you chose the subject matter, content, assignment
option, and design that you did. Also, how successful do you think you were in attracting
in audience for your composition?
Essay 3
Making Meaning

It is important to remember that all texts

around us have meaning. Texts include things
such as: written texts, events, foods,
photographs, advertisements, buildings,
clothing, vehicles, etc. The meaning in a text
is created by the viewer and the context it
exists in. For essay 3 you will have the
opportunity to explore the layers of meaning
that exists within a particular text.

Choosing a Topic
For essay 3 you will choose a print
advertisement (can be from a magazine or
accessed online) or a commercial (can be
accessed online) to analyze for meaning. For
our purposes these advertisements, print or
commercial, will be considered texts that you
will analyze. Your job is to explore the layers of meanings that exist within the text you choose.
Your essay will argue the meaning you find in your particular text. Remember meaning exists
within context so be aware of how the advertising company is presenting their product and who
they are presenting it to. Researching using secondary sources such as articles and company
websites can help you in analyzing your text. We will go over in class ways of analyzing your
text and how to support you argument.

Developing a Thesis
Your thesis, as we have been discussing all semester, should be specific, well focused, and
arguable. Writer Richard Bullock says, “a good thesis is specific, guiding you as you write and
showing your audience exactly what your essay will cover”(252). As you analyze your text try to
develop a thesis that is complex. You want to avoid general statements in your thesis.

Developing Support
For this essay you will use a few different methods of support:
Textual references- Since you are examining a particular text it is important to reference and
explain that text in your argument.
Allusion- Make at least one reference to popular knowledge in your essay.
Personal Testimony- Use your own personal experience to persuade your audience.
Secondary Research- For this essay you will include at least one outside source to help you
construct your argument. This could be an article from an academic database or information
from the website of the company responsible for the text you are analyzing.
Appeal to Logic or Value- construct a line of reasoning in your argument using one of the
Concessions and
As you argue meaning it is important to
acknowledge that there will be others
who find a different meaning than the
one which you are arguing. Briefly
reference other meanings that could be
created from your text.

For this essay your audience is a group
of executives that decide what
advertisements are aired on their
network or printed in their magazine. Your job is to present your argument about your selected
ad to them so they can decide if they will air or print the ad. Remember that your audience
knows nothing about the ad or product being advertised.

Essay Requirements
This essay will be 3-4 pages in length. This means it must be at least 3 full pages. It should be in
12pt Times New Roman font with 1”margins. All sources should be documented in MLA
format. This includes in text citation as well as a works cited page. If you are analyzing a print
advertisement please hand in a copy of your advertisement with your essay and cite it in your
Works Cited page. If you are analyzing a commercial cite it in the Works Cited page so I will be
able to locate it. Remember you must use at least one outside source (scholarly article from
a database or information from a company website), personal testimony, one allusion, an
appeal to value or logic, and textual references in your essay.

Finding advertisements and Sources

We will be spending one class at the Library where you will learn how to locate journal articles
and newspaper articles using the library databases. You can locate print advertisements for your
topics in magazines or online. Commercials can be found online using You Tube. You will
learn how to evaluate a website at the library as well. Please remember Wikipedia is not a
viable source for conducting secondary research.
Essay 4
Review Writing

To wrap up or semester together

you will have the chance to put to
work the knowledge you have
built throughout the semester and
employ it in a new rhetorical
situation. For this assignment you
will analyze movie reviews and
compose a review of a movie of
your choice for Rolling Stone,
Time, or People magazine.
Therefore, your audience is the
readers of your assigned
publication. I will assign the
publication you will be writing for
prior to the assignment.

Selecting A Topic
To begin this assignment you will
select a movie of your choice to
both read reviews on and write your own review on. I am letting you choose any movie that you
wish, however keep in mind you need to take a position on this film and construct a well
supported argument that you will present to the readers of your assigned publication. So be sure
to choose wisely.

Part I
Once you have your movie selected, you need to find 3 reviews about your movie. The reviews
must come from three different sources. For example they could be from web based sources,
newspapers, or magazines. You could choose all 3 from the same type of source or a
combination from a variety.

You will than read all 3 reviews and write an analysis of your findings. I am not looking for
a simple summary here. While you may summarize the content of the reviews, I would like you
to pay attention to what you noticed about how these reviews were written. What did difference
did you notice among them? How did the writers organize their argument? How did the
arguments differ in each? We will discuss how to analyze these reviews and write an analysis in

Your analysis paper should be at least 2 typed pages, double-spaced. It will be written in
traditional essay form.
Part II
For the second part of this assignment you will take what you discovered about reviews in your
reading and write a review of your own on the movie you chose. Use the information you
found through part I of this assignment to help you construct your own review. We will discuss
ways of writing reviews in class. Remember that you have been working with evaluating visuals
throughout the semester. Apply that knowledge as you watch and evaluate your chosen film.

Since this review is going to be written for a magazine you will write it in a format appropriate to
magazines. Journalists who write for magazines and newspapers have to work under many
restrictions. Often times they have limited space to argue their point to readers. I will place the
same restrictions upon you. You can decide how you want to lay out your design. However,
you have two
pages of space
to do it in and
it should be
written in
columns like
you would
find in a
Again, you can
decide how to
arrange the
text, image,
columns, etc.
with such
limited space
you need to
make every
word count in
your argument.
It may be
helpful to look
at some
reviews in your
assigned publication for lay out ideas.

Draft Day
On workshop day you will bring drafts of both your analysis and review to class. We will work
with both. However, reading your 3 reviews and writing your analysis early will assist you in
writing your review.

What You Will Turn In

You will turn in to me the 3 reviews that you read, your analysis, and your own review.