Bridgewater State University

School of Arts, Science, and Design
English 303 Writing Our Heritages
Fall 2015

Nicole Williams
Office: TBA
Office Hours: MW 10:00-11:00, T 1:00-1:45
Phone: 508-531-2001

Texts Required:
Yousafzai, Malala. I am Malala: The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the
Taliban. Back Bay Books 2014.
Mcbride, James. The Color of Water: A black mans tribute to his white mother. Riverhead
Trade. 2007.
Macdonald, Michael Patrick. All Souls: A Family Story from Southie. New York: Ballantine,
Kramer, Mark and Wendy Call. Telling True Stories. New York, NY: Plume, 2007.
Rule, Rebecca and Susan Wheeler. True Stories: Guides for Writing from Your Life.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000.
Notebook, 2 folders, pen
Suggested: camera, tape recorder, old family photo albums, old family journals and letters
Course Description:

This course will focus on writing about the connections among identity, family history, landscape, and
heritage. To explore the options we have as writers, we will read essays by memoirists as well as longer
memoirs. Most of the course, though, will focus on researching and writing about our own heritages. We
will investigate family stories, migrations, and heritage using oral history, family photos, field research,
archival research, genealogical research, and library research. Students will draw from this research as
well as their own life experiences to write either a series of short essays or one longer memoir. This
course is about sophisticated and in depth writing about family history and how it has shaped our own
identity. It requires interviewing, field research, and secondary research.
Course Objectives:

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

Develop effective research questions that explore the complexity of your heritage.
Know how to locate resources that would allow you to answer your research questions.
Conduct research into your heritage using primary sources, such as interviews, family photos,
diaries, and exploring landscapes important to your heritage.
Conduct research into your heritage using secondary sources, such as scholarly works on
history, migration, places, and cultural groups.
Conduct research into your heritage using literary sources, such as novels, short stories, nonfiction essays and books, poetry, and drama that explore aspects of your heritage.
Explore and reflect on your memories, experiences, and researched material in relation to
your heritage.
Draw on your memories, experiences, and research to write either a series of short essays or a
longer memoir.
Lead a discussion on an essay or memoir that explores both what the reading is about and the
research and writing techniques used in the writing.
Read essays and book-length memoirs as a fellow writer, reading for ideas on how to research
and write about your heritage.

Course Policies:
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
three formal writing assignments. Successful completion of the formal assignments
includes turning in all required drafts and attending workshops and conferences.
Since this is a 300 level course I believe that you all want to be here and that it goes without saying that
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 two absences (a week worth of class), free and clear,
no excuses necessary. After your two absences any and all absences, regardless of the reason, will
adversely affect your final grade in the course. Your grade will be lowered by a 1/3 of a letter grade for
each additional absence. (ex. A B+ will go down to a B). After 4 absences (two weeks worth of class) you
could fail the course. This class is based on discussion which means you need to be present for us to have
an effective class.
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
writers. The best of writers work with their trusted peers to share ideas and drafts. Therefore, you
must come to class each day fully prepared having done all assigned readings and work
ready to participate in class. 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 at the beginning of 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 not be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made
with me.

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


Double-spaced in a 12 point readable font
1 inch margins on all sides
Name, instructor, course, and date should be listed on the top left, double-spaced.
Do not double space between paragraphs
Do not include cover sheets unless specified
Documented using MLA Style

Classroom Behaviors:
1 You may have computers in front of your throughout class which may pose several
distractions. Checking e-mail and surfing the web during class time is both rude and
inappropriate. I am not a baby sitter or here to police you, but remember you are paying
for this course so it would make sense for you to pay attention.
2 Please remember to turn silence all cell phones, ipods, mp3 players, and other
communication devices that pose a distraction to our class. Failure to follow the policy
will result in my asking you to leave class and an absence.
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 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. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but everyone is allowed a chance to
express that opinion.
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. If you are ever unsure of whether or not you are committing
academic dishonesty please come speak to me, and I will be happy to assist. I take academic honesty and
integrity very seriously and will follow all steps outlined by Bridgewater State University if I find a student
plagiarizing. This could result in a meeting with the Dean and possible expulsion from the University.
Departmental Writing Committee’s Academic Honesty Policy (Approved Spring 2010)
Academic Honesty: Academic Honesty refers both to plagiarism and misrepresenting your work in other
ways. Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s words or ideas without acknowledging the original source.
Acts of academic dishonesty include the following:
 Turning in another students essay as your own
 Turning the same essay (that you wrote) in for credit in two different classes. (Note: It is fine to
write about the same idea in two courses, to branch off of a project to create a new one, or to push
an idea that you’ve started developing in one paper significantly further in another, but it is
academically dishonest to turn in the same writing project in two courses.)
 Including information or ideas from a print or online source in your essay without including a
citation to indicate the origin of the words
 Including phrases or sentences from a print or online source in your essay without using
quotation marks to mark the words as coming from an outside source (even if you include a
If you have a question about whether you need to cite a course, ask your instructor or writing studio
consultant or simply take the safe route and cite the source.
The consequences of plagiarism are serious.

Course Adaptations:
In accordance with BSU policy, I am available to discuss appropriate accommodations that you may
require as a student with a disability. Requests for accommodations should be made during the drop/add
period so that proper arrangements can be made. Students should register with the Disability Resources
Office in Boyden Hall for disability verification and determination of reasonable academic
Writing Studio:
The BSU is a valuable source that you should take advantage of throughout the semester for all your
courses and as you continue your studies at BSU. The Writing Studio is located in the Academic
Achievement Center on the ground floor of Maxwell Library. You can make an appointment by stopping
by the Writing Studio in person, calling 531-2053, or via email To learn more
about The Writing Studio visit their website at
Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) and Adrian Tinsley Program:
The OUR and ATP provide BSU students with the opportunity to do scholarly research by funding
projects, providing presentation forums through research symposiums, and publishing opportunities in
the Undergraduate Review. The OUR is located in 200 Maxwell Library. To learn more about the OUR
visit their website at On a personal note, I cannot speak highly enough of the
opportunities the OUR and ATP provide to BSU students for enhancing your education while at BSU and
providing you with skills that will make you competitive in both the job market and in graduate school.

Publication Opportunities:
The Undergraduate Review- Published annually by the Office of Undergraduate Research, showcases
student research and creative work done as part of a class or under the mentorship of Bridgewater
The Bridge- A Creative journal that published by the English Department annually that showcases poetry,
prose, and fine art.
Course Requirements
Formal Essays:

During the semester, you will write three essays. You can choose to write three shorter essays or use
Pieces 2 and 3 to build on the previous pieces. For each piece, you will write five to seven new pages of
writing, and build on two new “Beginnings” writings. Each essay should be 5-7 pages. If you are adding
to a previous essay then 5- new pages of text should be written. We will workshop essays in class using a
variety of methods and I will meet with you in groups for readings to provide feedback to help you revise
before turning in the final essay.
For each essay use a folder with two pockets to hand in the following:
 Final draft of the essay
 Workshop draft of the essay
 Two sets of “Beginnings” writings written in the weeks before that helped shaped the
Readers Notes (One Pagers):
For each reading, as marked on the schedule, you will be required to write a “One Pager” about the
reading for that day. Your Readers Notes should be one page. They should not be a summary of the
reading. Instead, spend half the page analyzing the content and the other analyzing the writing technique.

Throughout the semester you will write 7 shorter pieces. These will come from the list of prompts I have
posted on our course site. You will use the prompts as a place to begin you writing. The Beginnings will
then help you formal your essays.
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. 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 portfolio.
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. 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 provide a self-evaluation of your writing. These portfolios will be
returned with formal letter grades attached that evaluate the work in the portfolio as well as your success
in the class.
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.
Writing Groups:
At the beginning of the semester we will form writing groups. We will utlize these groups throughout the
semester for a variety of tasks including workshop of formal essays, discussions, and group meetings with
me .
Each writing group will meet with me outside of class in the days before each formal essay is due. The
purpose of these meetings is for me to provide feedback to each of you to assist in revising for the final
You will be responsible for meeting with me once during the semester outside of class. The conference
will be at the end of the semester to talk about the progress of your final portfolio revisions. The
meetings will be about fifteen minutes long. 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 an absence-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. Additionally, feel free to come to my office hours at any time during the
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 non-formal writing (readers notes, in-class writings, and Beginners) will be checked for
completeness and given checks. Beginners will also receive comments to help you with your formal
writing. For your formal essays you will receive comments and tentative letter grades. You will then have
the chance to revise these essays for your final portfolio to improve your grade. You will be given a final

portfolio grade based on your effort, revision, and the quality of your formal essays.
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.
Readers Notes (One Pagers)
Formal Writing Assignments3 essay Drafts (10% each)
Final Portfolio