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Queens College Fall 2009

City University of New York Page 1

Department of English

Prof. Sarah Jacobs

Office Hour: Wednesdays 1:00-2:00 Klapper 357 or by Appointment

Composing the World

English 110 Section 8M4WC
Monday and Wednesday 8:15-10:05 Kiely 283

When was the last time that you read an essay or viewed an image which changed your perspective on an issue? Have
you ever held an opinion or assumption, only to come to the realization that it was inherently false, or at least
incomplete? What sort of assumptions or perspectives do we take up daily in order to navigate our lives? Finally, is
there such a thing as an unbiased account?

This course will examine how print and visual media use fact, statistic, example, generalization, storytelling and logic
to form reports or visions of worldly events. You will be asked to research, discuss, and decide what may lie outside
of a picture or beyond the realm of an article.

In the course of the semester, you will have the opportunity to write an essay that situates yourself
culturally/socially/economically, to analyze primary and secondary source material in answering a research question,
and to present two short narrative, argumentative, expository or descriptive essays to the class. We will utilize group
discussions, in and out of class writing exercises, research and writing strategies, in-class presentations, peer review
and small group work to better understand the modern essay form and how information is gathered, interpreted, and

Please note that there will be a heavy emphasis on revision, and your grade will depend on the thoroughness and
thoughtfulness of your rewrites. You are required to revise the diagnostic essay, the research paper, and a minimum
of one other essay.

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

 Discern the strengths and weaknesses, the cruxes and holes, inherent in a line of argument or rhetoric.
 Research a topic in order to reveal the accuracy of an article or image's claims.
 Understand how facts are produced, formulated, and disseminated.
 Weigh two or more opposing arguments or sources of information in a critical essay.
 Write a coherent, compelling, and well-organized essay that properly cites, evaluates, and incorporates
outside sources.
 Evaluate your own writing and the writing of others.
 Be capable of a thorough, thoughtful revision of your own writing.

Course Requirements

Personal Essay: A 4-5 page analysis of your own cultural, social, and economic placement (or in some cases,
displacement) in society.

The Research Paper: An 8-10 page research paper will explore a historical, procedural, or cultural question. A
minimum of three primary sources and two secondary sources are required.

Annotated Bibliography: Prior to completing the research paper, you and a small group of peers investigating the
same research question will gather a list of 8-10 suitable and diverse sources. With these source materials you will
write your own annotated bibliography, describing the veracity and relevance of each source, as well as why you will
or will not use it in your research paper.
Queens College Fall 2009
City University of New York Page 2
Department of English

In-Class Essay Presentations: Through the course of the semester, you will distribute, read aloud, and lead a
discussion of two of your own short (2-3 page) essays. One of these essays must present an argument, whereas the
other can be descriptive, narrative, or expository.

One Event Description: During the course of the semester, you are asked to attend one socially, politically, or
spiritually engaging event, for which you will write a 2 page descriptive paper describing and analyzing your
experience. These descriptions are to be posted to my student event blog at

Midterm: There will be a midterm exam on simple grammar rules, MLA quotation format, and essay structure.

Revisions: Revision of the research paper and one other essay of your choosing is required one week after you
receive grading and feedback. Your revised essay grade will be averaged with your original grade and you will
receive a separate grade on the quality of your revision. You are of course welcome to revise any and all of your
papers twice.

Readings/Pop Quizzes: You are asked to complete each of the assigned readings, being sure to underline and note
sections which you found particularly powerful or challenging, and come to class ready to discuss the texts. You are
also asked to answer 3-5 questions for each text. If I sense that you are not taking the time to do the readings I
will give you a pop quiz. Each pop quiz will have 5 questions (4 regular questions and one bonus) and will
count for 2 points of your final grade.

Free Writes and In-class Writing Assignments: Almost every class will begin with a prompted seven minute free
write. Reading your free writes aloud is optional and I will not collect them. Additionally, throughout the semester I
will give you time in class to write and reflect on your progress as a writer.

Required Texts

A Writer's Resource, Second Ed., Ed. Elaine Maimon et. al., McGraw-Hill 2007
Seeing and Writing 3, Ed. Donald and Christine McQuade, Bedford/St. Martin's 2006


Essay 1: 10%
Research Paper: 15%
Annotated Bibliography: 10%
Midterm: 10%
2 In-Class Essay Presentations: 10%
1 Out-of-Class Event: 10%
Research Paper Revision: 10%
Second Revision: 5%
Class Participation/Small Assignments/Pop Quizzes: 20%

Attendance and Participation

Your participation is worth 20% of your grade, and consists of your involvement in class discussion, your willing
engagement with the readings, your performance on pop quizzes, and your completion of short in and out of class
writing exercises.

You will have the chance to receive criticism one-on-one from myself and two of your peers, to engage in small group
research work, and to have your writing workshopped by the entire class. To make peer and workshop review
successful, you must be devoted to giving your classmates valuable praise and criticism, as well as open to receiving
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City University of New York Page 3
Department of English


Your participation in class discussions is vital to the success of this course. If you are the quiet type, I will call on you
now and then so that you will not lose out on participation. Keep in mind that it will be more comfortable for you to
volunteer answers than wait for me to call on you.

For each day you are absent after the first two absences, your final grade will drop by 2%. Therefore, seven
absences will result in your final grade being lowered by one letter grade or 10%, and twelve absences will result in it
being lowered by two letter grades, or 20%. Because you are given two absences without penalty I am not interested
in hearing any excuses for further absences.

If you are late, you will be marked absent at the beginning of class. It is your responsibility to see that I change
your absent mark to a tardy mark at the end of class the same day. Three late marks equal one absence.

Revisions and Late Papers

Again, you are required to revise the research paper and one other essay. All revisions must be turned in no later
than one week after you receive feedback—there can be no end of semester rush. To discourage poor first drafts,
your revised grade(s) will be averaged with your original grades. Please use the opportunity to revise to the best of
your ability—if your revision is not thoughtful, thorough, and substantive, then I will not raise your grade.

If you hand in a paper one class date late because of absence or inability to complete the assignment on time, I will
accept your paper and your grade will be lowered by one full letter. Late papers cannot be revised, so if your research
paper is late you will lose an additional 10% on your final grade. I cannot accept late papers beyond one class

Turning in Papers/Email Policy

Papers must be printed and turned in the day they are due: I will under no circumstances accept an assignment by
email. If you want feedback on a work in progress please see me during office hours. I am not able to print papers
for you so please see to it that you print from home or a computer lab using your account the day before the paper is
due. In many cases you may be asked to bring in multiple copies of your writing; this is your responsibility, and
photocopiers are available in the library and the student union for this purpose. Please don’t abuse my email; any last
minute queries should be received by 6 pm on the day before class.

―NGG‖ or No Grade Given

If your paper contains excessive grammar and/or structural errors, is poorly organized, or shows a lack of engagement
with the assignment, you will receive a “NGG” or No Grade Given rather than a regular letter grade. You must then
see me during my office hour or by appointment to discuss how your paper can be acceptably completed. Failure to
visit me and/or amend your work will result in an incomplete or zero grade for that assignment.

Classroom Policies

Please be respectful of your own work and that of your classmates at all times. We will be dealing with personally
and socially sensitive material, so please treat other students and their work with grace and gentleness. You will be
rewarded with a more in-depth, open, and compelling discussion.

Food and drink are permitted as long as they don't get in the way of learning.

You must shut off and put away all electronic devices including laptops.
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Department of English


Plagiarism is the use of words, phrases, data or ideas from an outside source without properly quoting or citing that
source. Although certain countries across the globe do not recognize intellectual property rights, in America the
guidelines for citing and acknowledging sources are very strict. Nonetheless, some of the guidelines for plagiarism
have gray areas, particularly in the zone of “general knowledge.” When in doubt, cite your source, or consult me
via email. If I find that you have plagiarized, you will receive an ―F‖ on the assignment without the
opportunity for revision. Your name may be reported to the Queens College administration, thus ensuring
harsher penalties if you plagiarize again in another class. In the second case of plagiarism, you will receive an
―F‖ for the course. By taking outside work as your own, you are cheating your own intellectual development, the
writer whom you plagiarized, and me as a teacher.


If you feel unable to comply with any of the above, please see me after class or email me before it becomes an issue.

Additional Resources

Please notify me if you have a disability which requires accommodation, as should be verified by the Office of
Special Services, in Kiely 171, reachable by phone at (718) 997-5870.

The Writing Center in Kiely 229 offers free one-on-one tutoring services online and in person, with or without an
appointment. More information is available at

Computer lab hours and locations are listed online at

The Academic Advising Center is in Kiely 217, reachable by phone at (718) 997-5599.

The International Students and Scholars office is in the Student Union 327, reachable by phone at (718) 997-4440.

You can find out about student groups and get a student activities brochure in the Office of Student Life in the
Student Union 320, reachable by phone at (718) 997-3970.

Class Schedule
*Bring A Writer’s Resource
#Bring Seeing and Writing

Unit I: Essay Form

MON AUG 31 Introductions

Course Overview
Plato's Cave and the Stories We Tell
Essay Structure and Modes
In-Class Writing Progress Assignment

WED SEPT 2 DUE: Rhetoric Assignment

Diagnostic Essay


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Department of English

*WED SEPT 9 DUE: Short ―Subway Detective‖ Writing Exercise (see Caceres' ―Ghetto Haiku‖ 625).
Short Essay Presentations Sign-Up
Essay Format and Composition: bring A Writer's Resource to class

*#MON SEPT 14 READING AND QUESTIONS DUE: Mukherjee's ―Imagining Homelands‖ 216-222.
Essay 1 Assignment: bring A Writer’s Resource to Class

*#WED SEPT 16 DUE: Revision of Diagnostic Essay

Argument, Thesis and Essay Development: bring A Writer's Resource to class

*#MON SEPT 21 DUE: Writing Role Model Assignment.

Discussion of Diction, Tone, Voice and Audience: bring A Writer’s Resource to class

*#WED SEPT 23 READING AND QUESTIONS DUE: Fussell's ―A Touchy Subject‖ 478-482.
In-Class Essay Thesis and Outline Contest
Further Discussion of Essay 1 Assignment: bring A Writer’s Resource to class



DUE: ESSAY 1 (3 hard copies, 2 to distribute to peers)

Unit 2: Grammar Review

*WED SEPT 30 Grammar Basics—Punctuation: bring A Writer’s Resource to Class

*MON OCT 5 The Process of Revision—Sample Paragraphs from Your Essay 1 Assignments
Grammar Basics—Sentence Structure and Quotations: bring A Writer’s Resource to

*WED OCT 7 Grammar Basics—Sentence Structure and Quotations Continued: bring A Writer’s
Resource to class



Grammar Basics—Class Review: bring A Writer’s Resource to class


Unit 3: The Research Paper, Quotations, and Citations

#*WED OCT 21 READING AND QUESTIONS DUE: Kristof's ―Believe It, or Not‖ 468-471.
The Process of Gathering and Interpreting Fact and Statistic
Research Paper Assignment: bring A Writer’s Resource to class

*MON OCT 26 Review of Research Paper Format: bring A Writer’s Resource to class

*WED OCT 28 Sources, Citations, and Plagiarism: bring A Writer's Resource to class
Determine Research Paper Topics and Break into Source-Finding Groups
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Department of English

MON NOV 2 Tentative Library Research Visit

Due by end of class: One photocopied or emailed source with its MLA Works Cited

WED NOV 4 Group Work in Library

Due by end of class: Three photocopies or emailed sources with their MLA Works
Cited entries.

*MON NOV 9 Source Review: What Constitutes a Strong Source?

The Process of Writing the Research Paper: bring A Writer’s Resource to class

WED NOV 11 DUE: Group MLA Bibliography (hard copy and available as a .doc file)
Individual Computer Lab work with Annotated Bibliography format

*MON NOV 16 DUE: Individual Annotated Bibliography describing choice of 3 primary and two
secondary sources
In-class work with outline and thesis: bring A Writer’s Resource to class

#WED NOV 18 READING AND QUESTIONS DUE: Davenport's ―The Geography of the
Imagination‖ 509-511.
In-class Writing Progress Assignment

MON NOV 23 DUE: 4 Hard Copies of Research Paper (3 to share with group)
Peer review of research paper. Decide which paper from each group should be
workshopped by the whole class.

WED NOV 25 DUE: If your paper was selected for workshop, bring copies for the whole class.
In-class Writing Progress Assignment

MON NOV 30 DUE: Bring peers' critiqued essays to class.

Class research paper workshop.

WED DEC 2 DUE: Revisions of Research Paper

Resume Workshop
In-class Writing Progress Assignment: Comment on old and revised version of a single
paragraph from your research paper.

MON DEC 7 DUE: Event Description Due by This Date.

Resume Workshop Continued
Poetry and Fiction Readings (handout)


DUE: Poetry Citation
Open Fiction and Poetry Readings
In-class Writing Progress Assignment