RHET 110 Sample Syllabus Fall 2013

RHET 110 N: Written Communication I (Intensive)
Fall 2013
Professor Mark D. Meritt
Kalmanovitz 244
Sections: 01 and 02
Classrooms and Times (01): MW 950-1130 Cowell G25, F 950-1130 Cowell 216
Classrooms and Times (02): MW 800-945 Cowell 313, F 800-945 Cowell 216
Office Hours: TR 1000-1130 and by appointment

“One of the most remarkable things about argumentation is that we learn when we engage in it; as our beliefs and goals are challenged by others, we often see fit to modify them, or take up new purposes altogether.”
-James Crosswhite, The Rhetoric of Reason
Welcome to Rhetoric and Composition 110 (Intensive)! In this course, you will practice two communication skills crucial to success in college and beyond: the reading and composition of prose arguments. That is, you will practice reading and writing texts that present substantial and thoughtful arguments in response to important social issues. You will learn to analyze others’ arguments, support your own arguments with relevant and sufficient evidence, acknowledge and respond to opposing points of view, organize arguments logically, and proofread carefully for correctness and clarity. You will also develop skills and strategies for library and internet research, as well as for documenting sources in academic formats. In addition to conventional classroom lessons and discussions, you will work closely on formal writing tasks in weekly “lab” sessions. You will practice all of these habits as means of exploring and responding to questions that generate rigorous thinking and discussion in our academic and civic culture. My hope is that this class will help you build capability and confidence in using reading and writing as a means for discovering and communicating your own views on issues that matter to all of us, inside and outside the university.


Everything’s An Argument with Readings, 6th edition, by Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters (Bedford)
Rules for Writers, 6th edition, by Hacker and Sommers (Bedford)

Please obtain these textbooks as soon as possible. A few supplementary texts and other resources will also be made available on Canvas (look under “Pages”).

Official Course Description:

In order to prepare students for the kinds of writing typically required in college-level courses and in civic discourse, RHET 110 teaches the composition of thesis-driven argumentative essays that respond to important social and academic issues. Presented with elements of rhetorical theory, students gain practice in composing brief to medium-length arguments that are focused, clearly organized, well supported and based on accurate critical reading of a moderate number of readings assigned by the instructor. Students also develop skills in summary, paraphrase, and quotation, as well is in incorporating multiple sources in the service of a unified argument and in addressing multiple, often conflicting points of view. Also, students are introduced to library research as a tool of academic inquiry. Finally, students gain practice revising for whole-text coherence, as well as for clarity and correct usage.

Learning Outcomes:

In this course, you will gain capability the following skills:

• Critical Reading: Students comprehend, analyze, and assess arguments presented both in assigned short to medium length non-fiction prose texts and in written texts found in independent research.
• Formulating Thesis/Primary Claim: Students develop, in response to important civic and academic questions at issue raised in course readings and research, a specific contestable claim to serve as focus and governing principle of an argumentative essay.
• Arrangement/Structure: Students organize papers on the whole-text and paragraph levels to facilitate reader comprehension and to meet the specific needs of different rhetorical situations.
• Development: Students support their claims with sufficient, relevant, and credible evidence derived from reading and research (primary and secondary), and acknowledge and address counter-arguments.
• Grammar and Style: Students write in a mature and credible civic and academic manner by avoiding basic usage errors, using accurate punctuation, and employing stylistic strategies that improve clarity and concision, document reading and research in accordance with MLA and APA formats.
• Revision: Students revise drafts in order to improve content, structure, and clarity and correctness of expression, as well as to document sources accurately.

Work for the Course:

Writing: The main work for the course will be four formal essays. The first essay assignment (3-4 pages) will ask you to write a rhetorical analysis of one or two texts read and discussed in class. This assignment will require you to explain and evaluate the strategies used to present an argument in the assigned reading(s), supporting your overall assessment of that argument with detailed examples and commentary. The second assignment (5-6 pages) will ask you to write an argumentative essay of your own responding to a cluster of class readings and our discussion of them. For this paper, you will draw upon several sources, including class readings, limited outside reading, and possibly your own observations and experiences. The third assignment (7-8 pages) will ask you to write a substantial proposal argument for (or against) a policy or course of action. This essay will also require you to conduct more extensive library and internet research, and will include annotated bibliography as a brief preliminary assignment to help you with research and documentation. These three essays will all address topics and issues introduced in class readings. Finally, at the end of the course in the brief fourth essay (3-4 pages), you will compose a revision of an earlier essay and a reflection on the process of revision.

In addition to these formal essays, you will complete three kinds of informal writing assignments at various points throughout the term. In several reading responses, you will answer questions (provided on Canvas under “Assignments”) about the assigned readings that will provide subject matter and starting points for your formal essays. These questions will help you understand the texts assigned, assess their argumentative strategies, and begin developing your own responses to them. There will also be a number (maybe 10) of unannounced in-class exercises. These will take a variety of forms and serve a variety of purposes, including practice in editing, responses to sample to student papers, and reviews of guidelines for practicing academic honesty. Last, in weekly lab assignments, you will work mostly on planning, drafting, and revising formal essays.

Note: Formal written work will be turned in via Canvas, the computer course management system. This is a new system at USF, so please be sure to save copies (electronic or paper) your formal assignments in case there are difficulties transmitting them to me. It is always a good idea to save your own copies of assignments that you complete in the event that the copy you turn in goes astray. This is a rare occurrence, but for your own sake please keep extra copies!

Reading: Though the primary goal of this course is to give you practice in writing, reading will also be a crucial component. Reading is an important academic and cognitive skill in its own right. Also, most academic and civic writing requires responding to, analyzing, and incorporating material that we read. Last, reading others’ prose familiarizes us with how writing works, helping us learn effective strategies and techniques. You will therefore spend significant time out of class reading and time in class discussing reading. Much of the reading assigned will be non-fiction prose essays and articles that you will respond to or discuss in your writing. (As noted above, you will write reading responses to these assigned texts.) Other assigned reading will include discussion of such topics as techniques for rhetorical analysis, strategies for developing and supporting arguments, and research practices, to name a few.

You will notice that many reading assignments from the textbook will include questions or exercises. Though you are welcome to read or consider these, you do NOT have to complete these for homework. (I will provide questions for reading responses on Canvas.) We may refer to some in class, perhaps incorporating them into in-class exercises, but you do not have to complete them on your own.

Also, please be sure to bring copies of assigned readings to class. (This means bringing textbooks to class, but you may also bring readings in other forms, whether print or on-screen.) We will often refer to and discuss texts in class, so full participation requires your access to the texts.


Grading of assignments: Though criteria will differ somewhat for the various assignments, formal essays will generally be assessed and graded according the following five criteria:
• Articulation of and focus on a clear, contestable, specific primary claim or thesis;
• Support and development of that claim/thesis with relevant, sufficient, and thoughtfully integrated evidence from reading, research, reasoning, and/or observations;
• Acknowledgement of and response to complexity and opposing viewpoints on the issue(s) addressed;
• Clear organization of the whole text and effective paragraph focus and sequencing by means of topic and transitional sentences/expressions;
• Thorough proofreading and editing of prose to minimize formal errors and awkwardness, as well as to achieve a mature and readable academic style (including proper academic citation of sources).
Formal essays will be assigned traditional letter grades from “A” to “F.” “A” papers will excel in all five areas, with perhaps only minimal lapses. “B” papers will perform well in at least three or four areas, with perhaps noticeable lapses in one or two. “C” papers will be deemed adequate in most areas, perhaps performing well or inadequately in one or two. “D” papers may be deemed adequate in one or two areas but will be seen as insufficient in most. Papers will receive a grade of “F” if they perform exceptionally poorly in most or all areas, do not address the assignment given, are not turned in or completed, or are determined to be plagiarized.

Reading responses, lab assignments, and in-class exercises will be graded on a “two-point” scale. Those showing significant effort and engagement will receive two points, while those evincing lesser effort and engagement will receive one. Those not completed will receive no credit.

Your final letter grade for the course will be determined according to the following percentage breakdown of assignments:

Essay #1 (Rhetorical Analysis) 20%
Essay #2 (Argument) 25%
Essay #3 (Policy Argument) 25%
Essay #4 (Revision and Reflection) 10%
Annotated Bibliography (for essay #3) 5%
Lab Assignments 5%
Reading Responses 5%
In-Class Exercises 5%

Late or missing work: Formal essays (including drafts) turned in late will be graded down one third of a letter for every day past the formal deadline. (For instance, if you turn in a “B+” paper one day late, it will receive a grade of “B.”) Late reading responses will receive half credit. In-class exercises and lab assignments missed due to absence may not be made up, except in the case of an excused absence (see “Attendance” below). Excused absences may also result in a waiving of the late work grade penalty. Also, everyone has one free one-day extension to be used for one of the four formal essays to be used at any point in the semester.

Course Policies:

E-mail and Canvas access: Announcements regarding this class will be sent to your USF e-mail address and over Canvas. Be sure that you have access to your USF e-mail account and check it regularly. Also, many required and optional but helpful links and assignments (including reading response prompts and formal essay assignments – see above) will be posted on our Canvas page, so please be sure to have access to Canvas.

Academic Honesty: There is an extensive discussion of USF’s Academic Honesty Policy in the Fogcutter; all students should be familiar with that section. As it particularly pertains to the Program in Rhetoric and Composition, the policy covers:
• Plagiarism—intentionally or unintentionally representing the words or ideas of another person as your own; failure to properly cite references; manufacturing references
• Working with another person when independent work is required
• Submission of the same paper in more than one course without the specific permission of each instructor
• Submitting a paper written by another person or obtained from the internet.

The penalties for violation of the policy may include a failing grade on the assignment, a failing grade in the course, and/or a referral to the Dean and the Committee on Student Academic Honesty. In addition, a letter will be sent to the Associate Dean for Student Academic Services; the letter will remain in your file for two years after you graduate, after which you may petition for its removal.

As a Jesuit institution committed to cura personalis- the care and education of the whole person- USF has an obligation to embody and foster the values of honesty and integrity. USF upholds the standards of honesty and integrity from all members of the academic community. All students are expected to know and adhere to the University’s Honor Code. You can find the full text of the code online at www.usfca.edu/fogcutter.

Attendance: Attendance is extremely important, as much of the work necessary to meeting the course’s learning goals will take place in class. However, circumstances can make absence unavoidable at times. You may miss up to six classes with no penalty to your grade. Each absence beyond that will result in a lowering of your final grade by one third of a letter. Exception: When representing the University of San Francisco in intercollegiate competition (e.g., athletics, debate), students shall be excused from classes on the hours or days such competition takes them away from classes. However, such students shall be responsible for advising their professors regarding anticipated absences and for arranging to complete course work for classes, laboratories, and/or examinations missed. A limited number of documented medical or emergency absences may be allowed at the discretion of the instructor. Absence due to religious observance will also be allowed.

Students with Disabilities: If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and Student Disability Services, (SDS) 422-6876 as early as possible in the semester.

The Writing/Speaking Center: The Writing Center is located in 215 Cowell Hall. Their appointment number is 422-6713. A Writing Center Consultant is also available for drop-in hours in the library from 1-4, Monday through Thursday. Writing Center Consultants are there to give you feedback on any part of the writing process from generating ideas to organizing to editing. Writing Center Consultants will help you with drafts-in-progress. The best time to use the Writing Center is well before the final draft is due. There is also a Speaking Center (limited hours at the present time) for assistance with oral presentations in any class, including Public Speaking and Oral Skills. Contact the Rhetoric and Language Office for information about hours of operation and location.

Participation and Decorum: All students are expected to participate thoughtfully and respectfully in class discussions. Class is more engaging and effective for everyone when more different voices are heard. There are NO stupid comments or stupid questions! Please feel free to speak without fear of disapproval. This is your class, and I want to hear what everyone has to say. Remember, though, always to maintain respect for others in the class. No disrespect for another based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, political point of view (left, right, or center), background, physical appearance, or personal peculiarity (or anything else) will be accepted in this class. Students made to feel at all uncomfortable or upset in any way by anything that happens in class are urged to talk to me about it. It is my responsibility as your instructor to make sure that everyone feels safe, welcome, and free to learn in my class. Also, please be attentive to and focused on THIS class while you are here. (Do not engage in other activities or do work for other classes.) Students should participate freely in discussions, but they (and the instructor) should also behave respectfully towards the whole class by treating each other well and by directing attention to our learning activities.

Schedule of Assignments:

Below is our schedule of assignments and activities for the term. Essay and reading response due dates are italicized, as are a few other important points in the term. Readings must be completed by the date indicated (e. g., for next class, you are to read sections of the opening chapters and two short articles from our main textbook). Everything’s an Argument is abbreviated “EA,” and Rules for Writers is referred to as “Hacker.” Page numbers of reading assignments are also indicated. This schedule is subject to change by the instructor at any point in the semester. Please check e-mail regularly for announcements regarding such changes. Note: Assigned textbook readings may contain exercises or “assignments.” You do NOT need to complete these, though you may feel free to read them. We may refer to or discuss some in class, but they need NOT be completed with the assigned reading.

Students are expected to spend a minimum of 2 hours outside of class in study and preparation of assignments for each hour in class. In a 6 unit class, assignments have been created with the expectation that students will engage in approximately 12 hours of out-of-class work per week; in a 2 unit class, students should expect to spend approximately 4 hours per week outside of class in study and preparation.

8/21 W Introductions; overview of course; introduction to reading and writing arguments.
8/23 F Lab session for diagnostic essay; read (as background) overview of argument in Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters (EA 3-21, 26-8).

8/26 M Begin reading for first essay assignment (rhetorical analysis; topic: “Cultures, Images, Language, Stereotypes”); read Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters on pathos and ethos appeals (EA 30-40, 42-53); read arguments by Agosin, Dumas, and Tan (EA 599-601, 605-609, 622-27); reading response #1 due; last day to add classes.
8/28 W Continue reading for first essay assignment; read Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters on logos appeals (EA 55-73); read arguments by Hanes, Goodman, and Becker (EA 482-89, 502-14); reading response #2 due.
8/30 F Lab session on drafting essay #1; read Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters on rhetorical analysis (EA 90-107); also bring Hacker to class.

9/2 M Labor Day; no class!
9/4 W Developing drafts of essay #1 and discussing sample essays; bring EA and Hacker to class.
9/6 F Bring copy of essay #1 draft to class; lab session reviewing essay #1; draft of essay #1due on Canvas by 5pm; census date; last day to drop classes with tuition refund.

9/9 M Discussion of revision strategies and writing samples; bring EA to class.
9/11 W Discussion of revision strategies continues; bring EA to class.
9/13 F Lab session on revising essay #1; essay #1 drafts returned with comments; bring EA to class.

9/16 M Editing and proofreading; bring Hacker to class.
9/18 W Editing and proofreading; bring Hacker and one page of draft to class.
9/20 F Bring copy of essay #1 draft to class; lab session on final editing/proofreading of essay #1; bring Hacker to class.

9/23 M Begin reading for second essay assignment (argumentative essay; topic: “Issues on Campus”); read arguments by Britz, Jaschik, Cohen, and Mariani and Hewitt (EA 771-81, 797-807); reading response #3 due.

Final version of essay #1 due on Canvas by 5pm, Tuesday September 23.

9/25 W Continue reading for second essay assignment; read arguments by Mead, Shatkin, Bauerlein, and Freidman (EA 828-31, 854-9, 864-70); optional: look also at “live chat” with Mead and at various charts on college expenses/costs; reading response #4 due.
9/27 F Lab session on developing draft of essay #2, including drafting theses and initial plans; read Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters on structuring arguments (EA 123-44); bring Hacker to class.
9/30 M Developing drafts of essay #2; bring EA and Hacker to class.
10/2 W Continue developing drafts of essay #2; bring EA and Hacker to class.
10/4 F Bring copy of essay #2 to class; lab session reviewing essay #2; draft of essay #2 due on Canvas by 5pm.

10/7 M Discussion of revision strategies and writing samples; bring EA to class.
10/9 W Discussion of revision strategies continues; bring EA to class.
10/10 F Lab session on revising essay #2; essay #2 drafts returned with comments; bring EA to class.

10/14 M Fall break – no class.

10/16 W Editing and proofreading; bring Hacker and one page of draft to class.
10/18 F Bring copy of essay #2 to class; lab session on editing essay #2; bring Hacker to class; selecting topics for essay #3.

10/21 M Group A begin reading and discussion for essay #3 (proposal argument; topic: “Food and Water”); group A attends and reads arguments by Bittman, Mortenson, Pelletier, Wollan, and Royte (EA 660-65, 691-95, 703-13, 717-25); reading response #5a due for group A; group B does not attend.

Final version of essay #2 due on Canvas y 5pm, Tuesday, October 22.

10/23 W Group B begin reading and discussion for essay #3 (proposal argument; topic: “Economic Inequality”); group B attends and reads arguments by Morin, Foroohar, Marsh, and McClelland (EA 888-908, 912-920, 931-43); reading response #5b due for group B; group A does not attend.
10/25 F Lab session on planning essay #3 (whole class attends again); read Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters on proposal arguments, academic arguments, and finding evidence (EA 273-89, 372-79, 395-407).

10/28 M Library instruction session; class meets in Library electronic classroom.
10/30 W Understanding and evaluating sources; academic honesty; end-of-text documentation; read Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters on these topics (EA 410-16, 436-44, and note [do not read in detail] lists of end-of-text documentation formats in Chapter 21, EA 446-75).
11/1 F Lab session on annotated bibliography for essay #3; bring draft of annotated bibliography to class; bring EA and Hacker to class; annotated bibliography due on Canvas by 5pm; last day to withdraw from classes.

11/4 M In-text documentation, and integration of sources; read Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters on use of sources (EA 418-33).
11/6 W Developing/drafting essay #3; bring EA to class.
11/8 F Bring draft of essay #3 to class; lab session on reviewing drafts of essay #3; draft of essay #3 due on Canvas by 5pm.

11/11 M Discussion of revision strategies and writing samples; bring EA to class.
11/13 W Discussion of revision strategies and writing samples; bring EA to class.
11/15 F Lab session on revising essay #3; essay #3 drafts with comments returned; bring EA to class.

11/18 M Research workshop; bring draft of essay to class.
11/20 W Editing and proofreading; bring Hacker and two pages of essay #3 draft to class.
11/22 F Lab session on citation; bring copy of essay #3 draft (with citations), works cited page, and EA or Hacker to class.

11/25 M Conferences.
11/27 W Conferences; final version of essay #3due on Canvas by 5pm.
11/29 F No class – Thanksgiving break.

12/2 M Begin discussing essay #4 project, revision of earlier essay with reflection.
12/4 W Planning and drafting essay #4; bring copy of essay #1 or #2 to class.

Final version of essay #4 due Wednesday, December 11 on Canvas by 5pm.