Adv. Expository Writing

(with Service Learning)

English 345

Spring, 2007

MW 3-4:15

CENT 207


Dr. Chidsey Dickson

Office: Carnegie 222


Office Hours: 11am-1 pm MWF and by appt.


Required Texts


Kolln, Martha. Rhetorical Grammar


Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter  (MTM)


hooks, bell. Outlaw Culture (OC)


Packet (handouts)


Course Description and Overview


In the Handbook, it says that “[t]his course emphasizes the preparation of different kinds of essays for submittal for publication by the students. Development of style, adjustment to audience, analysis of rhetorical means, and control of greater range of material are among the topics covered.” I love the notion that you are here in this class to publish something—not for me, your Grader, but for a real audience. That goal of publication will set the basic tenor of the classroom: we’re here to help each other create and publish something.


We will begin the course with a study of the essay as a genre. You’ve been reading and writing them for several years, so it’s a good idea to look a little into the history and theory of the form. We’ll read Heilker’s “Montagine and the Early English Essay” and then dip into two contemporary descriptions of the form (Lopate and Nehring). (We’re also fortunate in that we be visited in the classroom by Dr. Heilker on Jan. 29).


After reading about the essay, we’ll frame your approach to writing one by reading about two emotions (disgust and cool) that will serve as the basis of your first exploratory essay. More details to follow.


After experimenting in the classical essay form, for the second project you’ll set your sights on the “critique,” a subgenre of the essay (see Graff and Birkenstein’s Moves That Matter), but we’ll give this endeavor a little twist by studying a practioner of this form, bell hooks, who operates just on the fringes of acceptable academic discourse (see Outlaw Culture).


This is a “Service Learning” course, which means that your literacy development will be, at least to some degree, entwined of with that of one or two other people: namely, fifth graders from Payne Elementary school. The Lynchburg College website describes Service Learning this way:


A credit-bearing, educational experience in which students: 1) participate in an organized service activity consistent with community needs and 2) reflect on the activity to gain further understanding of course content and a broader appreciation of the academic discipline(s). Service-learning courses combine service objectives with learning objectives with the intent that the activity will change both the recipient and provider of the service. Successful service-learning courses link the service opportunities to self-reflection, self-discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of values, skills, and knowledge.


Our Service Learning program, “Writing Partners,” will begin as a pen pal exchange between you and the fifth graders at Payne. Besides exchanging the usual personal info (How many pets/siblings?), you’ll helping your pen pals with an illustrated story they’re writing, a story that you also will eventually help them “animate.” In the past, LC students have used Macromedia Director to accomplish this task for the Payne students. This year, we’re trying something different: you’ll teach and then work with your pen pals on helping them create their own animations using Microsoft Moviemaker. 


Your final essay will be a reflection on your interactions with your pen pal(s). We’ll talk more about this final writing project later.


Finally, there’s a technical dimension to the course. You will each contribute to one another’s understanding of the technical aspects of writing by presenting to the class on either one chapter of Martha Kolln’s book, Rhetorical Grammar, or on one section of the sentence-composing treatise, Copy and Compose (see packet). I know that no one cherishes the thought of learning, much less presenting to others on, on grammar or prose style, but you really cannot improve your writing without some focused study of the hard core mechanics of sentence and paragraph construction.




This is an advanced, upper-division college writing course, which means that the bar is set pretty high in terms of what is expected of you. You will probably not be successful in this course if you don’t complete all the reading and writing assignments. In all likelihood, success in this course will require that you find ways to “lose yourself” in the subject so that 2-3 (or more) hours of preparation for every class will not seem like an ordeal. In this kind of course, a great deal of the responsibility for learning falls directly on your shoulders. So, for example, while my first-year writing students will spend 4 weeks on The Moves that Matter, we will only have one week to assimilate its lessons. If you are ever feeling completely overwhelmed, please feel free to come to talk to me in my office.


Late Assignments

Late Essays (including rewrites) are penalized a letter grade for every day they are late.



Essays (3 x 20pts)

60 pts

Response Papers* (6 best x 5pts)

30 pts

Grammar/Style Presentation**

10 pts

Grammar/Style Workbook***

20 pts

Total Possible Points for the Semester’s Work

120 pts

* These 1 page (typed, SINGLE-spaced) “think-pieces” are intended as opportunities for you to digest the reading material. I will grade your 6 best. No late RPs accepted, so if you do not have your RP at the beginning of class, this will count as one of the two I drop two. On first line, include name, date, NUMBER of the RP (#1, #2, etc.), and brief title (i.e. “Montaigne”). Skip one line and then begin the paper.

**Your presentation will last 10 minutes and take us through the most important points in the assigned chapter or section. An “A” presentation will focus us on 2-3 important points, explain them succinctly, AND come up with your OWN illustrations/examples. “A” presentations also make use of cue cards (and the board) but make frequent eye contact with the audience. “B” presentations achieve some of the aspects described above but not all or not all in a consistent manner. “C” presentations show that the presenter has not adequately mastered the material to be able to present it to others in an engaging way, but has nonetheless tried to do this very thing.


***This is a cheap-o BOUND notebook in which you take notes while reading, write the assigned exercises, AND take notes on your classmates’ presentations. “Notes” are any summaries, observations or questions that occur to you. Generally speaking, every time some work in grammar or style is assigned, you need to generate 1-2 pages of handwritten notes.

REQUIRED: number and date each entry. Write legibly. A “check” will mean that you’ve done the minimum. A “check-minus” means that you’re not doing enough to learn something. A “check-plus” means that you are EXCELLING in using the worktexts to build your “prose muscles.” A majority of check-pluses will mean you get the full 20 points. A majority of checks will mean you get 15-17 points. A majority of check-minuses will earn 10 points. Insufficient entries in the notebook will mean less than 10 points.


A  110-120 pts

A- 95-109 pts

B+ 88-94 pts

B 80-87 pts

B- 75-79 pts

C+ 69-74 pts

C 60-68 pts

Statement on Disabilities In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which guarantees the rights of all students with documented disabilities equal access to an education, limited only by personal ability and not by the disability, Lynchburg College supports students in obtaining reasonable accommodations at the college. Disclosure by the student and official documentation are required to determine eligibility for assistance due to a disability. For more information:

Plagiarism occurs in written work and in oral/visual presentations in which the writer presents materials as his/her own that have originated with someone else. These materials include information, data, ideas, conclusions, words, sentence structures, images, movies, sounds, and music. For more information:

Class Attendance/Lateness/Etc More than three unexcused absences from class indicates that, regardless of your writing ability or performance, you are not really invested in the course. After three absences, I might ask to speak to you about what’s hindering your full engagement (problems with workload, difficulty of assignments, etc.). After four unexcused absences, your semester grade drops a letter grade. Students who have 6 unexcused absences automatically fail the class.

Missed Classes Due to sickness, athletic events, family problems, etc., you will probably miss one or two classes during the semester. It is your responsibility to have the contact information for another person in the class (email and phone number) so that if you do miss a class you can find out what you missed, possible changes to the syllabus, etc..

If you are absent on the day when I return drafts (with my comments), you can pick up your work at any time that is convenient to you. It will be in a box outside my office. I will also place handouts in a separate box.

Schedule of Assignments Spring 2007



Reading and Writing Assignments


Grammar/Style HW and Presentations (G/S P)

(assignments TBA)



Distribute Syllabi, Course Packets, and Pen Pal Letters (Note: if you miss this class, please come by my office ASAP to collect your letters)



P: Heilker’s “Montaigne and the Early English Essay” Also, read MTM 133-135. Due: RP (Response Paper): How does your own experience writing essays in various courses confirm (and contradict) the genre as Heilker explains it. Point to 2-3 specific passages.

Sign Up in class for your presentation date (please prepare three picks: first, second and third choice for the date of your presentation).


No class (obviously) but I do need your first Pen Pal Letters by no later than 12 noon (my office).



P: Lopate and Nehring. Due: RP: What is Nehring’s complaint? Does she support her point? Does it coincide with Lopate’s take? How does your experience with reading and writing essays confirm or contradict the ideas put forth in the two articles? Point to 2-3 specific passages.



P “Disgust” (all items) Due RP Highlight 2-3 passages in the Nussbaum piece that most clearly communicate something profound about the emotion of disgust, then summarize these in your paper.



P “Shipwreck”, “ Of a Monstruous Child” and “A New Theory”. Due RP: Compare and contrast two of the readings for today for how the authors “essai” the emotion of disgust. Don’t linger too long on the “point” each author works towards (though this is important to understand). Rather, try to get a sense of how they present and think about particular contexts in which the emotion happens. (Note: I will return your first 3 RPs). (Note: Heilker Talk in Daura Gallery @ 5pm. Required Attendance)



Due: RP Summarize Heilker’s talk and relate it to our discussions so far.




P “Ragamuffins”, “The Term Cool”, “Going Native”. Due RP: All three articles you read for today gave historical contexts for the “cool” persona. Contrast “cool” with “disgust” in terms of how the emotion creates or reinforces social relationships (ways people have of relating to each other). As you explain the significance of cool, include at least one very sensual description of what it is like to feel cool. (Receive Pen Pal Letter #2)



Due: Proposal for Essay #1 (email it to me pasted in message space)

Meet in Computer Lab (Hopwood 003)



Visit Pen Pals (details TBA)



Due: Essay #1



P “How Metaphors”

Due: Pen Pal Letter # 2



Due: Revision Essay #1. Read MTM ix-27



Read MTM 28-37, 51-87.



Read MTM 88-97, 115-132. Read OC 9-26, 289-298 in OC Due RP: Looking over the two assigned articles by hooks, identify (noting the page) 4  different kinds of template discussed in MTM. Write a 50-word summary of one of the two articles using 2-3 of the templates described in Chapter Two of MTM for writing summaries.



Read 86-95, 128-144 in OC Due RP: Using 3-4 of the templates for summary and response laid out in MTM (Chapters 2 and 4), summarize and respond to the main argument in one of the assigned hooks’ readings.




Due: Proposal for Essay #2 (bring hard copy to class and email it to me pasted in message space) (Receive Pen Pal letters)



Due: Pen Pal Letter # 3  



No Class: work on Essay #2



No Class: work on Essay #2



Due: Essay #2







Due: Revision Essay #2







Due: Pen Pal Letter #4




Second Visit with Pen Pals













Presentation of Movies at Payne