Composition I; Winter 2004

Instructor: Jonathan Shaub


phone(s): 044-243-5545 (home)  044-490-7618(9) (UEC)                                          


“The Art of Writing”


"If you wish to be a writer, write."


“One hasn't become a writer until one has distilled writing into a habit, and that habit has been forced into an obsession. Writing has to be an obsession. It has to be something as organic, physiological and psychological as speaking or sleeping or eating.”
…..Niyi Osundare


Course Goals

1)      To practice, practice, practice writing until it becomes a habit, and each person becomes comfortable with his or her own writing ritual.

2)      To learn and use the fundamentals of good English composition, including elements of both grammar and style.  These elements will consist of sentence structure, paragraph formation, essay organization, transition, verb tense, article usage and sentence variety.

3)      To recognize the “art of writing,” the formation of ideas, use of words, and manipulation of language, clauses and overall structure in readings.

4)      To think critically in evaluating and constructing logical arguments and then argue for a particular thesis in a coherent, polished essay.


Course Requirements

1)      Position Paper (15 points) – Students will complete a 750-word (2-3 pages) paper stating a position and defending that position.  Papers will be given two grades between 1-15: 1) Grammar and Style - evaluating use of English grammar, evidence of revision, and stylistic ability; 2) Content - evaluating the logical arguments, critical thought, and overall content of the paper.

2)      Counter Paper (15 points) – Students will complete a second 750-word paper that responds to an argument I hand out in class.  This paper will also receive two grades according to the above criteria.

3)      Final Essay (25 points) – The final, finished product and ultimate goal of the course, this 1500-2000 word essay (5-6 pages) will make a coherent argument in the form of a polished essay.  Papers will be expected to state a thesis, support this thesis, and then address possible arguments against their position.  These essays will be graded according to the already established two-grade method.

4)      Final Exam (20 points) – The final exam will consist of three parts.  One on identification of terms, characters, and ideas we have discussed during the semester.  The second section will consist of short answer questions requiring more detailed answers about broader topics in the readings or class discussions, and the third will be a short, argumentative paragraph, stating and defending a thesis.

5)      Participation, Effort, Quizzes and Response pages (25 points) – No one will fail this class unless they choose to fail themselves.  This category will include a variety of elements:


a.      Attendance – Students are expected to attend every class.  I will be giving quizzes, in-class writing exercises, and looking at papers occasionally.  If a student is not there, and does not have documentation for an excused absence (i.e. doctor’s note), they will not be allowed to make up the missed work.  I will take roll randomly, and students who are not there will be penalized a point.

b.      Participation – I expect each student to engage and interact with the class.  I do not expect everyone to answer questions and talk all the time, but I expect attention and at least pretended interest.  Students who take an interest in making the class go smoothly will be rewarded, and those that pass notes or chat the whole time will be penalized.  Tardiness and cell phone usage will also cause students to lose points in this category

c.       Response Pages and Quizzes – Every so often, I will assign short 300 word response pages about a reading or related topic, or I will give a quiz.  The papers will receive a grade of 1, 2 or 3, based on content.  Late assignments will be penalized one point, and make-up quizzes will not be allowed.  Some quizzes may be graded on a 1-6 scale.  Displays of extra work or effort are always rewarded.

d.     Rough Drafts and Outlines – I will ask you to make an outline for the first position paper, and also show me a rough draft in class for the first two papers. Not having these to show will not count off the overall paper grade, but off this participation grade.

e.      Extra Credit – If you miss (or fail) a quiz, response paper, find yourself tardy too often, or miss a class in which I check attendance, you have a chance to make up the points.  To earn extra points for this category only a student may do one of several assignments that I will detail later in the semester.  The amount of extra credit you may do for this category is unlimited.


* Late papers will be docked a point off both the grammar and the content grade for each class meeting they are late.  Therefore, a “10/10” paper (100%) will become a “9/10” (90%)


*Plagiarism or cheating of any kind will not be tolerated.  I cannot stand dishonesty, and any student caught engaging in such activities will automatically fail the class.  All research or sources you use for any paper must be mentioned in a footnote, citation, or at the end of the paper.



Tentative Schedule

(I have a tendency to change it on a whim)


Feb 2 – Process of Writing; Brainstorming for Claims

            Due: Response page

Feb 4 –Further refine claims; Discuss Forms of Argumentative essay; Run-ons and fragments

Feb 9 – Begin Heart of Darkness; Continue run-ons and fragments

            Due: Claim and three supporting reasons

Feb 11 – Discuss Claims; Heart

            Due: First Chapter of Heart finished; response page

Feb 16 – Review run-ons and fragments; Writing work; Continue Heart of Darkness

            Due: rough draft

Feb 18 – Heart of Darkness

            Due: Position paper

Feb 23 – Hand back papers; Grammar to work on

            Due: 2nd chapter finished

Feb 25 – Heart of Darkness

            Due: Response page

Mar 2 – Discuss position papers, problems and questions

            Due: Finished Heart of Darkness; re-written position paper (optional)

Mar 4 – Finish Heart of Darkness

            Due: Response page

Mar 9 – Articles; Begin Till We Have Faces

            Due: First seven chapters of Till We Have Faces

Mar 11 – Continue Articles; Discuss Till

            Due: Response page

Mar 16 – Articles and Verb Tense; Till

            Due: Chapters 8-12 of Till We Have Faces

Mar 18 – Till We Have Faces

            Due: Response page

Mar 23 – Verb Tense

            Due: Counter paper rough draft; chapters 13-17 of Till We Have Faces

Mar 25 – Till We Have Faces

            Due: Counter paper

Mar 30 – Till We Have Faces

            Due: Chapter 18- end of Book I of Till

Apr 1 – Papers back; grammar problems

            Due: Response Page

Apr 6 – Till We Have Faces

            Due: Book II of Till finished

Apr 8 – Writing Discussion; final assignments given

            Due: Counter paper rewrite

Apr 13 – Last Class; My chance to talk for real


Exam – April 19th – Due on Exam Day: Final Paper, All Extra Credit