ENG 2100: Writing 1
Baruch College ⋅ Fall 2020
- Class Number: 29356
Meeting Time: TR 7:50–9:30am
Professor: Zach Muhlbauer, Dept. of English
Office Hours: Wednesday, 12-2pm; Thursday, 10:00am-12:00pm (register via live doc linked in #office-hours channel of our Discord server)
- Course website: ENG 2100: Writing 1
- Join the Conversation, ENG 2100 Reader (eTextbook via VitalSource)
- Find other required and optional texts on our Course Texts page
- For style, editing, and source citations, I recommend using Purdue OWL
Reminder: access your Baruch email address for class announcements as well as to access PDFs of our course texts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In this class, the first of a two-course sequence in the Pathways Required Core, we’ll explore how language shapes how we view everything and everyone around us. Language makes worlds. We’ll engage with a wide variety of textual genres—essays, poetry, songs, creative non-fiction pieces, news media, academic articles, and film, for example—with careful attention to the role of genre itself as well as to the role of audience and purpose. Studying the writing styles and rhetorical moves of professional, published writers as well as the writing of fellow Baruch students will inform your approaches to your own development as a writer within academic contexts and beyond.
This course is designed to be a gateway of exploration for further writing and research you will do in your courses at Baruch. I invite you to open your mind, be ready to engage with me and your classmates, and expand your thinking about what it means to be a good writer this semester.
In response to the historic uncertainty of our present moment, and in the spirit of sense-making, the theme of our class will regard the topic of imagined futures. Together, we will grapple with our collectively shared and individually held conceptions of tomorrow: as community members and citizens of the world, as rising scholars and bearers of generational change, as up-and-coming writers and forces of untold potential. Accordingly, we will wrestle with a number of difficult questions about the passage of time and the makings of history, often in ways that compel us to think, speak, and write in the future perfect tense, namely, what will have been of our day and age when the future comes to pass? How will we make memory from the environmental, social, political, and technological complexities of this moment in time? If indeed, as William Gibson claims, “the future is already here,” then where and how might we discern its formations among us, if only to prepare accordingly?
In asking such questions, we will draw on multiple genres of discourse, ranging from essays and news articles, to poems and stories, to speeches and images and so much more.
The future looms large. Perhaps it’s time we get started.
Read and analyze texts critically: analyze and interpret key ideas in various discursive genres (e.g. essays, news articles, speeches, poems, movies, short stories), with careful attention to the role of rhetorical conventions such as style, tropes, genre, audience, and purpose.
Write your own texts critically: compose with an awareness of your own rhetorical situation (audience, purpose, genre, medium) and the role personal experience and social convention play in shaping how and what we write.
Identify and engage with credible sources and multiple perspectives: identify sources of information and evidence credible to your audience; incorporate multiple perspectives in your writing by summarizing, interpreting, critiquing, and synthesizing the arguments of others; and avoid plagiarism by ethically acknowledging the work of others when used in your own writing, using a citation style appropriate to your audience and purpose.
Compose as a process: experience writing as a creative way of thinking and generating knowledge and as a process involving multiple drafts, review of your work by members of your discourse community (e.g. instructor and peers), revision, and editing, reinforced by reflecting on your writing process in metacognitive ways.
Use conventions appropriate to audience, genre, and purpose: adapt writing and composing conventions (including your style, content, organization, document design, word choice, syntax, citation style, sentence structure, and grammar) to your rhetorical context.
Major Writing Projects
Major Project 1: Literacy Narrative
20% of course grade / 1300-1600 words
This project offers you a chance to reflect on your personal relationship to the theme of imagined futures by telling a story about your literacy practices, specifically in regard to the discourse of future possibilities. Building on the forward-looking questions and concerns of our class, your narrative should pay credence to your literacy in one of the topics listed in the link below. I welcome your contributions to this list and encourage you to make additions to it in the form of a Google Doc, which I will share with the group following our third class.
With your literacy narrative, it’s important to recognize that you should not only illustrate but also intertwine moments in your life when you’ve engaged with the conventions of your chosen topic, as well as situated yourself in the conversations of its discourse community. For your narrative to be a narrative, that is, you ought to demonstrate the progressive means by which literacy and knowledge develops over time. Such memories should be interlocking and relational, driving the transitional logic of your story in such a way as to converge on the present moment and the possibility of your future growth. To that end, your narrative should conclude on a note of possibility, if only to gesture toward the potential ways in which you might imagine yourself learning more about the possibilities of this topic, both at Baruch and beyond.
Major Project 2: Rhetorical Analysis
20% of course grade / 1600-2000 words
In your second major project for the term, you will rhetorically analyze two self-chosen texts related to the topic of your literacy narrative and/or your second blog post. Whether it be from our course texts, NPR and BBC, or the NYT and WSJ, it’s up to you where you locate these texts so long as they’re focused on the possible futures of associated topics.
Your initial goal for this paper will be to analyze the rhetorical situations of two texts, which includes identifying and unpacking their audiences, exigences, and constraints based on specific textual evidence among each text. You’ll then present an argument about how your texts employs genre convention to effect change in the audience of its rhetorical situation. You might decide, for instance, to contrast how two texts of the same genre address your topic by using different conventions that work together to build a mutually reinforcing position on the topic; or, you may wish to compare how two texts from the same genre utilize similar conventions to present alternate positions on the future. Ultimately, the choice is yours as long as you be employ the critical thinking and close-reading tactics of rhetorical analysis as an occasion to mount an argument about the futures discourse of your topic.
Major Project 3: Researched Argument
35% of course grade / 2300-2600 words
In your final major project for the course, you will first formulate a guiding question or hypothesis about a series of determinant factors that work to divert, limit, or enable the possible futures of a self-chosen topic. In drawing on a diverse range of perspectives, you’ll incorporate at least five sources into your paper in an effort to explore and critique the rhetorical discourse surrounding one or more exigencies at stake in the future of your topic. The crux of your argument should therefore concern not only anticipated matters of the future, but also how certain conventions, trends, and/or drivers limit the way in which we think about the possibility of change when we imagine such futures, elsewhere known as our “horizon of possibility.” Accordingly, your paper should make space to analyze the specific ways in which the rhetorical discourse of your topic defines how and why we think about the future of its subject matter in the ways that we do. In turn, the culmination of your paper should present an alternative to the status quo, making a case for how we might collectively begin to imagine as of yet unforeseen possibilities available to the future of your topic.
12.5% of course grade / 50-75 words per annotation
The practice of reading interactively, or writing as you read, is essential to your growth as a writer. We will tap into this skill with the use of the social reading application, Hypothesis, which not only will help you to organize your thoughts in preparation for class discussion but will also make visible the comments of your peers across each of our themed course texts.
12.5% of course grade / 250-300 words per blog post
There’s much to be learned from writing in ways that are at once self-reflective and public-facing. With this is mind, I will be asking you to compose a series of blog posts over the course of the semester. These “low-stakes” writing assignments are meant to offer you a metacognitive space in which you may work through your thoughts in preparation for your three major writing projects. For prompts, tips, and guidelines on how to move forward with your blog posts this semester, access our Blogs page or else refer to my instructions in our classroom server on Discord.
I use a 100% grading scale to assess individual assignments and your final course grade, as is commonly the case at Baruch. If you have a question or concern about your grade in the class, please bring it to my attention immediately.
B+ 87-89 C+ 77-79 D+ 67-69 A 93-100 B 83-86 C 73-76 D 60-66 A- 90-92
What I Expect From You
I expect that you will attend each class and complete the assignments due. Learning is a collaborative activity, and I expect that you will be attentive to, engaged with, and respectful of everyone in the class, especially in light of the fact that we’ll be online (and therefore it may be harder to gauge how your comments may be affecting other people in the class) and the fact that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. We’re all in this together, and I expect that our class this fall will be a source of encouragement rather than distress when it comes to interacting with each other.
I ask that we all be respectful of one another and the wonderfully diverse opinions, ethnic backgrounds, gender expressions and sexual orientations, social classes, religious beliefs, and ethnicities among us. In the same spirit, written work in this course should employ inclusive language, which shows that the writer honors the diversity of the human race by not using rhetoric that would universalize one element of humanity to the exclusion of others. For example, use men and women or people instead of the generic man; use they or alternate he and she instead of the generic “he” to represent “all people.”
What You Can Expect From Me
I will treat you with respect and will spend a good deal of time this semester giving you feedback on your writing for your major projects, commensurate to the amount of time you spend on your writing. I will always read and often respond to your annotations and blog posts, keeping note of your intellectual interests as well as your writing habits and styles, all in an effort to offer you the thoughtful feedback that you deserve when responding to your major writing projects.
You will have opportunities to meet with me about each project you’re working on during our studio time at the end of (some) classes. I also may hold conferences with each student individually during regular class time in my office in lieu of a formal class meeting. If the latter, it’s important that you make the conference or you will be counted absent for class on that day. If you ever have questions about your grade or progress in the course, or about an assignment you’re working on, please do not hesitate to ask me, either by emailing me to make an appointment or by signing up via this document.
As a writer you’ll want to seek feedback from many different readers. Writers at all levels of experience get feedback on their writing. Asking for and receiving feedback is not a sign of weakness and it does not equal weak writing; it’s actually a sign of wisdom and makes your writing much stronger. You’ll give feedback to and get feedback from your fellow writers in your writing groups in this class throughout the semester and at all stages of your projects. I also encourage you to get feedback on your writing from professional writing consultants (some of whom also teach first-year writing courses) at the Writing Center.
The Writing Center offers free, one-to-one (in-person and online) and small-group workshop writing support to all Baruch students. The Center’s consultants work collaboratively with you to deepen your writing and English language skills. At any step in the process, they’ll help you become a more confident and versatile writer. I encourage you to schedule your appointment well in advance of when your writing is due. You can schedule an appointment at: https://bc.mywconline.com/. Visit the Writing Center in NVC 8-185 or at the Newman Library Reference Desk, or log on to their website, writingcenter.baruch.cuny.edu, to learn more.
All writing assignments should be submitted prior to the stated deadline. Given the extraordinary time in which we’re living, however, I will be open to granting extensions for longer writing assignments, but only if you email me requesting the extension well ahead of the deadline. I may also request to meet with you during my office hours to bounce around ideas for how to budget your time more efficiently in the future. You should try your absolute best to meet these deadlines, but I understand that certain factors are out of our control this semester and will do my best to be as flexible and open, yet realistic, as I can about these deadlines. Finally, and most importantly, if you feel even the faintest urge to plagiarize, then please do yourself a favor and reach out to me for help. That’s what I’m here for.
Attending class means doing the work required rather than coming to campus this fall. Much of the learning in this course happens through your doing the writing and reading assignments each week, showing up to synchronous video sessions prepared and ready to discuss your thoughts, as well as engaging wholeheartedly and thoughtfully in our in-class writing activities. You’ll be in a group with nine other students from our class over this semester, and you will be meeting with me and them on a semi-regular to discuss the course readings and your writing projects. “Attending class,” then, means engaging with me and others in the class through class discussions, as well as doing the blog posts, Hypothesis annotations, and working with your group in various peer-review activities and writing workshops.
Disability and Accommodations
Baruch is committed to making individuals with disabilities full participants in the programs, services, and activities of the college community through compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. It is the policy of Baruch that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability will be denied access to any program, service, or activity offered by the university. Individuals with disabilities have a right to request accommodations.
If you require any accommodation, please contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at (646) 312-4590, and let me know as soon as you can, ideally during the first two weeks of class. I encourage you to meet with me to co-design accommodations. For additional information check out the Student Disability Services webpage.
It is essential that you give credit to sources of any ideas that are not your own. Plagiarism is a serious offense with severe consequences, ranging from an automatic failing grade on the assignment to a failing grade for the course, with your case reported to the Office of the Dean of Students, as is mandated by standard protocol for Academic Dishonesty at Baruch College. Each student is responsible for knowing what constitutes plagiarism and for understanding the college’s policies and procedures for academic dishonesty. For further reference, please see the official college statement on academic dishonesty, excerpted below:
Academic dishonesty is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Cheating, forgery, plagiarism and collusion in dishonest acts undermine the college’s educational mission and the students’ personal and intellectual growth. Baruch students are expected to bear individual responsibility for their work, to learn the rules and definitions that underlie the practice of academic integrity, and to uphold its ideals. Ignorance of the rules is not an acceptable excuse for disobeying them. Any student who attempts to compromise or devalue the academic process will be ontologically sanctioned.
A class grounded in democratic forms of discussion and collaboration requires its participants to act in an ongoing manner of respect, care, and generosity. As part of a course dedicated to the theory and practice of rhetorical expression, students are therefore expected to maintain responsible and engaged sense of awareness as to the feelings and values of their peers. If students feel it necessary to address any matter or event in conflict with the ethical code of our course and Baruch College at large, then they should not hesitate to contact me in an effort to represent and resolve their concerns.
Header image: Light Trails by Andersson Fredrik, used by permission