English 2100 Fall 2023:  What Goes Unsaid?


Writing I:

What Goes Unsaid?


Fall 2023

Professor Jennifer Sylvor

MW 12:25 – 2:05

17 Lex, Room 1113

Office: VC 7-290, cubicle O

Office Hours:  Mondays 11:00 – 12:00 and by appointment

Email: jennifer.sylvor@baruch.cuny.edu (the best way to reach me)

Course Blog:  www.blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/eng2100f23sylvor

Welcome to English 2100!  I am looking forward to getting to know you and working together over the next several months to develop your skills and confidence as a reader, thinker, and writer.  This syllabus is a document designed to let you know how our course will work, what you can expect from me, and what I will be expecting from you in English 2100.  It contains important information that you will probably want to refer back to, so please hold on to this document.  You can also find the syllabus on our course blog.  (Look for the tab marked “syllabus” at the top of the screen.)

Communication: Email is the best way to reach me.  You can reach me at jennifer.sylvor@baruch.cuny.edu. I will sometimes need to reach you as well and will use email to communicate, so please get in the habit of checking your baruchmail email address at least once a day!

What is English 2100?  This course is, first and foremost, an introduction to college writing.  We will work together over the course of the semester to equip you with the skills, confidence, and understanding you will need to be a successful writer in college and beyond. There is no magic secret to becoming a more skilled writer; the only way to improve your writing is to write more.  Expect that you will be engaging in writing of one sort or another for the duration of the semester:  brainstorming for writing projects, creating proposals or outlines, composing drafts, revising and editing your work,  responding to your peers’ writing, posting to our class blog, and more. Your formal assignments for the course include personal narrative, textual analysis, and research-based writing.  The course will emphasize the process as much as the product of essay writing.  Every piece of good, successful writing undergoes an evolution and develops over time through reading, questioning, and careful revision and editing.  For this reason, you will learn how to develop, organize, draft, and revise your essays through the processes of critical reading, informal writing assignments, in-class workshops, self-analysis, peer review, and individual conferences with me. 

This course is designed with the English Department’s learning objectives in mind. After completing ENG 2100, you should be able to:

  • Read and analyze texts critically.
  • Write your own texts critically, with an awareness of context, audience, and rhetorical conventions.
  • Identify and engage with credible sources and multiple perspectives.
  • Experience writing as a process involving multiple drafts, review by your writing community, revision, editing, and reflection.
  • Use conventions appropriate to audience, genre, and purpose.  Adapt writing and composing conventions (including style, content, organization, document design, word choice, syntax, and grammar) to your rhetorical context.

Course Theme:  The theme of our work together this semester is “What Goes Unsaid”  Our reading, writing, and research will all be related in one way or another to thinking about what goes unsaid in our own lives, in our families and other relationships, and in our communities.   While the topics we explore over the course of the semester will be varied, in all of the work we do, we will be trying to tease out the subtext, to figure out what lies beneath the words we use and beneath those we encounter as readers.  This focus on giving voice to what often remains unspoken will carry us through the semester.

One of the goals for our work together is for YOU to be able to explore some of the issues and ideas that matter most to YOU.  In order for this to happen, we will all need to commit to an atmosphere of respect and curiosity.

Major Projects:  You will be writing three formal essays this semester and giving one presentation. I will be providing you with detailed instructions for each of these assignments over the course of the semester.

Project #1:  Literacy Narrative

This project situates you within the context of our course theme by asking you to explore your own identity through the lens of language and literacy. You will focus on a particular moment, issue, or encounter that has played a powerful role in your linguistic or literacy development, whether as a speaker, student, reader, or writer.   Here you will be thinking about the unspoken messages that have shaped your understanding of who you are as a student, writer, or user of language.  This project will give me a chance to get to know you a little better and will also give you an opportunity to reflect on how experiences around literacy have shaped your own sense of self or even the trajectory of your life.

Project #2:  Textual Analysis

The ability to analyze texts is a key skill for being an effective reader and writer and forms one of the core goals for the course.  Textual analysis involves a number of interpretive processes that we do all the time intuitively, but which you may never have thought much about or which you may not yet be able to name.  For this assignment, you will be working closely with one of the literary texts we will be reading together, developing a focused question about the text, and offering a thoughtful analysis that responds to your question.

Project #3:  Research Project

For this project, you will start by identifying a problem that you see in one of the communities in which you are a stakeholder.  Through a multi-step process, you will describe the problem, explore its origins, and propose possible ways in which the problem might be addressed.  This assignment will include doing research; this means gathering appropriate sources, figuring out how to incorporate source material into your own writing, and developing a central analytical claim.  Most importantly, this project asks you to identify something that you genuinely care about and to use that authentic concern as the engine that drives your research and writing.  

Project #4: Presentation

At the end of the semester, you will have an opportunity to present some aspect of your research findings to your classmates.  Rather than simply summarizing your findings for the class, you will find a creative and engaging way to explore your topic with the class.  Ideally, the days we spend on presentations at the end of the semester will be full of teaching and learning, as we share our research with one another!

Additional Work:  In addition to the major projects described above, you will have informal assignments each week.  These may include:

–posting to our course blog

–planning and facilitating parts of class discussion

–collecting and sharing sources relevant to our topic

–offering feedback to your peers

–reading and annotation of assigned texts

Your sustained effort in all of these areas is just as important as the major projects!

TextsFirst Year Writing at Baruch College: Join the Conversation  (e-book) ***required***  

This reader was created by English Department faculty specifically for use in Baruch’s First Year Writing courses.  Many of our readings come from this collection.

Follow these steps to purchase the e-book:

  1. Create a Perusall account at perusall.com
  2. The onboarding process will ask you for a course code.
  3. Enter the following course code: SYLVOR-MJQGJ
  4. Go to “Library” and click Join the Conversation.
  5. There will then be an option to purchase it there. It costs $27.99. However, you can also purchase the textbook through the bookstore here: https://baruch.bncollege.com/shop/baruch/page/find-textbooks. The price may be different.

*Links to additional readings will be posted on our course blog.

Attendance:  The film director Woody Allen is credited with saying, “80% of success is showing up!”  I’m not sure about the precise percentage, but I do agree with him that consistent attendance is a necessary part of academic success.  Your attentive presence at each class session is the most vital component of our work together.  Please leave yourself plenty of time to get into the building and up to our classroom.  If, for some reason, you are unable to attend class due to illness or a family emergency, please reach out to me before class to let me know you will be absent.  You are responsible for all work assigned for the course.  If you are absent on a day that an assignment is due, you must submit the work electronically on the due date in order for it to be considered “on time”.  I will frequently give short term assignments in class (reading or writing due the following session) that may not appear on your syllabus or course blog.  Therefore, at the beginning of the semester, identify a classmate whom you can contact to find out what you’ve missed in the event of an absence, and exchange contact information with him/her.  

Preparedness: It is your responsibility to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings.   Please come to class either with a hard copy of the assigned text or the ability to access it electronically. Additionally, you should come to each class with a pen and paper, prepared to complete in-class writing assignments. 

Participation:  This class cannot succeed without your participation.  I hope you will feel comfortable adding your voice to our classroom conversations on a regular basis.   Expect that you will periodically be asked to share your writing with the group and to offer feedback on your classmates’ writing.  Keep the Golden Rule in mind, and treat your classmates’ work with the same respect and consideration you’d like your own writing to receive.  We will undoubtedly be discussing sensitive issues in class; it’s important that we all commit to creating an open-minded, respectful space in our classroom community, so that we can all feel comfortable participating.

Technology:  I understand that some of you may choose to use laptops or other devices to take notes or to access assigned texts in class.  However, there is absolutely no texting, no cell phone usage, and no extra-curricular internet use during class time.  If you fail to adhere to this policy, you will be asked to leave the room, and you will be considered absent for that session.

Housekeeping:  You are welcome to eat lunch in the classroom before our session begins, but once class starts, please limit yourself to beverages!  Be sure to take any trash with you when class is finished.  Should you need to leave the room during class for any reason, please try to minimize the disruption caused by your leaving and reentering the room.  If you take advantage of this “open door” policy (by taking a bathroom break during every class, for example), we will reevaluate and adjust the policy accordingly.

Blog: We will be making ample use of our class blog.  I will upload all handouts and assignments to the site.  We will  also be using the blog to share and comment on outside sources related to our theme.  You have been added as a co-author of this site; I hope you will use the platform to share ideas and resources.  If you have thoughts about how we might make better use of this or other technology, please let me know.

Essays:  Your formal essays and other written assignments will be submitted electronically using Google Docs.  I will be reading and commenting on your work electronically.   Please be sure that you can access Google Docs.  

Academic Integrity:  Plagiarism and cheating are serious academic offenses and will not be tolerated.  Plagiarism means presenting another author’s words or ideas without crediting them to their source.  When you include another author’s words in your work, whether from a printed source, from the internet, or from a live presentation, those words must appear in quotation marks and be properly cited.  When you include another person’s ideas in your work, you must indicate where you found those ideas, even if you are paraphrasing rather than quoting them.  Similarly, submitting work that has been generated by ChatGPT or another AI platform without identifying its source is also a form of academic dishonesty.   If you have any questions at all about what constitutes plagiarism, please consult me.  Any work submitted for this course that has been plagiarized will receive a failing grade and be reported to the Dean.    

Cheating is also a serious academic offense.   Examples of cheating include, but are not limited to: submitting essays or portions of essays written by other people, including friends and family; collaborating on an assignment without the explicit permission of the instructor; submitting an essay written for one course to another course without the explicit permission of both instructors; submitting work as one’s own that has been purchased or copied from a paper preparation service or website.  All work submitted in this course must be entirely your own!

Accommodations Policy: Baruch College is committed to making individuals with disabilities full participants in its programs, services, and activities through compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Individuals with disabilities have a right to request accommodations.  Like so many things this fall, the need for accommodations and the process for arranging them have been altered by COVID-19 and the safety protocols currently in place. Students with disabilities who may need some accommodation in order to fully participate in this class should contact Student Disability Services as soon as possible at disability.services@baruch.cuny.edu or call 646/312-4590.

If you require any special assistance or accommodation, regardless of whether or not you have been in touch with Student Disability Services, please let me know as soon as possible, so that we can discuss how best to help you be comfortable and successful in our course.

Writing Center:  I will always be available to work with you on developing and executing ideas for your essays, reviewing writing mechanics, and revising and refining your work.  For additional support, you are encouraged to visit the Baruch College Writing Center in VC 8-185.  You can call 646-312-4012 to make an appointment or schedule an appointment at https://bc.mywconline.com.

Grading:  Grading for this course will happen in a somewhat non-traditional way.   Over the course of the semester, I will be keeping track of your attendance, class preparation and participation, and homework and in-class assignments, and I will be giving you detailed feedback on your written work. However, I will not be assigning grades to your essays or other work. At the end of the semester, as part of a broader process of reflection, you and I will agree on a final grade for the course that reflects your effort, learning, and overall performance over the course of the semester.

In order to pass English 2100, you MUST complete all four of the Major Assignments (Personal Narrative, Analytical Essay, Research Project, and Presentation).

I am embracing this approach in an effort to de-emphasize grades and keep our focus where it belongs – on learning.  You will be my partners in this effort. This approach (sometimes called “ungrading”) doesn’t mean that this course will be “easy” or that you don’t need to take it seriously, but it does mean that you have full control over the grade you will earn in this course.  Your grade will reflect the seriousness and attention you give to the course, including factors like attendance, participation, and consistency and quality of effort.   Please feel free to reach out with any questions you have about this policy or the thinking behind it. I do not want this policy to add to your stress; if you feel anxious about how you are doing in the class, you can always reach out to me to discuss your progress!  You will also have an opportunity to assess your work for the class in a mid-semester reflection; this will give you a chance to check in and plan for any “course corrections” you might want to make during the second half of the semester to achieve your goals for the course.

If you are curious about the research behind this policy, you might be interested in the following sources: