Instructor: Madison Priest                            Office: VC 7-290E

Class Time: T/Th, 2:55-4:15 PM                 Office Hours: Th 1:30-2:30 or by appt.

Conference Time: T/Th 4:15 – 4:35          Email:

Classroom: 17 Lex A-303                               Website:


Required texts

  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner (2004). Available on Amazon.
  • Larsen, Nella. Quicksand. Dover Publications (2006). Available on Amazon.
  • The rest of the texts will be available on the course website under the “Readings” tab. The password is “mindyourmanners”.

Course Description

Every part of our lives in common is governed by a set of unacknowledged and acknowledged rules. More often that not, these rules restrict the way we interact with other people: You shouldn’t break up with someone via text; you should avoid making eye contact in the subway; No cell phones at the table. It’s easy to chafe against these strictures, and yet not knowing the rules can be even worse. You haven’t been told to send a thank you note after an interview, and as a result you aren’t offered the summer internship you wanted; or you do break up with someone via text, and his/her friends retaliate by spreading rumors (true ones, which your jilted ex knows because you dated for six months) around the school. What’s more, while it’s tempting to relegate what we’ll loosely call “manners” to the realm of advice columnists and bored housewives, these rules are often ways to deny very real access and power to certain groups. For instance, African American men didn’t get the right to vote until 1870, but literacy tests and poll taxes kept them many of them from voting for nearly a hundred years after. Women didn’t get the vote until 1920, and even then many were expected to vote their husband’s or father’s conscience, not their own. Rules and manners have been for centuries a language of power and exclusion, with repercussions for those who do not obey them ranging from brief social sanction and mockery to ostracism and even death. In this course, we will explore the tacit and explicit rules that govern not only our reading and writing, but also the way we exist in the world. We will focus our inquiry on two time periods—what we’ll roughly call Modernism and the present day—taking the opportunity to think deeply about how we and the characters we will study interact with and struggle against societal strictures.


Learning Goals for 2100 and 2150: After completing ENG 2100 and 2150, students should be able to:

  • identify the key ideas and techniques used in a variety of articles, essays, and literary works, and subject these works to logical analysis;
  • undertake writing as a process requiring the outlining of ideas, multiple drafting, and revision of complete essays;
  • create an original and cogent thesis and develop an imaginative argument in unified and coherent paragraphs;
  • observe sentence boundaries, punctuate correctly, vary sentence structures, and employ the conventions of standard English grammar and usage;
  • engage with different genres of writing, including the short story, the novel, the essay, poetry, and drama, and comprehend and use appropriate vocabulary in interpreting the material by paying close attention to language and style;
  • identify, analyze, and synthesize multiple sources as support for written arguments;
  • gauge the value of different strategies for argumentation, including the use of counter-arguments;
  • produce researched essays that incorporate sources and that effectively evaluate multiple (and even conflicting) points of view;
  • avoid plagiarism and understand why it is unacceptable, at the same time learning how to appropriately document your research and ideas;
  • imagine the needs of one’s reader when writing in different rhetorical modes and social contexts and take audience and occasion into account when writing.


Course Requirements:

Class Participation: 15%

This grade will be based upon my assessment of the student’s general responsiveness in class, his or her preparation for and participation in student-led discussions, as well as his or her effort in a few low-stakes writing assignments throughout the semester. In the interest of transparency, here is a rubric of sorts for this grade:

  • We will have 24 classes that aren’t draft workshops, after each of which you will be assigned a grade from 0 to 3. Students are expected to arrive on time, complete the reading(s), and bring all relevant materials to class. These are the baseline requirements; any student who does not meet them will be awarded a 0 for the day. Students who are prepared for class, participate thoughtfully in small groups or in the larger discussion, and generally add to the classroom environment will be awarded a 3. This will account for 75% ((24 classes+1 freebie) x 3 points) of your participation grade.
  • 15% of your grade will be based on the student-led discussion you lead. You’ll be graded on a scale of 1 to 5 on each of the following: your opening statement, your discussion questions, and your facilitation of the discussion that emerges.
  • 10% of your grade will be based on your preparation for the student-led discussions you don’t lead. The grading here is simple: if you’re prepared, you get a 1; if not, you get a 0.

Draft Workshops: 5%

Students are expected to meet all draft workshop deadlines and to critique others’ work in a constructive and respectful manner. There will be four draft workshops, so if you are not prepared or absent for any one, you will be deducted 25% of this grade.

Papers: 80%

  • Paper 1 (Personal) – 3-4 pp: 10%
  • Paper 2 (Comparative Analysis) – 5-7 pp: 20%
  • Paper 3 (Close Reading) –5-7 pp: 20%      
  • Paper 4 (Research) –10-12 pp: 30%


Course Policies:

Attendance Policy: Much of the learning in this course happens through your engagement with me and your peers in class via class discussion and group interaction. Your course projects will be sequential and in-class activities will build toward larger assignments. Class time will be highly interactive, requiring frequent participation, discussion, in-class composing, and responding to your classmates’ work. For this reason, I expect you to attend all class meetings. Having established this policy, note that you can miss class up to two times, no questions asked. Only religious holidays constitute excused absences; beyond that I do not have excused or unexcused absences.

  • If you have more than two absences, your final course grade will be lowered by a third of a letter grade for each additional absence (for example, a B+ becomes a B if you are absent three times and a B- if you are absent four times)—and your grade likely will be otherwise affected simply because of the activities and work you’ll miss.
  • If you miss class more than four times, you must arrange to meet with me privately and, according to Baruch College policy, you will be subject to a WU grade, which counts as an F on your transcript and your GPA.

Conferences: Two student conferences will be scheduled for the last twenty minutes of every class period. Attendance is mandatory. These do not require any advanced preparation.

Paper Submission and Formatting: All papers should be formatted according to MLA guidelines and in keeping with the assigned length; papers that fail to meet these requirements (i.e. are improperly formatted and/or too short/too long) will not be accepted for credit. Papers should be submitted as a word document or PDF to by the beginning of class on the day it is due. The class ID for is 9437593 and the password is “manners.”

Rewrites: If you are not satisfied with the grade you receive on Paper 1, Paper 2 and/or Paper 3, you may choose to rewrite it for a half-grade replacement. In other words, the original grade and the rewrite grade will be averaged to determine the final grade. In the unlikely event that the rewrite grade is lower than the original grade, the original grade will stand. Please note that late penalties will be carried over to rewrites and that late rewrites will not be accepted. In order to be eligible to rewrite your paper, you must 1) speak with me in person about your plans for revising your paper and 2) italicize all changes unless your are changing more than 75% of the paper has been changed. Re-writes are due to at midnight one week after the paper is returned to you.

Rule-breaking Proviso: If, for one reason or another, you would like to ignore or change the requirements for one of the essays, you may do so as long as you attach an explanatory cover letter of at least 300 words. Your cover letter should include your reasons for adopting the new set of requirements (in other words, what it adds to your essay), what those requirements are, and whether you think the change should be applied just to your essay or to the assignment as a whole. Keep in minded that in this case your grade will be based in part on your ability to convince me that the change(s) you made is/are appropriate.

Late Paper Policy: Students are expected to meet all assigned deadlines except in cases of emergency (which, as for excused absences, must be documented and requested as soon as possible in advance of the deadline). Emergency extensions do not include foreseeable conflicts (religious holidays, unavoidable travel) for which the student may reasonably plan ahead. Late papers will be reduced by 1/3 of a letter grade for each day (24 hour period) that passes after the deadline before the paper is received; that penalty will increase to 2/3 of a grade per 24 hours for the second and subsequent late papers. No papers will be accepted for credit more than ten days after the given deadline.

Additional Writing Resources at Baruch (The Writing Center and SACC): As a writer you’ll want to seek feedback from many different readers. Asking for and receiving feedback does not mean you’re a weak writer; it means that you’re smart enough to know that your writing can always be improved. To supplement the feedback you’ll get in this classroom, I encourage you to solicit feedback from your peers at Baruch at the Student Academic Consulting Center and from the professional writing consultants (some of whom also teaching first-year writing courses) at The Writing Center. The Writing Center is a particularly good resource for this class, as it offers free, one-to-one (in-person and online) and small-group workshop writing support. The Center’s consultants will work with you on your writing and English language skills, and they can be helpful at any step in the writing process.

Disability accommodation: Baruch College 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 College 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 special assistance or 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 three weeks of the semester. I encourage persons with disabilities or particular needs that impact course performance to meet with me to co-design accommodations.

Dropping and Withdrawal: If you feel you must drop or withdraw from this course, you must do so by the dates on the academic calendar. Merely ceasing to attend class is not the same as dropping or withdrawing; dropping and withdrawing are separate, formal administrative procedures. Dropping is officially removing the course from your schedule within the first three weeks of class with no grade of W appearing on your transcript; withdrawing is officially removing the course from your schedule any time between weeks 3 and 11, and as a result, receiving a permanent “W” on your transcript for the course. If you’re having difficulty in the class for any reason, I encourage you to let me know before dropping or withdrawing.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a serious offense that, if done knowingly and depending on the severity and other factors, can result in a failing grade (or worse) and a mark on your permanent academic record. I’ll expect you to compose your projects ethically, meaning that if you use the work of others you cite that work, and that all work in this course is original, composed for the first time for this course, and is entirely your own, to the degree that anything we write is entirely our own. All students enrolled at Baruch are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty, as defined in the Baruch Student Handbook. Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses. The following definitions are based on the College’s Academic Honesty website:

Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writing as your own, such as:

  • Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes (a functional limit is four or more words taken from the work of another)
  • Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging them
  • Using information that is not considered common knowledge without acknowledging the source

If you ever have any questions or concerns about plagiarism, please ask me. You can also check out the online plagiarism tutorial prepared by members of the Newman Library faculty.


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