Course Description

In this course, we will explore the power of words—through reading, watching, listening, and, most importantly, through writing. Much like driving a car or learning to play an instrument, there is only so much you can learn about how to write well before you begin hands-on practice. As Russian playwright and story writer Anton Chekov once wrote in a letter to a friend, “writing is the result of sticking one’s nose into it and having nowhere else to go.” This course is designed to allow for many opportunities to practice, and progress, with writing.

We will analyze works in a variety of genres, from creative nonfiction to documentary film to poetry. The four major writing assignments will focus on different aspects of composition, from close reading to personal reflection to research-based argumentation.

In addition, grammar and style will be a topic of interest to us as we proceed, so that every student leaves this course with a firmer handle on how to employ the tools of the English language to most clearly express their ideas.


  • This is a Zero Textbook Cost Course. All required readings will be posted on the course site or can be found by following links posted on the site.
  • Please utilize this website for MLA citation and formatting guidelines: The Online Writing Lab from Purdue University

Course Objectives

  • Critically analyze texts in a variety of genres: Analyze and interpret key ideas in various discursive genres (e.g. academic and non-academic essays, news articles, speeches, and documentaries), with careful attention to the role of rhetorical conventions such as style, tropes, genre, audience, and purpose.
  • Compose within academic writing contexts: Apply rhetorical knowledge in your own composing using conventions appropriate for academic writing contexts.
  • Identify and engage with credible sources and multiple perspectives in your writing: 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.


*All essays should be double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1” margins on the left and right.*

  1. Creative Nonfiction Essay or Literacy Narrative
    • 1,500-1,800 words / ~ 5-6 double- spaced pages
    • 20% of the course grade
  2. Rhetorical or Critical Analysis Essay
    • 1,800-2,100 words / ~ 6-7 double- spaced pages
    • 25% of the course grade
    • Close reading; could be a comparison of two texts or genres with a similar focus
  3. Research-Based Argument Essay
    • 2,400 words / ~ 8 double-spaced pages
    • 30% of the course grade
  4. Weekly Reading/Writing + Class Participation
    • Weekly written responses to course readings + engagement with class discussion board
    • 25% of the course grade
    • Low-stakes writing done before class on Blogs@Baruch

Grade Scale

This course follows the college-wide grading scale posted on the College website:

A = 93 to 100 B = 83 to 86 C = 73 to 76 D = 60 to 66
A- =90 to 92 B- = 80 to 82 C- = 70 to 72 F = below 60
B+ = 87 to 89 C+ = 77 to 79 D+ = 67 to 69


Please always be respectful to your classmates when communicating either on video chat or in writing. Do not eat during synchronous class sessions. Raise your hand if you need to ask a question.

Late Assignments

Late assignments will be subject to a reduction in grade of 1 letter grade for every class session they are late. If you foresee a problem, speak to me well in advance of the due date.

Accessible Participation

Baruch has a continuing commitment to providing reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. 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

For additional information see:

  Writing Center

The Writing Center offers free, one-to-one 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: or log on to their website,, to learn more.

*If you visit the writing center at any stage in the process of developing any of the three major essays, your grade will automatically be raised a step (a B becomes a B+, or a B+ becomes an A- for example). You may visit them for each and every essay if you wish, and you will receive this benefit each time.*

  What if I’m late to class or leave early?

  •  If you arrive to class late more than twice it will count as an absence. The same will hold true if you leave class early more than twice. If you do arrive late to class, please check with someone nearby to see what you may have missed.

What if I need to drop the course?

If you feel you must drop or withdraw from this course, you must do so by the dates on the Baruch College 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 withdrawing.

 Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Do not plagiarize or cheat.

As described on Baruch’s 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

Tutorial on plagiarism:

Baruch College’s academic integrity policy:

Further resources:

For help with editing and citations, I recommend Purdue Owl.

For grammar questions, I suggest the Grammarly blog: