Alex E. Blazer Course Site Assignments Description
Materials Assignments Policies Schedule



English 110: First-Year English Composition

Autumn 1997, T/R 1:30-3:18; Aviation Building 107


Instructor: Alex E. Blazer Office: 525 Denney Hall
Mailbox: 421 Denney Hall Office Hours: T/R: 3:30-5:00
Email: Office Phone: 292-1790
Web: Departmental Phone: 292-6065


Course Description


This course focuses on multiple, divergent—yet always convergent—conceptions of literacy, personal, academic, public, and compositional. Our primary goal is to come to know what literacy is. Though no single definition exists, I have a strong suspicion that any understanding demands critical thinking, active reading, and reflective writing. Reading does not exist without writing; understanding does not exist without practice. Therefore, to read we must write, and vice versa. To that end we will do much reading in Writing Lives—the course reader—and Rethinking Writing—the course rhetoric. We will respond to the reading with informal written response and class discussion. To more fully develop our thinking on the subjects, we will engage in formal writing. And finally, so that we may re-view and re-envision our own writing, we will engage in peer response and substantive revision.


Course Materials


Garnes et al., eds: Writing Lives

Hacker: A Pocket Style Manual

Podis and Podis: Rethinking Writing


Assigments and Grade Distribution


Grades are based upon how well you fulfill the expectations of each assignment, which in turn are related to the goals of the class. If you don't understand what is required or being asked of you, please talk with me about it. The course's grade distribution follows:


Essay 1: 20%

Essay 2: 20%

Essay 3: 20%

Essay 4: 10%

Informal Writing: 15%

Peer/Participation: 15%



Approximately every class period you will react in informal writing to readings or issues. These short, three-fourth to one (¾-1) page assignments, are designed to commence your thinking toward the formal papers. If you put effort into the work and turn it in on time at the beginning of class, you'll get full credit (approximately two [2] percentage points of the fifteen [15] percentage points in the informal writing grade); if you don't, you won't. For every informal writing assignment you don't turn in, you will lose one-half (½) of a letter grade from the cumulative informal writing grade.


These are three-fourth to one (¾-1) page legible, handwritten exercises done in response to questions posed in class.


The same length as in-class writing assignments, these exercises—preferably word-processed or at least extremely legible—require you to react to assigned readings in order to prepare for the next class.


You will write four (4) formal papers, the first three between four and six (4-6) pages relating, respectively, to personal, academic, and public literacies and the last three to four (3-4) page essay reflecting on your course work and progress.

Due Dates

Turn all required drafts (i.e., those designated as due on the syllabus) in on time at the beginning of class. Your peers and I will be reviewing your work in order to give you feedback the next class period. If you don't supply us with your paper, we can't prepare our responses. I will mark down all drafts (that's both the first and second drafts) one (1) letter grade for each day (day, not class period) that they are late. Turning in Essay Four after 4 P.M. on Monday, December 8 will result in an automatic E (zero, zip, nada) for that assignment, no questions asked. As this is a composition course in which essay writing is crucial to evaluation and assessment, failing to turn in a formal writing assignment—Essay One, Two, Three, or Four—at all (that is, by 4 P.M., Thursday, December 11) will result in an E for the entire course.


All drafts (including the first) of your essays should be stapled (not paper clipped), double-spaced (except for your name, class, and so on), and fully marginalized with one inch (1") margins. The 12 point font should be Courier, Times/Roman, or similarly appropriate. Instead of using title pages, commence your paper in single-space like this


  Your Name Essay Number
  English 110 Draft Number
  Alex E. Blazer  
  The Date  



After skipping one line begin your paper in double-spaced. On subsequent pages your last name and page number should appear on the upper right corner as a header positioned approximately one-half inch (½") from the top margin. In order to maintain the one inch (1") top margin border, the body of text should start a bit less than one-half inch (½") from the page header. Refer to the top of this page as an example of margin format. I will not accept papers that do not meet this format. You will have until the end of my office hours (5 P.M.) to make appropriate changes and hand the paper in again in order that it not be considered one (1) day late and penalized one (1) letter grade.


Essays 1, 2, and 3 must be between four (4) and six (6) pages long. On the first draft of a paper, if the text of your draft does not extend down at least one-fourth (¼) of the fourth page, you must compose in that unused space several typed (not spur of the moment), substantive, reflective questions and concerns about where your paper is going and where it could go. Second drafts, have less lee-way. I will not accept Draft 2 unless its textual length comes within at least four (4) or five (5) lines of the bottom of page four (4). I will penalize drafts one-half (½) a letter grade if they do not meet these expectations. If you have a question as to whether or not your paper meets the page length or format requirements (for format, see below), I strongly urge you to contact me before you print it. Essay 4, which only requires one draft, must be between three (3) and four (4) pages. Finally, I know padding when I see it. The quantity that I ask for must constitute quality and not page-lengthening fluff. Your papers should constitute precise critical thinking and not feather-filled, sleepy-time pillows.


The First-Year Writing Program and I encourage revision, the continual process of (re)writing. To that end, I will not grade first drafts. But this does not mean that you should not strive to produce the most developed, thoughtful, and polished paper you can because you will be showing all essays to your peer group and me. Your peers and, for the first essay, I will respond to and evaluate them. You then have the opportunity to (let's not mince words, you must if you desire a good grade) improve your papers with substantive changes based on our critical feedback in a second draft due one week after the first. Even an "A" paper can be improved; any writer can make her work better. The degree of revision depends upon both the response to your paper and your evaluation of those responses. However, be aware that grammatical correction does not constitute revision, although it is expected. This second draft will receive a grade. But, even the second draft/grade is not final. You can, if you so choose, utilize all of the responses to your first two drafts in order to (re)envision a third and, for the time-constrained purposes of this class, final revision. All previous drafts must accompany revised drafts. You can turn these papers in to me at your leisure, but no later than Monday, December 8, the same day that you must hand in Essay Four. I will not access any revisions received after this date.


Course Policies



At least once in the quarter, we will have an individual conference to talk about your work. As you will sign up for a time when we can meet, this will be considered a class meeting. Attendance will be mandatory and the attendance policy will be in effect. Though no more individual conferences are required, I encourage you to see me during my office hours to talk about your progress in the course.


Don't do it. Using someone else's words, ideas, or work without proper citation and representing them as your own is the most serious of academic offenses. Please note the information on plagiarism in Hacker's A Pocket Style Manual (91-5) and the additional policy sheet I've provided. Read them carefully and be sure to ask any questions you might have. All cases of suspected plagiarism will be reported to the Committee on Academic Misconduct.

Late Assignments

All assignments are due at the beginning of class. I do not tolerate late work. If you've forgotten, refer to the above sections on informal and formal writing assignments for the relationship between late work and grade deductions. If you foresee a problem with turning in an assignment, especially a first draft which needs to undergo peer response, on time, see me about it before it's due.


Because much of our work in this class is discursive and peer-responsive, unexcused absences will not be tolerated. Family emergences, illness/injury with doctor's note, jury duty, athletic or other collegiate competition, religious holidays, and so forth constitute excused absences (You don't need a doctor's note for an illness if you contact me before class). One-third () of a letter will be deducted from your final grade for every unexcused absence beyond two (2). (For example, a B+ will be lowered to a B.) Peer response days are especially critical. If you miss one (1) of these days without providing an excuse, your peer/participation grade will be marked E. Miss another, and I will deduct one (1) letter grade from that particular essay who peer response you missed. Five (5) unexcused absences will result in your failure of the course. I do not tolerate tardiness either. Two (2) tardies equals one (1) unexcused absence (Note, therefore, that ten (10) tardies results in your failure of the course). If you know in advance that you have to miss or arrive late to a class, please notify me before that class.


On the Monday after finals week, I will make available any work not yet returned to you (including Essay Four and any revisions and drafts of the previous essays). Contact me to make an appointment to pick up your work. Otherwise, I will keep your work for two quarters, during which time you can pick it up. If you do not retrieve it, I will discard it.

Writing Center

The staff of the Writing Center serve as readers and responders to writing for English 110 and other university disciplines. Besides giving feedback, these English graduate students can help with other writing issues such as topic development, organization, coherence, clarity, and self-editing. To make an appointment, call 292-5607 or stop by 338 Denney Hall M/W 8:30-5:30, T/R 8:30-7:30, and F 8:30-1:30.

First-Year Writing Ombud

The Ombud is a resource for students and teachers of English 110. If you have any concerns about the course but feel you cannot speak with me, please feel free to consult with the Ombud. All conversations are confidential.

Ombud: Sandee McGlaun Office Phone: 292-5778
Office: Denney Hall 363 Email:
Office Hours: M/W 1-5; T/R 8:30-12:30

Office of Disability Services

If you have any specific needs or concerns, please feel free to discuss the issue with me during office hours. Students with disabilities who need accommodations should be registered at the Office for Disability Services (292-3307).

Denney 525

Once again, I welcome you to come and see me during my office hours. I encourage you to talk with me about your writing, the class, or anything else you may be concerned with.


Course Schedule


RW = Rethinking Writing; WL = Writing Lives

Like thought, this schedule is subject to change.


Week 1
Introductions, Previews
Week 2

WL: O'Brien, "The Things They Carried" (50-62)

Eigner, On Dumpster Diving" (63-74)

RW: Chapter 1 (1-23)

Due: Response: O'Brien Exploration 1 and/or Eigner Writing before Reading


WL: Mellix, "From Outside, In" (75-85)

Torgovnick, "On Being White, Female, and Born in Bensonhurst" (109-20)

RW: Chapter 1 (23-39)

Essay 1 Prompt

Due: Response: RW Exercise on page 29

Week 3

WL: Douglass, Ch7 from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (103-8)

Scribner, "Literacy in Three Metaphors" (34-49)

RW: Chapter 2 (40-61)

Due: Essay 1, First Draft

Due: Essay 1 Peer Response
Week 4

WL: Hughes, "Theme for English B" (140-1)

Moraga, "It's the Poverty" (192-4)

Heath, "The Fourth Vision: Literate Language at Work" (142-61)

Eliot, "Gerontion" (handout)

RW: Chapter 2 (62-73)

Due: Essay 1, Second Draft


WL: Hughes, Moraga, and Eliot continued

RW: Chapter 3 (74-95)

Due: Response: WL Stafford Explorations 1 and 4

Week 5

WL: Stafford, "Final Exam: American Renaissance" (207-8)

Freire, "The Banking Concept of Education" (209-22)

Levine, "M. Degas Teaches Art & Science at Durfee Intermediate School" (246-7)

RW: Chapter 3 (95-112)

Due: Response: WL Anyon Explorations 5 and 6

Essay 2 Prompt


WL: Anyon, "Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work" (248-67)

RW: Chapter 4 (113-29)

Due: Response: WL Zitkala-Sa Writing before Reading

Week 6

WL: Zitkala-Sa, From The School Days of an Indian Girl (268-81)

Barber, "America Skips School" (282-93)

RW: Chapter 4 (129-46)

Due: Essay 2, First Draft


WL: Adatto, "The Incredible Shrinking Sound Bite" (357-66)

Katz, "Rock, Rap, and Movies Bring You the News" (367-77)

Due: Essay 2 Peer Response

Week 7

WL: Sizer, "Public Literacy: Puzzlements of a High School Watcher" (323-7)

Charles, "Always Real: Coke Chillin' in The Hood" (352-6)

RW: Chapter 5 (147-79)

Video: South Park

Due: Essay 2, Second Draft


WL: Solomon, "Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising" (328-41)

Zinn, "Move Over, Boomers: The Busters Are Here—and They're Angry" (342-51)

RW: Chapter 6 (180-198)

Essay 3 Prompt

Week 8
No Class: Veteran's Day

Wexner Center: Surrealism Tour

***meet at Film/Video Theater at 1:30PM

Week 9

WL: Ventura, "Report from El Dorado" (385-97)

Guterson, "Enclosed. Enclyclopedic. Endured.: "One Week at the Mall of America" (398-412)

Ferlinghetti, "Director of Alienation" (handout)

RW: Chapters 6-7 (198-229)

Due: Response: Ventura Explorations 1 and 2

Due: Response: Guterson Exploration 1


WL: Kantrowitz, "Men, Women, and Computers" (441-48)

Tannen, "Gender Gap in Cyberspace" (449-52)

RW: Chapter 8 (256-73)

Due: Essay 3 First Draft

Week 10
Due: Essay 3 Peer Response
No Class: Thanksgiving
Week 11

WL: Molloy, From John T. Molloy's New Dress for Success (416-30)

RW: Chapter 9 (275-320)

Essay 4 Prompt

Due: Essay 3 Second Draft

Conclusions, Evaluations

Due: Essay 4

Due: Any Further Revised Essays (with all numbered and evaluated drafts)