English 101 Syllabus

English 101: Beginning College Writing
CSU Fullerton
Spring 2017 Syllabus

Instructor: Jesse La Tour
Office: LH 516
Office Hours: TR 3:00-3:45pm or by appointment


Writing is a skill acquired by consistent practice, feedback, and revision. The ability to read and understand challenging texts, and the ability to organize and compose your thoughts into a coherent and convincing essay, are crucial for success in college. The specific focus of this class is to help you develop your skills as an academic writer. This is not a lecture class. Most classes will consist of discussion of readings and writing activities. Thus, what you get out of this class will depend largely upon what you put into it.  It’s my hope that, upon completion of this class, you feel more confident as a writer of academic essays, and you will have discovered, perhaps for the first time, that you have a voice and things to say.  

A grade of “C” (2.0) or better is required to meet this General Education requirement. A grade of “C-” (1.7) or below will not satisfy this General Education requirement.

Required Text:

The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings and Handbook by Richard Bullock and Maureen Daly Goggin.
Textbook available at The Little Professor Bookstore
725 N Placentia Ave, Fullerton, CA 92831

Other Materials:

-Mead comppsition book
-Pens, pencils, paper

Student Learning Outcomes:

Students completing this course will be able to:

-Employ appropriate methods of development for sustained expository essays.

-Use sufficient, relevant information from outside sources to develop their essays

-Integrate information and ideas from sources effectively in their own writing

-Conform to the conventions of the MLA documentation system

Course Work

Journals:  Throughout the semester, you will write ten 400-word, double-spaced typed journals.  In your journals, you must write your reactions and responses to the week’s assigned readings.  You may also connect the readings to a writing assignment you are working on.  Journals are meant to help you prepare for class discussion, and to practice writing in a more informal way.  Journals are usually due on the first class meeting of every week.

Out of Class Essays: Must include peer review forms and one copy of a rough draft. Must be four FULL pages, typed, double-spaced, in MLA format. We will discuss essays more in class.

In-Class Essays: Written in class in a large blue book.

Participation: Includes class discussion, ACTIVE and ENTHUSIASTIC participation in class activities, peer reviews, attendance at conferences, etc. When you are in class, I want you to be here, fully engaged and ready to work. What a wonderful opportunity you have to be in college. Take advantage of it. Learn everything you can learn.

Grading Policy

Essay #1—100pts
Essay #2—100 pts
Essay #3—100pts
Essay #4--100pts
In-Class Essay #1--100pts



Late Work/Make-Up Policy

Essays turned in late will be dropped ten points for each class period they are late.  I do not accept late journals.


Because revision is such an important part of the writing process, you may revise two out-of class essays for a higher grade. However, revisions must demonstrate major re-thinking of ideas, not just correction of grammar errors. We will discuss revision more in class.

Attendance and Tardy Policy

You may miss three class periods without penalty. Each subsequent (unexcused) absence will negatively affect your grade.  If you are more than 15 minutes late to class, it counts as an absence.  If you are regularly tardy, it will affect your attendance points.

Academic Honesty Policy

Plagiarism means taking someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Whenever you use someone else’s words or ideas, you must cite them properly. We will discuss in class how to properly cite sources using MLA format. Any students caught plagiarizing or cheating in any way will be dealt with according to university policies. This means that you will receive a "0" on the assignment, and Student Affairs will be notified.

Wait Time For Late Instructors

If, due to unforeseen emergencies, the instructor does not arrive at the scheduled start time for class, students are to remain in class for fifteen minutes (unless otherwise notified by the division). If they do not receive notification to wait for their instructor to arrive, after fifteen minutes the students may leave with no penalty for absence or assigned work due for that class meeting.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Statement

We, as an education community, are committed to providing educational accommodations for students with disabilities upon the timely request by the student to the instructor. Verification of the disability must also be provided. The Disability Support Services office functions as a resource for students and faculty in the determination and provision of educational accommodations.

Emergency Response Statement

Take note of the safety features in and around the classroom. Also, please study the posted evacuation routes. The most direct route of egress may not be the safest. Running out of the building during earthquakes may be dangerous. During strong earthquakes, it is recommended to duck, cover, and hold until the quaking stops. Follow the guidance of your instructor. Your cooperation during emergencies can minimize the possibility of injury to yourself and others.

Classroom Etiquette

As a courtesy to your classmates and to me, I ask that you refrain from using electronic devices during class. This includes cell phones, ipods, etc. Students caught texting during class will be warned once, and then asked to leave the class.

Calendar (Subject to change)…

Week 1: Introductions (1/23-1/27)

Diagnostic Essay.
Get textbook.
Read "Writing In Academic Contexts" (p. 3-9), and "Memoirs" (p. 216-223)

Week 2: (1/30-2/3): Writing a Memoir

Journal #1 due Tuesday.
Read "Reading In Academic Contexts" (p. 10-31), "Us and Them" by David Sedaris (p. 849-856), and "My Father Was a Writer" by Andre Dubus III (p. 857-865)

Week 3: (2/6-2/10): Writing a Memoir

Journal #2 Due Tuesday.
Assign and discuss Essay #1
Read "Describing" (p. 399-407), "Dialogue" (p. 408-413), and "Narrating" (p. 419-427), "11187-424" by Piper Kerman (p. 866-875), and "The Myth of the Latin Woman" by Judith Ortiz Cofer (p. 876-883)

Week 4: (2/13-2/17): Writing a Memoir

Journal #3 Due Tuesday. 
Essay #1 Rough Draft due Thursday--at least three pages (Peer Review)
Read "Summarizing and Responding: Where Reading Meets Writing" (33-44), and "Analyzing Texts" (p. 94-128)

Week 5: (2/20-2/24): Analyzing a Text

Journal #4 due  Tuesday.
Essay #1 final draft due Thursday--four FULL pages (Include Rough Draft and Peer Review)
Read "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History" by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (p. 664-674), and "Changing the Face of Poverty" by Diana George (p. 675-686)

Week 6: (2/27-3/3): Analyzing a Text

Journal #5 due Tuesday.
Assign and discuss Essay #2
Read "Beginning and Ending" (p. 331-343), "Weirdly Popular" by Sasha Frere-Jones (p. 687-692), and "A Spirit Reborn" by William Safire (p. 693-696)

Week 7: (3/6-3/10): Analyzing a Text

Journal #6 due Tuesday.
Rough Draft of Essay #2 due Thursday--at least three pages (Peer Review)
Read handout from "World on Film" by Martha P. Nochimson

Week 8: (3/13-3/17): Analyzing a Film

Journal #7 due Tuesday.
Final Draft of Essay #2 due Thursday--four FULL pages (Include rough draft and peer reviews)
Begin Viewing film
Find one article on the film, read it, and write your next journal on it.

Week 9: (3/20-3/24): Analyzing a Film (In-Class Essay #1)

Journal #8 due Tuesday.
Bring a large blue book, notes on the film, and any articles you found.
Read "Arguing a Position" (p. 156-182)

Week 10: (3/27-3/31): Spring Break!

No Class!

Week 11: (4/3-4/7): Arguing a Position

Journal #9 due Tuesday.
Assign and Discuss Essay #3
Read "Guiding Your Reader" (p. 344-349), "Arguing" (p. 355-373), "Should Gamers Be Prosecuted for Virtual Stealing" by Alex Weiss (p. 731-734), and "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" by Nicholas Carr (p. 735-749)

Week 12: (4/10-4/14): Arguing a Position

Journal #10 due Tuesday.

Read "Finding Sources" (p. 445-468), "Evaluating Sources" (p. 469-472), "Our Fear of Immigrants" by Jeremy Adam Smith (p. 750-758), and "Anti-Intellectualism: Why We Hate Smart Kids" by Grant Penrod (p. 759-763)

Week 13: (4/17-4/21): Arguing a Position

Essay #3 Rough Draft due Thursday--at least three pages (Peer Review)
Read "Writing a Literacy Narrative" (p. 73-93), "Synthesizing Ideas" (p. 473-477), "Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing" (p. 478-490)

Week 14: (4/24-4/28): Writing a Literacy Narrative

Essay #3 final draft due Thursday.
Read "Acknowledging Sources, Avoiding Plagiarism" (p. 491-495), "Documentation" (p. 496-499), "MLA Style" (p. 500-548)

Week 15: (5/1-5/5): Revisions

Work on Revising Essays.

Week 16: (5/8-5/12): Revisions

Work on Revising Essays

Week 16: (5/15-5/19): Finals Week

Revised Essays Due (please include graded essay)

Bring a large blue book, textbook, and composition book on the day of the final--Tuesday, May 16th at 5pm.

Essay Prompts

Essay #1: Memoir

We have read and discussed a number of memoir essays in class: “All Over but the Shoutin” by Rick Bragg, ”Us and Them" by David Sedaris, "My Father Was a Writer" by Andre Dubus III, "11187-424" by Piper Kerman, and "The Myth of the Latin Woman" by Judith Ortiz Cofer.  Memoirs focus on events and people and places from our past that are important to us.  We usually have two goals when we write a memoir: to capture an important moment and to convey something about its significance to us.  Key features of memoirs include 1.) a good story, usually with a conflict/resolution that makes us want to keep reading, 2.) Vivid details (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures) and dialogue to bring the story to life.  You want to “show” your reader what happened, and 3.) Clear significance, which reveals something important about what the incident means to you.  This is different from a “moral”—it’s more of an insight into how the event impacted your life or changed you in some way.  Your task for this first essay is to choose a significant incident from your past and write a detailed, compelling memoir in which you show the event’s significance.  For more information on writing memoirs, you may re-visit Chapter 18, “Memoirs” (p. 216-223), and also read carefully the sample memoir essays we’ve read and discussed.  You want to choose an event that had a deep, significant, and lasting impact on you life, and convey this to a reader in a well-developed essay.

Your essay must be at least four FULL pages, typed, double-spaced in Times New Roman font and MLA format. When you turn in your final draft, you must include one copy of a rough draft and your peer review sheets.

Essay #2: Analyzing a Text

The Norton Field Guide to Writing asserts: "We are constantly bombarded with texts: on the web, in print, on signs and billboards, even on our clothing.  Not only does text convey information but it also influences how and what we think.  We need to read, then, to understand not only what texts say but also how they say it and how they try to persuade or influence what we think."  A text is not limited to words in a book.  A text, in the academic sense, can be a photograph, an advertisement, a video game, a pop song--anything with audio and/or visual content that conveys a message.  Part of becoming a good critical thinker is developing your ability to critically analyze various texts, to understand both what they say and how they say it--so that we can make up our own minds, and not be easily manipulated to feel or think a certain way.  For your second essay, you will choose a text and provide an in-depth analysis of it.  A good textual analysis will explain both the content of the message and how that message is conveyed (through imagery, argument, or other means), ultimately arriving at a thesis about what the text means.  This thesis should not be the immediate (obvious) impression, but the result of careful analysis and reflection.  You want to "pick apart" the text, revealing its complexity, problems, and even fallacies.  You want to illuminate a text with your analysis, to give your reader serious food for thought.  Here are some of the types of texts you may choose to analyze in your essay:

1.) A famous text or slogan.  In her essay "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History," Laura Thatcher Ulrich analyzes the popular slogan "Well Behaved-Women Seldom Make History", comparing its original meaning to its more modern/popular usage.  In "Our Declaration," Danielle Allen analyzes part of The Declaration of Independence, ultimately arriving at insights that illuminate the whole text.  In "A Spirit Reborn," William Safire analyzes Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in light of the events of September 11, 2001.  Choose either a well-known slogan or a famous text and write your own careful analysis, with the goal of providing insight and context that the casual reader might not see.

2.) A video game. In his essay "Just One More Game...: Angry Birds, Farmville, and other Hyperaddictive Stupid Games," Sam Anderson takes a few very popular video games and shows their larger social/historical meaning.  Choose another video game and, through careful analysis of its messages, imagery, story, and sounds, try to illuminate the larger meaning of the game, a meaning which the average player may not realize.

3.) An advertisement. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements that urge us to buy things, to accept certain ideas, or to feel a certain way.  Seldom do we stop to analyze these ads and their methods.  Choose an advertisement (either print, television, or online), and analyze both the messages it is sending and how it is conveying these messages, ultimately arriving at larger insights about what the ad is really trying to do.  Examples of essays like this include Hannah Berry's "The Fashion Industry: Free to Be an Individual" and Diana George's "Changing the Face of Poverty."

4.) A pop song or music video.  Like advertisements, pop songs bombard us from the radio, internet, and television.  Also, like ads, we do not often stop to analyze the content and meaning of these songs.  Choose a current pop song and carefully analyze its messages and how it conveys these, paying attention to both lyrics, genre, and even video images.  In his essay "Weirdly Popular," Sasha Frere-Jones analyzes some of the songs and videos of Weird Al Yankovic, ultimately arriving at insights that are not readily apparent.  Your goal is to do the same for your chosen song or music video.

5.) A political advertisement, speech, or interview.  As we approach election season, we are presented with numerous advertisements, speeches, and videos urging us to vote (or not vote) for a certain candidate or ballot measure.  As critical thinkers, we ought to analyze these ads, speeches, and videos for their context, underlying assumptions, fallacies, and outright falsehoods.  Choose a political ad, speech, or interview and write an essay analyzing it, to determine its content, how it conveys this, its overall context, and whether it is truthful. 

Your essay must be four FULL pages, typed, double spaced in Times New Roman font and MLA format.

Essay #3: Arguing a Position 

Thus far, you have written three types of essays: a memoir, a textual analysis, and a film analysis.  For your next essay, you will be writing an argument essay, in which you pick a side of a controversial issue, and present convincing reasons and evidence to support your position.  It's also a good idea to acknowledge the opposing side, and try to refute it.  For this essay, you must use at least four research sources.  Wikipedia doesn't count as a research source.  You may choose one of the following prompts, each of which is based on an essay you read in The Norton Field Guide to Writing:

1.) In his essay "Should Gamers Be Prosecuted for Virtual Steeling?" Alex Weiss argues that "Video games are not work or investments for which people should be compensated; they are escapism."  In other words, gamers should no be prosecuted for virtual stealing.  Write an essay in which you explore one of the issues that emerging technologies (such as social media, gaming, texting, and Skyping) are giving rise to.  Explain the issue and take a stand on it, arguing for how it should be addressed.  Be sure to provide convincing evidence (for which you need to do research), adopt a trustworthy/academic tone, and consider other possible positions on the issue.

2.) In his essay "Is Google Making Us Stupid," Nicholas Carr argues that "as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence."  In other words, yes, Google is making us stupid.  What is your view of how technology is affecting the way we think, read, write, and live?  Write an essay in which you either support or challenge Carr's assertion that our reliance on technology is diminishing our own intelligence.

3.) In his essay "Our Fear of Immigrants," Jeremy Adam Smith explores reasons why people fear immigrants.  Immigration also raises issues less sweeping than deporting immigrants without legal status or giving them a path to citizenship.  For example, debates at the state and local level have involved such issues as drivers' licenses and in-state college tuition for undocumented immigrants, and "English-only" language policies in government agencies.  Choose one such issue, either in your state or locality or elsewhere, and write an essay making an argument about it.  In researching your topic, you might want to interview some immigrants or a political scientist or other instructor who has studied the issue.

4.) In his essay "Anti-Intellectualism: Why We Hate the Smart Kids," Grant Penrod claims that the effects of anti-intellectualism are "clear and devastating," arguing that society "ostracizes its best and brightest."  Penrod identifies "nerds" as one stereotypical high school group.  "Jocks" are another familiar stereotype.  How were students classified into stereotyped groups at your high school?  Were the classifications fair?  Who did the classifying?  What were the consequences for members of the group and for other students?  Write an essay about one of these groups that argues a position on what factors motivated the stereotyping.  You'll need to support your argument with reasons and evidence, such as facts, statistics, and quotes from experts.

Rough Draft Due: Thursday, 4/20.  Must be at least three pages.

Final Draft Due: Thursday, 4/27.  Must be four FULL pages, typed, double spaced in Times New Roman font and MLA format.  Please include your rough draft and peer reviews.

Essay #4: Writing a Literacy Narrative