English 99 Syllabus

English 99: Developmental Writing
CSU Fullerton
Fall 2016

Instructor: Jesse La Tour
Office: LH 516
Office Hours: MW 12-1:30pm


Writing is a skill acquired by consistent practice, feedback, and revision. The specific focus of this class is to help you develop your skills as an academic writer, and to prepare you for English 101. 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. I’ve tried to select a wide variety of interesting readings, and for the essay assignments, I give you a fair amount of freedom with what you can write about. By the end of the semester, you will assemble a portfolio representing your best writing, which will determine whether of not you pass the class, provided you’ve met the other course requirements. For this class, we will be reading and writing essays on a wide variety of interesting topics, in various genres.  For each topic, we will examine a variety of readings that challenge us to see things from a different perspective.  In the interest of creating a welcoming academic atmosphere, I encourage you to keep an open mind.

Catalogue Description:

Prerequisite: score of T146 or lower on English Placement Test (EPT). Intensive course in basic writing skills. Prepares students for ENGL 101. Degree credit is not awarded for this course.

Required Textbook:

The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings and Handbook by Richard Bullock and Maureen Daly Goggin.

Textbooks are available at 
The Little Professor Bookstore
725 N. Placentia Ave.
Fullerton, CA
(714) 996-3133

Required Materials:

One composition book (for in-class activities)

Two large blue books (for in-class essays)

Instructional Objectives:

Students completing this course should be able to write essays that have these elements:


1.     Contains an identifiable thesis.
2.     Maintains a strong focus on the thesis throughout the essay.

Development, Support, and Organization

1.     Reveals evidence of critical and creative thinking.
2.     Supports the main idea through effective use of details and explanation of assertions.
3.     Presents ideas in a clear and logical order.
4.     Uses transitions effectively to connect sentences and paragraphs.

Readability, Style, and Format

1.     Spelling, syntax, word-usage or punctuation errors do not distract from readability.
2.     Uses a tone that is appropriate to the audience and to the writing task, and strives to have an original voice.
3.     Demonstrates strong command of language, and vocabulary is appropriate for college-level writing.
4.     Uses proper MLA format (including Times New Roman 12pt font, correct margins, and proper citations.

Course Requirements…

Attendance and Participation

Your attendance and participation in class discussions/activities is mandatory.  If you miss more than FOUR classes, you will not pass the class.  If you must miss a class, please contact a classmate to see what you missed.  Late work will not be accepted.

Writing Assignments

Throughout the semester, you will write three formal, out-of-class essays and two in-class essays.  If you do not complete all five of these assignments, you will not pass the class.  You will also be doing a lot of in-class writing activities.

Peer Review

Before turning in each of your out-of-class essays, you will participate in a “peer review” activity in which you and your classmates give and receive feedback.  On the day of peer reviews, you must bring a typed essay for review.  Peer reviews are mandatory.  When you turn in your final drafts, you must submit peer reviews.


Throughout the semester, we will meet for conferences to discuss you essays and your progress in the class.  If you miss your conference, it counts as two absences.  Conferences are mandatory.

Reading Assignments

All assigned readings must be completed before class.  Discussion of readings is an important part of this class, so come prepared to share your ideas about the readings.


Every Monday, you must turn in a one-page, double-spaced typed journal.  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.

Writing Center Visits

The Writing Center is both a requirement for passing this class and a helpful resource to help you improve your writing.  You are required to visit the Writing Center THREE times throughout the semester.  If you have not visited the Writing Center three times before the portfolio due date, you will NOT pass the class.  The Writing Center is located on the first floor of the Library. 


At the end of the semester, you will assemble a portfolio which includes two out of class essays and one in-class essay.  This portfolio, in conjunction with other course requirements, will ultimately determine whether you pass the class.  We will discuss portfolios more in class.

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 (8/22-8/26)

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

Week 2: (8/29-9/2): Writing a Memoir

Journal #1 due Monday.
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: (9/5-9/9): Writing a Memoir

Monday is Labor Day: No Class
Journal #2 Due Wednesday.
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: (9/12-9/16): Writing a Memoir

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

Week 5: (9/19-9/23): Analyzing a Text

Journal #4 due Monday.
Essay #1 final draft due Wednesday--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: (9/26-9/30): Analyzing a Text

Journal #5 due Monday.
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: (10/3-10/7): Analyzing a Text

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

Week 8: (10/10-10/14): Analyzing a Film

Journal #7 due Monday.
Final Draft of Essay #2 due Wednesday--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: (10/17-10/21): Analyzing a Film (In-Class Essay #1)

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

Week 10: (10/24-10/28): Arguing a Position

Journal #9 due Monday
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 11: (10/31-11/4): Arguing a Position

Journal #10 due Monday
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 12: (11/7-11/11): Arguing a Position

Journal #11 due Monday.

Essay #3 Rough Draft due Wednesday--at least three pages (Peer Review)
Friday is Veteran's Day--No Class.
Read "Writing a Literacy Narrative" (p. 73-93), "Synthesizing Ideas" (p. 473-477), "Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing" (p. 478-490)

Week 13: (11/14-11/18): Writing a Literacy Narrative

Essay #3 final draft due Wednesday (please include a rough draft and peer reviews)
In-Class Conferences
Read "Acknowledging Sources, Avoiding Plagiarism" (p. 491-495), "Documentation" (p. 496-499), "MLA Style" (p. 500-548)

Week 14: (11/21-11/25): Fall Recess

Work on Revising Essays.

Read "Literacy Narratives" (p. 639-

Week 15: (11/28-12/2): Writing a Literacy Narrative (In-Class Essay #2)

In-Class Essay #2
Bring a Large Blue Book, plus the textbook.
Work on Revising Essays

Week 16: Assemble and Turn in Portfolios

Assemble and turn in Portfolios 

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.

Rough Draft Due: Wednesday, 9/14. Rough draft must be typed and at least three FULL pages.

Final Draft Due: Wednesday, 9/21. Final draft must be at least four FULL pages.  Please include your rough draft and 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.

Rough Draft due: Wednesday, 10/5.  Must be at least three pages.

Final Draft due: Wednesday, 10/12.  Please include a rough draft and peer reviews.

Essay #3: Arguing a Position (California Propositions)

On November 8th, 2016 voters in California will have the opportunity to vote not just for presidential and local candidates, but for a series of propositions (or ballot measures) that touch on a wide range of issues, ranging from school funding to health care costs to gun control to legalizing marijuana, and a host of other controversial topics.  Your task for this essay is to choose one California Proposition that touches on an issue that you care about and write an essay arguing either for or against that proposition.  Begin by reading about the Propositions online at the State of California's web site HERE.  Then, after having found one that interests you, do additional research, trying to understand both sides of the issue.  After having researched your topic sufficiently, write an essay in which you argue for your position.  In an argument essay, your thesis must take a clear position on the Proposition.  Your body paragraphs must give clear reasons and evidence supporting your thesis.  It's also a good idea to have one paragraph in which you acknowledge (and refute) your opponent's strongest argument.

For this essay, you must incorporate at least THREE credible research sources.  Your essay much be four FULL pages, typed, double-spaced in Times New Roman font and MLA format.

Rough Draft due: Wednesday, 11/9.  Please bring a three-page rough draft for peer review.

Final Draft due: Wednesday, 11/16.  Please include your rough draft and peer reviews with your final draft.

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