English 180 – Composition II – Writing Ecosystems (section 52)

Download 78.79 Kb.
Date conversion12.05.2016
Size78.79 Kb.
English 180 – Composition II – Writing Ecosystems (section 52)

Spring 2009 – meets GE III requirement

Location: HUM 108 Time: 12:15-1:30 M/TH

Instructor: Matt Newcomb

Office Hours: M/TH 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.; T 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (and by apptmt.)

Email: newcombm@newpaltz.edu Phone: 845-257-2732


Our course is primarily about your writing. Specifically, we will work on becoming stronger writers for the academic discourse communities that we participate in. We will focus on research elements and argument in our writing—but issues like our writing “voices” and the contexts in which we write will be important too. At the same time, we will be working through the theme of ecology for this class—specifically as it relates to writing. We will read examples of nature writing and science writing (about the environment), but ecology is broader than that. Ecology comes from a Greek root meaning “home.” The issue there is place and all the different connections and interrelations in a place. We will analyze those complex relationships in different specific locations and will think about what makes for a good ecology and sustainable practices in certain places. We will especially focus on ecology in terms of writing. How does a document or argument change relationships in a place? How does it alter the physical landscape of a place? How might it change the language environment of a place?

Texts: (both main texts available at the campus bookstore)

Dobrin, Sidney. Saving Place: An Ecocomposition Reader. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishers,

2005. (abbreviated as SP)

Troyka, Lynn and Douglas Hesse, Eds. Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers. 8th ed. Upper

Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2007. (especially chapters 1-6, 16-22, and 31-34; abbreviated as SS)

-Handouts as assigned (Carson, Omnivore, Edbauer. etc.)


  1. To develop the ability to write in different rhetorical situations, i.e., for different purposes, occasions, and audiences.

  2. To develop the ability to write effectively in a variety of rhetorical modes, i.e., description, narration, exposition, and particularly analysis and argumentation.

  3. To develop the ability to write well-developed, well-organized, and clear paragraphs and essays.

  4. To develop the abilities to reason, to think critically (i.e., to analyze, to infer, to synthesize, to interpret, and to evaluate information), and to argue effectively (i.e., to develop a position, reasons, and evidence).

  5. To analyze and evaluate arguments (i.e., premise, deductive and inductive reasoning, forms of appeals, logical fallacies, and forms of evidence).

  6. To analyze literary works.

  7. To increase the ability to write correctly, grammatically, and coherently.

  8. To read and critique one’s own writing and the writing of others effectively.

  9. To evaluate courses of information using criteria such as currency, authority, objectivity, accuracy, specificity, and relevance.

  10. To use information ethically and legally (i.e., to avoid plagiarism).

  11. To develop oral presentation skills.

  12. To critique the oral and written discourse of members of the class.

  13. To develop methods of conducting research (i.e., develop a research topic and search strategy, use general or specialized databases, use Internet search engines; locate, retrieve, and evaluate information sources; construct a bibliography; and organize and synthesize information).

Schedule: (Read chapters in our text in order of 2, 1, 4, 6, 3, 5, 7)

January 20 – First day of class

March 10 (Tuesday) – no Tuesday classes meet, Thursday classes meet instead

March 16-20 – Spring Break, no classes. /// March 31 – Last day to withdraw

April 9 – Passover, no classes /// April 10 – Passover/Good Friday (no classes

April 15 (Wednesday) – No Wednesday classes meet, Friday classes meet instead

May 6 – Last day of classes

May 8 – Common exam day /// May 11-15 – Final exam period
Day Activities for the day Assignments due

1-Jan 22 – (TH)

Intro class, go over syllabus, key definitions (ecology/ecosystem); diagnostic writing: describe your own ecology

2-Jan 26 –(M)

Wiki; how to read for this class (quotes, how written, values) do in-class interp practice

SP-Capra, Leopold (ch. 2)

3-Jan 29 (TH)

intro paper 1; rhetorical situation

Silent Spring excerpt

4-Feb 2 (M)

Discourse communities

SP-Abbey, Kennedy Jr. (ch. 2); SS ch. 1

5-Feb 5 (TH)

MLA style/format; thesis statements

SP-Westerman, hooks (ch. 2); SS ch. 2

6-Feb 9 (M)

How to do RD wkshop; Rough draft workshop (long-term impact analysis of drafts)

Omnivore’s Dilemma excerpt, Paper 1 Rough Draft due

7-Feb 12 (TH)

Intro paper 2; relationships in ecosystems

SP-Emerson, Cronon (ch. 1) Paper 1 due; SS ch. 3

8-Feb 16 (M)

Library Day?

SP-Kerasote, Lopez (ch. 1) First 2 items on journal (minimum)

9-Feb 19 (TH)

Language environments – use New Paltz; what is grammar?

SP-Snyder, Standing Bear, Oates (ch. 1) Library Assignment due

10-Feb 23 (M)

Ad analysis/ecosystem (TV, online, and magazines)

SP- Watterson, Owens, LeGuin (ch. 1); SS ch. 4

11-Feb 26 (TH)

Rough draft workshop; digital ecosystems (Facebook)

SP- Durning, Williams (ch. 4) Paper 2 RD due

12-Mar 2 (M)

Power issues, Intro oral presentation assignment

Paper 2 due, SP-Ehrlich, Berry (ch. 4); SS ch. 5

13-Mar 5 (TH)

Visual rhetoric (ethos, logos, pathos)

SP- Walker, Dillard, Deer (ch. 4); SS ch. 6

14-Mar 9 (M)

Font/format issues; Helvetica

SP-Thoreau, Vonnegut (ch. 6); SS ch. 16

15-Mar 10 (T)

Thursday classes meet today.

Intro paper 3

Begin oral presentations in class

Oral presentation materials due (visual essay) SP- Abbey, Bass, Hughes (ch. 6) At least 10 items in your wiki journal by today.

16-Mar 12 (TH)

mid-term exam

mid-term (in class)

March 16-20


17-Mar 23 (M)

Continue oral presentations, refresh on paper 3

SP- Ortiz, Cronon (ch. 6); SS ch. 17

18-Mar 26 (TH)

Continue oral presentations; positioning an audience

SP- Muir, Roosevelt (ch. 3); SS ch. 18

19-Mar 30 (M)

Finish oral presentations; letter to the editor

SP- Bass, Balaz (ch. 3)

20-Apr 2 (TH)

RD workshop; using and using up resources in writing

Paper 3 RD due, SP- Houston, Hemingway, Watterson (ch. 3); SS ch. 19

21-Apr 6 (M)

Toulmin on argument

Paper 3 due SP- Carter, Foo, Duane (ch. 3); SS ch. 20

April 9 (TH)

Passover Holiday – No class

22-Apr 13 (M)

Intro paper 4; stasis and topics for invention

SP- Gorman, Campbell, Stap (ch. 3); SS ch. 21

23-Apr 16 (TH)

Fahnestock/Secor on 4 levels of argument (categorical/causality/evaluation/proposal); enthymemes

SP-Krakauer, Davidson, Callahan (ch. 5); SS ch. 22

24-Apr 20 (M)

Creating worlds/ecosystems (include/exclude content)

SP – Hurston, London (ch. 5); SS ch. 31-32

25-Apr 23 (TH)

Outside place observation

Last day to turn in revision of old paper for new grade. SP-Porrino, Dusel-Bacon (ch. 5); SS ch. 33-34

26-Apr 27 (M)

Identify and describe elements of one ecosystem and/or language ecosystem

SP-Williams, Ray (ch. 7) Complete (20 items) your wiki journal by today

27-Apr 30 (TH)

Rd workshop; setting/character/showing/plot in ecosystem terms

Paper 4 RD due, SP- Snyder, Carson, Berry (ch. 7)

28-May 4 (M)

Course evaluations, review for exam, final questions

Paper 4 due – SP- Adams, Carr (ch. 7)


Final exam session

Final Exam (paper + portfolio)


You must keep a portfolio of all your work—from the diagnostic essay to the final paper—to submit at the end of the course. You also must complete all major assignments to pass the course. Late work will be reduced by up to one letter grade per day late. Approximately 1000 words per essay. You may revise one of the first three essays for a completely new grade. Late papers will be docked one letter grade per day late.

1. Paper 1 – 10 points: Human/Environment relationships–an argument with personal and textual


2. Paper 2 – 15 points: Impact Analysis–Using reasons to defend a case about the results of an action

over time.

3. Mid-term Essay (in-class) – 5 points: defining ecology, performing rhetorical analyses, understanding

values – all from class readings. (timed in-class essay, may also include definitions, short answer, and grammar questions)

4. Paper 3 – 15 points: Environmental Analysis–a proposal paper.

5. Paper 4 – 20 points: MLA-style Research Paper (approximately 1250 words): On an ecosystem or on

an issue in ecology.

6. Oral Presentation – 10 points: Create a visual essay through graphs, pictures, short video clips, or

other images. The essay should argue something in relation to the course theme. Then create a short speech to accompany a presentation of your visual essay to the class. (Approximately 5 minutes each.)

7. Library workshop and library-skills exercise – 5 points

8. Weekly Reader Response blog/journal – 10 points: (about the reading, connecting it to your ideas,

your project, and/or writing). You create an online magazine on your page of our course wiki. You will have to add at least 20 articles/updates to it throughout the semester. At least 10 need to be done by midterm and at least two should happen in the first four weeks.

9. Participation and attendance – 10 points

10. Final and Final Portfolio– (P/F): Includes 1. two revised essays from main class papers (at least one an

argument with MLA-style sources), 2. Final essay exam, 3. A cover letter (final reflective statement explaining your writing processes and progress towards writing goals throughout the course, along with a short reflection on how the theme impacted your writing/thinking).

Total – 100 points

A total of 100 points will be possible. You have 20% of the grade (participation and journals) that should be easy to get an “A” on from effort alone, so I do not round grades at the end of the semester. The grade ranges are below:

93-100 = A 90-92.9 = A- 87-89.9 = B+ 83-86.9 = B 80-82.9 = B- 77-79.9 = C+

73-76.9 = C 70-72.9 = C- 60-69.9 = D 59.9 or below = F
Statement on Academic Integrity: “Students are expected to maintain the highest standards of honesty in their academic work. Cheating, forgery, and plagiarism are serious offences, and students found guilty of any form of academic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary action” (SUNY NP Faculty Handbook 33).

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged (intentional or unintentional) use of summary, paraphrase, direct quotation, language, statistics, or ideas from articles or other information sources including the Internet. A student must cite according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) format (which is outlined in the Simon and Schuster Handbook and other locations).

Accommodation and Disability: “Students with disabilities are entitled to the right to accommodation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Ace and ADA of 1990. ADA students are responsible for self-identifying to the Disability Resource Center, who will inform me of your needs of accommodation related to the structure of the course” (Faculty Handbook 30).
Attendance: Students are expected to be in class every day. Much of work will involve in-class writing and discussion, so the class time is important. Students are allowed three total absences for any reason. This is the general composition program policy, so please don’t try to push it because you need to be here to get credit for the course. For significant health issues or family emergencies we will work out what to do on an individual basis. The key is to communicate with me in absence situations (before you miss class if at all possible). Also, class will start and finish on time. Excessive lateness will lead to being counted as absent (three days late equals one absence).
Classroom Courtesy: I want this course to be a place where, for a brief three hours a week, we can freely discuss ideas and work on our writing.  I have found that certain interruptions can be extremely distracting to both your classmates and me, so I ask that you observe these basic guidelines of classroom decorum:

-Please turn your cell phones off or to silent for the duration of our classroom meetings.

-I expect you to fully present during our time together, so during class, please do not text message, send e-mail, surf the web, use Morse code, telepathy, or do anything else that will distract you or others from the work of the course. 

-Please come on time to class and make your bathroom breaks, coffee runs, and smoke breaks BEFORE coming to class.  Unless you have an emergency, I ask that you join us for the entirety of class.

Grading Standards:

The A Essay

  1. The A essay fulfills the assignment-and does so in a fresh and mature manner, using purposeful language that leads to knowledge making. The essay effectively meets the needs of the rhetorical situation in terms of establishing the writer's stance, attention to audience, purpose for writing, and sensitivity to context. When appropriate to the assignment, the writer demonstrates expertise in employing the artistic appeals of ethos, logos, and pathos appropriately.

  2. The topic itself is clearly defined, focused, and supported. The essay has a clear thesis that is supported with specific (and appropriate) evidence, examples, and details. Any outside sources of information are used carefully and cited appropriately. The valid reasoning within the essay demonstrates good judgment and an awareness of the topic's complexities.

  3. The organization-chronological, spatial, or emphatic-is appropriate for the purpose and subject of the essay. The introduction establishes a context, purpose, and audience for writing and contains a focused thesis statement. The following paragraphs are controlled by (explicit or implicit) topic sentences; they are well developed; and they progress logically from what precedes them. (If appropriate, headings and subheadings are used.) The conclusion moves beyond a mere restatement of the introduction, offering implications for or the significance of the topic.

  4. The prose is clear, readable, and sometimes memorable. It contains few surface errors, none of which seriously undermines the overall effectiveness of the paper for educated readers. It demonstrates fluency in stylistic flourishes (subordination, variation of sentence and paragraph lengths, interesting vocabulary).

The B Essay

  1. The assignment has been followed and fulfilled. The essay establishes the writer's stance and demonstrates a clear sense of audience, purpose, and context.

  2. The topic is fairly well defined, focused, and supported. The thesis statement is adequate (but could be sharpened), especially for the quality of supporting evidence the writer has used. The reasoning and support are thorough and more than adequate. The writer demonstrates a thoughtful awareness of complexity and other points of view.

  3. The B essay has an effective introduction and conclusion. The order of information is logical, and the reader can follow it because of well-chosen transitions and (explicit or implicit) topic sentences. Paragraph divisions are logical, and the paragraphs use enough specific detail to satisfy the reader.

  4. The prose expression is clear and readable. Sentence structure is appropriate for educated readers, including the appropriate use of subordination, emphasis, varied sentences, and modifiers. Few sentence-level errors (comma splices, fragments, or fused sentences) appear. Vocabulary is precise and appropriate; punctuation, usage, and spelling conform to the conventions of Standardized American English discussed in class.

The C Essay

  1. The assignment has been followed, and the essay demonstrates a measure of response to the rhetorical situation, in so far as the essay demonstrates some sense of audience and purpose.

  2. The topic is defined only generally; the thesis statement is also general. The supporting evidence, gathered honestly and used responsibly, is, nevertheless, often obvious and easily accessible. The writer demonstrates little awareness of the topic's complexity or other points of view; therefore, the C essay usually exhibits minor imperfections or inconsistencies in development, organization, and reasoning.

  3. The organization is fairly clear. The reader could outline the presentation, despite the occasional lack of topic sentences. Paragraphs have adequate development and are divided appropriately. Transitions may be mechanical, but they foster coherence.

  4. The expression is competent. Sentence structure is relatively simple, relying on simple and compound sentences. The paper is generally free of sentence-level errors; word choice is correct though limited. The essay contains errors in spelling, usage, and punctuation that reveal an unfamiliarity with the conventions of Standardized American English discussed in class.

The D Essay

  1. The D essay attempts to follow the assignment, but demonstrates little awareness of the rhetorical situation in terms of the writer's stance, audience, purpose, and context. For example, the essay might over- or under-estimate (or ignore) the audience's prior knowledge, assumptions, or beliefs. The writer may have little sense of purpose.

  2. The essay may not have any thesis statement, or, at best, a flawed one. Obvious evidence may be missing, and irrelevant evident may be present. Whatever the status of the evidence, it is inadequately interpreted and rests on an insufficient understanding of the rhetorical situation. Or it may rely too heavily on evidence from published sources without adding original analysis.

  3. Organization is simply deficient: introductions or conclusions are not clearly marked or functional; paragraphs are neither coherently developed nor arranged; topic sentences are consistently missing, murky, or inappropriate; transitions are missing or flawed.

  4. The D essay may have numerous and consistent errors in spelling, usage, and punctuation that reveal unfamiliarity with the conventions of Standardized American English discussed in class (or a lack of careful proofreading).

The F Essay

  1. The F essay is inappropriate in terms of the purpose of the assignment and the rhetorical situation. If the essay relates vaguely to the assignment, it has no clear purpose or direction.

  2. The essay falls seriously short of the minimum length requirements; therefore, it is insufficiently developed and does not go beyond the obvious.

  3. The F essay is plagued by more than one of the organizational deficiencies of a D essay.

  4. Numerous and consistent errors of spelling, usage, and punctuation hinder communication.

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2016
send message

    Main page