Professor: Devin Proctor

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Professor: Devin Proctor

Office: Ames Hall 219


Office hour: 11:50 – 12:50, Tuesdays

Course Librarian: Debra Gaspar

Office: Gelman Library


Fall 2012

University Writing Seminar:

UW1020, Section M90
Tues, Thurs. 1:00-2:15 (ACAD 331),

Fri. 1:00-1:50 [online] location and times

for Friday session may vary

The Road Trip in American Film and Literature::desktop:highway

Course Description:
The promotional ad for Easy Rider stated, "A man went looking for America. And couldn't find it anywhere." Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas opens with a wild ride through the desert on a quest "to find the American dream." This class will look at the enduring trope of the road trip in American culture and consciousness. What do the characters seek and why is it so elusive? How do these narrative journeys develop themes of the outsider, the frontier, and the individual's quest for identity? Why have the outlaws who populate these stories become counter-culture icons? What is the future of the ‘road trip?’ In this class, we will analyze how these narratives form sociopolitical critiques and how scholars use them to frame questions about popular culture. There will be several short writing assignments and three major papers. Through these, we will explore how the process of writing can mirror the unfolding of a trip and how it, too, can be a journey of self-discovery.
Required Course Materials


  • On the Road

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


  • Easy Rider

  • Bonnie and Clyde

  • Thelma and Louise

  • One major film or book of your choice, selected from a list supplied by me, or your own choice (with my approval).

  • Various journal articles, film reviews, and selections from longer works will be available throughout the semester in the Electronic Reserves section of Blackboard (

In order to prepare students for rigorous academic writing projects across the range of disciplines offered at GW, the course strives to develop or extend the following skills:

  • Capacity for critical reading and for analytic thinking that examines assumptions and evidence, in both scholarly texts and informed public commentary.

  • Ability to explore information resources – through both the traditional library and emerging technological sources – to use them effectively, and to acknowledge them correctly.

  • A functional grasp of rhetorical principles: the purpose or genre of each piece of writing, the expectations of various audiences, and the use of formats, evidence, tones, lengths, and levels of formality appropriate to a range of contexts.

  • Practice in the writing tasks of framing sound questions or hypotheses, analyzing and synthesizing information that can be brought to bear on the chosen question, preparing and repeatedly revising drafts to achieve clarity and coherence of argument, and citing others’ work with integrity.

  • The habit and discipline of careful editing and proofreading to ensure that final drafts are essentially free of errors in grammar, syntax, usage, paragraphing, punctuation, and spelling.


Grading Scale:

A grade of C- or above in UW20 indicates that the student is prepared to write solid academic essays in later upper-division, writing-intensive courses. Students must pass UW20 with a grade of C- or above in order to receive credit for the course. If a UW20 student is not prepared for the next level of university writing, the instructor will award the student a grade of R (for Repeat.)  The R grade is reserved for students who work hard in the course, complete the main course assignments, but will still benefit from additional UW20 writing instruction. The student will not receive credit for the course; however, the R will not factor into the student's GPA.  Students who do not complete the course materials, who are consistently absent from class, or who violate other expectations of academic behavior, will be awarded an F.

A 94-100

B- 80-83

D+ 67-69

A- 90-93

C+ 77-79

D 64-66

B+ 87-89

C 74-76

D- 60-63

B 84-86

C- 70-73

F 55

All UW20 courses require 25 to 30 double-spaced pages, or their equivalent, of “finished” writing. Finished writing is developed through a rigorous composition process of reading, writing, thinking, and deep revision--in this course developed through critical class discussions, pre-draft preparation, drafts, research, and revisions based on your professor’s and classmates’ constructive critiques and advice. Standard workload for the UW20 course involves at least 6-10 hours per week of dedicated study and writing.
Major writing projects and course assignments required are as follows, with percentages weighed towards the final grade:

Course Projects

Percentage of Grade

Paper 1: Critical Book Review (5-7 pages)


Paper 2: Theoretical Conversation Paper (7-9 pages plus Works Cited page)


Paper 3: Scholarly Research Paper (12-14 pages, plus Works Cited page(s); minimum total 13 pages)


Writing and library workshops preparation, discussion, peer evaluation, participation, and collaborations


In-class and hybrid days participation, including in-class and online discussions and writing, responsive critiques, and peer and self-evaluation of course contributions


Class attendance is required, with limited excused absences (for example, religious holidays). Class participation is essential to class performance and affects the final grade.
In this course, attendance and participation are necessary to the health of the overall class. Active contribution to discussion, preparation of questions and ideas for the day’s class from your readings, completing in-class writing work, collaborating with fellow writers, and—as life requires—showing up in good faith all form an important part of the overall course work. This course does not have a final exam, as your engaged participation throughout the semester speaks to your understanding and command of the course material. You are expected to attend class regularly and arrive on time. As adults, you are responsible for managing your own schedule and time; you are therefore allowed three absences over the course of the semester (note that this amounts to a full week of class). More than three absences will affect your participation grade by one half letter grade each absence past three.
For the purposes of this policy, no differentiation is made between excused and unexcused absences. Because you are now a member of a writing community and will be learning from and teaching your peers, and because I believe in the integrity of the work and learning that goes on inside the classroom, you have a responsibility as a working, present member of this community. For in-class meetings, tardiness or leaving early (unless you consult with me in advance) will be counted as an absence. Attendance for online classes requires attending virtual meetings, posting assignments, following discussion parameters, and/or meeting class expectations within the time window allotted. Six absences or more, whatever the cause, are grounds for automatic course failure. Please note, again, that workshop days are considered exam days and cannot be skipped without penalty.
Participation includes class discussion, group work, Blackboard entries, in-class and online writing, and responsive critiques. You will help to evaluate how your peers have contributed to the course and to this community. Neither mere presence nor mere talking aloud (nor typing, in the case of online entries) constitutes effective participation. Strong contributions to the class will come through considered ideas, questioning, and responses to your peers’ ideas, questions, and writing work. This assessment rests on the simple premise that active engagement with the material leads to active learning throughout the semester. Feel free to check in with me at any point during the semester about your progress in this or any of the grading categories.ttp://

Plagiarism Policy:
UW20 is designed to teach you to write and research responsibly and ethically. To learn strategies for researching, compiling, and presenting your arguments, you must complete all stages of the work yourself: taking the words of others, or presenting the ideas of others as your own not only prohibits you from learning the skills of academic research, it also is a violation of the University's Code of Academic Integrity. The University defines academic dishonesty as "cheating of any kind, including misrepresenting one's own work, taking credit for the work of others without crediting them and without appropriate authorization, and the fabrication of information." You can find more information about the Code of Academic Integrity at The minimum penalty for such offenses, whether on rough or final drafts, is to fail the assignment; the more common penalty is to fail the course.
University Registration Deadlines
September 12 is the last day to drop/add a course online through GWeb. September 24 is the last day to drop or add a course without academic penalty, using the RTF-EZ form: . These forms are not accepted by mail, fax, or e-mail and must be submitted in-person by the student to the Registrar’s Office. October 22 marks the final day to withdraw from a course with a grade of 'W' using the RTF-EZ form.
Special Circumstances

If you have a disability registered with Disability Support Services (Marvin Center 242, x4-7610 or x4-8250 TDD) or some other special circumstance that might affect your work this semester, please let me know both verbally and in writing as soon as possible so that I can make appropriate accommodations. For more information, contact DSS, Marvin Center 242, at 994-7610 or 994-8250 TDD. For additional information, please see .

If you find yourself in trouble in the course, contact me so that we can discuss your status and best approaches for you as a student. Students who experience an emergency during the semester—such as an illness or death in the family—that involves or will require extended absences should contact advisors for their schools; head advisors and their contact information are listed below:

CCAS: Landon Wade,

ESIA: Jim Fry,

SPHHS: Beverly J. Westerman,

SEAS: Brendan Lynch,

GWSB: Sharon R. Schuler,

The University Counseling Center is located at 2033 K St, NW, Suite 330. The Counseling Center is available by telephone 24 hours a day at 202.994.5300. Information about their services is available at .

Additional Writing Resources
GW Writing Center: Writing faculty and graduate and peer tutors offer individual meetings to support the whole writing process, from initial idea to last, polished version. The Writing Center is located in Gelman Library 103 and is open Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to 9 PM, Friday 9 AM to 2 PM, and Sunday from 7 PM to 10 PM. A satellite center on the Mt Vernon campus is open from 7 PM to 10 PM on Sunday. You can schedule an appointment online at the Center’s website:
Writing Tutoring for Non-Native English Speakers and Writers: A new program offers tutoring sessions with a specialized focus on the language needs of non-native English speakers and presents a series of workshops for students to build skills in academic writing. For further information, please visit and scroll down to click on “EAP Writing Support Program” in the left hand menu.

UW20 and the University Literacy Requirement:
Students will satisfy their literacy requirement by taking University Writing 20 (a four-credit, four-hour course) in their first year; AND two "Writing in the Disciplines" (WID) courses.  These are regular, content-area courses that include a writing component and will be offered by a variety of departments and programs throughout the university.  Ideally, students will complete WID courses during their sophomore and junior years. Students must pass UW1020 with a C- or above to receive credit for the class. If a UW20 student works hard in the class, but is not prepared for the next level of writing, the professor will assign an “R” grade, for “repeat.” An “R” grade will not grant credit for the class, but will also not factor into a student’s GPA.helma & louise

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