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ENGL109 section 004

Fall Term 2016
Prof. S Tolmie
Office Hours: HH266 11:30-12:30 Tue/Thur

Course Description:
The course will explore a variety of issues in academic writing such as style, argument,
and the presentation of information. Frequent written exercises will be required.
There is no textbook. An overview of basic English grammar is available at:
We will be reading one short novel: A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is
available from the UW Bookstore and from amazon.ca. This book is required.
Students who are interested in fiction and want to concentrate on responses to it
(analytical essays, response papers, creative writing) are encouraged to buy the
companion novel Tehanu, also by Le Guin. This book is not necessary, only
Other readings and resources will be provided in class or on LEARN. LEARN access
will be required throughout this course.
Course Objectives or Learning Outcomes:
To help you to think critically and communicate effectively
To learn and practice a variety of strategies for inventing, drafting, and editing
To learn and practice writing in a variety of academic genres
To learn to read critically
To learn to write persuasively by effectively employing elements of formal
To help you give and receive useful feedback on writing for the purposes of
To learn and practice communicating to a variety of academic audiences
How Will We Do These Things?

This course will be taught as a practical writing workshop. This means three things: 1.
There will be a lot of writing in class time, so please bring a pen or pencil and lined paper
to every class; 2. Writing both in and out of class will involve drafting, practicing, and
peer review, so work will be evaluated in successive stages both by me and by other
members of the class; 3. All work in the class is directed toward the completion of a final
portfolio of polished pieces, which will be graded; separate grades will also be assigned
for process work, peer editing, and general participation.

Over the course of many short assignments ranging from a single sentence to four to
five pages in length, in diverse formats each student will produce between 4500 and
6000 words of writing in this course. Many will involve multiple stages or drafts. Some
will involve game-like interactions in class and then writing about them. The types of
assignment will vary according to students needs, but options include: letters of
introduction (e.g., to employers), grammar exercises, descriptive paragraphs, book and
movie micro-reviews, explanations of complex processes (e.g., an equation, a function, a
recipe, a how-to blog), essays up to 1200 words, poems in various forms, flash fictions of
1000 words or fewer, brief biographies (e.g., of writers or mathematicians), synopses of
games and other narratives. Parameters and timelines for each specific assignment will be
outlined in class. Do not miss them. Only brief reminders will be posted on LEARN. Use
a buddy system if you are going to miss class.

Assignments and Practical Processes:

Grades will be assigned in three areas in this course:
1. participation, in class and online 30% (20% in class; 10% online)
2. process work, 30% (4 draft turnarounds and one 5-minute oral presentation)
3. final portfolio, 40% (your best 4 polished pieces in any format)
All assignments in this course must be submitted in hard copy, double-spaced, in a 12point font. The only exception is poetry, which may be submitted single-spaced.
Here is what these areas entail:
Participation: this means, above all, regular attendance in class. It means being punctual,
courteous and coming to class with required assignments completed or drafts in progress
and all relevant materials to hand. Always bring both pen and paper and your laptop or
other IT device, in case we need to use LEARN or the grammar site or online texts. It
means thoughtfully and genuinely performing in-class tasks, being a helpful peer
reviewer, active discussant and asker of questions. Online participation means logging on

regularly to LEARN, keeping up with the general discussion forum, contributing to

discussions and drafting processes in your critique group. Peer editing is an important
part of this course, but I do not assign group grades: every student is assessed
individually on his or her participation in all group activities. Students will be divided
into randomized critique groups of 4-5 students on LEARN and these groups will be used
for drafting, brainstorming and revision both online and in class on an ongoing basis.
Students will be shown some simple principles to help other students with their work.

Process Work: In any kind of writing, it is impossible to get everything right the first
time. We need to recognize this fact, and work with it. Therefore, each student will have
four opportunities during the course to get that rare thing: actual points for trying. I am
calling each of these, loosely, draft turnarounds: students will choose (as they go)
assignments (of whatever scale) that they find particularly interesting or challenging, and
submit to me a work-in-progress (WIP) which can be very rough upon which I will
comment in detail. Then I will return it, and the student will submit a second draft, taking
the comments on board (or judiciously rejecting them). The whole process will be
assigned a grade: the purpose here is not to demonstrate perfection, but change. It can be
thought of as a conversation or act of listening. Here you can take a risk, really screw it
up, and even if the second draft is only a tiny bit better, you still win. It is each students
responsibility to choose four assignments as they roll out; then, to pass in their initial
drafts to me, indicating clearly that they have been chosen as draft turnaround pieces;
and finally, to get the second draft back to me the next class after I hand back the
commented version. This is a quick-turnaround assignment. I will provide a checklist to
help students keep track of assignments. All four assignments, regardless of length, will
be weighted equally.
The final component of the process grade is a brief oral presentation of 5 minutes. Topics
can be flexible. Sign-up for the presentation dates will occur in the first two classes, and
cannot be moved around except in case of documented illness. Topics must be cleared
with me, and can involve any aspect of your work in the course: a response to a reading,
the answer to a question, an overview of your approach to a particular assignment, a
tricky grammar point, a biography of a person who interests you. The object is to speak
clearly to the class for 5 minutes using no visual aids whatsoever (and preferably with
minimal notes). You will be assessed on the interest and clarity of your talk: how
engagingly you present it, how well your topic is chosen for a 5-minute presentation, and
for how well you use your language skills (i.e., pitching it at the right level for your own
comfort and competence, and judging the ability of the audience to understand you). This
presentation will count as a final process assignment, with the same weight as a

Portfolio: Here you are handing in your four best, fully-edited, polished pieces of writing,
in whatever formats. Portfolios are due in the last class. They can be picked up from my
office early in winter term, if you want them back, with brief comments. These pieces can
be ones you used for turnarounds, or not. These will be judged for correctness of
grammar, soundness of logical argument, and appropriate style, depending on the nature
of the assignment. They will be weighted equally, regardless of length. All scholarly
sources cited must be properly documented according to MLA style.

Lateness policy: If the final portfolio is late (and it should not be submitted incomplete)
it will lose 10% (a letter grade). It must be submitted in person, in class, in hard copy. If
you cannot attend the class, you can submit it to the English drop box in Hagey Hall the
day before no later than 4 pm (it will be date stamped). Anything other than this is late.
For draft turnarounds, you must return the second draft to me the very next class after I
hand you back the commented version. Remember, this second draft does not have to be
perfect, but it does have to show significant change. If you do not get it to me in hard
copy, in class on the required date, the assignment is penalized 10%. If it is not in
within one week of its due date, it will receive a grade of zero. Missed oral presentations
without a doctors note will receive a grade of zero.

Schedule of Classes
Week 1: Thursday Sept 8
1.introduction to the course; introducing ourselves as writers; introducing the English

Week 2: Tuesday Sept 13/Thur. Sept. 15

1. Practical: what will you need English writing for in your future professional and
personal life? What types of documents will you need to produce or analyze?
Theoretical: what is a word? What is a phoneme? What is a language?
2. Practical: What is your academic field? How are you using English right now in
the course of your degree? What are your main strengths and weaknesses as a
Theoretical: Language as a system of signs (semiotics), language and logic

Week 3: Tue Sept 20/ Thur Sept 22

1. Practical: What is your favorite equation? Or one central to your field? Can you
explain it in words?
Theoretical: The relationship of language and math; a bit of math history
2. Practical: Parts of speech; word, sentence and paragraph. Reading aloud from A
Wizard of Earthsea.
Theoretical: Why is style important? What does literacy mean? a bit of
anthropology and the history of English

Week 4: Tue 27 Sept/ Thur 29 Sept

1. Practical: What is an academic field? How would different fields interpret A
Wizard of Earthsea differently?
Theoretical: Rhetoric and writing: ethos, pathos, logos; perspective-taking
2. Practical: joining paragraphs together, logical operators in language
(conjunctions, punctuation), keeping the subject in focus (persons and pronouns)
Theoretical: What do we mean by meaning? meaning in different fields, proof,
example, anecdote, theory

Week 5: Tue Oct 4/Thur Oct 6

1. Error in theory and practice, in English and math, in learning
2. Catching Up With Ourselves Before Break: practical critique strategies, deciding
on turnaround assignments, evaluating crit groups has everyone submitted at
least one turnaround assignment by now?

Week 6: Thur Oct 13 (Thanksgiving/study break Oct 10-12)

1. Wizard of Earthsea discussion class: structure, voice, theme, speculative fiction,
initial discussion of Tehanu for students interested in working on it (note that this
day officially follows a Tuesday schedule)

Week 7: Tue 18 Oct/Thur 20 Oct

1. Modes of writing: expository, persuasive, forensic, editorial; fiction and nonfiction

2. Facts and evidence; counterfactuals and thought experiments; history and

alternate history

Week 8: Tue Oct 25/Thur Oct 27

1. Poetry: information density, ambiguity, technical forms of ordering information
for recall (mnemonics)
2. Practical: Other forms of information design: what are examples from your fields,
and how do they work?
Theoretical: figures of speech and thought (metaphor, simile, metonymy, analogy)

Week 9: Tue Nov 1/Thur Nov 3

1. Argument: logical ordering, subsets, relation of parts to the whole (writing as a
series of operations)
2. Narrative: organization in time and space, verb tenses and moods, narratorial
perspective (writing as telling a story)
Week 10: Tue Nov 8/Thur Nov 10
1. Troubleshooting, or Assorted Embarrassing Errors That Ruin Your Credibility
(and for which you will be marked down on your portfolio assignments)
2. Personal review: assessing progress so far, trying to determine what kind of writer
you are

Week 11: Tue Nov 15/Thur Nov 17

1. Acts of translation: transferring information from one form to another
2. Kairos: shaping communications for particular audiences

Week 12: Tue Nov 22/Thur Nov 24

1. Strategies and tools for reading: expanding your lexicon, etymology, analogy,
context, borrowing from other languages, idiom, tone
2. Objectivity and subjectivity

Week 13: Tue Nov 29/Thur Dec 1

1. Reading for pleasure the single best way to improve your writing
2. Intellectual honesty: the final task is learning to identify your own BS signals.

Policies and Resources

Academic Integrity
In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of
Waterloo community are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and
responsibility. See the UWaterloo Academic Integritity webpage and the Arts Academic
Integrity webpage for more information.
A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity, to avoid committing
academic offences, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. A student who is unsure
whether an action constitutes an offence, or who needs help in learning how to avoid
offences (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about rules for group work/collaboration should
seek guidance from the course professor, academic advisor, or the Undergraduate
Associate Dean. When misconduct has been found to have occurred, disciplinary
penalties will be imposed under Policy 71 Student Discipline. For information on
categories of offenses and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71 - Student
Discipline. For typical penalties check Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties.
A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has
been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70
- Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4. When in doubt please be certain to contact
the departments administrative assistant who will provide further assistance.
A decision made or penalty imposed under Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances
(other than a petition) or Policy 71, Student Discipline may be appealed if there is a
ground. A student who believes he/she has a ground for an appeal should refer to Policy
72, Student Appeals.
Note for Students with Disabilities
The AccessAbility Services office, located on the first floor of the Needles Hall extension
(NH 1401), collaborates with all academic departments to arrange appropriate
accommodations for students with disabilities without compromising the academic
integrity of the curriculum. If you require academic accommodations to lessen the impact
of your disability, please register with the AS office at the beginning of each academic

The Writing Centre

The Writing Centre works across all faculties to help students clarify their ideas, develop
their voices, and write in the style appropriate to their disciplines. Writing Centre staff
offer one-on-one support in planning assignments and presentations, using and
documenting research, organizing and structuring papers, and revising for clarity and
coherence. You can make multiple appointments throughout the term, or drop in at the
Library for quick questions or feedback. To book a 50-minute appointment and to see
drop-in hours, visit their page. Group appointments for team-based projects,
presentations, and papers are also available. Please note that writing specialists guide you
to see your work as readers would. They can teach you revising skills and strategies, but
will not proof-read or edit for you. Please bring hard copies of your assignment
instructions and any notes or drafts to your appointment.