4060/6060 Syllabus

ENGL 4060/6060: THEORIES OF COMPOSITION                            FALL 2017

On Blackboard you will find separate (official) syllabi for 4060 and 6060. This website includes information for both courses in a single document for your easy reference.

Class time and place:  LA 144E on Mon,  5pm-7:35pm

Professor Office and Email:  Liberal Arts 144I  and khowar20@aum.edu

Textbooks: Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader, Ed. Victor Villanueva and Kristin L. Arola, 3rd ed. Urbana: NCTE, 2011. Print.

Office Hours: Tues and Wed from 10am to 1pm, also by appt

This class is open to undergraduate English majors and English graduate students, particularly those seeking the Master of Teaching Writing degree or Certificate of Writing. It is also open to those enrolled in other graduate programs at AUM.

By the end of the course, students should be able to understand and articulate

1. reasons we study theory to prepare for teaching and researching writing

2. major trends or movements in the history of the field of composition

3. different ways to join the academic conversation in writing studies

4.  a new perspective on ideas most of us take for granted, such as literacy,  correctness, and technology

5. And, for graduate students, ways theory and practice may differ (or not)

This semester will include a (mostly) chronological overview of major philosophies associated with writing studies, ideas that were deemed “good” by those living at a particular time. Please understand that theory may include challenging and dense passages of text; it is not for the weak. However, we will talk about how to navigate these readings and how to get the most out of them.

I hope this course helps you to see that Rhetoric and Composition as a field does have research of its own and that you can be a part of its future. If you decide to pursue the teaching of writing, I hope this course helps you make informed decisions that shape your pedagogy as well.

Class participation is VITAL to making this experience positive for you. Research in any field is based on having conversations with others, so that’s where we’ll start each week: talking to each other about our views on writing, reading, research, and thinking. I’m very excited to have you in class!


Grades are based on a 100 point scale (90-100=A, 80-89=B, and so on. Final grades do not feature pluses or minuses at AUM.

Major Assignments and Descriptions:

(Please see 2017 syllabus on Bboard for updated percentages and points–there have been a few changes)

Class Participation 40 points 20%

You are responsible for reading, writing, and talking about material that may occasionally be very dense; please do not give up and skim a few pages as a result. To support and clarify your reading experience, you will post approximately 300 words per week to your WordPress blog, following the structure that is established on the schedule (write summary, make connections, ask questions).  Students will help determine the trajectory of our conversations based on the questions and ideas posed on blogs. Participation and attendance are very important to the success of the class.

Class Discussion Leader  10 points      5%

You will sign up to lead a class talk on one of our week’s readings.  You’ll have a partner in doing this. You and your partner are welcome to start class with a brief introduction of the authors and material and then lead us through a series of questions or topics that you feel is relevant to the overall themes of our course. The main thing is to keep the conversation going!

Podcast (2 min in duration)  10 points          5%

This is a role playing activity. You will imagine you are in a line at the local grocery store. A person in line behind you asks what you do for a living, and in this fantasy you are a teacher and scholar of writing (even if you haven’t graduated yet). The person will respond grumpily that s/he does not think “kids today” are able to “write anything except emoticons” and that it must be so hard to work with people who don’t know standard English. You will record a response to this statement on a sound file and explain, in detail, why this person’s stereotype does not fit the theory we have read about how writing takes place. In doing so, you’ll mention articles and authors (at least 2) we’ve studied in the first few weeks to support your points. Make sure you write a script first and that you keep the time limit in mind. It is ok to DISAGREE with the research we’ve read. The main point we want to emphasize with this imaginary citizen is that there is more to writing than most people think.

Letter of Justification (3-4 pages) 20 points       10%

This is similar to the podcast but more developed and refined. Someone in the Alabama Department of Education has decided to eliminate the 18 hour requirement for future teachers of writing. This means that now teachers who enter the writing classroom will have NO theory in their backgrounds. How do you make the case that THEORY in particular matters? Please use different sources (or at least different parts of evidence) for this project than the ones you use for the podcast. Graduate students should be including at least 1 source you locate independent of the course material (using the “follow the trail” method).

Midterm Exam 40 points      20%

For 4060: Students will answer three essay questions on material covered in the first half of the course. They are free to use their notes and textbook during this process.  Two questions will be one page in length (double-spaced), and a final essay question will be three pages. The essay will be due at 8pm via email.

For 6060: Students will answer four essay questions on material covered in the first half of the course. They are free to use their notes and textbook during this process. Two questions will be one page in length (double-spaced), and two longer essay questions will follow, each 2-3 pages in length.  Students will include and incorporate readings that undergraduates were not required to study. More time will be given for this exam. Essays are due at midnight via email.

Exam Project: Teaser Trailer for Rhet/Comp (45 sec in duration) 30 points   15%

Using WeVideoFree at http://www.wevideo.com, you will create a teaser trailer for the field of composition theory (Rhetoric and Composition).  WeVideo also has a free app that allows you to transfer sound, images, and text directly from mobile devices to your account. I will help you with this process.

In this project your audience is a group of people who know little to nothing about this field of study. You will focus on the readings we have done in the SECOND half of the semester when you consider what content you’d like to include. These will be presented on November 28.

Final Project 50 points   25%

Please be ready to give a short presentation on exam day that covers the main points of your project. These essays will be due December 5.

For 4060: Students will read a book by a theorist that is suggested to them and write a “mega blog”. After reading this text, they will produce a final essay of 6 pages. In these pages you will

1. provide a summary of the text and an evaluation of its content (like a book review)
2. explain how the author fits into the history of composition–is s/he a social constructionist? a digital scholar? a process theorist?–and what other things s/he has written that contribute to theory
3. explain how the author’s ideas connect to your own life (from past education experiences)
4. explain how the author’s ideas connect to your major and future profession (if they do)

For 6060: Students will compose a “mega blog” like the one mentioned above (10 pages). In these pages you will-

  1. provide a summary of the text and an evaluation of its content (like a book review)
2.  explain how the author fits into the history of composition–is s/he a social constructionist? a digital scholar? a process theorist?–and what other things s/he has written that contribute to theory
3. explain the author’s methodology
4. describe the cross talk that the author uses and who s/he cites in the work
5. explain how the author’s ideas connect to your own life (from past education experiences)
6. explain how the author’s ideas connect to your major and future profession (if they do)

Attendance Policy:

Students are expected to attend all classes.  This course is a workshop/discussion based class in which we learn from each other and learn by doing. You are allowed one unexcused absence per term. After this absence, your grade drops if you miss more meetings. Schedule doctor visits and advisee visits at times other than your classes.  Following an absence, it is your responsibility to get the work from your classmates–I do not review or reteach what is missed in these situations.

Academic Honesty:

All work submitted to this class must be your own and written exclusively for this class. Don’t recycle or reuse work.  In cases where plagiarism or other academic dishonesty is clearly established, the penalty could be a grade of “F” in the class, regardless of the value of the assignment. Students who have plagiarized will also be reported to the AUM Committee on Discipline, which may choose to impose additional sanctions. Students given an “F” for plagiarism will also have an asterisk on their transcript notifying all future parties of academic dishonesty. See the guidebook (Chapter 3) for descriptions of plagiarism as it commonly occurs.

Late Work:

Students are allowed to submit late work when they are able to show a medical reason for doing so. Otherwise, work should be submitted on time and in the correct medium (hard copy, email, or blog). Students should upload blog entries or other items before entering the classroom for our meeting. My belief is that any late work will cause additional stress on you rather than relief. The semester moves quickly, and it’s important to keep up.

Student Resources:

 Free Academic Support

All students have the opportunity to receive free academic support at AUM. Visit the Learning Center (LC) in the WASC on second floor Library or the Instructional Support Lab (ISL) in 203 Goodwyn Hall. The LC.ISL offers writing consulting as well as tutoring in almost every class through graduate school. The LC may be reached at 244-3470 (call or walk-in for a session), and the ISL may be reached at 244-3265. ISL tutoring is first-come-first served. Current operating hours can be found at www.aum.edu/learningcenter.

The Counseling Center

The Counseling Center provides trained stress-management professionals to help AUM students deal with problems beyond the academic sphere. Don’t wait until you’re at a crisis point to seek help; these kind and understanding folks can help you figure out techniques to manage your time, stay focused on your schoolwork, get through a personal difficulty, or simply help you determine a major that works for you. All services are confidential and free of charge to current AUM students. Please don’t let a stressful situation get the better of you—ask for help as soon as you think you need it. The Counseling Center is located in 319 Taylor Center; their phone number is 244-3469. See the Counseling Center’s website for more information: http://www.aum.edu/campus-life/student-services/counseling-center.

Center for Disability Services

Auburn University at Montgomery attempts to make reasonable accommodations to meet the special needs of its students with disabilities. Students requiring special services should notify me as soon as possible during office hours and via email. Assistance is available from the Center for Disability Services, which is located at Taylor 147. Reach them at cds@aum.edu or (334) 244-3631.

Class Evaluations

Students are given an opportunity to evaluate the course through an online system called Curtiss Course Critiques. These will be completed in class (I will step out of the room), usually two weeks before the term ends. Still, please come see me in my office before that time if you have a problem with the course or your progress in it. I would like to have your ideas and feedback on what helps you succeed.

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