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Course Description and Objectives: As a rhetorical study of writing styles, Eng 337 systematically examines the social, cultural, and historical nature of style. This rhetorical understanding of style will guide the students to learn and to practice strategies for making stylistic choices and for improving their own writings. Eng 337 focuses on how styles of discourse, literary or otherwise, assist inquiry in the realm of human affairs and on how styles of discourse induce action in real life.
Rhetoric: the art of finding the means of persuasion (Aristotle); the study of effective speaking and writing.
Style: the artful expression of ideas.
Weekly In-class Writings: (25%) Each week (approximately), you will write an in-class response to a question/prompt based on that week’s reading from rhetorical theory. These 12 writings will be done in class; if you miss one, you may make it up for half credit.
Style “Notebook”: (20%) In addition to the theoretical work we’ll do each week, we’ll apply some of these ideas practically. The style notebook will have two sections: a place for you to collect a “bad style” archive and a place for you to demonstrate your application of ideas about style to your own writing. Since I’m thinking of this as more a “rewriting” class than a “writing” class, I want to give you the chance to use the writing you’re doing for other classes as material for this class. So, in your style notebook, you should keep copies of papers or written assignments you’re doing for other classes – not necessarily everything, but enough to work on throughout the semester. By the end of the semester, you should have at least a few things that you’ve revised for style (5-7 pages).
The other section of your style notebook, the “bad style” archive, will give you a chance to apply the theories and skills you’re learning to the writing/speaking you encounter daily. In that section, you should keep newspaper clippings, bits of magazines, fliers, or pieces of paper on which you’ve copied down particularly awkward or egregious bits of writing – those which violate the dictates of good style we’re discussing in class. Each week, we’ll examine some of these and perhaps even try to rewrite them. By the end of the semester, you should have at least 12 examples of stylistically weak sentences or paragraphs you’ve collected. You’ll submit this notebook the last day of class.
Term Paper: (20%) A term paper offers students the chance to explore one author/idea/concept in more depth than can be offered in classroom discussion and/or to apply ideas to current situations. As we are reading and discussing, you should be thinking about an idea or question that you’d like to explore more fully on your own or that you’d like to apply to something you see around you. The term paper should offer me your ideas/analysis, supplemented and supported by outside sources where relevant. Please feel free to talk to me any time about topic ideas, sources, drafts, or revisions. I’ll be creating and updating a “topic bank” for the term paper to help you with ideas. Your term paper will be due by the time of our final exam, although you may turn it in at any time during the semester. If you turn it in earlier in the semester, I’ll grade and return it, and you can revise and resubmit (for a new grade), if you’d like.
Exams: (35%)You’ll have three take-home exams throughout the semester. The first will be worth 100 points, the last two worth 125 points each.
Your final grade, then, will be calculated as follows:
In-class writings 250
Style notebook 200
Term Paper 200
The total of 1000 points will then be converted to a percentage, to which your grade will be assigned according to the following scale:
Attendance: Because this is a discussion-based class, your attendance for each class is important. You may miss three classes without penalty; the fourth and fifth class you miss will each reduce your final point total by 30 points; missing six classes will constitute an automatic F in the class.