551 Syllabus

EN 551
Theory and Practice of Composition
Fall Semester 2010
Dr. Bess Fox
Thursday 06:30PM - 09:15PM, Gailhac, Room 36

Final Exam: Thursday, April 29 6:30-9:15, 36
Office Hours: 10:00-12:00 TF, 4:00-6:00 TH, and by appointment
Office: Gailhac 23A
Phone: office (704) 284-1568, home (202) 640-1942
E-mail: ude.tnuomyram|xof.sseb#ude.tnuomyram|xof.sseb

Academic Integrity
By accepting this syllabus, you pledge to uphold the principles of Academic Integrity expressed by the Marymount University Community. You agree to observe these principles yourself and to defend them against abuse by others.

Special Needs and Accommodations
Please advise the instructor of any special problems or needs at the beginning of the semester. If you seek accommodation based on disabilities, you should provide a Faculty Contact Sheet obtained through Disability Support Services located in Gerard Hall, (703) 284-1615.

Access to Student Work
Copies of your work in this course including copies of any submitted papers and your portfolios may be kept on file for institutional research, assessment and accreditation purposes. All work used for these purposes will be submitted anonymously.

Student Copyright Authorization
For the benefit of current and future students, work in this course may be used for educational critique, demonstrations, samples, presentations, and verification. Outside of these uses, work shall not be sold, copied, broadcast, or distributed for profit without student consent.

University Policy on Snow Closings
Snow closings are generally announced on area radio stations. For bulletins concerning Marymount snow or weather closings, call (703) 526-6888. Unless otherwise advised by radio announcement or by official bulletins on the number listed above, students are expected to report for class as near normal time as possible on days when weather conditions are adverse. Decisions as to snow closing or delayed opening are not generally made before 5:00 AM of the working day. Students are expected to attend class if the University is not officially closed.

This course provides a theoretical and practical overview of the teaching of composition. Students read and respond to theories of composition as well as to central debates in the field. They study the composition practices of a single classroom while reflecting on their own experiences as academic writers. The course culminates in a research paper that synthesizes and analyzes current research on one issue in the field of composition and in a teaching portfolio that includes course materials and teaching philosophy.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be expected to:

  • Assess and evaluate key theories of composition
  • Identify the central debates in the field of composition
  • Analyze a particular writing class’s teaching strategies, practices, and results
  • Articulate the theories of composition that will inform their own pedagogical practices
  • Apply these theories of composition to the design of an assignment sequence
  • Critique their own experiences as college writers
  • Present, in a paper and a presentation, their research on one issue in the field of composition

Seminar, workshop, discussion, student presentations, tutroial

40% 12 page research paper exploring one issue in the field of composition (including presentation)
25% 7 reading responses (1-2 pages each)
35% teaching portfolio that includes:

  • composition I essay (including full participation in writing workshops) and reflection on process 10%
  • ethnography of a writing class (including an overview that discusses the syllabus and major assignments, at least 4 class observations, interview with instructor, and (optional) analysis of the student writing produced for one assignment) 20%
  • an assignment sequence with a short teaching philosophy that explains the theoretical design of this assignment sequence 5%

Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader Ed. Victor Villanueva
A Sourcebook for Responding to Student Writing Ed. Richard Straub

Deborah Brandt Literacy in American Lives
Lisa Ede ed. On Writing Research: The Braddock Essays 1975-1997
Peter Elbow Writing without Teachers
Kristie S. Fleckenstein Embodied Literacies: Imageword and a Poetics of Teaching
Deborah H. Holdstein and David Bleich eds.Personal Effects: The Social Character of Scholarly Writing
Bruce Horner and Min-Zhan Lu Representing the "Other": Basic Writers and the Teaching of Basic Writing
Gesa E. Kirsch et al. eds. Feminism and Composition
Krista Ratcliffe Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness
Mike Rose Lives on the Boundary, The Struggles and Achievements of America's Underprepared
Geneva Smitherman and Victor Villanueva eds. Language Diversity in the Classroom
Cynthia L. Selfe Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-First Century: The Importance of Paying Attention


All writing, however strong, can benefit from a careful reader’s response. In addition to feedback from your instructor and your classmates, writing assistance is available from peer tutors in the Learning Resource Center. LRC tutors can help at any stage of the writing process – from getting started to final editing. They can help you figure out an assignment, overcome “writer’s block,” or discover your thesis. Remember, however, that tutors are not allowed to revise or edit students’ papers for them. All changes, revisions, or corrections must be your work.

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