English 1B, Composition, Argument, and Rhetoric
The following is a syllabus for a class offered at the
University of California, Riverside.
Instructor : P. Aaron Potter
In addition to class time and office hours, I can be reached through my mailbox
in the English department, or through my e-mail.
Course Description :
Defend yourself! We are all constantly bombarded with advertisements, opinions,
editorials and arguments which are intended to convince us that we must buy,
vote, think, or behave in a particular manner. In an academic setting it
is even more vital that, as readers and as writers, we are in command of
the tools necessary to understand, evaluate, and forward positions on a variety
of topics. Whereas in English 1A the focus was on the basic elements of
composition, in English 1B the focus is on argument, persuasion, rhetoric,
and the other tools which writers use to bring readers into sympathy with
the author’s position. The methods and approaches which will be encountered
in the readings, class discussions, and writing exercises are meant to expand
your arsenal, allowing you to establish, support, or refute positions through
Required Texts :
The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing, 5th edition, Axelrod &
The Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler (PS)
Course Requirements :
Students are responsible for arriving in class on-time and prepared, which
includes responsibility for all assigned readings on the dates indicated
in the schedule. All papers and drafts of papers are due at the beginning
of class on the due date indicated. In addition, occasional in-class exercises
and quizzes will be assigned, and are factored into the final grade as indicated
below. It should be noted that showing up for class on time and prepared
is considered *minimally* adequate behavior for a college-level class, and
thus merits a *C* grade. Active participation in classroom discussion is
essential to earning a higher grade in the participation category.
Brief Essays #1-3 -- 15% (5% each)
Long Essay #1 -- 20%
Long Essay #2 -- 25%
Final Examination -- 20%
Participation, exercises, quizzes -- 20%
Failure to turn in *one* assignment results in a zero ("F") for that assignment.
Failure to turn in *two* assignments results in a zero for those assignments
*and* a zero for the participation section of the grade. Failure to turn
in *three* or more assignments results in a failing grade in the class.
Late papers are automatically graded one full letter grade lower than they
would otherwise have merited (an "A" turns into a "B," for example). An
additional one-third letter grade is deducted for each additional day (not
class day, but every day) that the assignment remains outstanding (that is,
from a "B" to a "B-" to a "C+" and so on). If the assignment is as much as
a week overdue, then it counts as not being handed in, per the policy above.
All essays should be typed and double-spaced, with approximately 1 - 1.5
inch margins on all sides, in a 12 point font (Times New Roman or a similar
‘standard’ font is strongly preferred). College level papers are
thoroughly formal documents : spelling and grammar are important components
of your writing, and I urge you to proofread carefully! Feel free to use
a spell-checker, but don’t let it do your thinking for you. For more
information on paper format, see the class web-pages and follow the link
to the "style guide."
"Brief Essays" should be two to three pages in length. "Long Essays" should
be between five and eight pages. Papers which are shorter than the required
minimum will automatically be given a grade of "F" (0 points). Please note
that one sentence does not constitute a "page" of writing -- the writing
should extend at least half-way down the page for it to be counted towards
the minimum length requirements. Material from other sources does not count
towards the minimum page length.
This class adheres strictly to the University policy on academic dishonesty.
Week 1 -- Arguments in everyday life
01 / 10 (M) -- Introduction to the course, requirements, and policies.
01 / 12 (W) -- Reading due: SMG, pp. 200-224: "Arguing a Position." Discussion
of argument formation, organization, and strategy. Brief Essay #1 handed
Week 2 -- Argument structure and error
01 / 17 (M) -- HOLIDAY (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) -- No Class. Please
read SMG, pp. 526-537: "Arguing."
01 / 19 (W) -- Brief Essay #1 due (on argument). Reading due: SMG, pp. 537-543:
"Counter-Arguing." Pay particular attention to the list of argumentative
fallacies on page 543. Brief Essay #2 handed out.
Week 3 -- Statistics, Research, Citation
01 / 24 (M) -- Reading due: SMG, pp. 290-316: "Justifying an Evaluation."
Class discussion: evaluation and analysis of arguments, positions, and evidence;
newspaper and Internet examples. Class exercise: topic selection for Long
01 / 26 (W) -- Brief Essay #2 due (on counter-argument / response). Reading
due: "Library and Internet Research," SMG, pp. 556-594. Long Essay #1 handed
Week 4 -- Medea and ethics (how to argue the unarguable)
01 / 31 (M) -- Reading due: Medea, pp. 1-23 (through Nurse's exit).
02 / 02 (W) -- Reading due: Medea, pp. 24-39 (through end of play).
Week 5 -- Rhetoric
02 / 07 (M) -- Long Essay #1 draft due -- bring *three* copies for in-class
peer work-group session.
02 / 09 (W) -- Long Essay #1 due (debate). Class exercise: debate. Discussion
of tone and rhetorical voice. Brief Essay #3 assigned.
Week 6 -- Rhetorical voice, exercises
02 / 14 (M) -- Class discussion: argument, counter-argument and rhetoric
(review & exercises). Happy Valentine's Day.
02 / 16 (W) -- Brief Essay #3 due (on rhetoric) -- bring *three* copies for
in-class peer work-group session!
Week 7 -- Parable of the Sower: arguing the unethical
02 / 21 (M) -- HOLIDAY (Washington's Birthday, Observed) -- No class
02 / 23 (W) -- Reading due: PS, pp. 1-87. Long Essay #2 handed out.
Week 8 -- Parable of the Sower: rhetoric (bringing text home)
02 / 28 (M) -- Reading due: PS, pp. 88-133.
03 / 01 (W) -- Long Essay #2 draft due -- bring *three* copies for in-class
peer work-group session. Reading due: PS, pp. 134-250.
Week 9 -- The Internet, Modern Problems
03 / 06 (M) -- Long Essay #2 due. Reading due: PS, 251-295.
03 / 08 (W) -- Reading due: SMG, pp. 247-269: "Proposing a Solution." Class
discussion of readings and relationship to newspaper and Internet examples.
Week 10 -- Modern Problems, Wrapping Up
03 / 13 (M) -- Reading due: SMG, pp. 336-360: "Speculating about Causes."
03 / 15 (W) -- Review, examination preparation, and wrap-up.
03 / 20 (M) -- Final Examination, 8:00 - 11:00 a.m. (location to be announced).
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