Expository Writing

ENC 3310 | Spring 2014 | University of South Florida

Dr. Marc C. Santos
Assistant Prof. of English
Office: Cooper Hall 301c
Email: marcsantos at usf dot edu / insignificantwrangler at gmail dot com

“The authority of those who teach, is very often an impediment to those who desire to learn.” Cicero

Course Description

I believe strong writing develops out of careful reading and strategic engagement with an audience. Also, I believe that the purpose of a writing class is to help students develop relevant writing skills to their own intellectual, professional, and/or personal trajectories. Finally, I believe a writing class should explore a wide variety of writing and communication technologies. The design of this class is a reflection of all three of these beliefs.

This semester I have designed the course around the concept of fandom. For our first two weeks, you will be researching a fan community to join for the next several months. We will think about the concept of fandom fairly liberally: with football season coming, you might want to join the fantasy football community. Or, perhaps, you are an avid movie fan, reader, or videogame player. Or, if your interests are more scholarly, then you can join any number of different academic conversations. Since we are entering an election year, you might be interested in writing about politics or activism. The key here is for you to select something you are already invested in, something you enjoy doing, and something that has an active community on the Internet.

Every week you will be required to write at least 750 words on the Internet. Additionally, you will be required to compose at least 2 tweets. You will be building a social media presence within your discourse community. The exact nature of your writing will be explicated in your first project, which asks you to identify the places on the Internet where people are actively writing (and commenting) on your chosen activity. Your final grade will be influenced by your ability to interact with other humans communicating on the Internet.

You will then write about this activity for ten weeks. Our class will operate similar to a creative writing workshop. In most class sessions, I will spend a little time presenting an important concept germane to writing. These can include stylistic devices, elements of logical argumentation, issues with formatting, grammatical concerns, or more theoretical concerns such as ethos or kairos. We will spend a significant amount of class time examining writing as a class, identifying what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes I will have you read what another student has written and make suggestions. Sometimes we will spend a class session writing a single sentence. Sometimes we will spend a class transforming a paragraph into a tweet. Also, we will do a significant amount of writing in class, especially earlier in the semester.

But I want to warn up front what we won’t be doing in class. I won’t be “teaching” you to write. Writing cannot be taught. It can, however, be learned. As an instructor, my job is to establish conditions that maximize your potential to improve as writers. I believe this requires me to a) make sure you read as much as possible, b) make sure you read not only for content but also for structure and conventions (genre), c) help you develop sophisticated ways of seeing and talking about writing, and d) make you write A LOT.

Over the course of the semester we will read two theoretical works on fandom: Henry Jenkins’ Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers and Mark Duffett’s Understanding Fandom. Your final paper will compare and contrast your experiences writing as a fan for 10 weeks to the theoretical perspectives offered by these books.

Course Materials

As I mentioned above, there are two required books for this course:

I will also be requiring you to use twitter and Google Docs in class.

Anonymity: The Internet can be a scary place. There’s quite a few jerks out there. I want you to consider whether to use your real name (or school ID) or whether to create a pseudonym for this class. If you choose to use a pseudonym, then I would start by creating a new email address with that pseudonym and use that email address to create accounts for twitter and any other community/forum/space you end up using (such as, say, Reddit).

But I assure you that anything you do on Google Docs will remain private–you can use your USF email for those documents.

Course Requirements

This semester has 3 major projects:

Project One: Proposal

In the proposal project you will articulate to me which fan community you will join. This includes identifying active places on the Internet at which people are writing and commenting and identifying a few of the major personalities that drive this community. This project will also identify the kinds of writing you will need to do: what kind of writing does this community value? Are you going to be writing on reddit? Or a specific community forum? Could you compose a faq for this community and solicit feedback from community members? Could you write some reviews? We will discuss this project more during the first week of class.

Project Two: Writing Fandom

Every week for ten weeks you will compose, revise, and publish at least 750 words to the Internet. At least 100 of these words should be a response to someone else in the community. You can earn bonus points for responding to a response to your response, because I am looking to reward engagement and participation. In order to facilitate assessment, you will share a Google Doc with me every week (by Monday at 11:59pm) that keeps track of all the writing you have done over the course of the semester (with links to that writing). I will share and discuss this document during week three.

Project Three: Analyzing Fandom

In our third project, you will compose a paper that uses Jenkins’ and Duffett’s treatments of fandom as a lens for analyzing your own experiences as a fan.

There are a few other obligations:

Reading Quizes

There will be a few reading quizzes tied to the Jenkins and Duffett readings.

Workshop Participation

Over the course of the semester we will do a number of in-class activities called “quick writes.” We will also do revision activities via Canvas.

Assessment

Here are the requirement weights:

  • Project One: 10%
  • Project Two: 50%
  • Project Three: 20%
  • Reading Quizzes: 10%
  • Workshop Participation: 10%

Things You Probably Know But That I Have to Write Anyway

Students with a disability and thus requiring accommodations are encouraged to consult with the instructor during the first week of class to discuss accommodations. See Student Responsibilities: http://www.sds.usf.edu/Students.htm. Each student making this request must bring a current Memorandum of Accommodations from the office of student Disabilities Services.

You are excused from class for major observances of your religion. Inform the instructor at the beginning of the term when you expect to be absent for these events.

Plagiarism: See http://www.usg.usf.edu/catalogs/0405/adap.htm for USF Undergraduate Catalog’s definitions and policy, and consult with the instructor if you are uncertain.

Attendance is mandatory. In accordance with USF’s General Attendance Policy, I will excuse 3 absences (scheduled or unscheduled) per semester. Additional absences will incur a 5 point penalty on the final grade. If you have a family or medical emergency that will require you to miss class, then you need to contact me as early as possible. Do not wait until after a long absence to inform me about an illness.

Class starts at 2:00. I will take attendance shortly after 2:00. If you are not present when I take attendance, then you are absent.

This is a computer lab. There is a computer in front of you. There is also a professor in front of the class. Know when to pay attention to the computer and when to pay attention to the professor.

George Carlin

The very existence of flamethrowers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”

Calendar

Things change, roll with it.

Week One

Tuesday: Course Introduction, Project One Introduction
Homework: start researching project one

Thursday: Introduction to Twitter, share Project One topics/research
Homework:

Week Two

Tuesday: Work on project one research in class, what does a period do?
Homework: Project One due Thursday by 1:59pm

Thursday: Writing Workshop: writing an origin story
Homework: Start writing for your community

Week Three

Tuesday: Sharing and introducing the google doc writing journal
Homework: Write for your community

Thursday: Workshop origin story; first sentences.
Homework: Write for your community

Week Four

Tuesday: A well wrought tweet, take 1
Homework: Write for your community

Thursday: Workshop writing from week 3
Homework: Write for your community, read Jenkins

Week Five

Tuesday: Writing workshop: writing a summary
Homework:

Thursday: Workshop writing from week 4
Homework: Write for your community, read Jenkins

Week Six

Tuesday: Jenkins quiz #1; direct quotation
Homework:

Thursday: Workshop writing from week 5
Homework: Write for your community, read Jenkins

Week Seven

Tuesday: Discuss Jenkins
Homework:

Thursday: Crafting an email
Homework: Write for your community, read Jenkins

Week Eight

Tuesday: Jenkins quiz #2
Homework:

Thursday: Workshop week 6 and 7 writing
Homework: Write for your community, read Duffett

Week Nine

Tuesday:
Homework:

Thursday:
Homework: Write for your community, read Duffett

Week Ten

Tuesday: Duffett quiz #1
Homework:

Thursday:
Homework: Write for your community, read Duffett

Week Eleven

Tuesday:
Homework:

Thursday:
Homework: Write for your community, read Duffett

Week Twelve

Tuesday: Duffett quiz #2; introduce Project 3
Homework:

Thursday: Open day
Homework:

Week Thirteen

Tuesday: MLA and APA format workshop #1
Homework:

Thursday: Project 3 rough drafts are due today; peer review #1.
Homework:

Week Fourteen

Tuesday: Open day
Homework: Work on your paper.

Thursday: Thanksgiving Break
Homework: Eat and be thankful.

Week Fifteen

Tuesday: MLA and APA formatting workshop #2
Homework: Work on your paper

Thursday: Course evaluations, peer review #2
Homework: Complete Paper. Project 3 papers are due December 8th by 11:59pm

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