Because I believe that growth as a reader and writer stems from consistent practice, I have designed this course to reward both the quality of your finished writing and thoughtful, steady work over the course of the semester.

Semester Grade

You will earn letter grades on the final versions of your two main essays for this course. You will also earn a cumulative letter grade for your weekly writings (see below). Here is how I will tabulate your final grade:

  • Essay One:           40%
  • Essay Two:           40%
  • Weekly:                  20%


I will assign a letter grade to the final draft of each of your two main  essays. This grade  will reflect my sense of the ambition, interest, and quality of your writing.  While I can’t reduce this professional judgement to a simple numerical scale, I can say that, in grading your essays,  I will consider your

  • Project: your goal or aim in writing
  • Materials: your use of other texts
  • Voice: the clarity and interest of your prose
  • Editing and Design: the final form of your document

I will use this form in assigning and explaining your grade. We’ll go over it later this semester. But don’t fixate on it. Your task is to write an ambitious and interesting essay in a voice that feels your own. Do that, and you will do fine.

Weekly Writings

I will also ask you, over the course of the term, to turn in a series of ungraded writings—including early drafts of your essays, revision plans, your second essay proposal, and your presentation of e2. These pieces will be graded with a √  or √ –.

√        2 points    Good
√ –     1 point      Hurried, incomplete, or wildly off the mark
Ø        0                   Missing or late

Your cumulative letter grade for all 10 weekly writings will be determined as follows:

A         20 points
A-       19
B+      18
B        17
C+     16
C        15
D       14
F        13

Deadlines are firm. To earn a √, your work must be on time, thoughtful, and edited with care.

Work in Seminar

I expect you to participate actively in this seminar—to meet deadlines as a writer, to respond thoughtfully to the work of your classmates, to come to class ready to discuss the assigned readings, and to find ways to make your voice heard in our conversations. I will ask you to do some informal writing during many of our class meetings and to share that work from time to time. I will also often ask you to work in pairs or small groups and will expect you to take that work seriously. I reserve the right to raise or lower your semester grade by one step (for instance, from a B to a B+ or a B-) to reflect the consistency and quality of your work in seminar.

Work Out of Class

The usual calculus is that you should work two hours out of class for each hour in class. This means you should set aside six hours each week to keep up with the reading and writing assigned for this course.

Missed Work and Plagiarism

I expect you to complete all the work assigned for this course. Missing assignments will count as a zero or F. And I of course expect that all the work you do will be your own. If you plagiarize any of your work for this course, the penalty will be an F for the assignment, and possibly for the course. I am also obligated to report serious cases of plagiarism to the Office of Student Conduct.


UD | Spring 2015 | #060 Tues/Thurs, 12:30-1:45 Purnell 329