English 402 Theory and Practice: The Essay | Spring 2018 | Tuesday & Thursday 12-1:45 | Science Center 201

Dr. Mark C. Long | 206 Parker Hall | Office Hours: Tuesday 2-3, Wednesday 11-12, Friday 10-11, or by appointment |

Course Description A course in the theory and practice of writing nonfiction, with an emphasis on the art of the essay—to include the personal essay, literary journalism, the review, critical commentary, and the public humanities. We will consider the history of the essay as a literary genre, consider theories of the essay, and reflect on our experiences writing expository, descriptive, narrative, personal, and creative nonfiction in school. Expect intensive practice writing for public audiences, including nonfiction commentaries on literary artifacts—as well as more recent forms of the essay using sound, image, and visual design

Books Essayists on the Essay: From Montaigne to Our Time, edited by Carl H. Klaus and Ned Stuckey-French; Crafting Presence: The American Essay and the Future of Writing Studies, by Nicole B. Wallack

Learning Objectives The general objectives of English and humanities classes will be familiar to you: these include learning how historical, social, and cultural contexts shape literary works-including those works produced by cultures whose humanity and identity have been devalued, denied, or dismissed; learning about literature, rhetorical and literary strategies, and the ways in which literary works relate intertextually; learning from the historical contexts and critical theories that shape literary analysis and inform scholarly conversations in the field of literary studies; and practicing careful reading, the use of sophisticated vocabulary, an orderly critical approach, and the use of writing for a range of purposes

Learning Outcomes We will take up the learning outcomes as a class when we reach the end of the course. The outcomes you write will describe what you have learned individually and collectively during the semester

Technology You will be setting up your own personal domain on and using a WordPress installation to publish your work. All writing will be published on your WP blog. And so you will need access to a computer. However, having a computer is not a requirement in this course. If you don’t have your own machine, please talk to me during the first week of class and we will make arrangements so that you have access to a computer for our in-class work.

Laptop loans For in-class work, you can check out a laptop from the circulation desk of the Mason Library. Go to the circulation desk and ask for a laptop to loan. You will need your student ID. Laptops can circulate out of the building, but are limited to on-campus only and the loan period is 3 hours. The laptops work with a wireless network (KSC_Labs) broadcast in Morrison,  Parker,  Rhodes, Elliot, Science Center, and the  Student Center

Computer labs The College has public computer labs available in Rhodes Hall and The Mason Library. The course web site is accessible from any computer. In addition, the site is responsive on a range of platforms so that you may access the course materials on any device with a web browser, including your mobile phone

Occasionally I will use e-mail to make announcements. So please check your e-mail regularly. E-mail is the most effective ways to communicate with me outside of class time or office hours

Grading Philosophy and Practice Successful students are committed to the values that inform the most satisfying and rewarding intellectual work. These values include centeredness, wholeness, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, imagination and collaboration

My grading philosophy and practice is predicated on these values. My grading practice focuses on 1) your reading, 2) your collaboration with others, and yourself, and 3) your production of a body of writing:

Reading will include thinking with texts in preparation for in-class conversations and engaged reading as a writer.

As the class unfolds, your reading will increasingly help you break new ground-to imagine ways of writing beyond cultural and discursive commonplaces; and to unsettle distinctions between the personal and the academic, between lived experience and and the thinking of others

Collaboration is a dance with the insights and ideas of others, in the literary and cultural materials at hand. It is thinking with our teachers, one another, as well as with ourselves. And it is enriched when we recognize that our lived experience is an intersection-of influences in the present and in the past, from the present and from the past

How do you make these things happen? Collaboration happens when you show up in class and participate; when you read, listen, and speak up; when you are making connections across class meetings and to other classes and experiences beyond school; and when you engage with your teacher—in conversation, during scheduled conferences, or in weekly office hours

Writing Everything that you write in this class—from your journal entries to your completed essays—will demonstrate your commitment to developing more complex thinking and to presenting your thinking in engaging and professional ways

The notebook will capture your emerging thoughts, and your essays will provide a space for experimentation. Your blog will make visible, in writing, your reading and your thinking process, and your portfolio will demonstrate where your process of rethinking and revising can take you

I will assess your work in these three areas holistically, at the midterm, using the general criteria listed above, along with your self-assessment. Your final letter grade will be assigned using the College grading scale of A, AB, B, BC, C, DC, D, F. This scale can be explained generally in the following way: a C is acceptable work, a B is skillful and articulate work, and an A is creative, unique, in-depth work

Another dimension that will determine your grade is your commitment to a collaborative writing and editorial process. So let’s say you are working on a B  (skillful and articulate work) or an A (creative, unique, in-depth work) but you are not getting your work in by the deadlines on the timeline. Sure, most of us will miss a deadline over a fifteen week college course. But if there is pattern of publishing work beyond the deadline (more than 1-2 times), and your late work has an adverse impact on me as a reader and editor of your work, then you can expect your final grade in the course to be lower.

In my experience students do best when they are focused less on the grade and more on making the most of the privilege of study in a college classroom—of embracing the experience of higher standards than what you are used to, and of becoming aware of these standards so as to enlarge your own sense of what can be done

Difficulties with the reading, collaboration, and writing activities described above are to be expected, and I invite you to work more closely with me to become a more active participant in our work together

If you are a student with a disability The Office of Disability Services (ODS), Elliot Hall, 8-2353, is available to discuss eligibility requirements and appropriate academic accommodations that you may require as a student with a disability. So all arrangements can be made, requests for academic accommodations need to be completed during the first two weeks of the semester. You are responsible for making an appointment with ODS for disability verification and determination of reasonable academic accommodations

Emergency Operations In the event the College closes for a major disaster, students are responsible for regularly checking their e-mail, voice mails, and MyKSC for information on alternative course delivery procedures and course work submission. Students will be responsible for completing their assignments and ensuring that they have completed all of the core requirements for their courses before they will receive a final grade for the course