ENGLISH 271-272

English 271-2 is concerned with expository and rhetorical non-fiction prose rather than short stories or poetry: assignments may include personal essays, memoir, review, and some light persuasion. The content and form of compositions will be the most important aspects to consider, but grammatical clarity and correctness will also factor in. It does no good to be brilliant and creative if the reader can't make sense of the piece.


There is one required textbook for this class: The Writer's Presence (Fifth Edition) is our collection of essays, and we'll use it for examples, models of what we do and don't like, and topics to generate our own writing and thought. If you do not have a handbook for reference purposes or a similar text leftover from 101, 092, or 3, you might pick up a copy of The Writer's Pocket Handbook, by Alfred Rosa and Paul Eschholz; it's a good reference piece for grammar and drafting, as well as up-to-date research forms.  I also recommend The Writer's Harbrace Handbook, which covers research form in more depth, as well as every grammatical snag you'll ever need to know about.  Either choice is, a fine reference book to follow you through a university career.


Throughout the quarter, English 271-2 will generate 4-5 essays, 3-7 pages long (750-1750 words). These will be run through different levels of development, beginning with a draft that will be edited in group sessions.  Two to three rhetorical analysis essays,  participation in the editing, as well as written critiques of peer essays, will factor in with the essays to determine the quarter grade.

Participation in threaded group discussion is also required. Topics will be set out at the beginning of each week; each student must make a minimum of one, three-to-four line comment responding directly to each question in the listed topic, and at least one reply to another student's thread. (More comments are warmly encouraged.)

Essay Assignments will be posted on the same web page as the weekly Lectures, found under the Course Content icon.


Basically, your grades will come from your writing; however, that 'writing' means a little more than just the essays you create. You will also receive grades for the written editing critiques you will send me (2), and rhetorical analyses (3), and will receive credit for your threaded discussion participation. In all, 60% of your grade will be from the essays, with 25% for the written critiques of editing sessions and analyses, and another 10% for threaded discussion participation, which can take a large chunk if ignored. There is 5% I reserve for an instructor slush fund, to credit improvement.  It will never work against you, but it helps me to figure grades accurately in terms of a student's whole performance.

Work turned in late will lose credit points every day it's past the due date, roughly to one-third of the grade. For instance, if your paper would have been an A- on the day it was due but you turned it in the next day, it would now be a B+; if you turn it in another day later, it will be a B. You can see the trend.  No work will be accepted more than a week after the posted due date.

If something genuine and difficult prohibits you from turning your essay in on time, please let me know; I can be reasoned with in some instances. Also, be sure to let me know as soon as possible  if you're having trouble with or are confused by an assignment.  However, due to the nature of the on-line class, punctuality needs to be respected.


This being an on-line course, we will never actually see each other as a whole, trapped in a class room together on a cold winter evening or fighting to stay awake on a sleepy, overheated afternoon. Be advised, though, that teachers actually can pick up a student's individual style fairly quickly, and therefore, can detect when essays come from sources other than the student's own hand. We also now have software which runs checks on suspected plagiarized essays, and I will run such a check at the slightest provocation. If any work done for this course is plagiarized, the student will receive a zero for the assignment with no chance of rewriting it. More than one such episode, and the student will receive an F for the course. Do not be tempted by on-line essays floating out there in the ether; to tell you the truth, most of them aren't really all that good anyway.

 I also require that if you use material from other sources, you document this using current MLA citation form. Descriptions of this are noted under the Course Info icon.

SCHEDULE (Note: All assignments due to me by website e-mail, midnight of the due date)

Week One: June 27th-July1st

Lecture One: What is this All About?

LectureTwo: The Personal Essay

Readings: "On Keeping a Notebook", by Joan Didion, Writer's Presence, 21
"On the Essayist" by E.B. White  317

"The Joy of Reading and Writing" by Sherman Alexie  7

Begin First Essay Assignment (see  Course Content)

Opening Thread Questions

Week Two: July 2nd-8th

Lecture Three: Memoir and the Personal Essay

First writing Assignment Due 7/6

Topics for Second Essay Assignment

"My Father's Life" by Raymond Carver 103
"A Clack of Tiny Sparks: Remembrances of a Gay Boyhood" by Bernard Cooper WP 121
"A Few Words About Breasts">"A Few Words about Breasts," by Nora Ephron

Thread Questions posted

Week Three: July 9th-15th

Lecture Four: Aristotle, The Essay, and Literary Stuff

Still More Thread Questions

"Silent Dancing" by Judith Ortiz Cofer 110

"The Saint" by Camile Paglia (attached to lecture page and here as well!
"The Saint," by Camille Paglia)

People like Us, by David Brooks 344

First Group Editing Sessions Post Drafts to Groups no later than 7/10

Editing Critiques Due 7/12

Second Essay Due 7/13

Topics for Third Essay Assignment

Week Four: July 16th-22nd

Lecture Five: Exposition

Lecture Six: Exposition in Function

"Calculated Risks," by K.C. Cole
"This is the End of the World," by Barbara Tuchman 579

Thread Questions

Post drafts to groups 7/17

Editing Critiques Due 7/20

Topics for Fourth Essay

Check Thread

Week Five: July 23rd-29th

Lecture Seven: Review and Evaluation

LectureEight: Fine Lines--Persuasion

"A Well-Regulated Militia by Paul Fussell 683

"In the Combat Zone" Leslie Marmon Silko 798

Third Essay Due 7/25

Post drafts (of Essay 4) to groups 7/27

Thread Questions

Week Six: July 30th-August 5th

Lecture Nine: Persuasion/Argument

"Corn Pone Opinons" Mark Twain 853

"Drugs"  Gore Vidal  858

Analysis One Due 7/31

Essay Four Due 8/3

Week Seven:  August 6th-12th 

Analysis Two due 8/7;   Analysis Three due 8/9

"Where I Lived and What I Lived For" HD Thoreau (see discussion thread for link)
"The Insufficiency of Honesty" Stephen L. Carter 349

BCC Finals:  August 10th

No Exam in 271-2.

Grades Posted on the BCC Website: