Course Policies

Instructor: Quinn Warnick, Ph.D.
Course Location: 203 Moody Hall
Class Hours: T/Th 11:00–12:15
Dr. Warnick’s Office: 211 Premont Hall
Office Hours: M 9:00–12:00, W 1:00–4:00, or by appointment
Office Phone: 485-4622 (Leave a detailed message if I don’t pick up.)
Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required (This is the best way to reach me.)

ENGW 4341 Overview

This course is designed to introduce you to major contemporary theories of rhetoric and the application of these theories in the classroom, the workplace, and the public sphere. Building on the readings you completed in ENGW 3336, Theories of Rhetoric and Composition, we will explore how classical and medieval rhetoric continues to influence modern-day rhetorical studies. We will also consider the ways in which today’s thinkers have made a break from the past. We will read widely from theorists and researchers of the past century, with particular focus on technological shifts in the field of composition studies during the past thirty years. In addition, you will read deeply on a particular subject of your choosing and conduct original research in order to produce a substantive paper at the conclusion of the semester.

Individual projects will constitute the bulk of your work in this course, but a significant portion of your grade will be determined by your contributions to a collective effort: the building of a wiki that maps the field of rhetoric and composition. This site will summarize our course readings, connect those readings to the individual research of each student, classify research according to theoretical and methodological approaches, and provide a venue that can be used (and extended) by other students of rhetoric and composition.

Required Textbooks and Materials

  • Professing the New Rhetorics: A Sourcebook, edited by Theresa Enos and Stuart C. Brown (1994).
  • Digital Writing Research, edited by Heidi A. McKee and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss (2007).
  • A Google Docs account, connected to an email address you check regularly.
  • A account, connected to an email address you check regularly.
  • Approximately 200 sheets of paper for printing course readings and your assignments.

Course Objectives

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:

  • describe key theories and theorists in contemporary rhetoric, composition, semiotics, new media, and literacy studies.
  • understand the options that different modes of communication afford composers in creating multimodal texts, and how these options affect authorship, audiences, and reading practices.
  • conduct research that acknowledges and explicates the nuances of complex theories and pedagogies.
  • compose arguments that persuasively articulate your positions on theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical issues related to rhetoric and composition.

Class Attendance and Participation

Most of our class sessions will be conducted in discussion/workshop format, so regular attendance and active participation are important. Because I do not differentiate between “excused” and “unexcused” absences (either you attended class or you did not), my attendance policy is simple: you may miss three classes (for any reason) without penalty. Each additional absence (for any reason) will lower your course grade by 5%, and six or more absences may result in a failing grade for the course. Because our time in class is limited, promptness is important. Each tardy (arriving more than 5 minutes late) and each instance of leaving early will count as 1/2 of an absence. If you are late for class, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have not been marked absent.

Software and Technology

One of my goals as a professor is to increase your electronic literacy. Hence, many of your assignments will be submitted electronically, either using Google Docs or RhetorClick, the class wiki. In addition, the major assignments will require you to navigate academic databases, streaming videos, listserv archives, discussion forums, and wikis. If you are not comfortable with these programs, you may need to spend additional time outside of class reviewing online tutorials or seeking help from the Instructional Technology office on campus.

As you complete assignments for this class, be sure to save all your work, both print and electronic. Do not discard any drafts, notes, papers, or research materials until you receive a final grade for the course. In addition, be sure to save your work regularly in multiple formats (print and electronic) and multiple locations (computer, flash drive, Google Docs, EdShare). Computer problems are a part of modern life, and a crashed computer or a lost flash drive is not a valid excuse for a late paper.

Grading and Evaluation

Traditional assignments in this course include a short paper, a final paper, and a class presentation. In addition, you will complete 10 brief responses to our reading assignments and contribute various types of content to the class wiki. Major assignments will be penalized 10% for every class period they are late. You must complete all major assignments to receive a passing grade at the end of the semester. Reading responses are worth 10 points each, and because these short assignments relate directly to the topic of discussion each day, they will receive no credit if they are turned in late.

ENGW 4341 is designed to be a “senior seminar” for English Writing and Rhetoric majors, which means that your reading, thinking, talking, and writing should be on par with the work typically expected of new graduate students. Hence, it is absolutely essential that you keep up with our reading schedule. Likewise, this seminar course won’t succeed unless you come to class ready and willing to discuss (and argue about) what you’ve read. I expect every member of the class to say something interesting during every class period.

Weighted Assignments

Major units and shorter assignments will be weighted as follows:

  • Short Paper (~1,000-words): 10%
  • Final Paper (~3,000 words, plus a proposal and annotated bibliography): 30%
  • Reading Responses (10 responses, ~300 words each): 15%
  • Class Presentation / Leading Discussion: 10%
  • Taking Notes: 10%
  • Contributions to Class Discussions: 10%
  • Contributions to the Wiki: 15%
  • TOTAL: 100%

You can read more details about the major assignments on the assignments page.

Grading Scale

All major assignments will be evaluated on a 100-point scale, and final grades will be calculated using the following scale:

  • A: 90–100
  • B: 80–89.99
  • C: 70–79.99
  • D: 60–69.99
  • F: 0–59.99

Please note that St. Edward’s does not use a +/- grading scale and I do not round up when calculating final grades.

Grading Criteria

All major assignments will be evaluated using the following criteria:

A — Superior Accomplishment. Shows excellent analysis of the assignment and provides an imaginative and original response. Successfully adapts to the audience, context, and purpose of the assignment. Contains no mechanical errors and requires no revisions.

B — Commendable. Shows judgment and tact in the presentation of material and responds appropriately to the requirements of the assignment. Has an interesting, precise, and clear style. Reveals sustained thought and effective research on the topic. May contain a few small problems in correctness.

C — Competent. Meets all the basic criteria of the assignment, and provides evidence of satisfactory research on the topic. There is nothing remarkably good or bad about the work. Contains minor defects in substance, organization, style, or correctness.

D — Needs Improvement. Responds to the assignment, but does so in a superficial or inadequate manner. Reveals a lack of serious thought or research on the topic. Contains significant defects in substance, organization, style, or correctness.

F — Unacceptable. Provides an inadequate response to the assignment or shows a misunderstanding of the rhetorical situation. Contains glaring defects in substance, organization, style, or correctness.

Eliminating Distractions

During recent semesters, I have noticed that my students are becoming increasingly distracted during class. Not surprisingly, most of these distractions are technological in nature: cell phones, iPods, nonacademic websites, etc. As a result, I have developed a simple technology policy: Cell phones (including texting), MP3 players, and other handheld devices should never be used during class. If you bring a laptop or tablet to class, please use it only for class-related purposes. IMing, checking email, web surfing, etc., are incredibly disrespectful of our time together. I suspect that many of you, like me, suffer from Technology Distraction Disorder,TM so it may be best to avoid any potential problems by leaving your technological devices in your bags or pockets during class. If you violate this policy repeatedly, I will ask you to leave the classroom and mark you absent for that day.

Disability Accommodations

If you have a medical, psychiatric, or learning disability and require accommodations in this class, please let me know early in the semester or as soon as you are eligible. You will first need to provide documentation of your disability to the Student Disability Services Office, located in 155 Moody Hall in Academic Planning and Support Services.

Academic Integrity

The Student Handbook states the following:

St. Edward’s University expects academic honesty from all members of the community, and it is our policy that academic integrity be fostered to the highest degree possible. Consequently, all work submitted for grading in a course must be created as a result of your own thought and effort. Representing work as your own when it is not a result of such thought and effort is a violation of our code of academic integrity. Whenever it is established that academic dishonesty has occurred, the course instructor shall impose a penalty upon the offending individual(s).

In a writing course, violations of this Academic Integrity policy typically take the form of plagiarism. I do not tolerate plagiarism in any form, and I am exceptionally skilled at identifying plagiarized work. If you submit plagiarized work in this course, you will receive an automatic 0 on the assignment. Depending on the severity of the plagiarism, you may also fail the entire course. In addition, I will report the incident to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Plagiarism occurs when a writer, speaker, or designer uses someone else’s language, ideas, images, or other material without fully acknowledging its source by quotations marks, in footnotes or endnotes, and in lists of works cited. In this course, we will draw heavily upon text, images, videos, and other electronic materials found online; the fact that such material is online does not lessen our obligation to give credit where credit is due. Occasionally, students will unintentionally plagiarize material because they have failed to keep track of their sources as they acquire them. You can avoid this problem by keeping detailed records of your research activities in this class.

As a professor, my academic integrity obligates me to report all cases of plagiarism (regardless of the circumstances) to the university. If you have any questions about plagiarism and how it relates to your work, please talk to me before you turn in an assignment. Once plagiarized work has been submitted for a grade, I have no choice but to enforce this policy.