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COURSE NAME: "Advanced Composition"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Allison Grimaldi Donahue
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:00-4:15PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: Placement via JCU English Composition Placement Exam or completion of either EN 103 or EN 105 with a grade of C or above

This course reinforces the skills needed to write well-organized essays, focusing specifically on argumentative essays. Elements covered include thesis development, critical reading, organizing and outlining, paraphrasing and summarizing, and citation and documentation standards. Techniques of academic research and the use of the library and other research facilities are discussed. In addition to regular in- and out-of-class reading and writing assignments, students are required to write a fully documented research paper. Students must receive a grade of C or above in this course to fulfill the University’s English Composition requirement and to be eligible to take courses in English literature. Individual students in EN 110 may be required to complete additional hours in the English Writing Center as part of their course requirements.

SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT: The course examines a range of fundamental writing strategies, starting with grammar, critical reading of sources, summarizing, paraphrasing and proper quoting; it continues with the writing of a topic proposal, selection and citation of sources, literature review, and thesis development. Research and use of library resources will also be covered. Students will be required to submit assignments through TurnitinUK.


This specific section of EN 110 will use the theme of “Writing in the Anthropocene” to guide our course. The theme deals with the rapidly changing world in which we live and over which humans exert great influence. Since strong and relevant writing emerges from serious thinking there is an important critical thinking element to this course.


In and out-of-class sessions will consist of: lectures, seminars, various types of workshops, class discussions, writing  labs,  oral  presentations,  readings,  and research.


Lecture: Professor teaches specific material while students take notes

Seminar: Interactive class conducted by instructor where students participate actively

Workshop: Hands-on editing and research sessions individually or in groups

Fieldwork: Conducting research outside of class

Activities you can expect to find in this class:      


  • Working with assigned readings, either in preparation for a writing assignment, as part of revising drafts, or to illustrate rhetorical principles and generic features
  • Working with student essays for similar purposes
  • Writing brief, exploratory in-class essays: for example, a 15-20 minute focused free-write in preparation for discussion of a reading assignment or a more formal in-class essay to be marked
  • Revising, individually and in groups
  • Participating in writing groups and conferences during the drafting process
  • Meeting with the instructor for individual conferences     NOTE: Students are expected to engage actively in every session. Every assignment and activity will receive a score towards the final grade.   Assignments are relevant and necessary for participation during class.

Instructions for Written Work:

  •      12-point Times New Roman Font, double spaced. All assignments must be typed      unless notified.
  •      All assignments are to be handed-in in both print and electronic versions.
  •      Use your spell and grammar checks, but always reread, revise, and self edit.
  •      Use MLA Referencing, Citation and Margins.
  •       Please visit the Writing Center for additional support!




Students will learn to write a well-organized research paper, supported by evidence, and free of grammatical errors. By the end of the course students will be able to:

Grammar: Write sophisticated English prose that is grammatically and idiomatically correct

Reading: Read to comprehend increasingly complex material, read and think critically     

Vocabulary: Expand vocabulary through reading and writing , develop subject-specific terminology through reading and writing     

Rhetoric: Write well-organized essays, focusing specifically on argumentative essays              

Write a strong, well-developed thesis statement with supporting arguments              

Think, read, write critically for an academic audience               

Write a developed outline               

Paraphrase and summarize               

Cite and write using documentation              

Write a fully documented research paper 

Research and sourcing:

(can be covered by a librarian in one or more workshops in the library)                

Be familiar with research and information literacy skills including:    

A reinforcement of searching skills: catalog, database, and web sourcing                   

Source evaluation

Subject searching

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
They Say, I Say, 3rd EditionGraff and BirkensteinW.W. Norton & Co. Inc.ISBN: 978-1469028613 You may also find copies of this at the Almost Corner Bookshop on Via del Moro.

Homework 15
In Class Essays 25
In Class Participation and Activities  15
Annotated Bibliography and Review of Literature  15
Outline Required
Rough Draft Required
Final Paper  25
Final Presentation  5
NB: Late assignments will lose five points for each day late  

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Students are required to attend all scheduled class meetings. Students are allowed 3 absences during the term (excused or unexcused). Each additional absence beyond the four allowed will result in the reduction in the final grade for the course by 5%. Students arriving to class after attendance has been taken will be counted as late. Two late arrivals will count as an absence. Please refer to the JCU catalog for the attendance and absence policies. Please note that there is homework in nearly every class, so if you are absent it is your responsibility to call a classmate for the assignment.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until 7 December 2017.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.





Week 1: AUGUST 29 AND 31


Class 1

  • Course introduction
  • Grading scale for JCU, syllabus
  • Class etiquette
  • Class Policies
  • Short writing exercise
  • Homework: Written responses on the anthropocene.


Class 2

  • How homework is checked
  • Professional register (emails)
  • Introduction to They Say, I Say, discussion
  • In-class workshopping and sharing of work
  • Homework: Writing exercise




Class 1

  • Short story and visual art
  • How to read critically (Lecture)
  • Annotating to read critically
  • Homework: Written response to one of the works covered in class.

Class 2

  • Foucault’s Panopticon
  • Finding why the author is arguing and against whom
  • Quiz on course policy
  • Summary v. Argument
  • Homework: Annotation of source and written response



Week 3: SEPTEMBER 12 AND 14


Class 1       

  • Discuss annotation of article and responses
  • Issues exercise
  • How to use (quality) sources to make a strong argument    
  • In class workshopping and brainstorming session to prepare for in-class essay.
  • Homework: Read and annotate sections of Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle. Written response.


Class 2

  • Short lecture on using other people’s words and ideas
  • Academic honesty. Reading JCU policy and comparing it to "Plagiarisms, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty." College English 57.7 (Nov. 1995): 708-36. Print. In small groups and discussion.
  • Paraphrasing exercises
  • Homework: Read and write response to Maggie Nelson’s Essay “Writing With, From, and For Others” Prepare for in-class essay, September 21 on defining an epoch.


Week 4: SEPTEMBER 19 AND 21


Class 1

  • Library session on sourcing and research (MLA)
  • Homework: Annotation and Notes on Articles related to in-class essay.

Class 2

  • In-Class essay
  • Homework: Listen and annotate and also summarize: How do we embrace all kinds of nature? podcast. Write a response, relate it to another topic/field of study. Using templates from our text.


Week 5: SEPTEMBER 26,28 AND 29 (includes make-up class)


Class 1  

  • Summarizing, paraphrasing and Quoting
  • MLA In-text citation review
  • Homework: Summarizing, annotating our reading. Framing quotes.


Class 2  

  • Finding “voice” within a sea of voices
  • Listen and take notes NPR Hidden Brain “Why Social Media Isn’t Always Very Social”
  • In-class reading and brainstorming session, development of links and research questions relating this to previous materials.
  • Homework: Write a response in which you incorporate this podcast with our previous reading. Use quotations and properly reference resources.


Class 3


  • Short Lecture on research methods, sources and writing for/with the internet
  • Workshop our written responses.
  • Homework: Read and write response to Jarrett Earnest’s essay: “Towards a Polyphonic Criticism.”


Week 6: OCTOBER 3


Class 1

  • Smooth transitions/connecting all the parts
  • Workshop written responses    
  • Excerpts from Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto,” discussion in small groups             
  • Homework: Written response and Prepare for second in-class essay, October 12, on what makes human identity.


Week 7: OCTOBER 10 AND 12


Class 1     

  • “Who cares?” developing research questions that matter to you and your audience
  • Visual literacy class.
  • Teju Cole: essay and photography
  • Homework: Prepare for in-class essay. Written response on Cole due October 17.    


Class 2

  • In-class Essay #2



Week 8: OCTOBER 17 AND 19


Class 1 -Short documentary on Esperanto

  • Discussion
  • Final Research Paper introduced
  • Audience
  • Homework: Making list of topics for final essay


Class 2

  • Forming a research question, proposal pitch
  • Written response workshop       
  • Homework: Write a proposal pitch


Week 9: OCTOBER 24, 26 AND 27 (includes make-up class for Thanksgiving)


Class 1

  • Library Session on research
  • Homework: Make individual appointments with librarian


Class 2

  • Metacommentary
  • Reliable/unreliable voice
  • The Annotated Bibliography
  • Review of annotating and note taking           
  • Homework: Begin annotated bibliography and in draft of it next session.




Class 1

  • The review of literature.
  • Proposal pitches
  • Middle of term talking points
  • Homework: Work on Annotated Bibliography, Take notes for Review of Literature, Library Worksheet


Class 2

  • Thesis statements
  • Homework: continue work on bibliography and review of literature, bring in possible working thesis statements


Week 11: NOVEMBER 7 AND 9


Class 1

  • Outlining
  • Homework: Review of Literature


Class 2

  • Drafting and introduction
  • Homework: Thesis notes, outline


Week 12: NOVEMBER 14 AND 16


Class 1

  • Short Lecture on Revision as Writing
  • Outline workshop
  • Homework: Work on Draft


Class 2

  • Workshop drafts
  • Homework: Revising drafts, work on final paper


Week 13: NOVEMBER 21


Class 1

  • Transitions, Conclusions,Works Cited               
  • Homework: Work on final paper


  • Homework: Work on final paper


Week 14: NOVEMBER 28 AND 30


Class 1:

·      Last minute questions

·      Works cited

·      Interviews


Class 2:

  • Papers Due
  • Interviews
  • Final presentation instructions



Finals week: Our final exam could be any day between December 4 and December 7. Make your plans accordingly.