JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "Advanced Composition"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:00-4:15 PM
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.

The most effective arguments are articulated after thorough consideration of the issue; indeed, ninety percent of the process should take place before the actual paper is written. Therefore, this course will require students to take an active part in identifying points of conflict, recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of their own and other perspectives through reading, analysis, and class discussion.


Students will be able to write well-organized argumentative essays, to do basic research, and to use MLA format.

EN 110 students will work on four main aspects of their writing:

1. The evaluation of content includes the clarity and interest of the central idea (thesis), the strength and appropriateness of the support, and the depth of the student's insight into the topic. The quality of the work decreases if the support is not convincing or relevant.

2. The focus on organization includes paragraph unity and development, logical progression of ideas, and the effectiveness of the introduction and conclusion.

3. The style is communicated through tone and word choice, as well as varied sentence structures and vocabulary to maintain interest. The tone should be consistent and appropriate, and clarity of diction and syntax is essential.

4. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and correct application of appropriate conventions are all fundamental. Sloppy mechanics discredit a writer and distract readers from the ideas presented in the text.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings 10th editionRamage, Bean, and JohnsonPearson9780321906731  
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 8th editionJoseph GibaldiMLA9781603292627   

in-class essays (4)Students practice writing fully developed six-paragraph essays in class based on outlines prepared carefully ahead of time. They also participate in revision exercises and activities, particularly in the first half of the semester. The topics for the essays are directly connected to the assigned readings and to class discussions, and they must be explicit arguments. Since it is assumed that students' writing ability will improve as the semester progresses, the essay grades earned at the end of the semester carry more weight than those at the beginning of the semester. 30%
At home essays (2) and assignmentsThe purpose of the at-home essays is to gradually work up to writing the final research paper. The average length of these papers is four to six double-spaced typed pages.15%
mid-termThe midterm exam consists of an in-class essay, plus a brief defining and identifying test based on the terminology and theory of argument writing and on MLA format. 10%
FinalThe final exam is a fully developed six-paragraph (or longer) explicit argument based on selected topics from the assigned readings and from current events. All students are required to take the final exam.20%
Research paperAll students are required to write a fully documented short research paper (1500-1700 words). It must be an explicit argument and must follow MLA format.20%
Class contributionMost of the lessons are workshops, direct opportunities for students to focus on and improve their writing ability, to use MLA format, and to put argument theory into practice. Furthermore, in order to write an effective argument, one must think through the issues thoroughly. In-class discussions begin with the assigned readings and develop according to the interests and perspectives of class members. Therefore, class participation and student interaction are essential pre-writing activities, and a student who has not done the pre-class reading and is not prepared to participate in class will be counted as absent.5%

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.



Because the course is based on a series of workshops and in-class activities, attendance and class contribution are essential. Four or more absences (which include being counted absent because the student comes unprepared to class) will affect the final grade for the class, and when a student exceeds 5 absences, for whatever reason, he or she may fail the course. Late arrivals are disruptive and show a lack of respect for the instructor and for other students; therefore, two late entrances count as one absence. When a student is absent, he or she is held responsible for all of the work covered during the lesson, and papers or homework due on the day of absence should be turned in via email or another student. Late papers will be marked a half grade off (from A to A-, for example) for every day late. Assignments are considered on time only if submitted at (or before) the beginning of class on the due date. Scheduled in-class essays may not be made up unless arrangements are made with the professor before the day of absence. Computers, cell phones, and beepers must be turned off and put away during class. Eating and drinking during class are strongly discouraged. If you must do so, please be discrete in order to avoid distracting others from the lesson (or bring enough for everyone!).

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 ____________

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.



Session Focus

Reading Assignment

Other Assignment

Meeting Place/Exam Dates

Tuesday       September 4

Introduction to the course and requirements; goals and expectations

Thursday            September 6

Introduction to Argument

Writing Arguments pages 2-16

Bring an article found on internet containing an argument to present to the class; be prepared to justify your choice.

September 11

Argument as Inquiry

Writing Arguments pages 17-50

Thursday September 13

Introduction to research and documentation; library seminar on research tools and resources available and how to determine reliability of resources

MLA Handbook pages 3-19

Brainstorm topics for first home assignment.

Class meets in the library.

Tuesday         September 18

Using the MLA Handbook: an open-book quiz

 Writing Arguments pages 377-389 

Bring your MLA Handbook.

Thursday   September 20

Workshop on home essay 1

Home essay I due: submitted both via email and in hard copy

Friday September 21

The core of an argument preparation for in-class essay 1

Writing Arguments pages 52-66

Revised Home Essay 1 (early submission); Send outline for in-class essay 1 by Saturday September 22 at noon

Tuesday September 25

In-class essay 1

Revised Home Essay I due

Thursday September 27

The logical structure of arguments: focus on logos

Writing Arguments pages 67-87

Bring revision notebook

Tuesday  October 2

Feedback on in-class essay 1: in-class revision/rewriting activities; focus on evidence and STAR criteria

Writing Arguments pages 88-103

Bring revision notebook

Thursday    October 4

Class discussion on topic 1; brainstorming and outlining: preparation for in-class 2

Revised in-class essay 1 and revision notebook due

October 9

In-class essay 2


Thursday October 11

Feedback on in-class essay 2; criteria;   focus on ethos, pathos, and kairos; begin discussion on topic 2 for midterm

Writing Arguments pages 104-120

October 16

Class discussion on topic 2; preparation for midterm

Rewritten in-class 2 and revision notebook due

Midterm identifying and defining test;   send outline for midterm essay by noon on Wednesday, October  17.

Thursday October 18

MIDTERM essay exam

October 23

Direct quotations, paraphrasing, and summarizing: using the MLA Handbook for citation exercises

Bring your MLA Handbook

October 25

Feedback on midterm;   focus on addressing the opposition

Writing Arguments pages 121-152

October 30

Analyzing arguments rhetorically Writing Arguments pages 154-174

Home essay 2 due

November 6

Class discussion of topic 3; preparation for in-class 3

Send outline for in-class 3 by noon on Wednesday, November 7

November 8

In-class essay 3

Friday November 9

Mini-workshop on MLA format of preliminary list of resources; overview of types of claims

Writing Arguments pages 209-219

Research paper outline and preliminary list of resources (minimum 6: in MLA format) due; bring your MLA Handbook

Tuesday November 13

Feedback on in-class 3; definition and resemblance arguments

Writing Arguments pages 220-247

Thursday November 15

Class discussion on topic 4; preparation for in-class 4

First draft of research paper due (including works cited page); send outline for in-class essay 4 by noon on Saturday, November 17

Tuesday November 20

In-class essay 4

Tuesday November 27

Feedback on in-class essay 4; Causal arguments

Writing Arguments pages 248-277

Thursday November 29

Evaluation and ethical arguments; last minute questions/difficulties with research paper/ revision in class; student errors of citation format and corrections together

Writing Arguments pages 278-303

Tuesday December 4

Proposal arguments;  general revision for final exam

Writing Arguments pages 304-337

Research paper due

Thursday   December 6

Course evaluation; an argument classic;  general revision for final exam


Week of December 10-14