English 40

 Introduction to Academic Discourse       

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writing analogies

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Professor Janice Siegel                                                                         Section 37
TTh Tuttleman 001

Anderson 219
Office phone: (215) 204-3044
Best Bet: jsiegel@nimbus.temple.edu
Web Site: http://courses.temple.edu/drj
Office hours: TTh 1-2 or drop in

Description of the Course

English 40 is a four-credit course designed to introduce basic writers to academic discourse, the language of the university. In this section of English 40, students will be introduced to the ways of writing, reading, and speaking in college by exploring a single theme: The Languages of Self and School. You will find that this is NOT a course of drills and memorized rules, although specific problems will be addressed as they come up. It will not teach you a simple formula for writing that you can apply in every case because there is no such thing, but it will provide you with guidelines to follow and mistakes to avoid. This course starts with the assumption that academic writing is an open-ended and demanding process not separable from the reading writers do or the conversations they have about ideas and language. You may be frustrated that there are few right answers and always more work to do clarifying sentences, sharpening assertions, and supporting main points. However, if you give it the proper effort, you may find this course more interesting, challenging, and useful than any course you've ever had in school. English 40 requires active participation and offers much to the student willing to learn by doing.

The theme of our class is how language use shapes our view of ourselves in home and school settings. People have been speaking around and to you since before you were even born and the language your family and peers use outside of the classroom (at home and elsewhere – the mall, dance class, the locker room, the family room) had a tremendous impact on your values and habits as they developed. You and everyone else then encountered yet another world of language once you began school. Sometimes school language is similar to the language used at home, but often it is quite different in its overt purposes, unspoken assumptions, and built-in rewards. This course asks you to explore the range of language uses that formed you and others. The assigned texts, the writing projects, and class discussions will combine to form an environment in which you can think critically about school and self, home life and public life, personal experience and cultural expectations and develop the writing skills that will grant you academic success.

My Expectations of You:

You will fulfill approximately six sequenced writing assignments that relate to the theme of the course. These will begin with essays about you and your experiences, but you will soon begin drawing connections between your personal experience and various assigned texts and the issues being discussed in the course. You will be expected not only to apply to your own writing the ideas encountered in the assigned readings but to question and sometimes challenge the positions and assumption of the texts. Since revision is central to the writing process, students are expected to revise each paper at least once. Student writing is reproduced frequently and discussed actively in class in peer review or critiquing sessions. About week 8, students begin to perform original research that culminates in a final, extended project: a comprehensive paper (7-10 pages in length) which builds on earlier work. By the end of the semester English 40 students must demonstrate an ability to: organize ideas in a coherent manner; connect multiple texts through an issue or an idea; draw points out of a text; and write a reasonably error-free paper (we don’t expect perfection, but there can’t be so many mistakes that the errors intrude upon the intended meaning or fall outside the parameters of acceptable first-year writing).

Your Expectations of Me:

You should expect me to provide you with guidance, information, encouragement and the opportunity to improve and to show that you have improved. I pledge my time, effort, attention, and expertise to your goal of achieving the basic writing skills that will grant you academic success. My goal is to create a learning environment – both in the classroom and in my office – where you can feel free to make mistakes, to question the comments of your peers and your teacher, to grow intellectually and in every other way you can think of (expect perhaps in actual height!). This, of course, must rest on a mutual respect that we must foster together. I am eminently accessible: I check my email constantly throughout the day, even on weekends when I can. You may always write to me there, and I promise you a quick response (barring server downtime!). You can also come and visit me at my office (see the top of this sheet for details)

If you really need to see me outside office hours, try stopping by the office – I am usually working there all day Wednesday, and Tuesdays and Thursdays  when I do not have class (I teach another class T Th 2:40-4:00, so don’t look for me then). I am often in on Mondays and Fridays, but this will be catch-as-catch-can.

Don’t worry about disturbing me – if I am too busy to see you when you pop by, I will tell you, but I can almost always put aside my work to see a student.

When you do come to see me, please be prepared for a productive session – have a rough draft, an outline, a first draft…something that we can look at and work on together.

A Note on Criticism 

When we talk about your papers in class, we will try to talk about the ways they are well written as well as the ways they are badly written. There is no doubt, however, that we will focus much of the time on the errors they contain.  There is no way to improve how we write unless we can evaluate our papers carefully and honestly. So we will closely examine the ways in which your papers lack clarity, coherence, and readability. Problems with student papers should not be taken as an indicator of the writer’s intellectual ability. As the course develops, I hope you will come to see that error is more the product of a lack of awareness and vigilance rather than a lack of intelligence.

What You Will Accomplish In This Course

English 40 is a crucial course because it must prepare students for later composition and writing intensive courses such as English 50, Intellectual Heritage 51 and 52, and w-courses in the major. Here are the criteria instructors will use to evaluate the final collection of work (called the portfolio) submitted at the end of the semester. The portfolio must:

  • demonstrate an ability to organize ideas in a coherent manner: authors should order what is being said for the reader's sake and should address issues systematically.
  • demonstrate that points made in the papers are based upon the reading of a text and are not generated simply out of personal experience or previous understandings: authors should demonstrate the ability to draw points out of a text.
  • demonstrate an ability to connect multiple texts through an issue or idea: authors should use close textual analysis and strategies for comparison to bring together different points of view or approaches under one rubric.
  • demonstrate an ability to write a reasonably error-free paper: authors should make sure that errors in the paper do not intrude upon the intended meaning or that the use of Standard English falls within the parameters of acceptable college writing.

The final portfolio will represent the student's best work in the semester and will contain the final project paper as well as early drafts of previous papers. In addition, you are expected to include in your portfolio any journal entries, reflective essays, critiques, or other examples of work produced throughout the semester. A student must receive at least a C- to pass English 40, and that grade is determined by the final portfolio grade, other assigned grades during the semester, class attendance, and overall participation. Attendance and active engagement are crucial for success in this course.

The specific work of the course will include the practice and discussion of 1) discrete interpretive skills (e.g., paraphrase, citation, attention to context, inference, connecting ideas); 2) writerly choices and their rhetorical effects (e.g., when to use "I," "the author," or "one"; where to put the main idea; how many paragraphs are needed for the required task); 3) conventional editing skills (e.g., punctuation, layout preferences).

So we will read, and write and talk about what we have read and written. “Formal language” would say that curriculum selection and sequence will enable a fruitful dialogue and on-going dialectic, developed through the discursive activities of reading, writing, and discussion. The process of discussion and revision of ideas – in your head and on paper – is what this course is about. One strategy of academic discourse in particular lies at the heart of the work this semester: the comparison. You may already have written comparison/contrast essays in previous classes, but this semester you will take this strategy for critical thinking about distinctions to a level you have never reached before. Productive comparisons in college-level courses depend upon thoughtful definitions of basic terms, precise observations about differences and similarities between approaches or phenomena, and bold conclusions about the distinctions you draw. And you will find that careful and extensive revisions will help you bring out the main points in your papers. A successful effort in this course will prepare you well for the college courses that lie ahead. Good luck, and enjoy the semester's work!


    • Gary Goshgarian, Exploring Languages
    • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Sherman Alexie
    • Reference for College Writers, Fulwiler and Hayakawa (New York: Blair Press, 1997)
    • Students are also required to own and use a clothbound college dictionary (1300-2000 pages).

addressing the essay topic or assignment

If you don’t understand the assignment, ask. First, look up the assignment on the course website (http://courses.temple.edu/drj). If you still don’t understand the assignment after re-reading it, ask a friend in the class or email me at jsiegel@nimbus.temple.edu. There is no shame in not understanding something, but I want you to give it the old college try before you ask for help. I promise never just to throw you to the wolves.

Course assignments are constructed especially for you, often on the basis of classroom activity and discussion. You must address the specific requirements of each assignment for your skills to grow effectively. If you don’t understand an assignment, ASK! Please hand in work that you yourself have created. The penalties for committing plagiarism (passing off someone else’s work as your own) can be quite harsh, as this is an academic crime. I trust that my students are in this with me – that you will work as hard as you can to develop the skills I am working to introduce you to, that you will not try to violate the spirit of the endeavor by getting someone else to do your work for you (especially if you act out of fear or despair – my job is to give you confidence that you can do this, too), or by handing in work that you did not author. That said, I also understand that plagiarism is often unintentional: you might have thought you were just “getting help” when in fact you turned in something that isn’t the fruit of your own labor.  Below I list the basic information about plagiarism, its penalties, and its various descriptions. Please read it:


Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another person's labor (another person's ideas, words, or assistance). Some sorts of plagiarism are obvious. Students must not copy someone else's essay in whole or part or have a friend do an assignment for them. Other forms of plagiarism, however, are less obvious. If you do incorporate other peoples’ ideas or words into your own essay, identify those thoughts or ideas as coming from a source other than your own head. Choices are shown below:

 1. The direct quotation (imagine this is your own essay):

In her essay on politically correct language, Ms. X insists that “all sexist language must be eradicated from English in order for women to be free.” (“A Fake Essay” p 39)

 Note that I used a powerful verb instead of a weak one such as “says”.

2. Paraphrasing another's language

Throughout her essay entitled “A Fake Essay”, Ms. X insists that all sexist language must be eradicated from English in order for women to be free. 

3. Facts provided by secondary sources

In her essay on politically correct language, Ms. X informs us that more than 30% of Fortune 500 companies now have policies in place to eradicate the use of sexist language in the workplace.  (“A Fake Essay” p 39)

4.   Ms. X’s book on politically correct language isn’t really the first of its kind to hit the mainstream; in fact, a book very much like it but parodying the same topic came out in bookstores just last year. (Bernard Johnson, “A Second Fake Essay”, 45)

In general, all sources must be identified as clearly, accurately, and thoroughly as possible. When in doubt about whether to identify a source, either cite the source or ask me! 


The penalty for dishonesty can vary from a reprimand and receiving a failing grade for a particular assignment, to failure for the course, to suspension or expulsion from the University. The penalty varies with the nature of the offense, the individual instructor, the department, and the school or college. In addition to this, a student who commits plagiarism risks losing my respect, which I hope will make act as a deterrent..


Attendance is mandatory. Students with 4 or more unexcused absences will not be eligible to receive a passing grade. We cover a lot of material in class, much of which is unplanned. Our class will be lively and address concerns that your writing raises. If you miss a class, you could miss any number of helpful review sessions on grammar, usage, reading, and writing which you cannot make up. So don’t miss class!

Mandatory Student Conferences:

All students must meet with me at least four times during the course of the semester for 15-30 minute private conferences. Conferences are often the best place for me to handle your individual student writing problems. Time may be spent explaining comments on papers, giving individual instruction on grammar and punctuation errors, and brainstorming about topics and writing strategies.

Where to go for writing help:

First, come to me. I work very closely with all of my students.

I can also highly recommend the writing center where you will find tutors trained in helping students just like you. By the way – this is encouraged! Getting a trained writing tutor to help you organize your thoughts on paper - or to show you how to avoid grammatical errors – is not plagiarism! This is legitimate help and will allow you to hand in better work. It becomes dishonest only if someone rewrites your words and you end up handing in something that is less yours and more theirs. The writing center is dedicated to showing you how to make your writing better, not doing it for you. The Writing Center is located in Tuttleman 201. You may drop in or call (215-204-0700) for an appointment.  You may even email them your paper and have them comment on it! Visit them on the web at http://www.temple.edu/writingctr.

You may also find some of these on-line university writing centers helpful for specific purposes. I am indebted to Annalisa Castaldo, another English 40 instructor, for this list:

 For coming up with an appropriate thesis:

http://www.rescomp.wustl.edu/writingcenter/writingcenter.htm (my old alma mater!)



(for integrating quotations)

The Writing Requirement

All writing not done in class must be typed and given a title. Print out your documents double-spaced, please, and in no less or more than 11 or 12 point font. I strongly recommend using a word processor since you will revise most of your papers. Please keep all drafts since they are required for the final portfolio. I will help you figure out the mysteries of the computer and the labs here at Temple – just ask. This is a portfolio class, which means that a sample of your best, revised work will be collected at the end of the semester and used to determine the bulk of your grade. For now, keep everything in your portfolio. We will go through it together at the end of the semester to make decisions about what will be handed in for final review. Your work will then be read by other instructors in the department so that it can be evaluated independently.


You are required to revise at least two papers this term. You are encouraged to revise as many papers as many times as you wish. We will discuss what “revision” means (I see it more as taking a new look at the approach you took to your topic – a “re-visioning” as in “re-seeing”). Do not confuse “revision” with “proofreading” or “editing”. Yes, you are expected to address and correct grammatical errors that you missed in your first draft, but this is just the icing on the cake.  Don’t simply fix surface errors and hand it back in. Do look for ideas that need to be supported, expanded, deleted for the good of the essay. Do look for different ways to present your ideas. Do re-consider your stance and perhaps introduce new ideas or texts you were introduced to since writing the first draft. The best rewrites are the ones that look nothing like the first draft but wouldn’t have been possible without them. Often, I ask questions in the margin of your papers, suggesting paths of thought that you can take. I do not expect you to incorporate my words into your essay – I expect you to think about what I am asking you to think about, and then to write up your new ideas based on that little nudge. You must hand in your previous draft with every rewrite or I will not be able to judge whether the process was successful.

Portfolios and Final Grades:

The portfolio should include all student work: at least 6 sequenced assignments culminating in a final project made up of parts with independent due dates, and ungraded assignments such as journal entries. Everything you write for this class goes in that portfolio! The portfolio will be assessed on the grounds that the student has completed every assignment to a reasonable standard. Grades on individual papers are determined by how many drafts are permitted, the time frame in which a paper can be revised, and whether grades are given before the final draft. In any case, I hope individual paper grades give you necessary feedback concerning your progress in the course, but you should know you’re your final grade is really based more on improvement than a mathematical average of grades earned over the course of the summer (this is good news for you). Class attendance and participation also factor into your grade. If you complete all the requirements in this course and still do not receive a passing grade, you may receive a grade of R which will require you to repeat the course but which will not hurt your grade point average. The final project is a very important determining factor in your final grade.

Grade Breakdown

Class participation, completion of assignments — 15%
final grades of last three papers – 20%
final project - 20 %
Final Portfolio — 45%

You MUST receive a C- or better to pass this course
If you do not pass there are two possible grades : F and R. An R is given only to those students who have worked diligently all semester but who nevertheless failed to make the grade in the end. If you do not complete all your work, or if you miss an unacceptable number of classes or do not work diligently, you will receive an F. This is easily avoidable, so I don’t expect to give out any F’s this term. But I will if you leave me no other choice.

Calendar of Assignments (not written in stone)

Sept. 5                    Introductions

Sept. 7                    sample reading assignment/sample writing assignment for homework on bell hooks’ essay

Sept. 12                    Amitai Etzioni, “When Rights Collide” (handout)

                    Journal #1 (in class – “A Writer’s History”)

Sept. 14                    Malcolm X, “Homemade Education,” Exploring Language  (hereafter EL), 53-56

                    Helen Keller, “A World for Everything,” EL, 56-60
                    Kingston, “The Language of Silence,” EL, 61-66
                    Marin, “Spanish Lessons,” EL, 67-73
                    Journal #2 (“Whose Story Affected Me the Most”)

Sept. 19                    Draft of Essay #1 due (bring 4 copies to class)

                    Peer workshop: Essay #1 draft

Sept. 21                    Essay #1 due             

Sept 26                    Doyle, “Introduction to the A-Z of Non-Sexist Language,” EL, 431-35

                    Rosenthal, “Gender Benders,” EL, 436-438
                    Guinier, “Life as a Female Gentleman,” EL, 439-443
                    Journal #3

Sept. 28     Maggio, “Bias-Free Language: Some Guidelines,” EL, 487-497
                    August, “Real Men Don’t: Anti-Male Bias in English,” EL, 444-55
                    Kakutani, “The Word Police,” EL, 498-503
                    peer review of essay #2
                    Journal #4

Oct 3           Rewrite of Essay # 2 due based on peer review

Oct 5           Macauley, “Sex Differences,” EL, 399-404
                    “‘I’ll Explain It to You’: Lecturing and Listening,” EL, 405-418
                    Journal #5

Oct. 10        READ this for Thursday
Bok, “The Erosion of Empathy,” EL, 247-248
                    Sleeper, “An Issue Beyond Ideology,” EL 249-250
                    Katz and Jhally, “Missing the Mark,” EL, 251-253
                    Essay #3 DUE (click here for directions)

Because I can't be here, you have an extra assignment. Take care of it during class time if possible! Every student must go to the writing center and have a tutor go over his/her paper. Make it great and hand it in on Thursday - 3 copies to class for peer review!

Oct. 12       Lee, “Behind the School Shooting,” EL, 254-256
                    Males, Stop Blaming Kids and TV,” EL, 257-260
                    Journal #7

Oct. 17      Bryson, “Good English and Bad,” EL, 516-25
                  Simon, “Why Good English Is Good for You,” EL, 525-34
                  Journal #8

Oct. 19      Draft of Essay #4 due (bring 4 copies to class)
                  Peer workshop: Essay #3 draft

Oct. 24     Lehigh, “It’s Like, EXTREME, But Not GROSS,” EL, 553-57
                    Jones, “Not White, Just Right,” EL, 535-37
                    Essay #4 due

Oct. 26      Mid-semester progress report  

Oct. 31        Lone Ranger and Tonto, I
                    Journal #9

Nov. 2        Lone Ranger and Tonto, II
                    Journal #10

Nov. 7        Click here for the pre-writing exercise due November 7. Suspend reading of Tonto for now.

Nov. 9     Hayakawa, “Bilingualism in America: English Should Be the Only  Language,” EL, 562-67
Kuntz, “My Spanish Standoff,” EL, 570-72
Rovira, “Let’s Not Say Adios to Bilingual Education,” EL, 572-76
Journal #12

 Nov. 14      Draft of Essay #4 due
                    Peer workshop: Essay #4 draft

 Nov. 16     Essay #4 due
                    Boskin, ‘Outsiders/Insiders,” EL, 168-178
                    Journal #13

 Nov. 21/23       Lawrence, “Regulation Racist Speech on Campus,” EL, 348-52
                    Kors, “The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses,” EL, 353-60
                    Journal #14
                    Portfolio cover letter due (bring 4 copies to class)
                    Peer workshop: Portfolio cover letter

Nov. 28      Draft of Essay #5 due (bring 4 copies to class)
                    Peer workshop: Essay #5 draft

Nov 30      Harmon, “Internet Changes for J and L,” EL, 139-142
                    Henderson, “The Internet…Good News of Band Language,” EL, 143-145
                    Essay #5 due

Dec. 5     Draft of Final Project due (bring 4 copies to class)
             Peer workshop: Final Project

 Dec. 7                    Rheingold, “The Virtual Community,” EL, 146-151

                    Final Project due

 Dec. 12                    Class canceled (conferences)

                    Portfolios due by noon in my office

I am indebted to Dennis Lebofsky, Steve Parks, Mike Donnelly, and especially Marc Stier for allowing me to use material that they had written for their own English 40 syllabi.