PDF of course policies

Classroom Participation (20% of course grade) Resources
Blog Participation (10% of course grade) Academic Integrity 
Critical Writing (40% of course grade) Grading scale 
Exams (30% of course grade)

CLASSROOM PARTICIPATION [20% of course grade]
10% for daily in-class participation [including required out-of-class meeting]
5% for daily in-class writing
5% for RAPs

Attendance is vital to your success a class such as this one, since classroom discussion will be our opportunity to “do something” with the texts you read. Success in this course does not result from regurgitating the standard take on texts and authors as determined by Sparknotes but from developing a sense of the complexities of the relationships among texts and cultures. Being prepared and present positions you for an active and engaged classroom experience, twice a week. Make sure you are in class, ready to begin discussion, when class is scheduled to start. Because I take roll at the very beginning of class, tardiness gets recorded as absence unless you approach me after class to confirm your attendance.

I know, however, that there may come a time when you will need to miss class. My compromise: you are granted three absences for the semester, no questions asked (which means I make no distinction between excused and unexcused absences). Beginning with your 4th absence, you sacrifice 5% of your course grade—that is, one half of a letter grade—per absence. Any time you miss a class, you are responsible for that day’s work, including turning in (on time) any work due regardless of your attendance at class, understanding assignments, and getting the gist of class discussion. Needless to say, if you’re not in class, whatever the reason, you’re not accruing participation points.

Before coming to class each day, you should do the following. Each step is necessary.

  • Reading the assigned material listed on the schedule.
  • Preparing the RAP, if one is assigned that day, and taking the RAPQuiz in OAKS. (See below for clarification)
  • Responding: Read the two blog questions for that day, select one, and post your response (see details below).
  • Preparing for textual engagement in class: Bring to class the book(s) from which you did the day’s reading.
  • Preparing to write in classBe ready to write for 7 minutes at the start of class. Preparation should be mental and physical, with pen and paper or, alternatively, with a laptop or tablet from which you can submit your response to me immediately on OAKS.

Many days, you will find a RAP listed on the course schedule. This is a Reader’s Assistance Podcast, a podcast I have posted to the course blog. In it, I will guide you through the (sometimes dense) ‘introductory’ readings I have assigned (in chunks) from the Broadview. I encourage you to listen to the podcast while working your way through the reading assignment, pausing as you go to read different sections as I guide you. At the end of the podcast, you will then take a ‘quiz’ on the material (which you find in OAKS), to ensure that you’ve read it productively.You have up to five attempts at each RAPQ, since the purpose is to encourage you to go back to sections of the reading that seem to be causing you difficulty. (If you would like to read the material on your own, without the RAP, you should feel free to do so. However, if you do this, do remember to take the ‘quiz’ in OAKS. If you find that you’re having any trouble with the quiz, I encourage you to make use of the RAP.)

In-class writing: At the start of each class, you will perform informal writing in response to a question I will present on the day’s assigned reading. You will have 7 minutes to respond to the question. Your main goal will be to call on your recollection of the reading (these will not be open-book) to respond directly and specifically, demonstrating your understanding of what you read. These daily writings will get your thoughts flowing for the day’s classroom discussion. While the blog comments are aimed at encouraging discussion outside of class, the in-class writing is aimed at encouraging discussion in class.

In-class writing will be graded the same way the blog comments are graded (see below), and will count for 5% of your course grade. These writings will provide me a good sense of the class’ progress throughout the semester and allow me to better help you all through the course material. For both blog comments and in-class writings, if you’d like to improve the quality of your responses (and of your grade), please see me during office hours for personal assistance.

Required meeting: Many of you will find yourselves coming to meet with me regularly outside of class, but for those of you who wouldn’t automatically do so, I require an out-of-class meeting early in the semester so you can discover how painless and even enjoyable it is. As part of your in-class participation for the course, you will need to meet with me by the last day of January. The meeting is informal and has no specific content. Simply show up and chat with me for 10-15 minutes. This can happen during my office hours, unscheduled (office hours: TR 1:30-2:30). If those windows don’t suit your schedule, then you’ll need to email me to arrange an alternative meeting time. Consider this meeting a substitute for class missed when I am away on Jan 7 and March 31.

BLOG PARTICIPATION [10% of course grade]

8% for daily posts
2% for scheduled questions

Blog questions + comments: 

Before every class for which you are assigned a reading, you will post a response on the course blog. Most weeks, this will mean you will post twice: before Tuesday’s class, and before Thursday’s class. Frequent and informal student writing has a number of goals:

  • to prepare everyone for a productive in-class discussion of the material;
  • to encourage both written and spoken informal discussion of the material;
  • to allow for those who are less active in-class participants the opportunity to participate in alternate ways;
  • to provide low-stakes opportunities for students to experiment with a range of types of written responses to the material.

Here’s how the blog post system works: Each week, two students will be in the driving seat, posting a question to suit each day’s reading. (See instructions below.) The questions must be posted at least 24 hours before the class meeting (that is to say, before 12:15 on Monday and Wednesday). This means for the week you are the question-poser, you will need to do the reading in advance so you’re ready to post a question early.

Blog questions: Each week, 2 students will be responsible for posting to the blog a question that week’s readings, for all of the other students in class to respond to. Such questions should not have a single, “correct” answer. Instead, they should offer students the chance to discuss further an idea or issue raised in the reading, more like a prompt you would have for an essay assignment. All students in class will respond to one of these two questions, so each question will need to offer many possible responses. [Sign up for a week as blog questioner here.]

I recommend each question consist of 2-3 sentences: the first one making clear the subject matter (the central issue or concept that the question focuses on), and the next sentence or two presenting the question clearly. Further, the question should not simply ask for student opinion in general (“did you like the poem?” or “what did you think of the protagonist?”), but should instead require respondents to interpret and analyze the text in order to respond.  If our subject matter for class happened to be, for instance, the short children’s poem “I never saw a purple cow. I never hope to see one.  But I can tell you anyhow, I’d rather see than be one,” unproductive questions would be, “Why did the poet choose to make the cow purple?”  or “Would you rather be or see a purple cow?”  These simply ask for student opinion in general, rather than encouraging detailed analysis. A productive question would ask, instead, “What kinds of cultural values does this poem pass on to the young audience it addresses?” or “What does the ‘anyhow’ seem to add to the meaning of the poem, making it more than filler to maintain the beat of the poem’s meter?” Successful blog questions might also draw students’ attention to confusing or ambiguous parts of the reading and seek clarification. Your questions will be graded based on how well they encourage a range of student responses (which depends on their being expressed clearly, needless to say).

Blog comments: When you are not scheduled to ask a question, you will select one of the two questions posted for each class and produce a response to that before coming to class. You will always have at least 24 hours to do this. Your response should take the form of a comment on the question, which will appear as a post.

These responses should be 4-6 sentences long. Your comment should respond directly to the question and will be even more successful if it pushes readers’ attention in new directions. This means you will need to read others’ responses before writing and posting your own. You will often find that your own response winds up responding not only to the original question but to the comments others have made. (This also means that the sooner you post, the less likely you are to find someone already having written what you would like to.) To receive credit, your comment:

  1. must not repeat what someone has already said in a comment and
  2. must make at least one specific reference to the reading on which the question is based (for instance, a direct quote of at least 2 words but no more than a complete sentence, with the line number [for a poem] or page number [for anything not a poem] listed in parentheses afterwards).

A successful response to the first appropriate question on the purple cow poem might be something like:

The repetition of the “I,” which is the subject for each verb, makes readers focus on the speaker, whose attitude toward purple cows is thus emphasized. When the speaker says, “I can tell you anyhow” (3), the audience is expected to care about the speaker’s values, and the speaker’s resistance to purple cows seems to value the “normal,” the “natural,” the way things are. The speaker wouldn’t even like to see such a thing, much less be so abnormal.

Blog questions will receive specific comments and a grade from me as part of the grading process. Daily blog comments will receive only a grade.

(For some help with the logistics of blogging, see Get Blogging!)

CRITICAL WRITING [40% of course grade]
10% for paper 1
15% each for papers 2 and 3

The formal papers are very different from the daily informal blog writing: each formal paper will be a cohesive, carefully organized, fully developed essay in which you present your ideas in much more depth, and with much more forethought, than you will generally do on the blog. I will grade these formal papers in terms of grammar, style, and structure as well as in terms of analytical content. I’m always happy to discuss your writing and ideas with you, so please make use of my office hours (and, of course, the Writing Lab).

The first two papers are eligible for revision. However, if you want to revise, you must see me outside of class to discuss your revision before you submit it; otherwise, I will not accept it. The revision is due within 10 days of my returning graded papers to the class. (This will happen in OAKS and I will email you when graded papers are available; the timing of that email will determine the start of the “clock,” so the revisions will be due 10 days from then.) The grade for the assignment will be determined by averaging the grade on the first with the grade of the second version of your response to that assignment.

Since the deadlines for formal written work are so clearly spelled out on the syllabus, late papers will not be accepted except in very extraordinary circumstances.  Due dates for the formal papers are days when our class does not meet; these papers will be due at 5 a.m., in OAKS, on the indicated date.

EXAMS [30% of course grade]

You will take two exams: a midterm, and a final (part of which will be cumulative). Each exam will consist of short responses and a longer essay. I will provide exam structure guides and study guides for each exam. Before the first exam, we will examine some sample responses together in class.


Office hours are reserved for you to drop in as suits your schedule, to discuss your writing and/or the course: TR 1:30-2:30. Should that not suit your schedule, please email me to arrange an alternative time. Emailing is the most efficient way to communicate with me outside of class; I would discourage contacting me by phone except during office hours.

The Writing Lab is located on the first floor of Addlestone Library, within the Center for Student Learning. Here you will find many resources for your writing (for this and other classes): handouts, reference books, sample bibliographies, and consultants who have been trained to assist you in generating materials for your essay, organizing your ideas and materials, revising and editing your writing, and any step in the writing process. You can find information, including hours and schedule, at the link above.

Academic accommodation for a documented disability can be arranged through the Center for Disability Services: 843-953-1431, Lightsey Center, Suite 104. If you are approved for accommodations, you should let me know as soon as possible so we can organize appropriate arrangements.


All students, needless to say, must follow the College of Charleston’s academic integrity policy, which forbids cheating, attempted cheating, and plagiarism. Any case of suspected cheating or plagiarism (on any written response for the course) will be sent to the College’s Honor Board, and any student found guilty will receive a grade of XF, indicating failure of the course due to academic dishonesty.

“Recycled” papers written for other courses are not acceptable in this class.

College of Charleston Honor Code and Academic Integrity, from the Student Handbook:

Lying, cheating, attempted cheating, and plagiarism are violations of our Honor Code that, when identified, are investigated.  Each incident will be examined to determine the degree of deception involved.

Incidents where the instructor determines the student’s actions are related more to a misunderstanding will handled by the instructor.  A written intervention designed to help prevent the student from repeating the error will be given to the student.  The intervention, submitted by form and signed both by the instructor and the student, will be forwarded to the Dean of Students and placed in the student’s file.

Cases of suspected academic dishonesty will be reported directly by the instructor and/or others having knowledge of the incident to the Dean of Students.  A student found responsible by the Honor Board for academic dishonesty will receive a XF in the course, indicating failure of the course due to academic dishonesty.  This grade will appear on the student’s transcript for two years after which the student may petition for the X to be expunged.  The student may also be placed on disciplinary probation, suspended (temporary removal) or expelled (permanent removal) from the College by the Honor Board.

Students should be aware that unauthorized collaboration–working together without permission– is a form of cheating.  Unless the instructor specifies that students can work together on an assignment, quiz and/or test, no collaboration during the completion of the assignment is permitted.   Other forms of cheating include possessing or using an unauthorized study aid (which could include accessing information via a cell phone or computer), copying from others’ exams, fabricating data, and giving unauthorized assistance.


A 94-100 4.0
A- 90-93 3.7
B+ 87-89 3.3
B 84-86 3.0
B- 80-83 2.7
C+ 77-79 2.3
C 74-76 2.0
C- 70-73 1.7
D+ 67-69 1.3
D 64-66 1.0
D- 60-63 0.7
F 0-59 0.0