COURSE REQUIREMENTS:______________________


Attending class regularly shows respect not only for your professor, but for your peers and for the very mission of the course.  Perhaps more importantly, if you do not attend class regularly, you will not do well.  I will give unannounced in-class quizzes and writing assignments on a weekly basis, and our class discussions and lectures will contain crucial information to help you succeed on the comprehensive “three-fourths” term and in your individual research project.  Class participation and engagement are also an important part of your grade.

Update to the attendance policy, effective 9/27/10: From this point on, I will be keeping a closer eye on class attendance.  After two absences–unexcused or excused, unless there is a documented reason for extended absence–your grade will go down by a single increment (B to a B-, for example).

Tardiness—the evil twin of absence—is unacceptable.  If you are late by more than a minute, I reserve the right to withhold credit for that day’s portion of participation, quizzes, and in-class writing.  In short: please come to class, arrive on time, and be ready to discuss that day’s assigned reading.

Technology in the Classroom: No texting!  Please silence phones and leave laptops—if you use them to take notes—off the wireless network.

Assignments and Grades:

Your grade in this course will reflect your performance in four broad categories as described below.  You can earn a maximum of 1000 points in this course:

  • Presence—200 points: measured, in equal parts by random quizzes (50 points), low-stakes, in-class writing (50 points), engagement in class discussion (50 points) and your ClassWrap contribution (50 points).  If you are present, have done the reading, are engaged in class, and fulfill all the requirements of the ClassWrap assignment, then you can expect to do well on the “presence” portion of your grade.  If you miss quizzes and in-class writing, your performance on these tasks demonstrates to me that you haven’t closely read the material, you remain consistently quiet in class, and you fail to fulfill the requirements of the ClassWrap assignment, then the “Presence” portion of your grade will suffer. If you ever have a question about how the “Presence” portion of your grade is shaping up, just ask me and I’ll let you know precisely where you stand.


Please note: all ClassWrap entries are due to me, via e-mail, by Saturday at noon. I will post your ClassWrap entry online after adding the “Looking Forward” section, by Sunday at 6pm.

  • The W Blog—200 points: Over the course of the semester, each of you will author 10 blog posts relating, in some way, to your work in this course. Though you can choose to respond to specific prompts that I offer in advance of each week’s reading on the “Looking Ahead” segment that I will add to the bottom of each week’s ClassWrap assignment, as the course evolves, I assume that you to explore your own interests and findings. These blog posts can range from more formal entries (close readings of poems, reflections on criticism, and so on) to more personal or creative offerings (reflections on Whitman in popular culture, a poem of your own with a brief explanation, a polemical response to Whitman or one of his heirs, and so on).

LENGTH: your posts should be 300-400 words (off the blog, roughly a page, give or take, double-spaced).  Comments, of course, will be much briefer, unless you choose to offer a “comment” as your blog post (essentially knocking the post and comment requirements out at the same time). In this case, your comment it should be 300-400 words, as though it were a post.

Each week, I also require that you respond to your peers’ blog posts, thus enacting a conversation beyond the classroom.  Though blog posts are naturally more informal and off-the-cuff than the writing you typically do for English courses, I expect them to be intelligent, engaging, and free of grammatical errors.  Remember: this blog will be public and searchable—it can and will be read by people outside the class.  As you can see on the schedule, there will be a few opportunities over the course of the semester to make up for missed or failed blog posts (indeed, I put them there so you could plan on missing two if you had to). Blog posts are worth 20 points each, and these are nearly all-or-nothing: you earn 0 points for not posting, 10 point for blogging poorly and hastily, and 20 points for a thoughtful, clean and engaging post.

Though the schedule lists blog post under Thursdays, all posts are due by 8pm on Wednesday (unless I tell you otherwise for certain posts).

  • “Three-fourths” term—200 points: This comprehensive exam will take place in class on Tuesday, November 9.  The exam will involve a combination of author IDs, short-answer questions, and one longer essay question (for the latter, I will provide a number of prompts and allow you to choose).  I plan to use the weekly ClassWrap entries as a rough study guide for the exam. There is no final exam.
  • Final Research-Based Paper, 8-10 pages—400 points: This assignment includes preparatory work, including a proposal and descriptive bibliography (50 points), which will be due before Thanksgiving break.  Thus, the final paper itself is worth 350 points. This final project will be a well-researched, polished, argumentative (not in the sense of it being cranky, but in the sense of it containing an original argument) essay on a topic of your choosing.  We will workshop these essays on the second-to-last day of class, and I expect you to meet with me to discuss the paper as it moves through the drafting phase. The final paper must be typed and double-spaced, with a cover sheet that includes the title of your paper, your name, the date, the name of the class, and your professor’s name. Use uniform 1-1.5 inch margins.  No wingdings, no funky fonts or colors: use a 12 pt., easily readable font, such as Times New Roman or Garamond.   Do not use extra large fonts, such as courier.  Here’s a good rule of thumb: if switching to Times New Roman from a larger font reduces the size of your essay by more than 10%, do not use that font).  On the bottom-right of each page (not including the first page) please include your name and the page number.  Please follow MLA guidelines for all citations.

Figuring your Grade: I will add up all the points you’ve earned in the course and give grades based on the following table:

  • A-Range: 970-1000 = A+, 930-969 = A, 900-929 = A-
  • B-Range: 870-899 = B+, 830-869 = B, 800-829 = B-
  • C-Range: 770-799 = C+, 730-769 = C, 700-729 = C-
  • D-Range: 670-699 = D+, 630-669 = D, 600-629 = D-
  • <600 = F


Dual Submission Policy:

The same paper may not be submitted for a grade in more than one class.

Plagiarism and the Honor Code—What follows is quoted verbatim, and reflects official CofC policy:


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.

Research conducted and/or papers written for other classes cannot be used in whole or in part for any assignment in this class without obtaining prior permission from the instructor.

Students can find the complete Honor Code and all related processes in the Student Handbook.