There are a host of monsters that loom in our collective imaginations, leering at us from cinema screens and television sets, from the glowing monitors of our personal computers, from the pages of novels and magazines, from the front pages of newspapers and a myriad of other media. These monsters and monstrous figures include what might be considered “classic” – vampires, werewolves, zombies, aliens, and so forth – but are by no means limited to such literal monsters from bygone times. Indeed, it seems as if anything and anyone can be “monsterized” or discussed in monstrous terms: political orientation, sexual orientation, religion, gender, art, foreigners, and so on and so on and so on. Now we must ask: what isn’t monsterized?
Hence, monsters and the monstrous have not only long existed but continue to thrive in the collective imagination and public discourse of every known human culture, each incarnation peculiarly unique and yet all eerily similar. But why? Why do they exist? To terrify us? To titillate us? Or to teach us? Where do they come from? What, if anything at all, do monsters represent? In short: Why, in these contemporary times, must there still “be monsters”? These are some of the questions we will explore in this course of monstrous content.
College Writing is first and foremost a writing seminar designed to help undergraduates read and write essays in order to participate in the academic conversations that form our intellectual community. Therefore, we will give special attention to the practices of close reading and analysis, research, collaboration, and substantive revision. You will learn that writing is a means of discovery, a process of continual refinement of ideas and their expression. Rather than approaching writing as an innate talent, this course will teach writing as a unique, learned skill that can be practiced and developed. Over the course of the semester, you will read and discuss texts from a number of fields, complete regular informal reading and writing exercises, and write several longer essays, all while exploring the monstrous culture that surrounds us.
In learning to compose academic arguments over the duration of this course, students will:
- Obtain overall fluency in the elements of academic writing: including thesis, evidence, analysis, format, revision, critical reading, quoting, summarization, and paraphrasing.
- Attain reasonable fluency in various modes of thinking and writing: including observing and reporting, analyzing and interpreting, evaluating and arguing, and making inferences.
- Make use of prewriting and invention techniques: including freewriting, notetaking, brainstorming, developing ideas and language through a process of planning, drafting, revising, and editing.
- Learn a variety of rhetorical strategies (including tone, context, genre, form, and audience) and types of essays (including descriptive, narrative, analytical, argumentative, and expository).
- Analyze one’s own and other students’ writing for clarity, focus, and rhetorical effectiveness and understand oneself as a writer developing a voice.
- Employ standard usage of English grammar and mechanics: including spelling, capitalization, sentence structure, and punctuation.
Required Course Texts
The required text for this course is The Little Seagull Handbook with Exercises, 3rd Edition, by Bullock, Brody, and Weinberg (ISBN: 978-0393602647). Please make sure that you buy/rent the third edition with exercises included. All other course texts and readings will be uploaded to the class blog.
To receive a passing grade in this course, students must at minimum:
- Submit a final draft for each of the assigned essays, each accompanied by at least one formal draft. Students must submit all essays in order to pass the class.
- Attend and participate in all classes and conferences.
- Prepare reading and writing exercises as assigned.
Since this course is as much about thinking as it is about writing, participation is crucial to the successful completion of the course. You must strive to be actively and intellectually engaged, not simply present. Hence, “participation” in this course includes but is not limited to:
- completing all homework i.e. reading and writing activities
- volunteering to respond when questions are posed to the class
- responding thoughtfully and respectfully to classmates’ ideas
- asking questions that advance and contribute to the discussion at hand
- volunteering to read when text is to be read aloud
- contributing meaningfully during small group activities
- engaging in focused work and dialogue during peer workshops
- freewriting diligently when required
- using gender-inclusive pronouns e.g. “he or she” instead of the typical “he” when referring to a general, non-specific situation
- sharing your point of view, feedback, perspective while respecting the diversity of opinions, ethnic backgrounds, gender expressions and sexual orientations, social classes, religious beliefs, and ethnicities within the class and larger society
- presenting research to the class professionally in the spirit of increasing collective knowledge and understanding
- seeking out, carefully considering, and incorporating feedback during your revision process
Attendance & Lateness
The discussion and workshop elements that are at the center of this course cannot be made up, so attendance is vital. Lateness is disruptive to the entire class. If you have to miss class, please write me a brief, formal email to notify me; you do not need to explain the reason for your absence. It is your responsibility to catch yourself up with the learning you missed; I suggest contacting peers and reviewing posted materials as a first step. If you want to further discuss class materials or topics covered, you are welcome to visit me during office hours. Please do not write me requesting that I summarize a missed class for you over email.
If you miss more than 3 classes by the middle of the semester, I will ask you to meet with me to discuss your capacity to successfully complete the course.
I am open to all contact and I encourage you to send me an email if you have any questions or concerns. I only ask that your emails are respectful; in other words, please don’t email me in the same way that you would text a friend. Please understand that I may not be able to respond right away, so if your question is very important, do not wait until it is too late to ask it. Additionally, if you have a question or concern about an assignment, please do not contact me about it five minutes before the assignment is due.
Small Group Workshops
The last 30 minutes of each class is dedicated to small group workshops. Therefore, students will be divided into 4 groups of five students. Each individual group will meet once every four classes for a skills-based writing workshop, which will often draw from the required course text The Little Seagull Handbook with Exercises, 3rd Edition. Make sure that bring this text when you have workshops. If you have an electronic version, please make sure to bring your laptop or tablet so that you can access the ebook.
Writing groups will be decided after the first week of class. Attending these small group workshops is mandatory. They provide invaluable opportunities to receive personalized feedback and instruction that can accelerate your learning.
Use of Electronic Devices
Writing will be required during every class. For this, you should use a dedicated writing notebook or an electronic device with word processing software like Microsoft Word. Laptops, tablets, and other similar electronic devices can also be used in class during freewriting or revision activities. However, electronic devices should not be open or in use if not required for the current class activity as your usage can be distracting to both me and your classmates. Lastly, practice professionalism and do not text during class.