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General Education Designation


With a grade of C or better, ENG 1020 fulfills the General Education Basic Composition (BC) graduation requirement. Successful completion of Basic Composition (BC) with a grade of C or better is a prerequisite to enrolling in courses that fulfill the General Education IC (Intermediate Composition) requirement for graduation (e.g., ENG 3010, 3050, Literature and Writing courses).


Course Description


Building upon students’ diverse skills, English 1020 prepares students for reading, research, and writing in college classes. The main goals of the course are (1) to teach students to consider the rhetorical situation for any piece of writing; (2) to have students integrate reading, research, and writing in the genres of analysis and argument; and (3) to teach students to develop analysis and arguments using appropriate content, effective organization, and appropriate expression and mechanics, all while using a flexible writing process that incorporates drafting, revising, editing, and documenting sources.


To achieve these goals, the course places considerable emphasis upon the relationship between reading and writing, the evaluation and development of information and ideas through research, the genres of analysis and argumentation, and the use of multiple technologies for research and writing.


Section Description


More specifically, our class will take up the above objectives on three levels: we will engage the critical and theoretical aspects of persuasion (the limits of and boundaries between fact and persuasion), the pragmatic process of composition (how to write compellingly and persuasively), and the mechanics of composing (grammar, sentence structure, arrangement, etc.). We will read an extensive list of texts stretching from the fourth century B.C.E. to contemporary times, and participants will produce numerous short written responses to these readings in addition to multiple drafts of larger compositions.


The bulk of your final grades will be based on your execution of five projects, evenly mixed between critical works (advertising, rhetorical, and cultural analyses) and work arranged around the traditional rhetorical stases (definition, evaluation, proposal arguments). Four of these projects will be posted online to our course wiki and you are encouraged to take advantage of the possibilities of online publication (hyperlinks, image embedment, etc.). Your final project will be composed on a separate online presence of your own design. If you wish, you will have many opportunities to collaborate with your classmates.


Learning Objectives


There are seven primary learning objectives for this course:

  • to develop analytical and critical strategies for reading complex texts with varied sources of information, multiple perspectives, and complicated arguments
  • to identify and analyze the structure of analysis and arguments in a variety of texts and media, identifying authors’ claims, evidence, appeals, organization, and style, and evaluating their persuasive effect
  • to consider the rhetorical situation for any given piece of writing, including audience, purpose, and context
  • to conduct research by finding and evaluating print and electronic sources, generating information and ideas from research, and synthesizing them with respect to the topic and ideas of the writer
  • to write effectively in multiple analytical and argumentative genres, generating a clearly defined topic and purpose/thesis, organizing and developing complex content and reasoning, and using standard text conventions for academic writing
  • to use a flexible writing process that includes generating ideas, writing, revising, providing/ responding to feedback in multiple drafts, and editing text and tone for multiple audiences
  • to make productive use of a varied set of technologies for research and writing


Texts and Supplies



Required:  Lisa Ede, The Academic Writer: Second Edition

Required: A Wayne State e-mail address you check regularly




In addition our major projects (listed below), you will also be evaluated based on your completion of short responses and drafting exercises that will be assigned in class throughout the semester. Due dates for assignments can be found below (as well as on the Schedule page).


Credit breakdown for assignments is as follows:




Although individual projects in this course have specific grading guidelines, the general rubric for grades in our course is as follows:


The "A" Paper


  • The "A" paper has an excellent sense of the rhetorical situation. Its aim is clear and consistent throughout the paper. It attends to the needs of its audience and the topic itself is effectively narrowed and clearly defined.
  • The content is appropriately developed for the assignment and rhetorical situation. The supporting details or evidence are convincingly presented. The reasoning is valid and shows an awareness of the complexities of the subject. If secondary sources are used, they are appropriately selected and cited.
  • The organization demonstrates a clear and effective strategy. The introduction establishes the writer's credibility and the conclusion effectively completes the essay: paragraphs are coherent, developed, and show effective structural principles.
  • The expression is very clear, accessible, concrete. It displays ease with idiom and a broad range of diction. It shows facility with a great variety of sentence options and the punctuation and subordinate structures that these require. It has few errors, none of which seriously undermines the effectiveness of the paper for educated readers.


The "B" Paper

  • The "B" paper has a good sense of the rhetorical situation. It shows awareness of purpose and focuses on a clearly defined topic.
  • The content is well developed and the reasoning usually valid and convincing. Evidence and supporting details are adequate.
  • The organization is clear and easy to follow: the introduction and conclusion are effective, and transitions within and between paragraphs are finessed reasonably well.
  • The paper has few errors, especially serious sentence errors. Sentences show some variety in length, structure, and complexity. Punctuation, grammar, and spelling conform to the conventions of edited Standard American English.


The "C" Paper

  • The "C" paper has an adequate sense of the rhetorical situation. Its purpose is clear and it is focused on an appropriate central idea. The topic may be unoriginal, but the assignment has been followed, if not fulfilled.
  • The content is adequately developed. The major points are supported, and paragraphs are appropriately divided, with enough specific details to make the ideas clear. The reasoning is valid.
  • The organization is clear and fairly easy to follow. The introduction and conclusion are adequate; transitions are mechanical but appropriate.
  • The expression is generally correct, although it shows little competence with sentence variety (in length and structure) and emphasis. The paper is generally free of major sentence and grammar errors and indicates mastery of most conventions of edited Standard American English.


The "D" Paper

  • The "D" paper has a limited sense of the rhetorical situation. Its purpose may not be clear, its topic may not be interesting to or appropriate for its audience.
  • The content is inadequately developed. The evidence is insufficient, and supporting details or examples are absent or irrelevant.
  • Organization is deficient. Introductions or conclusions are not clearly marked or functional. Paragraphs are not coherently developed or linked to each other. The arrangement of material within paragraphs may be confusing.
  • Expression demonstrates an awareness of a very limited range of stylistic options. It is marred by numerous errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation that detract from a reader’s comprehension of the text.


The "F" Paper

  • There is no sense of the rhetorical situation or of the objectives of the assignment as described in the syllabus.
  • The content is insufficiently developed and does not go beyond the obvious. The reasoning is deeply flawed.
  • The organization is very difficult to follow. Sentences may not be appropriately grouped into paragraphs, or paragraphs may not be arranged logically. Transitions are not present or are inappropriate.
  • The number and seriousness of errors—in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.—significantly obstruct comprehension.


Late Work


I do not accept late work - for your writing to receive credit it must be posted on your blog by the deadline, otherwise I will comment on it, but it will not receive credit. 




As this is a discussion and workshop-driven class, attendance of all participants is particularly important. In accordance with English department attendance policies, enrolled students in this class must attend one of the first two class sessions; otherwise, they may be required to drop the class. Afterwards, you are allowed two unexcused absences; subsequent absences will result in a reduction of your final grade by 5% for each unexcused absence. You are also encouraged to make use of office hours either by appearing in my office in person or chatting online via the "virtual classroom" option on Blackboard.


Sharing Student Work


English 1020 is a collaborative course, as such we will be sharing our writing throughout the semester as a means to helping each other become better writers and thinkers.  To better facilitate this process, I will be using selections of your work  during class as examples.  If you would prefer that I not use your work, please let me know.


Rough Draft Workshops


For each of our five major projects, we will have a peer review workshop between the rough draft and final draft deadlines. Failure to participate in the rough draft workshop for a project (by absence or by failing to complete your rough draft and/or participate in the peer critique of others' drafts) will result in a 5% deduction in the grade of final draft of that project.


Media Policy


I enourage you to use your laptops and Internet connections to search out information relevant to class during class. However, browsing unrelated to the class (as well as other media use - texting, IMing, etc.) will be grounds for expulsion from the course.


Academic Dishonesty


Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of ideas and information from sources without proper citation and documentation (e.g., copying from texts or pasting from websites without quoting, and not providing a complete list of Works Cited).


Instructors are required to report all instances of plagiarism to the Department of English. According to the WSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences policy on plagiarism, instructors may give a failing grade on the assignment or for the course.


The above is plagiarized from the Wayne State Policy on Academic Dishonesty; for more about the definition of plagiarism, consult your local library.


Incomplete Policy


As detailed in the WSU Undergraduate Bulletin, the mark of “I” (Incomplete) is given to a student when he/she has not completed all of the course work as planned for the term and when there is, in the judgment of the instructor, a reasonable probability that the student can complete the course successfully without again attending regular class sessions. The student should be passing at the time the grade of ‘I’ is given. A written contract specifying the work to be completed should be signed by the student and instructor. Responsibility for completing all course work rests with the student.


The Writing Center


The Writing Center (2nd floor, UGL) provides tutoring consultations free of charge for students at Wayne State University. Undergraduate students in General Education courses, including composition courses, receive priority for tutoring appointments. The Writing Center serves as a resource for writers, providing tutoring sessions on the range of activities in the writing process – considering the audience, analyzing the assignment or genre, brainstorming, researching, writing drafts, revising, editing, and preparing documentation. The Writing Center is not an editing or proofreading service; rather students are guided as they engage collaboratively in the process of academic writing, from developing an idea to correctly citing sources. To make an appointment, consult the Writing Center website. To submit material for online tutoring, consult the Writing Center HOOT (Hypertext One-on-One Tutoring) website.


Technology Services


This course is heavily technology and web based.  Much of the course content will be covered on this wiki and all of your work will be submitted through your Wordpress blog.  As such, competency and comfort with these technologies is absolutely vital to success in this course.  If you need help with this, ask for it.  You can also utilize the Student Technology Studio located next to the Writing Center on the second floor of the Undergraduate Library.


The Office of Educational Accessibility Services


If you feel that you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, please feel free to contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. Additionally, the Office of Educational Accessibility Services (EAS) coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. The Office is located in 1600 David Adamany Undergraduate Library, phone: 313-577-1851/577-3335 (TTD).


Syllabus Contract


After reading this syllabus, please go to the Syllabus Contract page.  If you agree to the terms and conditions of this syllabus, print out and sign the text from this page and bring it to your next class period.



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