English 505:
Writing Studies I

4 Credit graduate-level course, University of Illinois (fall 2012)
Instructor: Spencer Schaffner, Associate Professor
class meets Thursdays, 3:00-5:00, 123 English Building
office hours: Mondays 1-4, English Building 208 (and by appointment)
email: spencers@illinois.edu
course website: @ http://go.illinois.edu/metaspencer (or www.metaspencer.com)
course blog: http://exploratron.blogspot.com


This seminar is an introduction to writing studies, a field that was originally dedicated to scholarship dealing with the teaching of academic writing. The field of writing studies has expanded in recent decades to include a much wider array of topics, indicative of the view that writing structures a good deal of our institutional and interpersonal exchanges. Over the course of the semester, we will read broadly to explore how work on writing engages a variety of ideas and disciplines. Students in the course will complete regular posts to the course blog, present on work-in-progress, and complete a research paper with a topic addressed in class.

Because the course calendar may change, the most up-to-date version of this syllabus can be found online at the course website.

Books in the order we will read them

Pinker, Steven (2007) The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Flaherty, Alice Weaver (2005) The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain. New York: Mariner Books.

Gee, James Paul (2010) An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method. New York: Routledge.

Articles

Articles are available via a shared DropBox folder. If you don't have a DropBox account, go to http://db.tt/QkjoAHD to get one and give Spencer more space for storing readings. Class Participation (10% of your grade)

You should come to class prepared to guide, follow, and actively engage in class discussion. This is not a lecture class. Each week, we will talk about the readings for the full two hours; your active participation in seminar discussions is vital to our progress as a group.

Responses to the Readings, Posted to the Course Blog (20% of your grade)

Every other week, you are responsible for preparing a detailed written response to the readings. (The class will be split into two groups, with each group completing response alternating weeks.) These responses should be carefully crafted pieces of writing, between 500-700 words (this is equivalent to roughly one single-spaced page). Post your responses to the course blog — http://exploratron.blogspot.com — by 6:00 p.m. on the Wednesday evening before class. Read and comment what others have posted before class on Thursday.



Presentation of Work-in-Progress (5% of your grade)

In the final weeks of the class, the research for your final project should be well underway. During the final class sessions, members of the class will give ten-minute oral presentations describing the main contours of the final research project. This is meant to approximate a conference presentation. Emphasize your main argument in this presentation and prepare a 1-page handout.



Seminar Paper (65% of your grade)

At the end of the semester, you will turn in a seminar paper based on your original research that engages with a topic addressed in class. 1-page paper proposals with at least six works cited are due November 1st. Use University of Chicago citation guidelines. Scheduling a writing conference with Spencer is encouraged. Expectations for seminar papers differ between professors; for this class, I am looking for 15-25 pages of high-quality work. Develop a complex argument and include numerous connections to existing scholarship. Instead of including a detached literature review, refer to relevant supporting scholarship when you need to throughout the course of your discussion. Highlight the original findings of your research.



Plagiarism Policy and Student Code

By registering for this class, students agree to adhere to the UIUC student code, online at http://admin.illinois.edu/policy/code. All of your work for this class should be properly cited. Students found to have plagiarized any portion of their work in this course will receive an "F" for the class. The following web page, hosted by the UIUC library, can help you avoid plagiarism: http://library.illinois.edu/ugl/howdoi/plagiarism.html. If academic citation is new to you, please attend office hours to talk about it in the first few weeks of class.



Course Calendar

(subject to change; most up-to-date version online at the course website)

Thursday 8/30: introductions
introductions
overview of the syllabus and assignments
discussion about the field

Thursday 9/6: language and the brain
GROUP A responses 1 due
peruse responses before class
read for today: to p. 230 in The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language
watch this video about the McGurk effect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-lN8vWm3m0
watch this video featuring Stephen Pinker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5S1d3cNge24&feature=related

Thursday 9/13: language and the brain
remember to peruse responses before class
GROUP B responses 1 due
read for today: finish reading The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language
watch this video featuring Noam Chomsky: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EksuA4IAQIk
watch this video featuring Stephen Pinker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjQM8PzCEY0

Thursday 9/20: brain-based writing "disorders"
remember to peruse responses before class
GROUP A responses 2 due
read for today: to p. 107 in The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain
read for today: Waxman and Geschwind.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Rapp and Glucroft.pdf in Dropbox folder

Thursday 9/27: class does not meet (Spencer in Milwaukee)

Thursday 10/4: brain-based writing "disorders"
remember to peruse responses before class
GROUP B responses 2 due
read for today: finish reading The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain
read for today: Jackson-Waite Robson and Pring.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Kumar and Humphreys.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Henry et al.pdf in DropBox folder

Thursday 10/11: disability (and writing) studies
remember to peruse responses before class
GROUP A responses 3 due
read for today: Prendergast.Unabomber.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Prendergast.Responses to.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Brueggemann et al.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Katusic et al.pdf in DropBox folder

Thursday 10/18: discourse analysis
remember to peruse responses before class
GROUP B responses 3 due
read for today: to p. 98 in An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method
watch this video featuring Deborah Tannen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XO0XJHesUU
read for today: Tannen.pdf in DropBox folder

Thursday 10/25: discourse analysis
remember to peruse responses before class
GROUP A responses 4 due
read for today: finish reading An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method
watch this video featuring William Labov: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UoJ1-ZGb1w
read for today: Labov.pdf in DropBox folder

Thursday 11/1: writing studies, the city, and identity
*** email Spencer by today with your 1-page paper proposals w/ 6 works cited ***
remember to peruse responses before class
GROUP B responses 4 due
read for today: Ackerman.pdf in Dropbox folder
read for today: Cintron.pdf in Dropbox folder
read for today: Fleming.pdf in Dropbox folder
read for today: Loehwing.pdf in Dropbox folder

Thursday 11/8: writing studies and identity
discussion of collaborative review essays
remember to peruse responses before class
GROUP A responses 5 due
read for today: Wallace.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Alexander and Wallace.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Desser.pdf in DropBox folder

Thursday 11/15: writing studies and identity
remember to peruse responses before class
GROUP A responses 5 due
last day to ask for an extension for the final paper
sign up for in-class presentations for the weeks after Thanksgiving
read for today: Poirot.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Kirsch and Royster.pdf in DropBox folder
read for today: Wan.pdf in DropBox folder

Thursday 11/22 => No Class, Thanksgiving Break

Thursday 11/29
short presentations of research (10 minutes) on final projects; workshop
overview of main academic presses in the field

Thursday 12/6: Final Class Meeting
short presentations of research (10 minutes) on final projects; workshop
discussion of journals in the field

Tuesday 12/18: Paper due by 5pm
email your paper as a Word attachment to spencers@illinois.edu