EN387 Composition Theory

for FA 2010

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EN 387: Composition Theory


FA 2010 HO


Emily Donnelli, Ph.D.


Associate Professor of English


Ph.D., English, University of Kansas
M.A., English, University of Kansas
B.A., English, William Jewell College

Office Location

Copley 310

Office Hours

MWF, 9:00-12:00; Also by appointment

Daytime Phone




Web Page


Semester Dates

August 16 - December 10, 2010

Class Days


Class Time

1:30 - 2:45 PM


EN 105, EN 106, WCT

Credit Hours



Clark, Irene. Concepts in Composition: Theory and Practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2003. Print.

Supplemental readings available through eCompanion.

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

The Purdue Online Writing Lab, MLA Style: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

The Purdue Online Writing Lab, Recognizing and Avoiding Plagiarism: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/01/

The Purdue Online Writing Lab, How to Evaluate Sources: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/553/01/

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Course Description:
EN387 Composition Theory - PreRequisite: EN105, EN106, WCT - An introduction to composition theoryfor English majors in the writing concentration, the course will engage students in the study of writing. Some consideration will be given to theories which overlap in composition and literature. Students will produce a major writing project, which will include a self-reflective analysis of their process. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

This course asks us to investigate something we often take for granted—writing. What are the relationships between writing and knowledge, writing and thinking, writing and power? How is writing linked to such constructions as race, class, and gender?  How were we taught to write, and what ideologies motivated our educations? What personal, academic, and public terms do we use to define ourselves as writers?
At all points along the way this semester, we will engage theory to better understand not only the discipline of writing but also our own identities and practices as writers and readers of writing. We will work together to navigate difficult texts and apply their ideas to the academic and non-academic pursuits that matter the most to us. In reading and writing about the theory, we will ourselves generate new perspectives and knowledge to add to the field of composition studies. The success of this course rests upon your willingness to be an active participant in transforming our class into a community of writers and scholars.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. Discuss and analyze major theories of composition in relation to students' own writing processes and historical trends in writing instruction.
  2. Investigate connections between literary theories and theories of composing.
Class Assessment:

Class assessment will consist of daily in-class writing and other writing-to-learn activities. Five short papers will provide an opportunity to investigate theorists and key terms, and to document insights gained from applying theory to practice. Two of those five short papers will reflect on your work with EN 105 or EN 106 student writers (you will observe an participate in a composition course, either EN 105 or 106 here at Park; you will have the choice among four sections to best accommodate your schedule). A midterm examination will allow you to demonstrate your facility with the theory. Students will pursue a self-selected topic of interest through a critical project (the core assessment).

Your in-class work will be assessed based on accuracy, depth, and degree of preparation demonstrated. Your formal papers will be assessed based on focus, development, organization, and mechanics. Complete assessment details will be provided with each assignment.



·         Daily in-class writings = 100 points

·         Short papers = 100 points (5 @ 20 points ea.)

·         Midterm examination = 100 points

·         Core Assessment (critical project) = 100 points

Late Submission of Course Materials:

Check your calendar for potential conflicts, and contact me early work through any problems you anticipate. With that said: Daily in-class writing activities may not be made up. When arrangements have not been made beforehand, one letter grade will be deducted per day for late papers. Please note that your core assessment (i.e., the critical paper) will not be accepted unless you have submitted rough drafts as assigned. Assignments are due at the beginning of class.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

What you can expect of me:

  •  I will arrive to class on time and prepared to discuss the day’s reading and other assigned work.
  • I will not talk or text on my cell phone during our class.
  • I will not use my personal laptop computer during class unless I have been invited to do so for the purposes of presentation or small-group work.
  • I will not let procrastination-related printer failure prevent me from showing up to class prepared.
  • I will show respect for this class and those in it by actively engaging in class discussion. I will listen, pose thoughtful questions, and offer constructive commentary.
  • When I have questions, or need help, I will ask.
  • I will be open to feedback and willing to change as needed to make our class time meaningful and productive.
  • I will serve as a conscientious reader of other student's work and will provide detailed and useful feedback.

What I will expect of you:

  • See above.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:


Week One (8/16 & 8/18)

Defining Composition Studies. Readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Two (8/23 & 8/25)

Tracing Histories: Composition, Rhetoric, and Literary Studies. Readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Three (8/30 & 9/1)

Writing Process(es). Clark, Ch. 1 + readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Four (9/6 & 9/8)

Revision. Clark, Ch. 3 + readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Five (9/13 & 9/15)

Invention, Knowledge, and Ownership of Ideas. Clark, Ch. 2 + readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Six (9/20 & 9/22) 

Rhetoric and Audience (short paper #2 due). Clark, Ch. 4 + readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Seven (9/27 & 9/29)

Teaching and Responding to Writing (short paper #3 due annotated bibliography for core assessment). Clark, Ch. 5 + readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Eight (10/4 & 10/6) 

Midterm Preparation and Exam.

Week Nine (10/11 & 10/13)

Fall Recess.

Week Ten (10/18 & 10/20)

Genre. Clark, Ch. 6 + readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Eleven (10/25 & 10/27) 

Voice. Clark, Ch. 7.

Week Twelve (11/1 & 11/3) 

Grammar (short paper #4 due). Clark, Ch. 8 + readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Thirteen (11/8 & 11/10) 

Language, Culture, and Diversity. Clark, Ch. 9 & 10.

Week Fourteen (11/15 & 11/17)

Composition Studies And/In The Public Sphere. Readings located in Document Sharing.

Week Fifteen (11/22 & 11/24) 

Student Presentations (short paper #5 due).

Week Sixteen (11/29 & 12/1) 

Student Presentations and Course Synthesis.

Week Seventeen (12/8)

Core Assessment (critical project) due to eCompanion no later than Wednesday, December 8, at 1:30 p.m.

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty (www.park.edu/current or http://www.park.edu/faculty/).from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92-93
Often plagiarism is the result of lack of proper understanding, poor time management, or fear about an academic task. Consult the MLA handbook and reputable online resources like the Purdue OWL; and please speak with me if you have any questions or concerns about academic honesty. At the end of the day (so to speak), please remember: Plagiarism is not defined by quantity or type or intention. Unintentional or otherwise, work containing plagiarism will not earn points. Repeated plagiarism will result in failure of the course.

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96
Attendance reflects your commitment to this class and to your studies at Park University. Attendance is expected. Attendance means arriving to class on time. Because we will write in class daily, attendance is directly tied to your performance. 1-2 absences will likely not affect your overall grade. However, please note: 3-4 absences will result in the loss of 1 full letter grade. 5 absences will result in a loss of two full letter grades. 6 or more absences will result in failure of the course.

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


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Last Updated:8/12/2010 11:31:45 PM