English 110: college writing: Ethnography, Equality, and Education

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Queens College
ENGLISH 110: COLLEGE WRITING: Ethnography, Equality, and Education

Course Syllabus

Fall 2010 Ms. Colleen Cusick

Section 1T4RA cusick.teaching@gmail.com

Rathaus Hall Office: 322-A Klapper Hall

Room 102 Office Hours: R 3:30-5:00

T/R 1:40-3:30 p.m. Office Phone:

This course examines contemporary American college culture in its various forms—including your own experiences as college students. You will examine through writing and discussion how college is represented in American media and how you conceive of your own experiences at Queens College. You will explore this subject from both a personal perspective (Why are you attending college? What do you hope to gain from your college education? What factors lead to your choosing to attend college?) and from an institutional perspective (What are the expectations of Queens College for its students? What does it mean to succeed or fail as a college student? How do “merit” and “effort” work together in images of college and the realities of being a college student?)

Using an ethnographer’s approach to thinking and writing about college settings, you will draw on both your memories of your 12+ years of previous schooling and your research into larger social realities. Linking your individual subject position to the institutions that help form it is a crucial part of ethnographic analysis. Writing in this way about your own education experiences will help you consider from the very beginning of your college career that factors that will shape it and you during your next four years at Queens.

By the conclusion of this course students will:

  • Practice observational and analytical writing.

  • Become familiar with paragraph organization and integration of textual sources into original written material.

  • Understand the drafting process through revision of their own papers and review/proof-reading of their classmates’ work.

  • Practice using MLA style to cite research.

Required Materials:

  • Diaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Riverhead Books: New York. 2007.

  • Maimon, Peritz, and Yancey, eds. A Writer’s Resource, 3rd ed.

  • Readings found online at: http://colleencusick.qwriting.org

  • Notebook for class notes.


No essays will be accepted over e-mail.

At the end of the semester, you will hand in a writing portfolio of final drafts of the semester’s assignments. This portfolio will determine the majority of your grade, as follows:

  • Essays (60%)

You will complete five essay assignments.

Each essay will require in-class peer-review, so bring a paper (printed-out) copy of your rough drafts to class on peer-review days. Drafting and review are essential parts of the writing process. Failure to participate in peer-review exercises will lower your essay grade. You will also be given a horrible, awful writing assignment if you fail to bring your drafts to class and participate in your peer review. Absence from class does not excuse lack of participation in peer review.

You may (and should) revise your essays before turning in the final portfolio. Acceptable revisions will raise your essay grades. All essays should follow MLA style for citations. They should be typed, double-spaced, proofread, and stapled. Include your name, my name, the course, section and date of the assignment on every essay.

  • Participation (40%)

Your participation grade will be based on 1) attendance, 2) contributions to class discussion, 3) your blog, 4) quizzes, and 5) your grammar lesson (each worth 8 points). You should come to each class fully prepared to engage in the work of the day, having: 1) finished the reading and 2) brought any work assigned for that session to class. You are expected to join in class discussion regularly and to demonstrate thoughtful attention to the reading and writing assignments.

You will also be responsible for one entry per week on your qwriting blog (to be linked to our class blog, http://colleencusick.qwriting.org) and five comments per week on your classmates’ blogs. The topics on which to write your entries will be listed in the syllabus by week. Try to rotate between your classmates’ blogs so you don’t post on the same people’s writing each week. Posts and comments may be informal and will not be graded for grammar or style. However, they must be thoughtful and demonstrate familiarity with the texts under discussion. They must also always engage respectfully with the other class members.

You and a partner will sign up on the second day of class for a grammar lesson.
Course Policies:

  • Academic Dishonesty

Plagiarism is a serious offence and will be treated seriously. Passing someone else’s words as your own and failing to properly attribute other writers’ concepts and ideas are both forms of plagiarism. We will discuss the definition of plagiarism and how to avoid it in class, but you should also familiarize yourself with the definition on your own. The Queens College English Department policy on plagiarism is as follows:

A student who has plagiarized will automatically fail the paper and possibly fail the class. The student will also be listed on a departmental record that will be maintained for the duration of the student’s enrollment at the College and reported to the Dean of Students who may decide to take further action. A student who plagiarizes the second time will automatically fail the course. Plagiarists may be subject to further penalties to be determined by the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee or the Dean of Students, including notation on the student’s permanent record, suspension, or dismissal from the college.”

  • Absences and Tardiness

Please inform me in advance of any expected absences due to familial, medical, or religious concerns. Absences do not excuse late or missed assignments. You are responsible for all work assigned both in and out of class. A doctor’s note will not take the place of a writing assignment or in-class participation.

I routinely give quizzes at the beginning of class. I do not give make-up quizzes. If you are late to class, you will fail the quiz. Don’t be late.

Any more than three missed classes will hurt your participation grade. This will lower your course grade. Don’t miss classes.

Essay assignments in this course build off one another. It is important that you finish each essay on time in the order assigned. I reserve the right to refuse late papers. If you anticipate a problem completing a paper on time speak with me before the due date to work out possible alternate arrangements. (Note: 3 am the morning before an essay is due does not count as advance

  • Classroom Conduct

No cell phones, beepers, or any other noise-making electronic devices are allowed in class. Turn them off (not on vibrate) before you walk through the door.

You are expected to treat your fellow students (and your teacher) with respect. Pay attention when your classmates speak. Feel free to disagree with each other, but treat all comments and opinions seriously and respond to them as such, with constructive feedback and criticism.

Sleeping, texting, web surfing, ignoring my or your classmates’ comments, talking over each other, and coming to class unprepared (without doing your homework or bringing necessary materials) will all lower your participation points and your grade.
Withdrawal Policy For Linked Courses

The English 110 section is “linked” with Anthropology 101 because the courses share some similar themes and, at times, you may see direct connections between discussions in both classes. You cannot drop one linked course without dropping the other.

Office Hours and My Availability:

I am available for additional help on Thursdays between 3:30-5. During office hours, I can discuss difficult reading assignments, give you more personal feedback on your writing, and discuss revision strategies for your papers.

To reach my office, take the elevator down to the 3rd floor of Klapper Hall. To the left of the elevators is a locked door with a phone on the wall beside it. Dial my office extension and I will come out to get you.

Please be aware that (as I check my e-mail account only once a day) it may take 24 hours for me to respond to e-mails. Attending my office hours is your best bet for addressing any classroom concerns promptly and efficiently.

I also strongly encourage you to visit the Writing Center, located at 229 Kiely Hall. You can schedule one-on-one tutoring appointments with much greater frequency than my office hours schedule. Visit the Writing Center website here: http://qcpages.qc.edu/qcwsw/
Reading and Assignment Schedule (Subject to change):
Week Date Reading Assignment

1 8/26 Introduction - Create qwriting account at http://qwriting.org and link your blog to the class blog. Post about the ease or difficulty of doing this.

- Post an entry about each YouTube video assigned for next week.
2 8/31 YouTube videos on blog - Finish E-mail exercise and post to

CUNY and Queens College personal blog.

Wikipedia entries.
9/2 Library Visit #1 - Writing: What was your best educational moment? Describe the scene in detail. What did it teach you? Why was it special?

- Download an article from the New York Times Historical database from the late ‘60s/ early ‘70s that contains images.

3 9/7 Diaz (pg 1-75) - Writing: Blog about cliques you notice on Gumprecht article campus. Where to they gather? Who are the members? How can you determine who is and is not a member?

- Blog response to Gumprecht article. How well does Flushing fit his model of a college town?

4 9/14 NO CLASS (Friday schedule)

9/16 Diaz (77-209) -Writing: Writing Experiments Introduction

5 9/21 Diaz (209-261) - Writing: Work on First Essay.
9/23 Diaz (263-335) - Assignment 1 Due in Class
6 9/28 Learning to Labor (11-51)

Watch YouTube clips - Writing: PIE exercise.

9/30 Learning to Labor (89-115) - Writing: Quoting and Paraphrasing

MLA Style Guide in WR.

7 10/5 Learning to Labor (117-143) -Writing Prompt: Work on draft of Essay Two. Bring printed copy to next class. NO EXCEPTIONS.
8 10/12 Tsao’s article - Assignment 2 Due

Queens College Mission - Writing: Blog in response to Tsao’s

Statement and Video article. Why does he claim it’s important that CUNY students be aware of this moment in institutional history?
10/14 Does Class Count?” - Writing: Blog about The Chosen.

The Chosen (1-38)

“Waking Up From the American Dream”

9 10/19 “The Cooling-Out Function” - Writing: Blog about how “cooling out” happens in college. Why do you agree or disagree with Clark’s points about 2-year colleges?

- Bring your essay draft to next class.

10/21 PEER REVIEW -Writing: Revise Essay 3
10 10/26 “Lost in the Meritocracy” - Assignment 3 Due

“My Son the Number”

10/28 Read Queens College texts - Writing: Blog about what changes you

for this date would make to QC if you could. What would make the campus better? Be creative.

11 11/2 Re-read “Cooling-Out” Writing: Return to the blog you wrote on

The Chosen (536-557) “Cooling-Out” a few weeks ago. Add a few paragraphs of new insight to the old post.

- Blog about how you find systems of exclusion functioning in academic institutions. Cite any texts that inform your

opinion, not just from this class.
11/14 Library Visit #2
12 11/9 “Making College Relevant”

“Lost in the Meritocracy”

QC Self Study

11/11 Continue QC Self Study - Writing: Revise Essay 4. Bring two copies

QC Honors Program Video to class for peer review. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Scholarship materials

13 11/16 PEER REVIEW
11.18 “Blurring the Lines” - Assignment 4 Due

Video: “College Buzz”

14 11/23 Individual Conferences - Writing: Continue with Writing Experiments (at least 10 by this point)
11/25 NO CLASS (Thanksgiving)
15 11/30 MBA Personal Statements - Writing: Begin a draft of the personal

Personal Statement statement. Bring printed copy to class. NO EXCEPTIONS

12/2 PEER REVIEW - Writing: Revise Personal

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