What to Expect

To Do This Semester

Your work for this course will center on researching, drafting, and revising two mid-length essays.  Both pieces will build on your reading of Elizabeth Spelman’s Repair. In the first half of the semester, I’ll ask you to write an essay responding to a particular issue or question that intrigues you in Spelman’s book. In the second half of the semester, I’ll ask you to extend Spelman’s work by identifying and writing about a “project of repair” that interests you.

You will only earn letter grades on the final versions of these two essays. But you will be writing all the time. This is a course that rewards consistent and thoughtful work. Beginning in week three, you will have a piece due each Monday—either a draft or revision of one of your two main essays. You’ll also be asked to do a fair amount of reading for many of our class meetings, especially in the first several weeks of the term, and I may give spot quizzes to make sure you have done so.

You will also learn about the process of writing a critical essay: How to distinguish between drafting, revising, and editing; how to make thoughtful use of feedback on your work; how to offer helpful advice to other writers; and how to design a stylish and effective document.

You’ll take both of your essays for this course through several drafts. You will get a lot of feedback on your writing as you work on these pieces, so my expectations for the quality of your writing will be high. At the end of this semester, you should feel that you’ve been part of some interesting conversations, and that you’ve done some writing you feel proud of. Take the work of this course seriously, and I promise you that will happen.

To Do Each Class

You’ll find that almost all of our class meetings will have us working with texts—either published pieces or ones that you and your classmates have written. So come to class having done the reading and ready to work.

I like to get started on time, so please be ready to begin work promptly at 9:30. If we run out of things to do before 10:45, we will break early. We will often be working with texts that you and your classmates have posted to this website or to Google Drive, so you’ll want to bring a laptop or tablet to class. But since we only have 75 minutes for each class, we do need to focus on the work going on in the room. So please silence and put away your phones. Drinks are okay; food is not.

I use a class work system to keep track of attendance. This usually means that I will ask you to complete some sort of writing during class and turn it in before you leave. This tells me not only that you were present but that you came ready to work and contribute. On occasion your class work will be a quiz on the reading for the day, or some work with a piece of writing I’ve asked you to print out and bring to class.

My job is to make our class meetings useful and interesting; your job is to work hard and learn.

To Do as a Student

This is a course that rewards steady and thoughtful work. It is not the sort of course that will ask you to compile a massive paper at the end of term, or to cram frantically for midterm or final exams. But neither is it the kind of course in which you can hope to skip class and get the notes, or miss a few readings or assignments and still try to keep up. You need to be present—reading done, writing done, ready to work—for each class.

Here’s what I expect from you:

  • Attend all class meetings, workshops, and conferences. Be ready to participate actively in the work we do in both small and large groups.
  • Complete all assigned readings and in-class writing exercises.
  • Turn in all drafts, plans, and revisions on time.

The usual calculus is that you should work two hours out of class for each hour in class. This means you should set aside six hours each week to keep up with the reading and writing assigned for this course.

Good luck! I look forward to working with you.