Accelerated Composition 70

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Accelerated Composition
Critical Politics
School: Clemson University
Section: ENGL 1030-70
CRN: 88540
Semester: Fall 2016
Location: Daniel 313
Time: TTh 2pm-3:15pm
Instructor: Michael Russo
Contact: On Blackboard
Additional: None
#! This is a course description page, designed for students and containing the course syllabus and expectations.
#! If you are a student, then check this page regularly for updates.
#! All changes are recorded and documented on the course history page.

Accelerated Composition (Critical Politics), Fall 2016, Clemson University, focuses on writing and critical thinking by using an approach that teaches rhetorical strategies for reading and composing arguments in both print and digital environments. Students will learn to read texts critically and to recognize the different purposes and audiences for arguments. Students will compose five writing projects based on issues and research raised in the reading assignments and class discussions during the semester. The writing assignments will give students extensive practice in thinking critically and writing according to the rhetorical conventions of an argumentative essay using a range of rhetorical techniques: invention, arrangement, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. Students will also explore the uses of rhetoric as a tool of persuasion in written, visual, and multimodal texts. As well, students will learn how rhetoric works through attention to persona, audience, and persuasive appeals (such as pathos, logos, ethos, kairos).

Rhetoric teaches us how we might persuade others, and whether to be persuaded ourselves. To these ends, we will pay particular attention to cultural and individual assumptions, and how rhetoric and language work to provide effective arguments. These approaches build a foundation for learning strategies of writing about our shared worlds. The class "theme" -- Critical Politics -- is meant to introduce students to alternative ways of thinking about popular controversial issues such as political liberties, religious freedoms, and sexual rights. Many of the assigned readings and viewings are borrowed from well-know contrarian thinkers.

Learning Goals

During this course, there will be five key learning outcomes that will guide our learning, established by the Council of Writing Program Administrators.

Critical Thinking, Reading, & Writing
  • Use writing and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking, and communicating
  • Understand a writing assignment as a series of tasks, including finding, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing appropriate primary and secondary sources
  • Integrate their own ideas with those of others
  • Understand the relationships among language, knowledge, and power
Rhetorical Knowledge
  • Focus on a purpose
  • Respond to the needs of different audiences
  • Respond appropriately to different kinds of rhetorical situations
  • Use conventions of format and structure appropriate to the rhetorical situation
  • Adopt appropriate voice, tone, and level of formality
  • Understand how genres shape reading and writing
  • Write in several genres

Knowledge of Conventions

  • Learn common formats for different kinds of texts
  • Develop knowledge of genre conventions ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics
  • Practice appropriate means of documenting their work
  • Control such surface features as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling
Processes of Composing
  • Be aware that it usually takes multiple drafts to create and complete a successful text
  • Develop flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proof-reading
  • Understand writing as an open process that permits writers to use later invention and re-thinking to revise their work
  • Understand the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes
  • Learn to critique their own and others' works
  • Learn to balance the advantages of relying on others with the responsibility of doing their part
  • Use a variety of technologies to address a range of audiences
Composing in Digital Environments
  • Use electronic environments for drafting, reviewing, revising, editing, and sharing texts
  • Locate, evaluate, organize, and use research material collected from electronic sources, including scholarly library databases; other official databases (e.g., federal government databases); and informal electronic networks and internet sources
  • Understand and exploit the differences in the rhetorical strategies and in the affordances available for both print and electronic composing processes and texts

Required Texts & Supplies

IMPORTANT NOTE: This list of resources WILL update as the class progresses. Students are expected to check the syllabus regularly.

Cover for Envision in Depth, by Alfano & O'Brien
Cover for Letters to a Young Contrarian, by Christopher Hitchens.
Jonathan Swift by Tony Clarke, Wax and Ink.
From La Mort de Socrate, Oil on Canvas, Jacques-Louis David (1787).

This is, after all, a composition course. You will need the tools of composition. Bring a pencil and paper to every class. Also bring you laptop, tablet, or whatever other digital device you feel comfortable reading, writing, and researching on. Use your device responsibly.

  • Alfano, Christine L. and Alyssa J. O’Brien. Envision In Depth: Reading, Writing, and Researching Arguments (4th Ed.). Print. ISBN: 0134093984

Other Readings
  • Plato. "The Apology of Plato." Trans. Benjamin Jowett. Online at MIT: Web.
  • Hitchens, Christopher. Letters to a Young Contrarian. Print or Kindle. ISBN: 0465030335.
  • "Boston U. Panel Finds Plagiarism by Dr. King." NYT.
  • Swift, Jonathan. "A Modest Proposal." Online at Rutgers University.
  • Lovin. "Analysis of Jonathan Swift." (MLA SAMPLE PAPER).
  • Davis. "What Limits to Freedom?" (MLA SAMPLE PAPER).
  • Drexler, Peggy. "What Your Selfies Say About You." Envision in Depth (pp 383-385).
  • Ginsburg, Jane C. "How Copyright Got a Bad Name for Itself." Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts. 2002.
Still Pictures
  • David, Jacques-Louis. "The Death of Socrates" (1787). Painting. Link.
  • De Saint-Quentin, Jacques-Philip-Joseph. "The Death of Socrates" (1738). Painting. Link.
Moving Pictures
  • Death of Socrates. Dir. Stearns, Basso, et al. Kanalya Pictures, 2010. IMDb Info.
  • National Geographic: Kent State (Parts 1 & 2). On YouTube.
  • 12 Angry Men. Dir. Sidney Lumet. MGM Studios, 1957. Film. IMDb Info.
  • "How to Read a Painting: The Death of Socrates." Nerdwriter. YouTube.
  • Rheingold, Howard. "The New Power of Collaboration." TED.
  • Lessig, Lawrence. "Laws that Choke Creativity." TED.
  • Faden, Eric. "A Fair(y) Use Tale." YouTube.
Audio Files

"Swift's Modest Proposal." In Our Time. BBC.

  • Purdue Online Writing Lab. Link.
  • The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Link.
  • Envision in Depth Companion Website. Link.
  • Slack (used for out online discussion group)

Assignment & Grading

Writing Prompts

15% of Final Grade: There will be numerous in-class writing prompts along with homework reading, writing, and analysis. The writing prompts will allow you to practice writing in different forms and genres (including electronic environments) for various audiences and purposes. The writing prompts are low-stakes, which means that so long as you turn them in on time, you will receive 100% credit for the work completed. If you do not turn the prompts in on time, you will forfeit credit and this portion of your grade will suffer. To repeat: the writing prompts cannot be turned in late.

Online Discussion Board

15% of Final Grade: Weekly participation on the online discussion board is mandatory. A new discussion will be posted in Slack at the start of class, each Tuesday of every week. You will have one week to respond in the new discussion channel. You must write a response that's at least 150 words long, and address whatever issues are raised in the thread. You are encouraged to tailor your responses to other students' posts, engage in conversation, and post more often than once. Feel free to use Slack as a chat room as well. If you have a smartphone, you are encouraged to download and install the Slack app and post on-the-go. The link to our Slack group in on Blackboard.

The discussion board is a low-stakes assignment. So long as you respond each week, you will receive 100% credit for your post. If you do not respond in time, or if you delete your post before the deadline, you will forfeit full credit for the week.

Project 01: Visual Analysis

10% of Final Grade: This assignment requires students develop proficiency in rhetorical analysis and argument by writing a paper that examines a visual text. The aim of this assignment is to support an argument about a work of visual media using the rhetorical tools of persuasion we discuss in class. Using the assigned readings and models provided by the instructor, make an argument that persuades readers of your claim -- that the image you chose is important, and why... The form of this assignment is an integrated textual and visual essay that utilizes the rhetorical elements of composition, presentation, intended audience, and argument. About 1200 words.

Project 02: Research Proposal

5% of Final Grade: This assignment requires you to shift from rhetorical analysis of a single text to broader cultural, social, or political issues in multiple modes of authoring. Before doing any research, you should provide justification for why the research is important. Write a detailed proposal that discusses your topic, planned method, and purpose concerning your Researched Argument (Project 04). Be sure to cover your topic, your argument, your potential sources, problems that might arise, and the significance of the proposed project. About 500 words.

Project 03: Annotated Bibliography

15% of Final Grade: After identifying potential sources for your Research Argument (Project 04), compile a list of sources into an Annotated Bibliography. List your sources in alphabetical order, provide complete MLA-formatted citations for each source, and compose a concise annotation for each source. These annotations should include summaries, quotations from your source, and/or supplementary information about the source (how helpful is it according to B.E.A.M., what is the author's ethos and stance, does it provide background information, etcetera).

Project 04: Researched Argument

20% of Final Grade: This assignment requires students to practice your rhetorical knowledge and develop an extended researched argument using multimodal composition strategies. Write an argumentative essay on a topic that matters to both you and society as a whole. You must include a clear thesis, be persuasive, and support your claims with evidence from a variety of sources. Remember to incorporate possible objections to your argument (i.e., rebuttals to those objections) with a goal of helping to mediate opposing sides of an issue (rather than offer mere opinions). The goal is not to achieve consensus, but to put forth a well-reasoned and well-supported argument that helps your audience move toward understanding, rather than conflict. Your essay should be at least 2000 words and have a Works Cited of at least 10 sources (formatted using MLA guidelines).

Project 05: Multimodal Argument

20% of Final Grade: This group assignment requires students to develop and re-mediate one of the Researched Arguments (Project 04) into a new form and genre, using multimodal composition strategies discussed in class (visual, textual, audio, tactile). Students will choose from their group which argument to develop, and each member will take on their own responsibilities (again dictated by the group). Examples of the form your multimodal argument might take are: op-ads, photo-essay, website, remix, collage/montage, video, podcast, mp3 file(s), blog, or other multi-media combinations. It will be important to decide on your topic, create a plan, then organize, and structure your project according to effective argumentative writing and design principles you are learning in this course. The project also requires a Works Cited, video credits, etc., documenting all sources used. Projects will be evaluated on the overall quality of the argument, the design quality, as well as the creativity and effort needed to produce a final product comparable to a 2000-word traditional essay. This does not mean your project needs to include 2000 words, but it should represent an equal amount of work (research, designing, writing. Projects will be presented in class the final week of class (see schedule for due dates) as well as turned in to instructor.

NOTE: This multimodal assignment is a group project and must be accompanied by a written statement in which the group grades itself and its members based on effort, engagement, and participation. The statement must be signed by all members of the group, and the grades therein will be considered in the professor's final assessment.



All written work must be submitted in MLA format unless otherwise stated. I prefer papers to be submitted in Microsoft Word format in order to maintain formatting across multiple devices. However I will also accept papers submitted in other formats if the student asks first (I need to be sure I can open it).


Students are allowed up to TWO (2) absences (excused or unexcused) without penalty. If students reach the limit of absences by the drop date, the instructor may drop them from the class for excessive absences. The instructor also reserves the right to drop any student who has missed half or more of the total number of classes before the last day to drop a class or withdraw from the University.

The instructor will determine what to do in case of extended illness or personal crisis on a case-by-case basis. However, excessive absences are an adequate reason for being failed in first-year composition, even if students have turned in all the required papers on time. If a student uses all excused absences, she will not receive unexcused absences above and beyond those excused absences. For example, if a student misses ONE (1) classes for athletics, she will have an additional absence to use at her discretion.


Arriving late to class or leaving early is unprofessional and will be factored into the attendance policy. Each recorded instance will count as ONE (1) tardy. Two tardies equal one absence. Any student will be marked absent if you arrive more than 10 minutes after the start of class.

Late Submissions

All required work must be uploaded to Blackboard by the start of class. Writing prompt and forum posts will not be accepted if they are late. Graded papers and projects, such as the Visual Analysis , will be penalized by one-third of a letter grade (B+ to B to B-) for each day the work is late. Students are expected to bring a copy of all written work to class -- either on laptop or on printed paper.

NOTE: If for any reason you have technical difficulties, you may submit a printed paper copy on the day the assignment is due.

Electronic Devices

You are allowed to use laptop computers, tablets, and cell-phones in this class (except in cases when you are asked to put them away). However, you are expected to use these devices for in-class activities only, with respect to other students and to the instructor. Disruptive behavior will result in a marked absence.

Academic Dishonesty

The following is Clemson’s official statement on Academic Integrity: “As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of this institution as a 'high seminary of learning.’ Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.”

A simple definition of plagiarism -- one that we will expand upon this semester -- is when someone presents another person’s words, visuals, or ideas as his/her own. The most serious offense within this category occurs when a student copy-pastes text from the Internet or from a collective file. This type of academic dishonesty is a serious offense that will result in a failing grade for the course as well as the filing of a formal report to the university.


Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located here.

  • Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator and is also the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorrf Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).

Schedule of Classes

The following is a breakdown of meeting times and assignments. Changes to the schedule will be announced in class; however, you are expected to periodically check this page in order to make sure that you don't fall behind. Any additional homework will be announced in class.

Date Reading Due Assignment Due
Tu.08.23 READ: Envision: Ch. 1 (pp 2-39)
READ: "Selfies" (pp. 383-387)
First Discussion post is due.
Visit the Slack link on Blackboard!
Th.08.25 READ: Envision: Ch. 2 (pp 42-87)
READ: The Apology
SEE: David's "Death of Socrates"
Writing Prompt 01
Tu.08.30 READ: Envision: Ch. 3 (pp 89-131)
WATCH: How to Read a Painting
SEE: Saint-Quentin's "Death of Socrates"
Writing Prompt 02
Th.09.01 WATCH: "Death of Socrates" - Theme IV, IX, and XIII. Writing Prompt 03
Tu.09.06 RESEARCH: Art terminology and lexical language (see this and that). Visual Rhetorical Analysis Due.
Th.09.08 READ: Hitchens, Letters I-VIIII Writing Prompt 04
Tu.09.13 READ: Hitchens, Letters IX-XVIII
READ: Envision: Ch. 4 (pp 136-163)
WATCH: Hitchens Interview
WATCH: Kent State 1 and Kent State 2
Writing Prompt 05
Th.09.15 Research Proposal Due.
READ: Envision: Ch. 5 (pp. 166-208)
READ: Davis: MLA Sample Paper
Writing Prompt 06
Th.09.22 READ: "Boston U. Panel Finds Plagiarism by Dr. King." NYT.
READ: Envision: Ch. 7 (pp. 265-293) & DO: Plagiarism Self-test
Writing Prompt 07
Tu.09.27 READ: Envision: Ch. 6 (pp. 212-262)
READ: Envisions: All Index Entries on 'Thesis' (see pg 562)
Writing Prompt 08
Th.09.29 RESEARCH: Mind Mapping & SEE: this & that. Writing Prompt 09
Tu.10.04 REVIEW: Envisions pp 230-238
READ: Swift: "A Modest Proposal" & Listen: "Swift's Modest Proposal." In Our Time.
Writing Prompt 10
Th.10.06 RESEARCH: MLA Format and Style & SEE: this
Tu.10.11 Annotated Bibliography Due.
Th.10.13 Writing Prompt 11
Tu.10.18 Draft #1 of Research Argument. (Bring a paper copy with you to class)
Th.10.20 REVIEW: Envision pp 246-249 & Research: Revision Tips (this and that) Writing Prompt 12
Tu.10.25 WATCH: 12 Angry Men Writing Prompt 13
Th.10.27 Draft #2 of Research Argument. (Bring a paper copy with you to class)
Tu.11.01 Research Argument Due.
Tu.11.08 Fall Break Fall Break
Th.11.10 READ: Envision: Ch. 8 (pp. 296-338)
Th.11.17 Watch: Lessig, Laws that Choke Creativity" & WATCH: Fair(y) Use Tail
Th.11.24 Thanksgiving Holiday Thanksgiving Holiday
Tu.11.29 Final Project on Argument in Multimedia Due.
Th.12.01 Final Project on Argument in Multimedia Due.

Extra Credit

  • Students who are unsatisfied with the grade the received on their first Visual Analysis project can re-write the paper and re-submit it on Nov. 10th by the start of class. There is no guarantee that you're grade will improve.
  • Other extra credit assignments will be posted here as the semester progresses.


The Writing Center | 307 Academic Success Center:

The Writing Center is a free tutoring service available to the entire student body, regardless of major or academic standing. It provides students opportunities to discuss questions or problems related to academic writing—from generating a topic and thesis to organizing a draft and integrating appropriate citations. The Writing Center’s goal is to help Clemson students become confident and effective writers. As an English 1030 student, you should feel free to utilize the Writing Center to receive additional help or feedback on any course assignments or projects. You can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting the Writing Center’s website, by calling them at 864-656-3280, or by simply stopping in.


Clemson University values the diversity of our student body as a strength and a critical component of our dynamic community. Students with disabilities or temporary injuries/conditions may require accommodations due to barriers in the structure of facilities, course design, technology used for curricular purposes, or other campus resources. Students who experience a barrier to full access to this class should let the professor know, and make an appointment to meet with a staff member in Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. You can make an appointment by calling 864-656-6848, by emailing, or by visiting Suite 239 in the Academic Success Center building. Appointments are strongly encouraged – drop-ins will be seen if at all possible, but there could be a significant wait due to scheduled appointments. Students who receive Academic Access Letters are strongly encouraged to request, obtain and present these to their professors as early in the semester as possible so that accommodations can be made in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to follow this process each semester. You can access further information here.