Privacy Reboot

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English Composition 102
School: Rutgers University
Section: 50:350:877
Semester: Spring 2015
Location: Fine Arts 217
Time: MWF: 08am-08:55am
Instructor: Michael Russo
Contact: Available on Sakai
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.

Privacy Reboot, Spring 2015, Rutgers University, is an English composition course, taught by Michael Russo with the purpose of inspiring students to become better researchers and better writers. The class is modeled on the pedagogies of Dr. Shanyn Fiske, Dr. James J. Brown Jr., Dr. John C. Bean (Engaging Ideas), Dr. Joseph Bizup (BEAM), and Michael Russo.


Students of Composition: The goal of this course is to teach you to become a better researcher and a better writer. You will refine the skills you acquired in Composition 101, learn to engage with multiple texts and sources, recognize the utility of academic investigation, and finally apply your knowledge to an 8-10 page "research paper." Our class theme, Privacy Reboot, is meant to introduce you to a wide range of thought on a controversial human rights issue (an issue that should provide you with plenty of scholarly, secondary source material). We will be close-reading a range of writers (from Thoreau to Doctorow) on the subjects of solitude, secrecy, and reflection.

The purpose of the theme is to motivate you to think critically about the issue of privacy, whether or not it matters to the human condition, and how perceptions have changed from the time of Wordsworth to the age of Google. Alongside the poetry of reflection, we will discuss the recent events concerning whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency, and whose actions had a profound effect on the politics of technological culture. Within the scope of this theme, you’ll be free to explore any area of thought that interests you, so long as your exploration meets the standards and expectations of Rutgers University.


Learning Goals

Students will build upon the writing and critical thinking skills developed in Composition 101, will learn to engage with both primary texts and secondary texts, will learn how to put multiple authors into conversation with one another. Students will also identify purposeful research topics, find and evaluate source material, construct an annotated bibliography, write a final paper, and document their work in MLA format.

Review & Conversation

UNIT ONE: Reviewing invention, pre-writing, organization, thesis writing, and close-reading (the core of Comp 101); learning how to put two texts into conversation with one another, how to productively engage with two primary sources. At the end of this unit you will write and revise a five-page "conversation" paper that shows competence in close-reading and critical thinking skills.

Secondary Sources

UNIT TWO: Read, engage with, and evaluate different kinds of secondary sources – historical, critical, etc., and learn when and how to apply these sources to your readings of a primary text; learn how to use to school’s library to conduct academic research; generate and evaluate possible areas of investigation; learn how to construct an annotated bibliography.

Integration & Proposal

UNIT THREE: Learn to integrate primary and secondary sources into their writing; learn the USE of the sources; construct a productive dialogues between sources while prioritizing you own argument about a primary work; further evaluate the scope of your own research; identify possible topics for a "research paper," which will culminate in a one-page research proposal.

The "Research Paper"

UNIT FOUR: Finalize selections of a viable research topic; construct a working outline and multiple drafts of a "research paper." Further develop library skills in order to identify specific sources of research. By the end of this unit students are expected to produce both a final annotated bibliography and a final "research paper." The concluding paper will be an attempt at creating an analytical essay. The FINAL PAPER should be an advanced demonstration of your ability to engage with the scholarly community through structure and research. Pay close attention to the threads of your argument, to your word choice and grammar, and especially to the notes you’ve taken throughout the semester. This is your opportunity to show off what you’ve learned.



Cover for They Say / I Say, by Gerald Graff, and Cathy Birkenstein.
Cover for No Place to Hide, Glenn Greenwald.
Portrait of Franz Kafka from illustration by John Foster Dyess.

This is a composition course, so of course you'll need a pencil and paper. Also you'll need a notebook, and a binder for class handouts. You must purchase or rent the primary texts listed below. All supplemental materials will be provided by the instructor, either here, on paper, or uploaded to the class Sakai page.

Primary Texts

(The following materials can be purchased either on Amazon or at the University Bookstore.)

  • Lunsford, Andrea A. Easy Writer. 5th ed. Print. ISBN: 1457640465.
  • Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say / I Say. 3rd ed. Print. ISBN: 0393935841.
  • Greenwald, Glenn. No Place to Hide. Print. ISBN: 1250062586.
  • Kafka, Franz, et al. The Trial. Trans. ISBN: 0805209999.


  • 1984. Dir. Michael Radford. Umbrella-Rosenblum Films, 1984. Film. IMdB Info.


(Supplemental materials provided by the instructor. This section may update as the class progresses.)

Supplemental Reading:

  • Thoreau, Henry David. "Solitude." Excerpt from Walden Pond.
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Wakefield." The Literature Network.
  • Po, Li. "The Solitude of Night." Trans. Shigeyoshi Obata. Poetry.
  • Wordsworth, William. "Daffodils." The Golden Treasury. Poetry. Bartleby.
  • Whitman, Walt. "Give me the Splendid Silent Sun." Bartleby.
  • Williams, Willaim Carlos. "Danse Russe." Poetry. UPenn.
  • Atwood, Margaret. "This is a Photograph of Me." Poetry. Poets.og.
  • McKay, Claude. "On Broadway." Poetry. Poem Hunter.
  • "Google Privacy Policy." Google. Direct Link.
  • "Scroogled." Cory Doctorow. Craphound.

Secondary Arguments, Articles, & Criticisms: (Links and .pdf files available on Sakai.)

Supplemental Video:

  • "How and Why We Read." Crash Course with John Green. YouTube.
  • "What Aristotle and Joshua Bell can teach us about persuasion." TedEd. YouTube.
  • "Critical Thinking." QualiaSoup. YouTube.
  • "David Shi on the ... movements." Norton History. YouTube.
  • "The Saddest Noise, the Sweetest Noise." Analysis. Saint Ignatius College. YouTube.
  • "Paragraph Structure." Smrt English. YouTube.
  • "What is Research?" NU Office of Undergraduate Research. YouTube.
  • "1984 - Apple's Macintosh Commercial." Mac History. YouTube.
  • "1984 - Thug Notes Summary and Analysis." Wisecrack. YouTube.
  • "Introducing Amazon Echo." Amazon. YouTube.

Supplemental Multimedia:



Writing Assignments

The papers you’re expected to write will fall into one of the following four categories:

  1. ANALYSIS – LOW STAKES: ANALYSIS PAPERS are low-stakes reactions in which you summarize and analyze the essential ideas expressed in the reading. I will use these papers to gauge your involvement and progress throughout the class. ANALYSIS PAPERS should be no less than 500 words. So long as you turn your ANALYSIS PAPERS in on time, you will receive 100% credit for the work completed. If you do not turn these papers in on time, you will forfeit credit. Low-stakes work cannot be turned in late.
  2. SHORT CONVERSATION – LOW STAKES: SHORT CONVERSATION papers are your chance to practice putting multiple authors into dialogue with one another. Again, they should be no less than 500 words. Although these papers are ungraded, they should be used as a means to develop your scholarly voice. So long as you turn these papers in on time, you will receive 100% credit for the work completed. If you do not turn these papers in on time, you will forfeit credit. Low-stakes work cannot be turned in late.
  3. LONG CONVERSATION – HIGH STAKES: The LONG CONVERSATION paper is a practiced, scholarly attempt to put two texts into purposeful conversation with one another. This paper should be treated with care: pay close attention to your thesis, and to the structure of your argument. It should be no less than five full pages, and should demonstrate an ability to synthesize information with analytic thought.
  4. FINAL PAPER – HIGH STAKES: The FINAL PAPER represents a summation of the skills and methods you’ve learned in this course. You are expected to create a scholarly, analytic essay that sustains a single, coherent argument through no less than eight full pages. Your argument should be supported by at least three secondary sources, cited.

NOTE: The FINAL PAPER should be a sophisticated attempt to engage with an academic community through structure and reason. Mind your diction, your grammar, the organization of your argument. Use support materials. All other class writing ceases on April 13, as I encourage you to use your “free” month to develop, draft, revise, and polish this last assignment.

Research Assignments

The research assignments will fall into one of the following four categories:

  1. An ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY is a list of secondary source material, all of which is directed at a purposeful thesis. Each source should be accompanied by a short summary and analysis of its essential ideas. Your ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHIES must contain at least five secondary sources along with five evaluative paragraphs.
  2. A BIBLIOGRAPHIC EVALUATION rewrites your annotated bibliography, then put secondary source material into conversation using "BEAM" In no less than two pages, discuss the changes you've made to your original annotated bibliography. What sources have you kept, dropped, and why? Show how your sources converse with one another. Point out any challenges you have discovered in your research, and propose a plan to meet those challenges.
  3. RESEARCH PROPOSAL: Within the scope of our theme, you’ll be free to explore any area of thought that interests you so long as your exploration meets the standards and expectations of academia. The RESEARCH PROPOSAL should be at least one page long, should contain a clear thesis, and should suggest the methodology of your research.
  4. The RESEARCH OUTLINE needs to be directed at your FINAL PAPER. It should provide a skeletal structure of your argument and a clear plan on how to incorporate your secondary sources.

In-Class Participation

In-class participation will be calculated by way of your attendance, the completion of homework assignments, reading quizzes. If you are more than five minutes late to class, you will be counted absent for the day. If you think constant lateness might be a problem, please talk to me directly about how to address the issue.

Rutgers University allows students two absences without penalty. However being absent does not excuse you from your writing assignments. If you are going to be absent, I expect your work uploaded to Sakai. If you are absent more than six classes, you will fail for the semester.

Online Participation

Supplemental reading materials will be uploaded to Sakai, and also made available on this wiki.

Anonymous Blog

In accord with the class theme, Privacy 2.0, you will be expected to keep an ANONYMOUS BLOG in which you write about your journey into research. You can include in your blog whatever text or media you prefer, so long as it revolves around the class theme. If you break your anonymity and post any information about yourself, you will forfeit credit for the week. I encourage you to use this format as a means of organizing your ideas. There is no minimum word requirement, but you must post at least once a week, due every Monday by the start of class.

Suggested Blogging Platforms: anonyme | tumblr



I am not interested in policing your every behavior. The rules of this course can be summed up in three points:


The classroom is a place for learning. While I encourage individuality and original thought, even argument, it is important to note that everyone has the right to be considered in a manner consistent with academic civility. If somebody says something that you vehemently disagree with, I expect you to reply calmly and with propriety. Remember that we are here to learn from each other, not to criticize without tact or reason. Disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.


Food will not be allowed in the classroom. Water is acceptable.


All required work must be uploaded to Sakai by the start of class. No extensions will be given for late papers. For every day your work is late, you will be penalized by one-third of a letter grade (B+ to B to B-). You are expected to bring to class paper copies to aid in class discussion. If for any reason you have technical difficulties with Sakai, then you may submit your paper copy on the day it is due.


The late paper policy is for graded work only. Low-stakes (pass/fall) and research work cannot be turned in late. 

The work you submit must be your own, and written specifically for this class. If you plagiarize another author’s work, you will receive an F for the paper and may fail the course.

Familiarize yourself: Rutgers Academic Integrity Policy


Everything you submit should follow the MLA guidelines covered in the required text, EasyWriter, by Andrea Lunsford. Assignments that do not follow the guidelines will be penalized 2% per omission.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Set the margins of your document to one inch on all sides.
  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Double-space the text of your paper, and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman).
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks.
All of your work must be uploaded to Sakai in Microsoft Word format, .pdf format, or using the open-source .odt alternative. Zip files are unacceptable and will not be opened, since they can contain viruses.

Determining Your Grade

  • Low Stakes Writing: 30% ; Long Conversation: 10% ; Research Assignments: 20% ; Final Research Paper: 20%
  • In-Class Participation: 10% ; Anonymous Blog: 10%

Extra Credit

REVISIONS: If you are unsatisfied with the grade you received on your LONG CONVERSATION PAPER and you would like to rewrite it, you can do so over Spring Break. The revised paper must be uploaded to Sakai by start of class Mon, 03.23.15. There is no guarantee your grade will actually improve, unless the writing improves. Don’t allow rewrites to interfere with other work.

PAPERS, PLEASE: . If you play the videogame, PAPERS, PLEASE, then write a three page analysis paper in which you show me the cultural and thematic relevance of the game, I will add 2% to your final grade. This assignment will work like any other analysis paper. You’ll be expected to create a thesis and an argument. You also need to bring in outside sources in order to better make sense of the game. I encourage you to use the sources we’ve already discussed (Thoreau, Greenwald, Kafka, etcetera). Put the work you’ve already done in conversation with PAPERS, PLEASE. Due on Mon, 03.23.15.

EGSA CONFERENCE: . Rutgers EGSA is hosting a literature conference to showcase the research of some Rutgers students and faculty. If you attend this conference, then write a three page response paper demonstrating how your presenter used research to strengthen his/her argument, I will add 2% to your final grade. You response paper must be at least three pages long and should deal with the topic raised at the panel you decide to attend. More information about what is expected of you is posted under RESOURCES on Sakai. This paper is due 03.09.2015.


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.

UNIT ONE: Review and Conversation (Jan. 21 - Feb. 13)

Date Reading Due Writing Due
Wed 01.21.15
Fri 01.23.15 They Say / I Say: Part 1, pp 17-51 Some ideas on privacy.
Mon 01.26.15 Thoreau: “Solitude” ANALYSIS PAPER - Also upload blog link.
Wed 01.28.15 They Say / I Say: Part 4, pp 184-201
Fri 01.30.15 Po: “The Solitude of Night” & Wordsworth: “The Daffodils" SHORT CONVERSATION
Mon 02.02.15 Hawthorne: “Wakefield” ANALYSIS PAPER
Wed 02.04.15 They Say / I Say: Part 1, pp 55-67
Fri 02.06.15 Williams: “Danse Russe” & Atwood: “This is a Photograph of Me" SHORT CONVERSATION
Mon 02.09.15 McKay: “On Broadway” & Whitman: “Give me the...Silent Sun” SHORT CONVERSATION
Wed 02.11.15 They Say / I Say: Part 2, pp 68-77 LONG CONVERSATION - Ideas
Fri 02.13.15 LONG CONVERSATION - Draft (bring draft to class)

UNIT TWO: Secondary Sources (Feb. 16 - Mar. 13 )

Date Reading Due Writing Due
Wed 02.18.15 Google: Privacy Policy
Fri 02.20.15 Doctorow: “Scroogled” SHORT CONVERSATION
Mon 02.23.15 Home Viewing: 1984. Dir. Radford ANALYSIS PAPER
Wed 02.25.15 They Say / I Say: Part 2, pp 78-101
Fri 02.27.15 Greenwald: No Place to Hide, Chapt 01
Mon 03.02.15 Greenwald: No Place to Hide, Chapts 02 & 03 ANALYSIS PAPER
Wed 03.04.15 TBA: Secondary Source Material SHORT CONVERSATION
Fri 03.06.15 TBA: Secondary Source Material SHORT CONVERSATION
Mon 03.09.15 Kafka: The Trial, Chapts 01 & 02 ANALYSIS PAPER; also optional extra credit EGSA paper
Wed 03.11.15 TBA: Secondary Source Material SHORT CONVERSATION

UNIT THREE: Integration & Proposal (Mar. 23 - Apr. 10)

Date Reading Due Writing Due
Mon 03.16.15 SPRING BREAK
Wed 03.18.15 SPRING BREAK
Fri 03.20.15 SPRING BREAK
Mon 03.23.15 Extra credit REVISIONS and/or PAPERS, PLEASE
Wed 03.25.15 They Say / I Say: Part 4, pp 173-201
Fri 03.27.15 Photocopied Book Chapt.
Mon 03.30.15 TBA: Secondary Source Material ANALYSIS PAPER
Wed 04.01.15 Kafka: The Trial, Chapts 03, 04, 05 ANALYSIS PAPER
Fri 04.03.15 Your Own Research Material Bring in Questions for Guest Lecturer
Wed 04.08.15 They Say / I Say: Part 4: pp 202-238
Fri 04.10.15 Your Method Source

UNIT FOUR: The "Research Paper" (Apr. 13 - May 08 )

Date Reading Due Writing Due
Mon 04.13.15 - Lib. Finish Kafka: The Trial (06 to 10: "The End") SHORT CONVERSATION
Wed 04.15.15
Mon 04.20.15
Wed 04.22.15
Mon 04.27.15 FINAL "RESEARCH PAPER" - Draft 01
Wed 04.29.15 NO CLASS: Individual Conferences Bring draft & notes
Fri 05.01.15 NO CLASS: Individual Conferences Bring draft & notes
Mon 05.04.15 FINAL "RESEARCH PAPER" - Draft 02
Fri 05.08.15 Final Paper due on Sakai at Midnight


If you have a diagnosed disability and you are on file with the Office of Disability Services, please provide me with a letter of accommodation so that we can work together to make this class accessible and meaningful to you.

Timothy Pure, Ed.M., Assistant Director/Coordinator of Disability Services // 856.225.2717

External Links

  • The online forums, supplemental materials, and instructor contact information can be accessed via our Sakai page.
  • is an excellent dictionary aggregation tool that I recommend to all new writers.
  • The Purdue Online Writing Lab for tips and tricks to improve your writing.


Further Reading

Students who would like to continue improving their writing skills may want to check out the following resources:

  • Alley, Michael. The Craft of Scientific Writing. Print. ISBN: 0387947663.
  • Aristotle. The Rhetoric. ISBN: 0486437930.
  • Bacon, Nora. The Well-Crafted Sentence. ISBN: 1457606739.
  • Cothran, Martin. Traditional Logic: An Introduction to Formal Logic. Print: ISBN: 1930953100.
  • Orwell, George. Politics and the English Language. Print. ISBN: 1849028362.

Students who are interested in the theme beyond the scope of this course may want to check out the following resources:

  • Sennett, Richard. The Fall of the Public Man. Print. ISBN: 03933087906.
  • Solove, Daniel J. Understanding Privacy. Print. ISBN: 0674035070.
  • Pipe, Fred. Cryptography: A Very Short Introduction. Print. ISBN: 0192803158
  • Nakamoto, Satoshi. "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System." Whitepaper.