intro to writing (three days a week schedule)

Course Description:

Bodies are important. They encase the mind, are vessels for ideas. All ideas have a body. The gray matter, the binary code, a lamp, a frog, they all are information and encased in information.

This class is about the basics of writing, about the way in which we communicate. it’s here to help you be an awesome writer/maker. We’re going to learn the mechanics of writing, and we will explore the ways in which ideas are made manifest.

Course Information:

Class times: MWF 8am (1129 JKB)

Office times: MWF 9–10am and TTH 3–4pm (3004 JKB)

Digital Office: M–S 6am–12am (


  •         Howard, Rebecca Moore, Writing Matters, Special Edition for Brigham Young University
  •         Brian Jackson, Mindful Writing, Plymouth, MI: Hayden-McNeil, 2015.
  •         Perspectives on New Media. Provo, UT: BYU Academic Publishing, 2015.


  •         *Rhetorical Analysis (minimum of 1500 words): 200 points
  •         Reading: 40 points
  •         *Opinion Editorial (minimum of 1000 words): 100 points
  •         Writing: 40 points
  •         Annotated Bibliography: 40 points
  •         Seeking: 40 points
  •         *Issues Paper (minimum of 2000 words): 300 points
  •         Engaging: 40 points
  •         *Multimodal Project: 100 points
  •         **Embodying (Final): 100 points

(*These assignments are required. If you don’t complete them, then you automatically fail; just a heads up.)

(**Attending the final is required, so don’t try to go to any weddings or orthodontists on this day.)

You know a good piece of writing when you write it and when you read it; me too. I’ll grade papers on a few fronts: first, is the paper appropriate to the genre expectations, which we will discuss and outline with each section; second, does the paper subvert expectations / is it interesting and surprising; and, third, is the paper professional (i.e. does it follow MLA style, is the grammar and syntax clean and clear, etc.)? That’s it. If you can write a paper that is genre-appropriate, genuinely interesting, and properly professional, then you’ll get a good grade.

A note on late assignments: another way of understanding the word late (as in ‘the late William Carlos Williams’) is ‘no longer alive.’ The longer the assignment is ‘dead,’ the more it stinks. Nobody wants a carcass on their doorstep. Each day an assignment is late(dead) it will lose ten percent.


You are allowed three absences, free of charge. After the third absence, I will reduce your grade by one grade increment (A to A-, A- to B+, etc.).

Please communicate with me. If you go missing, I can’t help you. I won’t come find you. I have enough trouble finding my own kids (wink).



is the platform that we will be using to turn in our assignments. We will turn in both the final assignments on here as well as comments. Become familiar with this platform, read some pieces, enjoy.

is a messaging platform. Do yourself the favor of downloading the app on your smartphone, tablet, and/or computer. It’s just like texting.


Being in college (being human) means you will have to deal with some heavy/tough stuff. If any objectionable content is presented in class you are welcome (even encouraged) to express yourself. That all said, I will be as respectful as I can.


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Rhetorical Analysis (9 class periods):

Learn about the reading process / learn how to read / identify and evaluate the elements of an argument — claims, reasons, assumptions, and ethical, emotional, and logical appeals.

Learn how to respond to someone else’s use of genre, rhetorical strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

Write a paper that incorporates analysis of someone else’s use of genre, rhetorical strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

(1000 words)

The purpose of a rhetorical analysis is to feel persuaded (or dissuaded) and then to explain how you and the intended audience felt that way, how the author accomplished or produced those feelings.

Analysis is collecting data, and interpreting that data, asking questions, finding answers, formulating questions, finding answers, etc.

The “I” you are writing from is a wide I, you’re speaking from the perspective of the audience, for the audience, to the audience.

Summary is a necessary part of analysis, but if you don’t dig into the topic, and you glance off the top of many topics, then you’ll inevitably sound like you are summarizing. Summarizing is the first step of analysis, but if you stop there, then it remains a summary.

Reading (most class periods):

n. the action or skill of looking at and comprehending the meaning of (written or printed matter) by mentally interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed.

Each class you should submit a 100–200 word response to your reading on slack (before class). the reading will be assigned or self directed (i.e. if there is no assigned reading then you’ll submit a response to some content (i.e. music, video, image, poem, etc.) you’ve engaged with on your own). I just want to see your thoughts put into a medium other than your body (specifically other than the gray matter of your brain, which I have no access to).

If you do the reading responses right, you’ll have a good amount of prewriting done for your large assignments.

The reading responses help you (and me) learn/know how effective your reading process is.

After we do the section on reading, the way that you write these should transform.

in this section of the semester, we will learn about the different modes of rhetoric: logos, ethos, and pathos, along with their counterparts: argument, reason, claims, etc.

Opinion Editorial (9 class periods):

Learn about the writing process / learn how to write / analyze the nuances of language (diction, figures of speech, tone, grammar, syntax, etc.)

(gerne, writing process, punctuation, grammar, syntax, choosing a topic, drafting, free-writing, etc.)

Learn about genre, rhetorical strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

Write a paper that incorporates genre, rhetorical strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

(1500 words)

“if you have nothing to say, it is because your heart is closed.” (tony hoagland, application for release from the dream)

Writing (most class periods):

Writing is a process: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. I want to see your process so I can help with it. Bring the respective parts of your process to the respective class sessions: notes, rough draft, peer review, and student conferences.

after we do the section on writing, the way in which you write should transform.

in this section of the semester we will talk about writing with style (metaphors, etc.) as well as the mechanics of writing (syntax, grammar, etc.)

we will also be incorporating free-writes in the class. these will be done usually at the beginning of each class.

Annotated Bibliography (3 class periods):

Learn about the research process / learn how to seek.

Learn how to find/discover someone else’s use of genre, rhetorical strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

Write a paper that incorporates descriptions/sources of someone else’s use of genre, rhetorical strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

An Annotated Bibliography should have a paragraph that outlines/introduces your topic, and (a minimum 0f) five sources, cited in MLA format, each with a paragraph summarizing and explaining the source and its relevance and usefulness to the topic.

Seeking (out of class):

We will meet for a few days at the library. There will be two tests you’ll need to take. The purpose of these activities are to learn how to “navigate the library to locate primary and secondary sources, evaluate the appropriateness and credibility of those sources, and effectively incorporate and accurately document outside sources in a research paper” (source: an email I received from one of the librarians).

I’ll be grading your seeking based on what you write your reading responses on and how well they reflect an attitude of seeking. Good seeking will be gems, not surface dross that you can pick up anywhere or from anyone. If you aren’t edified by what you find, chances are I won’t either.

Issues Paper (9 class periods):

Learn about the audience process / learn how to engage / analyze a text’s functions in a specific situation, community, or public setting.

Learn how to create an audience by inventing genre, rhetocial strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

Write a paper that invents genre, rhetorical strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

The Issues paper should include a work cited page at the end with at least five sources used in the essay.

(2000 words)

Engaging (in and out of class):

Literacy is a group thing. What is literacy without an audience? What is speech/writing/art/science/etc. without audience. (blah blah the ‘if a tree falls in the forest does is make a sound’ thing). There are two types of engagement: you engaging with an audience, and your audience engaging with you. For each of the major assignments, you should have five kinds of engagement for each type of engagement. The class is set up to provide you with two kinds of engagements for each type of engagement (i.e. peer engagement (you swap papers with a peer) and instructor engagement (you swap papers with me)).

This means that you’ll need to find three other ways to engage with someone’s content and three ways to get someone to engage with your content. I might suggest using social media and slack. These assignments can be turned in on slack and should be about 100 words in length.

after we do the section on engaging, the way you approach your audience should transform.

Multimodal Project (9 class periods):

The multi-modal assignment should make an argument using a medium other than the “essay.” It should select an issue, and I want you to think of the best way to embody your body of work. Does it best exist on Twitter, or on Facebook, or printed and in a folder, or in a video read aloud vlog style, I don’t know.

There are also two other parts to the multi-modal assignment. (1) I would like you to, in addition to the project, write a 500 word essay to accompany/explain/or justify the work. (2) At the end of the essay include 5 examples of your medium used by someone else (I guarantee someone has done it before (when you find out that there are Microsoft Excel Artists, you come to realize how far reaching the tradition is) and if you can’t find any examples of work done before, then come talk to me). If you’re doing a slam poem, find 5 other slam poem performances. If you’re doing a TED talk, I want to see 5 examples of TED talks you feel do a particularly good job with the medium. These examples should be cited using MLA format attached at the back of the 500 word essay. Please turn this in on Slack.

So, the multi-modal assignment should have 3 things: (1) The project itself, (2) a 500 word essay to accompany the project and (3) a “bibliography” with 5 prime examples of your respective genre.

Learn about objectivity / learn how to embody something.

Learn how to disrupt genre, rhetocial strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

Produce a “body” that creates genre, rhetorical strategies, assumptions, and audience/public engagement.

Embodying (final day):

I’d like you to print off the final version of all your major assignments: Rhetorical Analysis, Opinion Editorial, Issues Paper, and Multi-modal Assignment. Please bring them to class. Putting them in a folder will make my job easier.

In addition to the final portfolio, I’d like you to write 1000 words on what you learned this semester, and how you are a different writer. I want you to be as personal and real in this essay as you can be (avoid being overly formal), but I do want you to be in-depth and take the assignment seriously.

Attendance to the final is mandatory. Finals will not be given early.


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Each section represents two tasks: one of production and one of action. We will simultaneously produce and act and talk about the relationship between what we produce and how we act.

Each day lists the topic and activities we will be doing in class that day, as well as the assignments due on that day.

Section One — Class Intro and Setup:

Jan. 4 (First Day of Class):

(Class) Introduce people, purpose of the class, and syllabus, and platforms.

(Due) Purchase books and read syllabus (at least I hope you’ve done this before the first day of class. and if you haven’t, then do this right away)

Jan. 6:

(Class) What is reading and writing? / What do you already know? / What from the syllabus strikes your interest? / What should I add to the syllabus or remove from it based on what you already know or are interested in? [maybe create a handout that has the topics of the class listed with “interested” and “not interested” boxes next to it]

(Due) (1) Sign up on slack and include full name and a photo (please and thank you), (2) Read chapter 1 of “Mindful Writing” and write/post a response on the #reading channel on slack (3) create a medium account and follow the writing bodies publication

Section Two — Opinion Editorial and Writing Process:

Jan. 8:

(Class) Introduce Opinion Editorial assignment and discuss genre / discuss writing process / read examples in chapter 13 of “mindful writing” (opinion editorial). Discuss picking a topic, and discuss writing process.

(Due) (1) read chapter 13 in “mindful writing” (3) post a reading response on the #reading channel (4) pick a topic to write your opinion editorial on.

Jan. 11:

(Class) Discuss white space, paragraphs, sentences, and punctuation (part one: phrases, clauses, subject, verb, predicate, dashes, etc.)

(Due) (1) share your medium post of *Prewriting Notes for Op-ed* on the #opinion-editorial channel. (2) read chapter 3 of “mindful writing” and post a reading response on the #reading channel.

Jan. 13:

(Class) Dicuss punctuation (part two: semicolon, colon, comma, etc. )

(Due) (1) Read a post from medium and post a response on #reading channel (2) work towards a rough draft.

Jan. 15:

(Class) Peer engagement (“Death of the Author,” Roland Barthes)(Tommy Boy, “Right Here”) (“Writing Peer Review, Top 10 Mistakes” Youtube) / Conferences: what are they and what do you want out of them? What are your expectations? What are mine? etc.

(Due) (1) Sign up for a time to meet with Instructor (sign-up sheet will be posted on slack.)

Jan. 18 (Holiday):

(Class) …

(Due) Enjoy the holiday

Jan. 20:

(Class) Meeting with instructor to discuss paper

(Due) *Rough Draft of Op-ed

Jan. 22:

(Class) Peer Engagement

(Due) *Formal Draft of Op-ed

Jan. 25:

(Class) Writing Process: (An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar, McSweeney’s) and other punctuations marks (ellipses, colon, slash, apostrophe, etc.)

(Due) work on your papers

Jan. 27:

(Class) reflection on writing process (Yancey, “Constructive Reflection”)(“Art of the Personal Essay” Introduction, Phillip Lopate)

(Due)(1) *Final draft of Op-ed (2) Read Chapter 6 in “Writing Matters” and write a reading response and post on slack #reading channel

Section Three — Rhetorical Analysis and Reading:

Jan. 29:

(Class) Introduce Rhetorical Analysis assignment and genre / discuss reading process What is rhetoric? What is reading?

(Due) Select an essay from the “Perspectives on New Media” to perform a Rhetorical Analysis on, and then post a reading response of your selection on the #reading channel

Feb. 1:

(Class) Talk about arguments, claims, reasons, and assumptions / reading process / “Argument Clinic” by Monty Python.

(Due) (1) Read Examples of Rhetorical Analysis in Writing Bodies Publication [List them Here]

Feb. 3:

(Class) *prewriting notes for Rhetorical Analysis / Logos (or logical appeals), considering logical constructs (how we “make sense” of things), considering logical appeals that aren’t necessarily true (deception), and suspended logic (suspension of disbelief) / logos “is it true?”

(Due) (1) List the claims, reasons and assumptions of the essay you picked for your rhetorical analysis (2) Read chapter 7 from “Mindful Writing.”

Feb. 5:

(Class) Pathos / Emotional appeals / “Squirrel Problem” by Zachary Schomburg / Valence, Intensity, Arousal / pathos “is it beautiful?”

(Due) (1) sign up for conferences (2) post a reading response on the #reading channel (3) Read Chapter 9 in “Mindful Writing” and post a reading response on slack.

Feb. 8:

(Class) Meeting with instructor to discuss paper

(Due) *Rough Draft of Rhetorical Analysis

Feb. 10:

Ethos (writer, persona, characters, etc.) / character / shared and unique qualities / “daddy” by Sylvia Plath / “we real cool” Gwendolyn Brooks / Ethos as a construct / Ethos “is it good?”

(Due) …

Feb. 12:

(Class) Peer Engagement

(Due) *Formal Draft of Rhetorical Analysis

Feb. 15 (Holiday):

(Class) …

(Due) Enjoy the Holiday

Feb. 16 (Monday instruction):

(Class) talk about annotated bibliography assignment and library days next week / talk about issues paper (all in preparation for library days) / Introduce Issues Paper and assignment and genre / Homunculus / discuss engaging process / Tony Hoagland “The Hero’s Journey”

(Due) take note of the assignments due on Feb. 22 and perhaps spend some time working on those.

Feb. 17:

(Class) Writing with Style / reading process / Diction, Syntax, Metaphor, Schemes, Design, etc. / Style vs. Fashion

(Homework: Choose one exercise to do from any of the three sections from (1) Cover the basics (2) Craft with Purpose (3) Be a Rhetorical Ninja. Watch the video, download the exercise sheet, do the exercise, and then post your exercise on the #reading channel on slack.)

Feb. 19:

(Class) Reflection on Rhetorical Analysis and Reading Process / How does your new understanding of rhetorical devices inform how you read? etc. (more Reflection Questions)

(Due) (1) *Final Draft of Rhetorical Analysis

Section Four — Annotated Bibliography and Seeking:

Feb. 22 (room 2233 in the HBLL):

(Class) Library Instruction Day

(Due) (1) Topic chosen for your Issues Paper (2) 2–3 sub-topics or questions you’d like to answer with your research (3) do some background research on the topic using basic search engine, etc. (4) post your topic, sub-topics/questions and a 100 word reading response on the #reading channel (5) “Library Homework 1” (

Feb. 24 (room 2233 in the HBLL):

(Class) Library Instruction Day

(Due) (1) “Library Homework 2” (

Feb. 26 (room 2233 in the HBLL):

(Class) Library Instruction Day

(Due) (1) *Annotated Bibliography Rough draft (i.e. five sources picked out)(2) “Library Homework 4” (

Section Five — Issues Paper and Engaging:

Feb. 29:

(Class) Reflection on Annotated Bibliography and Library Instruction / Exigency and Kairos / 

(Due) *Annotated Bibliography Final draft

March 2:

(Class) Rhetorical Situation (or Environment) and Rhetorical Velocity

(Due) (work on Issues Paper)

March 4:

(Class) Genre and Constraint

(Due) *Prewriting Notes for Issues Paper

March 7:

(Class) Audience and Rhetor

(Due) Sign up for a time to meet with me.

March 9:

(Class) Meeting with instructor to discuss paper

(Due) *Rough Draft of Issues Paper

March 11:

(Class) Interacting and Commenting

(Due) …

March 14:

(Class) Peer Engagement

(Due) *Formal Draft of Rhetorical Analysis

March 16:

(Class) Ethics and Responsibility

(Due) …

March 18:

(Class) Reflection on engaging process

(Due) *Final Draft of Issues Paper

Section Six — Multimodal Project and Embodying:

March 21:

(Class) Introduce Multimodal Project assignment and genre / discuss embodying process

(Due) …

March 23:

(Class) Substrates

(Due) Journal Entry (these will be 150 words in length and will outline the various thoughts and strategies you are using as you process how your argument will take shape and for what reasons it will take that shape).

March 25:

(Class) Mediums

(Due) (1) Journal Entry (2) *Prewriting “notes” for Multimodal Project (“notes” may take many different forms for this project, but I would suggest making a mind map)

March 28:

(Class) Technologies

(Due) Journal Entry

March 30 (No Class, at a Writing Conference):

(Class) (Instead of meeting with me, like we normally do, to discuss the project, first, please post your rough draft on slack for me to look at. Please post it on the Multi-modal channel. And second, visit The Writing Center in the Library. Make sure that you give them my name and ask them to email me the results of your writing center meeting. Between the rough draft posted on slack and a session at the writing center, I think this will suffice in place of meeting with me in person.)

(Due) (1) Journal Entry (2) *Rough Draft of Multimodal Project on slack and (3) take rough draft to the Writing Center in the library.

April 1 (No Class, at a Writing Conference):

(Class) Work on your paper / watch conference / your welcome

(Due) Journal Entry

April 4:

(Class) Peer Engagement

(Due) (1) Journal Entry (2) *Formal Draft of Multimodal Project

April 6:

(Class) Design

(Due) Journal Entry

April 8:

(Class) *Final Project / Presentations by Group 1

(Due) Write index card responses on your peer’s presentations (in class). This counts towards your engagement grade for the class.

April 11 (Last Day of Class):

(Class) *Final Project / Presentations by Group 1

(Due) Write index card responses on your peer’s presentations (in class). This counts towards your engagement grade for the class.

Final (11am–2pm on Friday 15 April 2016 in 1129 JKB):

(Class) Reflection on Semester

(Due) *Final portfolio


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Fine Print:

Honor Code: In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another. Violations of this principle may result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university. Students are also expected to adhere to the Dress and Grooming Standards. Adherence demonstrates respect for yourself and others and ensures an effective learning and working environment. It is the university’s expectation, and every instructor’s expectation in class, that each student will abide by all Honor Code standards. Please call the Honor Code Office at 422–2847 if you have questions about those standards.

Sexual Harassment: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education and pertains to admissions, academic and athletic programs, and university-sponsored activities. Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment of students by university employees, other students, and visitors to campus. If you encounter sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, please talk to your professor or contact one of the following: the Title IX Coordinator at 801–422–2130; the Honor Code Office at 801–422–2847; the Equal Employment Office at 801–422–5895; or Ethics Point at, or 1–888–238–1062 (24-hours).

Student Disability: Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (UAC), 2170 WSC or 422–2767. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified, documented disabilities. The UAC can also assess students for learning, attention, and emotional concerns. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the UAC. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures by contacting the Equal Employment Office at 422–5895, D-285 ASB.

Academic Honesty: The first injunction of the Honor Code is the call to “be honest.” Students come to the university not only to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life’s work, but also to build character. “President David O. McKay taught that character is the highest aim of education” (The Aims of a BYU Education, p.6). It is the purpose of the BYU Academic Honesty Policy to assist in fulfilling that aim. BYU students should seek to be totally honest in their dealings with others. They should complete their own work and be evaluated based upon that work. They should avoid academic dishonesty and misconduct in all its forms, including but not limited to plagiarism, fabrication or falsification, cheating, and other academic misconduct.

Disclaimer: The syllabus is subject to change.