Course Overview

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Fall 2013 — Tues/Thurs, 2:00-3:15 — Merrifield 119
Dr. Christopher Basgier — ude.dnu|reigsab.rehpotsirhc#ude.dnu|reigsab.rehpotsirhc — 777-2765
Office: Merrifield 122D – Office Hours: Tues 12:00-1:30, Wed 2:30-4:00

Course Objectives

As you come to the end of your undergraduate career, you will want to consider what you have to communicate to others about the substance of your learning. This course asks you to take a previous piece of writing that you have done in your major and rewrite it for two very distinct audiences: experts, and the general public. In the course of doing so, you must engage in sophisticated rhetorical analysis of your own and others’ writing. You must also do significant research both to expand your original work and to make good decisions about the best ways to reach your target audiences.

Essential Studies

As you may know, English 408 is offered as a Capstone of the Essential Studies program. Essential Studies courses are designed to help students become stronger in areas that have been identified as particularly important for professional, private, and civic life in the 21st century: being able to think and reason well, to communicate effectively, to judge the credibility of information, and to engage in complex and respectful ways with diversity. The central goals of English 408 are to help you improve your written communication and your information literacy skills. Nearly every class session will focus explicitly on the rhetorical issues involved with revising material to fit the needs of specific audiences. In addition, English 408 will require significant research as you investigate the best genres, publication venues, and additional resources for your revisions. As a Capstone class, English 408 will allow you to reflect on and use the skills acquired over the course of your liberal arts education, and apply them in the culminating experience of this course.

English 408 also fulfills the guidelines for an Essential Studies Advanced Communication course, as its primary focus is communicating sophisticated material clearly to diverse audiences through writing. All assignments and class activities in English 408 are directly related to this goal.

Required Texts

  1. Giltrow, Janet, et al. Academic Writing: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2009. Print.
  2. A grammar handbook of your choosing.


Description Due Dates Points
Project 1: Writing for Experts For this project, you will take a topic you have previously written about in your major and expand and re-write it for a target audience of people knowledgeable in your field. As part of this process, you must research available publication venues for undergraduate writing and research, so that you may have a specific target for your revision. If you have expertise in other areas, you don’t have to choose a topic that is explicitly from your major. Rough Draft: Tues, 10/1; Revised Draft: Tues, 10/22; Finalized Draft for Editing: Thurs, 10/24; Final Due Date: Tues, 10/29 200
Project 2: Writing for the General Public For this project, you will take the same material from your writing-for-experts project and re-write it for a target audience of people who are not particularly knowledgeable in your field. As part of this process, you must research available publication outlets, both electronic and print, so that you may have a specific target for your revision. Rough Draft: Tues, 11/5; Revised Draft: Tues, 11/26; Final Due Date: Tues 12/3 200
Project 3: Writing for Specialized Audiences In the final weeks of the course, project three tests your ability to put into practice the writing skills and decision-making processes you’ve employed in the first two projects, but without the structured support of the first two projects. In other words, you must complete project three in a shorter time frame and without the level of in-class and out-of-class help you receive for projects one and two. Project three will be about the same topic as your projects one and two, but with a new purpose/audience given to you by the instructor. Tues, 12/17 by 3:15 200
Course Wiki The Course Wiki serves as the course’s backbone. Through several wiki posts, you will analyze the citation practices, styles, languages, and knowledge-building goals of writers in your field generally and your publication venue specifically. Your peers and your instructor will use your wiki to evaluate your writing in the course. Thurs, 9/5; Tues 9/10; Thurs, 9/12; Thurs 9/19; Tues 9/24; Thurs, 9/26; Thurs, 10/31; Thurs, 12/5 200 (8 @ 25 points each)
Other Assignments and Participation Other assignments may include homework activities or in-class projects, but primarily they will include mandatory Peer Review Sheets, due each workshop day. These sheets will be graded on a 4-point scale, depending on how thoroughly you complete them. Ongoing 200

Course Policies

Attendance. You are permitted four absences, no questions asked, without detriment to your grade; subsequent absences, however, will each lower your overall course grade by a half letter (5%). I do not make distinctions between excused and unexcused absences, but please keep in touch in case we need to come up with alternative assignments.

Late Work. All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date listed. Assignments and drafts submitted any time after the beginning of class on the date due will be penalized by 10% for each calendar day late, including weekends. If you need to be absent for a peer review workshop, you may type answers to the Peer Review Sheet and email them to your peers and me within 24 hours of class time for full credit. Otherwise, late or missing Peer Review Sheets will receive a zero.

Technology. Students are required to check email and our Wikidot site ( regularly for updates and materials. Please keep back-up copies of all your work; computer glitches or long lines in the labs will not be accepted as excuses for late or missing work. We will use our class Wikidot site to submit wiki posts and paper drafts, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the processes for doing so. Because we will use technology extensively in 408, I encourage you to bring laptops, but I reserve the right to mark you absent if they are being used inappropriately. Students who do not have access to laptops will need to print materials and bring them to class in order to participate actively.

Plagiarism. I expect you to know what constitutes plagiarism, in its forms both as outright theft and as failure to give proper credit due to inadequate or inaccurate source citation. The University defines plagiarism as “the appropriation, buying, receiving as a gift, or obtaining by any other means another person’s work and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of it in one’s own work; this includes appropriation of another person’s work by the use of computers or any other electronic means” (UND Academic Catalog). If it is discovered that you have represented the work of another as your own, you will fail the course. Please see me if you have any questions whatsoever about source documentation or about plagiarism in general.

Writing Conferences and email. Please meet with me during my office hours or by appointment to discuss your work or any aspect of the course. I check my e-mail at least once a day, and you can expect a response within 24 hours. For conversations about your drafts and/or grades, please see me in person.

The Writing Center. I encourage you to visit the Writing Center (free to all UND students) to work on papers at any stage of the writing process. Writing Center tutors can assist you in developing your ideas and improving your ability to communicate by writing. The Writing Center is located in Merrifield Hall, Room 12. Visit for more information or to make an appointment.

Students with Disabilities: Students who feel they may need some instructional modifications to complete course requirements due to an exceptionality have the responsibility of making the instructor aware of this in a timely manner. Students with disabilities of any kind should contact the Disability Support Services office in McCannel Hall, 777-3425, and let the instructor know as soon as possible what accommodations you need.

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