English 102-04 Composition II: the Rhetoric of Equality in the U.S

English 102-04 Composition II: the Rhetoric of Equality in the U.S

English 102-04 – Composition II: The Rhetoric of Equality in the U.S.

Course Number: English 102-02Instructor: Ms. Sally Smits

Course Meetings: MWF 12:00-12:50, Bryan 213Email: Office: MHRA 3210B Office Hours: W 1:00-3:00, or by appt.

Course Description:

This course is based on a simple premise: how we talk about one another, and how we talk to one another, matters. It matters on a personal level; we have all experienced a moment of happiness, even elation, when someone praises us, or we have experienced hurt, even anguish, when someone denigrates or insults us. It matters on an academic level; if a school system names a particular group of students “the truly illiterate among us,” as Professor Mike Rose notes, then students or faculty may come to believe they are, in fact, uneducable—or that word, “illiterate,” may change the resources, opportunities, and assistance offered to that group of students. It matters on a social and cultural level; divisions between races, genders, classes, and sexual orientations are in part reinforced or broken down through the language we use about various groups—and even the way we group people under these categories and appellations matters. It matters, too, on a political level; the language applied to a particular group of people (e.g., “illegals” vs. “immigrants”) may very well have an impact on the policies, laws, and support which in turn directly affect the lives of people in that group.

In order to reflect upon the language we use when we talk about each other, we will listen and read carefully and critically, and we will speak and write thoughtfully, analytically, and persuasively. We will pay attention to the rhetorical positioning and “moves” in our own work as well as the work of others; in other words, we will pay attention to what a speaker or writer says, as well as to how, when, where, and to whom he or she says it. We will read and listen to voices from the past and present, and then we will move to contribute our own perceptions, reactions, thoughts, and ideas to the conversation they have started. We will speak to each other and respond to one another often and in multiple ways—informally, in class discussions and debates, and formally, in individual and group presentations. These conversations will move in multiple directions; they will engage the academic, social, cultural, and political levels described above—and they will most likely also be personal, in some regard. Thus, please know that I will work to establish a “safe space” for us to share opinions, ideas, and responses. It is also important that you keep in mind that the people you talk to in class are people—with varying backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, and ideals—which may align with yours or they may not. This does not mean that I am asking you only to gush praises and heap compliments on each other; rather, it means that your insightful comments and critiques of one another’s ideas, which come from attentive listening and thoughtful speech and writing, are the most important in our classroom.

And in the end, it is my hope that you will come away from this class more aware of how the discussions all around you—both spoken and written, around the dinner table, in the media, in the political arena, and in the academic world—affect you, and it is also my hope that you will move confidently to participate in those conversations, analyzing them, contributing your ideas to them, and in so doing, actively shaping the world around you.

If you have concerns, questions, other ideas on which you’d like feedback, dire needs, or sudden and unexpected joy, please email me or set up an appointment with me to discuss it. I’ll be glad to help.

Required Texts:

Benson, Alan, Jacob Babb, and Will Dodson, eds. TechneRhetorike: Techniques of Discourse for Writers and Speakers. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-59871-385-5

All other readings, audio files, and videos will be posted on Blackboard or distributed/viewed in class.

Course Goals:

English 102 is designed to address three of the proficiencies listed under Student Learning Goals in the UNCG General Education Program. These proficiencies are:

  • Ability to write and speak clearly, coherently, and effectively as well as to adapt modes of communication to one’s audience;
  • Ability to interpret academic writing and discourse in a variety of disciplines
  • Ability to locate, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information

English 102 also carries a speaking-intensive (SI) designation. The SI requirement states that “students receive instruction in an appropriate mode of oral communication (interpersonal or small group communication, or presentational speaking), and enhanced opportunities to practice improvement of oral communication skills.”

English 102 Course Objectives:

  • To advance and extend students’ knowledge of oral argumentative discourse, and apply this knowledge as a mode of learning how to write, do research, and engage in inquiry;
  • To advance and extend students’ appreciation for writing and speaking as public and community-based processes through the activities of drafting, peer review, and revision, as well as individual and small group oratory exercises;
  • To introduce students to the principles of invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery in oral presentations;
  • To help students to develop the habit of synthesizing, versus reporting on or simply summarizing, source information in both oral and written communication.

Course Requirements & Policies:

1.Absences: Our class, as a discussion- and workshop-based class, depends upon your participation in the conversations, debates, and editing work we have in class. Therefore, any absences are strongly discouraged and will affect your grade. According to department policy, you are permitted three absences without a grade penalty. Additionally, according to university policy, you are permitted two absences for religious holidays, provided that you give me notice of your absence ahead of time. Forany and allabsences, all work for the next class must be completed on time, and you may not make up the participation points from the missed class(es). Four absences will result in your final grade being lowered by five points. If you miss six classes, regardless of points earned, you will fail the course and will need to repeat the course in order to graduate. Arriving more than fifteen minutes late or leaving fifteen minutes early will count as an absence. I say all this simply because it’s vital that you, your voice, and your work are present if we are to have a successful course.

2.Participation: Your participation grade rests on your contributions to class discussions, quality comments on your classmates’ ideas and essays, meetings with me about your work, demonstrated knowledge of reading, audio, or video assignments, and informal and formal presentations. I will keep track of your participation in class. These points may be earned in a variety of ways. If you’re completely uncomfortable participating in class discussions, please see me to discuss possible alternatives and solutions. I will occasionally check, too, that you are making notes on the readings themselves, or about the audio and video assignments, as we’ll discuss as a part of being an active reader and listener. Please keep in mind that participation grades are based on respect for others in discussions, and on the quality (not the quantity) of your comments and questions.

3.Assignments: The class will combine a significant amount of reading, listening, and viewing outside of class with extensive in-class discussion of and writing about the texts. You will also be assigned four oral presentations with accompanying written components throughout the semester. Further assignment descriptions will be given throughout the semester, but brief descriptions of each follow:

a)Each student will be offer a brief (5 minute) presentation based on one of the readings or other texts assigned throughout the semester. This presentation will offer a summary of the main points of the text, an analysis of some of the rhetorical strategies at work, and some critical comments and questions to open class discussion. Each student will turn in his/her typed notes for this presentation. Because more than one student will present each day on the reading assigned, you will want to work somewhat collaboratively to ensure that your presentations do not overlap excessively (you might each choose different arguments or salient points of the text on which to dwell, for example).

b)Each student will make a short presentation (10 minute) which establishes some background and history for one of the topics discussed in class and which argues a particular viewpoint on that topic. This presentation might focus on a single person or group who has made a significant contribution to the topic, or it might focus on historical changes in language and how this topic has been discussed in the past and present. Each student will turn in a short essay which elaborates on this presentation and which cites its sources.

c)In groups, students will focus on and research a narrower issue (e.g., Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, immigration in North Carolina, local health care or educational programs) which is connected to the course topics of language, rhetoric, equality, and democracy. The groups will present their research, which may include scholarly sources, news items, or interviews with members of the group/organization being discussed. The groups will also provide multimedia supplements for their presentation (audio, video, visual aids). The groups will also create a collaborative paperdetailing their research and arguments.

d)Each student will conclude the semester with a presentation modeled after NPR’s essay series, “ThisI Believe,” which will discuss the student’s conclusions about language, equality, and democracy, especially as these ideas pertain to an issue about which that student is particularly interested. The oral presentation will be accompanied by a written essay.

Please note: you will receive extra credit points for any of the presentations if you visit the Writing Center and/or the Speaking Center to prepare. At the end of the semester, you will turn in a portfolio, which includes revised and polished versions of the essays you’ve written throughout the semester and which will include one video or audio file of your “This I Believe” essay. This portfolio will also include a rationale essay which articulates the revisions you have made and the reasons for them, the strengths you demonstrate in your portfolio, and your plans for future improvement in your writing and speaking skills.

Because late papers (and presentations and portfolios) complicate my life excessively, and they interrupt your progress in the course, all assignments must be presented on time, or the grade they receive will be dropped by five points per day they are late (i.e. 2 days late = -10 points). This includes weekends and holidays. No exceptions. Please note: I will not accept papers via email. Attachments are often corrupted or forgotten, and email is not always reliable. Please bring a hard copy to class on the day the essay is due with all required drafts.

Written assignments are due at the beginning of class, and must be typed in black ink, double-spaced, in 12 point default font (not Courier, as I also know that font makes papers longer), in MLA format, and stapled. I will not accept them in any other form.


Attendance/Participation: 10% of total grade

Summary Presentation: 10% of total grade

Viewpoint Presentation: 20% of total grade

Group Presentation: 20% of total grade
“This I Believe” Presentation: 20% of total grade

Portfolio: 20% of total grade

Here’s the breakdown of letter grades, should you be interested…

94-100 = A 90-93 = A-

87-89 = B+83-86 = B80-82 = B-

77-79 = C+73-76 = C70-72 = C-

67-69 = D+ 63-66 = D60-62 = D-

59 and below = F

Academic Integrity:

“Academic integrity is founded upon and encompasses the following five values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Violations include, for example, cheating, plagiarism, misuse of academic resources, falsification, and facilitating academic dishonesty. If knowledge is to be gained and properly evaluated, it must be pursued under conditions free from dishonesty. Deceit and misrepresentations are incompatible with the fundamental activity of this academic institution and shall not be tolerated” (from UNCG’s Academic Integrity Policy). To ensure that you understand the university’s policy on academic integrity, review the guidelines and list of violations at I expect you to abide by the Academic Integrity Policy. Should you violate this policy, your work (essays or other assignments) will be returned to you as a zero. You may be required to complete the assignment again for half-credit (i.e. you will not be able to earn more than 50 points on a 100 point assignment), or you may face further penalties and sanctions.

Office of Disability Services:

Students with documentation of special needs should arrange to see me about accommodations as soon as possible. If you believe you could benefit from such accommodations, you must first register with the Office of Disability Services on campus before such accommodations can be made. The office is located on the second floor of the Elliott University Center (EUC) in Suite 215, and the office is open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday. Telephone: 334.5440; email: .

Student Services:

  • The University Writing Center works to enhance the confidence and competence of student writers by providing free, individual assistance at any stage of any writing process. Staff consultants are experienced writers and alert readers, prepared to offer feedback and suggestions on drafts of papers, help students find answers to their questions about writing, and provide one-on-one instruction as needed. The UWC is located in 3211, MHRA. Website: uncg.edu/eng/writingcenter/index.html
  • The University Speaking Centerprovides one-on-one tutoring and instructional workshop services for UNCG students, faculty, employees, and members of the Greensboro community. Services are designed to help clients further develop their oral communication confidence and competence. Assistance is offered in the preparation and delivery of speeches, development of knowledge and skill in interpersonal communication, and group or team communication. The USC is located in the same suite as the UWC: 3211, MHRA. Website: speakingcenter.uncg.edu/
  • The Learning Assistance Center offers free services to the UNCG undergraduate community and is located in McIver Hall, rooms 101-104 and 150. For help with study skills, email
  • The Dean of Students Office can offer guidance and support as students negotiate documented emergencies and other academic situations. Website:

Cell Phone/Computer Insanity:

First, if you are on a cell phone or checking your Facebook or playing poker online while you’re in our classroom, you are essentially NOT present in class. Because we only have three hours together each week, it is very important that you focus during those hours. You have the rest of your life to text message or catch up on who has written on your wall, I promise. Thus: using a cell phone (either for conversation or text messaging) or using a laptop in-class for reasons other than taking notes, revising essays, viewing Blackboard documents, or completing other assigned work for our class is unacceptable; you will be marked as absent for that day and you will lose all participation points for that day, regardless of work completed. If this becomes an ongoing problem, other penalties may be applied.

Finally, I often check email (while not in class), but occasionally, emails get lost or buried. I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can, but if you do not hear back from me within 48 hours, please resend the email (or talk to me in class, or visit my office during office hours).

Course Outline (subject to change):

TR = TechneRhetorikeBB = Blackboard handouts

O = Online (check Blackboard for web address)

Date / Topic / Reading Due / Writing/Presentations Due
Week One:
Mon. 8.22.11 / Introduction to
Course / In-class writing
Wed. 8.24.11 / Unit One:
Equality, Power, and Education / TR: Dodson, “Understanding the Rhetorical Appeals,” 3
TR: Shook, “Reading for the Rhetorical
Appeals,” 11
Fri. 8.26.11 / BB: Knoblauch, “Literacy and the Politics of Education” / Email assignment due; sign-ups due for presentations
Week Two:
Mon. 8.29.11 / BB: Kozol, “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society” / Reading presentations (2)
Wed. 8.31.11 / Discuss background presentations / TR: Leuschen, “Asking Questions to Find a Starting Point,” 45
BB: Rodriguez, “Aria” / Reading presentations (2)
Fri. 9.2.11 / BB: Trask, “From a Native Daughter” / Reading presentations (2)
Week Three:
Mon. 9.5.11 / Labor Day / Labor Day
Wed. 9.7.11 / TR: Guy-McAlpin, “How the Thesis Guides Effective Writing,” 50
View in class: Waiting for Superman
Fri. 9.9.11 / View in class: Waiting for Superman / In-class discussion of WfS;
bring all notes
Week Four:
Mon. 9.12.11 / TR: Dodson, “The Canons of Rhetoric as
Phases of Composition,” 20 / Viewpoint Presentations on Education (3)
Wed. 9.14.11 / Viewpoint Presentations on Education (4)
Fri. 9.16.11 / Unit Two: Language, Equality, Power, and the Environment / TR: Babb, “Developing an Idea of the
Audience,” 60
Week Five:
Mon. 9.19.11 / BB: Ingham, “Landscape, Drama, and
Dissensus” / Reading presentations (2)
Wed. 9.21.11 / BB: Gessner, Excerpt from My Green Manifesto
and “This I Believe” essay / Reading presentations (2)
Fri. 9.23.11 / TR: Lancaster, “Beginning and Ending with Power,” 55
Week Six:
Mon. 9.26.11
Wed. 9.28.11 / BB: Bass, “Wolf Palette”
BB: O’Brien, “Standing Up for This World” / Reading presentations (4)
Fri. 9.30.11 / View in class: An Inconvenient Truth
Week Seven:
Mon. 10.3.11 / View in class: An Inconvenient Truth / Discussion of AIT; bring notes
Wed. 10.5.11 / Viewpoint Presentations on Environment/Economics (4)
Fri. 10.7.11 / Viewpoint Presentations on Environment/Economics (3)
Week Eight:
Mon. 10.10.11 / Fall Break / Fall Break / Fall Break
Wed. 10.12.11
Fri. 10.14.11 / Unit Three:
Language, Equality, Power, and Health Care / TR: Webb, “Understanding Tone,” 70
Week Nine:
Mon. 10.17.11 / BB: Gladwell, “The Moral Hazard Myth” / Reading presentations (2)