FYW-1216: Adventures in Genre!

FYW-1216-01 -- FUR 111, 9:30-10:20 MWF
FYW-1216-02 -- HIP 102, 12:30-1:20 MWF

Adventures in Genre (Fall 2013)

Instructor:                      Dr. P. L. Thomas
Phone:                           294-3386 (office); 590-5458 (cell)
Class time:                     FYW-1216-01: MWF 9:30-10:20; FYW-1216-02: MWF 12:30-1:20
Room:                           FYW-1216-01: TNS 070; FYW-1216-02: HIP 102
Office hours:                   by appointment, 101F Hipp Hall
Email:                           paul.thomas@furman.edu
Course Blogs:                 http://comicsasliterature.blogspot.com/
google Drive resources link: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5rkPGGYEGphMEs3b2V0OXJTZjA&usp=sharing

Resource Librarian: Jenny Colvin jenny.colvin@furman.edu

Academic Integrity: http://www.furman.edu/integrity/InformationforStudents.htm

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates


Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 11th Edition
Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup
ISBN-10: 0-321-89868-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-321-89868-5

The Writer Who Stayed
William Zinsser
ISBN-10: 1589880803
ISBN-13: 978-1589880801

The Transition to College Writing
Keith Hjortshoj
  • ISBN: 0312440820
    ISBN-13: 9780312440824

TWO Adaptation Units:

(1) Adaptation Unit 1


(2) Adaptation Unit 2, chosen by students and to be approved by professor.

See course blog for possible adaptation units: http://comicsasliterature.blogspot.com/p/adaptation-texts.html


This course examines what constitutes “text,” moving beyond the traditional view of text as print to include graphic novels and a wide variety of active texts including film. Students will read and write about a wide variety of texts and ideas as an exploration of how humans communicate, specifically in academic and scholarly settings.


• Enthusiasm for learning and reflection.

Students will read, write, discuss, reflect during class and throughout the semester—both as a fulfillment of the course requirements and by choice outside of class. The semester will be an opportunity to explore the nature of text, genre, scholarship, reading, and writing.

• Critical consideration of established knowledge.

Student will read and research topics of their choosing.

• Critical evaluation of preconceptions and assumptions.

Students will identify their own preconceptions about text, genre, scholarship, reading, and writing.

• Understanding available and emerging sources of information and appreciating the importance of independent work and appropriate citation.

• Appreciation of the research process and of the creative expansion of information and understanding.

Students will draft and complete original essays and a final portfolio. This original writing will reflect the students’ scholarship, including their skills at selecting and interpreting sources along with their ability to craft original written scholarship that conforms to the conventions of the genre (including appropriate documentation).

• Proficiency in expository and argumentative writing.

Students will draft original academic and scholarly compositions within a workshop format that requires multiple drafts and conferencing with peers and the professor.


[ ] Students are expected to attend all class sessionsread all assigned/chosen textsparticipate fully in class discussions, and contribute during writing workshop activitiesCourse texts will include two adaptation units—one common to the entire class (chosen by the class) and one chosen by each student. Adaptations will be the focus of class discussions, small group discussions, and a final presentation.

[ ] Students should begin and maintain a writing journal throughout the course. The writing journal can be either a hard-copy journal (purchased or created) or an electronic journal maintained on a computer. Entries should include dates. Students should establish and consider throughout the course their writing process and research process as part of the journal.

[ ] Students will complete a number of writing exercises throughout the course; they may be completed directly in the writing journal or added to the journal when submitted at the end of the course.

[ ] Students will compose and submit four original essays* throughout the course; each essay must be submitted in multiple drafts that reflect significant revision as impacted by both peer and instructor input during the writing process. The four essays should reflect a wide variety of writing genres as chosen by each student and approved by the professor. The course offers students the opportunity to explore writing experiences that will enhance and support their academic experiences as young scholars.

Essay Requirements

Essay 1: Compose and draft an essay of about 4-6 double-spaced pages in personal narrative form. This essay should examine using personal narrative as a mode for exploring a universal idea, question, or argument.

Essay 2: Compose and draft an essay of about 4-6 double-spaced pages in blog/online format (see example below) that offers an expository or argumentative mode for a general public audience from the perspective of expertise. Incorporate images, video, or other media. Example:

Essay 3: Compose and draft a substantially cited essay of about 4-6 double-spaced pages that presents a discipline-based examination of a topic or poses a discipline-based argument. Citations must conform to APA style guidelines. [See "Writing for Specific Fields."]

Essay 4: TBD in a conference

[ ] MIDTERM: Choose a scholar (for example, a Furman professor) to research and/or interview about her/his work as a writer/scholar. Prepare a 10-minute video (edited interview) or PowerPoint (multimedia) presentation to submit to the professor (due on midterm) and contribute to a class analysis and synthesis of projects in class on midterm.

[ ] FINAL EXAM: Students will submit all work in a final portfolio, including all work throughout the course and a reflective piece on the quality of your essays and your new awareness of your writing process.

Minimum Requirements for course credit:

• Submit all essays in MULTIPLE DRAFTS before the last day of the course; initial drafts and subsequent drafts should be submitted with great care, as if each is the final submission, but students are expected to participate in process writing throughout the entire semester as a minimum requirement of this course—including a minimum of ONE conference per major essay.

• Demonstrate adequate understanding of proper documentation and citation of sources through a single well-cited essay or several well-cited essays. A cited essay MUST be included in your final portfolio.

Fall 2014 MWF Schedule

Available on course blog: http://comicsasliterature.blogspot.com/p/course-schedule-fall-2011.html          

Academic Integrity

• Academic integrity at Furman is governed by the university's academic integrity policy (121.5). Students have the ultimate responsibility for understanding and adhering to university policy. They should therefore familiarize themselves thoroughly with the information on this web site, as well as with other university materials on this topic.

• Understanding what constitutes academic misconduct is essential for avoiding it. This is especially true of plagiarism. Check out the definitions of academic misconduct and tips for avoiding plagiarism on this web site. Ask for clarification from your instructor(s) if necessary. Do not automatically assume that what applies in one course applies in another. (Of course, some behaviors are always wrong, such as plagiarizing an assignment, fabricating data, or cheating on a test or quiz.)

• Furman students are not required to report suspected violations of academic integrity, but they are encouraged and empowered to do so by the policy.

• Disputed allegations of academic integrity are adjudicated by the Academic Discipline Committee (see 190.6). This committee consists of five faculty members and two students.

• The professor has the authority to determine the grade penalty for violations of academic integrity. The Academic Discipline Committee (ADC) has the authority to impose penalties for violations beyond the grade in the course, such as revocation of pass-fail status, suspension, and/or expulsion from the university. In addition, students can appeal a grade penalty to the ADC, which may choose to recommend a different penalty to the professor. The course instructor retains authority over the grade, however.

In short, Furman students should:

• Inform themselves about Furman policy and expectations through this web site and other available means;
• Abide by the university's academic integrity policies and encourage others to do the same;
• Ask for clarification from professors if necessary;
• Learn how to cite sources appropriately;
• Report suspected violations of the policy.

Rationale: Courses Taught by P. L. Thomas—Welcome to the Occupation

Paulo Freire (1993) establishes early in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “One of the basic elements of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed is prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual’s choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed to into one that conforms with the prescriber’s consciousness” (pp. 28-29).

The course before you, your course, will be guided by some essential principles, beliefs, and research concerning the nature of learning and teaching along with the commitments I have to the dignity of each person’s humanity and to the sacredness of intellectual freedom within a democracy. The practices and expectations of this course are informed by many educators, writers, and researchers—many of who are referenced at the end. But the guiding philosophies and theories of this course can be fairly represented ascritical pedagogycritical constructivism, and authentic assessment.

Now that I am in my third decade as a teacher, my classroom practices and expectations for students are all highly purposeful—although most of my practices and expectations are non-traditional and may create the perception that they are “informal.” For you, the student, this will be somewhat disorienting (a valuable state for learning) and some times frustrating. Since I recognize the unusual nature of my classes, I will offer here some clarity and some commitments as the teacher in this course.

In all of my courses, I practice “critical pedagogy.”  This educational philosophy asks students to question and identify the balance of power in all situations—an act necessary to raise a your awareness of social justice.  I also emphasize “critical constructivist” learning theory.  Constructivism challenges students (with the guidance of the teacher) to forge their own understanding of various concepts by formulating and testing hypotheses, and by utilizing inductive, not just deductive, reasoning. A constructivist stance asks students to recognize and build upon their prior knowledge while facing their own assumptions and expectations as an avenue to deeper and more meaningful learning. My practices avoid traditional forms of assessment (selected-response tests), strive to ask students to create authentic representations of their learning, and requires revision of that student work.

Some of the primary structures of this course include the following:

• I delay traditional grades on student work to encourage you to focus on learning instead of seeking an “A” and to discourage you from being “finishers” instead of engaged in assignments. At any point in the course, you can receive oral identification of on-going grades if you arrange an individual conference concerning you work. However, this course functions under the expectation that no student work is complete until the last day of the course; therefore, technically all students have no formal grade until the submission of the final portfolio. One of the primary goals of this course is to encourage you to move away from thinking and acting as a student and toward thinking and acting in authentic ways that manifest themselves in the world outside of school.

• I include individual conferences for all students at mid-term (and any time one is requested), based on a self-evaluation, a mid-course evaluation, and an identification of student concerns for the remainder of the course. You will receive a significant amount of oral feedback (“feedback” and “grades” are not the same, and I consider “grades” much less useful than feedback), but much of my feedback comes in the form of probing questions that require you to make informed decisions instead of seeking to fulfill a requirement established by me or some other authority. Your learning experience is not a game of “got you”; thus, you have no reason to distrust the process. I value and support student experimentation, along with the necessity of error and mistakes during those experiments. My classroom is not a place where you need to mask misunderstandings and mistakes. I do not equate learning with a student fulfilling clearly defined performances (see Freire’s commentary on prescription above), but I do equate learning with students creating their own parameters for their work and then presenting their work in sincere and faithful ways.

• I include portfolio assessment in my courses, requiring students to draft work throughout the course, to seek peer and professor feedback through conferences, and to compile at the end all of their assignments in a course with a reflection on that work; my final assessments are weighted for students and guided by expectations for those assignments, but those weights and expectations are tentative and offered for negotiation with each student. Ultimately, the final grade is calculated holistically and based on that cumulative portfolio. All major assignments in this course must be drafted in order to be eligible for a final grade of “A.” The drafting process must include at least two weeks of dedication to the assignment, student-solicited feedback from the professor, and peer feedback. Assignments must be submitted in final forms in the culminating portfolio, but documentation of the drafting process must also be submitted with the final products. Any major assignments that do not fulfill the expectation of drafting will not receive a grade higher than a “B.” Revision is a necessary aspect of completing academic work.

Welcome to the occupation. This is your class, a series of moments of your life—where you make your decisions and act in ways you choose. Freedom and choice, actually, are frightening things because with them come responsibility. We are often unaccustomed to freedom, choose, and responsibility, especially in the years we spend in school. So if you are nervous about being given the freedom to speak and the responsibility for making your own choices, that is to be expected. But I am here to help—not prescribe, not to judge. That too will make you a bit nervous. I am glad to have this opportunity in your life, and I will not take it lightly. I would be honored if you choose not to take it lightly either.

Ayres, W. (2001). To teach: The journey of a teacher. New York: Teachers College Press.
Brooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (1999). In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and education. New York: Free Press.
Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.
Gardner, H. (1999). The disciplined mind: What all students should understand. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Gardner, H. (1991). The unschooled mind: How children think and how schools should teach. New York: Basic Books.
Greene, M. (1995). Releasing the imagination: Essays on education, the arts, and social change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
hooks, b. (1999). remembered rapture: the writer at work. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
———. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.
Kincheloe, J. L. (2005a). Critical constructivism primer. New York: Peter Lang.
Kincheloe, J. L. (2005b). Critical pedagogy primer. New York: Peter Lang.
Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct. New York: Harper Perennial.
———. (1999). Words and rules: The ingredients of language. New York: Basic Books.
Popham, W. J. (2001). The Truth about testing: An educator’s call to action. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
———. (2003). Test better, teach better: The instructional role of assessment. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Hyde, A. (2005). Best Practice: Today’s standards for teaching and learning in America’s schools (3rd ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.