English 400: Active Citizenship: An Advanced Writing Seminar

Fall 2013

Professor: Dr. Robert Lynch                                                             
Office: Grainger G08
Office Hours: MW 11-11:50, TR, 8:30-9:30 and by appt.
Contact: 395-2167 or Lynchrl@longwood.edu

Course Description:

Develops rhetorical skills needed for citizenship in a democracy. Includes interdisciplinary inquiry into and analysis of at least one significant public issue across all sections. Prerequisite: Fulfillment of Goals 2 and 3; 75 credit hours or permission of the Chair of the General Education Committee. 3 credits.

Texts and Materials: 


Oliu, Walter et al. Writing That Works: Communicating Effectively on the Job. 11th ed.  New York:

                Bedford/St. Martin’s,  2013.  ISBN:  978-1457611131

Taylor, Mark C. Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming our Colleges and Universities. New York:

                Knopf, 2010.  ISBN 978-0307593290

Required Materials:

            A college dictionary, a stapler;  manilla envelopes for turning in assignments; a notebook of your choice for organizing notes, assignments, handouts, readings for this course; computer media as needed (disks or cds); assorted electronic readings, readings on reserve in the library, or as distributed in class (to be kept in notebook and brought to class daily);  and finally, A modest budget for photocopying and display supplies

Course Objectives:

This semester, we will work to achieve the following goals:

The ability to synthesize and critically analyze through written discourse and a common educational experience information pertaining to issues of citizen leadership with these outcomes, as described in the University’s General Education guidelines:

·         engage in the process of citizen leadership by investigating multiple perspectives on an important public issue

·         understand the nature of public discourse/debate as determined by purpose, audience, and context

·         choose appropriate formats in writing for a variety of purposes

·         analyze the effectiveness of their own texts and processes for specific rhetorical situations

·         understand how the knowledge, skills, and values learned in general education are interwoven and interrelated, and how they can contribute to the process of citizen leadership

Students in this section will also improve their writing by:

·         learning and understanding the demands of written discourse in the professional world.
learning documentation and style standards in their chosen fields

·         learning editorial skills and standards and writing in accordance with the conventions of Standard English usage and punctuation.

·         revising and editing their writing to make it more concise, effective, and correct. 

·          articulating constructive critical responses to the writing of others.




Aug. 26: Course Introduction 
 What is English 400? What is Citizen Leadership? What constitutes Community?

Aug. 28: Oliu, Chapter 1: Assessing Audience, Purpose, and Medium, 3-29

                    Literacy and College Graduates

    Easy Grades, Failing Grads

Aug. 30: Sir Kenneth Robinson “How Schools Kill Creativity  TED Talks



Sept. 02:  LABOR DAY (no class)

Sept. 04:   In Class Writing #1 
Studies Show College Freshman Aren't Prepared for the Rigors of Coursework

Sept. 06: Letters, Memos, Workplace Politics
          Oliu, Chapter 8, 273-312 
How Should Colleges Assess and Improve Student Learning?--click on the pdf file.



Sept. 09:  Oliu, Chapter 9,  314-349 Memo on Types of Writing and Style Within Discipline Due 

                   Correspondence Assignment

Sept. 11:  Taylor, Chapter One: Reprogramming the Future

                  Making College "Relevant" --an article from the NY Times

Sept. 13:  Sugata Mitra: “Kids can teach themselves  TED Talks



Sept. 16:  Finding and Creating Opportunities for Public Writing
            Read ML King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (online)

Sept. 18:  HD Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”

   In-class writing
Sept. 20:  The Declaration of Independence

                    Taylor, Chapter 2, “Beginning of the End”



Sept. 23:  Writing Proposals

   Oliu, Chapter 13, 445-463

  Business Correspondence Due

  Proposal Assignment

Sept. 25: Oliu,  464-495 (Skim)

                  In-class writing

Sept. 27: Taylor, Chapter 3, “Back to the Future”

   Jane McGonigal:  “Gaming can make a better world” TED Talks



Sept.30: Designing Effective Documents and Visuals
                  Oliu, Chapter 7 (Skim)

                  In –class writing   

Oct. 03: Writing Informal Reports
          Oliu, Chapter 10, 350-381 
               Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge
Oct. 05:   Taylor, Chapter 4, “Emerging Network Culture”



Oct. 07: Proposal due, class discussion on proposals

Oct. 09: Taylor, Chapter 5, “Education Bubble”

Oct. 11: American Political Rhetoric, online selection TBA



Oct. 14-15: FALL BREAK

Oct. 16: Writing Formal Reports
                 Oliu, Chapter 11 

Oct. 18: Taylor, Chapter 6, “Networking Knowledge”



Oct. 21: Thinking Critically About Political Rhetoric
Moore, Michael, Fahrenheit 9/11 
                Piercy, Marge, poem

Oct. 23: American Political Rhetoric, online selection TBA

Oct. 25: Taylor, Chapter 7, “Walls to Webs”



Oct. 28:  Employment Correspondence
  Oliu, Chapter 1: “Finding the Right Job” (566-573 Skim, 573-605)

Oct. 30: Taylor, Chapter 8, “New Skills for a Changing Workforce”

Nov. 01: American Political Rhetoric, online selection TBA In-class writing



Nov. 04: In class peer workshop of drafts of Resume and Cover Letters 

Nov. 06: Taylor, Chapter 9, “Class of 2020”

Nov. 08: Job Application and Resume Due 
      Discuss Projects and Workshop Format
      Distribute First Set of Workshop Materials



Nov. 11: Workshop

Nov. 13: Workshop

Nov. 15: Workshop



Nov. 18: Workshop

Nov. 20: Workshop

Nov. 22: Workshop



Nov. 25: Workshop




Dec. 02: Workshop

Dec. 04: Workshop

Dec. 06: Review for final exam

Course Requirements:

Assignments in Brief

English 400 is a writing seminar and we will be writing frequently inside and outside of class.  Thus, you should be prepared to write in class daily.  If you compose at the computer it would be wise to plan to bring your  laptop to class daily. 

Effective writers (as well as good citizens) are active, engaged readers and observers of language and the ways it is put to use.   One goal of this course is encourage your reading and observational skills as a means of helping  you  begin to explore how language is used to shape the world around us—our families, our workplaces, our communities.

The work you’ll complete in this course falls into three main categories:

1)      daily/weekly routine writing and speaking assignments (responses to reading assignments, reflections, online discussions, in-class writing, etc.); 

2)      a number of out of class writing assignments

3)      a substantial “real world” project in which you engage a topic of interest potentially related to our semester’s theme and apply rhetorically appropriate and varied genres in order to communicate effectively through oral, visual, and verbal (written) means. 

All assignments must be completed in order to pass this course.

In class writing/Memos /                           Informal Report/Paper   100 pts.

Participation/Editing       200 pts.              Job App./Resume         100 pts.

Correspondence           100 pts.               Brief Proposal              100 pts.                            

Final Project                 300 pts.               Final Exam                   100 pts.


Scale:*A=90-100% *B=80-89% *C=70-79% *D=60-69% 

Attendance Policy:

The attendance policy for this course is the same as the university policy in the University Catalog and the Student Handbook. Thus if you miss FOUR or more times your grade may be reduced. Tardies will count as absences after roll is taken or unless I'm notified beforehand.  No quizzes will be given out to those who come late.

Honor Code:

Students are expected to live by the Longwood University Honor Code. All work done for the class must be pledged. Your instructor will not tolerate any form of cheating. You are expected to know what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. All ideas taken from sources, whether in texts or online, must be cited. Remember that your instructor also has access to these materials and they are easy to track on-line. Any student caught plagiarizing will automatically fail the course and his/her name will be forwarded to the Honor Board.

Class Discussion:

Students are expected to make regular and significant contributions to class discussion. Your grade in this regard will be based upon both daily contributions during the semester and taking the lead in guiding class discussion for at least one class.

Class Participation Grading Scale:


Student is well prepared and enthusiastically participates in all class activities; is very considerate and cooperative with the rest of the class; asks questions and responds to questions; demonstrates knowledge of course materials; consistently practices critical thinking; actively helps to create a vibrant learning community.


Student is generally prepared and willing to participate in class activities; is relatively cooperative with the rest of the class; asks questions and responds to questions most of the time; makes an inconsistent effort to refer to readings and course topics; generally practices critical thinking; helps to create a vibrant learning community.


Student is often unprepared and reluctantly or sporadically participates in class activities; often does not ask questions or respond to questions; rarely makes an effort to demonstrate knowledge of course materials; rarely practices critical thinking; does not show much interest in creating a vibrant learning community.


Student is generally unprepared, unwilling to participate in class activities and unable to answer questions; does not formulate questions or responses; demonstrates little understanding of course materials; does not practice critical thinking; distracts from the creation of a vibrant learning community.


Student is absent (physically or mentally), unprepared, inattentive, uncooperative or disruptive in class.

Paper Policy:

All papers are due on the date assigned at the beginning of class. Late papers will not be accepted.  No exceptions.  Learning to handle your workload and deal with deadlines is a part of life.

Office Hours:

My office hours are posted and I will be available during these times. If you need to see me and these times are not convenient, please feel free to schedule a conference for some other mutually agreeable time.

Inclement Weather and Class Cancellation:

In the event of classes being cancelled, students are expected to keep up with the reading.