LEAP English 15 Summer 2015

English 15:  Rhetoric and Composition

Summer 2015 MTWRF 11:10 AM – 12:25 PM

Instructor: Earl H. Brooks

Classroom: 010 Business Building.    Peer Review Days: 007 Life Sciences Building.

Class Section: 247

Instructor Office Location: Verizon Building (224 S. Allen St). To find the building, walk down Allen Street away from campus. You will pass Panera Bread and cross Beaver St. Keep walking until you pass a bank. The Verizon Building entrance door will be on your right just before the Cozy Thai Restaurant. I can be found in room 107.

Office Hours: Monday and Thursday 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Contact: [email protected]


 Course Goals

 Developing skill and expertise in reading and writing means studying reading and writing together; therefore, English 15 is an intensive, rhetorically based experience in reading and writing that prepares students to understand the communications that surround them and to succeed in their own communication efforts.  In this course, we will focus specifically on analyzing verbal and visual texts (our reading) as well as on producing such texts (our writing)—always in terms of traditional rhetorical principles.

Even if the term rhetoric isn’t familiar to you, the practice of rhetoric is. In fact, you bring a good deal of rhetorical skill to this class: you already know how to gauge the way you perceive and produce language according to the speaker, the intended audience, and the purpose. You may not always gauge perfectly, your perception may not always be accurate, and your production may not always be successful—but you often think to interpret and choose language in ways that are appropriate to the rhetorical situation.

The goal of English 15, then, is to help you build critical literacy. Critical literacy refers to one’s ability to understand and articulate various ideological positions. This course is paired with a Macroeconomics course (Econ 104) through Penn State’s LEAP program. Throughout the semester you will be provided with readings that will explore a plethora of topics including class, wealth inequality, social security, poverty, etc. These short readings will serve as examples of ways to engage issues from Econ 102, enhance your understanding of these issues, and reinforce various rhetorical moves and writing techniques. In other words, I hope you’ll come to write with skill, conviction, sophistication, and grace—if not immediately, then soon.  In the process, you’ll learn how to read and think more critically as well.

Required Texts


  • Everything’s an Argument with Readings. 6th Edition.  Lunsford, Andrea A, John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. ISBN#: 9781457606045
  • Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace. 5th Edition. Williams, Joseph and Gregory Colomb. ISBN#: 9780321953308
  • Penn Statements Spring 2015 (available in the PSU bookstore)
  • The Penn State Libraries’ Course Guide for English 15, found at http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/course/up/ah/ENGL015.html (recommended research resource)




To pass this course you must complete all the major assignments, fulfill all the weekly assignments, and submit all the writing assignments on time. You are expected to attend all class meetings and to participate in draft workshops, in-class exercises, and classroom discussions. All proposals, drafts, papers, and revisions must be handed in on time; failure to turn in a proposal on time, or to appear at a draft workshop without a draft is equivalent to turning in an assignment late (i.e., normally a penalty of one grade per late day).




Paper 1 Rhetorical Analysis                                        10%

Paper 2 Compare and Contrast                                    15%

Paper 3 Position Argument                                          15%

Paper 4 Proposal Argument                                         20%

Paper 5 Personal Narrative (with cover letter) 15%

Revision of Paper (with cover letter)                           10%

Participation/Class Citizenship                                    15%

(Participation includes attendance, discussion, in-class writing, group work, and homework)


Letter Grades and Grade Points:

Excellent Exceptional Achievement A 4.0
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
Good Extensive Achievement B 3.0
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
Satisfactory Acceptable achievement C 2
Poor Minimal Achievement D 1
Failure Inadequate Achievement F 0



Your success, and the success of this course, depends on your active participation; therefore, your regular attendance is required. Excused absences are certainly appropriate. Of course, you should communicate with me about your absences as much as possible.  Be aware, though, that University policy (Policies and Rules, 42-27) states that a student whose absences are excessive “may run the risk of receiving a lower grade or a failing grade,” regardless of his or her performance in the class. You run that risk if you exceed two unexcused absences. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get the assignments, class notes, and course changes from a classmate. In addition, if you miss class on a day that written work is due, make arrangements to send that work along with a classmate. In-class work cannot be made up.

Office Conferences

I am happy to meet with you in advance of a deadline to offer advice. You can come to my office hours or schedule an appointment with me. Please keep in mind that my job is not to proofread or edit entire essays. When you come to a meeting with me, you should have some specific questions or concerns to discuss.

Also consider taking your ideas and your written work to Penn State Learning for writing support (220 Boucke, http://pennstatelearning.psu.edu/), where trained peer-tutors will consult with writers about any piece of writing at any stage of the writing process, from rough idea to final draft.

Peer Review

In each unit you will submit two versions of your rough draft. One version will be a pre-edited draft, and the other will be the draft you have with all the comments from peer review. This allows me to monitor the quality of comments and feedback from your peers.
Our peer review sessions will happen in a computer lab, 007 Life Sciences Building. We will meet there so that all students will have access to a computer to read and edit their partners draft using the track changes tool on Microsoft Word. I take peer review very seriously as does Penn State’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric. It is one of the most important aspects of this course and it is one of the ways in which students learn the most about their writing.
Even professional writers spend countless hours writing, editing, and rewriting their work. Writing is a process that requires revision. Most importantly, this idea of revision goes beyond fixing grammar mistakes. It’s about improving all aspects of writing, including its argumentative, aesthetic, and organizational attributes.
If you miss a peer review conference day, you must take measures to send your work to your group members for comment outside of class, or consider having a tutor at Penn State Learning review your essay: http://pennstatelearning.psu.edu/. I will not accept final essays that have not been peer reviewed.

Blogs- Rhetoric in Action

Blogs are a great way for students to express their thoughts and discuss important issues with each other. It’s also an avenue for us to explore how rhetoric works in the real world by looking at current events. You will be tasked with creating your own blog site and posting a 250 word blog post, once a week, about a current event that you feel is an interesting from a rhetorical perspective. On peer review days we will take a few moments to respond to blog posts online. Blogs will be a part of your class citizenship grade.

Class Readings and Reading Quizzes

You are expected to read all assigned readings, and you are required to have those readings with you in class. Those readings will serve as the basis for class discussions and activities, and I will lecture assuming you have read the assigned texts. Students who complete the readings write better papers and get better grades, and I want all my students to do well. As a student, I always loathed reading quizzes, however they ensure that everyone reads and improves the quality of our class discussions. These quizzes will be given randomly. Rest assured, my quizzes are very easy—-if you have done the reading. The amount of quizzes depends on the class. If everyone completes their readings and scores well on quizzes, the tests will drop in frequency.


Class Citizenship

The class citizenship grade is based on your role as a student and colleague irrespective of essay grades. This portion of your grade will take in account your preparation for class, your completion of any homework assignments, your participation in class discussion and writing assignments, your adherence to the rules for class etiquette, and your presence at conferences with me.


Class Etiquette

During this course we will discuss a wide range of topics, some of which may be sensitive or even alienating for you; I urge you to keep in mind that we all have different personal experiences, diverse beliefs, and opinions about such topics. We will learn a great deal through discussing various views and perspectives if we make a commitment to listening to each other and to honoring each other’s backgrounds, values, and feelings. We will treat one another with respect and dignity at all times. While I lecture, I expect your full attention. Distractions (talking, laughing, etc.) can be problematic for me as well as for your fellow classmates. Such behavior will harm your grade.


Cell Phones: Please turn your cell phone’s ringer off before class starts and do not text during class. I reserve the right to count you absent for such behavior.

Computer: Feel free to bring your laptop to class, but do not be surprised if I ask you to put your computer away during certain parts of class. If you do use a computer, you must use it for class activities only. Violations will result in an absence for that day.

iPods: Often, during 10-15 minute modules of class, you will be engaged in solitary writing or reading. You are free to listen to your iPods/MP3 Player/Phone during that time as long as you keep the volume at reasonable level.

Graded Essays

When I return graded essays to you, I ask that you wait 24 hours to contact me about the essay. Please use those 24 hours to look through your essay and read my comments carefully. Once you’ve done that and 24 hours have passed, I will be happy to meet with you to offer further comments or answer questions. Please keep all graded essays until the end of the semester.


Plagiarism is the intentional act of using another person’s words or ideas as your own without attribution. It is a breach of academic integrity.  The departmental policy on plagiarism is available online at <http://www.la.psu.edu/undergrad/integrity/studentpolicy/collegepolicy.htm>. If you have any questions about plagiarism and its consequences (or about any other aspect of academic integrity), please ask. Because plagiarism demonstrates contempt for ethical standards, your instructor, and your peers, if you are caught plagiarizing, you risk failing the paper and/or the course. You may also be referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs, and this may result in probation, suspension, or expulsion.

Paper Format

Choosing a format is a rhetorical decision—it’s all about delivery. Your papers should typically be typed, 12 point font, printed in black ink, and double-spaced with one-inch margins. Place your name, date, and the instructor’s name in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. Number all of the pages, except the first. Most assignments will be submitted electronically to a dropbox on Angel.

Statement on Nondiscrimination

The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination, including harassment. The Pennsylvania State University prohibits discrimination and harassment against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status. Discrimination or harassment against faculty, staff, or students will not be tolerated at The Pennsylvania State University.

Note: The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation in this course or have questions about physical access, please tell the instructor as soon as possible.

Submissions to Penn Statements

The editors of Penn Statements encourage students to submit essays for possible publication in this student journal. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and can be sent electronically to [email protected]. Please include the title of the essay, the assignment it satisfied (very important!) and a release statement, along these lines:  “I, <name>, give permission to Penn Statements to publish my essay, “<essay>.”



 WARNING: I have high expectations for you. When this semester ends, you will not be given your grade—you will have earned it. This syllabus shows you how it is possible to earn a competitive grade in this course. Turning that possibility into a probability will entail a lot of reading, writing, listening, and speaking; above all, it will involve a lot of thinking. You will have to possess (or quickly develop) intellectual curiosity and a capacity to engage enthusiastically with complex material.

You will also have to work hard. However, as I hope you have already discovered, hard work can be satisfying, not only when it is rewarded but also when it is directed toward a worthwhile goal. If you make an active intellectual commitment to the class, if you are eager to learn, and if you persistently hone your abilities, you will do well. To attain your learning goals, you must recognize that your university education constitutes your full-time job. According to NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement) guidelines, for every hour spent in class, you need to devote another two to three hours to academic work outside class. To do well, you will thus need to augment your almost six and a half hours a week of work in the classroom with an average of 10 to 12 hours a week of related work outside the classroom. (Remember, summer school can be challenging.) Your ultimate goal, however, should not solely be to achieve a good grade for the course but to make significant progress in your own career of lifelong learning and writing.

Now, you know something about what I expect from you. What can you expect from me? I am here to help you learn to think critically. If you ask me something that I don’t know I will work with you to discover the answer. I will show you why learning to think and write critically is important. By challenging you to reach high standards, I shall help you to educate yourself. The workload will be demanding, but I shall never give you busywork: everything I ask of you will be aimed at making you a more accomplished writer, a more discerning reader, a more effective speaker, a more perceptive listener, and a more astute thinker.

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