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Oakland University
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Writing and Rhetoric
WRT 329: Composition Studies  (4 credits)
Winter 2013 Syllabus

Name: Lori Ostergaard
Office address: 382 O’Dowd Hall
Email address:   
Phone: 370-2075
Office hours: M/W 11-1:00 and by appointment
Class time: M/W 1:20-2:27
Classroom: WH 400A

Catalog Description: a survey of composition-rhetoric as an academic discipline, including an examination of the history, theory, research, curricula, and practices associated with composition-rhetoric in the university. Prerequisite: completion of the university writing foundation requirement.

Extended Description: WRT 329, Composition Studies, is the gateway course for the “Writing as a Discipline” track in the Writing and Rhetoric Major. As such, it provides a survey of the history, theory, research, curricula, and practices in the field of composition–rhetoric (writing and rhetoric studies). Your work in this class will require you to engage with the discipline of composition-rhetoric as it is shaped and informed by institutional and historical contexts, and to research the careers available to composition specialists in a variety of academic institutions.

Course Objectives
Students in WRT 329, Composition Studies, will become conversant in the discipline of composition-rhetoric by

•    Surveying disciplinary history and analyzing how this history has influenced present-day composition theory, research, practice, and status in the university;
•    Studying the theories, research, and practices that inform the discipline;
•    Examining the ways institutional contexts shape degree programs and course offerings;
•    Exploring current trends in composition-rhetoric scholarship and practice.

Our work this semester will focus on the field of Composition Studies from both historical and current perspectives. For the first third of the semester you will read works addressing the current state of the field: works that examine the first-year writing curriculum, the growth of the undergraduate major, the work of the MA, current approaches to the PhD, and the state of the academic job market in composition. During the second third of the semester you will research various theoretical and intellectual approaches to work in the field (feminist, queer, and disability studies, etc.). Finally, we will conclude the semester by reading both foundational histories of the field and newer, alternative or local histories.

Required Material

•   You will need reliable internet access, access to Webmail, and Moodle;
•   There is no textbook in this class; all reading assignments will be posted to Moodle

•   Composition Job Market/Career Research 20%
•   Archival Research Project 20%
•   Final Portfolio 20%
•   Class Participation and Discussion 40%

Job Market/Career Research (20%): Your first project of the semester will involve you in an analysis of the 2012-2013 composition job search. You will examine both the job postings on the MLA-JIL website and the MLA-Job Wiki for composition-rhetoric. You will also research various academic positions open to compositionists who hold MAs or PhDs in the field (community colleges, liberal arts colleges, writing centers, WAC programs, English departments, separate departments of writing). You will read research related to academic jobs in composition (both historical works and contemporary ones). For this project you will write a 4-6 page paper analyzing the job market and career prospects for compositionists.

Archival Research Project 20%: Our final research project for the semester will be to initiate a study of the archives of composition by examining some historical artifacts within the context of our ongoing discussions about the field. The artifacts you choose to collect and analyze may be textbooks, journals, conference programs and/or proceedings, dissertation or theses topics, or primary source materials from a single institutional site of instruction. Your artifacts should span a significant, 5-10 year period in composition history, and your analysis will explain how these artifacts conform to, support, complicate, or confound what we know about composition theory, research, and/or practices during this time. You should write your analysis with an eye towards developing this paper into a conference presentation or a writing sample for graduate school.

Final Portfolio 20%: As the gateway course for the academic track, WRT 329 will prepare you for future studies here at OU and beyond by helping you to create your academic portfolio. This portfolio will contain a personal statement by you that introduces both the work you did in this class and how that work shapes your understanding of the field, its career and research possibilities. This portfolio will contain both of the major projects you completed in this class and any other work you believe illustrates your understanding of composition as an academic discipline.

In-Class Participation and Online Class Work 40%: Your class participation and your productive engagement in class discussions and projects is something that I expect to be able to take for granted this semester. I expect that everyone in this class will illustrate a high level of professionalism, attend classes regularly, and arrive prepared to participate. This class will introduce you to various, and sometimes complex, aspects of the academic discipline of composition, so I expect informed and lively discussions; compelling classroom presentations; and thoroughly researched, well-reasoned, and well-written projects. Participation in real and online classes accounts for 40% of your grade. Failure to attend either face-to-face or online classes will result in both an absence for the course and 0s on any in-class or online assignments.

Extra Credit: Extra credit will be offered in the form of 4.0s to replace the lowest grades you have received on your weekly forum posts in Moodle. You cannot replace a 0 with a 4.0, but if you complete any of the extra credit activities below, I will replace your lowest forum grade above a 0 with a 4.0. You may complete as many of the extra credit assignments below as you are able.

Extra Credit: (one 4.0 for a low forum post) will be given to anyone who writes and submits a proposal (individual or panel) to present their research at a local/regional/state academic (undergraduate or otherwise) conference.

This semester the Department of Writing and Rhetoric will be interviewing job candidates for a tenure-line position in Professional Writing. We will bring four candidates to campus for day-long interviews, and during their interviews, each candidate will give a presentation (“job talk”) discussing their research (in most cases, research they have conducted for their dissertations). You will receive extra credit for attending any/all of these presentations and writing up a short (250-word) summary of what you learned at the talk (up to three 4.0s to replace your low forum post grades).

Partially-Online Course Procedures
This class will be partially-online, meeting in Wilson 400A on most Mondays and Wednesdays of the semester, and we will meet online for every Friday class. Online course activities will typically be posted in Moodle by Thursday morning. Your first response (primary) will be due no later than midnight on Saturday, and your responses to your classmates' posts (secondary) will be due no later than 1pm on Monday.

Course Policies

Accommodations: Students with disabilities who may require classroom or pedagogical support should make an appointment with campus Disability Support Services (DSS).  Students who are registered with DSS should also bring their needs to the attention of their instructor as soon as possible.

Academic Conduct Policy:  Cheating on examinations, plagiarism, falsifying reports/records, and unauthorized collaboration are considered serious breaches of academic conduct.  The Oakland University policy on academic conduct will be strictly followed with no exceptions.  See the university catalog under Academic Policies and Procedures for more information.

Attendance: All WRT classes adhere to the OU Excused Absence Policy for OU events and activities. For absences not covered by the university policy, students in writing and rhetoric courses are allowed a certain number of absences without penalty: 3 for MW(F) classes, 2 for TR classes, or 1 for evening classes. This includes absences due to illness, car trouble, or schedule conflict. Participation in online activities counts as class attendance. For each absence beyond those allowed, the student's final course grade will be lowered by 0.1 points on the 4.0 scale for our MW(online F) class. Students who miss more than three combined weeks of class are not eligible to receive a grade above 0.0.

ADD/DROPS:  The university add/drop policy will be explicitly followed.  It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the university deadline dates for dropping the course.