Anyone with special needs:  please see your instructor as soon as possible to discuss ways she can assist you!


College Composition II, FALL 2015

A 3-Credit Course

  • Sec. 49 (5155): MWF 9-9:50, Minard 208, MWF 9:00-9:50
  • Sec. 19 (4591): MWF 11-11:50, Minard 310, MWF 11:00-11:50

Instructor: Cindy Nichols

Your instrutctor is SafeZone certified

Office: Minard 316F

Office hours: MWF 10-10:50, T 12:30-1:30 & by appt.

Phone: 218-236-8233 (I much prefer email!)



Required Texts

Writing Today, Brief 3rd edition, Johnson-Sheehan and Paine.

Rule of the Bone, Russell Banks.

Alternate Novels [Do not buy]

Gish Gin, Mona in the Promised Land
Janet Fitch, White Oleander
Joyce Carol Oates, Foxfire


Required Materials and Resources

  • LOTS of access to email, Blackboard, and Microsoft Word.
  • A pocket stapler!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Welcome to English 120. As stated in the university bulletin, this course will give you "[a]dvanced practice in reading and writing of various genres for different situations and audiences."  It will include collaborative work with your peers, and, in addition to traditional written work, will explore visual and electronic communication. Each major assignment gives you several options for choosing a focus of interest to you. We do quite a lot of debating in this class, and, in fact, nearly everything in this course will be understood as an argument. We'll examine the arguments of others for sound reasoning and persuasiveness, and you'll practice writing and evaluating your own arguments in a variety of real-world genres. These genre projects should help you understand and evaluate the reasoning of others, and give you the tools to develop informed and ethical reasoning yourself.


Objectives of This Course

  • You will produce 3 major projects which require you to practice specific real-world genres, to solve problems (sometimes collaboratively), and to acknowledge the needs of real audiences.
  • You will read a variety of genres and rhetorically analyze their arguments.
  • You will learn to draft, edit, and proof your work for final presentation.
Other Aims:
  • You will practice thinking critically and independently. That is, you'll explore multiple perspectives on real issues, summarizing as well as analyzing those perspectives as arguments for different purposes and occasions.
  • You will learn writing conventions which are generally and frequently expected in many types of real-world communication.
  • You'll try your hand at solving real problems and begin to build collaborative problem-solving skills which you can use throughout your life.
  • You will hone your information-gathering skills, using the various kinds of evidence which come from careful research.
  • You will practice reading actively and with understanding.


Course Work

You will produce a number of genres this term, each quite different.

Major Projects

Project #1: Rhetorical Analysis (Literacy in Popular Culture)
(25 pts. or 25% of your semester grade)

Project #2: Collaborative Verbal-Visual Film Review
(25 pts. or 25% of your semester grade)

Project #3: Literary Analysis
(25 pts. or 25% of your semester grade)

Weekly Work
(15 pts. or 15% of your semester grade)

We will often do a range of brief assignments in class: worksheets, small group discussion, exercises, quizzes. They are typically worth just 1-4 points each.

Reflective Letter (10 pts. or 10% of semester grade)

At the end of the term you will hand in a letter reflecting on your strengths, weaknesses, growth, and future work as a writer and as a student. This letter will also be a chance to practice and play with sentence style and creativity, trying new sentence structures, figurative language, and interesting diction.

Minimum Requirements and Grades

To pass this course, you must meet both of the following:

  • Satisfactory completion of a Portfolio and all Projects.
  • Accumulated total of 57 points for the semester

Semester grades are based on a simple point system, in which your aim is to earn as close to 100 as possible. You’ll start the semester with 0, then earn credit for the course work discussed above.

*The final grade scale looks like this:

90-100 pts. = A
79-89 pts. = B
68-78 pts. = C
57-67 pts. = D



In this class we will discuss sometimes volatile topics. No matter what the topic may be, all viewpoints are welcome, and no viewpoint is sanctioned by the instructor. You are in no way required to agree with the instructor on any issue, the positions you hold have no bearing on your grade in the course, and, indeed. you are encouraged to challenge the instructor as well as your classmates in debate at any time. (Willingness to argue counts as active class participation and can help your semester grade, especially in borderline cases.) You will, however, always be asked why you think what you think, and what evidence you can provide to back up your assertions. It is the quality of your arguments that will determine your grade—not the position you take in those arguments. We will frequently discuss what constitutes a valid argument, and this is at heart of the course

You are likewise expected to treat the viewpoints of others with respect, and to show good will.




Missing Class and Handing in Late Work

If you miss a class meeting, the first thing you must do is check our online calendar in Bb as well as any new or updated Power Points. When you've informed yourself by checking these items, you should next contact a couple classmates for full notes. Then, if you have questions, you may see or email me any time. Please do not first come to me asking: what did we do? You are responsible for securing notes and using our web materials to update yourself.

Once you've gathered info for a missed class, you can make up any scored item within a week of its original due date. You must included a completed late form. CLICK HERE FOR LATE FORM.

If any part of these policies is confusing to you, please inquire in class so that I can clairfy things for the whole group.


Coming Late to Class =

A BAD IDEA. It's disruptive and rude, and you will miss important announcements and instructions which are covered in the first few minutes of every session. You are responsible for knowing announcements and instructions whether you are present or not.

Digging Class =

A key word in this class is CURIOSITY. One of the WORST things you can do is tell me that SOMETHING BORED YOU. All coursework will require active thinking and engagement. If you are energetically reflecting, imagining, and questioning, when you read course materials or complete course work, YOU WILL NEVER BE BORED. Admissions of boredom are embarassing, because they reveal that you yourself are a boring person.

If you do not UNDERSTAND something, do not become frustrated, angry, or defeated. REJOICE! :) You are in exactly the right place to begin LEARNING. When confused or otherwise stumped, ASK QUESTIONS. Be willing to be dumb. Dig. Explore. LOOK THINGS UP. Engage others. Contact your instructor. And, yes, OMG! even RE-READ assignments!

Class participation does not simply mean perfect attendance. Becoming a better writer requires critical thinking, dialogue, and practice. This is in part a workshop course, which requires your active input and involvement.

Web-Surfing, Facebooking, Texting, Etc.

None of these activities is permitted in class unless they are linked directly to coursework.

Emailing Instructor

In email communications with me, ALWAYS include the name of the course you are in and its section number, if applicable.

If any part of these policies is confusing to you, please inquire in class so that I can clarify things for the whole group.

Failure to heed the above information may result in my sending you to the "YOU ARE A DORK" web page.



The following definitions of letter grades may help you understand what a particular grade in this class means.

A = Outstanding (literally, work that stands out). Course work has met all (or very close to all) criteria for major assignments exceptionally well, above the level of most work produced by students of English 120. Products have nearly always excelled in inventiveness, originality, and energy. Writing shows very good understanding of rhetorical situation for each major assignment. The student has produced coherent, clear, well-organized, well-edited, and carefully proofed work throughout, with few to no lapses. A fluent, accomplished style, again with few to no lapses.

Any piece of writing can always use improvement, but "A" work means that your performance has nearly always surpassed expectations. Very strong to exceptional semester work, needing virtually zero improvement to meet course criteria.

B = Very Good. Course work has met all criteria for major assignments quite well, or has met most of them extremely well, despite a weak performance in a limited but conspicuous few. Very competent, but may lack originality or inventiveness, relative to work produced generally in 120. OR is strikingly original and inventive, but suffers from minor, if persistent, weaknesses. Good attention to mechanics, with an occasional lapse in clarity or fluency (or good attention to style, with occasional lapses in mechanics). Has generally shown competent understanding of rhetorical situation for each major assignment. Very strong semester work that could still use some improvement in one or more key areas or several minor areas.

C =Fair. Course work has met only some of the stated criteria for major assignments, or has met all of them partially. Minimally competent but uninspired, or inspired and original but lacking competence in important areas (such as attention to rhetorical situation). Possibly some problems with missed work or absences. May have shown some inattention to, or misunderstanding of, instructions, feedback, and critiques. Clear efforts to proofread and edit, though one or more obtrusive mechanical or stylistic problems may persist. OR conscientious editing and proofing efforts are simply not, for the most part, apparent. May have demonstrated some inattention to or misunderstanding of audience and rhetorical situation for one or more major assignments. Passable semester work which conspicuously needs improvement.

D = Poor. Course work has met few of the criteria for all major assignments, or has shown exceptionally poor performance in one or two major assignments or in one or two key areas. Work has been handed in, but missed classes, and/or generally incomplete or missing daily work are likely an an important factor. May have ignored or seriuously misunderstood instructions and instructor feedback. Work has generally
been sloppy, unproofed, unedited for clarity and coherence, and/or very perfunctory and uninspired. Some of this work, however, is saved by minimal attention to at least one or two important facets of major assignments. Barely passable semester performance (probably borderline "F"), conspicuously below the mean for 120.

F = Unacceptable. Course work has either failed to meet any of the stated criteria, or has demonstrated severe oversights or weaknesses in significant areas. Student may not have completed all three major projects, and/or has repeatedly missed class or important activities. Nearly all work is far below the mean. A semester performance which simply doesn't warrant a passing mark.

Department and University Policies

Americans with Disabilities Act:

"Any students with disabilities or other special needs, who need specific accomodations in this course, are invited to share these concerns or requests with the instructor as soon as possible."

English Department Attendance Policy:

"In compliance with NDSU University Senate Policy, Section 333: Class Attendance and Policy and Procedure, located at <>, the English Department has established the following attendance policy. All English Department courses require active learning. Students are expected to speak, listen, and contribute. Therefore, prompt, regular attendance is required. Students who miss more than four weeks of class during the standard academic semester (e.g. twelve 50 minute classes, eight 75 minute classes, or their equivalent) will not pass the course. Moreover, each student is accountable for all work missed because of absence, and instructors have no obligation to make special arrangements for missed work."

Academic Dishonesty/Plagiarism:

"Work submitted for this course must adhere to the Code of Academic Responsibility and Conduct as cited in the Handbook of Student Policies: 'The academic community is operated on the basis of honesty, integrity, and fair play. Occasionally, this trust is violated when cheating occurs, either inadvertently or deliberately. This code will serve as the guideline for cases where cheating, plagiarism, or other academic improprieties have occurred. . . . Faculty members may fail the student for the particular assignment, test, or course involved, or they may recommend that the student drop the course in question, or these penalties may be varied with the gravity of the offense and the circumstances of the particular case' (65). See also:"

Note: Intentional plagiarism in our sections of 120 will result in an "F" for the course and information sent to academic advisor.

Academic Honesty Defined:

All written and oral presentations must “respect the intellectual rights of others. Statements lifted verbatim from publications must be cited as quotations. Ideas, summaries or paraphrased material, and other information taken from the literature must be properly referenced” (Guidelines for the Presentation of Disquisitions, NDSU Graduate School, 4). In other words, if it is not your work or words, give proper credit to the author.

English Department Policy on Plagiarism:

"Instructors in the English department try to distinguish between inadvertent and deliberate plagiarism. Initial instances of inadvertent plagiarism will be pointed out and revision will be expected; deliberate plagiarism may result in zero for an assignment, possible F for the course. Plagiarism isn’t worth it. You all have your own great ideas; why not share them?"

Code of Student Behavior:

"All interactions in this course will be civil and show respect for others.  Student conduct at NDSU is governed by the Code of Student Behavior:

University's Emergency Action Guide:   We are told that it's always good to review this info.


Disclaimer! I believe in the creative as well as practical value of spontaneity. I also believe that disorder is always there, lurking in any plan or scheme no matter how carefully devised— especially my own! I therefore reserve the right, if the occasion warrants it, and with ample notice to you, of course, to alter some of the details on this page as the semester progresses. Fundamental aims and requirements will remain unchanged.


A Note to English Majors

During their senior year, English majors generally enroll in the English Capstone course (Engl 467), during which they assemble a portfolio containing representative written work from NDSU English courses. The English Department evaluates these portfolios to assess its undergraduate programs, analyzing how student work meets departmental outcomes. In order to facilitate the preparation of senior portfolios, English majors are encouraged to save copies of their written work (in electronic and hard copy) each semester.

General Education Information

This course has been approved for the Humanities category in general education because it "systematically explores cultural and intellectual forces shaping events, individual expression, and social values.''

General Education Outcomes For which This Course is Approved

(All outcomes are met through completion of Projects 1-3, the assigned Portfolio, and Weekly Work. See above.)

Students shall communicate effectively in a variety of contexts and modes (genres), using a variety of communication skills  (GE Outcome # 1). English 120 will build on English 110’s introduction to academic genres, and extend reading and writing to include genres common in public communication situations. In order to achieve this outcome, students will:

1. read a variety of genres of writing, with an emphasis on writing produced for students and scholars and writing produced for the general reader, intended to inform and influence members of the public on matters of concern to all.

2. write in a variety of genres for various audiences and purposes (e.g. writing for specific disciplines, writing to communicate visually as well as textually in order to reach wider audiences and meet different reading styles, writing for the general public about issues you care about, etc.)

3. practice effective and efficient writing strategies, including generating, developing, and focusing ideas, sharing drafts of writing with peers and the instructor, revising and editing for clarity, consistency, and correctness. Students should also understand that effective communication can only be defined within the context and situation of reading and writing tasks.

Students should learn to integrate knowledge and ideas in a coherent and meaningful manner (GE Outcome #6). English 120 will build on the library and web research skills taught in English 110, and emphasize field research as an additional means of finding or generating ideas and knowledge. In order to achieve this outcome, students will:

1. continue to locate information in library and web resources, and respond to others ideas within their own writing—build on English 110 skills.

2. conduct field research appropriate to their writing projects (e.g. observe people or things, conduct interviews, write and distribute surveys, relevant to their topic), and integrate that research

3. use a thesis statement, claims, and evidence effectively when a writing situation calls for these particular elements.

The English department also has a specific content goal for this course. Students should come to understand the relationship between effective communication and leadership. While civic leaders are often examples of good communicators, students should come to see through the collaborative assignments and explorations of leadership in this course that leadership can take many forms, and individuals who communicate well can either take leadership roles or support strong teams throughout college, into their careers, and within their communities. In order to achieve this goal, students will:

1. Work collaboratively on at least one writing assignment.

2. Reflect on their experiences as a collaborator as a means of understanding their own experiences in a group, as a leader or member.

3. Reflect on, and in some cases do research on, the concept of leadership.

Questions regarding this course should be directed to Kevin Brooks, Coordinator of the First-Year English Program, at 231-7146 or


Produced by Cindy Nichols  
Last updated: November 30, 2015
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