Course syllabus - Bradley Dilger

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ENG 106, First-Year Composition
Bradley Dilger, Associate Professor of English
Heavilon Hall 303B (T W R 1:30–3:00 and by appt)
[email protected] ~ 309-259-0328 ~
Thanks to poor hearing, I don’t use voice mail. Send me an email or text instead.
I’m @cbdilger on most social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc); friend or follow me if you like.
All class meetings 7:30 am to 8:20 am:
Monday: Beering B275 computer lab
Wednesday & Friday: Heavilon Hall 104 classroom
Tuesday & Thursday: Heavilon Hall 225 conference studio
CDN: 10600-108-43840, 10600-111-43843, 10600-097-43829
Welcome to ENG 10600, First-Year Composition. This four-credit course is designed to help you build on
your writing skills, experience and knowledge, preparing you to write in other contexts. We’ll work in a
classroom, a computer lab, and a conference space, completing a wide variety of individual and
collaborative work. I’m eager to help you make this successful, and Purdue provides many valuable
resources as well. Please read this syllabus carefully so we can make the most of our time together!
English 106 is one of several first-year writing courses administered by Introductory Composition at
Purdue (ICaP), part of the Department of English. Please read the relevant parts of our textbook
Composing Yourself to ensure you are in the course which fits you best. If you have any questions or
concerns, please talk with me as soon as possible.
Using awareness of genre to become better writers
This particular section of English 106 uses an approach called genre awareness, one method for what
many scholars call writing about writing. You’ve probably heard of genre in connection with music: hiphop, country, rhythm and blues, and many more. Or perhaps movies: sci-fi thrillers such as Gravity,
documentaries, or campy thrillers like Sharknado 2. Knowing what genre you’re listening or watching, or
knowing common features associated with that genre, shapes your expectations. For example, it would be
odd, to say the least, for any film you see in a movie theater to have a laugh track—but that’s normal for a
sitcom on television. Knowing George Clooney or Tara Reid is in a movie says something about it.
Something good? That depends on the viewers, and what they are looking for. You can probably think of
many ways that genre shapes both films and music: the design of movie posters; the visual style
musicians choose for publicity photos or album covers; the previews which show before a film; the length
of both films and music. The list goes on, for sure.
Genres are by no means fixed and inflexible. This applies in two ways. First, they vary between contexts
and individuals. “Hip-hop” or “grunge” may mean something very different to you than someone you
meet from southern California. You’ve probably experienced this as you write for different subjects: a
research paper for history isn’t the same as one for English, though it shares many common features—and
these smaller differences can be very hard to understand! Second, genres change over time, in response to
changes in technologies, their roles in culture, and other forces. When I was your age, grunge was still
cutting edge, relatively hard to find, and not at all mainstream. Twenty years later, it’s all over the place.
We could say the same about many genres and the situations they are engaged in over time.
Writing works the same way. Genres shape the way we read, react to, prepare to write, draft, re-write, and
share texts in very profound ways. Writing which is perfect for a certain situation can be completely
inappropriate for another. For example, could you imagine trying to use the “Introduction, Methods,
Results, Discussion” approach common to scientific articles to write a short story? Or making a
PowerPoint presentation to ask your parents to help you pay for a Spring Break trip? It’s easy to see the
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mismatches there. But many writers fail to see similar, smaller mismatches: word choices which are
questionable, or reliance on sources which are not usual for a given field, or an unusual visual design. I
believe genre awareness can help you avoid those mistakes. This semester, you’ll learn how an
understanding of genre can help you write in a wide variety of different contexts. Along the way, you’ll
learn how to work with important concepts writing researchers have identified in connection with genre:
rhetorical situations and ecologies, discourse communities, writing processes, and the relationship of
writing and technology.
Now, let’s get a little more formal. (This is a syllabus, after all.) Writing researchers like to say that genres
are typified rhetorical ways of interacting within recurring situations. Let’s unpack each of those:
Typified: genres are developed over time, through practice, and represent the consensus of
groups of writers with shared interests and/or goals. They are never arbitrary, but designed for
specific purposes, and shaped with those purposes in mind.
Rhetorical: genres are built for persuasion—influencing the ways others think, and/or shaping
their actions. This persuasiveness can take many forms, and it can be implicit or very direct.
Interacting: genres are social. They arise from social action, and shape it too. Writers often shape
genres in collaboration with other writers. Genres often work in concert with other genres.
Recurring situations: genres are tied to specific contexts many people face again and again.
Genres help people respond to those situations, often in a manner which changes them radically.
Our readings will help you understand how these four elements of genre function, and you’ll put that
understanding into practice with a variety of small and large assignments. By reading and writing similar
texts in different genres, you’ll be able to make comparisons which help you understand not only the
specific genres themselves, but genre in general. For example, reading Toms River, then listening to Dan
Fagin talk about the connections between cancer and the environment, can help us understand the writerly
decisions he made along the way. Like other writing researchers, I believe the genre awareness approach
can help you develop a flexibility and adaptability which allows you to build on prior writing skills,
experience, and knowledge. Here are our goals, cast as bullets:
• Learning a rich definition of genre, then applying this framework to better understand writing;
• Reflecting on the roles specific genres have played in your past writing experiences;
• Learning about genres important to relevant communities or professional disciplines;
• Considering ways visual elements, technologies, and networks impact the operation of genre.
Our course goals map to objectives following those established by ICaP and published in Composing
Yourself and on the ICaP web site:
You will have four large writing projects this semester. Each one will build on, and likely borrow from,
the previous. This is just an overview; I will provide in-depth assignments throughout the semester. Please
see those and “Grading” below for details. Project dates and percentage of grade are indicated.
Project 1: Literacy self-study & reflection (8/25 to 9/19, 15%)
Document the ways your literacy has developed and then write a literacy narrative which focuses
on a single event.
Project 2: Literacy narrative (9/22 to 10/10, 20%)
Further investigate your literacy history in comparison to others, and write a reflection about it.
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Project 3: Discourse community report (10/13 to 11/21, 25%)
Investigate a discourse community of interest to you, conducting both primary and secondary
research, and write a report about the genres which shape it.
Project 4: Discourse community web presence (11/24 to 12/16, 20%)
Further investigate your discourse community of interest and remediate your report into a genre
targeting a broad audience.
You’ll complete smaller assignments such as reading responses and in-class practice writing in connection
with each project. I may or may not respond to these in depth, but rest assured I will review all of them.
Participation in classes and conferences will account for 20% of your grade.
English 106 does not have a final examination.
Assignments and class activities will lean heavily on readings from our three required texts:
Blackmon, S., Haynes, L., and Pinkert, L. A. (2014). Composing Yourself: A Student Guide to
Introductory Composition at Purdue. Fountainhead Press.
Bullock, R. (2013). The Norton Field Guide to Writing, 3/e. Norton/MacMillan.
Fagin, D. (2012). Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation. Bantam.
Composing Yourself is available at the Follett bookstore (1400 W State St). Toms River is on sale at a very
good price at Von’s (315 W State). You can find the Norton Field Guide at either store or online.
In addition, I’ve made a small number of articles available to you via my web site. Please print them
and/or download them onto your devices so they are available to you in classes and conferences. All of
these texts are available on reserve in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (HSSE).
Course handouts are also important readings; find any I distribute in class on my web site (
In our detailed schedule, you’ll find useful information about the way readings will be used in class, so
you’ll know when you need to carefully read and retain information, or just make yourself familiar with it
so you can refer to it later.
Our three classroom spaces
All English 106 classes use three spaces: a computer lab, a regular classroom, and the conference studios
in Heavilon Hall. These spaces will shape our work: computer lab time will often be used to give you the
opportunity to conduct research or work on projects with help from me and others. Every two weeks,
you’ll have a short conference with me to discuss your reading and writing. Attendance to all of these is
expected and essential. See the detailed schedule and the conference assignment and schedule for details.
About me
Like you, I’m in my first year at Purdue! Previously, I was at Western Illinois University, a public
university in Macomb, Illinois, about four hours due west of here. I worked at WIU from August 2003
until May of this year, teaching in Macomb and Moline, IL as well. I come to West Lafayette with my
bride Erin Easterling and two very busy grrrls, Madelyn (8) and Amelia (5), both born on October 27. I
got my PhD in English from the University of Florida in 2003, focusing on the ways writing and networks
(both human and technological) are intertwined. When I’m not working, I love to spend time with my
family, bike, swim, or run (though an injury is discouraging the latter), make beer, or work on my house.
I’m thrilled to be at Purdue, and I hope you are too.
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This is a good place for me to thank Christiane Alcantara, Thomas Rickert, Dan Kenzie, and the ICaP
staff for sharing their syllabi with me and helping my transition to Purdue go very smoothly so far.
Guide to success
I think of myself as a reasonable hard-ass: I ask a lot of you (and myself). I’m eager for you to succeed in
this class and learn the difficult but rewarding craft of writing. Here are some of the best ways to do that:
1. Stay in touch. Use texts, email, phone calls, whatever. I’m happy to talk to you—I’m not giving
you my phone number just for show! If you write and don’t hear back, try again in a few days.
2. Use the detailed schedule. My web site includes a link to a more detailed schedule with specific
prompts about the readings and details about course activities. Please use it! It describes the
readings you can skim, which you need to really work hard to master, notes when assignments are
due, etc. I hope you will use it to make class most effective for you.
3. Read the texts and take notes. There’s no better way to learn the content of a book than taking
notes. They will make writing responses easy. I will share my method with you; clone it or adapt
your own. Always bring the texts we are reading to class, and your notes too if you can.
4. Take notes in class. If you like to use a laptop or tablet to do this, please bring one—but don’t
get lost in Facebook or texting or whatever. I won’t say anything, but I’ll surely notice.
5. Participate. Make comments. Ask questions when you have them. Share your experiences, good
and bad. Doing so helps me help you and everyone else—and 20% of your grade depends on it.
Our class meets early; if you need coffee beforehand, get it. Oversleep? Come to class anyway;
just sneak in as quietly as you can. Better to be late than absent.
6. Start work on the projects immediately. Writing takes a lot of time, and you can’t do it all at
once. So please begin work on your projects immediately.
7. Share your work and show your work. If you want to come to my office to talk about your
editing, bring what you’ve been working on. Don’t throw anything away—seeing your work in
progress can help me help you.
8. Stay on target and be on time. You can’t change plans you outline in project starters or
proposals without my approval—inasmuch as I can’t change the way I plan to spend grant money
I’ve earned, or radically change the topic I’m writing about for a conference, etc. You need to ask
first. And as any creative professional will tell you, deadlines are just that—unless you get
permission from me, turn your work in early or on time, or expect nothing in return.
9. Get help with writing if you want it. My office hours are for you — I’m happy to work with
you as often as you like. Purdue’s writing lab is one of the best in the country; take advantage!
Read Composing Yourself chapter 3, then ask me if you need other ways to get help.
Students are expected to follow Purdue’s standards for academic conduct, as codified at Please read Composing Yourself, especially chapter 7, to learn
more about the most important policies which shape all ICaP classes.
1. Academic honesty is required. All academic honesty violations will be reported and will result
in a failing grade for the assignment and likely the course. See Composing Yourself for details,
including the definition of plagiarism used by the Department of English.
2. Accommodations for special learning needs are gladly arranged. Please contact me ASAP to
make an appointment to discuss any accommodations. As per Purdue policy and Federal law, you
must initiate contact with me and the Disability Resource Center; I cannot do so.
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3. Active participation is required. Under-prepared students will be asked to drop the class.
Reading course texts and participating continually is part of preparation. You must buy the
assigned texts, do the readings, and come to class ready to talk about them.
4. Attendance is expected. If you miss more than four classes, your final grade will be reduced by
one-half letter for every subsequent absence. Absences for bereavement, or for other
circumstances which I agree are unavoidable, will not count against this total. However, if you
miss more than eight classes, for whatever reason, I will recommend you drop the course.
5. Class cancellations and emergencies sometimes happen. Please check your Purdue email
before heading to class. If I cancel class, I’ll notify you by email in advance if I can. If class has
to be cancelled due to weather or another emergency, or if an emergency occurs during classes,
we’ll follow Purdue’s procedures and notifications from Purdue ALERT.
6. Ethical and professional conduct is required. I expect academic honesty, collegiality in class,
and professionalism when working with others. Purdue’s non-discrimination policies apply for all
classes and course activities.
7. Feedback about the course is welcome any time. Just drop me a line. If you want to be
anonymous, put a note in my mailbox in Heavilon Hall 324. You can also contact ICaP Assistant
Director Linda Haynes at any time.
8. Grading uses a power of ten scale. A=100–90, B=89–80, etc. Keep all graded assignments, and
track your own grades. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have a question about a grade I assign.
See “Grading” below for more.
9. Mind all deadlines. I don’t accept late work, unless you have prior permission, or unless extreme
circumstances warrant. Need extra time? Please ask. I’m usually happy to give you more time to
get things done—if you ask in advance. (This is how it works in the real world, too.)
10. Purchasing required books and supplies is required. At the minimum, you must have course
texts, computing hardware needed to do coursework, and materials to produce your documents.
11. Your privacy is important to me. I don’t want to know your PUID or Social Security numbers.
Please don’t put them on your assignments or in emails. In compliance with relevant privacy laws
(FERPA), Purdue requires that I discuss grades with you in confidence, which means I may ask
you to move a conversation from email or the hallway to a more private medium.
You earn a final grade based on performance, as in any other class.
1. Please track your own grades. If you think I’ve made a mistake, or evaluated your work unfairly,
please let me know. I am happy to re-evaluate your work.
2. You will receive a final grade of F if you do not complete all parts of the major assignments.
3. Academic honesty violations will result in an F grade (1%) for the assignment. Severe violations
will result in a final course grade of F as well. All suspected violations are reported.
4. Grades of “Incomplete” are only given in the case of military service, documented medical
emergency, or documented death in the family. Generally speaking, I do not oppose retroactive
withdrawals; that is often a better alternative.
5. The table at below left shows the points per assignment. Drop a zero to see the percentage of your
final grade each assignment represents (e.g. 100 pts = 10%). This works for milestones, too.
6. The table at below right shows how I figure grades:
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a) I use the “Normal %” to figure the points you earn for an assignment of a given “Letter”
grade. For example, a “B+” on a 50 point assignment earns you 44 points (88% of 50).
b) For drafts, I often assign pass-fail grades based on effort and extension of assignments.
c) “Point range” shows how final grades are assigned. I do not assign D+ or D– grades.
7. If you disagree with your final grade, you can appeal your grade through ICaP; see Composing
Yourself for details.
Grading point system
Literacy narrative
Literacy reflection
Discourse community report
Discourse community web site
Normal %
Point range
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Dilger 106 syllabus 7 of 10
Weekly schedule
This schedule will change. For a detailed, up to date schedule, please see our course web site at
Week 1: 08/25 — 08/29: Introduction and rhetorical situation
Brief introductions, syllabus walkthrough
Intro to computer lab space and online course resources
Review Composing Yourself ch. 4
Sign up for conferences
Detailed introductions; Complete short writing sample
Discuss NFG 1–4 (1: Purpose; 2: Audience; 3: Genre; 4: Stance) and course assignments
Orientation to conferencing (groups of 5, for 25 minutes)
Discuss Composing Yourself ch. 1–2
Week 2: 09/01 — 09/05: How genre works
No classes 09/01 (Labor Day)
Discuss Dirk, “Navigating Genres”
Group work on genre conventions
Discuss NFG 6: Academic Writing; NFG 7: Literacy Narrative; 21: Choosing genres
P1 starter due 9/05
Understanding rhetorical situation and/or genre
Week 3: 09/08 — 09/12: Key genre features for literacy narratives
Peer conference for P1 starter
Discuss NFG 36: Describing; 38: Dialogue; 40: Narrating; 47: Quotating, Paraphrasing, and
Group work developing dialogue and descriptions
Understanding rhetorical situation and/or genre
Week 4: 09/15 — 09/19: Sponsors of literacy
Discuss Nielsen, “Twitter Postings: Iterative Design”
Revise dialogue written in class
Discuss Brandt, “Sponsors of Literacy” including crib sheet
Individual, then group work on literacy sponsors
P1 final due 9/19
Identifying genre features
Week 5: 09/22 — 09/26: Literacy, genre, and technology
Discuss Spinuzzi, “(writers love txt)”
Group work mapping literacy technologies
Discuss WIDE, “The Writing Lives of College Students”
Revisit technology maps
Discuss NFG 31: Guiding your reader; 41: Reading
First participation self-evaluation due 9/26
Identifying genre features
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Week 6: 09/29 — 10/03: Key genre features for reflection
Discuss NFG 18: Reflections then create crib sheet from it
P2 starter due 9/29
NFG 32: Cause & effect; 37: Describing; 39: Processes
Research or revision
Week 7: 10/06 — 10/10: Conducting research
Read Composing Yourself ch. 5
Researching with Purdue library resources
Discuss Driscoll, “Introduction to Primary Research”
Discuss NFG 43: Research Plan; 44: Finding sources; 45: Eval sources
P2 final due 10/10
Research or revision
Week 8: 10/13 — 10/17: Discourse communities
No classes 10/13-14 (October break).
Discuss NFG 9: Reporting information; 14: Lab reports
Discuss Beaufort, “College Writing and Beyond”
Discuss Swales, “The Concept of Discourse Community”
Individual work mapping discourse community
Workshop P3 starter
Week 9: 10/20 — 10/24: Discourse communities & activity systems
Individual work on P3 research plan
Pair review of discourse community map
Discuss Kain & Wardle, “Activity Theory”
Group work mapping activity systems
Follow up on research plans
P3 starter due 10/22
Workshop P3 starter
Week 10: 10/27 — 10/31: Genre and discourse community in Toms River
Discuss Toms River
Discuss Toms River
Inventory of genres in text
Analyze genre important for your discourse community
Week 11: 11/03 — 11/07: Genre and discourse community in Toms River
Map genres, activity systems, and/or discourse communities in Toms River
Discuss Toms River
Discuss Fagin talk
P3 draft due 11/07
Analyze genre important for your discourse community
Week 12: 11/10 — 11/14: Revision of discourse community report
Peer conference P3 draft
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Discuss NFG 26: Assessing; 27: Getting Response; 28: Editing
In-class practice editing and responding to others’ work
Follow up on P3 draft
Dilger 106 syllabus 9 of 10
Week 13: 11/17 — 11/21: Writing style
Discuss Williams, “Characters” and “Actions”
Practice editing sentences for style
More on Williams, “Characters” and “Actions”
Continue practice editing sentences for style
Look ahead to P4, end of semester
P3 final due 11/21
Follow up on P3 draft
Week 14: 11/24 — 11/28
No classes 11/26-28 (Thanksgiving break)
Discuss NFG 5: Media / Design; 55: Writing Online
Brief tour of WordPress
Discuss P4 starter or visual rhetoric
Week 15: 12/01 — 12/05
Individual work finding suitable visuals for P4
P4 starter due 12/01
Discuss Blackburn, “The Web Surfer”
Compare individual technology map with discourse community
Discuss NFG 52: Choosing Media; 53: Designing Texts; 54: Using Visuals, Incorporating
Discuss P4 starter or visual rhetoric
Week 16: 12/08 — 12/12
Individual work on projects
Discuss WordPress how-to articles (bring laptop or tablet if you can)
Final participation self-evaluation due 12/12
P4 focus group (groups of 5, for 25 minutes)
Exam Week: 12/15 – 12/19
No final examination
P4 final due 12/16
Optional P3 revision due 12/16
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Draft list of online readings for ENG 106
Updated 2014–0812 ~ Not yet complete ~ subject to change
Jessie Blackburn, “The Web Surfer”
Deborah Brandt, “Sponsors of Literacy”
CCC 49.2 1998 (sent via attachment)
Kerry Dirk, “Navigating Genres”
Dana Driscoll, “Introduction to Primary Research”
Jeff Grabill et al (WIDE), “The Writing Lives of College Students”
Donna Kain & Elizabeth Wardle, “Activity Theory for the Writing Classroom”
(sent via attachment)
Jakob Nielsen: Twitter Postings: Iterative Design
Clay Spinuzzi, “(writers love txt)”