Course Syllabus

ENGLISH 271-272

#1110, 1115 OAS 


Kathleen G. White Instructor

Office: B 200- F

425-564 2596


English 271-2 focuses on expository and rhetorical non-fiction prose: assignments may include personal essays, memoir, review, and some light research and persuasion. The content and form of compositions will be the most important aspects to consider, but grammatical clarity and correctness will also factor in to a paper's grade. It does no good to be brilliant and creative if the reader can't make sense of the piece.


8th Edition.jpgThere is one required textbook for this class: The Writer's Presence, 8 th edition  is our collection of essays, and we'll use it for examples, models of what we do and don't like, and topics to generate our own writing and thought.  (Yes, you do need this particular edition.  Good news, though--you can find it reasonably cheaply on line. See the first discussion post) If you do not have a handbook for reference purposes or a similar text leftover from 101, 092, or 3, there are very good on-line sources for grammar and mechanics linked to this website on the Resources page, and the BC Academic Success Center linked to the course toolbar.  My first recommendations are The Purdue OWL lab, and our own BC Writing Lab's websites. 



Throughout the quarter, English 271-2 will generate three essays 3-7 pages long, uniformly double-spaced (750-1750 words). Essays will be run through different levels of development, and after the first one, will run a first draft through peer editing sessions.

There are also two brief analysis essays (2-4 pages), which along with participation in editing, and two written critiques from peer editing will factor in with the essay grades to determine the quarter grade.

Participation in threaded group discussion is also graded. Topics will be set out once every week from readings in the textbook, and each student must make a minimum of one, three-to-four line comment responding directly to each assigned reading, and at least one reply to another student's thread. (More comments are warmly encouraged.)   

Be sure to check your Syllabus at the start of every week: do not rely solely on the Canvas Calendar, as it only shows due dates for graded writing assignments.


Basically, your grades will come from your writing; however, that 'writing' means a little more than just the essays. You will also receive grades for the rhetorical analysis paper and written editing critiques you will send me (2), and will receive credit for your threaded discussion participation. In all, 80% of your grade will be from the essays and the analyses, with 10% for the written critiques of editing sessions, and another 10% for threaded discussion participation.

Work turned in late will lose credit points every day it's past the due date, roughly to one-third of the grade. For instance, if your paper would have been an A- on the day it was due but you turned it in the next day, it would now be a B+; if you turn it in another day later, it will be a B. You can see the trend. No work will be accepted more than a week after the posted due date without prior arrangement.

If something genuine and difficult prohibits you from turning your essay in on time, please let me know; I can be reasoned with in some instances. Also, be sure to let me know if you're having trouble with or are confused by an assignment; again, we can work from there. However, due to the nature of the on-line class, punctuality needs to be respected.



This being an on-line course, we will never actually see each other as a whole, trapped in a class room together fighting to stay awake on a sleepy, overheated afternoon. Be advised, though, that teachers actually can pick up a student's individual style fairly quickly, and therefore, can detect when essays come from sources other than the student's own hand. We also now have software which runs checks on suspected plagiarized essays, and I will run such a check at the slightest provocation. If any work done for this course is plagiarized, the student will receive a zero for the assignment with no chance of rewriting it, and the incident will be reported to the Dean of Students. More than one such episode, and the student will receive an F for the course. Do not be tempted by on-line essays floating out there in the ether; to tell you the truth, most of them aren't really all that good anyway.


(All assignments for this class should be submitted to the Canvas assignment tool by midnight of that same date) 

Week One: July 2nd-July 7th

Read:  Start Here module, linked to home page; 

Read:Lecture One: The Origins of the Essay, and What's Personal About It?

"Of a Monstrous Child" by Michel de Montaigne  (attached to weekly module)

"On the Essayist" by E.B. White  pg 299  (numbered pages refer to Writer's Presence, but this is also attached to the weekly module)

"On Keeping a Notebook" by Joan Didion  (attached to module)


Begin First Essay Assignment  (topics yet another thing found happening on the weekly module)

Opening Thread 


Week Two: July 8th-14th

Lecture Two: Aristotle, First Rhetorical Tools, and Other Literary Stuff

Lecture Three:  Why Study Writing?  Refresher and lead in to Critical Thinking.


"Bread"  Margaret Atwood (attached to the weekly module)

"The Knife"  Richard Selzer (attached to the weekly module)

"In the Kitchen"  Henry Louis Gates 126

 Thread Discussions  

First writing Assignment Due 7/9

Topics for Second Essay


Also Read:How to Edit (attached to weekly module)

First Group Editing Sessions Begin (draft of Essay Two)

Discussion Thread Questions posted


Week Three: July 15th 21st

Lecture Four: The 'R' Word

Lecture Five:  Exposition in Motion


"Silent Dancing"   Judith Cofer Ortiz  88 

 "Consider the Lobster"  David Foster Wallace 760

Thread Questions  

Editing Notes (of Essay Two) due: 7/17

Still More Discussion Thread Questions


Week Four: July 22nd -28th

Lecture Six


"Calculated Risks"  K.C. Cole (attached to weekly module) 

"The Pleasures of Eating"  Wendell Berry  (attached to module)

"Miss G:  A Case of Internet Addiction"  Virginia Heffernan  (attached to module) 

Read on weekly module:

Rhetorical Analysis:  An Overview

Writing Rhetorical Analyses 

Essay Two Due 7/23

Thread Questions


Week Five: July 29th – August 4th

Lecture Seven: 

Lecture  Eight:


"People Like Us"  David Brooks 356
"My Speech at West Point"  Marjane Satrapi 247

"The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives"  Jonathan Haidt  (Ted Talk attached to module)

Analysis One Due  7/30; 

Check Thread


Week Six: August 5th -11th

Lecture Eight: Irony, Satire, Sarcasm, and other Devices of Humor and Persuasion


Mark Twain "Advice to Youth"   (linked to module)
"Killing Civilians" by George Orwell  (linked to module)

"It's Actually Impossible to Be a Vegetarian" (linked to module) 

Thread Discussion 

Editing Report due 8/6;  Essay Three Due 8/9



Week Seven: August 12th – 15th

Lecture Ten: What Happens Now?

(attached to module)

"The First Hours" by Tim Townsend

"The Saint" by Camille Paglia

"The Essay:  an Exercise in Doubt" Phillip Lopate  (attached to module)

"You Are What You Speak" Robert Lane Greene  (link attached to module)


Thread Discussions  

Analysis Two due: 8/14 


BC Finals  Last Day of Quarter, 8/15

There is no final Exam for English 271


Course grades accessible on the BC website no later than August 21st












Course Summary:

Date Details Due