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Course Syllabus - Winter 2012

Course Description

ENGL328 Writing, Style, and Technology (3 credits)
An advanced writing course that explores a range of styles for multiple purposes, audiences, and technologies. Applications of word processing, online discussion, and Internet resources will be integrated with writing assignments.

Course Overview

ENGL328 is a course designed to introduce you to the juncture shared among composing practices, stylistic knowledge, and writing technologies, new and old. We will explore the ways in which style, as a canon of rhetoric, pertains to a wide variety of genres, from conventional academic prose to new and emerging writing platforms online. Our examination of these genres will involve a considerable amount of writing insofar as we will not only study about the adaptive interplay between style and technology, but we will explore it first-hand, practicing stylishly in selected projects. Thus, the course consists of at least two dimensions: it is, on the one hand, a guided intellectual inquiry into what has happened where style and technology converge, and, on the other hand, a hands-on, studio-like venue for experimenting with writing, style, and technology.

From the outset we will develop a sense of the style-technology pairing by examining several different ways to frame each term, both for writing and for teaching. We will read from stylists (or stylisticians) who seek to relax the strict grammarian's grip and from others who claim to be rescuing language (or its most coveted units, like the sentence) from a quagmire of unconventional formulations creeping into ever-wider usage, especially online. Our aim is not to resolve these tensions as much as it is to understand them more deeply. In the coming weeks, we will also examine, explore, and fine-tune this list of opening provocations:

Course Goals for ENGL328

Course goals for ENGL328 include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Students will develop a working knowledge of the evolving, interdependent relationships among composing practices, stylistic knowledge, and writing technologies.
  2. Students will compose a series of texts as a process (inventing, drafting, revising, editing) that takes place over time, that requires thinking and rethinking ideas, and that addresses diverse audiences and rhetorical contexts.
  3. Students will develop fluency with the rhetorical canon of style, in a variety of contexts (prose to networked media), and across a spectrum of socially motivated practices ranging from clarity/correctness to pleasure/creativity.
  4. Students will learn critical techniques of digital production using selected software applications.

Work of the Course

You will devote time, thought, and energy to a variety of informal and formal reading and writing activities and practices. During the course you may annotate readings, keep a record of ideas and responses, register observations, take notes on conversations held in or out of class, experiment with different styles, genres, and organizational choices, and engage in a variety of drafting and revision activities. For our first project in the course, we will remake Strunk and White's The Elements of Style by recontextualizing selected rules in relationship to some popular culture "text" (e.g., The Inception Elements of Style or The XKCD Elements of Style, etc.). Project Two involves the elaboration of a selected trope in a poster and a wiki entry. Project Three, 3.33 Ways to Digital Style, invites you to refashion a three-paragraph excerpt of a text you choose, experimenting with stylistic variations available in selected genres (web comic, syntax analysis, Oulipo rewrite, and imagetext triptych). The third project will also include a presentation to the class. At the end of the course, all students will complete a reflective final exam concerned with the relationship between the work of the course and selected goals and objectives.

While developing the major projects for ENGL328, we will also read from the course texts and from selected PDFs available to you for download in EMU Online (see Doc Sharing). Writing well depends upon reading well. Readings you annotate and study during the first half of the semester will provide you with ideas and groundwork, meaningful examples that will support your work later on. Readings will also enlarge the context for our class discussions. And they illustrate choices other writers have made as they composed, particularly writing by integrating and reiterating the ideas previously explored by others. Writing and reading are interdependent, integral practices, and you will move between the two regularly throughout the course.

Course Texts and Materials

Strunk and White

Strunk, William, Jr. and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. 4th Ed. New York: Longman, 2000. ISBN 0-205-30902-x. (required)
Amazon.com | Half.com

Joseph Williams' Style

Williams, Joseph. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1990. ISBN 0-226-89915-2. (recommended)
Amazon.com | Half.com

These texts are available at the EMU Bookstore in the Student Center.

Supplemental readings will be available to you as PDFs available via EMU Online (see Doc Sharing). You should download the PDFs for reading on the screen or, if you prefer, for printing and reading. Plan to spend as much as 15 USD on printing and photocopying over the course of the semester.


You will receive many different kinds of feedback to your writing during this course. Some responses will come from fellow students and some will come from me. All forms of feedback, including responses you receive from scheduling individual or group appointments in the University Writing Center or the Academic Projects Center, are important; they tell you in various ways how your readers are responding to your writing. This will also help you learn how to assess your own work.


The breakdown of graded items is as follows:

P1.Elements of Style Remake, 20%, 200 points
P2.Tropes (wiki+poster), 20%, 200 points
P3.Style x4, 30%, 300 points
P3.Ignite Presentation, 5%, 50 points
Participation, presence, and leadership: 15%*, 150 points
Final Exam: 10%, 100 points

All work listed above will be assigned a letter grade corresponding to a 4.0 scale. Each of the numbered projects will be described fully in separate prompts that I will circulate at an appropriate time in the semester. All grades will be posted in the EMU Online (eCompanion) gradebook associated with this course. You must complete all major projects (i.e., P1, P2, P3, and P3 Presentation) and the final exam to be eligible for a passing grade in ENGL328.

*Participation, presence, and leadership will include shorter pieces of writing completed in class or as homework. Some shorter pieces may include note-card-length questions or comments, or reading quizzes. For many of these shorter pieces you will be asked to write an extended summary/response in advance of a class session. SPs usually engage assigned readings in matters of summary, response, and inquiry. They will appear on the course schedule (SP#1, SP#2...), and I will announce them in class. All SPs must be typed and single-spaced (300-500 words) with one-inch margins and a standard, easily readable typeface. Learn more about the SPs here.

Turning in Work

Dropbox in EMUOnline
Unless otherwise specified, your written work in ENGL328 will be turned in to the digital dropbox in EMU Online. In most cases, you will be asked to submit a .doc file by uploading it to the appropriate dropbox. Your work will be returned by this same method.

File Naming
When you prepare to turn in electronic files, please adhere to the following conventions. Save document files as .doc or .rtf (rich text format). Use the "Save as" option to avoid submitting work as .docx. Use the following naming formula: 328-Lastname-Assn.doc. That is, your filenames should always include the course number, your last name, and the abbreviated name of the assignment. For example, my own copy of Project One would be named 328-Mueller-P1.doc.

Late Work
All work must be submitted before the start of class on the due date to be considered on time and therefore eligible for full credit. This policy applies whether or not you are in class on a given day. In other words, if you miss class, you are still responsible for meeting all related deadlines. Late work will be reduced by 10% (i.e., one full letter grade) for each day it is overdue. Work submitted more than four days late will not be eligible for a passing grade.


ENGL328 offers the following opportunities for extra credit.

Revisions of projects 1-2 . You have the option of revising and resubmitting projects 1-2 for extra credit valued at one grading increment (i.e., a 'B' becomes a 'B+', a 'C-' becomes a 'C', and so on; this will boost a grade by approximately 3%). The revised project must be turned in no later than the revision deadline shown on our course schedule.  Late submissions will not be considered under any circumstances. To earn extra credit you must include as an addendum to the revised project a single paragraph that carefully details the changes you made to the original copy.

Course Policies

Attendance and Participation

ENGL328 is a course in language learning, and language is learned in communities, usually by social interactions; therefore, it is essential that you attend class and participate in a manner respectful of differing learning styles and worldviews. Participation, involvement, and engagement with the activities of the class will be factored into your overall grade under the area of "class participation, presence, and leadership" listed above. Absences and lack of preparation for class will affect your classmates' work as well as your own. The work you do in and in preparation for each class is as important as the polished assignment you turn in for a project. In addition, our syllabus and schedule are only a projection and may be subject to occasional changes and revisions as it seems appropriate, necessary, or just interesting. That is another reason why your attendance is vital.

If you must miss a class, you are still responsible for all work assigned, including turning work in by stated deadlines. Please realize, however, that class time cannot be reconstructed or made up, and that your performance, your work, and your final course grade will be affected by absences. If you miss more than three class sessions, your final course grade will be reduced by a full letter for each absence numbered four and five. If you miss the equivalent of three weeks of classes or more, you will not be able to pass the course. I do not anticipate any of you will be in that position, however, and I would greatly prefer to see everyone become invested in the coursework, come to class, learn a lot, and make ENGL328 a meaningful experience.

We will meet this semester in Pray Harrold 313, which means we will be surrounded by technology. You will at times be tempted to use the computers for checking email or browsing the web. As a rule of thumb, I ask that your in-class uses of mobile devices (e.g., cell phones) and desktop computers be focused on class-related activities. Obviously, you should silence your phones before coming to class. As long as everyone is respectfully attentive when someone is speaking, in-class technology use will not be a problem. In-class attentiveness, engagement, and preparedness (i.e., having read and prepared for each class) are what I mean by "presence."

Computer and Internet Usage

We will be interacting with a variety of sites on the internet during the course. Please let me know if you have not had any experience using a browser such as Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. When using a computer, save your work frequently, always make backup copies, and plan your projects with extra time allowed for unexpected challenges.

Much of the work you do for this class will be typewritten, using a word processing application, such as MS Word, Open Office, or Google Docs. When turning in documents like this, please use an easily readable typeface, such as Times New Roman 12. Assign one inch margins and adhere to MLA page layout and documentation conventions. At times you will also turn in work in other formats (PDFs, images, etc.). You will receive comprehensive instructions for turning in new media projects. Nevertheless, I strongly urge you to plan ahead, to familiarize yourself with file formats and with the submission process, and to approach me with questions about submissions well in advance of the due dates.

Communication with Peers; Communication with the Instructor

While you can expect a fair amount of leadership and direction to come from me, you should also make arrangements early in the semester to communicate with your peers. In other words, you are strongly encouraged to identify one or two (perhaps more) peers in the class with whom you can discuss readings and assignments, work through questions brought up in the class, and approach when you find something unclear. In short, my hope is that we all will prefer climate in which dialogue and interaction runs between the instructor and students and also between and among students when questions come up. Finally, you should always be proactive about asking questions when you have them, either by raising questions during class or contacting me or one of your peers privately.


To communicate by email we will use our emich.edu accounts, accessible via mail.emich.edu. You can send email to me or to classmates via the EMU Online (eCompanion) site associated with this course. You may call and leave a phone message, but you will at times find it more effective to use email to contact me about your work in the course. You can also set up an appointment to meet with me on campus, or to ask a question. With rare exceptions, I will respond to all email inquiries within 48 hours.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately passes off another's words or ideas without acknowledging their source. For example, turning another's work as your own is plagiarism. If you plagiarize in this class, you will likely fail the assignment on which you are working and your case may be passed to the university for additional disciplinary action. Because of the design and nature of this course, it will take as much (or more) work for you to plagiarize in it than it will to actually complete the work of the class. For a more detailed explanation of Eastern Michigan University's stance on academic integrity, refer to Section V.A. of the Student Conduct Code.

Disability Resource Center (DRC)

If you have a documented disability that affects your work in this (or any other) class, the Disability Resource Center can provide support for you. It is my goal that this class be an accessible and welcoming experience for all students, including those with disabilities that may impact their learning in this class. If anyone believes they may have trouble participating or effectively demonstrating learning in this course, please meet with me (with or without a Disability Resource Center (DRC) accommodation letter) to discuss reasonable options or adjustments. During our conversation, I may suggest the possibility/necessity of your contacting the DRC (240 Student Center; 734-487-2470; swd_office@emich.edu) to talk about academic accommodations. You are welcome to talk to me at any point in the semester about such issues, but it is always best if we can talk at least one week prior to the need for any modifications.

Academic Projects Center

The Academic Projects Center is located in 116 Halle Library (487-0020, extension 2154). The Center is open M-Th from 11-5 and is staffed by University Writing Center consultants, Halle Librarians, and Information and Communications Technology staff who can help with writing, research, or technology needs. No appointment is necessary. When you visit the Academic Projects Center, be sure to bring a draft of what you're working on and your assignment sheet with you.

University Writing Center

The University Writing Center (115 Halle Library) offers one-to-one consulting for both undergraduate and graduate students. Students can make appointments or drop in between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays. Students should bring a draft of what they’re working on and their assignment. The UWC opens for the Winter 2012 semester on Tuesday, Jan. 17 and will close on Monday, April 23.

The UWC also offers small group workshops on various topics related to writing (e.g., Reading in College: Tips and Strategies; Incorporating Evidence; Revising Your Writing).  Workshops are offered at various times Monday through Friday in the UWC. To register for a workshop, click the link from the UWC page for the type of workshop you wish to attend (http://www.emich.edu/english/writing-center).

The UWC also has several satellite sites across campus—in Pray-Harrold for any student attending classes in that building; in Marshall and Porter for CHHS students; and in Owen for COB students. The Pray-Harrold satellite is located in room 521 and is open for drop-in writing consultations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The Owen satellite is in room 100 (the former COB bookstore) and is open for drop-in writing consultations Monday 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Thursday 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Locations and hours for the Marshall and Porter satellites will be posted on the UWC web site in early January - http://www.emich.edu/english/writing-center.

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Associate Professor of Written Communication
Director of the First-year Writing Program
Department of English Language and Literature
Office: 613M Pray Harrold
Winter 2017 Office Hours: Mon., 1-4; Wed., 1-2
Phone: +1-734-985-0485

"Neither The Elements of Style nor any other style book can be the definitive text on writing in every genre or media." —ENGL328 student, Fall 2009

"We concentrate on utility at the expense of joie de vivre. And we then wonder, as de Tocqueville prophesied we would, why life has lost its savor" (19). —Richard Lanham, Style: An Anti-textbook

"Style, as we know it, is not 'mechanics' but, rather, a rhetorical canon inseparable from the contingencies of purpose, audience, form, and historical or social context in which a communicative act takes place" (327). —Cornelius Cosgrove, "What Our Graduates Write"

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