WRT 105: Analysis, Argument, and Academic Writing - Course Syllabus

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Projects: Jumpstart | Analysis | Argument

Fall 2004
MWF 9:35-10:30
OG1 Room B
Section M021 - 13395

Course Description and Rationale

WRT 105 is an introduction to academic writing that focuses on the practices of analysis and argument, practices that carry across disciplinary lines and into professional and civic writing. These interdependent practices of critical inquiry are fundamental to the work you will do at Syracuse University and later in your careers and civic engagements.

As Rosenwasser and Stephen claim in Writing Analytically, "Analysis is the kind of thinking you'll most often be asked to do in your work life and in school; it is not the rarefied and exclusive province of scholars and intellectuals. It is, in fact, one of the most common of our mental activities" (2). You analyze when you recommend a course to a friend, or prepare an acquisitions memo for the local library, or decide who you will vote for in the Presidential election, or come to understand better the geopolitical situation produced by the US invasion of Iraq.

Argument involves analysis - and moves into making claims to a specific audience about how the world is or should be. Argument here goes beyond pro/con debates on abortion or gun control and extends into situated social practices such as when you are working together as a sorority to plan the next event, or persuading your parents that body piercing makes social statements, or taking a stand in an education class on the value of anti-racist pedagogy, or proving that homosexuality is a threat to the US military. Evidence for your arguments come from analysis, from discussion with others, from your personal experience, and from research in the library and on the web.

Our work this semester will focus on geography and spatial relationships as sites of exploration. We will think about, discuss, analyze and nest arguments in the rich foray of issues concerning spatial discovery, mapping, power dynamics, rhetorical and social cues, and ambiguities in our conceptions of public and private landscapes.

Course Goals for WRT 105
  • Students will learn stages of composing processes (prewriting, drafting, revising, final editing; analyzing audience and purpose).
  • Students will learn to use electronic technology as part of the process of composing and critical reading.
  • Students will develop skills in peer review.
  • Students will learn techniques of critical and sustained reading of intellectually challenging texts.
  • Students will learn how to avoid plagiarism and gain greater comprehension of written texts.
  • Students will learn how to incorporate additional media into their course work (e.g., photographs, drawings, video clips, web pages).
  • Students will analyze critically and imaginatively their own writing processes and products, including their own aesthetics and standards.
  • Students will develop a working knowledge of the strategies of critical analysis.
  • Students will develop a working knowledge of the strategies of argument.
  • Students will learn to synthesize and integrate the ideas of others into their own writing.
  • Students will learn basic conventions of MLA quotation, citation, and forma.
  • Students will learn to ask and answer editing questions, paying attention to their audience.
  • Students will develop a working understanding of contemporary theories of authorship.
  • Students will develop a working understanding of the potentials and problems of academic literacy.

Work of the Course

You will devote time, thought, and energy to a variety of informal and formal reading and writing practices. During the course you may annotate readings, keep a record of ideas and responses, jot down observations, take notes on class discussions, experiment with different styles and organizational choices, and engage in a variety of drafting and revision activities. All these activities are important and will have an impact on your development and success as academic writers (and your final grade).

Writing well depends upon reading well. The course essays will provide you with ideas and arguments, facts and statistics. They will prompt thought as you agree or disagree or qualify those ideas. They enlarge the context for our class discussion. And they illustrate choices other writers have made as they composed. Writing and reading are interdependent practices, and you will move between the two regularly throughout the course.

Course Texts and Materials

(available at both the University Bookstore and Follett's Orange Bookstore)

Critical Encounters with Texts: A Custom Reader for the Writing Program at Syracuse University, by Margaret Himley and Anne Fitzsimmons
ISBN: 0-536-83437-7 | Intro (PDF)
Critical Encounters with Texts
The Harbrace Writer's Handbook Brief, Second Edition, by Cheryl Glenn et al
ISBN: 1-4130-0236-6
Companion site for students
The Harbrace Writer's Handbook Brief
The Informed Argument (custom edition) by Robert Yagelski and Robert Miller
ISBN: 0-8384-5709-6
Companion site for students
The Informed Argument
Writing Analytically, Third Edition, by David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen
ISBN: 0-8384-0509-6
Companion site for students
Writing Analytically

You should also be prepared to provide copies of your work for everyone in the class (or in your peer response group) at various times during the semester. These can be xerox copies (CNY Printing and Copy Services in Marshall Square Mall, Alteracts, and the library offer low cost, self-service copying) or additional copies printed out from your computer. Plan on spending as much as $10 over the course of the semester.


You will receive many different kinds of feedback during this course. Some will come from fellow students and some will come from me. All forms of feedback, including responses you receive from scheduling independent appointments in the Writing 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 is as follows:

Unit 1: jumpstart essay 10%
Unit 2: analysis essay 30%
Unit 3: argument essay 40%
Invention work 20%

Course Policies

Attendance and Participation
Writing studios are courses in language learning, and language is learned in communities; therefore, it is essential that you attend class and participate. Absences and lack of preparation for class will affect your classmates' work as well as your own. "Passivity," say Rosenwasser and Stephen, "is a primary retardant of learning" (WA 5). The work you do in class, the work you do to prepare for each class, is as important as any polished assignment you turn in for a grade. In addition, our syllabus is 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 responsible for work assigned or missed, so it's a good idea early in the semester to get acquianted with a peer who will share notes or recaps of missed class sessions. 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.

Special Needs and Situations
Students who need special consideration because of any sort of disability or situation should make an appointment to see me right away. You should also refer to the Office of Disability Services for additional information.

Use of Student Writing
It is understood that registration for and continued enrollment in this course constitutes permission by the student for the instructor to use any student work composed for the course.

The Writing Center
Nearly all writers benefit from interchanges and discussion; as noted above, all forms of thoughtful feedback inform your understanding of the ways written texts perform for various readers and, therefore, such feedback is valuable throughout the writing process. Consultants in the University's Writing Center are available to consult with you at any stage of the writing process. For more information about The Writing Center's hours of operation and instructions for scheduling an appointment, check out the Center's web site: http://wrt.syr.edu/wc/wcintro.html.

Computers, Multimedia and Technology
Most of the work you do for this class will be handed in word-processed. Use an easily readable font, size 10 or 12. Include one inch margins and follow the page layout used by the MLA format described in your handbook.

We will also use Orangemail for communicating outside class. While to may call and leave a phone message, it's best to use email to contact me about your coursework, to set up an appointment to meet with me outside class, or to ask a question. As a general rule, I will respond to all email inquiries within 48 hours.

Additionally, we will be reading and engaging with a variety of sites on the Internet at times during the course. Please let me know if you have not had any experience using a browser such as Mozilla, Netscape or Internet Explorer.

Computer technology provides us with an impressive range of tools and applications for composing. Such technologies present us with numerous choices as well as the potential for multimedia enhancements and greater compositional neatness and efficiency. Nonetheless, the usual warnings about saving your work apply. When relying on computer technology, take appropriate steps to ensure that your work is backed up and plan extra time, as needed, for integrating multimedia features in your work.

Contact Information
Derek Mueller
Office: HBC 002
Fall '04 office hours: [Adj. 10/26] Wed., 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Phone: (315) 443-1785
AIM: ewidem