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

Home | Syllabus | Schedule | Project 1 | Project 2 | Project 3 | Invention Portfolio

Fall 2007
TR 7-8:20 | UC118
Section U002 | No. 22430

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 4th edition, “Analysis is a form of detective work that begins not with the views you already have, but with something you are seeking to understand…[A]nalysis typically pursues something puzzling; it finds questions where there seem not to be any; and it makes connections that might not have been evident at first” (41). You analyze when you think carefully enough to recommend a course to a friend, or prepare a memo for the local library, or decide who you will vote for in a local election, or come to understand better the geopolitical situation produced by the presence of U.S. service personnel and contractors in Iraq. Analysis involves breaking things down into smaller components in an effort to better come to terms with complexity and interrelationships.

Effective argument depends upon analysis--and moves into inventing and delivering claims to a specific audience about how the world is or should be. Argument here goes beyond two-sided 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 U.S. military. Evidence for your arguments comes from analysis, from conversation with others, from your personal experience, and from research in the library and on the web.

Course Goals for WRT 105
  • Students will compose a variety 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.
  • Students will develop a working knowledge of strategies and genres of critical analysis and argument.
  • students will learn critical techniques of reading through engagement with texts that raise issues of diversity and community and encourage students to make connections across difference.
  • students will include critical research in their composing processes.

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 and out of class, experiment with different styles and organizational choices, and engage in a variety of drafting and revision activities. All of these activities are important and will have an impact on your development and success as writers in various academic disciplines.

Writing well also depends upon reading well. Readings you begin to identify and assemble during the first weeks of the semester will provide you with ideas and arguments, facts and data that will ground your work later on. Readings, along with the assignments, will prompt thought as you develop provisional claims and look for ways to qualify your ideas. Readings will enlarge the context for our class discussion. 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

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

1. The Brief Thomson Handbook, Blakesly and Hoogeveen
2. Critical Encounters with Texts, Himley and Fitzsimmons, 3rd ed.
3. Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder
4. Writing Analytically, Rosenwasser and Stephen, 4th ed.
5. Intertext

You should 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. Supplemental readings may be available to you as PDFs, which you should plan to download and print or, alternatively, read on the screen. Whatever the case, plan to spend as much as $15 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 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:

Project 1: Jumpstart: Experts Beyond Experts, 10%
Project 2: Geographies of Invention, 30%
Project 3: Argument Remake, 30%

Invention Portfolio to accompany each project, 30%
The Invention Portfolio includes participation in the activities of the class.

All work listed here will be assigned a letter grade corresponding to a 4.0 scale.

Each of the numbered projects will be described fully in a separate prompt that I will circulate at an appropriate time in the semester.

Late Work
All work must be submitted on the date due to be considered for full credit.

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. Participation, involvement, and engagement with the activities of the class will be factored into your overall grade as a portion of the portfolio assessment. Absences and lack of preparation for class will affect your classmates' work as well as your own. 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. 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 the equivalent of three weeks of classes or more without any official documented excuse you will not be able to pass the course. I don’t anticipate any of you will be in that position, however, so let’s all agree to do the work, come to class, learn a lot, and make the course a meaningful experience.

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 conversation flows both 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.

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

The Writing Center
According to a recent survey, most S.U. students who use the Writing Center have GPAs higher than 3.0; moreover, one in four have GPAs higher than 3.6. At the Writing Center (101 HBC; 443-5289) experienced, professional writing consultants will help you succeed on individual assignments and ultimately become a better writer. They work one-on-one to help you understand assignments, discuss your responses, revise your drafts, develop proofreading strategies, and more. Appointments are available in 25- or 50-minute sessions, Monday through Friday, and can be reserved up to seven days in advance via their online scheduling program: http://tutortrac.syr.edu. Drop-in appointments are welcome Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is a free resource to all students and highly recommended for every assignment you work on in this class.

Academic Integrity
All writing submitted for this course is understood to be your original work. In cases where academic dishonesty is detected (the fraudulent submission of another's work, in whole or part, as your own), you may be subject to a failing grade for the project or the course, and in the worst case, to academic probation or expulsion. For a more detailed description of the guidelines for adhering to academic integrity in the College of Arts and Sciences, go to

Computers, Multimedia and Technology
Most of the work you do for this class will be handed in typewritten, using a word processing application. Use an easily readable font, such as Times New Roman, size 12 point. Include one inch margins and follow the page layout used by the MLA format described in your handbook.

Finally, we will be interacting 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 Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari. When using a computer, save your work frequently, always make backup copies, and plan your projects with extra time allowed for unanticipated challenges.

To communicate by email we will use our syr.edu accounts, accessible via Mymail. You may call and leave a phone message, but it is best to use email to contact me about your coursework, to 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.

Contact Information
Derek Mueller
Office: HBC 002
Fall '07 office hours: Thur., 8:20-9:20 p.m. (after class)
Phone: (315) 443-1785