|WRT 205: Studio II: Critical Research and Writing: Syllabus|
|Course Description and Rationale|
Writing 205: Studio II: Critical Research and Writing is a course designed as an introduction to research-driven academic writing. Our focus this term begins with an inquiry into the production and circulation of knowledge in your chosen field of study. What are the prominent publishers, journals, conferences, and related events in your field? What are the most recent and relevant arguments or concerns as suggested by journals, conferences, and other venues? Where and among whom do those conversations play out besides the expected academic channels? What are the theories and methods a graduate in your field must be conversant with? How do you learn about these (how are they made? how are they put into circulation?)? We'll describe this opening project as inquiry because we can't know full-well in advance what we will find. In other words, while you might have a preliminary sense of your direction, you will further develop, refine, and trace out your own questions about the nature of knowledge production and circulation from your present perspective as a senior at the university.
Guided by insights from your first project, the second project of the term involves collection and annotation—building a personal research database. Ultimately, you will decide the extent to which your work on the second project—"How To Do Things with Data"—functions like a conventional annotated bibliography and how much, on the other hand, it explores and experiments with web-based systems, such as del.icio.us, Notefish, and Zotero. The purpose of the second project is for you to practice building a collection of research materials with annotations suited to the final project in the course, an extended research project that focuses on a topic or set of topics with explicit relevance to your chosen field.
Together, these three projects will be grounded in each of your respective majors or primary fields of study, and the books, articles, and other readings you choose will follow suit. Methods of research in this course will range from interviewing your mentors and professors about articles and essays (or whole journals) they find indispensable to those intent on understanding the field to text-based methods of reading, selecting significant passages, summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting directly. In addition to the three large projects for the semester, you will complete several shorter assignments—a summary of a scholarly article, a book review, a research memo (proposal), and a descriptive outline of your extended research project, to name a few. Writing each of these pieces is meant to familiarize you with a variety of ways of working with texts as an active, thoughtful, and invested participant in your chosen field of study.
Because our course takes place almost exclusively online, we share an added responsibility for exploring questions and concerns with each other and for asking for clarification or elaboration any time you think it would be helpful. Also, this means that most of our interactions will manifest in writing. As such, there is an even greater premium on taking time to work through the tasks, projects, and assignments posed to you in the months ahead.
|Course Goals for WRT 205|
|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 discussions online, experiment with different styles and organizational choices, and engage in a variety of drafting and revision activities, much of which will unfold in Blackboard and in Google Docs. 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. Selected shared readings (available in Blackboard) 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|
Because this course places tremendous emphasis on research, we have no pre-determined textbooks for this section of WRT205. Instead, throughout the early weeks of the semester, you will identify books and articles that will ground your work in the course, including a summary of a scholarly article and a review of a scholarly text from your field (i.e., major). Most of these resources will be available in Bird Library, by interlibrary loan, or online. In some cases, it will be necessary to pay for library photocopies or to purchase hard-to-find research materials online or from booksellers. The highly customized nature of the reading for the course is especially appropriate given that everyone enrolled in this section of WRT205 is currently a senior at SU.
You should be prepared to provide electronic copies of your work for everyone in the class (or in your peer response group) at various times during the semester. Supplemental readings will be available to you as PDF files in Blackboard, 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:
Major Projects 75%
Each of the numbered projects will be described fully in a separate prompt that I will circulate at an appropriate time in the semester.
Attendance and Participation
Communication with Peers; Communication with the Instructor
Special Needs and Situations
The Writing Center
Computers, Multimedia and Technology
Document Sharing. Early in the semester, you should visit Google Docs and set up an account. Google Docs is where you will turn in much of your work throughout the semester, including drafts of projects that I will then comment on using the commenting features available there. This gives us more flexibility than the dropbox feature in Blackboard and will prove much less cumbersome than relying on email attachments to share documents and responses. The interface for Google Docs is user-friendly. You should explore the features it makes available and test out the collaboration option early on as you will need to invite me as a collaborator to each of your pieces of writing. Note: Rather than trusting Google Docs alone for storing all of your files, you are strongly encouraged to save a backup copy each time you login and make changes to a document there.
Email. We will also use our syr.edu accounts, accessible via Mymail, for communicating messages not appropriate for the discussion forum in Blackboard. You may call and leave a phone message, but it is best to use email or AIM 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.
Web Browser. As you might expect, we will be reading and engaging 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 Mozilla Firefox, Netscape or Internet Explorer. In general, I encourage you to use Mozilla Firefox for this course, only turning to Internet Explorer when a particular online application requires it. You can download and install a free copy of Mozilla Firefox here.
Listserv. Blackboard provides us with a means to email others in the class, but I have also set up a listserv so that you can send email to everyone from your email client. Simply sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org will distribute your message to everyone enrolled in our section of WRT205. Keep in mind that messages to the listserv should be carefully considered in terms of proof-reading and providing context. You might, at times, receive reminders and announcements from me sent to the listserv. When responding to such messages, be sure to double-check that your own responses are addressed the way you intend them to be, either to the entire group or to an individual addressee.
| Derek Mueller
Office: HBC 002
Spring '07 office hours: Mon., 9-10 a.m. and by appointment
Phone: (315) 443-1785