Navigation Menu

Shakespeare was called The Upstart Crow as a young writer. Image ©1962 and used with the kind permission of The Upstart Crow Theatre Company.

En 11 Texts and Contexts I


Fall 2010

Dr. Richard Regan

Donnarumma Hall 103

Fairfield University

203-254-4000 ext. 2794

Office hours: Monday 11:30-12:00 & after class; Wednesday 3-4; Thursday 11:30-12 & after class
and by appointment

In addition to these drop-in hours, we will have individual conferences at least four times during the semester. As we discuss your papers, you will be building a portfolio collection of your work which you will evaluate throughout the semester using Digication, an electronic portfolio system (e-portfolio).

The EN 11-12 sequence offers a full year course of study in the literary and language arts intended to help students develop facility with college reading and writing.  Students will practice increasingly sophisticated reading of complex texts across a broad set of contexts and genres, learn to employ a variety of strategies for writing in different rhetorical situations, and use reading and writing to practice inquiry, reflection, critical thinking, and argumentation—competences critical to academic achievement across the core and major and, more broadly, to living productive lives in the new literate cultures of the twenty-first century. 

Course Aims & Signature Practices

1. Increase facility with college reading and writing strategies and competences, including the processes of invention, revision, editing, and performance/publication.

2. Gain facility with and knowledge of writing processes by practicing reading, invention, drafting, giving and receiving effective feedback, and substantive revision.

3. Develop an understanding of the rhetorical nature of reading, writing, speaking and listening to foster intellectual growth, aesthetic appreciation, and responsible discursive agency. Practice different kinds of informal (writing to learn) and formal (writing to communicate) writing assignments. (Writing genres might include journals, responses, reflective essays, specialized genres such as websites, brochures, or blogs) and various kinds of formal academic genres, such as argumentation, and researched essays.)

4. Learn to appreciate and deploy the full resources of language for long-term intellectual, personal, and social understanding and action. Encounter current modes of reading, researching, and composing across academic and social domains.

5. Practice inquiry, critical thinking, and argumentation (problem posing, generating good questions, following curiosities, primary and secondary researching processes) as habits of mind essential to academic work. Learn how to ask good questions, and generate claims based on multiple sources of evidence. Become acquainted with college researching practices as forms of inquiry.

6. Practice college-level academic citation and negotiating matters of academic intellectual property and integrity. Work with MLA as one common academic citation practice.

7. Practice reading increasingly complex texts across a range of academic and literary genres, including texts outside of one's familiar worldviews.

8. Practice reflective writing to take stock of (and sponsor) learning and to integrate the work of EN 11 with other Core courses and larger notions of reading and writing-as-intellectual and social action.

9. Offer multiple opportunities for drafting, revising and editing.

10. Offer frequent interaction with peers (workshopping/discussions) and opportunities for collaborative learning.

11. Include regular reflective/ heuristic writing (non-graded) to foster students’ making connections to their own lives and learning across the Core and beyond.

12. Hold regular student/professor conferences.

13. Contribute to integration of the core: assignments which draw on learning and writing assignments across the core curriculum

14. Emphasize inquiry and information literacy skills and documentation styles in partnership with the Library.

15. Create metanarratives / portfolios for learning and assessment

Course Objectives (IDEA Center)

Essential: Developing skill in expressing yourself in writing (#8)
Important: Learning to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view (#11)
Important: Learning how to find and use resources for answering questions (#9)

Fairfield University Honor Code

Fairfield University's primary purpose is the pursuit of academic excellence. All members of the Fairfield University community share responsibility for establishing and maintaining appropriate standards of academic honesty and integrity. This is possible only in an atmosphere where discovery and communication of knowledge are marked by scrupulous, unqualified honesty.

I understand that any violation of academic integrity wounds the entire community and undermines the trust upon which the discovery and communication of knowledge depends. Therefore, as a member of the Fairfield University community, I hereby pledge to uphold and maintain these standards of academic honesty and integrity.

According to the academic regulations published by Fairfield University, Plagiarism is listed among several possible acts of academic dishonesty. Fairfield University defines plagiarism as "the appropriation of information, ideas, or the language of other persons or writers and the submission of them as one's own to satisfy the requirements of a course. Plagiarism thus constitutes both theft and deceit. Assignments (compositions, term papers, computer programs, etc.) acquired either in part or in whole from commercial sources or from other students and submitted as one's own original work will be considered plagiarism... The multiple submission of the same paper or report for assignments in more than one course without the prior written permission of each instructor" is considered self-plagiarism.

Plagiarism Court

The course is divided into four modules, for four types of writing: narration, exposition, description, and persuasion. Good writing almost never employs only one of these types exclusively, but draws on several in a single piece. But they are building blocks for specific skills we all need to develop. This approach is reflected in the textbook, Patterns for a Purpose, 5th edition (2008), ed. Clouse (McGraw-Hill), available in the bookstore. You must have this textbook, and also They Say, I Say, 2nd edition (2010), Graff and Birkenstein. This book will teach us about academic writing in several fields, and we will apply its insights to assignments in some of your other courses.

Make sure you have these editions by matching the ISBN numbers below.

Patterns for a Purpose, 5th edition (2008) 978-0-07-353315-7

They Say, I Say, 2nd edition (2010) 978-0-393-93361-1

Take a look an the green navigation menu which floats in the left column of this page. Clicking of the name of any module will bring you to that place on this course page, and will also open a submenu of links to helpful websites. So bookmark this course page in your browser, and when you get here just click on the part of the course you're working on. The floating menu will follow you as you scroll through that module. If you scroll down or up to another module, however, the floating main menu will remain open the the module you just clicked. I recommend that you navigate this page by clicking on module names in the floating green menu.

There are four principal grades in the course, each worth 25%. The final grade will also be affected by performance on homework and quizzes, and by attendance. You are expected to attend every class: a point is deducted from your semester average for every two cuts. Excused absences by written note from a Dean’s office, Student Services, or your faculty advisor. A metanarrative analysis of the portfolio is a crucial last step in the course, and will be graded Pass/Fail.

Each essay must be submitted on time by email as an attached file. All work for the course must be saved in a portfolio for evaluation. All work must be written In Microsoft Word, for editing purposes.
Email is a crucial tool in the course. This class has worked especially well when we can look at student essays emailed in class. You will also be emailing work from our classroom to your own e-mail address and to me ( You should have at least two ways of sending and receiving email; Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo offer free email accounts.
I will remove names from emailed papers I share with the class, but we will also share essays with each other in small groups (4 or 5) during class. This peer editing has proven quite helpful, and is an important part of the course.
Students with documented learning disabilities should see me for assistance.

Fairfield University Writing Center

The Fairfield University Writing Center is a free resource available to all undergraduate Fairfield University students. At the Writing Center, a trained peer tutor will work individually with a student on anything he or she is writing, at any point in the writing process from brainstorming to editing. Tutors have special training to work with students for whom English is a second language. The tutoring conference is collaborative; peer tutors do not write, proofread, or grade papers for students. Appointments are recommended, but not required. For more information or to make an appointment, visit the Writing Center website at or stop by DMH 255.

Thursday, September 2 - Introduction and Writing Sample

Monday, September 6 - Labor Day holiday

Module 1 - Narration

Thursday, September 9 - "Reading Critically," pp.1-13; "Planning an Essay," pp. 37-45

Patterns of Narration and Essays: pp. 163-197:
Chris Abani, "The Lottery"
Langston Hughes, "Salvation"
William Glaberson, "Seeking Justice After a Fatal Spin of the Cylinder"

Mini-essay topics: p. 182 #2; p. 186 #2; p.192 #2. (also p. 210)

Monday, September 13 -

Read the inside covers of Patterns for a Purpose, which describe Narration, Description, and six different kinds of Exposition.

More Narrative Essays: pp. 193-203
John Schwartz, "The Poncho Bearer"
Natalie Kusz, "Ring Leader"

Mini-essay topics: p. 197 #2; 202-203#2. (also p. 210)

Topics for main essay: p. 210; Checklist: pp. 174; Stuck? pp. 55-63

Thursday, September 16 - Main Essay due - #1 Narration.

You may rewrite this essay as many times as you wish. Each new version will be graded, and the new grade will replace the previous grade.

Sign up for conferences. Rewrite #1 is due Thursday, September 24. Hints on revision, p. 85-92.

Narrative and Fiction: pp. 658-662, 204-209
George Orwell, "A Hanging"

Lee K. Abbott, "The View of Me From Mars"

Mini-essay topics: p. 664 #2, bullets 1 or 3; p. 209 #2, 3. (also p. 210)

Here are some web sites you might be interested in. Some of their pages are linked in the green column on our course page, on your left.

Paradigm Online Writing Assistant is an interesting collection of advice about several different types of writing. There is no magic formula which guarantees good writing, so it's helpful to hear different voices on the subject.

Guide to Grammar and Writing is a large site with enough parts to keep you busy all summer, and beyond. There are interesting sections on different kinds of writing, and grammar sections with interactive quizzes. I'm not one of those writing teachers who believes that grammar study helps make good writers. It probably makes good grammarians. When I went to high school and sudied Latin for the first time, I discovered that I finally understood the rules for English grammar because the early grammarians had based their rules for English on the rules for Latin. Times have changed somewhat, and most enlightened writers and editors now believe in the principle of usage, meaning that "correct" language is what the majority of educated speakers use, and it's always changing. The Word Detective is an up to date site with creative ideas about language.

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab is the most famous of its kind. Notice the section on Student/Teacher Handouts, which addresses many common problem areas in writing.

Here is a web page which provides editing aids:

The Editing and Rewriting Process

Note the editing checklist at the bottom of the page. And here's another:

The Deadly Sins Checklist

Module 2 - Expostion

Monday, September 20 - Classification - Division, pp. 453-463

Essays, pp. 467-485

Sissela Bok, "White Lies"
Martin Luther King, Jr., "The Ways of Meeting Oppression"
David Bodanis, "What's in Your Toothpaste?"
Thomas Friedman, "Globalization: The Super-Story"

Mini-essay topics: pp. 470 #2; p. 474 #2; p. 480 #2; p. 485 #2. Put your last name and a short title in the subject line of the email, like "Smith Classification mini." (also p. 497)

Thursday, September 23 - Process, pp. 275-285. REWRITE OF #1 DUE

Essays, pp. 286-307

Student essay: "A Visit to Candyland"

Dave Barry, "Terminal Logic"
Diane Cole, "Don't Just Stand There"
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., "In the Kitchen"

Mini-essay topics: p. 293 #2; p. 299 #2; p. 307#2. Put your last name and a short title in the subject line of the email, like "Smith Process mini."
(also p. 327)

Monday, September 27 - Comparison & Contrast, pp. 331-343

Essays, pp. 348-371, 382-389

Bruce Catton, "Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts"
Suzanne Britt, "Neat People vs. Sloppy People"
Alice Walker, "Am I Blue"

Deborah Siegel, "The New Trophy Wife"
Arthur L. Campa, "Anglo vs. Chicano: Why?"

Mini-essay topics: p. 352-53 #2; p. 357 #2; p. 363 #2; p. 376-77 #2; p. 387 #2. Put your last name and a short title in the subject line of the email, like "Smith Comparison mini."
(also p. 390)

Thursday, September 30 - Cause & Effect, pp. 393-403

Essays, pp. 403-433

Andrew Sullivan, "Why the M Word Matters to Me"
Brad Stone, "Web of Risks"
James Surowiecki, "Paying to Play"
Eyal Press, "Fouled Out"
Brent Staples, "Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space"

Mini-essay topics: p. 411 #2; p. 415 # 2; p. 420 # 2; p. 427 #2; p. 432-33 #2. Put your last name and a short title in the subject line of the email, like "Smith Cause mini." (also p. 449)

Now it's time to choose an expository form for your second major essay, due Thursday, October 8.

There are some good topics and checklists on the following pages:

Classification-Division, Topics: 497; Checklist: 497

Process, Topics: 327; Checklist 285

Comparison-Contrast, Topics: 390; Checklist: 342

Cause+Effect, Topics: 449; Checklist: 403

Since Expository writing is often more formal than Narration, you might find it helpful now to read Chapter 3 "Writing and Rewriting," pp.69-92. Part of this chapter deals with rewriting, which we'll be doing a lot of.

Choose a form and write a three to four page essay. Remember that you can develop one of your mini-essays into the major essay. Send the essay to me as an email attachment. Put your last name and "#2 Exposition" in the subject line of the email. Sign up for a conference time. You may rewrite this essay as many times as you wish. Each new version will be graded, and the new grade will replace the former grade.

Monday, October 4 -

Academic Writing

They Say, I Say: read "Entering the Conversation," pp. 1-15

Be prepared to bring in assignments from your other Core courses, and we'll begin to discuss writing strategies.

As you write and revise these essays, remember that an important element of your approach is the voice you write in. You can be serious, playful, earnest, calm, excited, sarcastic, or any other quality which you think might be effective and which you feel comfortable with.

Linguists often divide speech into five levels of social interaction:

Oratorical language is the formal speech of important public occasions, like an inauguration.

Deliberative language is the speech of lectures, for example, where the speaker controls the occasion and doesn't expect questions or interruptions.

Consultative language is less formal, and the speaker expects some response from the listener(s).

Casual language is everyday speech, often full of slang, where the speaker pays little or no attention to language standards.

Intimate language is spoken in families, in couples, between siblings or close friends, and has private references or code which the outsider has little chance of understanding.

Thursday, October 7 - PAPER #2 (Exposition) DUE

Definition, pp. 501-509.

Essays, pp. 514-549

Stanley Fish, "Conspiracy Theories 101"
Jonathan Rauch, "Caring for Your Introvert"
Jo Goodwin Parker, "What is Poverty?"
Malcolm Gladwell. "The Art of Failure"
Elie Wiesel, "To Be a Jew"

Mini-essay topics: p. 518 #2; 523 #2; 528 #2; 539 #2; 549 #2. Put your last name and a short title in the subject line of the email, like "Smith Definition mini." (also p. 552)

Tuesday, October 13 -
Monday, October 11 - HOLIDAY - Class meets on Tuesday

Exemplification, pp. 213-223.

Essays, pp. 229-267

Colleen Murphy, "Lifosuction"
Jennifer Saranow, "The Snoop Next Door"
Ralph Ellison, "On Being the Target of Discrimination"
Joan Blades abd Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, "The Motherhood Manifesto"
Jonathan Kozol, "Untouchables"

Also read: They Say, I Say, Part 1, pp. 19-51. We will workshop papers from other courses.

Module 3 - Description

Description is a technique you can use in any kind of writing to make the essay more vivid. Here we'll concentrate on the description itself.

Thursday, October 14 - #2 RW DUE

Description pp. 101-115

Essays, pp. 121-156

N. Scott Momaday, "The Homestead on Rainy Mountain Creek"
Rick Bass, "A Winter's Tale"
Annie Dillard, "The Deer at Providencia"
Gretel Ehrlich, "Struck by Lightning"

Mini-essay topics: p. 125 # 2; p. 130 # 2; p. 136 #2; p. 145 #2. Put your last name and a short title in the subject line of the email, like "Smith Description mini." (also p. 160

Monday, October 18 - Description

Essays, pp. 146-159, 665-669. 684-691

Barry Corbet, "Embedded"
Alberto Riós, "The Vietnam Wall" (poem)
Richard Rodriguez, "Complexion"
E.B. White, "Once More to the Lake"

Mini-essay topics: p. 155 #2, p. 159 #2; p. 669 #2; 691 #2. Put your last name and a short title in the subject line of the email, like "Smith Description mini 2." (also p. 160)

Now it's time to choose an description topic for your third major essay, due Thursday, October 21.

Here are some useful topics and a checklist: Topics: p. 160; Checklist: p. 113

Take time to explore the websites in the left (green) column for advice and examples of good descriptive writing. As you work on your main descriptive essay, remember that the techniques you are encouraged to use, especially showing rather than telling, can be used to good effect in all your writing, including rewrites you are doing in this course. You can't write good description without being specific, which is good advice for everything you write.

Write a three to four page essay. Remember that you can develop one of your mini-essays into the major essay. Send the essay to me as an email attachment. Put your last name and "#3 Description" in the subject line of the email. Sign up for a conference time. You may rewrite this essay as many times as you wish. Each new version will be graded, and the new grade will replace the former grade.



Module 4 - Persuasion

This module is the most challenging for most students. Notice that Patterns for a Purpose deals with Argument and Persuasion, and makes a distinction between them. Argument generally refers to formal argument based on classic rhetorical strategies, and is a difficult form which I think needs its own course. Here we will study persuasive writing, which is the kind you are most likely to use in college and in your professional life, as well as in your life as a citizen.

Monday, October 25 - Persuasion

First, we'll return to some basic strategies for organization: read pp. 50-55 on Topic and Thesis. We have not spent time on the thesis directly, but you have used a thesis approach in your expository essay. It's important to see the difference between a topic, which is a subject you wish to write about, and a thesis, which is your specific interpretation of the topic, your attempt to persuade the reader to agree with your point of view, or your call to action.

Here are two mixed form essays which have persuasive components:

Pagan Kennedy, "One Room, 3000 Brains," pp. 670-677.
Esther Thorson, "Dissect an Ad," pp. 678-683.

Also start reading the editorial page of your local newspaper, or a major national newspaper.

Also read: They Say, I Say, Part 2, pp. 55-77. We will discuss how to use this advice for persuasive essays.

Thursday, October 28 - Persuasion


Read pp. 56-63 on Outlining and Drafting. Writing persuasively calls for special care in organization and development.

Read pp. 555-564 to learn some of the basic techniques of persuasive writing. Notice especially the three modes of rhetoric: reasoning and logic (called logos, Greek for word), emotions (called pathos, Greek for feeling), and values and beliefs (related to the Greek ethos or ethical appeal). Ethos is a quality which a speaker or writer projects to persuade the audience to agree with him or her: expertise, personal experience, or any other quality the audience might find appealing.

PRO and CON: "Should the Law Allow Cloning of Embryonic Stem Cells?" (pp. 577-591)

Jeremy Rifkin, "Why I Oppose Human Cloning"
Raymond Barglow, "A Reply to Rifkin"

Monday, November 1 - Persuasion

Read pp. 566-573
on Argumentation-Persuasion

"What Speech Does the First Amendment Protect On College Campuses?" (pp. 615-639)

Cinnamon Stillwell, "Mob Rule on College Campuses"
Charles R. Lawrence III, "The Debate Over Placing Limits on Racist Speech Must Not Ignore the Damage It Does to Its Victims"
Harvey A. Silvergate and Greg Lukianoff, "Speech Codes: Alive and Well at College"
Howard M. Wasserman, "Fan Profanity"

Also read: They Say, I Say, Part 2, pp. 78-101. This suggests how to deal with contrary opinions and arguments.

Thursday, November 4 - Persuasion

"Is Justice Served by Trying Juvenile Offenders as Adults?" (pp. 592-614)

New York Times editorial, "Little Adult Criminals"
Laurence Steinberg, "Should Juvenile Offenders Be Tried as Adults?"
Linda J. Collier, "Adult Crime, Adult Time"
Timothy Roche and Amanda Bower, "Young Voices from the Cell"

Monday, November 8 - Brainstorming topics

I'm going to rule out the most famous controversial topics, since experience teaches that even experts have great diffuculty with topics which are emotionally loaded. So please do not suggest capital punishment, euthanasia, abortion, affirmative action, or other loaded topics. You are looking for a topic which you have some familiarity with, something local, not national or global. If you become a famous editorial writer later in your career, you can tackle the impossible topics.

Here more than anywhere else follow the classic advice: write about what you know. One student wrote successfully about how her local government needed reform in hiring policies after she observed during a summer job at Town Hall how personal favorites were promoted over competent job applicants.

Since your topic requires you to present research material, read the section on Quoting, Summarizing, and Documenting: pp.693-714. The following link introduces you to different methods of documentation in the humanities, the social sciences, History, and the natural sciences:

Research and Documentation Online

Also read: They Say, I Say, Part 3, pp. 105-138. Here we learn about final strategies for winning over the reader.

Thursday, November 11 - Peer work on topics. Converting a topic to a thesis

Monday, November 15 - Peer editing PAPER #4 DUE (Persuasion)

Peer Editing Guide

How To Ask For and Receive Feedback on Your Writing

Thursday, November 18 - Peer editing

Peer Editing: Serving as a Reader

Monday, November 22 - Peer editing #4 RW DUE

Peer Editing Students' Papers

Thanksgiving Holidays


Monday, November 29 - Preparation of Portfolio

Reference from

Writing Portfolios: What Teachers Learn…

Creating An Electronic Portfolio

Thursday, December 2 - Preparation of Portfolio Metanarrative

Monday, December 6 - Peer Editing of Metanarratives

Thursday, December 9 - Portfolios due with metanarratives


Back to Dr. Richard Regan's Home Page