Because I believe that growth as a reader and writer stems from consistent practice, I have designed this course to reward both the quality of your finished writing and thoughtful and steady work over the course of the semester.

Tracking Your Grade

Log in to our course page on Sakai, then navigate to “Grade Book” to review your grades on individual items or to get a sense of how you are progressing throughout the semester.

Semester Grade

You will earn letter grades for your overall work on the course blog and on your critical essay. Your semester grade will then be based on the average of these two grades. Here is how I will determine them.

Course Blog

You are required to complete four posts and four sets of comments on our course blog. I will grade this work with a check system:

√     2 points   Good

√-     1 point     Hurried or incomplete

0     0               Missing or late

And I will use this scale to determine the cumulative grade for all 8 of your posts and comments:

16   A

15   A-

14   B+

13   B

12   C

11   D

10   F

Deadlines are firm. Since we will discuss your work on the blog the day after it is due, I will not accept any late posts or comments. To earn a √, you must show that you have read the assigned texts closely, thought seriously about them, and edited your own writing with care.

Critical Essay

You will earn two grades for your critical essay—a “process” grade and a letter grade assessing the quality of your final draft.

You will take your critical essay through a series of stages, including:


First Draft (D1)


Revising Plan

Second Draft (D2)


Third Draft (D3)

Only the third and final draft of your essay will earn a letter grade. I will keep track of the first six stages of your piece with a check system (√, √-, 0) much like that for the blog, and use the following scale to determine the “process” half of your grade:

12   A

11   B

10   C

9     D

8     F

The other half of your grade for this project will reflect my sense of the ambition, interest, and quality of the final version (D3) of your essay. Since these essays can and should take many different forms, I can’t offer a single template for grading them. However, what I can say is that in reading your final essay, I’ll look for:

An interesting idea driving your own writing

An informed and innovative use of other texts

Clear and imaginative prose

Careful editing and document design

A thoughtful comment on your work in revising

Again, your final grade for your critical essay will be the average of the letter grade for D3 and your overall process grade.

Work in Seminar

I expect you to participate as an active member of this seminar: to meet deadlines as a writer, to respond thoughtfully to the work of the other writers in the class, to be ready to discuss assigned readings, and to make your voice heard in useful ways in our talk in seminar. I will ask you to do some informal writing in preparation for or during many of our class meetings and will expect you to share that work from time to time. I will also often ask you to work in pairs or small groups and will expect you to take that work seriously. I reserve the right to raise or lower your semester grade by one step (for instance, from a B to a B+ or a B-) to reflect the consistency and quality of your work in seminar.

Work Out of Class

The idea is that you should work two hours out of class for each hour in class. That would mean about five hours of work out of class per week. I advise you to set aside some regular blocks of time to do the reading and writing assigned each week.

Missed Work or Plagiarism

I expect you to complete all work assigned for this course. Missing assignments will count as a zero or F. And I of course expect that all the work you do will be your own. If you plagiarize any of your work for this course, the penalty will be an F for the semester, and I will report the incident to the Office of Student Conduct.

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