Writing 2: Syllabus

Meet Your Professor

Writing 2: Education and Authority

Course Description

Writing 2 is an introduction to academic writing and research. The course prepares you for work in a scholarly environment where you will be expected to engage in inquiry, perform analysis, and communicate clearly. We will cultivate these critical practices by reading and analyzing a series of demanding texts and articulating responses to them in the form of essays. Shorter writing assignments will focus on a number of skills that are important for taking part in academic conversations. Among these are the formal documentation of sources and the integration of source materials through summary, paraphrase, and quotation.

During the winter term we will turn our focus to academic research. Our libraries hold an impressive array of traditional and electronic search tools as well as millions of books, journal articles, and assorted media. Although navigating this vast sea of information is intimidating, it is important that you find your way: excellent research skills are fundamental to your undergraduate training, regardless of your chosen field of study. In consideration of its importance, we will spend a significant amount of time learning how to use our library effectively.

Student Survey

Teaching and learning during a pandemic presents unique challenges. We may not all be in the same location or timezone. And we may face difficult situations that prevent us from concentrating on our work and personal growth. It would help me if I knew a bit about your current situation as we begin our term together.

Please complete this brief survey about your current situation and location as soon as possible.

Required Texts

  • Open Handbook, by Alan C. Taylor
  • Other course readings are embedded in the syllabus below.
Link Purpose
No Silo Course website, syllabus, readings, assignments, the Open Handbook.
Canvas Submit assignments, contact others, view media.
Hive A shared Google drive for collaborative work.

Academic Honesty

All work submitted in this course must be your own and be written exclusively for this course. The use of sources (ideas, quotations, paraphrase) must be properly documented. Please read the Academic Honor Principle for more information about the dire consequences of plagiarism. If you are confused about when or how to cite information, please consult the course handbook or ask me about it before submitting your work.


Regular attendance is expected. Bracketing religious observance, severe illness, or personal tragedy, no more than three unexcused absences in a single term will be acceptable for this course. This policy applies to regular class meetings, assigned X hours, and TA meetings. Four or more unexcused absences may result in repercussions ranging from significant reduction in GPA to failure of the course. If you have an event that conflicts with participation in the course, please contact me beforehand to discuss appropriate accommodations.


You will submit three formal essays and several smaller writing assignments in response to our readings and class discussions. The formal essays focus on argumentation, synthesis, close reading, and theoretical analysis. The exact nature and objective of each assignment will be explained in greater detail throughout the course of the term.

  • Formatting: During the fall term papers must be submitted in the MLA style; in the winter term we will transition to the Chicago style. Information on these styles may be found in the Open Handbook.

  • Revisions: It is my practice to return essay drafts to you within one week. Afterward, you will have a minimum of one week to revise your writing. During this two-week revision cycle please feel free to drop by my office hours (or make an appointment) to go over your writing or discuss your ideas.

Typical Weekly Workflow

Here is a list of the typical assignments and activities that we will do each week:

  • Before we meet to discuss a reading as a class, each of you should carefully read and critically engage the text on your own—interrogating, analyzing, and questioning the arguments, ideas, and assumptions you discover there.

  • As you read, I ask that you annotate the text—that is, mark up the text by adding meaningful symbols, marginal notes, and questions on the document itself. Note1: This requires that you print out the text before you begin reading it. Note2: Readings from the Open Handbook do not need to be printed out or annotated. Bring this annotated copy of the reading with you to class to help you engage in the group discussion and analysis.

  • After annotating the text, take critical notes on the text in a separate document. These notes will be valuable to you later, when you write your essays.

  • After annotating and taking notes, contribute to Hive—our open-source repository of notes, ideas, and questions about our course readings.

The following three numbered sections explain each of these practices in more detail:

I. Annotating Texts

Rather than use a laptop or tablet to read our course readings, I ask that you print them out and annotate them as part of your preparations for class. Annotation refers to the process of marking up a text by adding your own words and symbols to the document itself. There is no right or wrong way to mark up a text, but you should develop a system that you are comfortable with and try to stick with it. Your objective in annotation is to flag the key elements of a piece of writing—the thesis, argumentative claims, and pieces of evidence. In addition, use the margins of the text to ask questions, make brief notes, indicate confusion, define unfamiliar terms, and make connections to other texts. This kind of work serves two purposes: first, it helps you maintain a critical focus as you read; second, it helps you later if the text must be used for study or your own writing. If you plan on being successful in college, the ability to rigorously annotate texts is perhaps the most helpful and important skill you can develop.

  • It is not required to print out and annotate readings from the Open Handbook.
Further advice and caveats about annotation may be found in the “Annotation and Critical Reading” chapter of the Open Handbook.

II. Critical Reading Notes

Create an electronic document for composing critical notes. Take detailed notes on each reading. Since you will write essays about these texts, these notes will be of significant help to you later. Your aims here should be to 1) reduce the entire argument to its bare essentials using paraphrase, summary, and selective quotation—carefully documenting page numbers during this activity; 2) interrogate the text by asking questions, raising objections, and making observations; 3) connect and compare the reading to others we have read; 4) define any unfamiliar terms and link the text to any outside research you perform. At the end of this rigorous process you should have a simplified version of the essay as well as a number of critical observations, questions, and ideas that emerged in the process of reading.

For more detailed information on the creation and purpose of these notes, read the chapter on “Critical Notes” in the Open Handbook,

III. Contribute to Hive

Hive is an open-source repository containing notes, ideas, and questions about our course readings and class discussions. We will build this resource together as a class—sharing the work of interpreting, analyzing, and questioning the complex course readings we encounter.

We will use shared Google docs to create the Hive resource. Each reading in this syllabus has an attached Google doc located in a link beneath it. There is a Hive document dedicated to your course section, so please make sure to make your contribution to the proper one. You may distinguish the documents by examining the notations, as in the example below:

  • 6 : Hive page for section 6 @ C hour
  • 7 : Hive page for section 7 @ D hour
You must use your Dartmouth login credentials to access the drive, not your personal Gmail account. Please authenticate using this G-Suite link: https://google.dartmouth.edu/

Our objective for Hive is to explore meaning, discover argumentative structures, evaluate supporting evidence, ask probing questions, connect to other readings, link to relevant resources, and think critically about the implications of a text. The “hive mind” is capable of discovering and creating far more than any one individual. With luck, Hive will become a central resource in our class discussions and an indispensable aid to you as you craft your essays.

You might contribute to Hive by doing some of the following tasks:

  • Help create a simplified version of the text’s argumentative structure by presenting an ordered list of claims, reasons, and evidence.

  • Ask a question about a difficult passage in the text or offer an answer to one posed by another student.

  • Define difficult vocabulary.

  • Flag a key portion of the essay that seems worthy of discussion or analysis and explain why it seems significant, or build on the thought of another student who has done so.

  • Make a connection between an idea found in one text with others we have read in class (or elsewhere).

  • Constructively question, respond, or correct the ideas or work of another student.


Decades of research on grading concludes that it is counterproductive, even harmful, to the process of education. If you care to examine it for yourself, Alfie Kohn has conveniently summarized the key findings of this scholarship.

For the reasons described by Kohn (and other ones we will explore together), this class will not feature traditional letter grades for evaluation. To be sure, I will evaluate your writing and give you rigorous feedback on how to improve. You will receive similar feedback from your colleagues in the class. And you will also perform reflective self-evaluation of your writing and thinking. But at no point will this complex, important work be reduced to a percentage or letter grade.

At the end of the term we will reflect together on your progress, effort, participation, and performance; we will decide together what final grade to enter into Banner. This discussion about your performance in the class will involve our mutual reflection on the following topics:

  • Participation
  • Attendance
  • Collaboration and sharing
  • Late, incomplete, missing work
  • Growth
  • Effort

This list was partially inspired by the grading contract in Asao B. Inoue’s Labor-based Grading Contracts.

Help With Your Writing

There are many sources of help for your writing assignments. I am happy to meet with you all term during my office hours or by appointment. Each of you will meet with our TA for 45 minutes per week to go over your writing and plan revision. If you require further help, the RWIT program offers excellent peer tutoring on all phases of the writing process—from generating ideas to formal citation.

Students With Disabilities

All students are entitled to full access to this course, regardless of disability. If you have a disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please contact me as soon as possible to arrange a confidential meeting. Students requiring disability-related services must register with the Student Accessibility Services office. Once SAS has authorized services, students must show the originally signed SAS Services and Consent Form and/or a letter on SAS letterhead to me. If you have questions about whether you qualify to receive academic adjustments and services, you should contact the SAS office. All inquiries and discussions will remain confidential.

Symbol Legend

Symbol Note
Synchronous class day via Zoom
Independent work day from home
Conferences with professor
A new major assignment
Workshop assignment
Assignment due
Upload assignment to Canvas
Contribute to Hive
Peer work, in pairs or groups
Discussion topic
Course reading from the Open Handbook
Course reading download (.pdf)
Question of the Day™

Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Week One

{ } Monday, 9.14

+ In-class work

  • Question of the Day™
  • Review: syllabus, course policies, websites
  • Time for questions

+ Assignments

  • What is education? What is its purpose? What does it do? How does it shape us? Do some thinking and note-taking on these questions. Arrive to class on Wednesday with some ideas that you can express and defend.

  • Essay 1 assignment

{ } Wednesday, 9.16

+ Readings

+ In-class work

{ } Friday, 9.18

+ Readings

+ In-class work

  • Question of the Day™
  • Peer Review: During class time today you will meet with two of your colleagues to perform peer review. We will exchange essays electronically.

+ Due

Essay 1 Draft Due

Week Two

{ } Monday, 9.21

+ Readings

+ Independent work

  • Print out, read, annotate, and take critical notes on the reading, then post your contributions to the dedicated Hive page. Read and engage the work of your peers there as well.

  • Instructions for submitting to Hive.

  • Complete Hive work by 10pm EST.

{ } Wednesday, 9.23

+ Independent work

{ } Friday, 9.25

+ In-class work

  • Question of the Day™
  • Discuss Baker reading and Hive submissions

+ Assignments

Week Three

{ } Monday, 9.28

+ Readings

{ } Wednesday, 9.30

+ Readings

{ } Friday, 10.2

+ In-class work

+ Due

Argument Summary Workshop Due

Essay One Final Due

Week Four

{ } Monday, 10.5

+ Readings

+ Independent work

  • Print out, read, annotate, and take critical notes on the reading, then post your contributions to the dedicated Hive page. Read and engage the work of your peers there as well.

  • Complete independent work by 10pm EST.

{ } Wednesday, 10.7

  • Return to Hive and engage the work of your peers there. Prepare for discussion of text on Friday.

{ } Friday, 10.9

Week Five

{ } Monday, 10.12

+ Readings

+ Independent work

  • Print out, read, annotate, and take critical notes on the reading, then post your contributions to the dedicated Hive page. Read and engage the work of your peers there as well.

  • Complete independent work by 10pm EST.

{ } Wednesday, 10.14

+ Independent work

  • Return to Hive and engage the work of your peers there. Prepare for discussion of text on Friday.

{ } Friday, 10.16

+ In-class work

+ Assignments

Week Six

{ } Monday, 10.19

+ Independent work

{ } Wednesday, 10.21

+ Independent work

{ } Friday, 10.23

+ In-class work

+ Due

Essay 2 Draft Due

Week Seven

{ } Monday, 10.26

+ Readings

+ Independent work

  • View and take critical notes on the film, then post your contributions to the Hive page dedicated to the reading. Read and engage the work of your peers there as well.

  • Complete independent work by 10pm EST.

+ Assignments

{ } Wednesday, 10.28

+ Independent work

  • Work on Essay 3 drafts individually. Prepare for Friday group discussion on film and essay drafts.

{ } Friday, 10.30

  • Question of the Day™
  • Discuss Rushmore film and theoretical essay drafts.
  • Essay 3 workshop
Week Eight

{ } Monday, 11.2

+ In-class work

+ Due

Essay 3 Draft Due

{ } Wednesday, 11.4

  • Drafting and revising work on Essay 2

{ } Friday, 11.6

+ Due

Essay 2 Final Due

Week Nine

Monday, 11.9

  • Conferences

Wednesday, 11.11

  • Conferences

Friday, 11.13

  • Conferences
Week Ten

{ } Monday, 11.16

+ In-class work

  • Question of the Day™
  • Grading oddities: the “ON” grade
  • Winter meeting
  • End-of-term reflection and review
  • Introduction to Writing 3

+ Assignments

+ Due

Essay 3 Final Due