English 104
Dr. Michael Bryson
McGaw Hall 223


Lunsford, The St. Martin's Handbook (do not purchase if you already own this from a previous class)
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
Plato, The Republic
J.S. Mill, On Liberty

Two Articles on College Speech Codes-- Article #1; Article #2; plus Orwell on Censorship

Other texts will be found online or provided by the instructor

Course Policies

Attendance and Class Participation:  These are required. This is neither a correspondence course nor a spectator sport. Absences will affect your final grade, possibly resulting in dropping from A to B, B to C, C to D, D to. . . well, you get the idea.  Each unexcused absence will lower your final grade by 20 points out of 1000 points—that is 2% out of 100%.

Peer Reading: Each essay you submit to me will first be peer-read. A group of your classmates will read and comment upon your essay, giving you feedback in an attempt to help you make your paper as strong as it can be before I see it for the first time. You will, in turn, do the same for them. The copy submitted for peer-reading must be typed or word-processed and must be as well-prepared as if you were going to submit them to me for immediate grading—no doing a half-baked job on this; you will only be hurting yourself if you do not take this process seriouslyOn peer reading days, you will bring 2 copies of your essay, one for your group and one for me.

Unexcused absence on a peer-reading day (currently planned for Wednesday of week 4, and Friday of weeks 8 and 10) will result in a grade of 0 for the assignment. Bringing an incomplete draft will be considered the same as being absent.

Essay Submissions: Each essay must be turned in no later than the pre-announced due date.

Late Work:  Late work will not be accepted, unless prearranged with me.

Revision:  Each essay (except the last one) may be revised once. There is no reason why—with help from your peers in class and from me—that you should not be able to produce the quality of writing which will allow you to earn the kind of grade you want.

Plagiarism:  This is stealing. If you do this on an essay (using a friend's work and pretending it is your own, or quoting from a book or other source without citing that source), and I or someone else catches you, you will receive an F for that assignment.


1.  Journal—100 points.  This will consist primarily of in-class writings. I will be asking you to write in class frequently; these writings will be designed as resources from which you can draw for the writing of your formal, out-of-class essays.  Each time I ask you to write in class, make certain that you put that day's date at the top of the page. The journal will be due (along with Research Essay #1) in my mailbox by 3 PM, Friday of week 9.

2. Reading Response Essay—200 points.:  You will read and effectively summarize the argument made by a writer and respond to that argument by presenting your point of view on the issue. This essay will be due in class, Friday of week 4.

3.  Research Essay #1—300 points.  Here you will write on a topic that I choose, while analyzing the opinions of four different writers and giving your own carefully reasoned and argued position on the issue which the writers were addressing. I will provide the readings and the bibliographic information. You will write the essay and put together a bibliography (based on information I give you). This essay will be due by 3 PM, Friday of week 9.

4. Annotated Bibliography—100 points. A listing of at least 5 sources you intend to use in Research Essay #2 (in MLA format), along with a paragraph for each listing summarizing the main points of each source. This will be due in class, Wednesday of week 10.

5.  Research Essay #2—300 points.  You will choose your own topic. Identify an issue about which there can be more than one reasonable opinion, then take a stand.  Give a solid and persuasive account of why you feel the way you do. You will do your own research (looking for materials in the library, and/or other sources), write the essay, and put together a bibliography based on your own research. This essay will be due in my mailbox by 3 PM, Friday of finals week.

Additionally, students will meet with me individually to discuss their planned topics for the final research essay. These meetings will take place on Wednesday and Friday of week 9. I will hand out a signup sheet for these meetings on Friday of week 8. You will need to bring a written description of your topic, plus a formal Works Cited list of 5 potential sources to this meeting.

Evaluation Standards

 An "A" essay shows deep thought, attention to detail, and critical thinking. It is well organized and flows naturally, leading the reader through the subject easily.  Sentences show variety and planning, and paragraphs are carefully put together.  The essay is engaging and interesting to read, and the treatment of the subject is original and intriguing. Cliches, triteness, and "stilted" language are absent. Finally, an "A" essay displays no mechanical, spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors—it has been written as carefully as a letter of application for a job, and has often been revised several times.

A "B" essay possesses most (but not all) of the qualities of an "A" essay.  The "B" essay typically shows a fair amount of thought, attention to detail, and some evidence of critical thinking. It may have slight organizational problems; it may have a few mechanical, grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors, or it may employ clichés or trite language in a few places.

A "C" essay is an average effort. It displays most (but not all) the qualities of a "B" essay, with additional problems in thought, organization, and expression. Triteness or clichéd language may be present, or the treatment of the subject, though competent, may be uninteresting or unoriginal. Mechanical and/or spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors are a consistent problem. The essay is understandable and the reasoning adequate.

A "D" essay is below average. In a "D" essay, difficulties with structure, organization, or content make the essay difficult to follow. The treatment of the subject may be inadequate, or the reasoning seriously flawed. Problems with mechanics, grammar, punctuation, and spelling interfere seriously with the essay's effectiveness.

An "F" essay is one in which all of the problems listed in the "D" essay are severe enough to make the paper incomprehensible.

Grading Scale  


A+        100%

A          95%

A-        90%

B+        88%

B          85%

B-        80%

C+       78%

C          75%

C-         70%

D+        68%

D          65%

D-         60%

F          50%

Work not submitted 0%


A 900-1000 points

B 800-899 points

C 700-799 points

D 600-699 points

F 0-599 points