Professor  Alfred Rosa
University of Vermont
304 Old Mill
Phone: 656-4139
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and by appointment
Web site:

Expository Writing
English 50 D
Spring 2003 Syllabus

Section D: Tuesday & Thursday
9:30 - 10:45 am


Tuesday, January 14 Preliminaries: Attendance, syllabus, texts, course requirements

Paper #1: Subject/topic selection.  Be prepared to explain the subject and topic of your first paper in class on Thursday.

Thursday, January 16 Models for Writers: Introduction and Thesis, pp. 1-46.
Writer's Brief Handbook: Composing, pp. 1-28.
Discussion of subject/topics.

Paper #1: Be prepared to share the thesis of your paper in class on Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 21 Models for Writers: Unity, pp. 47-64.
Writer's Brief Handbook: Paragraphs, pp. 29-45.
Full class examination of one paper.
Discussion of revision requirements for next draft.

Paper #1: First draft due.  Bring two copies of your first draft for conferencing.  Class discussion of your thesis statement.

Thursday, January 23 Models for Writers: Organization, pp. 65-84.
Writer's Brief Handbook: Sentences, pp. 63-88.

Paper #1: Revised draft due.  Bring two copies.

Tuesday, January 28 Models for Writers: Beginnings and Endings, pp. 85-111.
Writer's Brief Handbook: Argue, pp. 235-247.

Paper #1: Finished.  Bring two copies for proofreading conferences.

Thursday, January 30 TBA
Tuesday, February 4 Models for Writers: Transitions, pp. 134-154.
Writer's Brief Handbook: Word Choice, pp. 143-170.

Paper #2: First draft due.  Bring two copies for conferencing.

Thursday, February 6 Models for Writers: Diction and Tone, pp. 183-211.

Paper #2: Revised draft.  Bring two copies for conferencing.

Tuesday, February 11 Paper #2: Finished.
Thursday, February 13 TBA
Tuesday, February 18 Models for Writers: Illustration, pp. 233-258.
Writer's Brief Handbook: Punctuation, pp. 171-196.
Thursday, February 20 Models for Writers: Narration, pp. 259-286.
Writer's Brief Handbook: Mechanics, pp. 197-219.
Tuesday, February 25 Models for Writers: Description, pp. 287-307.
Writer's Brief Handbook: Document Design, pp. 221-233.

Paper #3: First draft.  Bring two copies for conferencing.

Thursday, February 27 Models for Writers: Division and Classification, pp. 346-372.

Paper #3: Revised draft.  Bring two copies.

Tuesday, March 4 Town Meeting Day - No Classes
Thursday, March 6 Models for Writers: Comparison and Contrast, pp. 373-393.
Paper #3: Finished.
Tuesday, March 11 Models for Writers: Argument, TBA. 
Thursday, March 13 Writer's Brief Handbook: MLA Documentation, pp. 328-362.

Paper #4: Discussion of topic and research questions.

Monday-Friday, March 17-21  Spring Recess
Tuesday, March 25 Paper #4: First draft.  Bring two copies for conferencing.
Conferences with Instructor.
Thursday, March 27 Paper #4: Revised draft.  Bring two copies
Tuesday, April 1 Paper #4: Revised draft cont'd.
Thursday, April 3 Conferences with Instructor.
Tuesday, April 8 Paper #4: Finished.
Thursday, April 10 Conferences with Instructor.
Tuesday, April 15 Conferences with Instructor.
Thursday, April 17 Work on portfolios.
Tuesday, April 22 Work on portfolios.
Thursday, April 24 Work on portfolios.
Tuesday, April 29
Schedule for Final Portfolio review to be determined.

The Writer's Brief Handbook, 4/e, (Longman) by Alfred Rosa and Paul Eschholz.  It is important that you buy the fourth edition of this text because it contains the latest Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines for the documentation of research papers; these are the guidelines we will be learning to use.

Models for Writers, 7/e, (Bedford/St. Martin's) by Alfred Rosa and Paul Eschholz.  We will read the essays in this collection and use them, not so much as models for the way you should write (although they are very helpful in that sense), but for analysis of the ways published writers have solved various problems they have faced and how they have accomplished their goals.  Most of the essays are 2-3 pages long and quite interesting.

Please have the reading assignments, both in The Writer's Brief Handbook and Models for Writers, accomplished by the date announced on the syllabus and be prepared to discuss what you have read.

Course requirements:

Course Objectives
Demonstrate the knowledge and/or proper use of:

The Writing Process
I am a believer in the so-called writing process, a set of activities most writers follow in producing an effective piece of writing, so we will follow its precepts in this course.  You may already be familiar with it through other courses you have taken.  The writing process is made up of a series of steps:
  These steps are internalized and made personal by all working writers.  We will become familiar with the writing process, use it, make it our own, and rely on it to take us through some of the more difficult decision-making we will face as we write.  We will talk more about the intricacies and complexities of the writing process as we progress through the course; indeed, the whole course might be regarded as a study in the writing process.

Writing Conferences
Essential to our work are writing conferences, discussions about your writing with various audiences -- another student, two or more students, the entire class, me.  Think of your work, then, as both private and public.  You write in solitude but share that writing in public in order to improve it.  In this sense the classroom is an ideal place for us to learn to write.  We'll talk more, as the course unfolds, about the proper attitude we all need to bring to the classroom in order for conferencing to be effective.

Grades will be determined at the conclusion of the course and will be based on the quality of the work you have produced.  You will submit a portfolio of all your written work along with the various drafts of it that you have produced.  These portfolios will be submitted to me before the end of the semester at a date we'll agree upon later.  I will read what you have written, determine a grade for it, and discuss that grade with you shortly thereafter.  It is important to realize that while it is not possible to get a good grade without a lot of hard work, it is possible to put in a lot of hard work and not get the grade you would like.  With writing we are dealing with a skill that comes easier for some of us than it does for others.  Your roommate may be able to get better grades than you even with fewer revisions and less work.  The important thing for you, however, is to come to an awareness of yourself as a writer, to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, to improve from wherever you start as a writer by being conscious of what you are trying to do, and to learn the steps necessary to revise your work and to edit it properly.

It may seem risky for some of you to wait until the end of the course to learn how you are doing.  Ideally, you should know better than anyone how you are doing.  By understanding the composing process, immersing yourself in each of your compositions, building confidence in your abilities, and acquiring the tools necessary for improvement, there should be no mystery in all this.

Let me say also that I believe that this course is the most important course taught at any University - not because it is an English course, not because I teach it.  I believe it so because it is a course in you and your writing.  I always explain to students that English 50 is a course I could take profitably every semester for the rest of my life, beginning wherever I found my skill level and improving from there.  Writing is not something you finally learn to do; it is something that you get better and better at -- it's a journey, not a destination, to use a well-worn expression.

Class Participation
Your participation is essential to making our time together in the classroom interesting and fruitful.  By participating, you develop your thinking and understanding of the various subjects and issues that come before us and encourage your peers to do the same.

The college catalog and the Cat's Tale (student handbook) require that you be in attendance for each class meeting; therefore, I will take attendance each class day.  You are allowed two absences, excused or not.  After that, any absences will be charged off against your final grade in the course at the rate of one half-letter of your course grade per absence.  Look at it this way: your third and fourth absences reduce your letter grade from an A to a B, and so on.  During the first two weeks of classes student athletes should give me in writing a schedule of their out-of-town obligations.  Students who would like to meet special religious obligations should make their wishes clear to me in writing during the first two weeks of classes.

Prepare your final writing portfolio in the following manner.  Place the four assignments in descending order of quality.  Use a large binder clip to hold the various drafts of each assignment, from the most recent draft to the earliest draft.  Be prepared in your conference with me to defend your choices as to quality and to explain what occurred as you wrote the drafts of each paper.  In other words, be prepared to explain what you did to improve each draft.

Finally, prepare a one-page statement reflecting the progress you made as a writer over the semester.  What did you learn?  What are you now able to do that gave you trouble earlier?  What still causes you fits? What can you do to make your writing better in the future.

Office visits
I try to make myself available to students from 10-12 on Wednesdays. I leave it to you to avail yourself of the opportunity to get help on your reading or to come in and chat about the course material we are studying.  Please let me know ahead of time if you are planning on stopping by my office so I can plan accordingly.

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Proposition 5.6, 1921

Return to Home Page

Last revised December 26, 2002