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Cal State L.A.



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Laura Garrett
Office: E & T 608
Office Hours: MW 11:40am-1:20pm, 3:20-4:00pm
Campus Phone: (323) 343-4156
English Dept: (323) 343-4140
Course Web Site:

Learning Objectives

The purpose of this course is relatively straight-forward:  To work on improving your ability to think critically about texts (in whatever form you encounter them) and communicate clearly your ideas.  No magic solutions will be offered nor will you be taught a one‑size fits all college essay format. We will work on ideas of audience, purpose, and the use of rhetorical strategies and organizations, and we will also focus on style, including both clarity and grace.

Course Requirements

There is much reading and writing in this class. You will need to be diligent about planning ahead and completing your tasks on time. Listed below are the required assignments for this course:

  1. Three 3-4 page papers that analyze texts. (first draft 5 points each; 1st  essay revised draft 30 points, 2nd essay revised draft 35 points, 3rd essay revised draft 40 points—60 % of total)
  2. One group presentation on Heart of Darkness. (20 points—10% of total)
  3. One reading response (short 1-2 page essay). (10 points —5 % of total)
  4. One midterm (20 points—10% of total)
  5. One final exam (20 points—10% of total)
  6. Attendance and participation. (10 points—5 % of total)

Please note that all assignments are required.


Grading Policy: The distribution of points for the individual assignments in this course is listed in “Requirements” above. For the quarter, 200 points are possible, and course grades are based on standard percentages (i.e.90% and greater is some version of an A, 80-89% is some version of a B, and so on). Plus and minus grades are used in the class.

Please note that these percentages are used when all work is attempted.  In order to pass this course the midterm, papers, presentation, response and final ALL must be legitimately attempted.  Plagiarism does NOT constitute a legitimate attempt of the assignment.

Also note that in order to receive credit for this course, you must earn a grade of C or better (73% or higher).  A grade of C- or below (72% and below) is a No Credit grade.  If you receive a NC grade, you will have to take English 101 again.

Respect: Please turn off all cell phones, televisions, LAPTOPS, MP3 players/iPods, and any other electronic communication and/or entertainment devices before coming to class.  You are not present if you are texting or IMing friends.  In fact, if you text during class, this indicates that you are not interested in what the class is doing or what I am saying, and therefore, not interested in passing the class. Grades will be assigned accordingly.

Contacting the Instructor: Email is the most effective way of communicating with me outside of class and my office hours. However, be reasonable. If you email me at 2:00 AM, the morning before a paper is due, don’t expect a response.  At least, not a civil one.

Attendance: Regular and prompt attendance is essential. Arriving late to class is rude and disruptive and will not be tolerated. If you cannot arrive to class on time you should consider taking classes at times more suited to your schedule. Regardless of the reason, failure to attend class or arriving to class late will affect your final quarter grade.  I take roll using a sign-in sheet. If you come in after I have collected that day’s sign-in sheet, or if you are more than a few minutes late, you are marked late, which counts as half an absence.  You are allowed one absence without penalty.  Each absence beyond the first one will reduce your course grade.  If you miss more than four classes, you will be disqualified from taking the final. I also expect you to come awake, prepared and ready to engage in whatever work lies before you. 

Note:   English Department policy states that composition students must attend the first two class meetings of the quarter to retain their place in the class.  Any student who is absent either the first or second class meeting will be dropped and the space given to another student who is trying to add.

Written Assignments: Please note the following carefully when preparing your written assignments for this class:

Late papers are not accepted. The assignment due dates are distributed on the first day of class, and the assignments are made available often weeks before they are due. If you miss a paper deadline, please talk to me.

Academic Dishonesty/Cheating: Collaborating with others is encouraged when you are planning your papers, reviewing each other’s work, preparing for presentations or for exams. Study or reading groups can be effective ways to study and learn. However, when you write your papers, the text needs to be your own.

You must carefully observe the standard rules for acknowledging the sources of words and ideas. If you make use of a phrase or a quote or if you paraphrase another writer’s words or ideas, you must acknowledge the source of these words or ideas telling us the source of these materials. APA and MLA style differ on the exact format of this attribution, but the simple version is the name of the author and the page number (if appropriate) in parentheses at the end of the sentence containing the use of the source material. If you fail to acknowledge properly the source of your text, you will receive a zero on the assignment and be reported to the Student Disciplinary Officer.  If you are not sure what to do, if you get stuck, if you have questions, it is your responsibility to get help from me.

If you plagiarize or otherwise misrepresent the source of your work, you will receive a zero on the assignment and be reported to the Student Disciplinary Officer.  You will NOT be allowed to make up the assignment.

ADA Accommodations: Reasonable accommodation will be provided to any student who is registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities and requests needed accommodation.  

Faculty Furloughs: The state of California is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis that has resulted in a $26.3 billion deficit. The impact of this on the CSU system includes a reduction of approximately $564 million in the system’s base budget. As one strategy among others, the CSU has implemented furloughs of most of its employees this coming academic year, including faculty, staff, and management employees. A furlough is mandatory un-paid time off; faculty and staff on each CSU campus are being “furloughed” two days per month. These cancelled class days are marked on the syllabus below.  It is important to recognize that these days off are not holidays. Instead, they are concrete examples of how massive state budget cuts have consequences for you as students and for me as a faculty member.

Each faculty member must designate six furlough days for each quarter. My furlough days for the fall quarter will be:

Thursday, October 1
Thursday, October 8
Friday, October 16 (mandatory university furlough day)
Monday, October 19
Thursday, November 12
Friday, November 20 (mandatory university furlough day)

Please note that on designated furlough days faculty are prohibited from engaging in any teaching, research or administrative work, which includes responding to voice messages and emails.  Of course, these days are listed pending the Dean’s approval.

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Last Update: 01/12/2016