Course Syllabus

MWF   3:00 PM  -  3:50 PM 	A207
See daily course outline.

Dennis G. Jerz (
403 St. Joseph, Box 461

E-mail: My last name, at the domain.

I check my e-mail throughout the day, and usually once more at around 11pm. I am always happy to help with quick answers.
For routine e-mails, feel free to use txt spk if u want; I'll toss off a reply as soon as I can.  ;)

For more serious e-mails (maybe you're asking for an appointment, or a make-up assignment, or you're asking me to do some serious thinking), the quality of your writing should reflect the sincerity of your request.

I do get anywhere from 50-100 messages a day. To help me respond more efficiently to your e-mails:
  • Please make sure your real name and the course number (EL237) appears in the message. (If you use your SHU account, the system will show me your real name; but chances are I won't recognize "".)
  • Please take a few seconds to write a meaningful e-mail subject line.
    • yes.gif Subject: "EL2370: I'm stuck... how should I deal with writer's block?"
    • yes.gif Subject: "Can you help me with my revision in EL237?"
      In both of the above examples, I know in advance whether I can handle your question in a few seconds, or whether I'll need to plan time in my day so that I can concentrate on writing a detailed response.
    • no.gif Subject: "A question about class."
      What class? I teach several each term. What kind of question? Can you summarize it briefly, right in the subject line? (I don't mind txt spk for informal messages.)
    • no.gif  Subject: [Blank]
      A blank subject line doesn't give me any reason to bump your message ahead of the rest.
  • If you're asking me to comment on something you wrote, copy-paste your text right into the e-mail -- that's much faster than sending it as an attachment.

Office Phone
: 724-830-1909 (but you will usually get a faster response if you e-mail)

Office Hours
: Fall, 2009 (in St. Joseph 403)
  • Tue 1:30-2:30
  • Thu 1:30-2:30
  • Fri 10:30-11:30
  • and also by appointment.

Occasionally I step out of my office briefly to run errands during my scheduled office hours. If my light is still on, or there's a note on my door, I'm probably not far away.

Office Visits:

  • I usually leave my office door open. If you should happen to drop by outside of my office hours, and my door is closed, please come back later or send me an e-mail.
  • If I'm with someone when you arrive during my office hour or for a scheduled appointment, go ahead and knock so I know you are waiting.

From the Catalog:

This course teaches students to apply college writing skills to the discipline of English, with particular emphasis on the researched essay. Students will read a wide variety of primary texts and interpret them through writing, revision, and literary research. The course provides a basic introduction to textual literary scholarship and theory. English and journalism majors should take this course in the fall of their sophomore year.
Students will
  • Read and interpret literary texts on an intermediate-to-advanced level.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the formal conventions of literary research.
  • Develop the ability to recognize how cultural experiences shape personal tastes and literary aesthetics, and to apply that ability to their analysis of the assigned texts.
  • Identify types of literary criticism most likely to support a given thesis or argument.
  • Compose and polish persuasive, well-organized papers that draw appropriately on both primary and secondary sources.
  • Identify multiple lines of intellectual inquiry that can be developed, with input from peers and the instructor, into an original, persuasive, and well-supported academic essay.

The class format will be mostly discussion, with frequent writing workshops and occasional lectures. The course is designed so that you will first complete simple writing assignments that review such concepts as close reading and presenting multiple sides of an argument; then progress to more elaborate researched essays.

The course requires regular attendance, participation via in-class and online discussions, timely completion of sequenced assignments, and attention to basic composition skills and literary analysis skills you learned in EL 150. (Students are welcome to use the writing center.)

I will often send out bulk e-mails to the address on file for you in the GriffinGate system. If you check a different address more regularly, please use SHU's e-mail forwarding service so that you don't miss important updates.

Unless the homework assignment specifically mentions a printout, you should assume that I don't want you to submit a hard copy. Most assignments will be submitted through

You should, however, bring a hard copy of your work for in-class peer review sessions.  (I may ask you to bring in two or three copies.)

Students are expected to attend every class (according to the Seton Hill University Catalog). Repeated late arrivals and early departures will begin to count as absences.

A student's final grade may be lowered by the proportion of unexcused absences. Thus, a student with a final grade of 75% with a record of 10% unexcused absences would get a final grade that is 90% of 75% (that is, 67.5%). (If you have only a few absences and your class participation is good, I will probably waive the penalty.)

An excused absence does not automatically grant an extension for any material covered, or any work collected or assigned.

If you stay up all night in order to complete a major assignment, and you skip class on the day it is due, I will count the assignment an extra day late. (You might as well go to bed without finishing the paper, come to class well-rested so you won't fall farther behind, and then turn in the paper the next morning.)

What to Do When You Must Miss a Class

Contact me directly, after you have done the following:

  • Consult this website to find out what is scheduled on the date(s) affected by your absence.
  • Consult a classmate and arrange to get notes on what happens during class, for extra copies of any handouts, etc. (After you have spoken with a classmate, I will be happy to answer any specific questions, by e-mail or in person, about what you missed.)
  • Plan to submit work on the appropriate due-date (an excused absence does not automatically come with an extension), or if appropriate, request a specific extension.
Note: It may not be possible to arrange make-up assignments for some due dates or class activities.

5.1.1. Emergency Absences
Those who miss class due to an unplanned emergency should submit an "Absence Form," with proper documentation, as soon as possible.

For each class that you missed, print out and complete a copy of my "Absence Form" (available at After you initiate this contact, we will start working out whether or what kind of alternative work would be appropriate. (I ask that you resist the impulse to ask me to e-mail you a summary of what you missed. I welcome the chance to help you get caught up, but please first consult the syllabus and a classmate's notes first, and then bring any specific questions to me.) For some classroom activities, such as listening to peer oral presentations, there may be no appropriate make-up assignment. (See 5.2 Participation.)

5.1.2. Scheduled Absences
Those who miss class due to a scheduled activity must plan to complete all make-up assignments before the missed class. In order to give us both time to plan, you must submit a complete, acceptable "Absence Form" (see above) a week before the missed class.

If there is insufficient time for us to agree upon an acceptable make-up assignment, or if an approved make-up assignment is late or unsatisfactory, then I may record the absence as unexcused and the missed work as a zero.

Students are expected to contribute actively to a positive classroom environment, both in person and online.

Absences, late arrivals and early departures, inappropriate use of telephones or headphones, lack of preparation, and inattentiveness will affect your ability to contribute to a positive classroom environment. Those who participate above and beyond the call of duty will receive a bonus. If your final grade falls near a borderline, I will take your participation into account when I decide whether to round up or down.

Students who dislike public speaking may wish to invest more effort in their online writing, and vice-versa.

Since we are learning media skills in a 21st-century university, this course expects you to use the internet regularly. Just as students in generations past learned to carry an extra inkhorn and spare lamp wicks, there are certain common-sense strategies that will help you do the necessary work.

Print out a copy of the course syllabus, and print out online readings in advance, so that you can work on the readings if the internet happens to be down. Get in the habit of e-mailing drafts to yourself, so that you can retrieve them from your archives if you lose your thumb drive.

Unless the homework assignment specifically mentions a printout, you should assume that I don't want a hard copy. (Most exercises will be submitted via Google Docs, and most drafts and revisions will be submitted via  We will also use GriffinGate and  We will spend some class time familiarizing ourselves with the various tools, and I am happy to meet with you during my office hours if you'd like additional help.

Getting Credit for Late Work

By default, late assignments automatically lose one letter grade if they are not submitted on time, and another letter grade for each additional day late (counting weekends as one day). This means that no assignment will earn any credit if it is more than four days late, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

If you are asking that I waive a late penalty, e-mail me a copy of your completed Absence Form (after I have already seen and signed the printed copy), with a subject line that follows this pattern: "Smith EL237 Ex 1-2 Absence Form".  Then, submit your late work according to the assignment instructions.

Deadlines for the submission of assignments are typically 15 minutes before class starts. I do this simply to discourage you from being late to class because you are still working on your homework. It also permits me to scan the assignments briefly before class begins.) If your online submission is late by a few minutes, but you are still on time to class, your paper won't count as late.

Please note that late submissions always go to the bottom of my to-do list. If you are concerned about not getting a paper back soon enough to help you complete the next step in a multi-stage assignment, please make an appointment and I will go over it with you orally.

Special Cases

Some assignments are designed to get you ready for a particular day's class, or to help you practice important skills -- like meeting deadlines.  In-class quizzes (taken with the hand-held "clicker" response cards) and in-class peer review and copy editing activities are not easily replaceable. In such cases, I reserve the right to assign a make-up assignment for half credit, or to accept no make-up work and report a zero.

RRRR Items: These time-sensitive assignments (I will eventually introduce RRRR assignments... see the Help page) earn no credit if they are late. You should still complete any items you missed in order to get full credit for your class portfolio.

Class Participation: The way to get credit for a missed in-class activity is to contribute substantially to the online discussion. Post thoughtful comments on the course website, your peers' websites, and/or your own. To make sure that I see and record credit for this alternative work, call my attention to it when you submit your next portfolio assignment.

Make-up/Extra Credit Assignments: I do not have a policy of inventing make-up or extra-credit assignments to enable you to pull your grade up in the last few weeks of the term. At any time, however, you may demonstrate your willingness to work hard for your grade by doing more than the required amount of work on your weblog. (Call my attention to this extra work when you submit your weblog portfolio.)

Please acquire your own individual copies of the assigned texts, and bring a copy to class on the day the discussion is scheduled.

Required Purchases:
  • Gibaldi, MLA Handbook 0873529863
  • Kelly, The Seagull Reader: Poems  0393930939
  • Macdonald, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) 0802135773
  • Roberts, Writing about Literature, 11th ed. 0131540572
  • Spiegelman, Maus I:  My Father Bleeds History 0394747232
  • Whitehead, John Henry Days  9780385498203
  • Williams, The Quick and the Dead  9780375727641

Optional Purchase
  • Dickens, A Christmas Carol (since the story is out of copyright and the full text is widely available online; but you may wish to purchase a print edition. Any one is fine, so long as it's not abridged or an interpretation "based on" the novel.)  0140439056

Disability Statement

If you have a disability that requires instructor consideration please contact the Director of Disability Services at 724-838-4295.  It is recommended that this be accomplished by the second week of class.  If you need accommodations for successful participation in class activities prior to your appointment at the Disability Services Office, you should offer information in writing that includes suggestions for assistance in participating in and completing class assignments.  It is not necessary to disclose the nature of your disability.

Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct

Seton Hill University expects that all its students will practice academic honesty and ethical conduct. The University regards plagiarism, cheating on examinations, falsification of papers, non-sanctioned collaboration, and misuse of library material, computer material, or any other material, published or unpublished, as violations of academic honesty. Violators of the code may expect disciplinary sanctions, which are discussed in the Seton Hill University Catalog, page 30, Code of Academic Conduct.
Any unreferenced use of the written or spoken material of another, or of previously submitted work of the student's own, constitutes plagiarism.
Paraphrasing the thoughts or written work of another without reference is also plagiarism. Helpful information is available at the following web site: Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It. Any plagiarism on a draft will result in a zero as the final grade on that assignment. Any plagiarism or cheating on an informal essay, paragraph, or grammar exercise will also result in a zero.

See also "Plagiarism (and Academic Integrity)."
Plagiarism is an academic or professional misrepresentation, in which a writer takes credit for someone else's ideas.

Avoid plagiarism by 
  • submitting your own original work
  • giving proper credit to other people whose words and/or ideas appear in your work
  • recognizing that direct quotation (with citation) and paraphrase (with citation) are both acceptable ways to use outside material.
Avoid the panic that makes cheating look so attractive by
  • starting early (plan 2-3 hours of homework for each hour of class)
  • keeping on track (with brainstorming, drafting, workshop, and revision assignments)
  • seeking out help (from the professor, Writing Center, tutors)

20% Informal Writing Portfolio
(frequent informal responses, drafts, peer critiques, in-class essays, etc.)

10% Oral Presentation
(polished 15-min mini-seminar, demonstrating the student's application of literary research -- involving peer-reviewed academic sources -- to the exploration of an intellectual question arising from the assigned readings.)

20% Exercises
(practical, focused assignments designed to help students master literary research skills such as integrating citations efficiently and elegantly, locating and evaluating credible sources, and compiling an annotated bibliography)

50% Researched Essays
(20-25 pages of polished, thoroughly revised writing; a sequence of assignments, beginning with a research question, and culminating in a polished academic paper that presents an original intellectual argument, supported by citations from recent academic scholarship. Assessment of the first essays will focus on clear thesis statements, logical structure and effective application of scholarly sources; for the final essay, assessment will focus on the student's ability to support an original intellectual argument.)

  • 10% Essay 1 (4-5p)
  • 15% Essay 2 (6-8p)
  • 25% Essay 3 (10-12p)
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