Thursday, January 28, 2010

Essay topics

Choose one of the following topics for a 500-word essay due Thursday, 2 February 2010. You don't necessarily have to agree with the topic you choose--just write the essay as if you do. Your target audience is your teacher and fellow classmates in ENGL 1020.

1. Studying persuasive writing is a waste of time, and it should not be a required course for graduation at MSCC.

2. Persuasive writing is the most valuable course a Motlow State student can take (Don't assume I prefer you choose this one. While this one is closer to my view, reading an essay on #1 would be much more fun).

3. The so-called Tea Party movement is the most significant grassroots movement in American politics this century.

4. The so-called Tea Party movement is dangerous and un-American.

5. Religion is a highly personal matter, and discussing religion in public is inappropriate.

6. Humans are religious beings, and efforts to cleanse religion from public life are not only futile, but dangerous.

7. Fluency in Lithuanian should be a graduation requirement for all students at Motlow State (Yes, this one is goofy, but if you're creative it could also be fun).

8. If you just can't get started on any of these choices, then select one of the following choices from Patterns, pages 703-04: number 1, 3, 7, 8, or 9.

Come to class Tuesday with at least a topic, main idea, and rough outline. If you want to do more, up to and including writing a rough draft, please don't hesitate, but it's not required. We'll spend a few minutes in groups discussing your main idea and how you plan to support and develop it. For this essay you don't need any sources or works cited, but you certainly may cite sources if you want to do so and are comfortable in documenting them.

I'll go over the mechanics of the paper on Tuesday, but for those of you who are interested, here is a little early guidance (from my lecture notes):

* 500 words
* Typed, double-spaced
* 12-point standard font (Times New-Roman, Arial, or other sans-serif font)
* No cover page
* Name, date, course listed in the upper right-hand corner
* Skip few lines after name, date, course, and center title in bold-face font
* Double-skip after title, then body of essay.

Happy prewriting!

Avoiding plagiarism

In addition to the readings in your two textbooks, you may find these resources helpful for getting a firm grasp on plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trouble commenting

For some reason I'm unable to respond to your comments from my home computer. Please be assured I'm reading them, though. If your comment calls for a response, I'll email you through our accounts.

Evaluating a persuasive essay

  1. Does the writer take a firm, clear stand on a debatable issue?
  2. Does the writer employ adequate evidence to support that stand?
  3. Does the writer consider his or her audience?
  4. Are main arguments based on logic but employ emotion effectively?
  5. Does the argument take into account and refute counter-arguments?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Current events question for Thursday

Who is the governor of Tennessee, and with what political party is he affiliated?

Vocabulary for Thursday, January 28

For best results, please be familiar with these words before reading the article linked below.


Readings for Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Ruining Kids in Order to Save Them"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vocabulary words for next time

In case you couldn't read my handwriting today, here are your vocabulary words for next time:


Bonus question: which word did I quasi-misspell today on the board (using a British, rather than American, spelling)? Please leave your answer in the comments section.

Second bonus question: What does "quasi-" mean?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LBH edition issue

Several of you have asked if the tenth edition of the Little, Brown Handbook would work for this class. I'm not familiar with the tenth edition, but I think it probably will. In Comp 2 we use the LBH mainly as a guide to MLA formatting, and the tenth edition should work about as well as the eleventh (which isn't particularly impressive in its sections on documenting web sources). If you have the tenth edition, I don't recommend buying the eleventh. Go ahead and try using the tenth, but of course you're responsible for figuring out which pages in the tenth correspond with those in the eleventh.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Help with critical errors

Here are a few links for guidance on overcoming the critical errors we've discussed in class:

Fused sentence or comma splice
Sentence fragment,
Dangling modifier,
Subject-verb agreement error.

I hope these are helpful. If you'd like more help with these, then let me know. I'll be happy to work with you.

Update: Here are a few more resources to help you with run-on sentences (fs or cs):

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Web sites for current events

These are some of the best I've found:

Basic news coverage
News analysis (for more in-depth coverage)
Essays and Weblogs (for more depth and breadth of coverage)

Links for upcoming web readings

"Excitement Deprives Children of Happiness"

"Really Bad Ideas: The Tyranny of Science"

"Social Harmony" (Old men should be dangerous)

Class 'motto'

Accept it: you're all right a lot.


Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-9:15 a.m. or 1:40-2:55 p.m.

Instructor: Milton Stanley, M.F.A.W., M.Div.
Office hours: TR 9:20-12:20 and by appointment
Phone: 931.409.5436

Required Materials
Patterns for College Writing: A Rhetorical Reader and Guide, Eleventh Edition
The Little, Brown Handbook, Eleventh Edition
College dictionary
Notebook for freewriting, written responses, and quizzes

Course Description

English 1020 builds upon the basic skills covered in ENGL 1010. This course is designed to help you enhance and build your critical thinking skills through an emphasis on argumentation essays, literary analysis, and the completion of a research paper. For a comprehensive list of course goals and objectives, see the ENGL 1020 Weblog.

Class Requirements
  • Do all assigned readings in time for quizzes and class discussions.
  • Always come to class ready to write.
  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Complete and turn in all writing assignments on time.
  • Do all in-class assignments in dark ink on wide-ruled paper.
  • Turn in both printed and electronic copies of out-of-class assignments (please talk to me if you do not have access to word processing and printing services).
Essay Papers
To complete this course, you’ll write three out-of-class papers:
  • Essay 1 Brief argumentative essay
  • Essay 2 Research paper (long argumentative essay)
  • Essay 3 Literary analysis
Several of your in-class papers will also receive a letter grade.


Grades in this course will be assigned according to the following scale:
  • A = 90-100
  • B = 80-89
  • C = 70-79
  • D = 60-69
  • F = 0-59
Remember that, according to academic convention, a C is an average grade. The grade of B indicates above-average work, and an A is given only for outstanding performance. I want you to make the best grade you honestly can. I’m willing to work individually with you through the semester to help you improve your grade. I urge you also to take advantage of a wide range of services offered by Motlow State. Late-term begging, however, is a very bad idea.

Your final grade will be determined according to the following formula:
  • Research paper 30%
  • Other out-of-class essays 20%
  • Exams 15%
  • Quizzes 15%
  • In-class writing 15%
  • Class participation 5%
In short, 50 percent of your final grade is determined by what you do in class. No matter what your other averages may be, however, you must have an average of D or better on your out-of-class essays to pass this course.

Essay Format

For all out-of-class papers, use a 12-point standard font. Double space your essays on plain white paper with one-inch margins. See The Little, Brown Handbook for manuscript guidelines. Please follow MLA format.

Major Error Policy (grade-killers)
During this course you’ll be reminded how to eliminate these major grammatical errors:
  • Comma splice (CS)
  • Dangling modifier (DM)
  • Sentence fragment (Frag)
  • Fused sentence (FS)
  • Lack of subject-verb agreement (SVA)
Each instance of one of these errors in an essay will result in a one-half letter grade penalty.

Attendance Policy
You are expected to attend classes regularly, and attendance is sometimes critical for mastering the skills developed in this class. Please remember that quizzes and in-class writing assignments will be given almost every day and cannot be made up.

Classroom Deportment
Please keep in mind we’re all adults here. Texting, talking on the telephone, web browsing during class, or getting up to leave before class is over is simply rude and shows disrespect to your teacher, your fellow students, and yourself.

Plagiarism is copying someone else's work without giving proper credit to the author. It's cheating, and a single instance of flagrant plagiarism will cause you to fail the course if you're caught. Even inadvertent plagiarism, such as failing to cite a source, is a serious academic offense. Make sure you avoid plagiarism with everything you write. If you're not sure what plagiarism is or how to avoid it, review your Little, Brown Handbook. Use other resources as well, such as the Writing Center and the Turnitin online service. I am available to help you in person or by e-mail, provided you come to me before turning in your paper.

Assignments, helpful information, and special notices will be posted each day on the course weblog: http://mscc﷓engl﷓ Be sure to check the site frequently for important information about the course. Please see me if regular Internet access is a problem for you.

Writing Centers and SmarThinking

You can get one-on-one help with your writing at one of the MSCC writing centers. You also have the benefit of online tutorial help from the SmarThinking service at Please take advantage of both.

Other Information

I accept late work only in unusual circumstances. In no circumstance will I give make-ups for daily quizzes or in-class writing assignments. Late work will be lowered at least one letter grade. I do not accept very late work (e.g., saving all your essays till the end of the semester).

In most cases, in-class essays will be graded pass/fail. For the in-class average, every passing essay will be averaged as a grade of 100 and every failing essay as a 50. A missed assignment is averaged as a 0. That said, the vicissitudes of life are sometimes outside our control, so I'll cut you some slack. I will drop your three lowest quiz grades and your three lowest in-class essay grades. You will also be given the option of rewriting one out-of-class paper. For rewrites, I will accept only papers that have already been graded and returned.

Please see me if you need special accommodations in keeping with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

You’ve paid money for this course, and I want you to get what you’ve paid for. Should the McMinnville campus be closed due to unforeseen circumstances, we will, if possible, soldier on using the course weblog and other online resources.

The final exam for this course will be given in accordance with the MSCC exam schedule.

This syllabus hits only the high points and cannot include everything you need to know during the semester. Stay tuned for more.

A Final Note
Don't let all these dos and don'ts get you down. If you've made it this far, you probably have what it takes to make it through this course. I want you to do as well as you can, and I'll do my best to help you. But remember that you're the one in charge of your education, so take the initiative in doing the work, asking questions, and seeking help when you need it.

About your instructor

I'm honored to be your teacher this semester. In case you're interested, you can find out more about me here:

Curriculum vitae
Short essays
Full list of publications
Shorter list of publications

Once again, I look forward to working with you this semester to help you improve your writing, reading, and thinking skills.


This weblog is for Motlow State Community College students in Milton Stanley's ENGL 1020 classes, meeting in McMinnville. Once the semester begins, be sure to check back here daily for important course information. Please keep in touch, and may your work this semester be fruitful, rewarding, and enriching.