135 travel writing syllabus
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135 travel writing syllabus

Course Number: ENGL 135, 2010

College/University: San Jose State

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Literary Landscapes Nonfiction Writing English 135, Section 1 Spring 2010 We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. --Pico Iyer Instructor: Professor Cathleen Miller Phone: 408/924-4441 Office: FO 125 Mailbox: FO 124 E-mail: Miller2go@earthlink.net Office hours: Thursday 4:30 6:30 p.m. and by appointment FURLOUGH INFORMATION You will notice on the schedule days marked...

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Landscapes Literary Nonfiction Writing English 135, Section 1 Spring 2010 We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. --Pico Iyer Instructor: Professor Cathleen Miller Phone: 408/924-4441 Office: FO 125 Mailbox: FO 124 E-mail: Miller2go@earthlink.net Office hours: Thursday 4:30 6:30 p.m. and by appointment FURLOUGH INFORMATION You will notice on the schedule days marked "FURLOUGH." Here is the reason: since 2003 the California State University System, of which San Jos State is a member, has lost over ONE BILLION DOLLARS in funding. System-wide the budget for this year was cut $584 million dollars, with $40 million dollars of that falling to SJSU. What does all this mean to you? You have seen your tuition increased as a result, at the same time classes you may have needed were cut. University administration has reduced their hours and will not be able to offer many services in a timely manner. Lecturers on campus have lost their jobs. The remaining faculty has agreed to a 9.23% pay cut to help the budget shortfall, and as part of this agreement, the faculty union mandated that we must receive a proportional decrease in workload, hence the furloughed days of the semester we will not meet. What this all adds up to is a crisis which will only worsen with time if we do not pressure our state legislature to properly fund education. I encourage you to step up and get involved in your higher education, your future, and the future of California. Contact your state legislators and tell them what you think. Contact our Governor. Attend the rallies and events that will occur on campus this semester. Support Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico's bill AB656 to help fund state universities and community colleges with a tax on oil companies. By taking action, we can make change! CONTACT INFORMATION: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger State Capitol Building Sacramento, CA 95814 Phone: 916-445-2841 To find state legislators' contact information, go to http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html COURSE DESCRIPTION One survey found travel writing to be the second most desired profession on the planet--after movie star. In this semester's nonfiction workshop we will explore its nuts and bolts by doing writing exercises, reading examples, and writing short and long travel pieces. Luckily we live in one of the most desirable travel destinations in the world, so even if you can't trek to Nepal, you can write marketable stories about the Bay Area. (Prerequisite English 71.) LEARNING OBJECTIVES Explore travel writing as a subgenre of creative nonfiction. Develop the skills of an accurate reporter. Develop the skills of a thoughtful editor. Become an active part of a literary community, through writing, editing, discussion, and participating in our class dialogue. TEXTS Travel Writing, 2nd edition; ed. Don George (publisher: Lonely Planet) Hold the Enlightenment; Tim Cahill (publisher: Vintage) The Best American Travel Writing 2006; ed. Tim Cahill (publisher: Houghton Mifflin) A good quality grammar handbook, dictionary and thesaurus Please note that The Best American Travel Writing 2006 is out of print, and therefore is not available at the campus bookstore. However, it's easily obtained on the Internet. WRITING ASSIGNMENTS You will be writing in four levels of increasing length and complexity. The first, completely informal level, is your in-class writing exercises. The second is short assignments of two pages in length; these will offer opportunities for you to experiment with different ideas and styles--completely free of risk--as you will be given credit for merely completing the assignment. The third category is the drafts of your full-length essays that you will workshop in class. The fourth category is the final version of the major assignments. These should be 1,500-2,500 words in length and will be graded for overall quality. All papers must, of course, be nonfiction and travel related. One essay should focus on a place you know well (the familiar) and one should focus on a place you are visiting for the first time (the foreign). The latter assignment will test your reportage skills as well as your writing ability, because a successful travel scribe must master both of these arts. WORKSHOP You will learn to critique other writers' work, which is a very different skill than being a talented writer. The trick is to 1) praise what's good 2) ascertain what's wrong with a piece 3) offer positive criticism and 2 suggestions on how to fix it--while realizing the individual style and goals of the author may differ from your own. You will be divided into small workshop groups and will remain in these groups for the whole semester. Students should type a critique for each workshop submission, then provide a copy to the author and a second copy to Professor Miller. Critiques should be at least 200 words in length. MARKET PRESENTATION Students will give a brief presentation on a potential market they have researched for travel writing and make a handout for each member of the class summarizing the information. CLASS PARTICIPATION Your class participation grade is based on the contributions you bring to class discussion. Reading the assigned material and giving it some thought will aid greatly in this endeavor. Class participation also includes the effort and wisdom you deliver while editing the work of your peers, and the quality of critiques you write. CLASS ETTIQUETTE Please observe the following: no eating during class, no laptop use, and of course, no cell phone use. GRADES Your final grade will be comprised of the following: Familiar Place Essay Foreign Travel Essay Short Essays & Presentation Class Participation & Critiques 25% 25% 25% 25% Grades are meant to reflect, quite simply, the quality of your work. Three quarters of your grade will be based on your writing, and the assignments will be judged on their creativity, clarity, content, and the quality of the prose. Since this is an upper-division course, it is a given that have you a fundamental mastery of the proper mechanics of standard written English, like punctuation and grammar. Misuses of these will count against your grade. When I finish reading a piece I should feel that you, as a writer, had something important to say--not that it was a waste of my time. Grading Guidelines: A paper: has a creative approach, polished prose free of mechanical problems, keeps the reader's interest, is organized logically, flows smoothly, impresses the reader with the author's ethos and command of the topic, was delivered on deadline and within the appropriate word count. B paper: has all the above except may contain one or two minor areas for improvement. C paper: C is considered "average" by departmental policy. Usually a C paper offers lackluster creativity and/or content and needs further refinement at the prose level. 3 D paper: is either substantially shorter than the required word count, or has so many problem areas that it is difficult to follow because it contains poorly-crafted content or a plethora of mechanical problems. It is below the standard of writing acceptable for an upper-division undergraduate course. F paper: is a failure to achieve the majority of requirements outlined above for an A paper. IMPORTANT NOTE: One of the vital aspects of this course is learning how to manage and schedule the different aspects of a writing project, especially ones involving research. For this reason, deadlines are extremely important. The grade for any paper handed in late, whether for the draft workshop, or the final, will immediately be reduced by one letter grade. In other words, if you receive a C on a paper, but handed in late work, your final grade on the assignment will be a D. DEPARTMENTAL GRADING POLICY The Department of English reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the official SJSU Catalogue ("The Grading System"). Grades issued must represent a full range of student performance: A = excellent; B = above average; C = average; D = below average; F = failure. In English Department courses, instructors will comment on and grade the quality of student writing as well as the quality of the ideas being conveyed. All student writing should be distinguished by correct grammar and punctuation, appropriate diction and syntax, and wellorganized paragraphs. ATTENDANCE Required, because English 135 depends on your participation each day. You are allowed one unexcused absence before your grade can be dropped, and students who come in after roll call will be considered absent. If you are ill, or are presented with an emergency that will cause you to miss more than one class, please contact me as soon as possible. GUIDELINES In order to be successful in this course there are some simple guidelines to follow. First, come to class prepared to participate. This means having done the assignments, read the material, and arriving equipped with questions, comments, and observations. The second guideline is to think and plan well ahead of assignments. Begin from day one to anticipate your schedule, topics for papers, research sources, time when you can travel, etc. And third, if you have any questions that you need further assistance with, please feel free to consult me during my office hours. I give priority to students who have made appointments; otherwise meetings are on a first-come, first-served basis. I am available via email, but only for brief questions; this medium should not be considered a substitute for an in-person conversation. PAPER FORMAT All material handed in should follow the same guidelines as those for the professional submission of manuscripts: 4 y typewritten, double spaced, with copy dark enough to be easily read y do not double space between each paragraph y use one-inch margins on all sides y text on one side of the paper only y twelve-point type in a highly-legible font y your name, course number, the assignment title, and date single-spaced in the upper left corner of p. 1 y double space, then center the title on the first page; double space again and then begin the body of the text y include page numbers y staple or paper clip pages together SJSU ACADEMIC INTEGRITY POLICY Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University, and the University's Academic Integrity Policy require you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty are required to report all infractions to the office of Judicial Affairs. The policy on academic integrity can be found at http://www2.sjsu.edu/senate/S04-12.htm. The SJSU rules against plagiarism are set forth in the SJSU Catalogue, which defines plagiarism as the act of representing the work of another as one's own (without giving appropriate credit), regardless of how that work was obtained, and submitting it to fulfill academic requirements. Plagiarism at SJSU includes, but is not limited to: (1) the act of incorporating the ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, or parts thereof, or the specific substance of another's work, without giving appropriate credit, and representing the product as one's own work. It is the role and obligation of each student to know the rules that preserve academic integrity and abide by them at all times. This includes learning and following the particular rules associated with specific classes, exams, and/or course assignments. Ignorance of these rules is not a defense to the charge of violating the Academic Integrity Policy. All instances of violating the Academic Integrity Policy will be reported to the Dean of Student Services. CAMPUS POLICY ON COMPLIANCE WITH AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities register with the DRC to establish a record of their disability. 5

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