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Page history last edited by Caro Raedeker-Freitas 5 years, 10 months ago


RWS 100: Rhetoric of Written Argument

Fall 2016 Syllabus

Instructor: Caro Raedeker-Freitas

Email: cfraedeker@gmail.com

Office Location: SH 116

Office Hours: M 3:00-4:00, or by


Classroom: AH-3113

Class Time: MWF 9:00-9:50am


Getting Started

Q:What’s rhetoric?

A:Rhetoric is . . .

“the art of ruling the minds of men.” -Plato

“the faculty of observing, in any given case, the available means of persuasion.” -Aristotle

“reason well-dressed and argument put in order.” -Jeremy Collier

“the art, practice, and study of human communication.” -Andrea Lunsford


Q: What can I expect to learn in RWS 100?

A:Rhetoric is everywhere. In RWS 100, you’ll learn how to identify and analyze it, understand its purpose, and assess its effectiveness. You will examine the written arguments of others and craft your own—both skills that are fundamental for critical thinking, academic literacy, professional communication, and civic life. You’ll learn to write and revise essays that analyze complex arguments, use source materials responsibly, and that are themselves strategic in their consideration of purpose, audience, context, and structure. This course aims to help you develop and strengthen your academic writing as well as equip you with a rhetorical framework for inquiry and invention as you navigate both academic and everyday discourse.


As a part of the general education curriculum, all incoming SDSU students take RWS 100, but you landed in a particular section with me and twenty-four classmates. As your teacher, I aim to collaboratively create—with you—a classroom culture in which we intellectually challenge ourselves and others, ask questions, express thoughtful opinions, and avoid easy answers. In order to make this happen, it is vital that we be kind and respectful to one another at all times. Thank you for working with me and your classmates to make this discussion-based class rich, interesting, and fun.


Q:What texts and tools will I need?

A:For this class, you’ll acquire three texts:


  • Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein, They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing (3rd edition) W.W. Norton & Co., 2015. (purchase in SDSU bookstore)

  • Ann Raimes and Susan K. Miller’s Keys for Writers (7th Edition) (purchase in SDSU bookstore)

  • RWS 100 Fall 2016 Course Reader by Sheppard (purchase from CalCopy, located at 5187 College Ave., across the bridge on the east side of campus, next to Dominos)

  • Class Wiki: https://cfraedeker.pbworks.com/w/page/110221264/FrontPage

  • A personal blog, set up on Wordpress: http://wordpress.com/


Q:What should I bring to class?

A:For every class session I expect that you at least bring a copy of our current reading, any prompts or handouts relevant to that day’s activities, and tools for writing. Whether these items are hard copies or electronic is up to you. However, if you decide to read and write using electronic tools, I expect that they will be 1) adequate for the task at hand (no reading or writing on cell phones) and 2) non-disruptive to the classroom environment. That said, appropriate use of a laptop, tablet, or e-reader are fine tools, though a notebook or binder and a pen work well too.


Q:What should I not bring to class?

A:Our class sessions are only 50 minutes; our time together is limited and valuable! For this reason and so that we can cultivate a classroom culture of engagement and respect, cell phones must be put away in class. The same goes for any other distracting device, electronic or non. I also expect that any eating will be done before or after class, though beverages are acceptable. I will certainly often have my morning coffee in hand.


Policies, Procedures, & Resources

Q:Do I really need to come to class?

A:Though showing up every day won’t guarantee success in this class, being here reliably is the single easiest thing you can do to work for the grade you want. More than three unexcused absences will negatively impact your grade in the class. If you are absent, you are still responsible for knowing what was covered in class, what the homework is, and when it is due. You can find this information on Blackboard. I also suggest you exchange contact information with at least two of your classmates.


Q:So, I just need to make sure I’m in my seat between 9:00-9:50 three days a week?

A:Glad you asked! Just being here isn’t sufficient for either your attendance score or for the health of our classroom environment. I expect this discussion-based class to a site of lively intellectual activity. This means you should come to class each day ready to interrogate texts, ask questions, and engage me and your classmates in critical, respectful discussion.


Q:Do you accept late work?

A:I accept late work until two weeks after the due date. For each week that passes after the due date, the assignment will be docked a full letter grade. We will discuss the prompts for each of your major assignments several weeks in advance of their due dates, so please plan and manage your time accordingly. That said, please communicate with me if you have extenuating circumstances. Unexpected situations do arise in life. If this is the case for you, e-mail me or come see me during office hours and we’ll work out an alternative plan.


Q:What’s the policy on plagiarism?

A:All work in this class must be original. Plagiarism will result in serious consequences ranging from grade reduction, failing the class, or expulsion from SDSU. For more information on the university’s policy, please visit:

http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/senate/ policy/pfacademics.html. For information on just what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, check out the SDSU Library’s excellent tutorial: http://library.sdsu.edu/guides/tutorial.php?id=28.


Q:Should I really come to your office hours?

A:Office hours are an invaluable resource for students! By all means, please come to my office hours to discuss your readings, writing, rhetoric, the course, or college in general. It gives me the opportunity to get to know you a bit better, and you’ll leave with feedback, clarification, and/or answers to your burning questions.


Q:What if I need extra help on my writing?

A:The SDSU Writing Center provides an excellent free service to SDSU students. They offer thirty-minute sessions with an experienced writing tutor who can work with you at any point in your writing process. The Writing Center is located in the Love Library, Room LA 1103, which is in next to the Circulation Desk. For more information about hours and services, visit http://writingcenter.sdsu.edu/.


Q:What about accommodations for students with disabilities?

A:As your instructor, I am committed to making this class accessible to my students. If you are a student with a disability and think you’ll need accommodations for this class, it is your responsibility to contact Student Disability Services (SDS). Please note that accommodations are not retroactive, so it’s important to contact SDS as soon as possible. Only with an accommodation letter from SDS can accommodations be provided. SDS staff are available in the Capulli Center, Suite 3101, or by phone at (619) 594-6473 (voice) or (619) 594-2929 (TTD/TTY).


Q:How about student athletes?

A:Student athletes have demanding schedules. As your instructor, I am committed to helping you succeed in this course. To do so, regular and effective communication is necessary on your part. Please provide me with your away game schedule the first week of class. While no exceptions will be made for attendance or assignment deadlines, I’m happy to work with all student athletes in conjunction with Student Athlete Support Services (SASS). For more information on SASS’ academic advising and tutoring services, please call (619) 594-4793.


Q:What about counseling services?

A:College (and life more generally) can be stressful. SDSU has an excellent center for Counseling & Psychological Services that is open to students Monday through Friday from 8:00am-4:30pm. To set up an initial consultation, call (619) 594-5220. For immediate or emergency help, please call San Diego’s free 24-hour counseling access line at (800) 479-3339. If you’re feeling stressed out during the semester, C&PS has a Center for Well-Being with multiple relaxation stations on campus. C&PS is located in the Capulli Center, room 4401.


Requirements, Assignments, & Grading

Essays: You will write three 6-8 page formal essays (1-inch margins, 12 point font, double-spaced, and in MLA format) for this course. Writing is a process, so your grade on each essay will reflect not only your final draft, but your rough draft and/or proposal, your participation in a peer review workshop, and a conference (meeting) with me. On the day your essay is due, you’ll hand in all these working pieces, submitting hard copies of your peer-reviewed rough draft or proposal, its peer review workshop worksheet, and your final draft, stapled together.

Weekly Blog Posts: Each week (except weeks when you’re revising a formal essay), I’ll assign one short piece of writing—responses to the reading, reflections, or other homework. All of these will published on your blog. Please use http://wordpress.com/. Don’t worry, it’s fairly fast and easy to set one up. Should you need it, please refer to the “Wordpress Help” handout on the class Wiki.I will sometimes ask you to print out your blog post so that we can use them in class. You also get one freebie: you can skip one week without penalty, or I’ll drop your lowest score at the end of the semester.


Participation: Like I’ve mentioned throughout this syllabus, your success in this course and our success as a class depend on your in-class contributions! We’ll be discussing arguments about digital literacy, so I encourage you to express your opinions—they inspire good discussion. That said, it’s equally important that each of us work to maintain a safe, thoughtful, and respectful classroom community. In support of that goal, each of us should offer our insights, really listen to those offered by others, ask questions, and most importantly, be considerate and respectful to each other. Your participation grade considers the quantity and quality of your contributions to class discussion, as well as your attendance and conferences with me for each essay.


Grading Breakdown:

Essay 1: Constructing an Account of an Argument


Essay 2: Analyzing Rhetorical Strategies


Essay 3: Synthesizing and Joining the Conversation


Weekly Blog Posts




Total Points Possible



Grading Scale:





























RWS 100 Student Learning Outcomes

General Education Goals & RWS Learning Outcomes: Our Learning Outcomes Reflect the Goals and Capacities of the General Education Program. RWS 100 is one of several courses in the area of general education defined as “Communication and Critical Thinking.” Focusing particularly on argument, this course emphasizes four essential general education capacities: the ability to 1) construct, analyze and communicate argument, 2) contextualize phenomena, 3) negotiate differences, and 4) apply theoretical models to the real world. This course advances general education by helping students understand the general function of writing, speaking, visual texts, and thinking within the context of the university at large, rather than within specific disciplines. In addition to featuring the basic rules and conventions governing composition and presentation, RWS 100 establishes intellectual frameworks and analytical tools that help students explore, construct, critique, and integrate sophisticated texts.Within this framework of four general capacities, the course realizes four closely related subsidiary goals. These goals focus on helping students

  1. craft well-reasoned arguments for specific audiences;

  2. analyze a variety of texts commonly encountered in the academic setting;

  3. situate discourse within social, generic, cultural, and historic contexts; and

  4. assess the relative strengths of arguments and supporting evidence.


Our student learning outcomes for RWS 100 are closely aligned with these goals and capacities, and reflect the program’s overall objective of helping students attain “essential skills that underlie all university education.”


Essay Outcomes: the following four outcomes describe the four main writing projects or "assignment types" for the course.  Students will be able to:


  1. Describe and analyze an author’s argument, claims, project, support and rhetorical strategies.

  2. Analyze and evaluate an author’s project and argument and explain rhetorical strategies that this author—and by extension other writers—uses to engage readers in thinking about her argument.

  3. Construct an account of an author’s project and argument and carry out small, focused research tasks to find information that helps clarify, illustrate, extend or complicate that argument; use appropriate reference materials in order to clarify their understanding of an argument.

  4. Assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of multiple assigned texts, including discussion of rhetorical strategies, supporting evidence, audience, and text structure.


Semester Outcomes: the following points describe outcomes to work on throughout the semester, to be attained over the 15 weeks.  Students will be able to:


  1. describe elements of an argument--claims, methods of development, kinds of evidence, persuasive appeals; annotate the work that is done by each section of a written argument;

  2. use all aspects of the writing process--including prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading;

  3. choose effective structures for their writing, acknowledging that different purposes, contexts and audiences call for different structures; understand the relationship between a text's ideas and its structure;

  4. identify devices an author has used to create cohesion or to carry the reader through the text; use metadiscourse to signal the project of a paper, and guide a reader from one idea to the next in their writing;

  5. effectively select material from written arguments, contextualize it, and comment on it in their writing;

  6. determine when and where a source was published, who wrote it and whether it was reprinted or edited; understand that texts are written in and respond to particular contexts, communities or cultures; examine the vocabulary choices a writer makes and how they are related to context, community or culture, audience or purpose;

  7. respond in writing to ideas drawn from various cultures and disciplines, using the activity of writing to clarify and improve their understanding of an argument;

  8. analyze and assess  the relative strengths of arguments and supporting evidence

  9. analyze and assess arguments made by visual texts; incorporate visual images into their documents;

  10. craft well-reasoned arguments for specific audiences

  11. edit their writing for the grammar and usage conventions appropriate to each writing situation;

  12. assign significance to the arguments that they read;

  13. reflect on how they wrote their papers, and revise arguments and findings based on critical reflection.


Tentative Course Outline



Agenda Items


Week 1: M 8/29

              W 8/31

               F  9/2

  • Syllabus, Overview of Course, Introductions

  • What’s rhetoric?, the rhetorical situation, rhetorical analysis, and close reading

Week 2: M 9/5 No Class (Labor Day)

              W 9/7

               F  9/9

  • Applying PACES (project, argument, claims, evidence, strategies) to short texts

  • Charting a text and building an argument map

Week 3: M 9/12

              W 9/14

               F 9/16

  • Introduction to Thompson and first paper

  • Discussing and charting Thompson

  • Identifying claims and evidence—the language of analysis

Week 4: M 9/19

              W 9/21

               F 9/23

  • Thompson and digital literacy

  • Evaluating claims and evidence

Week 5: M 9/26

              W 9/28

               F 9/30

  • Rough draft of paper 1 due

  • Peer review workshop

  • Individual conferences


Week 6: M 10/3

              W 10/5

               F 10/6

  • Final draft of paper 1 due

  • Introduction to Unit Two and Carr

  • Discussion of Carr

Week 7: M 10/10

              W 10/12

               F 10/14

  • Analyzing rhetorical strategies

  • Writing about rhetorical appeals—ethos, pathos, logos

Week 8: M 10/17

              W 10/19

               F 10/21

  • Analyzing Carr and evaluating responses to Carr’s argument

  • Team Debate on Carr

  • Drafting paper 2

Week 9: M 10/24

              W 10/26

               F 10/28

  • Rough draft of paper 2 due

  • Peer review workshop

  • Individual conferences


Week 10: M 10/31

                W 11/2

                 F 11/4

  • Final draft of paper 2 due

  • Introduction to United Three and Boyd—digital literacy and “digital natives”

  • Discussing Boyd and charting text sections

  • Mapping claims and evidence

Week 11: M 11/7

                W 11/9

                 F 11/11 No Class (Veteran’s Day)

  • Putting Boyd in conversation with Thompson, Carr

  • Mapping connections

  • Synthesizing, analyzing, evaluating sources

Week 12: M 11/14

                W 11/16

                 F 11/18

  • The “politics of search” and re(search) literacy

  • Building claims, finding support, creating a space for your contribution

  • Drafting the introduction and body paragraphs

Week 13: M 11/21

                W 11/23 No Class (Thanksgiving)

                F 11/25 No Class (Thanksgiving)

  • Proposal for paper 3 due

Week 14: M 11/28

                W 11/30

                 F 12/2

  • Building your argument and entering the conversation

  • Refining and strengthening your argument

  • Handling rebuttals and evaluation

Week 15: M 12/5

                W 12/7

                 F 12/9

  • Rough draft of paper 3 due

  • Peer review workshop

  • Individual conferences

Week 16: M 12/12

                W 12/14

  • Final draft of paper 3 due

  • Class Party!


Use of Student Work

This semester two professors in the department of Rhetoric & Writing Studies are conducting research on first year students’ digital literacy practices. The professors would like RWS100 students to participate in a short online survey. The survey is about digital literacy and is closely connected to the texts and issues you will be discussing in class. (You can use the survey questions in your own writing if you wish.) Your response will be anonymous, no personally identifying information will be gathered, and your instructor will not see the results. Participation is voluntary. As part of this study the researchers would also like to examine a few pieces of the homework students do when writing about the topic of digital literacy on their blogs. This will be made anonymous and will not be shared with your instructor. Participation is voluntary and your instructor will not know if you participated. The results of this study may benefit future writing instructors and students at SDSU. The anonymous data collected may be used to revise curriculum and incorporate attention to specific digital literacies. It may be used in presentations and published work. Once the semester is over and students’ final grades are posted, the researchers are willing to share data from the study if you are interested in the results.

If you have any questions about the study, please contact the researchers. They are Dr. Chris Werry (cwerry@mail.sdsu.edu) or Dr. Jenny Sheppard (jsheppard@mail.sdsu.edu).


Class Contacts


Name:                                             Contact:


Name:                                             Contact:


Agreement on Plagiarism


I understand that teachers are required by SDSU policy to report cases of plagiarism. I understand that I must clearly mark other people's ideas and words within my paper. I understand it is unacceptable to do any of the following:


  • Submit an essay written in whole or part by another person, and to present this as if it were my own.

  • Download an essay from the internet, then quote or paraphrase from it, in whole or in part, without acknowledging the original source.

  • Reproduce the substance of another writer's argument without acknowledging the source.

  • Copy another student/person’s homework and submit this as the product of my own work.

I understand that the consequences for committing any of the above acts can include failure in the class, a note on my permanent record, and even expulsion from the university. I will not plagiarize or cheat.

Name (Print Legibly): ______________________________________________________________

Date _______________________________________________________________________________

(Signature) ________________________________________________________________________



Use of Student Work


I may occasionally wish to share anonymous student writing as an example in class. For example, it may be useful to show an example of a strong introduction, or discuss ways of revising a conclusion. Is it OK to use your writing in this way?


YES      NO

Name: _____________________________________________________________________________



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