Writing II

English 106-053
Meeting in Mundelein Center 605, Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM

(Be sure to check out the course schedule.)

Course Description

Our goal in this course is to have you write clear, perceptive, and sophisticated essays in which your own voice and authority are well established. In our writing we often rely on topics of immediate concern and interest to us; for the purpose of this course we will concentrate on topics that revolve around the idea of “community.” Through assigned reading and responsive writing, we will explore such ideas as what makes something a community, what things strengthen a community, and what things threaten a community’s existence. We will read essays, comics, and fiction in an attempt to come to terms with these and other large ideas. In the process, we will develop analytical and research skills that will help one succeed in a university education and in a lifetime of active learning.

Required Texts

These materials, along with the (recommended) MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed., will be available at Beck’s. I also suggest you purchase a good dictionary, if you don’t already own one. (In addition, Loyola requires you to purchase Your Introduction to Writing at Loyola and the Writer’s Harbrace Handbook, brief ed.)

Grammar and Mechanics

You are expected to be familiar with English grammar. If you have questions concerning this subject, do not hesitate to contact me. You should also use The Elements of Style as a resource. The Writer’s Harbrace Handbook contains an excessive amount of grammatical information, which you might find useful. As far as grading is concerned, you will only be marked down if “improper” grammar interferes with the meaning you are attempting to generate or convey.

Participation and Attendance

During our time in class, we will spend the majority of our time discussing the assigned reading or your writing or both; your participation is necessary for this to be an actual conversation. Because we need your input, your regular attendance is also important. I realize that things may come up that prevent your attending class; therefore, you have two “free” absences, for use as sick, personal, or study days. Three or more absences will negatively affect your participation grade; more than six absences are grounds for failure.

Note well: Attendance is required on days that essays are due—only family or medical emergencies are reasonable excuses for missing those class periods. (On each day that an essay is due, we will go through a series of peer editing exercises, which we will discuss in detail before the first essay is due. If you miss one of these peer-editing days, you may hinder another student’s success!)

Academic Honesty

Familiarize yourself with Loyola’s policies concerning academic honesty. Especially important in a writing course is the policy on plagiarism—a form of intellectual theft, which is more specifically discussed in many writing handbooks, Writing with Sources, and Your Introduction to Writing at Loyola. Plagiarism is a very serious offense and will result in immediate failure of this course and in further consequences determined by the university. See me if you have any questions regarding the appropriate use of outside sources.


Generally I will evaluate your writing along similar lines to those listed in Your Introduction to Writing at Loyola (16-17). I will not accept late response papers except in extraordinary circumstances. Grades for late essays will be lowered by one grade for each day they are late, and you will need to schedule a time with me to do any peer editing exercises in which you are unable to participate. Extensions may be granted up to one week before the paper is due; I will take extraordinary circumstances into account before lowering a grade.

The class’s grade distribution is as follows:

Graded Material

Response Papers

The purpose of response papers is to get you to think about the readings and to have you express your interpretations in a reasonably coherent manner. Your responses will help you initiate and participate in our discussions about the assigned readings. These need not be formal essays, but rather in the tone of casual observations. Of course, the sentences must be strung together meaningfully and must have a point. (While comments such as “I liked character X in The Corrections” or “this was such a great essay” are acceptable as part of your larger commentary, I encourage you to think critically before writing out your responses. Why did you like—or dislike—character X? What made the essay great or boring?) Grammar is not a big issue in the responses and will not affect your grades. However, I will direct you towards any repeated errors or mistakes that I find in your work and will advise you on the matter. More important to these responses are the questions you ask a text. What makes it work? Was there something particular that bugged you about it? Questions abound—at each turn, make sure to ask yourself why you think something and why it may be worth addressing.

There are a total of nine response papers during the term; the schedule indicates when you are expected to have handed in your response papers. Of the nine responses, you are expected to complete eight of them. For each of these papers, you have the option of responding to any one of the assigned readings; note, however, that your response is due on the same day that the reading is scheduled. Hand in your response at the end of class: you may wish to reference it during our in-class discussion. Each response should be no longer than one single-spaced page.


Over the course of the semester you will be expected to complete two essays, each at least five double-spaced pages long. The topic of each essay is of your own choosing, but it should be at least loosely focused on issues surrounding “community.” Issues currently in the public sphere may be especially fruitful. In each essay, you should attempt to persuade or convince your reader to agree with your possition. (Success is not a requirement for a “good” grade!) These essays should also be based not only on your position but also on research. To help us reach this goal, we will orient ourselves in the library and learn about some of the research methods at our disposal. Details concerning each essays requirements will be made clear at least two weeks before the due date—both as a handout and online.

Essays will also be “workshopped”—that is, you and another student will exchange papers for in-class peer evaluation. I will explain how this will work in the third week of class. In any case, you will be required to bring two copies of your essay to class on the due date (one copy for me, one for your peer-editors to mark as they see fit).

The “final exam” falls under the essay portion of your grade. For the exam, you will be expected to revise your second essay, which is due at the exam time; during the allotted exam time, you should be prepared to spend a few minutes discussing your paper topic and research.

Essay 1

For this assignment, you are expected to write an essay in which you address an issue concerning community.

The essay’s topic is of your choosing—write about something that interests you, although it is advisable to avoid “hot-button” issues like abortion, gun control, and the death penalty, unless you sincerely believe that you have something new to contribute to those conversations. (If they can still be called conversations!) You don’t need to address something that affects the United States, or even issues that are of contemporary concern. For example, historical, scientific, and literary analyses are also welcome.

As you determine what you want your topic to be, I welcome your questions and concerns regarding this assignment. Here are a few technical requirements:

This assignment is due Tuesday, Feb. 17.

Essay 2

For this assignment, you are expected to write an essay in which you address an issue concerning community, preferably the same topic that you chose for your annotated bibliography. If you wish to pursue the same topic you wrote about in your first essay, you must see me for approval and demonstrate that this essay will be significantly different from your previous work.

Note well: you need to pursuade your audience to the position that you support. This means that you need to state a clear thesis and structure your argument and analysis around that thesis. You will also need to anticipate your opponents’ possible objections to your position and address those concerns.

I welcome your questions and concerns regarding this assignment. Here are a few technical requirements:

This assignment is due Thursday, April 8.

Annotated Bibliography

A well-written argument often relies on excellent research. An annotated bibliography can help you find your bearings in a morass of data and opinion. This bibliography will be a byproduct of our time in the library and should point to your final essay. More information regarding this assignment will be available in the second week of class. For the library-related portion, you will need to decide what you are interested in researching and writing about—the deadline for this is listed on the schedule. If you feel unable to come up with a topic, please see me; we can probably brainstorm something.

Details: In conjunction with our library orientation (10-12 February), the annotated bibliography assignment is designed to support the final essay for the course. For the final essay, as with the first essay, you will be expected to “address an issue concerning the community” (though a different issue than what you address in your first essay, or at least differently nuanced).

Regarding the annotated bibliography itself: you are expected to compile a list of ten books and articles concerning your research topic—no more than two of these sources can come from the internet. Cite the sources according to the format described in Writing with Sources or the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. You are expected to annotate four of your selected sources. That is, write two paragraphs about each of them: the first should summarize the source and its argument; the second should evaluate the source. (Some good questions to ask: Is the argument effective? Why or why not? What evidence does the source use to support its assertions? Is the source useful for your own argument?)

If you have questions about this assignment, do not hesitate to ask me. (If my office hours aren’t convenient for you, we can arrange another time to meet. Questions via e-mail are also welcome.)

This assignment is due Tuesday, March 16.

Final Exam

The final consists of a revision of your second essay. The term revise comes from the Latin word for “to see again.” This is your opportunity to address missed opportunities, to clarify your argument, to sharpen the focus of your essay. Revision is a vital part of the writing process and should be treated with the same level of care that you used in the first writing of the essay.

Many of the guidelines for the final should by now be familiar:

That said, please note that this revision should be more than an exercise in correcting punctuation and spelling errors. I will appreciate your efforts to correct spelling and punctuation, but such efforts are not acceptable on their own. Spelling and punctuation are surface structures that enable the effective transmission of information but generally have little impact on the actual content of the essay. At every step in the revision process, therefore, you should ask yourself evaluative questions (e.g., “Do I support that claim?” or “Why is this statement important to my argument?”).

Please bring this revised essay—and the graded copy of the second essay—to the final exam, which will occur in our usual classroom on Tuesday, 20 April, at 8:30 a.m. Please be prepared, also, to say a few words about your essay, including your topic and your research methodology.

Late papers will not be accepted; you can expect to view your grade on QuikCHEK (or LOCUS?) approximately 72 hours after the exam.

The exam takes place on Tuesday, April 20, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., in the classroom.

Questions? Send me e-mail: .