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Instructor: Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D.

Class: MWF 10-10:50, Humanities Interim Classroom Facility (HICF) 100F. Code 21218

Office: Humanities Instructional Building (HIB) 409

Hours: MW 11-11:50 and by appointment

E-mail: ajdrake@ajdrake.com

Required Texts:


Ebest, Sally. et al. Writing from A to Z: The Easy-to-Use Reference Handbook. 3rd edition. Mountain View: Mayfield, 2000.

Hollowell, John. A Student Guide to Writing at UCI. Ed. Raymond Zimmerman. 7th edition. Edina: Burgess, 1999.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

Peterson, Linda et al. The Norton Reader.  New York: Norton, 2000.


What is 39B? Welcome to Writing 39B, a class designed to help you become a good reader and a proficient writer. 39B will prepare you to succeed in 39C (research), and 139 (the upper-division writing seminar).


Prerequisites: If you have not satisfied the Subject A requirement, you must pass WR 39A or 39A/Plus Humanities Core S/A (with a “C” or better) before enrolling in WR 39B. If you are required to take ESL courses, you must complete those courses before enrolling in WR 39A or WR 39B. If you are not sure about your ESL status, check with the ESL program in HIB 200.


Add/Drop/Pass-No Pass Policy: If you want to drop in the first two weeks, ask your instructor for a drop card. After the second week, you may not drop this course without permission from the Assistant Director of the Writing Program, Dr. Ellen Strenski (HIB 405, 949-824-5355). Such permission is rarely given. The same is true of attempts to change from a grade to the pass/no-pass option, or vice versa. If you are trying to add this class, your instructor can do that within the first two weeks if there is room for you. Otherwise, talk to the Composition Office (HIB 420, 949-824-6717).  They are open from 8-12 and 1-5 Monday through Friday. 


Second-Day Rule: If you are absent on the second day of class (Wednesday, April 5th.), you will lose your place on the class roster or the waiting list. If you lose your place, you must drop this course yourself by obtaining a drop card from the instructor and submitting it to the Registrar. You will not be dropped automatically.


What is the goal? My main goal this quarter will be to help you improve your analytical skills and your writing. I shall grade your work in part on your success in improving your grammar and other basic skills. Still, perfection is not a practical goal for a ten-week course. The goal is tangible improvement that will allow you to deal confidently with other writing classes, meet the demands of the workplace or graduate school, and explore your thoughts. I’ve designed study guides and a paper-commentary system to help you deal with the most common writing difficulties. I’ll leave aside the finer points of style in favor of building confidence in analysis and grammar.


What is all this about reading? The meaning of texts is not self-evident; exploring meaning demands attentive, disciplined, yet imaginative interpretation. I hope that this class helps you gain a sense of confidence in your ability to read and write critically and constructively. Most or all of you will, in some capacity, be writers and readers all your lives, especially if such terms are taken broadly, not confined to their usual literary connotation. Putting some effort into doing these things well in our current academic setting will be valuable to you in future.


Course as Contract: I think of this class as an ethical contract: I shall come to class prepared to help you understand the texts assigned and to work with you afterwards, and you will read the assigned materials attentively, show up for class having done your work on time, and be willing to improve your writing. 


Attendance and Assignment Completion Policy: Please attend class on time. More than three absences may affect the course grade; an even greater number of them may result in failure.  You must complete all four papers; otherwise, you will fail the course without exception.  Those who keep failing to complete their work or to attend class will fail the course as well.  Only a “C” or above grade for the course counts as passing.


Conferences: I suggest that you meet with me this quarter for at least two of your paper assignments.  Conferences usually last 20-30 minutes, and during them I can offer you individually tailored advice that it would be difficult to provide in class or in the comments I make on rough drafts.  I direct those comments at the class as a whole. Conferences are a major time commitment on my part and only a small one on yours, so please write down the time and location of appointments and keep them.  Missing an appointment for no good reason will count as an absence.


Working Drafts: I require that exploratory drafts and reasonably complete working drafts be turned in at a set due date before I accept any final papers. Late drafts may affect the final grade for the paper in question. I expect working drafts to be typed, double-spaced, spell-checked, and reasonably edited. Failing to turn in a rough draft makes me suspect plagiarism, and I reserve the right to refuse to read the final draft.


Comments on Working Drafts: My grammar markings for individual words and sentences will correspond to the abbreviations listed on the “Grammar Key” sheet that you will receive along with your marked draft.  That hard-copy sheet is keyed to the explanations you will find in the web page entitled “Grammar.” Please familiarize yourself with this system by examining the relevant web page. I do not usually mark entire papers because editing is an important part of your job as a developing writer. I may, therefore, mark about two-thirds of your draft, taking care to catch a few instances of a given writing problem. Then you can look up the problem in the Grammar Guide and find subsequent problems of the same type.


Late Paper Policy: Late essays will be marked down 2/3 grade for the first meeting they are late, 1/3 grade for each meeting thereafter. Don’t write your papers at the last minute! Obviously, at my discretion and in accordance with my sense of fairness, illness or legitimate emergency may earn an exemption from this rule.  


Journal Entry Requirement: By “journal entries,” I simply mean your responses to selected study questions that you can find by clicking on the “study questions” hyperlink at the top (the “navigation bar,” as it’s called) of this web’s pages. You can find instructions and a lettered list of journal entries in the “study questions” page. All entries are due in class the day we plan to discuss the relevant texts. After that I’ll still accept them, but will mark them as late. Lots of late entries will affect a student’s grade for the journal requirement, so please keep up with the reading. Word-process your responses and label them according to the entry numbers (as “A,” “B,” etc.) I’ll hang onto them so they make up a file of responses to be graded at an appropriate point in the quarter and then at the end of the quarter for a percentage of the course grade.  Most likely the percentage will be around 10%. Important: despite the relatively low percentage of the total grade the journal entries make up, I reserve the right to flunk students who fail consistently to do their journals. Neither is turning in all or nearly all of the entries at the quarter’s end acceptable.  They are to be done on time and conscientiously, and if you do them that way, you will find that your responses prepare you for class discussion and for writing your essays.


Peer Editing Requirement: The purpose of peer editing (which may make up a percentage of the course grade) is to help writers get a better grip on their own ways of structuring arguments and a better sense of their own stylistic strengths and weaknesses. 1. On the day the working draft is due, everyone will bring two extra copies (aside from the one to be given to me) of the draft and exchange them with the other two members of his or her peer-editing group. 2. Then, in class, each writer will read the other two writers’ papers in accordance with the guidelines you can find on the Peer Editing web page. 3. Once the essays have been edited, the editor should sign and return the edited drafts to the writer. 4. Finally, on the day the final draft is due, students will include in their folders the two copies of their own paper that others have signed and edited.