back home

English 201, Section 10, Spring 2000


University of Wisconsin-Madison

 Description | Policies | Texts | Assignments | Grades | Calendar


English 201 is a general education writing course which fulfills the university’s Communication B requirement.  The course is designed to develop advanced skills in written argumentation and assumes successful completion of or exemption from the Communication A course.  Although it also involves work in reading, speaking, and listening, the emphasis of English 201 is persuasive and expository writing, which we will approach from the perspective of rhetoric, an academic discipline with a long history in Western education, and sometimes defined as the liberal art of speaking and writing well.  Although classical and medieval rhetoricians focused on speechmaking ? the discourses of the senate, bar, and pulpit ? later rhetoricians began to look closely at written texts, especially those of the academy.  More recently still, they have turned their gaze on scientific, technical, and even workplace communication.  In this course, we will concentrate on public and academic discourse.

We’ll organize our work through two of the five "canons," or parts, of classical rhetoric: style and invention.  Traditionally, "style" referred to the language, or verba, of public texts; and "invention," to their content, or res.  When we concentrate on the style of discourse, we are concerned primarily with the word-, sentence-, and paragraph-level choices that writers and speakers make.  When we concentrate on invention, by contrast, we are concerned with the ideas being argued.  Our investigation of style will include learning several different "styles" of written English, what we’ll call plain, figurative, academic, and classic styles.  For invention, we’ll learn a set of theories for analyzing public arguments and apply them to a casebook of texts concerning an important judicial controversy from U.S. history.  Both units of the course will require you to do extremely close reading of assigned texts, participate actively in class discussions, complete numerous written exercises, and write several medium-sized formal papers, worked through in multiple drafts and responsive to feedback from both myself and your classmates.

The general goals for the course are threefold: first, to increase your general self-consciousness about language; second, to increase your practical facility (resourcefulness, adaptability, efficiency) in handling rhetorical situations; and third, to foster in your work the pragmatic, grammatical, logical, aesthetic, and ethical habits of "good" (i.e., effective and responsible) writing.  This will be a new kind of course for most of you; it will present you with unfamiliar material and ask you to think in unfamiliar ways; but I am confident that you will find it useful.


Attendance is required for this class.  A poor attendance record (2 consecutive or 3 total absences) will adversely affect your grade.  If you miss class 4 times over the course of the semester, you will not pass the class.  If you anticipate being absent from class, notify me.  You are responsible for making up work missed due to absence, although such work may still be penalized.  Late arrival to class may be counted as an absence.

Papers and exercises should be turned in at the beginning of class on the date due and either typed or word-processed.  Late papers will be penalized one letter grade for each day late.  Due dates for drafts should also be taken seriously.  You will have the opportunity to rewrite each graded paper but only once, turned in at the latest one week after it is returned to you, and retaining all late penalties from the original paper.  Finally, in reading and responding to the writing of others, and in reading others’ comments on your own writing, it is expected that you will be fair, helpful, thoughtful, and open-minded.

As for plagiarism, it is academically dishonest, and often illegal, to present someone else’s ideas or writing as your own.  You cannot use even short phrases or parts of sentences obtained from other sources unless you properly document those sources.  Documentation includes marking quotations as well as providing notes, citations, and a reference list.  In addition, it is academically dishonest to submit your own previously written work for a current assignment or to submit an assignment in more than one class without the prior permission of the instructors.  Plagiarism and academic misconduct of any kind may constitute grounds for failing the course and may result in further disciplinary action according to university policy.


Readings in the class will come from the following texts, all required and on sale at the University Book Store.
  • Fisher, Alec.  The Logic of Real Arguments.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988.  0-521-31341-4.  $17.95 paper.  Required.
  • Martin, Waldo E., Jr. (1998). Brown v. Board of Education: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford Books.
  • Quinn, Arthur.  Figures of Speech: 60 Ways to Turn a Phrase.  Davis, CA: Hermagoras P, 1982.
  • Thomas, Francis-Noël, & Mark Turner. (1994). Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose. Princeton: Princeton UP.
  • Williams, Joseph M. (2000). Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace. 6th ed. New York: Addison Wesley (Longman).
  • In addition, there may be articles or chapters photocopied and distributed in class or placed on reserve in College Library.


    Graded work in the course will include 1) participation in class discussion and workshops; 2) exercises, occasional minor assignments, and quizzes; and 3) five formal papers, as follows:


    I use a system of checks on exercises and letter grades on papers, translating these to numbers for your final grade. Final grades will be computed using the following formula:

    CALENDAR (tentative)

    Unit I: Style
    • Week 01 Tu Jan 25 Introduction to one another and the course
     Th Jan 27 Williams, chs. 1-3, exercise 1
    • Week 02 Tu Feb 01 Williams, ch. 4, exercise 2
     Th Feb 03 Williams, chs. 5-6, exercise 3
    • Week 03 Tu Feb 08 Williams, chs. 7-9, exercise 4
     Th Feb 10 Williams, ch. 10 & Appendix, exercise 5
    • Week 04 Tu Feb 15 MacDonald
     Th Feb 17 MacDonald, exercise 6
    • Week 05 Tu Feb 22 Quinn, Paper 1 due
     Th Feb 24 Quinn, exercise 7
    • Week 06 Tu Feb 29 Quinn
     Th Mar 02 Thomas & Turner
    • Week 07 Tu Mar 07 Thomas & Turner, exercise 8
     Th Mar 09 Thomas & Turner, Paper 2 due
    • Week 08 Mar 13 - 17 Spring Recess
    Unit II: Invention (Argument)
    • Week 09 Tu Mar 21 Fisher
     Th Mar 23 Fisher, exercise 9
    • Week 10 Tu Mar 28 Fisher, exercise 10
     Th Mar 30 Fisher, Paper 3 due
    • Week 11 Tu Apr 04 Brown v. Board
     Th Apr 06 Brown v. Board, exercise 11
    • Week 12 Tu Apr 11 Brown v. Board
     Th Apr 13 Brown v. Board, exercise 12
    • Week 13 Tu Apr 18 Brown v. Board
     Th Apr 20 Brown v. Board
    • Week 14 Tu Apr 25 Brown v. Board
     Th Apr 27 Brown v. Board, Paper 4 due
    • Week 15 Tu May 02 Final project
     Th May 04 Final project
    • Week 16 Tu May 09 Final project
     Th May 11 Last class day, Paper 5 due
    • Week 17 May 13 - 19 Exams
     May 21 Commencement
     May 23 Final grades in
     back to top