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English 494EI (Integrative Experience), Spring 2017

Writing, Identity, and English Studies

University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • INSTRUCTOR: David Fleming, PhD
  • CLASS MEETINGS: TTh 10:00 - 1:15 pm, Dickinson 114
  • OFFICE: South College W351
  • OFFICE HOURS: Th 2:30 - 4:00 p.m., & gladly by appt.
  • PHONE: 545-2972 (o)
  • EMAIL:

  •  Description  |  Assignments  |  Texts  |  Policies & Grades  |  Calendar  


    The Integrative Experience (IE) at UMass Amherst is a required, upper-division course that asks students to reflect on and integrate their learning, from their major to their General Education courses to their electives and extracurricular experiences; to further practice key “Gen Ed” objectives, such as oral communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary perspective-taking; and to begin to apply what they’ve learned at UMass to new situations, challenging questions, and real world problems. You can read more about the IE here.

    This course is a writing-intensive version of the IE, designed specifically for English majors regardless of focus: literary studies, American Studies, creative writing, professional and technical communication, etc.  Over the course of the semester, you’ll use writing to look back at the work you’ve done at UMass, in order to learn more about yourself as a writer, scholar, and person, and to look ahead to your future, thinking about possible applications of what you’ve learned at UMass to the rest of the world.  You’ll review your work in your English courses and assess where you are in that discipline, what projects you found most meaningful, and what you’d like to do more of in the future.  You’ll connect your work in English with the problems, methods, and discourses of some other subject you’ve studied here, thinking about disciplinary intersections and roadblocks.  You’ll think about how you might apply the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired in college to problems, communities, and/or organizations in the “real world.”  And you’ll imagine yourself – your knowledge, skills, experiences, and desires – in some job, profession, program, or situation after college.  Throughout, we’ll use the non-fiction, personal essay as the focus of both our reading and writing.  There will also be opportunities to practice your skills of oral presentation and multi-media and digital composing.  At the end of the semester, you’ll collect your work from this course, as well as other materials from your time here, into an online portfolio, showcasing your knowledge, skills, accomplishments, and aspirations.

    The different projects of this course will ask you to think through different intellectual and practical problems, engage different audiences and communities, and practice creating and communicating in different genres and media.  The goal of it all is not only to continue your studies in English; it’s to think carefully, with others, about where you are at this moment in your life and where you would like to be next.

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    Work in the course will include:

    Reading.  Reading is important for writers: for inspiration, for modeling, for centering reflection and discussion.  We’ll try to do some reading every week, from both professional writers and one another.  I’ll occasionally ask you to bring in a written response to our reading.

    Writing.  The main work of the course will be your own writing.  We’ll do a series of projects, all focused on the IE goals of reflection, integration, and application, each project giving you practice in different kinds of thinking, writing, and communicating.  Tentatively, we’ll undertake the following projects:

    1. self: in this project, you’ll introduce yourself to others in the class by trying to articulate this moment in your life and education, looking back at how you have arrived here and looking ahead to where you want to go next;
    2. major: in this project, you’ll look back at your work in your English courses, reflecting on the projects that have meant the most to you, that you have struggled the most with, that most tellingly point a way forward for you;
    3. college: in this project, you’ll connect your work in English with the problems, methods, and discourses of some other subject you’ve studied here, thinking about disciplinary intersections and roadblocks, possibilities and problems;
    4. community: in this project, using both research and reflection, you’ll imagine how the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired at UMass Amherst might apply to some problem, organization, or community in the “real world”;
    5. life: in this project, you’ll practice presenting yourself – your knowledge, skills, experiences, productions, and aspirations – to prospective employers, graduate programs, or other potential “sponsors” of your future self.

    Exercises in oral presentation and multi-media composing. In addition to traditional, print-based reading and writing, we’ll also practice public speaking and multi-media & digital composing, doing at least one exercise per project in one of these “other” media.

    Obligations to our writing community. We will do much of our reading, writing, speaking, and composing together; and we’ll be sharing our work often in class and in other venues.  Your sensitive and sympathetic participation in both small group and whole-class discussions and activities (in-person and online) will be crucial!

    Final portfolio. At the end of the course, in lieu of a final exam, you’ll produce an online portfolio of your work from the semester, including as well work from other courses and extracurricular experiences and a reflective introduction about yourself.

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    In addition to free readings, available through our Moodle site, there are two required textbooks, listed below, both available for purchase through Amazon.

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    Class Policies & Grades

    Please read the following policies carefully and let me know if you have questions about any of them.

    Attendance:  Regular attendance in this class is important and thus required.  If you must miss class for an unavoidable, legitimate reason – serious illness, death in the family, religious observance, etc. – let me know as soon as possible, and remember that you are responsible for any missed work.  Beyond one unexcused absence, your final grade will be reduced 1/3 letter grade for each day missed.  Coming to class excessively and/or repeatedly late, or turning in work late, may also result in penalties. For campus-wide expectations about attendance, see the University’s Academic Regulations 2016-17.

    Final grade.  Your final grade for the semester will be based on the following formula:

    Exercises (reading, public speaking, multi-media and digital composing, etc.)


    Writing projects


    Project 1: self


    Project 2: major


    Project 3: college


    Project 4: community


    Project 5: life


    Final portfolio




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    Calendar (tentative)

    day topics and assignments
    1 T 01/24 introduction to class; assign project 1: self
      Th 01/26 invention workshop
    2 T 01/31 first draft project 1 due: peer response
      Th 02/02 writing workshop
    3 T 02/07 project 1 due; assign project 2: major
          Mon., Feb. 6 is last day to add or drop the course with no record
      Th 02/09 invention workshop
    4 T 02/14 first draft project 2 due: peer response
      Th 02/16 writing workshop
    5 T 02/21 project 2 due; assign project 3: college
      Th 02/23 invention workshop
    6 T 02/28 first draft project 3 due: peer response
      Th 03/02 writing workshop
    7 T 03/07 project 3 due; assign project 4: community
          mid-semester: Wed., Mar. 8 is the last day to drop with a "W" (back to top)
      Th 03/09 invention workshop
    8 03/12 - 19 Spring recess
    9 T 03/21 speeches
      Th 03/23 speeches, cont'd
    10 T 03/28 first draft project 4 due: peer response
      Th 03/30 writing workshop
    11 T 04/04 project 4 due; assign project 5: life
      Th 04/06 invention workshop
    12 T 04/11 field work
      Th 04/13 first draft project 5 due: peer response
    13 T 04/18 no class: UMass Monday
      Th 04/20 writing workshop
    14 T 04/25 project 5 due; assign final portfolio
      Th 04/27 portfolio presentations
    15 T 05/02 last day of class; portfolio presentations
      F 05/07 final portfolio due

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