Calling America “Home” – Changing Concepts of Community and Place in American Culture

Professor: Karla Armbruster
Institution: n/a
Course Number: ATL 150

Office: 295 Bessey Hall
Phone: 355-6654
E-mail: arinbrul3C&
Office hours: MW 10:00- 12:30; F 10:00- 11:00; and by appointment

Required Materials
* Eighner, Lars. Travels with Lizbeth . New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.
* Lunsford, Andrea, and Robert Connors. The St. Martin’s Handbook . Third Edition. St. Martin’s Press, 1995.
* Lopez, Barry. The Rediscovery of North America . Random House, 1992.
* Morrison, Toni. Beloved . Penguin, 1987.
* Course packet available at Ned’s Bookstore.
* At least 2 diskettes suitable for use with a Macintosh computer

Course Objectives
The main objective of this course is to develop your writing skills. We will concentrate especially on improving your awareness of your own writing process and rhetorical choices. We will cover concepts and strategies including invention, audience, purpose and focus, drafting, organization, style, library research, and writing essay examinations. However, the course will involve a significant amount of reading as well. We will read and discuss a variety of American historical, cultural, and literary texts, and your writing assignments will be in response to those texts and our discussions of them.

The special focus of this course is what it means to call America “home” and the various ways that a sense of home grows out of and affects individuals’ interactions with the places that they live and the communities with whom they share those places. As we will discuss, ideas about “America,” “home” and “community” have taken on various meanings during different time periods and for people of differing cultural backgrounds. For example, for people of European ancestry, establishing a “home” in North America often meant the destruction or significant alteration of the communities, both human and ecological, that were here before them. As our readings will reveal, dominant notions of who belongs to the American community have historically been quite limited, excluding large groups of people and also, as writers such as Aldo Leopold point out, excluding animals, plants, and other aspects of nature on which we are in fact biologically and physically dependent.

However, throughout the semester, we will go beyond the examination of these dominant viewpoints by reading a variety of texts (and viewing several films) which express and analyze many different ideas and experiences of community and place in America. Our goals will be to use class discussion and writing assignments to explore and compare these different experiences, to develop our own opinions on what it means to call a community or place our home, and to understand how varied cultural and historical interpretations of community and place have contributed to current environmental and cultural issues.

Assignments, Grades, and Policies
I will base your grades on how well you develop skills in writing, reading, and the critical thinking essential to performing those two tasks well. Although we will not spend an extensive period of time on mechanical skills such as grammar and punctuation in the course, you will need to observe the rules and conventions of standard American edited English. In the end, if your paper is littered with distracting mechanical errors, it will take away from what you have to say. I will evaluate these skills through the writing assignments you will turn in throughout the quarter. Other factors which will affect your grade will be your evaluations of other students’ work, attendance, homework, and class participation.

I will compute your final grade according to the following breakdown:

Individual Papers
Paper I 10%
Paper 2 10%
Paper 3 15%

Homework/Writing Activities/Quizzes 10%

Research Project
Annotated bibliography 10%
Collaborative Paper 10%

Group presentation 5%

Attendance and participation 15%

Peer responding 5%

Final essay exam 10%

Writing Assignments: Major writing assignments will include three individually written essays, one research project involving an individually prepared annotated bibliography and a collaboratively written paper, and a final essay examination. You will receive a detailed description of each paper when I assign it to the class, and I will pass out a copy of my grading criteria when I assign the first paper. You are required to bring to class at least two preliminary drafts of each individually-written paper, and these drafts must accompany the final draft of each paper when you submit it for a grade. Your final draft should indicate that you have made substantial revisions during your drafting process based on my recommendations, the advice of other students, and your own ideas for improvement. In addition to drafts, there will be at least one written homework assignment related to each individually-written paper that will be due in class early in the paper process; however, it should be turned in for a grade with the final draft. I will also give pop quizzes when necessary to make sure you’ve read and understood assigned texts.

Group Activities and Assignments: You will also be participating in a number of group activities and assignments this semester; working collaboratively is an invaluable aid to improving your own thinking and writing skills and will also help prepare you for group activities in future courses or jobs. The most significant of these is the research project, which will involve a collaborative choice of topic and writing assignment (although there will be an individual component-the annotated bibliography); this project will be described at greater length in the assignment sheet I will distribute later in the semester. You will also meet in small, peer responding groups throughout the semester to go over drafts of your papers; because these groups work best when everyone takes them seriously, your participation in peer responding will account for 5% of your final grade. Another group assignment will be your group presentation, in which your group will lead a discussion and/or activity relating to the texts assigned for discussion on a certain day of class. This assignment, also worth 5%, is designed to add variety to our class and to encourage you all to become active participants in the classroom community.

Attendance: This course will involve a great deal of class discussion, and you will work in groups regularly. Thus, it is essential that each class member be present at every class. Normally, unexcused absences equivalent to a week of class will not affect your participation and attendance grade, but any absences beyond that definitely will. If you miss more than three weeks of class you may receive a failing grade for the entire course and should consider dropping. If you have a legitimate reason for missing class (such as illness or a death in the
family), please contact me as soon as possible. You are responsible for finding out what you missed, and for completing assignments discussed while you were absent. If you are unable to contact me in time to find out about an assignment, then you should call a classmate. It is not my responsibility to contact you and tell you what you’ve missed.

Conferences and Communication: Each student is required to come to my office for a brief conference at least once during the semester. I will provide sign-up sheets for conferences during weeks when I expect to see many students (usually right before final drafts of papers are due). During other weeks, you are also encouraged to stop by my office during my office hours without an appointment or at other times (by appointment!) to discuss ideas, readings, papers, or problems. Another excellent way to communicate with me is by e-mail; we will be meeting in a computer lab on Mondays, which will give us the opportunity to get everyone comfortable with this type of communication.

Jobs, Sports, and Other Extra-Curricular Activities: I understand that many of you have jobs or other activities that require a significant time commitment. However, you must make sure that these activities do not interfere with attendance or with completing your assignments. If you suspect that this situation will occur, look immediately for another section of ATL 150 which is more compatible with your schedule.

Plagiarism: Don’t do it!! Plagiarism is using someone else’s words or ideas as your own (as opposed to citing someone else’s words and ideas and giving that person credit, or getting someone to help you with your own work, which are both quite acceptable academic practices).

Plagiarism is a very serious offense, and suspected cases will be sent to the appropriate university personnel for review. If you have any doubt about whether your use of someone else’s work might count as plagiarism, please talk to me.

Outside Help
Feel free to come to me for help outside of class. However, another great place to go for extra help with papers is the Writing Center. The Writing Center is not a remedial writing lab. It serves all members of the university community — undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty — who want individualized help in various areas such as topic development, organization, sentence structure, mechanics, or usage. It is also not an editing or proofreading service — while consultants will help you with individual assignments, they want to concentrate on improving your skills.  I strongly encourage you to try visiting the Writing Center early in the semester; although they do accept walk-ins on a first come, first served basis, it’s a good idea to drop in or call to make an appointment ahead of time. Their hours are MWTh 10:00 am-9:00 pm, F 10:00 am-2 pm, and Sunday 1:00 pm-6:00 pm. The Writing Center is located in 300 Bessey Hall, and the phone number is 432-3610.

Daily Schedule
SMH St . Martin’s Handbook
Sections 75 and 76: Each unit corresponds to one day of class
Section 48: Units 1 and 2 will occur on M and W; 3 and 4 will occur on F

All sections:
Monday classes will take place in 214 Bessey Hall (computer lab) Numbers in boldface: Early in the semester, you will draw a number from 1-26. The day your number is listed in boldface on the syllabus, you are required to bring in 27 typed copies of the written assignment due for that day; they will be used for a large group discussion of the assignment.

Failure to complete this assignment will lower your class participation grade.

Week I January 10-12
Unit 1: Introduction to course.
Unit 2: Discuss writing process. Due: SMH Chapter 1.

Week 2 January 15-19
Unit 1: Workshop: Using word-processing and e-mail.
Due: Abbey, Pelletier and Poole, and Kim (from packet).
Unit 2: Continue discussion of readings. Activity: Sense of place.
Unit 3: Due: Description of place/community (1-3); Oldenburg (from packet).
Unit 4: Due: Lopez, The Rediscovery of North America .

Week 3 January 22-26
Unit 1: Paper I assigned; discuss purpose and audience, invention.
Due: SMH Ch 2, pp. 32-39.
Unit 2: Continue discussion of Lopez
Unit 3: Workshop: Peer responding.
Unit 4: Due: First draft of Paper 1 (4-6).\

Week 4 January 29-February 2
Unit 1: Drafting and revising.
Due: SMH pp. 40-54, Ch. 4; Creation stories and Silko (from packet).
Unit 2: Workshop: Purpose and focus. Due: Sample drafts 7-8 only.
Unit 3: Peer responding. Due: Second draft of Paper 1.
Unit 4: Workshop: Reading difficult texts. Due: Rowlandson (from packet).

Week 5 Feb 5 -9
Unit 1: Continue discussion of Rowlandson. Due: Hawthorne.
Unit 2: Movie: The Last of the Mohicans .
Unit 3: Continue viewing movie.
Unit 4 Finish movie and discuss. Due: Paper 1.

Week 6 February 12-16
Unit 1: Paper 2 assigned; discussion of using quotations. Due: Nash (from packet).
Unit 2: Due: Meriweather Lewis and Northwest Ordinance (from packet).
Unit 3: Due: Crevecouer (from packet).
Unit 4 Due: Reaction to Crevecouer using quotes (9-1 I).

Week 7 February 19-23
Unit 1: Due: First draft of Paper 2 due including thesis statement (12-14).
Unit 2: Due: Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Mander (from packet).
Unit 3: Continue discussion.
Unit 4: Catch up.

Week 8 February 26-March 1
Unit 1: Workshop: Organization and transitions. Due: Sample drafts 15-16 only.
Unit 2:
Unit 3: Peer responding. Due: Second draft of Paper 2.
Due: Douglass (from packet).
Unit 4: Continue discussion of Douglass. Research project and groups assigned. Due: Paper 2.

Week 9 March 11-15
Unit 1: Workshop: Research skills and library visit.
Unit 2:
Unit 3: Workshop continued.
Due: Morrison, Beloved .
Unit 4: Continue discussion.

Week 10 March 18-22
Unit 1: Due: Group research topics and individual research plans.
Unit 2: Continue discussion of B e loved .
Unit 3:
Unit 4: Film: In the White Man’s Image .
Summary and citation of one wilderness preservation perspective assigned. Discuss film.

Week 11 March 25-29
Unit 1: Due: Thoreau and Jewett (from packet).
Unit 2: Continue discussion.
Unit 3: Wilderness discussion. Due: Summary and citation exercise (17-19).
Unit 4: Wilderness discussion.

Week 12 April 1-5
Unit 1: Collaborative group workshop. Due: Annotated bibliographies.
Unit 2: Due: Leopold, Carson, and Oliver (from packet).
Unit 3: Continue discussion.
Unit 4: Paper 4 assigned.

Week 13 April 8-12
Unit 1: Collaborative group workshop.
Unit 2: Due: Sanders and Bly (from packet).
Unit 3: Due: First draft of Paper I (thesis statements and lists of differences and
Unit 4: Due: Collaborative papers.

Week 14 April 15-19
Unit 1: Due: Eighner, Travels with Lizbeth .
Unit 2: Continue discussion.
Unit 3: Workshop: Introductions and conclusions.
Due: Sample papers 23-24 only.
Unit 4: Workshop: Taking essay exams.

Week 15 April 22-26
Unit 1: Review for exam and course evaluation.
Unit 2: Workshop: Writing style. Due: Sample papers 25-26 only,
Unit 3: Peer responding. Due: Draft 2 of Paper 3.
Unit 4: Final essay exam.

Exam Week April 29-May 3
Paper 3 is due by noon Monday in my mailbox or at my office.
I will be available for conferences during office hours to be arranged and during our scheduled examination periods: 12:45-2:45 Tuesday; 3:00-5:00 Wednesday; and 7:459:45 a.m. Friday.