Techniques of Interpretation:

Professor: Michael Branch
Institution: n/a
Course Number: ENC 1102

ENC 1102: Techniques of Interpretation
“Writing Nature”
Spring, 1994

Michael Branch
office: DM 466-B               mailbox: English Dept. office, fourth floor DM
office phone: 348-3935             home phone: 386-6155
office hours: Monday and Wednesday, 10:15-11:15 and 1:00-2:00 (or by appointment)

Being in the World: An Environmental Reader for Writers (edited by Slovic and Dixon)

The Bedford Handbook For Writers (edited by Diana Hacker)

Both texts are required and may be purchased at the university bookstore (the handbook will be in soon). Throughout the semester we will augment readings from Being in the World with Xeroxed pieces which I (or you) will provide. You should also have a good dictionary; I suggest The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, The Random House College Dictionary, or Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

Our course is called “Writing Nature” because we will devote a great deal of attention to environmental concerns and to the literary tradition which expresses those concerns. Although we will practice personal, argumentative, and analytical essays (as well as the research paper), the occasion for our writing will usually be drawn from American nature writing and from our own environmental values, questions, and concerns.

Participation: Some of each class meeting will be devoted to discussion, and your participation will be encouraged, provoked, and perhaps even inspired. I expect that you will attend class regularly and actively, with your questions and ideas ready. Because ENC 1102 is a writing workshop, it is essential that we agree to make the class a cooperative venture. Attend class regularly, be prepared, and participate.

We will write a research paper and several essays of about three to four pages in length. All assignments consist of a draft and at least one revision. Papers should be typed, double-spaced, and have the pages numbered and separated (if you use continuous paper). I strongly prefer that your essays be double-sided or printed on the back of previously used paper. Include your name, my name, the date, and a title. Papers must be prepared on a word processor with a “spell check.” If you do not yet know how to use a word processor, ask a friend to help you or attend one of the short courses offered by the university. You will be asked to resubmit all your work for evaluation at the end of the semester, so be sure to keep your returned papers. In addition to the research paper and the essays, we will also be doing occasional in-class writings, responses to readings, critiques of student papers, and short written exercises.

We will frequently discuss our writing in class. Once during the semester you will be required to Xerox one of your essays for each member of the class; please be prepared for the small expense associated with this requirement. We will pass around a sign-up sheet, so you will know in advance when you are responsible for providing papers for the workshop.

Attendance & Late Papers:
In this class you are allowed three absences, so missing more than three days of class will hurt your grade. If you have more than six absences you will not pass the course. Please come to class on time; if you are extremely or habitually late, I will count you absent. Papers are due at the beginning of class, so papers submitted after class on the due date are considered one day late. Late papers will be reduced by one full grade for each day they are late
(B- becomes C-, etc.). You must submit all papers to pass the course.

The Writing Center:
The writing center offers free, individual tutoring to writers of all skill levels. This is a certain way to improve your work through individual attention to your particular writing skills and problems. The Writing Center is in PC 31, and the phone is 348-2180.

We will not have a formal midterm or final examination, though we may have an essay or in class writing in place of these examinations.

Service Learning and Field Trip(s):
This class will offer you opportunities to take your interests and your education beyond the classroom. One option allows you to engage in community service, and to make that service experience the occasion for your writing (there is incentive to choose this option). Since much of our reading and writing will concern the natural world which surrounds us, we will also be sure to take at least one class trip out into that world. Would you like to canoe the Peace River, or hike Big Cypress, or wade the Fakahatchee Strand?

The ultimate goal of all our writing and discussion is to communicate with each other more effectively. I strongly encourage you to communicate with me so that I can be in a position to understand your frustrations and how we can cooperate to overcome them. If you are feeling particularly uncomfortable with your writing, I want to know about it. If you ever find my comments on your papers confusing or inconsistent, I want to know about it. If you run into difficulties (either in this class or outside of it) which hurt your concentration or confidence, I want to know about that too. I hope to see you at my office hours, and I invite you to call on me if I can be of help to you. By the way, I can say with confidence that the class will be more fun than the syllabus.