Other Information about the Course
Composition 115.E59, Creative Writing I Summer, 2014,
May 27—July 3, 2014
James A. Freeman, Instructor Department of Language & Literature, Bucks County Community College: Penn Hall Rm. 105 (215) 968-8150, 8am to 4:30 pm, M-Fri.
My office and hours: Penn 127 (215) 968-8155 Canvas class page 6 days a week, 12-1 Saturdays
(private Canvas Inbox mail preferred)
Writing Tutoring Center: Library 210, (215) 968-8044
Creative Writing I: Access the course through this address: https://bucks.instructure.com or through the college website, www.bucks.edu and Quick Links.
Required Texts: ACTIVE VOICE, James Moffett (2nd ed.), THE STORY AND ITS WRITER, Ann Charters, Ed. (8th ed.).
Recommended: “Irish Wake: In Loving Memory of Us All,“ stories by James A. Freeman (a fund-raiser for BCCC student scholarship) as a model for short story technique(s).
Optional: THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, Strunk and White (3 rd ed.); Points of View (Models for the Craft Writings) by James Moffett.
This course is a workshop-style exploration of creative writing techniques with emphasis on our own fiction, poetry, drama and creative non-fiction and group criticism of it. From the outset of the condensed term, we will read model writings by professionals, and we’ll discuss their techniques in student postings on our class Canvas Inbox. Each of you will be expected to do at least three-five weekly postings reacting to your choice of our model readings from the Ann Charters book (electronic journaling) and to react at least once a week to another classmate’s posting. Within a week, we’ll begin creative projects of our own. As we continue to read and electronically discuss published samples, students will begin to submit their own works of fiction, poetry, drama or creative non-fiction for class workshop commentary on our labeled Canvas assignment tab Inbox space.
Each person must complete two project submissions by term’s end (stories, groups of 3 to 5 poems, one-act plays or personal essays); at least two of these submissions must be offered for group feedback on our discussion board and be provided by your sign-up date (to facilitate thoughtful commentary); an optional third submission may also be submitted for class workshop or may be sent to the instructor on our Canvas Inbox feature.
Short stories or novel excerpts for workshop should be approximately 750 to 1,500 words (31/2 -8 pages); groups of 3 to 6 poems will vary in length and may be any combination of free or rhymed verse or in any established form. Each student must do one of the submissions out of their favorite genre’. Revision of our project submissions will be encouraged (that’s one reason for the class critiques), and, if needed, use of the tutoring center (Library 121) will be required. Whatever the genre’ of our submissions, I ask that each of you respond in a paragraph long posting on our bulletin space to each of your classmate’s submissions within three days of its posting and to annotate each writer’s workshop submissions in Microsoft Word or html for discussion and return posting to the author/class. We are developing a supportive yet honest community of writers, so your feedback is essential. If you’re unsure of how to respond, observe one or two of my reactions on discussion board, and then dive in yourself. No one else can offer just your unique view.
Each week, I‘ll assign an electronic, student-led panel discussion of one of our model fiction writers or poets and his or her model work. Four students will serve on each panel and report their findings as short summaries on discussion board online. The rest of the class, having read at least one work in common by the assigned author, is encouraged to join in with questions and comments for individual panelists. First, the panel moderator researches the biography, time and place of the author, and reactions of literary critics to his or her work. The moderator then posts one thoughtful discussion board question for each of the other three panelists. The biographer must respond within three days with an answer to the moderator’s question and a paragraph long minimum summary of the author’s life. The social historian answers the moderator’s question about the time and place the author lived in and provides a paragraph long summary of important events that had an impact on culture during the author’s lifetime. The literary critic responds to the moderator’s question and provides sample critical reactions to the author’s work as well as his or her own overall reactions to the work we’ve read. A rubric e-handout link and online attachment will provide references and further instruction, suggestions.
We’ll do six of the craft writings from the sequence of assignments in the ACTIVE VOICE book. Each of these stretching exercises will be submitted in our Canvas assignment tabs. (please do the Canvas tour for instructions on how to upload and submit) and graded 1 to 4 with commentary to derive a composite grade average on the 4 point scale equivalent to one of our graded project submissions. For that matter, one of the ACTIVE VOICE craft writings could easily be expanded and refined into a workshop project submission. Several of you may choose to do so. Grading is based primarily on the project submissions and the improvement in writing effectiveness they demonstrate, and the composite of the practice writings, as well as the electronic journal and panel discussion (graded holistically as either a 4 or a 1), although electronic attendance and discussions (through frequent, thoughtful postings) are considered essential too.
Grading Table Weights:
- Journal and Panel (Two of Six Grades, these derived as a holistic composite average of from one to four): 15 %
- Three Workshop Submissions (Graded privately one to four with letter grade equivalents): 55%
- Active Voice (six minimum) Craft Writings (graded one to four on holistic composite average and done to meet goals and objectives and to spur Workshop Submissions): 25%
- Heuristics (including thoughtfulness and frequency of posts and attendance at orientation): 5%
Each person will be expected to read the model and student works closely and to participate in our group dialogue. Since electronic journalling is required weekly, here are some guideline questions for fiction or narrative poetry or drama (pick at least two of three of these and run with them): Do I like this work or not? Why do I like or dislike it? What point of view is used? Why this point of view and not another? What do I think of the plot (sequence of action driven by character motivation)? What is the central conflict? What do I think of the way the characters (or persona in a poem) are developed? Are they realistic? Convincing? Rounded? Flat? Dynamic? Static? What is the writer’s theme, if any (think about how the writer resolves conflict)? What do I think of this theme? Is it an important lesson or truth about human nature? Does it seem imposed on the drama of the art, or is the theme an organic outgrowth of those characters and that particular dramatic situation? A journal template and blog space will also be created online on discussion blog.
Your honest criticism and support will make this course a success. We must communicate frequently on our Canvas page, but, ultimately, it will be up to you to learn as much as you can about creative writing technique this semester. I will use Canvas learning modules, frequent Fireside Chat discussions and “pages” to guide us. Many aspiring writers want their egos massaged, want to be “ rich and famous;” far fewer aspiring writers are willing to apprentice themselves to the craft with the kind of long-term dedication that rich and/or famous writers have practiced to get where they are. Here’s wishing you strong creative writing and, even more importantly, clear improvement in your work! There is great value in “writing one’s life,” in making art, a journey of discovery and growth.
Catalog Course Description: Attached and on Canvas Page
Learning Goals and Theme Learning goals are determined by the course's major concerns: the students' continued development and refinement of creative writing skills, sequenced instruction in fiction, poetry, drama and creative non-fiction skills necessary to write original work in the genre’s. These components unify the course in their intent to encourage the growth of students' critical thinking and understanding of literature. (This course also fulfills the specific Department and Core Curriculum Goals & Objectives as listed on pages 4+ of the catalogue).
Academic Integrity: “The expectation is that the principles of truth and honesty will be rigorously followed in all academic endeavors. This assumes that all work will be done by the person who purports to do the work without unauthorized aids. In addition, when making use of language and some idea not his or her own, whether quoting them directly or paraphrasing them into his or her own words, the student must attribute the source of the material in some standard form, such as naming the source in the text or offering a footnote” (2006-2008 Bucks County Community College Catalogue, p. 159).
In other words, students must do all of the writing themselves and document all non-original material except common knowledge. In addition, you may not reuse, recycle, or resubmit any previous work for this class without instructor’s written permission; doing so is considered cheating. Only the tutors in the Tutoring Center and the instructor may give specific help with writing assignments - not family, friends, or neighbors.
At this stage of education, students should already know what constitutes cheating and why it's wrong. However, in any class that requires writing and/or research, the instructor ought to make plain, within the context of the course, what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. The Instructor will do so with readings, exercises, quizzes and discussion. I will also occasionally spot-check with detection software to check your papers to see that you fulfill the college's expectations as quoted above.
In addition, all workshop submissions and Active Voice assignments submitted for grading are required to have the following statement included at the end of the document, followed by the student's name or signature.
Statement of Academic Integrity: I understand the college policy regarding cheating and plagiarism; I have written this paper by myself and have not obtained it in whole or in part from another source, including previously written work of my own; I have used quotation marks or blocks indentations for all words quoted verbatim; and I have included citations for all borrowed ideas, whether quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or referred to in passing.
Please copy and paste the above agreement at the end of each Assignment tab and Inbox public workshop submission.
On a positive note, how to flourish in this course:
- Follow the schedule & complete all assignments: You have a complete schedule for the whole semester on both “schedule” and “calendar”; please review it several times each week so you know what is due. In addition to reading texts of fiction and literary criticism, assignments include two-three workshop submissions of original work; a minimum of one panel presentation; and frequent and meaningful literary appreciation and writerly journal entries. Discussion, lecture and peer review of colleagues’ academic writing assignments, as well as exercises will supplement/enhance our own understanding of creative writing and are required.
- Revise, resee, and resee again: You cannot improve your skills by writing only one draft, so conscientiously revise all assignments through at least two drafts. In addition, you may revise and resubmit up one of the short essays graded “D” or “F” (excluding in-class writings) provided you resubmit within one week of receiving the original grade. You must notify me of your intentions, and you may be required to visit the Tutoring Center for additional help. Revisions for higher grades must represent substantial improvements; changing only surface-level errors of spelling and grammar does not constitute revision and will not earn a higher grade. Revised assignments may earn up to a “C+” maximum grade. Creative writing assignments may be revised and extended to become additional workshop submissions, if significantly modified/extended; Active Voice craft writings likewise can grow into workshop submissions shared with the class for critique; students are encouraged to do so.
- Please submit assignments on time: Posted late assignments earn a one-half letter grade deduction for each class day late, after the one day grace-period. For example, a workshop submission or Active Voice craft writing due on Monday and submitted on Thursday will be reduced a full letter grade (e.g. “A” to “B”).
- E-attend class & Participate: Without commitment to frequent Canvas page visits and thoughtful, frequent posts and reactions to classmate’s posts, the class cannot be a success. Also, the class works best when you show a commitment to each other that includes thoughtful criticism and considerate responses to other members of the class, including within small discussion and panel groups. Online classes offer the equivalent though posting as attendance. If the number of "absences" and/or missing assignments make it impossible for you to pass the class, you may be withdrawn no later than 6/12/13 after midterm grades are submitted.
- Please talk with your Instructor: Individual conferences are scheduled virtually this Summer semester to discuss your workshop submissions, successes, challenges, and any outstanding questions regarding your progress as a critical reader and writer. Please don’t wait for the scheduled conferences if you want to talk. I encourage you to “see” me during E-office hours for any assignment or other course issue, using Canvas Inbox and selecting private if appropriate. Doing so shows a commitment to the class and makes a positive impression on me. You may also BCCC web-mail me; however, email does not replace class discussion online attendance or posting.
- Please support a collegial environment: A related note about Canvas Inbox and email: e-communications among students and instructors should be mature, polite, and appropriate to the context of the class and the college setting. “Flaming” or harassing instructors or classmates in electronic mail or other forums will not be tolerated. Issues and concerns of a sensitive nature should be dealt with person-to-person, not in email. Please use your @live.bucks.edu or Canvas course space Inbox when emailing me, with Canvas mail preferred.
You may also phone me at 215-968-8155 and use voice mail; however, phone calls do not substitute for online attendance and participation, such as in a panel presentation.
- The holistics of grading: Please see attached department grading standards. A student whose work is consistently late or missing should not expect a passing grade in the class. There will be no extra credit work other than attending and reporting on on or off-campus visiting writer events; no homework, reading quizzes, or other work may be made up without prior permission. Finally, Incomplete grades will be awarded only in cases of' documented extreme hardship, and then only if we agree prior to the end of the semester what, how, and when work needs to be completed.
- Please be aware of the withdrawal deadline: If you are thinking about withdrawing from the course, please speak with me first. I can help with many difficulties you may have. However, even if you stop participating in the course, it is your responsibility to officially withdraw. Do not rely on me to fill out a teacher-initiated withdrawal form. The last date for student withdrawal is 6/5/13.
- Please take advantage of the Tutoring Center (Library 121 – http://www.bucks.edu/~tutor/ – 215-968-8218): You can improving your writing substantially with face-to-face and/or online visits to the Tutoring Center during the mini semester via the college website by asking questions of the online tutor(s). Using this resource makes positive impression on me and can only have a positive impact on your grade.
- Please revisit these tips for your success from time to time.
“Let us go then, you and I…” -- T.S. Elliot
- Learning Resources – http://www.bucks.edu/academics/learn/ 215-968-8001 – Support for teaching and learning is available through the Learning Resources Offices located in the Library and Gateway Center. Learning Resources represents collaboration among Library Services, the Tutoring Center, the TLC (Technology Learning Center), Virtual Campus, the Instructional Design Lab, Web Services, and Learning Technologies Services (including Media Services).
- Virtual Campus – Library 312 – http://www.bucks.edu/e-resources/virtual-campus/ 215-968-8052
The Online Learning Office strives to provide quick, accurate, and friendly service to all students whose courses are using online technologies. Specific help with Canvas is available from the Technology Learning Centers and at http://www.bucks.edu/academics/learn/tlc/
- Disability Services – Rollins Center 8 – 215.968.8462 or 8465 – voicemail 215.968.8561 - tdd 215.504.8561
http://www.bucks.edu/student/disability/. The college strives to make our online courses accessible to everyone and specifically consider design features that make our courses accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those using assistive technology for computer access. If you find a feature/course inaccessible to you, or if you are a student with disabilities who believes that you may need accommodations in this course, please contact this office as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.