ENG 496: Professing English

New Yorker cartoon Thomas P. Miller
ML 425 (Th 8-9, 11:30-1:30)  621-7401


Syllabus | Resources | Assignments


Profession: The declaration . . . of one entering a religious order; hence, the act of entering such an order . . . ; a particular order of monks, nuns or other professed persons; . . . the occupation which one professes to be skilled in and to follow; . . . . ; the function or office of a professor in a university or college. . . .                                     (Oxford English Dictionary)Profession: The declaration . . . of one entering a religious order; hence, the act of entering such an order . . . ; a particular order of monks, nuns or other professed persons; . . . the occupation which one professes to be skilled in and to follow; . . . . ; the function or office of a professor in a university or college. . . .                                     (Oxford English Dictionary)

Professionalization" and "academicization" are not neutral principles of organization, but agents that transform the cultural and literary-critical "isms" fed into them, often to the point of subverting their original purpose, or so deflecting them that they become unrecognizable to outsiders.  What goes in is not necessarily what comes out, and this is one reason why the things the institution seems self-evidently to stand for to insiders may scarcely register on outsiders.  (Gerald Graff, Professing Literature)
I must confess that I have always hated English and feel that anyone who  would choose this subject as their profession is totally whacked out of their skulls.  (from a student's course evaluation)

Course Goals

The purpose of this “capstone” course is to help you synthesize what you have learned as an English major and apply it to practical projects that will carry you beyond your undergraduate studies. To achieve this purpose, we will reflect upon the modes of reading, writing and research that you have learned and explore ways that you can use them to get a job, pursue graduate studies, or seek out other opportunities to do what you want to do with your life. Much of our time will be spent working on your writing.  Through the course, you will create a final portfolio of the writing that you have done in this and other courses that you can use to apply to graduate school or seek jobs. The writing assignments themselves are rather flexible, and if you do not find the assignments useful, you may propose others in the required course contract.  In addition to the major assignments, we will work on other ways to expand what you can do and how to represent it, for example by using the Computer Based Tutorial program to apply your writing skills to work with webpages and to help you prepare letters of application and resumes.   In these and other ways, you will be able to use the work in the course to explore your options, expand your skills, and work toward achieving your own purposes.

Major Assignments

As noted above, you may propose alternative ways to reflect upon what you have learned and explore what you want to do. We will workshop all of the essays in class after you have posted drafts and peer critiques to the on-line Caucus site for the course. The major assignments will address the following research questions.  For more information, go to the assignments page.

1.How do you read and write? In the first short essay (roughly 750 words), you will analyze the reading of a text or texts that you developed in an essay you wrote for a previous class. (10% of final course grade)
Draft due date:
2.How did you learn to be literate, and literary? The second essay is a literacy narrative of (roughly 1000 words) that examines how and what you learned to read and write as an undergraduate English major. (15% of final grade)
3.What do you want to do with this learning?  In the third essay (750 words), you will review a book that addresses issues that will help you achieve your goals (for example, a how to book on getting into graduate school, a scholarly book on an area that you want to continue studying, or a book on the publishing industry). (15% of final grade)
4.How can you improve what you know how to do? The fourth essay will be a revision of an essay that you wrote for a previous course.(10% of grade)
5.How can you achieve what you want to do?  In this unit you will write a memo reporting your research on a job market, a letter of application for a specific job, and a resume.  (15% of grade)
6.How should you represent what you have learned in college?   The final course project is a portfolio of at least five pieces that you wrote in this and previous classes and a cover letter in which you reflect upon what you have learned. (20% of grade)

The rest of your grade in the course will be determined by your critiques of your peers’ drafts (10% of grade) and  other assignments, including in-class work (5%). In accordance with university policies, incompletes can only be given “when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed” and will only be given in crisis situations.  Final course grades in this or any class can be appealed. For more information, contact the Dean of Humanities Office, Modern Languages 345.

Course Policies

Attendance is required. This class only meets once a week. In accordance with policies included in the University of Arizona's General Catalogue, if you miss two weeks of class, I may drop you from class or give you a failing grade if the absences occur after the date when I can drop you. If you must miss a class, contact a classmate about the assigned work.
Academic dishonesty is defined by the Code of Academic Integrity, which is available through the Office of the Dean of Students Office, Rm. 203 Old Main. If you include passages from other writings, even as short as a phrase, without documentation, you have committed plagiarism, which is defined as representing work that is not your own as if it were yours. You may receive a failing grade on an assignment or in the course, or you may be subjected to even more severe disciplinary action if you submit plagiarized work. If you have doubts about how to document work, ask me before you submit the assignment. Ignorance of appropriate academic conventions will not be accepted as an excuse for failing to document writing taken from elsewhere.

Late papers will be penalized half of a letter grade for each day that the assignment is late unless you make arrangements with me before the assignment is due. All essays must be submitted with the draft that was workshopped. If you do not post the draft on the day it is assigned, the paper grade will be reduced by one letter grade.

Appropriate conduct in class and on line is detailed in the U of A's Code of Conduct and Electronic Mail Policy.  These policies outline appropriate professional ethics, including the need to respect differences, communicate in a courteous manner that considers others’ feelings, and observe others’ rights to privacy and safety. The listserve and the email addresses that are used in this class should not be used for sending chain letters, spam, or messages of an overly personal nature. If any user requests you to stop sending him or her email and you continue to do so, you have violated the official policies on email harassment and can be subjected to discipline under those policies. Remember that email combines the immediacy of speech with the permanency of writing. These characteristics can make it very easy for some people to step over the line and send out offensive and overly personal messages, but these same characteristics make it easy to document such infractions and have them sanctioned under official policies.