Grades will reflect improvements in your writing I see as the semester progresses.


Grades will reflect the intellectual engagement you make with the materials you study in your essay as well as the quality and strength of your overall argument.   In addition, I will account for improvements made over the course of the drafting process in your final grade.  Otherwise, I will assign grades according to your ability to satisfy the following criteria for a successful essay:

  1. Project/Argument:  How clear and focused is what you argue?  Do you make a compelling argument?  Where does it come from and why are you making it?  I should be able sum up your argument in a sentence or two after reading your paper.
  2. Arrangement/Design:  Do your ideas flow logically from one point to the next or jump sporadically to different subjects?  Do paragraphs break logically?  Do you get somewhere in your argument or just piddle around the same issues?  Does your essay read like an essay, or a bunch of introductory paragraphs?  I am looking for development in your papers here — you should start somewhere and end somewhere.
  3. Voice/Style:  Does your essay reflect your voice and views as a writer?  Is it clear who your audience is in the style of your sentences?  In other words, is your writing “academic”?  Do sentences read fluidly from one to the next?  Is your writing cohesive and comprehensive?  Rhetorically effective?  Here, I am looking to be engaged by your paper through your writing.
  4. Source use/Engagement:  Do you introduce sources correctly?  Do you provide your own analysis of the remarks made in the sources you quote?  Do you properly cite your sources?  Here I am expecting you to not just drop in examples of things you are already arguing but to use sources in a way that extends or, in Joe Harris’s terms, “forwards” or “counters” them.  MLA guidelines should be followed to avoid plagiarism or a reduction of points from your grade.


Your reflections will not be graded separately; they will be factored into your final paper grade.  Please refer to the Reflections sub-page of this website for what I am looking for in your reflections.


A typical three-credit course requires about three hours of work out of class for every hour spent in class (i.e. nine hours of out-of-class work per week).  The amount of effort you put in to course work outside of class will almost always be directly reflected in grades.  However, in order to succeed in this class, you have to be in this class.  This means contributing to discussion and coming to class on time, prepared, and ready for discussion.  If your participation (in workshops, class discussion, etc.) is poor, I will address you about it.  If your participation continues to be subpar, I reserve the right to decrease your final grade by an increment (e.g. A to A-).


Read this carefully: Two Discussion Questions will be worth 25 points each (50 points total).  Three comments on others’ Discussion Questions each week they are due will be worth a total of 50 points. Essay 1 is worth 90 points.  Essay 2 is worth 110 points.  Thus, there are 300 points total to be earned in the course.

Your final grade will be calculated according to the following scale:

300-286: A

285-271: A-

270-256: B+

255-241: B

240-231: B-

230-221: C+

220-216: C

215-211: C-

<210: F (there are no D’s)

Basically, it’s not all that difficult to get a good grade if you do all the work and try, and it’s not all that hard to get a bad grade if you don’t.

Late Work and Plagiarism:

I do not accept late work.  If you do not have a legitimate excuse (there are very few) for turning in an assignment late, you will receive an F on the assignment.

You should know not to plagiarize, and you should know what plagiarism is.  Any act of plagiarism will result in your being graded an F on the assignment and possibly for the course.

For more details about legitimate excuses and plagiarism, refer to the Policies page of this website.