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Multimodal Writing
ENGL 2150

Fall 2018


Jesse Rice-Evans, Graduate Teaching Fellow | (646) 801-1462

M 5:10-7:20; Vertical Campus Computer Lab

Office Hours by Appointment Only

Baruch College | CUNY


In this course, the second semester required writing course at Baruch, you will develop your ability to read, write, and think critically. One of the most important abilities you’ll develop over the course of your studies (and hopefully throughout your life) is the ability to discern how the way we think is shaped by language and other semiotic codes such as sound and images. This course will ask that you think critically about the arguments of others and in turn develop and communicate your own ideas and arguments.

The guiding questions and focus of the course are: How does persuasion happen? What are the sources of persuasion? How can rhetoric be used to divide and also to bring people together? How do rhetorical elements such as language, images, emotion, and logic work to shape our identity, our beliefs, and our everyday realities, particularly involving race, language, and identity. We’ll explore, for example, questions such as: What does it mean to be “white,” to be “black,” to be “Asian”? How have these categories served the interests of certain groups and disempowered others? What is the relationship between race, language, and identity? How is the concept of race changing at the current moment in the U.S.?

We will explore these questions by engaging with a variety of textual genres: web-based texts and videos, film, fiction and non-fiction, and academic articles. We will analyze how others use rhetoric to make arguments and then we will engage in a research project in which we explore how the questions we raise during part I of the course apply to your and your family racial and ethnic identities and histories. Finally, you will remix or remediate your research project into a creative multimedia project.

This course is designed to be a gateway of exploration for further writing and research you will do in your courses at Baruch. I invite you to open your mind, be ready to engage with me and your classmates, and expand your thinking about what it means to be a good writer this semester.

Course Learning Outcomes

After completing ENG 2150, you should be able to:

• Critically analyze texts in a variety of genres: Analyze and interpret key ideas in various discursive genres (e.g. essays, news articles, speeches, documentaries, plays, poems, short stories), with careful attention to the role of rhetorical conventions such as style, tropes, genre, audience and purpose.

• Use a variety of media to compose in multiple rhetorical situations: Apply rhetorical knowledge in your own composing using the means of persuasion appropriate for each rhetorical context (alphabetic text, still and moving images, and sound), including academic writing and composing for a broader, public audience using digital platforms.

• Identify and engage with credible sources and multiple perspectives in your writing: Identify sources of information and evidence credible to your audience; incorporate multiple perspectives in your writing by summarizing, interpreting, critiquing, and synthesizing the arguments of others; and avoid plagiarism by ethically acknowledging the work of others when used in your own writing, using a citation style appropriate to your audience and purpose.

• Compose as a process: Experience writing as a creative way of thinking and generating knowledge and as a process involving multiple drafts, review of your work by members of your discourse community (e.g. instructor and peers), revision, and editing, reinforced by reflecting on your writing process in metacognitive ways.

• Use conventions appropriate to audience, genre, and purpose: Adapt writing and composing conventions (including your style, content, organization, document design, word choice, syntax, citation style, sentence structure, and grammar) to your rhetorical context.

Course Policies

Lateness and Absences

Please do your best to arrive on time and remain in our in-person classes until dismissed. I understand that train snafus are real #MTAproblems but it’s disruptive to the class to have folks coming and going throughout. That said, no need to ask permission from me to visit the washroom or take a breather—we will try to offer a brief respite for folks to hydrate and grab a snack during each class meeting.

Regarding absences, please note: Much of the learning in this course happens through your engagement with me and your peers in class via class discussion and group interaction. Your course projects will be sequential and in-class activities will build toward larger assignments. Class time and online discussions will be highly interactive, requiring frequent participation, discussion, composing in and outside of class, and responding to your classmates’ work. For this reason, I expect you to attend all class meetings and post by the due dates on the days we work outside of class. I will post all assignments on the “Schedule” page of our course blog, but it is up to you to keep up with your work for the class. Just because we only meet on Mondays does not mean that we don’t have “class” throughout the week—only that you will have work due instead of coming to a face-to-face class meeting.

Having established this policy, note that you can miss class up to 2 times, no questions asked. Only religious holidays constitute excused absences; beyond that I do not have excused or unexcused absences. Any absence, up to your second one, is excused with no questions asked. VERY IMPORTANT, per Baruch College Department of English policy: at your 3rd absence, and for each absence beyond it (including 2 missed labor logs/text responses), your final course grade will be lowered by up to one letter grade (an A becomes a B and so on)—and your grade likely will be otherwise affected simply because of the activities and work you’ll miss.

If you must miss class, let me know ahead of time if possible to make sure you stay caught up. If you miss unexpectedly, check the schedule on our course website and reach out to your writing group or another colleague to see what you missed so you can stay up with your work. If you miss class, please do not email me asking what we did in class, or, worse, if we did anything in class you should know about. If an assignment is due on a day that you miss because of an unexcused absence, you are responsible for keeping up with the daily schedule and contacting someone in the class to see what you missed and for turning in your work at the same time it was due for those who were in class.


Late Assignments

I do not accept late work. I teach two classes, work at a writing center, work as a technology fellow, and am a full-time graduate student. I deserve to have a life outside of my work, and if I am constantly accepting work at erratic times from 50+ students I cannot do that. 

All work is due at the time specified within the assignment details. If you’re not already in the habit of turning your work in on time, I encourage you to develop the practice and will try to help you in that endeavor in this course. Please note that technology issues, including files you turn in that I cannot open, do not constitute an excuse for late work. Double check your files before and after you submit them to make sure your peers and I who will be reviewing them can open them. As you may have learned the hard way in the past, it’s a good habit to save important files such as course work to a location aside from your laptop or whatever device you may use for your classes—for example, Google Drive. Hard drives crash, thumb drives get lost, and laptops, tablets, and phones can get stolen. While I’ll be sad along with you if this happens, it’s your responsibility to make sure you back up your work so that life—and your effective participation in this course—can go on.

All online work will be due the Sunday before our class by 11:59pm


Accessibility and Inclusion

If you have a disability or a personal circumstance that will affect your learning in this course, or if you need a reasonable (or even unreasonable) accommodation, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can discuss the best ways to meet your needs. This goes triply for folks with non-visible disabilities or who pass or mask or compensate. No need to do that here. I am happy to meet with students to discuss ways of expanding access in the classroom that are not only mandated by law, but please feel no obligation to train me.

To arrange accommodations in other classrooms and Baruch spaces, please call Student Disability Services at (646) 312-4590 or visit their site:

Basic Needs: Any student who faces challenges securing their food or housing and believes this may affect their performance in the course is urged to contact the Dean of Students for support. Furthermore, please notify me if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable me to provide any resources that I may possess.



There will be no assigned textbook for this course. Here, on our Commons site, you will find links to the pieces we’ll be reading throughout the semester.


Participation: Or What I Expect From You and What You Can Expect From Me What I Expect From You

I expect that you will attend each class and complete the assignments due—which includes posting your online assignments by each Sunday evening. Not only will your weekly writing grade suffer if you do not, but you will not get as much out of this class as you otherwise could. Learning is a collaborative activity, and I expect that you will be attentive to, engaged with, and respectful of everyone in the class, both in face-to-face and online settings. I also want to remind you not to abuse our classroom space or our online space. You’re welcome and encouraged to bring devices, including smartphones, to class, but please refrain from checking your email, Facebook, and other personal interests that are available through the web while we are in class.

The web will be a great resource for our class, but make sure when you’re online that what you’re doing relates directly to what we’re doing in class. I expect that in online discussions you will be respectful of the other members of the class and treat them as you want to be treated. I ask that we all be respectful of one another and the wonderfully diverse opinions, racial identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations, social classes, abilities, religious beliefs, and ethnicities among us.

In the same spirit, written work in this course should employ inclusive language, which shows that the writer honors the diversity of the human race by not using language that would universalize one element of humanity to the exclusion of others. For example, use men and women or people instead of the generic man; use they or alternate he and she instead of the generic he.


What You Can Expect From Me

I will treat you with respect and will spend a good deal of time this semester giving you feedback on your writing for your major projects, commensurate to the amount of time you spend on your writing. I will read your weekly online posts, and while I may not respond to each one of them, I will assign each of them a participation/completion grade and will give you feedback on your posts at midterm and at the end of the semester.


Academic Integrity

Plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated. Plagiarism is defined as word-for-word copying, paraphrasing, or summarizing, without explaining that the language or ideas have come from another writer. No passage of writing, no matter how short, can be copied, paraphrased, or summarized without acknowledge its original source. Baruch College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The college is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Baruch College Academic Integrity Procedures. If you ever have any questions or concerns about plagiarism, please ask me. You can also check out the online plagiarism tutorial prepared by members of the Newman Library faculty at

and Baruch College’s academic integrity policy at

We will also discuss how remix and other strategies in digital writing complicate what we might traditionally think of as plagiarism, but also, ways to implement these strategies appropriately and preserve authorly integrity.


Food & Drink

You may bring a drink and/or a snack, but you are expected to clean up after yourself and be extremely careful and attentive to your surroundings.



Major Assignments

Following are your assignments for the semester, along with the weight each carries toward your final course grade, using a 100% standard grading scale. See our course website for the daily schedule, which I update often and which may change depending on our needs.

Project 1: Rhetorical Analysis of a Cultural Artifact

~ 2000 words; 6 double spaced pages 20% of course grade

Project 2: Research Project (2 components) Reflective Annotated Bibliographies (4) ~ 3 double spaced pages each 10% of course grade Research-Based Argument Paper ~ 3500 words; 9-10 double spaced pages 30% of course grade


Project 3: Creative Remix of Research Project 20% of course grade Writing component: 4 double spaced pages

Project 4: Portfolio Reflection ~1000 words; 3 double spaced pages 10% of course grade

Weekly Writing: 300 words per week, average 10% of course grade

In addition to the major assignments above, I will ask you to respond to our course readings in writing (outside and during class) and through in-class and digital/virtual discussions and to engage with your major projects through a series of low-stakes writing that scaffold into your drafts.


Portfolio & Reflective Letter 

This is your chance to show me what you’ve learned. This portfolio will collect all of your written work from throughout the semester, including a curated selection of in-class freewrites, and will give you the opportunity to provide me with concrete evidence from your own writings demonstrating your engagement with the goals of our course. We will spend a whole class period addressing the genre of reflective portfolio letters, so don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense yet.

Writing Groups

Group work is mandatory and regular in this class. You will be paired with other students to workshop drafts of your written assignments throughout the semester. It is imperative that you attend class in order to maximize your group time, and you will be scored on your own revisions, as well as on feedback from the other members of your group.

Online Discussions & In-Class Writing

Blackboard will give us the opportunity to get conversations going about our readings. We’ll also be using class time to loosen up our writerly selves, including a brief freewrite at the beginning of each full-class meeting. 

Peer Reviews & Self-Assessments 

For each essay assignment, you’ll be asked to use the criteria listed in the assignments to review your peers’ essays as well as your own. Your goal here is to create a positive, supportive learning environment. While we are all learning to write (no matter how good we already are), we are also expert readers. The fact that you may struggle to produce a particular kind of essay doesn’t mean that you can’t evaluate another student’s essay. On the contrary, reading someone else’s work can not only assist that writer but it can also give you insight into your own writing.

We’ll be basing our peer reviews on Richard Straub’s “Responding–Really Responding–to Other Students’ Writing”



This course will focus on qualitative not quantitative assessment, something we’ll discuss during the class, both with reference to your own work and the works we’re studying. While you will get a final grade at the end of the term, I will not be grading individual assignments, but rather asking questions and making comments that engage your work rather than simply evaluate it. You will also be reflecting carefully on your own work and the work of your peers.

The intention here is to help you focus on working in a more organic way, as opposed to working as you think you’re expected to. If this process causes more anxiety than it alleviates, see me at any point to confer about your progress in the course to date. If you are worried about your grade, your best strategy should be to join the discussions, do the reading, and complete the assignments. You should consider this course a “busy-work-free zone.” If an assignment does not feel productive, we can find ways to modify, remix, or repurpose the instructions.

Here are a few readings about this policy:

“Why I Don’t Grade” by Jesse Stommel

“How to Ungrade” by Jesse Stommel

“(Un)Grading: It Can Be Done in College” by Laura Gibbs

“My Grading System FAQ” by Traci Gardner

“Labor Log” by Traci Gardner

“All Teachers Should Be Trained to Overcome Their Hidden Biases” by SORAYA CHEMALY

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