English 257

Public Writing
English 255 & 257
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Spring 2010

Instructor: Dr. Russel Hirst

Time: TTh 2:10–3:25

Place: HSS 209

Phones: 974-6952 (o); 5401 (sec); 6926 (fax)

Office hrs.:TBA

Required Texts
Having Your Say: Reading & Writing Public Arguments, Davida H. Charney & Christina M. Neuwirth (ISBN-13: 9780321122308).

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, Flannery O’Connor, ed. Sally & Robert Fitzgerald (ISBN-13: 9780374508043)

Recommended Texts
Harbrace College Handbook.

Note: Additional readings for the course may appear under the Hirst 257 link. I will announce any such readings and make clear your responsibility for them.

“Deliverables” Points
Quizzes 15
Mid-term exam 15
Final exam 20
Papers (3) 45
Participation 5
100–95=A; 94.9–90=A-
89.9–85=B+; 84.9–82=B; 81.9–80=B-
79.9–75=C+; 74.9–72=C; 71.9–70=C-
69.9–65=D+; 64.9–62=D; 61.9–60=D-
59.9 and below = F

A course like this functions most effectively as a community of thinkers and communicators. When members are absent too often, the entire community suffers. To encourage good attendance, I have established the following rules:

1) Everyone starts out the semester with five “participation points”; that’s like getting a free “A” on a five-point quiz. You keep these points if you never log an unexcused absence.

2) You lose two points for every unexcused absence. This extends past the five-point range if your absences warrant. I will excuse you if you are absent for reasons of illness, personal tragedy/emergency, important professional opportunity, or jury duty. Please do not ask to be excused for any other reason.

You may make up quizzes only if you miss them for valid reasons (family emergency, medical problem, important career opportunity). Email me in advance, if possible, to let me know when you must miss a quiz.


Schedule for Public Writing
Spring 2010

Schedule will adjust as semester unfolds. Stay alert. America needs more lerts.



Meet in HSS 209. Course objectives, structure, materials, and policies.

Definitions of Argument, Rhetoric, Poetic.

Grammar & mechanics quiz (diagnostic; not graded. Due 1/19).

Intro to Style Units.

Optional Letter of Self Introduction to rkh@utk.edu.

Review of grammar & mechanics quiz.

Style Unit 1.

Having Your Say (HYS)1, What it Takes to Have Your Say.

Optional professional event: STC-ETC Chapter Meeting, 6:00-8:30 pm at Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria, 200 East Jackson, Knoxville (in the Old City); (865) 521-0092; 2nd-floor meeting room, opposite end of the building from the staircase (newly appointed, private room). $5 admission.

HYS 2, Spans: Building the Segments of an Argument.

HYS, Part I Readings: Chivers, 129-134.

Grammar & Mechanics, continued.

Style Unit 2

HYS 3, Stases: Taking Standpoints Along a Path.

HYS, Part I Readings: Castleman, 159-165.

HYS, Part I Readings: Gomez-Pompa and Kaus 141-151.

Style Unit 3

Collaborative exercise: passives.


HYS4, Supporting Claims: Appealing to Logos, Ethos, and Pathos.

HYS, Part I Readings: Shiftlett/Robinson, 151-158.

Assignment of paper #1 and Document Analysis Worksheet (DAW).

FORMAT for papers:
Line Spacing: double.
Margins: 1.25″ all around.
Font: 12-point Times Roman (or similarly readable serifed typeface).
Page order: Title page, Essay, DAW. (Title page should display a well phrased, descriptive title for your essay, then your name, then “English 257: Essay #1,” then date.
Binding: staple together the pages at upper left. Do not use any kind of cover binder.

Remember: length of your essay will be around 1,000 to 1,500 words, but that’s just ball park. Don’t stray into the vice of prolixity or of obscurity. Strive for brevitas.

Quiz #1

Your thesis statement for paper#1 due.

HYS5, Junctions: Responding to Alternative Paths.

HYS, Part I Readings: Easterbrook, 134-140.

Style Unit 3

HYS6, Style: Appealing Through Language.

HYS, Part I Readings: Kleck, 165-170.

Style Unit 4.

HYS, Part I Readings: Mears & Kahan, 170-179.

Paper #1 due (15 points).

HYS7, Entry Points.

HYS, Part I Readings: Brooks/Kollin 182-184.

Grammar & Mechanics, cont.

Style Unit 5.

Style Unit 6.

HYS8, Surveying the Terrain.

HYS, Part I Readings: Shapiro, 185-195.

Discuss paper #1

HYS9, Exploring by Responding.

HYS, Part I Readings: Shapiro, 185-195.

Discuss paper #1 (cont.)

Style Unit 7.

HYS10, Exploring and Constructing a Problem.

Quiz #2 (5 points).

Assignment of paper #2.

HYS11, Exploring and Constructing Solutions.

HYS12, Mapping a Conversation.


Discuss quiz #2.

Style Unit 8 .

Style Unit 10

HYS13, Having Your Say on an Author’s Argument.

HYS14, Having Your Say by Responding to an Author’s Argument.

Mid-term exam (15 points).

Bring the following items:
• Writing implement of your choice
• Dictionary
• Human brain (preferably your own)

Note: except for the dictionary, this is a closed book exam.

Here is a pdf file containing the screens from our Grammar & Mechanics Diagnostic Test.

9 Spring Break; class dismissed.

11Spring Break; class dismissed.

Style Unit 9

HYS15, Having Your Say on the State of the Debate

Discussion of midterm exam.

Style Unit 10

HYS15, Having Your Say on the Problem.

Punctuation, continued.

Style Unit 11.

Paper #2 due (15 points).


Style Unit 12.

HYS16, Having Your Say on the Solution.

Discussion of paper #2.

Guest speaker: Dr. James Herrick, speaking of narrative as argument.

Discussion of paper #2 (cont.)

Assignment of paper #3.

Herrick essays.

M&M: “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” 63-86.

M&M: “The Fiction Writer and His Country,” 25-35.

Plato’s Phaedrus: dialog as philosophical fiction.

The Screwtape Letters: another kind of fiction.

M&M: “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction,” 36-50.

15 Class dismissed.

16 (Friday)
Writing Conference. 3 points extra credit for attending 2 sessions.
in The Commons, Hodges Library (see announcement on Hirst message board).

Story reading. Donald Miller: A story is about a character who wants something and overcomes adversity to get it. Flannery O’Connor: A story reveals spiritual reality.

Mystery & Manners (M&M): “Writing Short Stories,” 87-106.

M&M: “On Her Own Work,” 107-118.

Discuss A Good Man is Hard to Find.

Literary point of view. More stories.

Rough draft of assignment #3 due. Reading in class.

Prep for final exam.

Discussion. More reading.

29 Last day of class. Final things. Life.

Assignment #3 due (fiction) if you want written feedback.


Final exam (20 points):12:30–2:30 p.m. in HSS 209.

Final moment to turn in final paper without penalty.