WR100 - Kurt Vonnegut

FALL 2016

This course was the first I designed and taught on my own. As such, it was not without problems; for example, I regretted limiting the course to a single author, and the second unit, on descriptivism and prescriptivism, was only loosely tied to the course topic. That said, I believe this course was ultimately a success; Vonnegut is a good author for teaching writing, in part because his writing is so accessible to first-year students and in part because his own work on the subject of writing is remarkably lucid. Despite the lack of cohesiveness, the readings on the syllabus (particularly David Foster Wallce’s piece on prescriptivism and George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”) successfully introduced students to critical principles of writing, and their work was better for it.

As the reader can discover in the student work linked below, a problem I had in this semester was limiting my feedback. Rather than narrowing my focus to a handful of actionable writing issues, my comments this semester were, I believe, overly specific and overly exhaustive. As I continued to teach, I honed these comments down to be more particular without being overwhelming.


WR100: Kurt Vonnegut


Paper 1: Critical Analysis
Paper 2: Making an Academic Argument
Paper 3: Fiction and Personal Identity
Final Portfolio Guidelines


Paper 1: Graded w/ Comments (A)
Paper 1: Graded w/ Comments (C/C-)
Paper 2: Draft w/ Comments; Graded w/ Comments (A)
Paper 2: Draft w/ Comments; Graded w/ Comments (C+/B-)

note: this paper is not anonymized because it is available in the WR Journal, where it won a prize. See its entry there for a brief introduction on my part.
Paper 3: Graded w/ Comments (A-/A)