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Sample Syllabus: Advanced Writing


Required Texts:   & nbsp;               William Smart, Eight Modern Essayists

                                                      William Zinsser, On Writing Well

                                                      Selections from The New Yorker (handouts)


                  The point of Advanced Writing is to help you write as well as you can.  I will assign a series of essays of different kinds and different lengths, give you time (though doubtless never enough) to write the essays, and then meet with you individually to discuss my reactions to what you have written.  I hope always to be an interested, attentive, and demanding reader; I trust you to be an interested, attentive, and demanding writer.


                  Since analyzing good writing can increase our awareness of what makes good writing good, and since professionals have written a lot about making writing good, I will ask you to read in the required texts as indicated.  Class meetings will be dedicated to discussing the readings assigned and others to be distributed during the semester.  In most instances, I will be interested in our elucidating the choices the writer has made to achieve the effect he or she desires--choices of organization, voice, tone, diction, metaphor, image, persuasive techniques, opening and closing, and the like.  As you read, keep these choices in mind.  And even better, as you write, keep the same choices in mind!   (Since I will be meeting you in individual conferences so often, I’ve mostly not scheduled class meetings on Wednesdays, apart from the first couple of weeks, but ask that you keep that time generally free just in case we need more time than the Monday class for discussions of particular texts).


                  I will be available for consultation, advice, discussion, encouragement, discouragement, etc.  Please come see me with drafts, problems, questions, alternatives, either during office hours or at times we arrange.  I check e-mail frequently.                 


W Aug. 25                        Introduction


M Aug. 30                        Zinsser, Chapters 1-5, 10; Orwell, "Politics and the                                                             English Language"; paragraphs on resuscitation;

                                    A recent editorial


W Sept. 1                        continued.



M Sept. 6                        Woolf, "A Sketch of the Past"; Baldwin, "Notes of A Native                                                 Son"

                                    Zinsser, Chapters 6-9, 10 (again, or still), 14, 21


W Sept. 8                        Zinsser, Chapters 20-24


M Sept. 13                        Didion, "Goodbye to All That";  Walker, "Beauty: When the                                                 Other Dancer is the Self"


M Sept. 20                        Review from The New Yorker; Zinsser, Chapter 18


M Sept. 27                        Fussell, "The Boy Scout Handbook";  Woolf, "Professions for                                                 Women"


M Oct. 4                        Thomas, "On Natural Death"; White, "Once More to the                                                 Lake"; Woolf, "The Death of the Moth"


M Oct. 11                        Fall Break


M Oct. 18                        "Talk of the Town," The New Yorker;                                   


M Oct. 25                        "Talk of the Town," The New Yorker;(cont.)


M Nov. 1                        An essay from The New Yorker


M Nov. 8                        Another essay from The New Yorker;


M Nov. 15                        White, "The Ring of Time"; Wilson, "The Old Stone House"


M Nov. 22                        Didion: the rest of her essays.


M Nov. 29                        Didion (cont.)


Tests: none.


Papers: Yes, seven.  See the separate assignment sheet.


            Note that a draft of the last paper is due with your fourth paper, This need not be a full draft, but you should have read a number of issues of the newspapers you will be working with, and have a good idea in mind, and possibly on paper, of how you are going to handle the subject, and what the themes of your piece are going to be.


Grades: Again, yes, but let's hold off until the end of the course; I'll collect each of your marked essays at our last conference, and then review the totality of your work and come up with a grade for the course rather than a grade for each piece of writing.  So, SAVE ALL OF YOUR MARKED WORK TO HAND IN AT OUR LAST CONFERENCE.


                        Office Hours: Tucker 123; tk; or by appointment.


                        Phone:  ext. 3932; home, 253-0707


                        Email: tlmeye@wm. edu

N.B.  If you’ve never read Strunk and White’s short classic The Elements of Style, you should.  Buy it—or at a minimum download it: