FALL 2012

ENGLISH 1101--Composition I, Sections 12, 14, 30

Freaks, Geeks, and Have-nots: Communities and Outsiders


Instructor: Mr. McMahand

Office: TLC 1113G                                                                              

Office Phone: TBA (available only during office hours)                                          

Office Hours:  Monday and Wednesday: 10-11am; Tuesday: 2-7 pm                                  

E-mail: dmcmahan@westga.edu

URL: http://www.westga.edu/~dmcmahan


The primary purpose of this course is to help you develop confidence and expertise in writing clear, organized essays acceptable in both language and content to the university community.  To facilitate this goal, the course follows four major units, which require you to fine-tune your writing skills to the shifting expectations of each section and their corresponding assignments.


Throughout the term are readings which elucidate the practice of social outcasting, at designating so-called freaks, geeks, and have-nots as the fringes of contemporary society.  For many of these texts, a few basic questions will frame our inquiry: what qualifies as freakish behavior and thinking?  How and where has the normative bar shifted?  How are “mainstream” people responsible to and for outsiders?  How are outsiders responsible for upholding the mainstream?  How do outsiders and outcasts subvert mainstream systems?  Subtopics involve the politics of assimilation, the exoticization of the “other,” Crab theory, self-hatred, and self-mutilation.


General Learning Outcomes


Specific Learning Outcomes
Critical Reading and Analysis


Writing Process and Rhetorical Objectives


Minimal Competency Requirements

Essay Level

Paragraph Level

Sentence Level




Required Texts and Materials





All assignments must be completed in order to pass this course.  NOTE: You must earn a letter grade of C or better in order to go on to English 1102.


In-class writing, exercises, quizzes,

and participation                                             25%

First paper                                                       20%

Second paper                                                  20%

Third paper                                                      20%

Final exam                                                       15%


Grading Scale

A Exceptional— impeccable grammar—full of wit or insight—filled with original ideas

B Above average—impeccable grammar—some interesting ideas—fine phrasing and structure

C Average—very few grammatical errors—solid, convincing argument and good sentence and paragraph structure—weak writing style and voice

D Below Average—grammatically weak and poorly documented—problems with diction and organization—absent of a perceptible or appropriate style for academic discourse

F Failure—poorly organized, weak sentence structure, misunderstanding or misreading of source material—preponderance of grammatical/documentation errors


In-Class Essay: 4=95%; 4/3=92%; 3/4=88%; 3=85%; 3/2=82%; 2/3=78%; 2=75%; 2/1=72%; 1/2=68%; 1=65%; 1/0=62%; 0=50%


Out-of-Class Essay: A+=98%; A=95%; A-=92%; B+=88%; B=85%; B-=82%; C+=78%; C=75%; C- =72%; D+=68%; D=65%; D-=62%; F=50%


Please see the departmental grading rubric for in- and out- of class grading. In-class rubric: http://www.westga.edu/~engdept/FirstYearWriting/ENGL1101and1102/InClassWritingAssessment.htm


Out-of-class rubric: http://www.westga.edu/~engdept/FirstYearWriting/ENGL1101and1102/OutOfClassWritingAssessment.htm







The Writing Center

The role of the Writing Center is to offer consultation in which tutors question, respond to, offer choices, and encourage revision in student essays. Tutors do not evaluate or prescribe solutions to problematic areas in student essays, and tutors are specifically trained to avoid appropriating the student's work. For more information, visit the Writing Center online at http://www.westga.edu/writing.


            What They Do:

·         Discuss ideas, read drafts, and work through revision of essays; they do not proofread.

·         Regents’ test preparation (both the reading and the essay sections)

·         MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, and other citation formats



·         Please make appointments in advance.  They accept walk-ins, but they cannot guarantee that a tutor will be available.

·         If you cannot keep your appointment, you must call or email them 24 hours in advance to cancel.  If you do not notify them 24 hours in advance, you will be counted a No Show.

·         Please arrive at your appointment on time.  If you are 10 minutes late or more, you will be counted as a No Show and will not be able to have your appointment.

·         If you have 3 No Shows in one semester, you will not be able to have any more appointments for that semester.


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10:00am—7:00pm

Thursday 10:00am—3:00pm

Friday 10:00am—12:00pm


Plagiarism & Academic Dishonesty

The Department of English and Philosophy defines plagiarism as taking personal credit for the words and ideas of others as they are presented in electronic, print, and verbal sources. The Department expects that students will accurately credit sources in all assignments. An equally dishonest practice is fabricating sources or facts; it is another form of misrepresenting the truth. Plagiarism is grounds for failing the course.

The University policies for handling Academic Dishonesty are found in the following documents:

The Faculty Handbook, sections 207 and 208.0401

Student Uncatalog: "Rights and Responsibilities"; Appendix J.
http://www.westga.edu/~handbook/index.phpThe department of English has assembled the following resources to help prevent plagiarism: http://www.westga.edu/~engdept/Plagiarism/index.html

Excessive Collaboration
By the end of the term in both English 1101 and 1102, students should demonstrate the ability to produce independent writing (writing without collaborative assistance of peers, writing tutors, or professionals in the field) that shows an acceptable level of competence. Although classroom activities and out-of-class assignments may highlight collaborative learning and collaborative research, excessive collaboration (collaboration that results in the loss of a student's voice/style and original claims to course-related work) is considered another form of academic dishonesty and as such will not be permitted.


Late Work

I will grade late papers down one letter grade for each calendar day that the paper is late, but I will accept no work after one week past the due date—unless there are extenuating circumstances (i.e. the horror, the horror!).  Do not cut class because you do not have the work that is due.  That absence merely adds to your total number of misses.  Also, students may not make up a daily quiz due to an absence or tardiness.  I only allow make up work when students miss because of university related events, such as band, sports, etc.  In such cases, you must bring me the note from the coach or activities director.  I also allow make up work at my discretion for in-class essays and the final exam.


Department Paperless Policy

As of Fall 2006, the English Department implemented a “paperless” policy in its classrooms. Therefore, all materials (handouts, assignment sheets, notes, etc.) will be made available online. You may print these necessary course documents, including the syllabus, on your home computer.


English Department Severe Weather Policy

The University of West Georgia is committed to the personal safety of its students, faculty, and staff in the event of severe weather. University policy regarding severe weather closings is posted at http://www.westga.edu/police/index_2277.php 

and official announcements about class and/or examination cancellations will be made only by the President and/or the Department of Public Relations. Although it is not possible to develop policy to address every weather-related emergency, these guidelines are intended to provide some general direction about such situations.


For immediate severe weather situations, especially when classes are in session, faculty, staff and students are advised to follow the emergency procedures identified below:

1. Direct occupants to remain in the building and to seek shelter immediately on the lowest level of the building in interior rooms (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.

2. Instruct occupants to not leave the building.

3. Evacuate all offices, rooms or hallways with windows and glass or with exterior walls.

4. Provide assistance to persons with disabilities.

5. Accompany occupants to the nearest designated shelter area in the building.

6. Comply with departmental severe weather policies/procedures.

7. Wait for an “all clear” signal” before resuming activity.

8. Occupants will: a) proceed to the nearest designated shelter area in the building by the closest route; b) move quickly but in an orderly manner so that all will arrive safely; c) will not attempt to vacate the premises, drive or seek shelter in cars; d) take a seat in the shelter area; e) remain cooperative with those in charge; and f) wait for an “all clear” signal before resuming activity.


In the event that classes are cancelled or disrupted for less than one calendar week, each professor, at his or her discretion, will make adjustments as needed to cover material missed during those cancelled sessions. This may or may not involve the use of rescheduled or online classes. If the closures exceed a single calendar week, students should contact the Chair of the Department of English and Philosophy at 678-839-6512 or the professor of the class for updated information regarding changes to the schedule in the Department. It is the intention of the Department of English and Philosophy to handle every concern seriously and as effectively as possible.


Format for All Papers

All papers and documentation should be in MLA format.  You must staple papers before class, and they should bear the appropriate heading, title, and page numbers for the assignment. 


Extra Credit and Previous Work Policy

·          I do not give extra credit.

·          Work completed for another class (past or present) is unacceptable in fulfilling the requirements of this course.




Attendance Requirements
Students may be administratively withdrawn from class based on the following attendance policy.  For classes that meet three times a week, a student is allowed four absences. Upon the fifth absence, the student may be withdrawn.  For classes that meet twice a week, a student is allowed three absences.  Upon the fourth absence, the student may be withdrawn.  Be aware that no distinction exists between excused and unexcused absences.  If you miss class, it is your responsibility to make sure you have arranged for any assignments to be turned in on time.  You are solely responsible for keeping up with work missed due to absence. Be aware that no distinction exists between excused and unexcused absences.  If the withdrawal occurs prior to October 12, the student will receive a grade of W. If the withdrawal occurs after October 12, the student will receive a grade of WF. (FYW Department Policy)


Communication Policy

The official communication method for this class will be through campus e-mail (MyUWG).  You will be responsible for checking your MyUWG email, since I will be using that address to correspond with you.  You should also look under “My Courses” on your MyUWG for relevant files, announcements and so on.  MyUWG and WebCT serve as the only legitimate modes of university correspondence. 


Disruptive Behavior
Students may be dismissed from any class meeting at which they exhibit behavior that disrupts the learning environment of others. Such behavior includes – but is not limited to – arriving late for class, allowing cell phones to ring, speaking disrespectfully to the instructor and/or to other students, checking email or surfing the web, and using personal audio or visual devices. I also find that students who pack up even thirty seconds before class ends very, very rude.  It is disruptive and disrespectful.  Please do not consume food while class is in progress.  Each dismissal of this kind will count as an absence and will be applied toward the attendance policy above. (Department Policy)


Note: This course traffics in frank, academic discussions of potentially volatile issues regarding race, gender, sexuality, and religion.  I want two responses from you throughout the term: respect for each other as well as a thoughtful, honest analysis of whatever topic arises.  If you suspect you will be unable to meet either or both requirements, you should seriously rethink your placement in this class.  Since discussion is at the core of this course, its success and usefulness rest largely on your ability to formulate and express insightful opinions in class.  Apathy and critical disengagement will not be tolerated.  Always come to class prepared to share your ideas and opinions, even if you fear they may at times be unpopular.


Two Additional Notes

1)  Presumably, you know that college writing must be superior in quality, style, and content to the writing you produced in high school. (This presumption does not mean I am looking for ten-dollar words and convoluted sentences).  In general, each essay you turn in will receive a grade that reflects the quality of its content, style, organization, diction, grammar, and mechanics.


2)  As for make-up work, be aware that you are responsible for what goes on in class and for the next day’s assignment, whether you attend class or not.  Once I assign groups, you should exchange contact information with at least two group members, if only to ensure that a fellow classmate is available to catch you up.


Special Needs

I pledge to work with the University to provide all students with equal access to my classes and materials, regardless of special needs, temporary or permanent disability, special needs related to pregnancy, etc. If you have any special learning needs, particularly (but not limited to) needs defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and require specific accommodations, please do not hesitate to make these known to me, either yourself or through Disability Services in 272 Parker Hall at (770) 839-6428.


Students with documented special needs may expect accommodation in relation to classroom accessibility, modification of testing, special test administration, etc. This is not only my personal commitment: it is your right, and it is the law. For more information, please contact Disability Services at the State University of West Georgia.


English 1101 Sections




August 27                                           In-class writing.

September 26                                      Essay #1

October 24                                          Essay #2

November 28                                     Essay #3


September 3 Labor Day

November 19-23 Thanksgiving




Now all that nastiness is done and done, I welcome you to what I trust will be an informative, productive, and engaging semester in freshman composition.




*The following document is subject to changes throughout the semester.  I will notify you well in advance if and when they occur.


Analyzing Nonfiction: Freaks, Geeks, and Have-nots




20        Introductions, Explanations, Expectations. 

22        Film viewing and discussion.  Diagnostic assigned. 

27        In-class writing assignment: analysis of the film.

29        Overview for Essay One—Analyzing Nonfiction.  (Students will critique one of

            the selections in the unit).  Locating and analyzing the thesis and the elements of

support in the source text.




3          Labor Day.  No class.

5          Grammar and Mechanics Review.  Students must show proof of purchase of

            Course Packets.

10        Discuss “The Mind of the Militias”—Doskoch & “Don’t Further Empower


12        Discuss “Beauty and the Battle”—Anders & “Mommy, What Does Nigger Mean?”—Naylor

17        Discuss “The Thin Red Line”—Egan. Film clip. Wrap up discussions of articles.

19        Workshop: Analytical Structure—building thesis and support; using quotes and


24        Rough drafts for Essay One are due.  Peer edit.

26        Final drafts for Essay One are due.  Overview for Essay Two—Fiction Analysis. (Students will produce a literary analysis of one of the following short stories).





Raising the Freak Flag in Short Fiction




1          Discuss “Gimpel the Fool”—Singer

3          “The Devil and Irv Cherniske”—Boyle

8          “A Rose for Emily”—Faulkner

10        “A Good Man is Hard to Find”—O’Connor


12        The last day to withdraw with a “w”


15        Workshop on Interpreting Fiction. Building argumentative structure: thesis, support, quotations, and citation. 

17        Rough Draft for essay two is due.  Peer edit.

22        Peer edit concluded.

24        Final drafts for essay two are due.  Overview for Essay Three—Analyzing Poetry



Memory, Earth, and War: Figures a Poem Makes


29        Discuss “Death, Be Not Proud” and “The Dance”

31        Poet of the Day: Sharon Olds




5          Poet of the Day: Yusef Komunyakaa

7          Workshop:  Writing about Poetry. Separating literal and figurative meaning;

building a thesis, support, and using quotes and citations. Students select poems and build a working outline for an analytical response.

12        Group Work assignments.

14        Presentations


19-23   Thanksgiving Holidays. 


26        Rough Draft is due for Essay Three.  Peer Edit.

28        Final Draft is due for Essay Three.


Exam Schedule for 1101-12, 14, 30

11:00-12:20 classes ...........................Monday, Dec. 3, 11:00-1:30 pm
12:30-1:50 classes ......................Wednesday, Dec. 5, 11:00 -1:30 pm
3:30-4:50 classes ..........................Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2:00-4:30