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Pop Culture

English 102: English Composition II

Pop Culture: Race, Gender, and Sexuality

Summer 2011, University of Mississippi

Course Description:


ENGL 102 (English Composition II) is a theme-based, first-year writing course designed to build on writing skills learned in ENGL 101 and develop critical thinking and research skills appropriate for use in academic writing.  The course pays special attention to developing argumentative skills, analyzing texts, and synthesizing information into thoughtful, coherent essays and projects.  Students enrolled in ENGL 102 will produce papers that are longer and more in-depth than in ENGL 101.  The course culminates in a final portfolio of the student’s work. 


Course Theme Pop Culture: 


Films, music, television, advertising—in our daily lives we our surrounded by and inundated with a constant stream of information.  But how often do we stop to ask ourselves what it all means?  In this theme of English 102 we will turn a critical eye on popular culture to examine the various ways in which we influence and are influenced by pop culture.  Some questions we will attempt to answer are: “how are we affected by advertising?” “What can we learn from television, film, and music?” and “what are the roles of race, gender, and sexuality in popular culture?”  Students should come into this course prepared to examine critically and thoroughly a variety of a mediums and sources that are often disregarded or taken for granted.


Course Outcomes:


The objectives of this course are (1) to develop basic writing skills learned in ENGL 101, including the understanding that writing is a process that develops over time through revision (2) to write for specific purposes and for specific audiences, (3) to respond critically to different points of view, allowing the student to create effective and sustainable arguments, (4) to become skilled at locating primary and secondary research from a variety of sources and at evaluating their reliability, and (5) to become effective researchers and writers of research papers as a member of an active writing, reading, and researching community.


Required Texts:

Maasik, Sonia, and Jack Solomon. Signs of Life in the USA. 6th edition

Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference. 6th edition.


Required Materials:

A wi-fi enabled laptop



[Failure to complete any major paper or project, means that you cannot receive a passing grade.]


Paper 1 (Analysis): 10%

Paper 2 (Explication/Compare/Contrast): 15%

Paper 3 (Research/Proposal/Narrative): 20%

In-class Essay: 5%

Multimodal Project: 15%

Portfolio: 25%

Quizzes, In-class Assignments, and Class Participation: 10%


[Late Work: Unless otherwise noted on the assignment or by your instructor, your assignments are due at the beginning of class. NO LATE WORK IS ACCEPTED. Late assignments will receive a “zero,” but you will be allowed to turn in the assignment, and, if acceptable, you will receive an “F.”


I am generous with extensions if students contact me well ahead of time but I do not grant them on the day of or the day after the assignment is due.]


Format: All papers must be in MLA format.  Consult either A Writer’s Reference or to learn how to format a paper and to cite your sources correctly.


Attendance Policy: Students are expected to attend all class meetings; improving writing
skills takes time and is a process unlike learning content alone.

Tardiness: You are expected to be present and ready for class at the beginning of our assigned period. Late students may suffer penalties on assignments. Habitual tardiness is disruptive to class and will affect the class participation grade. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure he or she is marked present if late to class.


Tips to Surviving and Thriving in this Class


  1. Keep up with assignments. You are responsible for knowing what is going on through the calendar and other instructions.

  2. Be honest with yourself through your writing. Do not attempt to “give me what you think I want.” It’s a losing battle.

  3. Own your writing. Choose topics that are of interest to you. I give a wide berth in my writing assignments.

  4. This class encourages honest, forthright, and open speech for all classmates. Our discussions may get heated, but we are to treat each other with respect.

  5. While class discussion will be respectful, you must know that to probe, question, offer alternative readings, and criticize thoughtfully other people’s comments are core values in this class. To respect a person is to take his or her ideas seriously and to support or challenge them. Nobody gets a free pass on statements that he or she cannot defend.

  6. We are a diverse bunch.  As such, attacks of a personal nature or statements denigrating another on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, age, national/regional origin or other factors will not be tolerated.  In any course I teach, I am deeply invested in maintaining a civil classroom environment.

  7. That being said, I do expect respectful disagreements from time to time.  You may find you disagree with a classmate (or even me!) and would like to say so.  You can do so in a way that does not demean the other party or dismiss his or her point. 

  8. THE BOTTOM LINE: your education is what you make of it.  So make it important.  Your parents are paying money for you to be here, and if they aren’t, someone else is or you have taken out a loan to be here.  Make it work!  Make it worth it! 

Plagiarism: As a student at the University, all work submitted under your name, for your credit, is assumed to be your original work. While your teachers hope and expect for you to incorporate the thinking of others in your work, you must credit others’ work when you rely upon it. In your written assignments, there are only three methods for properly importing the work of others: quotation, paraphrase, and summary (see MLA-2 in A Writer’s Reference).

The penalty for plagiarism in English 101, 102, or LIBA 102 is failure of the course. Additional penalties are possible.

Upon determining plagiarism, the instructor will notify the student and the Director of the Center for Writing and Rhetoric in writing. Students may appeal this finding and/or penalty by notifying the UM Academic Discipline Committee within 14 days of the instructor’s
decision. The applicable full UM policy is ACA.AR.600.001 and should be consulted by any student concerned with plagiarism. Broadly speaking, plagiarism is completely avoidable: if you are ever uncertain whether or not you are committing plagiarism, ask your instructor.

Students with Disabilities

If you have a documented disability as described by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 933-112 Section 504) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and would like to request academic and/or physical accommodations please contact Student Disability Services at 234 Martindale Center, 662-915-7128. Course requirements will not be waived but reasonable accommodations may be provided as appropriate. Please consult for more information on student disability services.

Phones: Please turn all phones to “off” or to “silent” at the beginning of class. There will be no texting or phone calls during our time. For the first offense, you will receive a warning.  For the second offense, even if it is in the same period, you will be asked to leave class and be given a “zero” for that day’s work. If you have some sort of emergency where you need to respond to your phone, please talk to me before class.


Laptop usage: On the days when you have your laptop in class or when we are in a computer lab, you are required to stay on task and not go wandering through the Internet; no chatting and no Facebook. You have plenty of time outside of class to do this.  As with phone usage in class, you will receive a warning for the first offense. For the second offense, even if it is in the same period, you will be asked to leave class and be given a “zero” for that day’s work.

University Writing Center

Make contact with a Writing Center tutor AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Aside from one-on-one meetings with me during office hours, the best way to improve your writing is to work with the tutors at the UM Writing Center - 3rd floor, J.D. Williams Library. Many successful students begin going to the Writing Center with essay one and continue working with various tutors over the course of a semester, making appointments with tutors for each essay they write. The goal of the Writing Center is to help students become better, independent writers, so the tutors don't "proofread" or merely "correct" errors. They will help you to brainstorm, talk about research and explore resources, and yes, they will answer your grammar questions. To learn more about Writing Center hours, scheduling and services, please go to http:///


All information in this syllabus is subject to change at any time, especially during the first weeks of the semester. I will announce changes to our schedule during class time and also via BlackBoard. You are responsible for changes to the schedule as they arise, regardless of whether or not you attend class.

Conclusion: By accepting this syllabus, you agree to all the terms described herein.

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