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ENGL 1012: English Composition II: Expository Writing: Student Version: Pham, Drew Spring 2020

Student Version of ENG 1012


Brooklyn College

The City University of New York

English 1012—Violence


MWEB Code 38227                                                                                                        Drew Pham

5403 James                                                                        

M/W 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM                                                               Remind Class Code: @h37g37

Office Hours: M/W 12:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Adjunct Office: 2311 Boylan


“Books, as the poet Jean Paul once remarked, are thick letters to friends.”

—Peter Sloterdijk


“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

—Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche


Course description: In this course, you’ll learn to read carefully and write clearly. I expect that you’ll become a thorough and considerate close-reader and researcher of texts, an analyst and critic able to write in conversation with a community of writers, and foremost, an effective writer able to synthesize your unique perspectives with those of a larger writing community.

The theme of this course will be the violence in a broad, societal sense. This includes the pervasive milieu of racism, sexism, armed conflict, migration, etcetera in which we find ourselves, from ongoing global wars to mass incarceration to microaggressions. We will navigate these experiences, their effects, and the varying perspectives found in contemporary literature. To do this, together, we’ll interrogate works of poetry, fiction, and short stories.

By the end of the semester, you will be able to:

  • Compose a scholarly essay with an original thesis, a well-supported argument, with strong research.
  • Understand and conduct scholarly research, including identifying, annotating, incorporating, and citing sources.
  • Analyze, critique, and respond critically to a variety of texts.

A word of caution: This course deals with vivid depictions of violence, rape, racism, and many of the worst behaviors humanity can offer. While we can make space to process these upsetting subjects in academia, the outside world will do you no such favors. Together, I ask that we bravely confront these realities within the safety of our classroom. Along the way, I, along with your peers, and the college will provide the emotional support necessary to accomplish this task.

Required texts:

  • There There by Tommy Orange
  • Coursepack/PDF Poems & Short Stories (see course schedule)

Attendance & Punctuality: If you miss more than four classes, your grade will drop one letter.  Two tardies count as one absence.  Arriving disproportionately late counts as an absence.  A pattern of lateness will affect your grade. Missing five classes will result in failure. I understand that life gets in the way, so if you must miss class, please reach out to me.

Participation: By enrolling in this class, you are staking a claim on your education. You would do yourself and your classmates a disservice by not actively participating in the class. We are participating in a conversation larger than ourselves through our readings, discussions, and writing, so I expect the following from you:

  • Read each text closely and critically.
  • Be present for class, and present in mindset, which means focusing on the work in front of you not on electronics or work for other classes.
  • Engage in discussion. If you’re anxious about engaging, see me during office hours so we can work out an accommodation.
  • Take each assignment, both at home and in class, seriously.

NOTE: No cell phones during class. Be an adult, if you have to take a call, go outside. Cell phone use during class will result in an absence.


Essays: You will write 2 critical essays (3-5 typed, 12 point, double-spaced page each) based on the assigned texts, due on the date that we finish the texts. In your essays, I would like you to do a critical close reading of the text and assert an original position based on that work. You will also have to bring in (an) outside source(s) that engage(s) with the subject matter critically. This can be a scholarly work from the humanities, social sciences, or a literary work in conversation with the text. News/opinion/other works will need approval from me. You should ask questions of the texts, like: How is this text constructed to suggest a particular narrative, and who does it serve? What assumptions is this text grounded on? What internal contradictions are present? What is included/excluded, privileged, and silenced? What does the text do? What effects/actions does it achieve? Etc. If you have any questions about what is acceptable as a source, don’t hesitate to ask me. Do not simply summarize the reading.


Research Paper: The culminating assignment will be your formal research paper. I’ve broken down the assignment to include a topic proposal, annotated bibliography, rough drafts and final paper.


Format: We will use MLA 8+ rules for each take-home writing assignment. Your reading responses and research paper assignments will be typed and double-spaced in Times New Roman 12-point font and follow MLA formatting (see A Writer’s Reference or Purdue Owl website for formatting information).


Additionally, I’ll ask you to compose in-class writing assignments throughout the semester.


Reading: Class discussion is a critical element of this course, and participation is essential. I expect you to have closely read and be ready to discuss all readings on the day they are assigned. There will be unannounced reading quizzes. Bring the assigned reading to every class.


Reading Discussion Leaders: You’ll be expected to take an active part in the readings by leading discussions with your peers in class. Leaders will be expected to read the texts carefully, coordinate with their partners to plan the discussion, conduct the discussion in a respectful manner, include (an) additional scholarly source(s), and facilitate a line of inquiry based on class response to the text, and turn in a typed copy of their questions prior to the day they lead discussions. This will count for 15% percent of your grade.



The English Department’s grading scale ranges from A+ through C-, NC (no credit), and F. NC is a non-passing but non-punitive grade. It will appear on your transcript but will not affect your grade-point average. NC is intended for students who do all the work for the course but are not yet writing at C level. F means that you did not complete the work for the course and/or were excessively absent. There is no D grade.


            Research Essay                     35%   

20% topic proposal

5% annotated bibliography

25% paper drafts (x3)

            Essays                                     30%

            Participation/Assignments   20%

            Discussion Leadership          15%

            Extra Credit                          TBD


            Assignment grading scale:




























Below 60




There is no exit exam for this course. The research paper serves as the final exam.

Late work: Late work will be penalized a letter grade and will not be accepted after the next class has passed. If students miss a class during which work is under discussion for peer review, students are still responsible for submitting work on the same day in order to receive full credit.

Re-writes: You have the option of rewriting your work for a grade change. This option is not available for late work.

Attendance: You are allowed a maximum of 5 absences throughout the semester. More than 3 absences will affect your grade and more than 5 absences will lead to automatic failure. It’s also important that you show up to class on time. Two late days will be counted as one absence. More than 20 minutes late will be counted as an absence. When you miss a class, it’s your responsibility to find out what work you missed and catch up. Again, if you must miss class, communicate with me to obtain an excused absence. Excused absences will not count against you.

Cheating and plagiarism: Brooklyn College’s policy follows: “The faculty and administration support an environment free from cheating and plagiarism. Each student is responsible for being aware of what constitutes cheating and plagiarism and for avoiding both. The CUNY website provides detailed information. If a faculty member suspects a violation of academic integrity and, upon investigation, confirms that violation, or if the student admits the violation, the faculty member must report the violation.” (Brooklyn College Bulletin, 58). The work we will do together in the craft of writing is real labor. You wouldn’t tolerate someone else taking credit for or stealing the products of your labor, therefore I will not tolerate plagiarism or cheating and consequences for such behavior will be severe.

Non-attendance Because of Religious Beliefs: Brooklyn College’s statement on non-attendance because of religious belief is located on page 66 of the Brooklyn College Undergraduate Bulletin:  

Student Bereavement Policy: Brooklyn College’s statement on non-attendance because of religious belief is located here:


Learning Center: The Learning Center (1300 Boylan) provides free peer tutoring in writing by trained students. Students may attend weekly or on a drop-in basis. If you’re interested in weekly tutoring sessions, please see me for a referral. You may make appointments for drop-in sessions by calling the Learning Center at 718-951-5821, by emailing, or by requesting an appointment at the Learning Center’s front desk.

Disabilities: In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations students must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services. Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the Director of the Center for Student Disability Services, Ms. Valerie Stewart-Lovell at (718) 951-5538. If you have already registered with the Center for Student Disability Services, please provide me with the course accommodation form and we will discuss your specific accommodation.

Counseling Services: From BC WebCentral: Personal counseling is available to Brooklyn College undergraduate and graduate students. A staff of psychologists, counselors, and social workers are available to assist you with personal issues or problems you may experience during your academic years. Emergency consultations and referrals to outside services are also provided. Workshops are offered on stress management, time management, test anxiety, etc. All services are free and confidential. No information is released without consent of the student. Initial appointments for services must be made in person. If you find that you need access to counseling services, please call (718)-951-5363, or email The center is located at 0203 James. In the event of an emergency, dial 911.


Schedule (Subject to Change):


Week 1:

M 1/27            Introduction to course; Claiming an Education discussion

W 1/29            In class writing exercise; Critical & Close Reading


Week 2:

M 2/3              I Don’t Get Poetry: Introduction to Poetry

Reading Due:

Asghar: “How We Left: Film Treatment”

Gatwood: “Ode to the Women on Long Island”

Vuong: “Aubade with Burning City”

W 2/5              Get to the Point: Thesis Statement Review

Reading Due:

Szymborska: “Photograph from September 11th”;

Notley: “Requiem for the First Half of Split”; 

Komunyakaa: “Facing It”

Week 3:

M 2/10            Not This Again: Essay Structure Review; Rhetoric

Reading Due:

Abraham: Excerpt from “Inheritance”

Lorde: “Power”

Vuong: “To My Father / To My Future Son”

W 2/12             College Closed


Week 4:

M 2/17             College Closed

W 2/19            More Important Than You Think: Process—Pre-Writing to Drafts

Yes, Like Harry Potter: Introduction to Fiction

Reading Due:

O’Brien: “How to Tell a True War Story”


Week 5:

M 2/24            Because the Courts Don’t: Finding Sources, Using Evidence & Analysis

Point of View in Fiction

Reading Due:

Smith: “Two Men Arrive in a Village”

Alarcon: “The Ballad of Rocky Rontal”

W 2/26             It Wasn’t Perfect the First Time?: Revision Process

                        Sample Papers Discussion

Reading Due:

Anonymous: Sample Student Paper

Le: “Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice”

Vuong: “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”


Week 6:

M 3/2              I Don’t Like Sharing: Peer Review

Reading Due:

Asghar: “Boy”; “Oil”

Vuong: “Self Portrait as Exit Wounds”


W 3/4              Student-Led Discussion

Peer Review Session

                        Assignment Due:

Critical Response Paper Draft


Week 7:

M 3/9             Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Wolfe: “Another Brother’s Conviction”

Williams: “Black Sonnet”

W 3/11            No, Not Like Sampling Tracks: Plagiarism

Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Roupenian: “Cat Person”

Gatwood: “If a Girl Screams in the Middle of the Night”


Week 8:         

M 3/16             Check-In

Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Blasim: “Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes”

Asghar: “Partition” (i.)

W 3/18             I Know Everything Already: Intro to Research

Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Johnson: “Emergency”

Gatwood: “Aileen Wuornos Takes a Lover Home”

Assignment Due:

Critical Response Paper Final


Week 9:

M 3/23             Alternative Modes in Fiction

                        Must I Read in an English Class?: Intro to the Novel as Form

Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Saunders: “The Semplica Girl Diaries”

Parker: Excerpt from Anatomy of a Soldier

W 3/25             I Have No Idea: Topic Proposal & Paper Assignments

Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Orange: There There 1-61

                        Anonymous: Sample Student Paper


Week 10:

M 3/30            Peer Review

Student-Led Discussion

                        Reading Due:

Orange: 62-117

                        Assignment Due:

Critical Response Paper Draft

W 4/1              So Much Work: Annotated Bibliographies (cont’d)

Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Orange: 118-155


Week 11:

M 4/6              Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Orange 156-207

T 4/7              Topic proposal peer review

Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Orange 208-247

Assignment Due:

Topic Proposal


Week 12:

M 4/13            College Closed


W 4/15            College Closed


Week 13:

M 4/22            TBD: How-to on Library Research Meeting at BC Library

W 4/24            Student-Led Discussion

Reading Due:

Orange 248-290

Assignment Due:

Critical Response Paper Final


Week 14:

M 4/27             How’d they Do? Sample Research Paper Grading Exercise

                        Reading Due:

Anonymous: Sample Student Paper

Assignment Due:

Working Annotated Bibliography

W 4/29            Thesis Statement Peer Review; Individual Student Meetings

                        Assignment Due:

Working Thesis Statement


Week 15:

M 5/4              Peer Review; Individual Student Meetings

Assignment Due:

Research Paper Rough Draft

W 5/6              Catch up

Individual Student Meetings


Week 16:

M 5/11            Peer Review

Assignment Due:

Research Paper Second Draft

W 5/13            This is the End: Final Meeting

Assignment Due:

Final Research Paper

Course Readings