Eng. 383 Writer's Journal

Writer's Journal

Be sure to purchase a sewn-in-binding "Composition Book." Spiral notebooks will fall apart as we trade our journals with classmates.


During the course of the semester you will read various theories by practitioners of composition.  You will investigate and consider these theories by searching out experiences of your own.   A handwritten journal shows me that you are doing your reading and, more importantly, that you apply it in your life as a writer and apprentice tutor.

For years I had the class make online reading responses. Too often, students "parroted" each other's ideas and passages. Lately, I have been experimenting with how the old technologies of paper and pen shape writing and thinking. So all journals (and your class notes--not keeping good class notes will really hurt your journal grades!) will be kept in a notebook rather than as a computer file. Thoughts--good, bad, ugly--about writing this way may also enter your reflections.

Writing by hand actually teaches compositional skills not easily encouraged online. The converse situation is true, of course; I love having a reference library (and I do not mean Google) available through my Web browser.


Always bring the journal to class. I'll randomly collect several journals each week and give them letter grades.

In addition to your class notes (date them), that I will grade, at least once per week you must write reflections about the assigned readings, your observations of other tutors, your own work as a tutor, and your experiences here and elsewhere as student writer. Your journal is public. Every Monday, bring it to class discussion because I will call on you to read from your journals about various ideas and authors we encounter.

I also expect you to share the journal with classmates. If they wish to add notes to your journal, that's fine--but they should sign their names so they'll get some "reading credit" for helping you.


Don't get too far behind with the journal; it counts as much as the final project toward your course grade. When I pick them up, I will return them to you with a short typed comment sheet and some "sticky-notes" in the journal to ask you questions.

Keep in mind that quantity is not quality in a journal. In particular, I am looking for a nuanced understanding of the theory behind what we do and how it bubbles up in your real-life experiences as writer and tutor. That means more than name-dropping of our authors: I want you to give me detailed information about how aspects of their thinking has (or not) influenced your work.

I have lousy penmanship when I write fast, but my sympathy can only extend so far. If I cannot read your writing, you get no credit for inscrutable brilliance. Be careful to print or buy a good pen (fine-point Gel pens are especially good for the crab-scripted writer).

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