Writing 2: Researching Ourselves

 Writing 2:  Researching Ourselves

Roz Spafford

How would you describe your community (or communities)?

Think of a community as a group of people with backgrounds somewhat similar to yours, and/or as people who share common concerns, beliefs, visions. How do people in your communities develop their values–about politics, sexuality, religion, manners? What do they read? What music do they listen to? What do they know? How do they know what they know? What are they worried about? What do they do for fun? How do their concerns intersect with or challenge those of others?

In this section of Writing 2, you will gain research and analytical skills by investigating the diverse behavior and belief systems of people in communities to which you are connected. Students enrolling in this section should be willing to work both independently and collaboratively, doing library research as well as field work observing and interviewing other people. Papers will be based not only on this research, but on popular culture and on creative work, essays, sociological studies–and of course, students’ own ideas.

Texts:   Yours: A hard-back binder or folder for notebook assignments and informal writing:  bring it to class each meeting. In addition, you will need several folders in which to turn in papers.

Mine:  A Reader, available in class on Tuesday.

Ours:  Three of your papers, xeroxed for a workshop of five to ten readers.

Theirs: Diana Hacker, A Writer’s Reference, available at Bay Tree Bookstore (fifth edition)

Note: if the cost of copying or of any of the materials is a hardship for you, please speak to me about it.)


Various informal assignments (handwritten or typed), usually four per week, some done in class, some posted on-line. In addition, your essays will require a great deal of informal and preliminary writing; please turn these pieces in with the paper to which they pertain.

Short (two paragraph) comments on the work of other students in the class. I’ll ask for twelve or so of these in two copies over the quarter.

Four essays, plus a short research proposal and summaries of research material. I will ask you to rewrite three of these essays completely in response to workshop comments. Papers must be typed or word-processed (in a readable font with dark ink), double-spaced, proofread. The first essay is about three pages long; the second two about seven; the last one seven-ten. Each time you turn in a paper, I ask that you include preliminary writing, each draft, comments from student readers, and so forth–all organized in a folder.

The last two papers must meet the standard for passing Writing 2 established by the Writing Program. You may rewrite a paper once in order to meet that standard. Regarding grading in Writing 2, please see the attached rubric, which is used in all Writing 2 classes.


Each of you will have two of your first three papers discussed in a small writing workshop of about 5-10 people. Everyone must rewrite one of these two papers. In addition, everyone will rewrite the research essay.  Workshop members are responsible for commenting thoroughly and helpfully, both aloud and in writing–the comments will be evaluated. If a real emergency keeps you from attending a class session when a workshop is scheduled, you must send detailed written comments to the writer, with copies to me.

Computer Accounts & Email:

Students in this section must also have access to a computer, either at home or through on-campus labs, as well as a valid UCSC email account; if you don’t use your UCSC account, make sure you know the login and password, and have your mail forwarded to the email address you actually use.  Responses to the reading will be posted on-line, and messages about assignments will be sent via email. Students should post on-line reading responses to: http://ic.ucsc.edu/webct; use your UCSC log-in and password. On-line responses must be thoughtful, literate and considerate of the audience.

Other Responsibilities:

The class centers on student participation–on paper, in research, in workshops and in on-line and in-class discussions. This experience will prepare you for work in upper-division seminars, as well as for taking leadership in graduate school or the workplace. You are invited to propose topics for discussion.

To pass the class, you must:

1) Turn in every paper–as well as the informal assignments;

2) On your third and fourth paper, meet the standards for passing Writing 2.

3) Attend class (if you miss class more than twice, you risk not passing: see Roz if you find yourself struggling with a serious illness or other crisis);

4) Participate thoughtfully in class and respond carefully to other students’ work.

5) Last but not least: since the class centers on discovering the terms of our cultures, and analyzing the meaning of our similar and different cultural practices, a respectful attitude toward other students is mandatory.


Intuitions and Arguments, Problems and Solutions

Week 1:

September 22: Introduction to the class
First paper and first informal piece of writing assigned.
First papers assigned–an analytical essay
Discussion of the writing process
For Thursday : Describe  your writing  process in an email to Roz.

Week 2:

 Research Method: Interviews

September 27: Practice writing interpretation--bring an emblematic object to class, and be ready to read from your notebook.

Read for Thursday: Padilla, “Salsa Music…”
Hooks, “Straightening Our Hair”
Selzer, “The Knife”

By Wednesday night: write a response to one of the above pieces, looking particularly at the form in which it is written compared to the others. Post it on Web CT and print a copy.

September 29: Discussion of free-writing and organization, assigned reading.  Bring your readers  and your printouts from WebCT. Sign up for workshops.

For Tuesday, read:
Rich, “Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity”
Tran, “Letter to my Mother”
Moraga, “La Guera”

Think about whether any of the concerns these writers voice are issues for students you know.

 Week 3

October 4:  Paper # 1–object essay–due in class. Remember your copies if yours is being discussed.

Responding to papers–a practice session

Interview essay–paper #2–assigned. Interview questions due Thursday.

For Thursday, read your group members’ papers. Write 1 paragraph comments on them.

Discussion: audience, argument, and purpose in terms of the assigned reading.

October 6:   Workshop on first papers. Written one-paragraph comments due on group members’  papers.

Interview questions due in class. Practice interviews in class.

For Tuesday, read: Bettie, “Exceptions to the Rule”
Perry, “White Means Never Having to Say You’re Ethnic”
Hacker, pages as assigned.
Post a response to Bettie or Perry by Monday night, midnight (see questions below)

Week 4

October 11: Discussion: Representing interviews. How do Bettie & Perry represent their subjects? Do their ways of interpreting people’s comments suggest any opportunities the interviewer should consider or pitfalls he/she should avoid?  How can you make meaning out of your interview?

What options for style and form are there in papers based on interviews? How can you use  style to convey a voice? Note: Interviews must be complete by Wednesday evening.

October 13:  Due in class: transcripts of interviews

Research Method: Participant-Observation

Week 5

October 18: Second paper due in class. (Remember your copies)

Paper #3–based on participant observation–assigned. Discussion of participant-observation methodology and surrounding ethical issues.

For Thursday: Comment on the papers for your group (keep a second copy of your comments to turn in)

Begin participant-observation sessions this week or weekend

Read for Thursday: Foley, from Learning Capitalist Culture Ehrenreich, from “Nickel-and-Dimed”
Hacker, pages as assigned
Post a response to Foley or Ehrenreich by Wednesday, midnight, addressing the issue of how they analyze interviews and come to conclusions from them.

October 20:  Workshop on second paper. Remember your comments on other students’ papers.

Discussion of Foley, Maran and Ehrenreich
Discussion of style: smoother sentences, more logical sentences
Read for Tuesday:  Lurie, “The Language of Clothes”

 Week 6:

October 25: Revision of paper # 1 or 2 due in class–if yours was discussed in workshop.

Read for Thursday:  Hacker: pages assigned individually. Discussion of Lurie.
More discussion of form and style in analytical writing

NOTE: Your participant-observation must be completed by Wednesday.

 October 27: Interpreting participant-observation: notes from the observation due in class

 Research Method: Library Research

 Week 7:

November 2: Participant-observation paper (#3) due. (Remember your copies if yours is being discussed in workshop.) For Thursday, read the papers for your group and write comments.

Fourth paper–an essay based on research–assigned. Discussion of research, history, and private  lives.

Read for Thursday:  Segrest, “On Being White and Other Lies.”  Post a response to Segrest by Wednesday at midnight–at the latest. Print it, also, and bring it to class.

November 4: Workshop on paper #3. Comments on group members’ papers due in class (2 copies)

Discussion of Segrest, research essays.
Discussion of developing questions in research, arguing from evidence

Email your research proposal to Roz by Friday at 5.

Week 8:

November 8: Meet in McHenry Library today

Discussion: Developing research strategies.

Locating sources in the library

Revision of paper #3 due in class.         

November 10: Due in class:  Two journal articles–one print, one on-line. Bring xeroxes.

 Discussion: interacting with research. Style in writing from research. Acknowledging your sources while retaining your voice.

Read:  Handout on documenting sources
Hacker, pages as assigned.

Week 9:

By Friday afternoon  the 11th at 5: email Roz a one page argument for your research essay. (Note that there are no classes on the 11th). Roz will respond.

November 15:  Research essay due in class. Remember your copies.

November 17:  Workshop on research essay (remember to bring two copies of your comments).

Read: Hacker, pages assigned individually

                                                          Week 10:

 Pick up your research essay outside Roz’s office before you leave for Thanksgiving. No class November 22.

Week 11:

November 29Revisions of  research essay due in class.

Review—overview of Writing 2

December 1:   Discussion: Future writing, future resources
Closing ceremony
Evaluations, self-evaluations, last business.

To achieve better than a passing (C) grade, see the Writing Program standards below.

 Rubric for Assigning Letter Grades in Writing 2

Writing 2 grades are comprehensive. They account for all aspects of a student’s work over the quarter––the conceptual work of reading, thinking, and writing; the cooperative work of participating in a writing community; and the procedural work of completing reading and writing assignments, meeting deadlines, and attending class, writing group meetings, and conferences.

Note: All adjectives below should be placed in the context of the range of writing actually produced by student writers in introductory composition courses.

FYI: The grade of D gives a student credits towards graduation, but it does not satisfy the Composition General Education Requirement. Furthermore, it is worth only 1.0 grade point; a GPA of 2.0 is necessary for graduation from UC. Courses in which a student receives a D or F may be repeated. For the first 15 credits of repeated work, the new grade replaces the original grade in the calculation of GPA. After 15 credits, the new grade is averaged with the previous grade/s for the GPA.

A (or P)

The grade of A is appropriately given to students whose preparation for and execution of all course assignments (for example, reading, in-class discussions, presentations, group projects, informal writing, essay drafts, and revisions, etc.) have been consistently thorough and thoughtful. In addition, by the end of the quarter students who earn an A are consistently producing essays that are ambitiously and thoughtfully conceived, conscious of the demands of a particular assignment, purposeful and controlled, effectively developed, and effectively edited.

B (or P)

The grade of “B”is appropriately given to students who have satisfactorily completed all class assignments, although some of these efforts may have been more successful than others. By the end of the quarter, students who earn a B are consistently producing essays that are clearly competent in that they meet the demands of assignments, are controlled by an appropriate purpose, are sufficiently developed, and are accurately edited. A “B” performance may well reveal areas of strength that are not sustained throughout.

C (or P)

The grade of C is appropriately given to students who have fulfilled course requirements although, in some instances, minimally so. By the end of the quarter, students who have earned a C have provided sufficient evidence that they can produce focused, purposeful writing that satisfies the demands of an assignment, is adequately developed, and is carefully edited although, in some instances, achieving that standard depended on multiple revisions.

D or (NP)

The grade of D is appropriately given to students whose work has been unsatisfactory in some significant way : they have not completed all the course requirements and/or their essays have not yet achieved the level of competency described in the Writing Program’s standard for passing work in Writing 2. Students receiving a D must repeat Writing 2 to satisfy the Composition requirement.

F or (NP)

The grade of F is appropriate for students whose work in Writing 2 is so incomplete or so careless that it does not represent a reasonable effort to meet the requirements of the course.