English/Communication Department / Orchard Ridge Campus





James' Home Page


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Oakland Community College, Winter 2013

(NOTICE: extensive use of music in each class)

Instructor: Dr. David L. James

Class: Section: O-1471, Mondays, 6:00-9:10 p.m., G-208

Office Hours: Mon.: 11-12, 4:00-5:20; Tues.: 11:00-12:00; Wed.: 8:00-9:00 a.m., 12:40-1:30 or by appointment. Email is an excellent way to contact me.

Office: G-205, Orchard Ridge Campus

Phone/E-mail: (248) 522-3685; dljames@oaklandcc.edu

Web Page: www.oaklandcc.edu/or-eng/FullTimeFaculty/dljames/djhome.htm

Required Texts:

In the Palm of Your Hand:  Steve Kowit

New Sudden Fiction:  Shapard and Thomas, 2007


Course Description: (Prerequisite: ENG 2800)

Students will continue their development in writing original fiction, poetry, and drama.  Emphasis will be placed on developing the individual’s artistic vision.


Course Objectives:

Students will—

·        Select one or two genres and create original work

·        Present their work orally for group critiques

·        Respond constructively to other students’ writing and listen to others respond to theirs

·        Read a variety of poetry, fiction, and plays

·        Develop their particular artistic vision and philosophy of writing

·        Revise and rewrite their creative work to include it in a final portfolio

·        Refine an aesthetic appreciation for writing and literature

·        Learn to communicate effectively

·        Think creatively and critically


Course Requirements:

Writing Portfolio                                                           120-75 points

A final portfolio of quality writing is due on the 14th class period.  The portfolio must contain 15 typed pages of original work (no more, no less) in one genre or work in a combination of two genres.  The final goal is to highlight the very best work of the writer.  In addition to the 15 pages of work, writers must include a 1.5 page typed response to the question, “What have I learned about my writing this semester?” AND a 1.5 page typed explanation of their evolving “philosophy of writing” at this stage in their careers (i.e., What should writing do to readers and writers? What should writing accomplish? What is the value of writing to you or to readers?)             

(Late portfolios are marked down by ten points automatically. Portfolios without well-reasoned reflections are marked down by five points.)


Four 1.5 Page Response Papers                         80 points (20 each)

After reading articles on the craft of writing, students will write 1.5-2 page typed double-spaced response essays.  In the response, students should highlight briefly the main points of the essay and answer questions like the following: how does this relate to my writing and my philosophy?  What impact might this have on my views or my work?  Do I agree or disagree with the author and why?  The purpose is to explore your own philosophy of writing by reflecting on current literary issues.  NOTE: The goal is not to merely summarize what the article states. Late papers are marked down by 3 points and are not accepted beyond one week from the deadline.


Attendance/Participation                                   120 points (8 per class)

Your involvement in discussions, in-class writing, and critiquing is crucial to the success of this course and your learning.  Leaving early or coming in later than 15 minutes will be counted as half an absence (+4 instead of +8).


Peer Critiques                                                     30 points

Students are required to submit at least three creative works for group critique with the entire class (10 points per work).  Students should indicate on each submission (HC in the upper right corner) if the work is to be considered in the helping circle or not; however, only one piece can be designated for the helping circle at each Accept Drafts Day (of which there are six). Remember, helping circle work should not exceed five pages at a time.


TOTAL POINTS:                                               350 points

Grading Scale:

A  350-335                              A-  334-318                             B+  317-305   

B  304-292                              B-  291-286                             C+  285-276

C  275-260                              C-  259-235                             D   234-220

WP  219 or lower           


ADA: Students requiring special assistance (including those affected by the American with Disabilities Act) should contact the ACCESS Office, K111, 248.522.3480.  They will inform the instructor of any special conditions pertaining to the students’ learning.


Privacy Information:

In accordance with federal law (FERPA), none of your personal information will be given to anyone without your written permission.



Any attempt to submit the work of others and claim it as your own will result in an ‘E’ for the course.  This is a major academic offense.


Extra Credit:

Students may earn up to 10 points by attending a poetry or fiction reading, or a play during the term and writing a 1.5 page typed response about the experience (double-spaced).  How would you grade the reading/play performance on an A, B, C, or D scale, and why?  What, if anything, was impressive?  How did the author introduce each piece?  What aspect of the reading/play interested you the most?  Describe the overall experience of attending this event.  This paper must be submitted prior to the 13th class period. (Include the theatre playbill if seeing a play.)



I expect you to take your writing seriously.          I expect you to rewrite and revise your work throughout the semester and resubmit it for group consideration.            I expect a general competence in your writing, e.g., correct spelling, grammar, and sentence structure.          I expect lively, honest discussion in class.         None of us has all the answers, but we get closer to the truth as we debate, reflect, question, and share ideas with each other.        Also, I expect people to treat each other tactfully and kindly, in a great spirit of generosity.


*  *  *  *  *  *  *

You can expect to participate in a ‘helping circle’ group critique session almost every class.          You can expect to participate in in-class writing exercises on a regular basis.          You can expect me to read everything diligently and write honest, tactful comments for your consideration.            However, I do not grade individual pieces.              You can expect the final grading of the portfolio to be subjective.           


Form and presentation play an important role, but the primary focus will consist of my personal evaluation of the merits of your complete works—originality, creativeness, uniqueness, insight and impact.





Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are      absolutely necessary.  Without the guts to try, the talent may never be discovered.”                                                                                                                                Jessamyn West                                     





Class                    Readings Due                                       Schedule subject to minor changes


1                                  Introductions/syllabus/in-class writing.


2                                  ACCEPT DRAFTS DAY 1. Bill Moyer video; pages i-20 in In the Palm of Your Hand (Palm); read The Rememberer 63, and Tomorrow’s Bird 73 in New Sudden Fiction (NSF); handout article #1.


3                                  Issue: Can creative writing be taught?  Creativity; Palm: chap. 3, 28; My Lawrence 105, Pompeii 117 in NSF. 


4                                  ACCEPT DRAFTS DAY 2.  Palm: chap. 5; The Raft 29, Berlin Wall Piece 57 in NSF; response paper #1 due.


5                                  Issue: Where and how do you find inspiration?  Palm: chap. 6, 21; Juan the Cell Phone Salesman 305, Doughnut Shops and Doormen 288 in NSF; handout article #2.


6                                  ACCEPT DRAFTS DAY 3.  Palm: chap 9, 10; Why Men Quit 201, The Puppies 177 in NSF.


7                                  Issue: Censorship: should I or should I not?  Palm: chap 11, 15; Swimming for Shore 222, Mud 229 in NSF.  “Poetry and What’s Right.” Response paper #2 due.


8                                  ACCEPT DRAFTS DAY 4.  Palm: chap. 13, 14; Reply All 268 in NSF; handout article #3. 


9                                  Issue: Can writing cure you?  Palm: chap. 25; Consumed 196 in NSF.


10                                 ACCEPT DRAFTS DAY 5. Online exploration; response paper #3 due.  


11                                 Palm: chap. 26; Nap Time 310 in NSF; handout article #4.


12                                 ACCEPT DRAFTS DAY 6.  Palm: chap. 12; innovative fiction and poetry handouts; The Gold Lunch 281 in NSF.


13                          Palm: chap. 22, 27; response paper #4 due. Palm: chap. 29; Issue: Should I try to publish? The benefits and drawbacks.


14                                 F I N A L  PORTFOLIO DUE. Final remarks, class reading, final celebration.



Last Day for 100% refund: Close of 6th business day from start of class

Last Day to Withdraw: Friday of 12th week of class

Spring Recess: Feb. 25 – March 2

 Last Day of the Class: April 22         




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Updated 12/6/2012  by Joe O'Loughlin ( jaolough@oaklandcc.edu )