Some friends have been asking me to share my Apocalypse-themed composition syllabus with them. I’ve decided to blog my experience with teaching this course, because I really have no idea how it’s going to go. I am hopeful that it will go well, but I want to document my successes and challenges as I present this information to students. Please keep in mind that my students are freshmen at a Christian institution, and therefore some of the course materials are targeted specifically at people from their religious background.

Here are the relevant parts:

Assignments

Assignment One: Three Aspects of Apocalyptic Storytelling

For this 2-3 page paper, identify three common narrative elements of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic storytelling. For each element you identify, describe its characteristics and provide one or two examples of texts that use that element. All examples may come from our class discussions and collaborative list, or you may identify themes that are not on our list.

The essay must be written with MLA formatting as a 5-Paragraph essay and will include:

• an introduction with one sentence that includes a thesis and forecast.
• three body paragraphs, each beginning with a topic sentence.
• transitional sentences to move from each paragraph to the next.
• a conclusion that re-emphasizes each point without being repetitive in language.

This paper will measure your ability to outline a paper correctly, remember the five paragraph structure, identify elements of apocalyptic literature, and recognize themes in our readings. Grading will be based on the provided rubric.

Assignment Two: The Rhetorical Situation of a Film

Using the vocabulary we develop during this unit, describe and analyze the rhetorical situation of the film of your choice. We will discuss rhetorical situations extensively in class, and the basic goal is to analyze the importance of the film’s author, audience, and text. You are encouraged to use an apocalyptic film, but that is not a requirement. Your film must be approved ahead of time, and you must watch the movie at least once during the unit. You cannot rely on past viewings of the film. This 3-4 page paper must be organized with a thesis statement/forecast in the introduction and three body paragraphs. Follow the 5-Paragraph essay format that we learned in the first unit, including topic sentences and transitions. You must explain how the rhetorical situation’s elements work together to influence the film.

This paper will measure your ability to understand and apply a concept, to give an example, discover information and ideas, and relate information.

Assignment Three: Analyze the Popularity of Apocalyptic Literature

Make a strong argument about why you believe American audiences are interested in the Apocalypse. This paper is all about an idea that you come up with and support. Your thesis statement should make a strong, defensible claim. You need to address three pieces of support for your point of view. You must find an expert in the filed to back up your point of view–you are welcome to use the articles we read in class during this unit or find your own. If you find your own, the source must be credible and academic in nature. Interviews with apocalyptic authors are a great place to look. You will use ONE quote from your expert and integrate it correctly using MLA format and the quote sandwich method. The paper should be 3-4 pages long and be written in five-paragraph structure using MLA formatting.

This paper will measure your ability to analyze the cultural significance of a trend, deconstruct someone else’s analysis, identify themes in our culture, and infer meaning from a variety of sources.

Assignment Four: Evaluate Two Apocalyptic Texts

Choose two apocalyptic texts of any kind–films, books, poems, etc. If you cannot decide, I will help you find some. You will analyze, compare, and contrast these two texts and make a claim regarding their strengths and/or weaknesses. You must successfully integrate the analysis and argument skills developed for Essay #3: making an argument, defending a thesis, arguing a topic, etc. You may also use your knowledge of Rhetorical Situation to strengthen your paper.

This paper should be 4-5 pages long. It does not have to follow the 5-paragraph format, but must be well organized and structured. MLA formatting is required.

This paper will measure your ability to compare texts, contrast texts, defend an argument, discriminate between strengths and weaknesses of a text, and support your point of view.

Assignment Five: Group Project & Individual Paper

Details for the group project will be distributed later in the semester. Some basics: you will participate in a group project and make a presentation during the last week of class. Each student will also write a paper that explains the presentation’s analysis and proposals.

This project will evaluate your ability to compile evidence, create a presentation, devise a plan, explain that plan, and tell the audience of your solution to a problem.

Schedule

Wed, Sept 4

  • Nothing due Distribute and discuss syllabus
  • Apocalypse activity
  • Take home: genre list handout to complete

Thurs, Sept 5

  • Completed genre list
  • Pre-assumptions discussion about the Apocalypse: do American audiences care about this? Why or why not? How much do you already know about this genre?
  • Using Google Docs for class

Fri, Sept 6

  • Read “The People of Sand and Slag” by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Be prepared for a short quiz over the reading
  • Submit a document titled with your last name and the words “sample submission” to Moodle before class, using Google Docs (ex: “Smith Sample Submission”)
  • Aspects of the Apocalypse: Loss of humanity; the future; science fiction; when will the world end?

Mon, Sept 9

  • Read “The Walking Dead” excerpt
  • Turn in RJ #1 via Moodle (Google Docs) before class
  • Aspects of the Apocalypse: Monsters & Creatures
  • Discuss prevalence of monsters and creatures in apocalyptic literature. Watch movie trailers for Warm Bodies and other zombie/creature movies.

Wed, Sept 11

  • Read: Excerpt from the book of Revelation and 2 analysis documents
  • Be prepared for a short quiz over the reading
  • Aspects of the Apocalypse: Religion
  • Discuss religious and spiritual elements of the Apocalypse, including the Left Behind books and movies.

Thurs, Sept 12

  • Read Oryx & Crake excerpt by Margaret Atwood
  • Be prepared for a short quiz over the reading
  • Aspects of the Apocalypse: Disease
  • Discuss the idea that the end of the world will happen because of disease or an epidemic. Watch Children of Men and Contagion trailers.

Fri, Sept 13

  • Read “Barackalypse”
  • Be prepared for a short quiz over the reading Aspects of the Apocalypse: Survival
  • Discuss real-life apocalypse survivalists like Doomsday Preppers.

Mon, Sept 16

  • Read “Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’…” poem, Adventure Time article on The Nerdy Feminist, and “Can’t Have No Dirty Dead” at Pajiba.com
  • Turn in RJ #2 via Moodle (Google Docs) before class Aspects of the Apocalypse: Social Issues
  • Discuss how race, gender, poverty, war, etc. are represented in apocalyptic storytelling

Wed, Sept 18

  • No work due
  • Introduce Essay #1
  • Five Paragraph Essay Format & introductions
  • Create list of Apocalyptic characteristics

Thurs, Sept 19

  • No work due
  • Thesis statements & Forecasts

Fri, Sept 20

  • Draft #1 of Essay #1–submit via Moodle (Google Docs) before class
  • Body Paragraphs, Transitions, and Conclusions
  • Sign up for long-distance conferences

Mon, Sept 23 -Fri, Sept 27

  • Class does not meet this week.
  • Instead, you will meet with Prof. Ranfeld via long-distance conferences based on schedule. Missing your conference counts as an absence.

Mon, Sept 30

  • Revision of Essay #1, submitted via Moodle (Google Docs) before class
  • Exam: 5 paragraph essay format (test covers the structure of a 5 paragraph essay and will ask you to identify types of sentences)
  • After the exam: Introduce Essay #2 (The Rhetorical Situation)

Wed, Oct 2 – Thurs, Oct 3

  • No work due
  • Movie Days 1 & 2 (work on notetaking worksheet)

Fri, Oct 4

  • No work due Movie Day 3
  • Turn in notetaking worksheet after the movie
  • Begin discussion
  • Request your movie choice for Essay #2

Mon, Oct 7

Wed, Oct 9

Thurs, Oct 10

  • Read Doctor Who rhetorical analysis essay
  • Discuss Rhetorical situation for movies, using The Avengers as an example

Fri, Oct 11

  • Watch your movie by today’s class and complete the notetaking worksheet
  • Discuss films and organize paper.
  • Review requirements for Essay #2.

Mon, Oct 14

  • Draft #1 of Essay #2 due via Moodle (Google Docs) before classBring 2 printed copies of your paper with you–if you don’t bring printed copies, you will be counted as absent for the day because you’ll be unable to complete the in-class work
  • Peer Workshop

Wed, Oct 16

  • Bring a hard copy of your paper to class.
  • Bring in any of our previous readings from the semester.
  • Bring Pocket Style Manual textbook.
  • Grammar & Mechanics Workshop

Thurs, Oct 17

  • Read Wall-E rhetorical analysis
  • RJ #5 due via Moodle (Google Docs) before class
  • Making it all work together–cohesion in a paper

Fri, Oct 18

  • No class–Fall Break

Mon, Oct 21

  • Read The Feminine Mystique excerpt by Betty Friedan
  • RJ #6 due via Moodle (Google Docs) before class
  • Reading Strategies presentation

Wed, Oct 23

  • No work due
  • Common essay-writing pitfalls and how to avoid them

Thurs, Oct 24

  • No work due Revision strategies

Fri, Oct 25

  • Revision of Essay #2 due via Moodle (Google Docs before class
  • Rhetorical Situation exam (you will be tested on your ability to identify the components of a text’s rhetorical situation and how those things work together) After exam: Introduce Essay #3
  • What is analysis?

Mon, Oct 28

  • Read Journal Article #1
  • Be prepared for a quiz over the reading Discuss and analyze article
  • How does the article’s rhetorical situation affect the text?
  • What are scholarly journals?

Wed, Oct 30

  • Read Journal Article #2 Discuss Article #2 and complete in-class activities

Thurs, Oct 31 Read Journal Article #3

  • RJ #7 due via Moodle (Google Docs) before class
  • Bring Pocket Style Manual to class
  • Discuss article
  • Introduction to MLA citations: Works Cited Page

Fri, Nov 1

  • Read Journal Article #4
  • Be prepared for a quiz over reading
  • Bring Pocket Style Manual to class
  • Discuss article
  • Introduction to MLA citations: In-text citations

Mon, Nov 4

  • No work due
  • Integrating quotes well–the Quote Sandwich strategy

Wed, Nov 6

  • Bring lists of:
    • five of your opinions on any topic
    • five objective truths (can be proven) about AU
    • five opinions that you do not hold about AU, but that others do

  • Thesis statements–Making a STRONG claim, not just an observation
  • By the end of class: develop a strong thesis for your paper

Thurs, Nov 7

  • Come to class prepared to argue that your essay thesis/claim is correct and that others are incorrect
  • Class Debate day

Fri, Nov 8

  • No class, but submit Draft #1 of Essay #3 via Moodle (Google docs) by our classtime

Mon, Nov 11

  • Bring 2 printed copies of your paper with you–if you don’t bring printed copies, you will be counted as absent for the day because you’ll be unable to complete the in-class work
  • Peer workshop

Wed, Nov 13

  • Read anti-smoking essay Persuasive writing: Logos, Ethos, and Pathos

Thurs, Nov 14

  • Bring Pocket Style Manual to class
  • Grammar & Mechancis workshop

Fri, Nov 15

  • No work due Opposing point of view–concessions and refutations

Mon, Nov 18

  • Revision of Essay #3 due via Moodle (Google Docs) before class
  • Introduce Essay #4

Wed, Nov 20

  • Read comparison essay
  • RJ #8 due via Moodle (Google Docs) before class
  • Writing thesis statements that compare two or more things
  • Structuring a comparison essay

Thurs, Nov 21

  • No work due
  • Academic voice, cliches, and purple prose

Fri, Nov 22

  • RJ #9 due via Moodle (Google Docs) before class–not about a specific reading. See assigned questions on Moodle.
  • How will you use these ENGL 1100 skills in your other college courses?

Mon, Nov 25

  • Draft #1 of Essay #4 due
  • Bring 1 printed copy of your paper with you–if you don’t bring a printed copy, you will be counted as absent for the day because you’ll be unable to complete the in-class work.
  • Peer workshop

Wed, Nov 27 – Fri, Nov 29

  • No class–Thanksgiving Break

Mon, Dec 2

  • No work due Introduce Group Project–assign groups and begin brainstorming

Wed, Dec 4 – Thurs, Dec 5

  • No work due Group work

Fri, Dec 6

  • Revision of Essay #4 due via Moodle (Google Docs) before class
  • Group work

Mon, Dec 9

  • Work due from presenting groups
  • Group presentations

Wed, Dec 11

  • Work due from presenting groups
  • Group presentations

Thurs, Dec 12

  • Work due from presenting groups
  • Group presentations

Fri, Dec 13

  • No work due
  • Final exam prep day
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