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Writing in the Humanities

English 105i: Writing in the Humanities, Section 022
Spring 2016, TR 3:30-4:45pm @ Dey 306

Instructor:  Doreen Thierauf
E-Mail: thierauf (at) unc (dot) edu
Office: Swain 212, office hours TR 1:30-3:30pm and by appointment
Class website: 
105ihum.web.unc.edu (UNC login required due to copyright restrictions)


  • UNC Student Guide to English 105 (2015-2016 edition).
  • Fully charged laptop with access to UNC’s wireless network and Microsoft Word

This is an advanced and specialized English composition course designed for students who are interested in pursuing careers in the humanities, such as literature, linguistics, foreign languages, history, classics, philosophy, art history, gender studies, music, and dramatic arts. It meets the same requirements as the general ENGL 105 class, so you don’t have to enroll in both. In this course, you will be exposed to three major areas of academic composition: writing proposals, creating research projects, and communicating research to the public in accessible ways. We will study and practice the genres associated with these areas—grant proposals, literature reviews, and oral reports—to understand the standard conventions of humanities composition, vocabulary, and style, and acquire the necessary research and communication skills that will help you in future projects outside of this class.

In addition to practicing genres in the humanities, this course teaches the skills required for college-level composition, including citation, analysis, organization, and argumentation. Like all composition courses at UNC, 105i is a workshop class that focuses on writing as a process and promotes collaborative construction and revision of all assignments.

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

  • Distinguish between scholarly and non-scholarly sources,
  • Locate, parse, and evaluate scholarly resources in the humanities,
  • Identify and write in genres specific to the humanities,
  • Use formats and citation styles specific to humanities fields,
  • Synthesize existing research and present this information to multiple audiences,
  • Formulate a thesis and argue it effectively.

Each unit this semester will be divided into smaller assignments that are designed to “feed” into the unit project. For this reason they are called “feeders.” Feeders are designed to 1) introduce you to research methods and/or composing practices that may be new and unfamiliar to you and 2) to give you an opportunity to practice these methods, skills, and approaches so that you are able to produce meaningful and increasingly sophisticated scholarship while at UNC.

The sequence of unit projects is designed in a similar fashion with the first project feeding into the second project and so forth. Each unit will introduce you to a particular genre of professional academic writing in the humanities and in each unit you will identify and negotiate the generic conventions and rhetorical situations that humanities professionals and scholars encounter on a daily basis.

In the first weeks of the semester, you will choose one topic or area of expertise that you will research throughout the semester. This can be a piece of literature or an artwork, an historical event, a cultural phenomenon, a social trend, a problem within society—whether a social, cultural, or a combination—whatever interests you most at the moment or whatever concept, idea, or problem fuels your current career ambitions. Please choose your topic carefully; you will be spending a great deal of time getting to know this area and develop significant expertise in it over the course of the semester. Our course will be a great deal more interesting, rewarding, and enjoyable if you can find a topic that is of personal significance to you. If you choose a topic in which you have no interest, you will be an unhappy writer.

Unit 1, GRANT OR CONFERENCE PROPOSAL: You will launch your own research process by creating a “source map” of your research interest as your first feeder, followed by a more focused annotated bibliography as your second feeder. The first unit will culminate with a project proposal, either for the April 2016 People, Ideas, and Things Conference here at UNC or for a different real-world conference or fellowship. You will actually apply for a conference and/or fellowship this semester!

Unit 2, WRITING FOR GENERAL AUDIENCES: At the end of the second unit you will design a conference presentation: an original conference-length paper and accompanying visual presentation appropriate for a multidisciplinary audience drawn from across the UNC campus. Students will be competitively selected to present at the People, Ideas, and Things Conference in the Spring of 2016. You can also target your piece for any other suitable conference—and then actually present there for a great line on your resume.

Unit 3, WRITING FOR ACADEMIC COMMUNITIES: The third and final unit concludes the semester. For your final project, you will compose a 10-12-page journal article in which you prove your expertise and suggest future avenues of research. You can submit this piece, once you have revised, to the People, Ideas, and Things Journal here at UNC for publication or send it to another publisher of undergraduate research.

Plagiarism: Among the reasons you have chosen to be a proud member of the Carolina community is a commitment to excellence. The Carolina Way is marked by a longstanding tradition of honor and integrity.  It is a privilege to be a part of this tradition and, as a student, it is your responsibility to actively uphold this tradition. UNC’s student led Honor System is an embodiment of this belief and depends on individual students consistently making honest and ethical choices. The plagiarism policy stated below applies to drafts as well as final manuscripts.

Any time you quote from, paraphrase, or otherwise borrow text, images, ideas, etc., you are required to document each source correctly according to MLA style. Failure to do so may result in either intentional or unintentional plagiarism and will lead to an automatic F for the assignment.

You will have committed plagiarism if you reproduce someone else’s work or ideas without acknowledging the source.  Should you have questions about whether something needs to be cited or how it should be cited and you have exhausted your resources independently, always check with me before submitting your work.

Groups: At the beginning of the semester, you will be put into a group of no more than five peers. Your group will work closely together throughout the semester, sometimes pursuing group tasks and at other times commenting on everyone’s individual work. Your interactions and collaboration with group members will be a large component of your success in this course.

Workshops: You will produce numerous drafts throughout the course of the semester. As such, you will have the opportunity to workshop each unit project and most of the feeders in class on workshop days. You must bring a draft to class on workshop days, and you will trade drafts with your group members. I will give you detailed instructions for each workshop. Needless to say, if you feel the need to do anything unrelated to this class during workshop time, you should not be in this class. Turn off and bury your cell phone, don’t check social media. I can see you, believe me. Any cell phone use/browsing unrelated to class will hurt your participation without prior warning.

Attendance: Class will begin promptly at 3:30pm. Habitual tardiness is disrespectful and, more importantly, it impedes the ability of your group to function at the highest level possible.  Thus, if you are late, you may knock and enter.  You will be given half-credit for attendance.  As such, being late two times = 1 absence. Habitual tardiness will result in a lowering of your final course grade (see below).

For any absence you wish to be marked as “excused,” you will need to submit appropriate documentation promptly. I will make the final decision about whether an absence is considered excused based on documentation provided.

Although I expect notifications in advance of any absence, I realize that on occasion this is not possible. In those rare instances, notify me as soon as you possibly can. All documentation must be provided within five days of the absence except in extenuating circumstances when documentation is unavailable until a later date. If you are unable to secure appropriate documentation, don’t assume this means that your absence will be unexcused.  Consult with me on an individual basis to discuss the matter.

Attend all scheduled conferences with me, and come prepared with specific aspects of your work that you would like to discuss. You must meet with me at least twice during the semester. If you know you’re going to miss an appointment, let me know in advance.

Late Assignments: Deadlines for assignments, including drafts, are extremely important because of the public nature of your work; other students in our class will depend on your meeting your deadlines in order to complete their own work and produce meaningful scholarship. Any work missed for documented absences must be made up; this obligation is as much to your peers as it is to me as your instructor.

It is your responsibility to find out what you missed and submit any missing work within a reasonable amount of time as determined between the student and the instructor based on the nature of the absence. These situations are rare and are handled individually.

I reserve the right to refuse to accept or give credit for any assignments that are not handed in on time. I won’t accept a paper after 7 calendar days.

Instructor Email Policy: When you send me an email, please remember that you are communicating with your English instructor and that the standard rules of decorum apply. Thus, a simple opening (but not “hey”) and closing salutation is appropriate and appreciated. Please do not take advantage of the convenience of e-mail, i.e. do not send me a question about something that you can find the answer to in the Student Guide, on our website, or in course handouts (e.g. “How do I cite a journal article in MLA format?” or “When is this paper due?”). Also keep in mind that when you email me, I may not be able to answer immediately. Since many students have asked me to elaborate on this issue in the past, I created a page with etiquette advice.

At the beginning of the course I will clearly articulate my expectations and the corresponding behaviors that will be required to achieve success in this course. Every time we begin a new unit, we will review the assignment sequence and evaluation rubric as a group.

Printed copies of your final projects and feeders must be turned in at 3:30pm on the day they are due. You may also be asked to submit electronic versions of drafts, homework, feeders, or unit projects via email before they are due in class.

All assignments will be awarded points equivalent to their percentage value for the course. To help you with assessing your progress, unit projects also receive letter grades. Please refer to the rubrics that will be made available for each unit to familiarize yourself with the expectations regarding your assignments.

Your participation and attendance will also be evaluated. You begin the class with a participation score of 20 points. Tardiness, late or missed homework, or failure to contribute to class discussions or group work in a meaningful way may result in a lowering of that score over the course of the semester. You can ask me at any point in the semester about your current participation score.

Missed classes, unless excused and appropriately documented, are considered absenteeism and are calculated as follows:
2 classes: no penalty
3 classes: participation grade lowered to a C- (max. 14 pts)
4 classes: participation grade lowered to an F (max. 12 pts)
5 classes: participation grade lowered to an F and one letter grade dropped from your final grade
6 classes: participation grade lowered to an F and two letter grades dropped from your final course grade
7 classes: automatic failure to pass the course

The contributions from each unit will be weighed as reflected below. It will be important for you to maintain a steady pace throughout the semester.

Grade Distribution
20% Participation (includes tracking of adherence to deadlines, completion of ungraded homework, degree of preparation for each session, participation in daily group activities, etc.)
15% Unit 1 Project
15% Unit 2 Project
20% Unit 3 Project
30% Feeders Units 1-3 (5% each)

I will calculate your final grade according to this scale:
93-100%:  A | 90-92.99%: A- | 

88-89.99%: B+ | 83-87.99%: B | 80-82.99%: B- |

78-79.99%: C+ | 73-77.99%: C | 70-72.99%: C- | 

62-69.99%: D |

0-61.99%: F



Week 1
#1, Tue, Jan 12: Introductions and Syllabus Overview, Intro to Unit 1, Topic Brainstorm
#2, Thu, Jan 14: Groups Formed, Academic vs. Popular Sources

Week 2
#3, Tue, Jan 19: Feeder 1.1 Draft DUE, Workshop Day
#4, Thu, Jan 21: Feeder 1.1 DUE, Workshop Day

Week 3
#5, Tue, Jan 26: Meet in Davis 247, Library Session: Databases & Intro to Academic Research
#6, Thu, Jan 28: Feeder 1.2 Draft DUE, Workshop Day

Week 4
#7, Tue, Feb 2: Feeder 1.2 DUE
#8, Thu, Feb 4: Workshop Day
Mandatory conferences with instructor this week!


Week 5
#9, Tue, Feb 9: Unit Project 1 Draft DUE
#10, Thu, Feb 11: Final Draft of Unit Project 1 DUE, Intro to Unit 2

Week 6
#11, Tue, Feb 16: Feeder 2.1 DUE, Workshop Day
#12, Thu, Feb 18: Workshop Day, Presentations

Week 7
#13, Tue, Feb 23: Workshop Day, PIT Submission Stream Workshop
#14, Thu, Feb 25: Unit Project 2 Draft #1 DUE, Thesis, Argumentation, and Organization
Submit proposal to People, Ideas, and Things this week!

Week 8
#15, Tue, Mar 1: Unit Project 2 Draft #2 DUE, Paragraphs
#16, Thu, Mar 3: Unit Project 2 Draft #3 DUE, Plagiarism Review

Week 9
#17, Tue, Mar 8: Unit Project 2 Draft #4 DUE, Conclusions, and Works Cited Pages
#18, Thu, Mar 10: Unit Project 2 DUE, Workshop Day, visit from Office for Undergraduate Research Ambassador and Senior PIT Editor
Fri, Mar 11: Final proposals due for PIT

Week 10
Tue, Mar 15: Spring Break – no class 
Thu, Mar 17: Spring Break – no class


Week 11
#19, Tue, Mar 22: Feeder 3.1 Draft DUE, Workshop Day
#20, Thu, Mar 24: Feeder 3.1 DUE, Intro to the Literature Review

Week 12
#21, Tue, Mar 29: Literature Review Cont’d
#22, Thu, Mar 31: Feeder 3.2 Draft DUE, Literature Review Cont’d
Fri, Apr 1: PIT Conference

Week 13
#23, Tue, Apr 5: Feeder 3.2 DUE, Workshop Day
#24, Thu, Apr 7: Unit Project 3 Draft #1 DUE, Workshop Day
Mandatory conferences with instructor this week!

Week 14
#25, Tue, Apr 12: Unit Project 3 Draft #2 DUE (if you’re ready, hand in your UP3 for grading today), Presentations #1
#26, Thu, Apr 14: Unit Project 3 Draft #3 DUE, Presentations #2

Week 15
#27, Tue, Apr 19: Presentations #3 (if you handed in your UP3 on April 12, your graded projects are returned today; you have until April 26 to revise)
#28, Thu, Apr 21: Revision Workshop

Week 16
#29, Tue, Apr 26: Revised Unit Project 3 DUE, Presentations #4, Evaluations
Mon, May 2: Grades Due