Hobbies and the Self: From Greeks to Geeks

English 101: Expository Writing
Fall 2013, Emory University
Section 001: MWF 1:00-1:50pm, Callaway N203

Instructor: Dori Coblentz
Office: Callaway N207A
Email: dcoblen@emory.edu
Office Hours: W 11:00-12:00
Course Website: http://doricoblentz.com/english101

Course Description and Goals

English 101 satisfies the first-year English writing requirement with a grade of D or higher. The class will give you a foundation for writing in your own field in later coursework by deepening your understanding of style, audience, and genre. You will write two traditional research essays and create a personal website with a digital portfolio. This section will focus on hobbies, broadly defined as recreational activities that form an important part of our leisure time. We’ll explore how communities (particularly online communities) form around hobbies and how hobbies shape the way we think about ourselves and others. We will look at excerpts from a number of other texts relevant to themes of self-cultivation, such as Marcus Aurelius’s

Meditations, Epictetus’s Handbook, and St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises. We will also look at web publications relevant to the theme of modern geek selfhood from authors such as Neal Stephenson and Michael Suileabhain-Wilson. This course will culminate in a digital portfolio that you can add to throughout your time at Emory. As part of this portfolio, you will build a website that showcases the work you do for this class: a web project that explores an aspect of a hobby’s community of practice. You will also write two research essays informed by our course readings on the care of the self. Throughout the course you will practice strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading your texts. By the end of the course, you should be able to identify different rhetorical situations and choose the best way to respond to them by thinking critically and communicating your ideas effectively in the appropriate medium.

Required Books and Materials

Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose.  2nd edition. Francis Noël Thomas and Mark Turner. Meditations, Marcus Aurelius. 2005 edition from Penguin Books translated by Maxwell Staniforth.

Grade Distribution

  • 10% Attendance and participation
  • 10% In-class essays 10% Shorter essay and content for “Link/Resources” and “About” pages (900-1200 words or 3-4 pages)
  • 5% Wikipedia-style entry (250+ words)
  • 20% Longer essay (1500-1750 words or 5-7 pages)
  • 10% Abstract of the longer essay and adapted blog post for your website (150-250 words for the abstract, 200+ words for the blog post)
  • 25% Digital portfolio including your web project on a hobby 10% Presentation

Attendance and participation (10%)

You have three excused absences (any absence may be excused provided that you contact me about it ahead of time by email). If you miss more than six classes, it is an automatic failure. Throughout the semester you will be asked to watch videos, look through websites, and read other online materials as well as complete textbook readings. Being well prepared for class means doing all of the readings, thinking about them, and having something to say about them during discussion. Summarizing each reading’s main argument and highlighting a few questions that it raises in your notes is a good way to come up with worthwhile things to say.

In-class essays (10%)

Most Wednesdays we will dedicate the first 20 minutes of class to writing brief essays on prompts to be given in class.

Shorter essay and content for Link/Resources and About pages (10%)

The final draft of your first assignment is due by email before class on September 20th. In 900-1200 words (about 3-4 pages), you will describe the history of a hobby, how it is practiced today, and what different groups participate in it. Write about points of conflict or interest in your hobby’s community of practice, and suggest a way that the discourse could be enhanced. There will be several pre-writing steps to the final submission of this paper, including a mindmap, a resource list, and a peer review session. After you’ve received feedback, you will use this research to construct two pages on your website. One page will provide a list of different communities, resources, and forums available in your hobby. It will include several sentences explaining what each resource is, how it is useful, and whatever else seems relevant. This will be your “Links/Resources” page. The second page will be an “About” page that describes what kind of a resource your website is in light of the resources you’ve already identified. You must complete all the pre-writing phases in order to receive credit.

Wikipedia-style entry (5%)

By September 30th you will create a short (250+ word) Wikipedia-style contribution about the issue you’ve chosen to focus on for your web project. Email it to me before class. Actually posting it on Wikipedia is optional. This entry should be useful in exploring the hobby and theme you’ve identified as your web project.

Longer essay (20%)

The first draft of your long essay is due by email before class on November 15th. In 1500-1750 words (5-7 pages), you will engage with some aspect of self-cultivation from the texts we’ve read, focusing on identity formation through modern adaptations of Stoic and Christian technologies of the self. After you have completed your web project, you will revisit the essay and complete another round of revision in order to reflect the final product of your thinking this semester. This final draft is due December 9th.

Abstract and blog post (10%)

For this assignment, you will create a blog page for your website and post onto it a revised version of your previous research paper. Adapt the style to accommodate the kind of audience you are constructing and the genre you are working within. You will also abstract your paper and post the abstract on your coursework page, along with the title of the paper.

Digital portfolio and web project (25%)

For this assignment, you will complete the project that we will have discussed individually earlier in the semester and post it to your website. It should follow from the work you have already done about available resources and needs within your hobby community, and the style and medium should be appropriate to the topic.

Presentation: (10%)

You will give an 8-10 minute presentation about your hobby community to the class in which you will describe the kinds of compositional decisions you are making in regards to audience, purpose, and style. You will address how you are navigating the implicit and explicit ideals encouraged by the institutional context of which your project is a part.

Grading scale

  • A (92%-98%)
  • B (82-88%)
  • C (72-78%)
  • D (62-68%)
  • F (50%)

Course Policies

  • “A” papers have an original and compelling thesis that is clearly articulated and supported effectively with relevant evidence. The structure is logical and engaging, and the paper is free from grammatical and mechanical errors.
  • “B” papers meet the requirements of A papers, but in fall short in one or two respects
  • “C” papers have a thesis of average quality, an argument that is fully presented to the reader, but obscured by problems with grammar, mechanics, or organization.
  • “D” papers have a poor thesis or do not have a thesis at all, lack organization and clarity, and contain many stylistic, grammatical, or proofreading errors.
  • “F” papers have no thesis, poor organization, and many grammatical, stylistic, and proofreading errors.

Essay Submission

Essays should be submitted by email to dcoblen@emory.edu before class on the days they are due. Please use .doc or .docx format and enable “Show Markup” under the “Review” ribbon.

Essay Format

We will review and use MLA format for your essays. Essays should be in 12-point, double-spaced Times New Roman font.

Late Policy

Because this is a workshop course, it’s important for you to be at every class meeting with your readings completed and your discussion question written. If you cannot meet a deadline you must contact me before the class in which it is due to discuss the situation. Each essay/exercise is to be turned in on time. For each class period late, a full letter grade will be lowered (i.e. by 10%) unless you have made prior arrangements with me.

Revision Policy

Because your written work will be based on extensive revision before the final grade is assigned, graded papers cannot be revised for a new grade.

Classroom and Online Environment

Because our classes are short, it is especially important that you arrive on time (excessive tardiness will affect your participation grade). You are welcome to use your laptop, but please only use it for notes and other class-related things. Be prepared to lower the screen during discussion.

Emory Honor Code

The Emory College Honor Code must be observed at all times. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense and all suspected cases will be reported to the College Honor Council. Review the policy here: http://catalog.college.emory.edu/academic/policy/honor_code.html


Office of Disability Services

Any student who, because of a disability or any other circumstance, may require special arrangements in order to meet course requirements should let the instructor know and must register with the Office of Disability Services at http://www.ods.emory.edu

Emory Counseling Center

Free and confidential counseling services are available at the Emory Counseling Center. (404) 727-7450 and http://studenthealth.emory.edu/cs/index.php

Writing Center

Visit http://writingcenter.emory.edu for information and to make an appointment. You can also visit the Writing Center’s blog at http://emorywritingcenter.wordpress.com/.


This syllabus is provisional and subject to change based on the needs of the class


Date Reading Due Assignment Due
Wed 8/28 Introductions
Fri 8/30 Neal Stephenson interview, “The Lack of Respect”
Bob Sullivan, “Online Privacy Fears are Real
Discussion question
Mon 9/2 Labor Day no class
Wed 9/4 Writing workshop and in-class essay #1 Post mindmap to forum
Fri 9/6 Clear and Simple as the Truth pages 1-24
Weebly setup day
Discussion question
Mon 9/9 Neal Stephenson, Some Remarks.
“Gresham College Lecture 67-83. Available in eReserves
Discussion question
Wed 9/11 Writing workshop and in-class essay #2 Post list of communities, resources, and forums available in your hobby
Fri 9/13 “Five Geek Social Fallacies” available: http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html
“Hymn of Cleanthes” in Meditations
Research workshop
Discussion question
Mon 9/16 Staniforth, introduction to Meditations 7-18 available on eReserves Discussion question
Wed 9/18 Discuss writing mechanics from first two in-class essays Peer review Date of record Draft of a 900-1200 word paper for peer review (bring to class).
Fri 9/20 Asynchronous virtual class – workshop your essays
Today we won’t meet in the classroom. Instead, you’ll use the time to workshop your essay that we peer reviewed during the last class. Take into account the suggested revisions and email the paper to me and post it to the class forum before 5 pm
Turn in short essay 1 via email and post it to the class forum before 5 pm
Mon 9/23 Epictetus, Enchiridion Text (about 17 pages) available: http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html Discussion question
Wed 9/25 Writing workshop and in-class essay #3 Reading: Nine of your classmates’ essays. Post substantive comments on four of your classmates’ papers.
Fri 9/27 Wikipedia Guidelines:
Lesley Smith, “Writing Hypertext” http://osf1.gmu.edu/~lsmithg/writehtext.htm Emory Writing Center, “Domain Help for Studentshttp://www.english.emory.edu/writing_program/domain/documentation/for_students/
Clear and Simple as the Truth
other Styles 66-82
Discussion question
Mon 9/30 Staniforth, introduction to Meditations 18-27 excerpt available in eReserves Aurelius, Meditations Book 2, pages 45-51 Discussion question
Wed 10/2 Writing workshop and in-class essay #4 Decide by today if you want to keep working on the same hobby you started on. Turn in Wikipedia Entry by email before class
Fri 10/4 Strategies for creating the annotated bibliography
Augustine, Confessions. VIII
Post your Wikipedia contribution to the blog
Mon 10/7 Foucault, The Care of the Self 39-45 on eReserves
Aurelius, Meditations book 3 numbers 4-16 and book 4 number 39
Discussion question
Wed 10/9 Writing workshop and in-class essay #5
The Wikipedia entries of your classmates
Intro to Prezi
Post comments on four entries
Fri 10/12 One-on-one meetings scheduled instead of class. Take this time to research for your annotated bibliography.
Mon 10/14 Fall break
Wed 10/16 Asynchronous Virtual Class
Workshop to complete your “About” page and “Resource” page.
Post to own websites before Thursday at 1:00 p.m.
Resource and About pages
Fri 10/18 Foucault, The Care of the Self. 45-54
Aurelius, Meditations book 7 numbers 57-61
Discussion Question
Mon 10/21 Creative Commons: “About,” “Licenses,” “Projects”
Jonathan Coulton “I Feel Fantastic” Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms
Wed 10/23 Writing Workshop and in-class essay #6
Clear and Simple as the Truth. “Other Styles” 82-104.
Fri 10/25 The Discarded Image 1-12
Presentation 1
Discussion question
Mon 10/28 “A Noble Guest of Brave Lineage”
“A King Who Keeps to Himself Dwells” on eReserves
Presentation 2
Annotated bibliography due by email by 1:00
Discussion question
Wed 10/30 Writing workshop and in-class essay #7
Fri 11/1 “Anima Christi” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anima_Christi
Presentation 3
Discussion question
Mon 11/4 Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises 37-50 on eReserves
Presentation 4
Discussion question
Wed 11/6 Writing workshop and in-class essay #8
Fri 11/8 Asynchronous Virtual Class – Our topic and assignment for this class will be determined by where we are at this point in the semester.
Mon 11/11 Article from cracked.com. Pick a cracked.com article and post it to the forum with a brief explanation of why you want to discuss it before coming to class. Focus on analyzing genre, style, and audience.
Presentation 5
Cracked.com article and justification
Wed 11/13 Writing workshop and in-class essay #9
Fri 11/15 Selections from xkcd (TBA)
Presentation 6
Presentation 7
Draft of longer essay due by email before class
Mon 11/18 Shakespeare, Sonnet 129, 133
Presentation 8
Discussion question
Wed 11/20 Writing workshop and in-class essay #10
Fri 11/22 Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” and “I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark, not Day”
Presentation 9
Discussion question
Mon 11/25 William Butler Yeats, “A Dialogue of Self and Soul”
Presentation 10
Presentation 11
Discussion question
Post blog page
Wed 11/27 No class
Fri 11/29 No class, Thanksgiving
Mon 12/2 Bob Dylan, “I’m Not There” song
Presentation 12
Discussion question
Wed 12/4 Web project discussion
Presentation 13
Website final project due.
Fri 12/6 Music video selections TBD
Presentation 14
Mon 12/9 Presentation 15
Presentation 16
Bring a printed copy of your final essay to this class and email it to me before class.
Final draft of longer essay