Pen and Sword: Renaissance Rhetoric and Military History

English 1102: Composition II

Section C4: 8:00-8:50 MWF, Skiles 308

Section A7: 9:05-9:55 MWF, Skiles 308

Section B3: 11:15-12:05 MWF, Skiles 308


Instructor: Dr. Dori Coblentz

Office: Skiles 307

Office Hours: M 12:30-1:30, WF 10:10-11:10, and by appointment


Course Goals and Learning Outcomes

In addition to the program-wide General Education Outcomes for English 1102, students will develop the:

  • LO1: Ability to make an original contribution to a discourse after researching existing contributions (group web project, video essay)
  • LO2: Ability to recognize and analyze how texts and performances make meaning (papers, Piazza homework, asynchronous virtual classes, and video essay)
  • LO3: Ability to recognize and fairly describe two sides of a controversy (video essay, group project)
  • LO4: Ability to analyze how texts influence and are influenced by their historical context (in-class discussion, papers)
  • LO5: Ability to ask questions that can lead to meaningful, thoughtfully developed responses (Piazza questions, in-class discussions)

Graded Components

  • Common First Week Video: 3% due 1/14
  • Piazza Participation: 10%
  • In-Class Participation: 7%
  • Asynchronous Virtual Class (AVC) work and UX testing: 10%
  • Advisory Report (in pairs): 7.5% due 1/25
  • Paper 1: 10% due 2/6
  • Paper 2: 10% due 3/15
  • Paper 3: up to 10% extra credit on lowest-scoring assignment (optional) due 4/10
  • Video Essay: 12.5% due 2/22
  • Group Project: 15% due 4/15 (one-minute project pitch due 3/11)
  • Final Portfolio: 15% due 4/29 (section C4) and 5/1 (sections A7 and B3)

Detailed assignment sheets will be provided for each of the following graded components. Use the following list as a guideline to help you plan your semester, but refer to the detailed assignment sheets when you are completing the projects.

Common First Week Video (3%):

Students in all sections of English 1101 and English 1102 share a common assignment, due January 14th. You will record a 60-90 second video addressing a specific aspect of multimodal (written, oral, visual, electronic, or nonverbal) communication that you will engage with over the course of the semester. You will describe challenges you have faced in the past using this form of communication and articulate a plan for the future to overcome these challenges.

Final Portfolio (15%):

All sections of English 1101 and 1102 will complete a portfolio project in lieu of a final exam. The portfolio will include a reflective essay and several examples of your work throughout the semester with brief introductions for each example.

Piazza Participation (10%):

Throughout the semester, students will post discussion questions and responses to the instructor’s prompts to Piazza. Four of these responses will be in the form of homework in the designated homework folder sections. The others will be in the form of questions. These questions may be lengthy or short: the important part is that the question has the potential to start discussion. This part of the class trains your ability to ask good questions, and some of the best questions may be used as prompts for later essays.

Examples of good questions from prior classes:

  • (From a class comparing the Disney Renaissance to the English Renaissance) “With Disney announcing so many remakes of the classic Disney Renaissance movies, such as Aladdin, Mulan, and Beauty and the Beast, is it fair to say Disney is going through another Renaissance? If so, how might this renaissance incorporate different values and themes than the first one?”
  • (Regarding the fairytale “Cat and Mouse in Partnership”) “The author chooses to have the pot of fat stored in the church, calling it a safe place. Why have the church be the place where it’s kept? Is it because religion was relevant in German culture and the Grimm brothers saw it as a reflection of that culture? Is the cat being gluttonous in the church a social commentary on Christianity?”
  • (Regarding Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors) “At the end of Act 2 Scene 2 of Comedy of Errors, there seems to be a rhyming scheme that appears when Adriana’s conversation ends and Antipholus’s begins. I’m curious as to why that happens. Is Shakespeare trying to attract attention to the verses that are being said? Why is it that it isn’t just Antipholus that has a rhyming scheme at the end but that Adriana’s words also take part in that rhyming scheme?”

Asynchronous Virtual Classes and UX Testing (10%):

This portion of your grade includes asynchronous virtual class work and a short user testing project we will be doing to help students in CS Junior Design. This is a hybrid course, and six of our class meetings will be conducted asynchronously (not necessarily at our normal meeting time) and virtually (not necessarily in our normal meeting space). I will provide guidance on what coursework you should be doing on your own time and in your own space on these days.

In-Class Participation (7%):

This kind of class specifically trains interpersonal timing. Your physical presence in the classroom and your readiness to discuss course materials at any point is important to the final grade. As per our program-wide policy, missing classes in excess of four will subtract one-third of a letter grade per absence and eight missed classes results in a failure of the course. When I assess this portion of the grade, I ask the following questions:

  • Did the student arrive in class on time for each class period and remain in the classroom the whole time?

Being late once or twice during the semester is understandable, but a pattern of tardiness will have a significant impact on your grade.

If you have a medical issue that means you cannot remain in the classroom for all 50 minutes, please bring it to my attention.

  • Did the student answer my questions about the text in a thoughtful and insightful way?

This is a small section. I will call on every student more than once throughout the course of the semester with specific questions about the reading. If you haven’t done the reading and thought about it the days that I call on you, it will hurt your grade.

  • Did the student respond to their classmates’ questions and observations? Can they listen to other people as well as produce their own ideas?
  • Does the student show respect for others in the class? Do they promote an environment where others feel comfortable expressing their own views and opinions?

Be careful to strike a tone of respectful dialogue rather than sounding dogmatic or condescending. Don’t make assumptions about your classmates’ backgrounds and beliefs. We are interested in the mechanics of persuasion rather than expressions of dominance.

Be aware of your body language when other people are talking. Hostile body language (crossed arms, scowling, hmphing, expressions of incredulity, etc.) can discourage your classmates from fully presenting their arguments and, in turn, you from responding to them in a verbally persuasive way.

Advisory Reports (7.5%)

Students will coordinate with groups of from the Computer Science Junior Design capstone course and provide them with an ethics advisory report with an annotated bibliography.

Paper 1 (10%)

Paper 1 is a 3-4 page (900-1200 word) genre imitation paper with an attached reflection and peer reviews of others’ essays. Students will imitate Sir Philip Sidney’s argumentative structure in Defense of Poesy and write their own “defense of” paper. Students may defend a controversial work of film, television, or literature.

Paper 2 (10%)

Throughout the semester, we will engage in class discussion and write questions for Piazza. Our prompt for Paper 2 will be drawn from students’ suggested prompts. Students can expect to write a paper on one of the works of Renaissance drama or literature we study as a class. It will be of the same length as Paper 1 and will also include an attached reflection and peer reviews of others’ essays.

Paper 3 (up to 10% extra credit on lowest-scoring assignment)

This paper will be an optional 3-4 page revision and extension of previous coursework to be determined based on student interest.

Video Essay (12.5%)

Each student will produce a 3-5 minute video essay. These essays may approach the course themes of ethics and honor in several ways. For instance, they may explore ethics and honor in public policy by exploring discourse around issues such as Net Neutrality, affordable housing, or whistleblowing. They may also take the approach of exploring a debate in industry (i.e. smartphones, self-driving cars, etc.), building off of the research students completed for the advisory reports. Finally, the video essays can take a cultural studies approach by examining representations of honor in Renaissance drama and modern popular culture.

Group Project (15%)

The WOVEN web project will be a jointly produced, curated, and public-facing resource. Each student will post a one-minute pitch to Piazza on or before March 11th. Based on student interest, each section will develop six of these project pitches in teams of 3-5 students. The final project must include examples of all five modes of communication. Examples of previous student web projects may be found at and

Course Materials

WCP Common Policies

You are responsible for reviewing and adhering to the common policies, outlined here:

Course Expectations and Guidelines

Late Policy

It’s important for you to be at every class meeting with your readings completed and your reading questions 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 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

Revisions are permitted for major (10% of the final grade or more) assignments assigned a grade of B- or lower. Specific arrangements must be discussed with me within a week of receiving the grade for the assignment that you want to revise.

Classroom and Online Environment

Arrive on time – excessive tardiness will affect your participation grade. You are welcome to use your laptop, tablet, or smart phone, but only for notes and other class-related things. It is discourteous to allow your attention to wander by using a phone or laptop to engage in activities that are not related to the class because the work we do is conversational in nature rather than content-driven.

Academic Integrity

Georgia Tech aims to cultivate a community based on trust, academic integrity, and honor. Students are expected to act according to the highest ethical standards.  For information on Georgia Tech’s Academic Honor Code, please visit or


Any student suspected of cheating or plagiarizing on a quiz, exam, or assignment will be reported to the Office of Student Integrity, who will investigate the incident and identify the appropriate penalty for violations. If you are not sure whether or not you are plagiarizing, please contact me immediately and I will be happy to help you decide.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Every student has the right to an accessible classroom and learning experience. If there is an aspect of this class that is inaccessible for you, please contact the Office of Disability Services at (404) 894-2563 or to discuss accommodations. I am also available to discuss any special learning needs you have by email or appointment.



Week 1:

1/7 M: Syllabus review and introductions


1/9 W: Review of multimodal communication.

Read: WOVENText Chapter 1

In-Class: syllabus Q&A


1/11 F:


  1. WOVENText Chapter 2
  2. Hayot, Elements of Academic Style, chapter 6: “A Materialist Theory of Writing” (available on Canvas under “files”)
  3. Berger, “On the Obsolescence of the Concept of Honor” (Canvas)

Unit 1: Defense of Poesy and the Art of Defence

Unit sub-question: How do Renaissance authors talk about the pen’s (literature) and the sword’s (the duel) relationship to honor and ethics? How is it similar to or different from how we think about honor and ethics today?

Week 2:

1/14 M

Read before class: Defense of Poesy: from beginning to the paragraph beginning “Poesy, therefore, is an art of imitation.”


  1. CFW video.
  2. Introductory post to Piazza – write your name, hometown, major, and favorite hobby or pastime.

In class: Discuss advisory reports and form groups


1/16 W

Read before class:

  1. Defense of Poesy up to the paragraph beginning “Tully takes much pains”
  2. Potential entries for the advisory report annotated bibliography (will vary based on your team)
  3. WOVENText 158-172 on collaboration

In Class: Advisory report work


1/18 F AVC 1: Ethics and honor in the local news

Week 3:

M 1/21: No Class: Martin Luther King Jr. Day


W 1/23:

Read before class:

Why Honor Matters Introduction available at


Piazza post in the “dqs” (Discussion questions) folder asking a question about the course reading thus far

In Class: Advisory Report work


F: 1/25

Read before class:

  1. Defense of Poesy up to the paragraph beginning “By these, therefore, examples and reasons, I think it may be manifest that the poet”
  2. “A Note on Rhetoric” and “Structure of Defence of Poesy” (available on Canvas under “files”)

Submit: Advisory Report

In Class: Rhetorical analysis of Defence of Poesy structure.

Week 4:

M 1/28

Read before class:

  1. Defense of Poesy up to the paragraph beginning “But now, indeed, my burthen is great, that Plato’s name is laid upon me”
  2. Introduction to They Say I Say (pg 1-15, available on Canvas under “files”)

Submit: Discussion question to Piazza (dqs folder)


W: 1/30


  1. The remainder of Defense of Poesy
  2. Books for Captains and Captains in Books Introduction (pg 1-18, available on Canvas under “files”)

In class: Peer Review.


A rough draft of Paper 1 to Canvas before class. Be prepared to exchange electronic copies with classmates for peer review.


F: 2/1

Read before class:

  1. Hayot, “The Uneven U” available online through the library or on Canvas under “files”
  2. WOVENText pages 269-285 on genre

Week 5:

M: 2/4

Read before class:

  1. Act I of Richard II
  2. Sparknotes Summary and analysis of the play (acts I-V)

Submit: Discussion question to Piazza


W 2/6

In Class: War Rhetoric Hypothesis exercise and review of Unit 1


Paper 1 to Canvas before midnight


F 2/8 AVC 2: Video Essay Workshop

Unit 2: Sword, Pen, and Identity

Unit sub-question: How do Renaissance authors understand the sword and pen’s relationship to national and personal identity? In what (if any) ways does their take on nation and self contrast with today’s society?

Week 6:


M 2/11

Read before class:

  1. Selections from Bryson’s Sixteenth Century Italian Duel (in Canvas under “files). Read the introduction (xi-xxviii), Appendix VI: War (pages 150-155) and Appendix IX: Examples of Actual Duels (pages 178-186)
  2. Material on storyboarding techniques: “Storyboarding using Powerpoint” (3m video)

Submit: Discussion question to Piazza


W 2/13

Read before class: Castiglione 9-29

In Class: Writing Workshop


F 2/15

Read before class:

  1. Castiglione 29-36
  2. Introduction to Machiavelli’s Art of War (On Canvas)

Week 7:

M 2/18

AVC 3: Video Essay Peer Review


W 2/20

AVC 3, cont. Video Essay Peer Review

F 2/22 

Read before class:

  1. Castiglione 36-55
  2. Machiavelli, Preface (Canvas)

Submit: Discussion question to Piazza

Week 8:

M 2/25

Video Essay Due

Read before class:

  1. Castiglione 55-74
  2. Book one of Machiavelli’s The Art of War

W 2/27

Read before class:

Hayot, “Paragraphing,” “Transitions,” and “Citations” (Canvas)

Submit: Piazza Homework 2: An idea for a Paper 2 Prompt. No word limit, but it should test student knowledge on Castiglione and Machiavelli and be relevant to the themes of one or several of the following: humanist rhetoric, duels, national identity, selfhood, and/or honor.

F 3/1

Read before class:

  1. Castiglione 74-84
  2. “Interpretive Essay” on Machiavelli’s Art of War on Canvas pdf pages 1-24
  3. Prompts for Paper 2 announced. Review them and pick one.

Week 9:

M 3/4

Read before class:

  1. Castiglione 84-104
  2. “Interpretive Essay” 24-48

Submit: Discussion question to Piazza

W 3/6

Read before class:

  1. “Student Project” sections of site.
  2. Your previous submissions for Piazza questions and AVCs.
  3. Material from your advisory report.

In Class: Discussion of group work and idea generation exercises

F 3/8

In Class: Peer review of Paper 2. Post a draft to Canvas before class.

Week 10

M 3/11

Read before class:

Kairos webtext:


  1. Piazza Homework 3. Post a link to a one-minute pitch (can be audio or video) for what you would like to do for the end-of-semester group project. Listen to the pitches of the other students in your section.
  2. UX Testing

W 3/13

Read before class:

  1. WOVENText Chapter 9 on group projects.
  2. Readings on Agile philosophy for group work

In Class: Group Formation and Planning


F 3/15 AVC 4: Collaborate with your group members on a Group Plan and Assessment Agreement. Pick one member of the group to post it to Canvas.

Submit: Paper 2 before midnight

Week 11


Unit 3: Sword and Pen in Popular Culture

Unit sub-question: What can popular culture representing sword and pen from both the Renaissance and today tell us about the viability of honor as a socially beneficial concept? What, if anything, does honor give us that the dignity approach to ethics doesn’t?

Week 12

M 3/25


Selections from Cahill on Canvas

In Class: Group work


W 3/27

Read before class:

Sparknotes summary for Henry IV, part 1

F 3/29:

Read before class:

  1. Henry IV, part 1. Act V.
  2. Sparknotes for Henry V

Submit: Discussion question to Piazza

Week 13

M 4/1

Read before class:

  1. Henry V, Act IV.
  2. C.S. Lewis “Private Bates” on Canvas


Piazza Homework 4: Pick a scene from a production of Richard II, Act 1, Henry IV, Part 1. Act 5 or Henry V, Act 4 that you feel is relevant to the topics of the course. Post the link to the video and write a few sentences about why you picked it.

W 4/3 Writing Workshop:

In Class:

Discussion of Piazza Homework 4

Group Work


F 4/5 AVC 5 Bates and The Book of the Courtier

Week 14

M 4/8

Watch before class: Unforgiven

In Class: Discussion of sword and pen in Renaissance and modern popular culture


W 4/10

In Class: Group work

Submit: Paper 3


F 4/12

Watch before class: Mulan

In Class: Review of Unit 3 and course goals.

Submit: Discussion question to Piazza

Week 15

M 4/15

Read: WOVENText 95-103 on the final portfolio

Submit: Group Project


W 4/17 Portfolio workshop

In Class:

Select images for reflection essay and determine the artifacts you will be using. Brainstorm, in groups, how to best represent your progress as a communicator.


F 4/19 AVC 6: Submit a rough draft of your reflection essay. It should include at least 800 words and 2-3 multimodal elements (i.e. hyperlinks, images, gifs, videos). Generate a shareable link and post it to the AVC 6 assignment.

Week 16

M 4/22 Portfolio workshop and final class day.

Submit portfolios by time listed in final exam schedule:

Section C4: Monday April 29 before 10:50 AM

Section A7: Wednesday, May 1 before 10:50 AM

Section B3: Wednesday, May 1 by 2:10 PM