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HUMAN 1VV3 Voice & Vis: Words to Chng Wor

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Cathy Grisé


Office: Chester New Hall 325

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23510

Office Hours: Thursdays and Fridays 1-2 pm

Course Objectives:


Is the pen mightier than the sword? It depends on the writer. Effective leaders understand that clear, persuasive writing makes the best ideas really powerful. They know their readers—and their context. Working in the technology-enriched environment of an active learning classroom, students will explore the elements of effective writing for a range of audiences and situations, from a tweet to a university paper to a job application letter.  Students can take these communication skills and apply them in other university courses, and in the world beyond. 


This course will introduce students to several modes of academic and university-level writing. Through an engagement with our focus text and other readings and topics we will hone our skills at:


  • Formal academic writing
  • Providing feedback, reviewing and revising writing based on feedback
  • Collegial and professional communication
  • Writing for general audiences


Additionally, this course will introduce students to Avenue to Learn and Pebble Pad, McMaster’s course content management system and learning portfolio.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Kim Fu, For Today I am a Boy (Common Reading Program Text)

June Casagrande, It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences (style guide)

Additional materials will be made available online at Avenue to Learn and/or Pebble

Method of Assessment:

Writing for Different Purposes Assignment, 250 words, Sept. 25: 10%

Blog Summary Assignment, 250 words, Oct. 30: 5%

Close Reading Assignment, Pre-writing, 2-3 pages, Oct. 9 (5%), Mini-essay and Outline, 2 pages/500 words, Oct. 23 (10%): 15%

Common Reading Essay, Pre-writing Oct. 2, 2 sentences, Nov. 6 and 13, 500 words each (15%); Drafts Nov. 20 and 27, 1000 words each (15%); Final Revision, 2000 words, Dec. 11 (10%): 40%

Online Reflections and Activities, 250-500 words weekly: 20%

Attendance and Participation in class: 10%

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Good drafts of assignments will normally be due in class on the deadline, and if there is further work to be completed then the final version will be submitted online after the weekend. Students should bring a hard copy of the assignment to class. If there are any changes, the instructor will make an announcement in class and post the information on Avenue. Late assignments will lose 5/100 marks per business day. We will often be workshopping assignments in class so late assignments will not only affect your assignment grade but also your class participation grades.  Students who use MSAF due to serious illness will be granted an extension to be negotiated with your TA and/or instructor. ***If you fall behind please let your instructor and/or TA know right away – we can’t help you if we don’t know you need help!***

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Weekly Description

Activities and Skills

Readings and Assignments

Week One 9/11



-Introduction to course, syllabus

-What is professional communication in an academic setting?

Letter to your professor and email to TAs – begin in class, due Monday


No reading

Week Two 9/18

Writing and the Humanities


What defines good writing in the Humanities? What Deep Learning skills and strategies do we foster in the Humanities and why?



Casagrande pp 1-28, Fu Chs 1-3

Week Three 9/25

Purpose, Audience, Genre


What does the Humanities mean to you? To our Faculty? How do differences in purpose, audience, and genre affect our writing?

Different Purposes Assignment, 250 words– begin in class, due Monday


Casagrande pp 29-52, Fu Chs 4-6

Week Four 10/2

Designing a Research Topic


What makes an effective research topic? How do we write effective research proposals, and introductions and conclusions to essays?

CR Essay Topic due in class


Casagrande pp 53-64, Fu Chs 7-8

Week Five 10/9

Close Reading Skills


Why do we use close reading in the Humanities? How do we do this?

Close Reading pre-writing, 2-3 pages


Casagrande pp 65-79, Fu Chs 9-10




Week Six 10/23

Outlining and Developing Ideas


What pre-drafting strategies can we use? E.g., mind maps, outlines, templates.

What makes an effective peer review process?

Close Reading mini-essay and outline/mind map, work in class, due Monday


Casagrande pp 80-89

Week Seven 10/30

Contextual Reading and Writing about Secondary Sources


How do we use secondary sources effectively in our writing? What is the role of summary and synthesis?

Blog summary assignment, 250 words, due in class; reflection due Monday


Casagrande pp 90-106

Week Eight 11/6

Drafting- Macro-Organization


How do we start writing a draft? How do we organize the big picture overview?

CR Essay Proposal


Casagrande pp 107-15

Week Nine 11/13

Writing Effective Arguments


How do we craft arguments and use evidence effectively?

CR Essay Introduction and Conclusion


Casagrande pp 116-24


Week Ten 11/20

Drafting- Micro-Organization


How do we develop effective paragraphs?

CR Essay Draft Part 1, reverse outline – workshop in class, due Monday


Casagrande pp 125-63

Week Eleven 11/27

Style and Panache


What makes for good academic writing?

CR Essay Draft Part 2, summary  – workshop in class, due Monday


Casagrande pp 164-207

Week Twelve 12/4

Revising and Editing


How can we revise and edit effectively?

What do next year’s First-Years need to know?

Proposal for Revisions

Revised Essay due Dec.11