Assignments & Grading

Over the course of the semester, you will do a variety of different informal writing exercises and formal tasks. You will have seven different types of graded assignments:

Blog posts and responses (15%)
You will write five blog entries (around 500 words, approximately once every three weeks) to be posted on this site, as well as responding to blog entries written by your classmates. The subject of these entries is open, so long as they address the themes of the course. I am particularly interested in seeing you use the course material to reflect on contemporary questions about race, crime, inequality, and policing. As well, your work will be judged by whether and how it engages the writing of your classmates, both in your original posts and comments.

Class discussion guide (5%)
In threes — and in consultation with me — you will create a discussion guide for a class session. You will present this discussion guide to your classmates at the beginning of class. They will highlight crucial portions of the reading and ask relevant questions about the work that we are engaging.

Writing Project 1 (20%)
In first writing project, you will make an argument about the relationship between two or more of the texts that we have read in the first three weeks of class. The goal of the paper is to explore the conceptual architecture of the articles in greater to explain how the authors’ assumptions, inquiry, evidence, type of historical theory, rhetoric, or other factors make meaning in relationship to the other work.

Writing Project 2 (20%)
Mid-semester, you will write a short interpretive essay on the crisis of policing during the 1960s, focused on the Task Force Report: The Police issued by the President’s Commission on Law and the Administration of Justice. Your task in this essay will be to advance an argument that locates any one of the policy reforms advanced by the Commission in relationship to other possible reforms and illustrates the political significance of the chosen policy.

Writing Project 3 (20%)
Our final project will be a group website on Criminal Justice in the Age of Obama. In groups of three, you will choose a common topic and develop a subsection of the site. As a group, you will be responsible for a common introduction to your subsection. Individually, you will write approximately 1500 words, broken up in the most efficacious way for presenting your arguments on the web.

Presentation of Writing Project 3 (5%)
Your group will present your section of the website in 10 minutes or less. Your presentation should focus on the questions that animated your inquiries, as well as the most interesting findings that resulted.

Final Reflective Essay (5%)
We will practice reflective writing throughout the semester. Your final assignment will be an essay that reflects on what you learned about college-level writing through our course as a whole. This includes reflections not just on the process and goals of writing, but also on the larger enterprise of being a scholar.

Class participation is also factored into your final grade (10%)