Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Fall 2008


English 302:H17
Course Syllabus

Course Description

English 302 is an Advanced Composition course; this section will focus on the writing and research needs of students in the Humanities. The theme of this course will be the use and re-use of source materials, whether textual, aural, visual, or material. Students, scholars, and other creative professionals in the Humanities make extensive use of such materials. In academic writing, such use is acknowledged by standard (MLA) documentation, which we will use for the research paper. But in other fields, standards differ: artists have various attitudes towards and methods of acknowledging sources and influences. Recently, legal challenges to these methods have forced artists and writers to re-consider how sources should be used.

The concepts we will explore in this class include Fair Use, Re-Use and Appropriation, Copyright and Plagiarism, Creative Influence and History, and Media Technology. Our textbook (and accompanying CD) focuses on music, but the underlying theme is applicable to the Humanities in general.



Paul Miller (DJ Spooky), Sound Unbound. MIT Press.
ISBN-10: 0-262-63363-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-262-63363-5


Tim O'Reilly "Piracy is Progressive Taxation"
Vannevar Bush "As We May Think"
Dead Media Project notes
MLA 2008 update


Essay 1 (Personal Use / ReUse): 20%
Summary: 15%
Essay 2 (Dead Media): 20%
Research Proposal: 5%
Annotated Bibliography: 15%
Peer Review: 5%
Research Paper: 20%

Course Policies

Grading: Grades on the essays will be based primarily on the quality of the writing. I value clear, focused writing with plenty of examples. The audience for the essays will be the class itself, and I expect the papers to be written with this audience in mind.

Grades on the annotated bibliography will be based primarily on your evaluations of the sources and secondarily on the citations themselves.

I will give all assignments letter grades. I calculate final grades by converting the letter grades to a 100 point scale using the following values:

A+ 100  
A 95 C+ 78
A- 90 C 75
B+ 88 C- 70
B 85 D 65
B- 80 F below 60

A note on final grading: You must earn the grade of "C" or better in this course to receive credit for it and to fulfill this portion of the English composition requirement in General Education. A grade of "C-" or below will not be sufficient to receive credit for this course.

Late Assignments: Unless you make prior arrangements with me, late assignments will lose one letter grade per day. The lost grades cannot be made up by revision.

Revisions: The essays may be revised for a higher grade, but they must be substantially revised. You cannot lose a grade by revising, but a higher grade is not guaranteed. I have found that "B" papers (or higher) are often more difficult to revise, since serious revision requires thoroughly changing the essay's structure, and "B" papers usually have a fairly good structure. "C" papers (or lower) often respond more dramatically to revision, since the major changes they require are often more straightforward. I recommend revising "C" papers or lower only. If you plan to revise a "B" paper, please see me beforehand so we can discuss a revision strategy.

All revisions must be submitted by Nov 17.

Plagiarism: We will discuss the use and re-use of source materials quite extensively in this class.

Attendance: I will not take attendance, but it is not possible to do well in this course without regular attendance. In class assignments make up part of your grade. Class discussions of the readings are necessary for the papers, exercises, and the research project. Topics will develop from the class discussions.

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