Truth, Fiction and Photography—Composition for Creative Expression
FIQWS 10113  [HA3]  60030
Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-10:45 am NAC 1/301Y

Instructor Julia Brown
NAC 6/333C
Office Hours: by appointment only

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”-E.L. Doctorow

Course Description

In this course, you will learn the process of writing and how to be a successful writer in the university and in professional settings. You will also learn habits of critical thinking that will assist you in and out of the classroom. Classes will be conducted as seminars, involving student-centered discussions, response to peer drafts, and writing practice. This course is paired with a topic section taught by Professor Ellen Handy. These two sections inform each other, and the writing you do for both sections will be shared between myself and Professor Handy. Though the two sections have separate syllabi, they function as a whole course.

Additionally, a major component of this course will be the creation of a digital portfolio on CUNY Academic Commons. We will begin this portfolio at the beginning of the semester and use your Academic Commons portfolio site as the place you will turn in all major writing assignments as they become due. I expect you to post all writing for the topic section to your portfolio site when it is due; however, Professor Handy will also be collecting this writing by other means.

Composition Section Learning Outcomes

Students successfully completing a FIQWS composition course will demonstrate ability to:

  • Explore and analyze in your own and others’ writing a variety of genres and rhetorical situations
  • Develop strategies for reading, drafting, revising, and editing
  • Practice systematic application of citation conventions
  • Recognize and practice key rhetorical terms and strategies when engaged in writing situations
  • Develop and engage in the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes
  • Understand and use print and digital technologies to address a range of audiences
  • Locate research sources (including academic journal articles, magazine and newspaper articles) in the library’s databases or archives and on the internet and evaluate them for credibility, accuracy, timeliness, and bias
  • Compose texts that integrate your stance and language with appropriate sources using strategies such as summary, critical analysis, interpretation, synthesis, and argumentation

Academic Requirements

Beyond keeping up with weekly assignments and continued course participation, there are a few additional requirements:

Shared Writing. Writing is not a solitary process. Great feedback stems from having as many eyes as possible read and evaluate your writing. Every piece of writing you do for this class will be shared with your classmates as well as myself. Every major piece of writing you do for this class and for Professor Handy will be posted to your CUNY Academic Commons Site. Make sure you are writing things you are okay with sharing.

Citations and Formatting. All assignments should be written in Times New Roman, 12 point font. All citations should be in Chicago style formatting.

Drafting. Great writing doesn’t start out great. Similarly, an “A” paper isn’t conceived in one 8-hour-long keyboard mashing session. Drafting and revising are an extremely important part of the writing process and is required for this course. Your grade will suffer if you don’t turn in the required drafts for your papers.



* Be on time, be early, just don’t be late.

* Attendance is taken the beginning of each class. Two lateness = one absence. If you have more than 4 absences, excused or not, you will automatically fail this course. If you are not present, you cannot participate or learn.

*Ask me questions! If you’re struggling with the class (even if you aren’t), I’m the best resource you have and I love to help my students; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in this profession. I can give you the best advice if you ask me face-to-face, but if you email me, I will try to get back to you in a timely fashion. Please, though, try to remember that even though I check my emails frequently, I also have a personal life. If you email me late at night, right before a deadline, chances are I won’t respond.

* No cell phone use during class, including texting, unless it is with prior permission due to extenuating circumstances. Keep your phones on silent, or turned off during my class. It isn’t fair to your classmates who are trying to learn if you are being a distraction.

* Students must read all assignments and come to class prepared to discuss them, which means bringing your texts to class. Class can get very boring if I am the only one talking. Interact with the texts as you read them: underline key passages, take notes, write down your thoughts and questions and ideas and any aspects that you don’t understand.

* In professional settings, a late submission can have grave consequences. In this class, the stakes are lower, but I will impose penalties with the goal of helping you to develop good habits. I will accept writing assignments up until 2 weeks after they are due. If a paper is late, within the first week you will be docked 5% of the grade, within the second week you will be docked 10% of the grade. After 2 weeks, I will not accept late papers and you will receive a zero for the assignment. All papers for this section will be handed in by posting them to CUNY Academic Commons.

Should you experience an extraordinary hardship, you may request a deadline extension. I will grant these on a case by case basis.

To request an extension, please do the following:

  1. Contact me in writing to request the extension prior to the deadline (the same day will not suffice)
  2. Describe the status of your assignment and the reason you feel you deserve an extension
  3. Propose a new deadline date
  4. Wait to hear back from me, as I will grant extensions at my discretion
  5. If you are requesting a course incomplete, you must contact me before the last day of class. I grant these only in rare circumstances.

* RESPECT IS A MUST. Because of the personal nature of writing, especially with the topics covered in this course, sharing writing can be an intimidating and scary experience for some. Respect is key in creating an environment that fosters the ability to share writing and ideas, and to accept feedback constructively

The Writing Center

The CCNY Writing Center offers a supportive learning environment where students can have one-on-one tutoring sessions with writing consultants.  It is a great resource for you to obtain extra help as you write and revise your papers.  They DO NOT proofread your papers, but offer assistance on improving certain aspects of them.  They also offer ESL tutoring.  To set up an appointment or semester-long sessions, contact them in person at the Writing Center, which is located in the NAC, 3rd floor plaza or call (212) 650-8104.  They will be partially open starting 9/8, and fully operational starting 9/15.  I strongly advise you contact them as soon as possible, even if you don’t have anything specific you need assistance with yet.

AccessAbility Center Tutoring Services, NAC 1/218

Provides one-on-one tutoring and workshops to all registered students with learning or physical disabilities.

SEEK Peer Academic Learning Center, NAC 4/224

Phone: 212-650-5786; Email:

Offers counseling and peer tutoring for students in need of academic and financial support who have registered for the SEEK Program.

Student Code of Conduct

All student members of the College community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates mutual respect for the rights and personal/academic well-being of others, preserves the integrity of the social and academic environment, and supports the mission of the College.  The College has an inherent right to address behavior that impedes, obstructs, or threatens the maintenance of order and attainment of the aforementioned goals by violating the standards of conduct set forth in the University student conduct policies noted below as well as other policies that may established by the respective Schools, Global Sites, and administrative offices of the University.

The goals of the CCNY Community Standards are:

  1. To promote a campus environment that supports the overall educational mission of the University
  2. To protect the University community from disruption and harm
  3. To encourage appropriate standards of individual and group behavior
  4. To foster ethical values and civic virtues
  5. To foster personal learning and growth while at the same time holding individuals and groups accountable to the standards of expectations established by the Code of Conduct

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is copying and using other people’s words without proper acknowledgment or citation as it is indicated in the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity.  All writing submitted for this course is understood to be your original work written.  Plagiarism is unacceptable and has serious consequences that can include a failing grade.  In cases where I detect academic dishonesty (the fraudulent submission of another’s work, in whole or part, as your own), you may be subject to a failing grade for the project or the course, and in the worst case, to academic probation or expulsion. You are expected to read, understand, and adhere to CCNY’s Policy on Academic Integrity, which is available here: .


Class Participation/Attendance 20%
Low-Stakes Writing Assignments (Including Drafts)15%
Digital Story Telling Project 15%
Annotated Bibliography/Proposal 15%
Reflection Paper 1 10%
Reflection Paper 2 10%
Portfolio and Self-Assessment Essay 15%

Grading Scale

99-100             A+
93-98               A
90-92               A-
87-89               B+
83-86               B
80-82               B-
77-79               C+
73-76               C
70-72               C-

69 or Below: Reassess. Eligibility will be determined by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Assigned Texts

All texts are linked to in the syllabus and on the course webpage.

Note: I reserve the right to, and almost certainly will, make changes to the readings and schedule.

Downloadable PDF of Syllabus