Spring 2004--WRTG1150
Rhetoric and Argument in Conspiracy Theories

Instructor: Dr. Katherine J. Robinson
Class URL: http://www.ravenndragon.net/colorado/

Office Hrs:MW 12:30-1:45 (Buchanan's)
F 12:30-1:45 (Starbucks)

or by Appointment


Other Materials:

In this class you will be exposed to a variety of viewpoints, some of which may differ radically from your own. Our goal is not to reach consensus but to learn the skills of evaluation, understanding, and negotiation. We are committed to respecting the dignity and the voice of each individual of the class.

Course Objectives:

This class has several different objectives.

Course Requirements:
1) Students are expected to arrive promptly and fully equipped for each class and to participate willingly and enthusiastically in all workshop activities.

2) Students are expected to complete all reading assignments prior to the assigned class to facilitate class participation.

3) Students will be expected to schedule individual conferences during office hours or class time to discuss their progress on the writing assignment.

4) Assignments will be typed or word-processed in MLA format (12 point Times New Roman font and double spaced) and included in the composition folder. Most assignments will be accompanied by an outline with identified thesis statement. All notes (even those on toilet paper) must accompany the assignment. All drafts and revisions are due no later than the end of class on the assigned date.


Note: Failure to proofread, type on clean paper, submit on time, include a title or page numbers, or staple the essay together will necessarily place the assignment into the “C” range for adequate work.

Evaluation of major writing assignments:
It is essential that you are able to apply to your own writing the principles, concepts, and strategies we discuss in class.

When I read essays, I usually make written comments in the margins. Some of these comments will be laudatory, some (constructively) critical. I make these comments because research indicates the best way for writers to improve his or her writing is to get feedback from their instructors. Please take the time to consider these comments; I'll be happy to discuss any comments, as well.

In addition, your essays will be evaluated in each of the following five areas: Content, Organization, Development, Usage, and Style/Mechanics. Be aware that some kinds of errors are fatal--sentence fragments and run-on sentences, as well as non-standard verb forms, will most certainly damage your essay’s credibility, and thus adversely impact its grades.

In order to measure progress towards the course objectives, I will evaluate your performance on the following tasks:

Responding to Conspiracy Theory-5%
Critiquing a Theory-10%
Synthesizing the Theory-15%
Conspiracy Theory Argument-10%

Collaborative Ezine-15%

Annotated Bibliography-10%

Library worksheets and activities-5%
Precis and Journal assignments-5%
Workshop participation-10%


My grading scale for the course is as follows: A = superior; B = above average; C = average; D = below average; F = unacceptable. Please see the grade handout for a more detailed explanation of the grading scale.

If at any time you want to discuss a paper or grade with me, schedule an appointment or stop by during my office hours. Also, you may keep track of your grade easily by writing each paper grade on the inside of your folder. Over the semester we will meet in individual conferences periodically regarding your progress in the course.

Plagiarism consists of submitting someone else’s words without giving proper credit to their author. Plagiarism is literary theft; it is both unethical and illegal. You are required to submit your own work and to properly credit your sources. Any violation of this policy will result in a grade of 0 on the assignment and may result in disciplinary action from the university. Refer to the “Academic Dishonesty” pages of the Student Handbook for further information. Additional information is located on CU's Honor Code website.


Class Decorum:
This is an intellectual workshop environment. A great deal of success in this class depends on our creating the appropriate learning environment, so please demonstrate your respect for one another and for our shared enterprise by turning off electronic communication devices (beepers and cell phones) and by not chatting off topic.

Disability and ESL Services:
At the University of Colorado, any student is elegible for and needing academic adjustments or accommodations because of a disability should notify the instructor and the Disability Services Office in Willard Hall during the first two weeks of class. I will make every reasonable and appropriate effort to meet your learning needs.

If you speak English as a second language, you should contact me before the third class meeting so that I can better assist you in the course, advise you about special ESL courses, and/or refer you to the appropriate services on campus.

University of Colorado Honor Code