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
- Lunsford, Andrea. The
Everyday Writer. 2nd edition. New York: Bedford, 2001
- A college-level
dictionary of your choice
- Other readings and
course materials will be provided in the form of handouts as well
as library and electronic reserves
- The principal text in
the course will be your own writing. Please have duplicated drafts
(typed and double-spaced) ready when due
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.
- a black
- black or blue inked pens
- an email account (CU provides all
students with an email account)
- an identikey account (CU provides all
students with an identikey account)
class has several
- First, students will read and critically
essays that serve as models for written discourse
- Then, students will
explore the writing community by learning to write unified,
coherent, and well-developed essays. By working with a variety of
essay models students will gain a clearer understanding of the
writing and revising process.
- In addition, the class
will participate, actively and collaboratively, in what one
philosopher calls a “discursive democracy”--using discourse to
foster tolerance and respect for dissenting opinion. We wish to
be active, passionate, and committed in our beliefs without being
violent, militant, or closed to other ideas.
- Finally, we will begin
the process of redefining or rethinking our perceptions of
‘argument.’ Instead of viewing ‘argument’ as disagreement, we
will begin to explore different ideas of argument as strategies for
exchange, consensus, or agreement.
1) Students are expected to arrive promptly and fully equipped for each
class and to participate willingly and enthusiastically in all
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
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.
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.
- A regular and required
assignment is that you pick up and read papers to be discussed in advance
of the class. You must come to class ready to
comment on the work of your colleagues and to share in their
inquiry. Referee presentations on drafts submitted by classmates
will be a regular feature of the workshop. These presentations should
be prepared in advance of class and should be well organized,
cogent, and to the point. They should identify weaknesses and
propose possible remedies.
- In addition to a
number of short assignments and activities, you will
develop major project-based essays or documents in
this class. (Assignment sheets will explain activities,
assignments, and projects in more detail.) Although relatively
short, these essays or documents will require considerable thought and
attention. Frequent revisions will be necessary. You will
be expected to work on these documents throughout the semester.
- A feature of
this course is our collaboration with University Libraries, which is
designed to help you acquire skills in critical information
literacy. Worksheets and web-based readings developed together
with University Libraries will be an integral feature of our
- Be sure to save all drafts, and to save
your work (including various drafts) on
computer files. For every writing assignment, please submit three
copies of your finished work.
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.
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.
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
Critiquing a Theory-10%
Conspiracy Theory Argument-10%
Library worksheets and activities-5%
Precis and Journal assignments-5%
scale for the course is as follows: A = superior; B = above
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.
- It is required. This writing classroom
laboratory atmosphere where student input enriches the class. As such,
absences equating to a cummulative of five (5) class sessions may
result in failure
- The student is
responsible for missed work. The student is expected to contact
classmates for missed notes and assignments. Any make-up work must
be discussed with the instructor
- Tardiness is
inconsiderate and disrespectful. So if you are not here when I
take the roll, I will mark you absent
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
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.
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