文学网课代修 Communication and the Public Intellectual


Writing 340: Communication and the Public Intellectual

文学网课代修 If page numbers are not available, use par. or pars. to denote paragraph numbers. Use these in place of the p. or pp. abbreviation.

Stephen Mack, Ph.D.

sjm@usc.edu  Stephen.mack@sbcglobal.net


Course Introduction:  文学网课代修

In this course we will examine—and participate in—the conversation among “public intellectuals” on matters of social, political, and cultural importance.  A public intellectual is typically, though not always, a person who has been trained in a specific academic or intellectual discipline (e.g., medical doctors, scientists, philosophers, historians, social scientists, lawyers, etc.) who brings their expertise to bear on issues of concern to a mainstream audience.

One way to look at is that public intellectuals generally spend most of their time working within their own profession, writing mostly to their colleagues using the jargon of their particular discipline.  But what distinguishes the “public” intellectual from the garden-variety type is that the public intellectual will occasionally (or quite frequently) “translate” their work for a mainstream readership in ways that enable them to comment on matters of public concern.


Some of that definition is up for grabs—as we’ll discover in the first assignment.  But however you choose to define the public intellectual, in this course (at least) you are one.  You will write commentary that draws upon discipline specific knowledge and training.  To do this, you will take advantage of new media technologies, especially those associated with the blogosphere.



Course Requirements:


  1. Blog Site


Students are responsible for setting up their own blog site and all course work (unless specifically exempted) is to be posted on those sites As many of you already know, it’s not rocket science.  Many will use services such as WordPress, but one of the more popular platforms is WIX—my personal favorite because it’s extremely easy and cheap (i.e., “free.”) (Note: most of these services offer both fee-based and free versions—the usual difference is that the free versions compel you to include the company name in your URL.)


As you set up your site, give thought to how you name your site. While it’s not required, you may want to adopt a theme for your site. If, for example, you are particularly interested in environmental issues you might want to find some environmentally suggestive word or phrase and built your site title around it. But it is just as acceptable to be content with a catchy or interesting title—or simply identify it eponymously and use your own name.  文学网课代修


However, whatever you decide regarding your title, please do not mention on-line Writing 340, your status as a student in this class, or the fact that I am your professor.  Outside readers should assume that you are, like many other bloggers, an articulate and concerned citizen—which is exactly what you are.  Presenting your work as a “student project” will undermine its reception as self-motivated, original commentary.  In effect, it will undermine your credibility and that of anybody who links to you.


Sites must build a categorized “link list” that includes, at a minimum:  文学网课代修

“The Roundtable” (a list of links to my site and those of every member of the class) and “References” (call it what you will—it should ultimately be a comprehensive list of links to the most important information sites in your field).

  • All sites must categorize or tag their posts topically. Course eligible postings must also be categorized as “Public Square” items (see below).

  • Students should refrain from publishing sexually graphic, abusive, or similar gratuitously offensive material anywhere on their site for (at least) the duration of the semester.

  • Important Note: Your sites or the work posted to them will NEVER be evaluated or graded on-line or in public.


Primary Productivity Requirements


11 “public square” posts in 11 separate weeks.  During the course of the semester you will be expected to write and post at least eleven “public square” journal entries on your site.  TWO POSTS IN THE SAME WEEK WILL COUNT AS ONE! A public square entry may take one of three forms: an academic essay, an op-ed essay, or a standard, short critical blog post.  For now, what’s important to know is that the “public square” (or course eligible) posting is one that:


  • Addresses some issue of public concern in a critical, intellectually significant manner.  文学网课代修

  • Engages, through quotes and hyperlinks, at least one other writer.

  • Conforms to the formal standards that govern each genre. (Later on, we will discuss the specific requirements for each of these forms and how they differ from one another.) NOTE: You may also choose—and for very good reason—to post additional material to your site: images or video with little or no comment and/or comments or reflections that are either whimsical or primarily personal in nature.  Such postings may be quite useful in helping you construct your public persona or the “brand identity” of your site, but they will not be gradable as course material, and should not be categorized as “Public Square” items. 



The Four Assignments.  文学网课代修

The eleven public square items you post to your site WILL INCLUDE THREE OF THE FOUR GRADED ASSIGNMENTS DESCRIBED BELOW. A full prompt for each assignment can be found on Blackboard, but in brief, here they are:


Assignment 1.  “The Public Intellectual”

An intellectual profile of a LIVING “public intellectual” of your choice in which you sketch their major intellectual contributions while tackling some of the controversies surrounding the meaning and place of public intellectual work in America.


Assignment 2.       “The Major Statement”

A more-or-less formal academic paper in which you develop an argument on an issue of your choosing.  Its scope should be sufficiently broad to permit you to “mine” it for insights and ideas you will articulate in shorter or less formal work.


Assignment 3.       “The Op-Ed”  文学网课代修

One short essay written within the demanding op-ed format on a topic of your choosing.


“But wait!” you cry, “if you say I have to write 11 posts in 11 separate weeks, but only three of them are graded assignments—isn’t that unfair? Doesn’t that mean that I’m writing 8 other posts for no credit or grade?”


Glad you asked! I’ve got a deal for you called “Assignment 4.” Here’s how it works. At the end of the semester, you pick some of your best work from the remaining 8 posts, make sure those Pulitzer-quality posts add up to at least 7 document pages, put them into a single file, slap “Assignment 4” on the front, and turn it in. So, to continue . . .


Assignment 4.  “Selected Posts”

A selection of your critical blog posts, drawn from the remaining 8 “public square” postings, totaling about 7 document pages.


Finally, at the end of the semester:


Final Portfolio           Two or more revisions of your blog posts, adding up to a minimum                         of 14 document pages.



III.   Additional Productivity Requirements


Roundtable Participation (Written Commentary)

Active engagement in a public forum with other serious thinkers and writers is a defining characteristic of a public intellectual’s work.  For us, this will mean (at least) becoming actively engaged with the work of each other.  In practice, this means writing short (say, one paragraph long) comments on specific posting of others. (It also means that everyone must enable comments on their sites.) By the end of the semester everyone should have at least 25 comments.  文学网课代修

(Responses to comments are encouraged, but they don’t count for anything. Likewise, a “back-and-forth dialogue between you and another student is wonderful—but still only counts as one comment. This will mean incorporating the Roundtable sites into your daily reading or Internet routine.  Also, from time to time I will (either in class or on my site) pitch an idea or problem or question that I would like you all to respond to in a posting on your own site.  Such responses will be counted for your weekly posting requirement.  


       Roundtable Participation (The talking Zoom part)

You’ll notice that on our course calendar one session a week is devoted to Lab. If we were meeting in-person, this would mean that we would actually be meeting in a computer lab. But since we’re not, we’ll still be doing lab work through the “share” function of Zoom. In short, every week two to four students will take turns presenting their site and work to the rest of the class—while the rest of us interrupt, argue, and comment on what it is they have to say. Good fun, I promise.



While some students may have bandwidth or technology issues that undermine their ability to engage the class with a camera on, and thus, camera use cannot be required, camera use is strongly recommended and preferred. Being able to engage one another both visually and orally brings us one-step closer to the kind of rich interactive educational experience that characterizes in-person classes.



Online participation, by definition, means that students effectively create their own classroom environment—and inviting the rest of us into it. Some commonsense guidelines on etiquette are in order:

  • First and foremost: BE ON TIME! Tardiness is always a little disruptive, but in an online space—especially at those times when I must let people in through the waiting room—it is particularly distracting.

  • A “casual professional” attire (the way you would ordinarily attend in-person classes) is expected. That is to say, please do not appear only partially dressed, in pajamas, swimming trunks, etc. etc.

  • Whenever possible, strive to be seated at a chair and, ideally, at a desk/table. Avoid lounging on the bed. If your workspace is your room, and your only furniture is your bed, please don’t be “in bed” and under the covers. Sitting up is just fine—but try to position your laptop or device in such a way that it does not require a lot of noisy fidgeting. Try to avoid noisy, excessively trafficked areas.  文学网课代修


  • Ok, I know lots of people who love virtual backgrounds. Me, not so much. My problem with them is that they rarely work quite right, as heads and arms tend to randomly disappear and reappear. So, while this isn’t a rule of any kind, if you happen to join us from the Taj Mahal or the surface of the moon, I’d like to think you actually are there!


The Fine Print


  • Regular attendance.  Three or more unexcused absences will negatively impact your grade. Excessive absences (any combination of missed classes or conferences adding up to 6) will disqualify students from receiving a passing grade in the class.

  • Four or more one-on-one conferences with me.

  • A “Course Log” in which you keep track of all of your Roundtable participation (Comments, links to other’s sites, etc.) by date.  This will be reviewed by me at conference time and at the end of the semester.


  1. Grading:


Letter grades will be assigned for Assignments. All work will be weighted as follows:  文学网课代修


Written Work                                       

Assignment #1          10%

Assignment #2          15%

Assignment #3          10 %

Assignment #4          15 %

*Written Commentary   15 %

Portfolio                   15 %

Total                                        80%


Auxiliary Work


Course Book quizzes              10%

Weekly site update

nine to ten weeks (05%)

eleven + weeks (10%)

Total possible            10%

         Total                                        20%



*Unless individual comments are obviously substandard (i.e., below a paragraph in length, gratuitous, thoughtless, painfully banal, etc.) they are “assumed” to be of high caliber, and automatically worthy of an “A”. Please complete your 25 comments by April 11. Completion of all 25 comments will earn full credit (A=15%).  Those logging fewer than 25 will be graded on a modified curve.



Notes on Citation:  文学网课代修


Important Note on the Use of URLs in MLA

Include a URL or web address to help readers locate your sources. Because web addresses are not static (i.e., they change often) and because documents sometimes appear in multiple places on the web (e.g., on multiple databases), MLA encourages the use of citing containers such as Youtube, JSTOR, Spotify, or Netflix in order to easily access and verify sources. However, MLA only requires the www. address, so eliminate all https:// when citing URLs.

Many scholarly journal articles found in databases include a DOI (digital object identifier). If a DOI is available, cite the DOI number instead of the URL.

Online newspapers and magazines sometimes include a “permalink,” which is a shortened, stable version of a URL. Look for a “share” or “cite this” button to see if a source includes a permalink. If you can find a permalink, use that instead of a URL.


Abbreviations Commonly Used with Electronic Sources  文学网课代修

If page numbers are not available, use par. or pars. to denote paragraph numbers. Use these in place of the p. or pp. abbreviation. Par. would be used for a single paragraph, while pars. would be used for a span of two or more paragraphs.


Basic Style for Citations of Electronic Sources (Including Online Databases)

Here are some common features you should try to find before citing electronic sources in MLA style. Not every web page will provide all of the following information. However, collect as much of the following information as possible:

  • Author and/or editor names (if available); last names first.

  • "Article name in quotation marks."

  • Title of the website, project, or book in italics.

  • Any version numbers available, including editions (ed.), revisions, posting dates, volumes (vol.), or issue numbers (no.).

  • Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.

  • Take note of any page numbers (p. or pp.) or paragraph numbers (par. or pars.).

  • DOI (if available), otherwise a URL (without the https://) or permalink.

  • Date you accessed the material (Date Accessed). While not required, saving this information it is highly recommended, especially when dealing with pages that change frequently or do not have a visible copyright date.

Use the following format:  文学网课代修

Author. "Title." Title of container (self contained if book), Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs and/or URL, DOI or permalink). 2nd container’s title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable).




Citing an Entire Web Site


When citing an entire website, follow the same format as listed above, but include a compiler name if no single author is available.

Author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number (if available), Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available), DOI (preferred), otherwise include a URL or permalink. Date of access (if applicable).

Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number, Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available), URL, DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable).

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl. Accessed 23 Apr. 2008.

Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003, www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/. Accessed 10 May 2006.


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