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Rhetoric of Fiction Areas of Evaluation

The following list gives a general description of each assignment /area of evaluation. Specific requirements, due dates, and evaluation criteria will be provided in an Assignment Prompt for each project and paper, located in the “Assignments” folder on Blackboard.

Scholarly Contribution 25%

Critical thinking and writing are a process of idea generation and revision, refining your argument and analysis. Active discussion with your peers helps you better understand difficult concepts in new discourses by creating a community of scholars who learn through the comparison and contrast of varying perspectives, and the pooling of knowledge. Your contribution in small groups, full class discussion, and online discussion forums is essential for the success of the class.


I expect you to read all assigned texts carefully and critically, and participate vigorously in all class discussions and activities, in-class and on-line. All participation should be conducted with respect and professionalism. We will likely disagree with theories, readings, approaches, and perspectives, and this is fine; however, we must also practice creating the sort of classroom environment of open, positive critical thinking that leads to greater understanding of our world. Due to the highly interactive nature of this course and the emphasis on group work and class discussions, I expect you to attend all class meetings and to be on time. The scholarly contribution grade will be calculated starting from attendance: each class session attended starts at 100%, or 50% if tardy (more than five minutes late, or leaving more than five minutes early). Thus, the total number of attended (and on time) class sessions establishes the maximum grade possible. For example, if you accumulated three absences and one tardy (or -3.5) out of 40 possible class sessions and discussion forums, you would have a max score of 91%, or A- (36.5/40). An “A” scholarly contribution could then only achieve a total of A- in this grading category.

The learning purpose for this grading category is not only to motivate you to read the material closely, but to provide you with multiple and varied opportunities to understand theories of rhetoric and how they play out in contemporary social life, how rhetoric constructs knowledge, articulate the relationships among language and power that change over through time, culture, and technology.

Critical Responses 25%

Each week will include a portion of the novel studied at the time, and a text in critical/rhetorical theory. You are responsible for writing a 250-500 word blog post that responds to the readings, published by the end of day Monday before each new Tuesday meeting. Formal analysis is not necessary, but responses should be error-free, should have a main point, and should question, extend, argue against, or provide insight into (or even explain confusion with) the assigned texts for that coming week. These responses will be read by me and used as part of the class discussion, and may be presented on the overhead.

At the end of each novel, I will grade the collection of blog posts for that unit as a whole. See Appendix for evaluation rubric.

Late responses will have a penalty of one letter grade deducted for each week late. Critical responses cannot be revised for a higher grade.

The learning purpose for this grading category is to provide you with the opportunity to explore and experiment with various critical frameworks for the rhetorical analysis and criticism of fiction, without the risk of more formal evaluation. Each response is a development toward a more sophisticated analysis, represented in the formal essays, and the ideas, strategies, and even compositions of the response may be used (through revision) in those essays.

Midterm and Final Essays 25% each

2000 words minimum. Each essay should take a critical stance on (make an argument about) the rhetorical forms, messages, and issues in the two novels for that half of the semester: Everett and Robbins for the midterm, Egan and Ozeki for the final. You are encouraged to be creative in the construction of your argument, using as your basis the theory read and discussed in class, though incorporating all of the theory is not necessary. Researching and incorporating additional theoretical lenses is highly encouraged. Use of research and theory in the essay will be evaluated on the merits of the argument itself—if, for example, you are writing about the narrative/authorial voices of each text, you should include all relevant theoretical discussion from the course, in addition to further research.

  • Midterm Essay: due 11:59p, 10/20/17, posted to blog
  • Final Essay: due 4:00p, 12/11/17, posted to blog

Revision: I will accept revision of the midterm and final essays under the following circumstances:

  • Midterm: must be turned in on time; late submissions cannot be revised. After receiving the grade, you have one week to schedule a meeting with me to discuss revision. At that time, we’ll decide on the new due date.
  • Final: must be posted on your blog by 11:59pm on Sunday, Dec. 8. You must come to the final exam period, where I’ll give you your grade and discuss revision. Final revised essay is due Friday, Dec. 13, 11:59pm, posted as an update to your blog.

Late Work Policy

Late work (even a few minutes late) will receive an automatic one letter grade deduction for the first week, two letter grades for the second week, etc. On rare occasions an extension may be granted for instances of verifiable health issues, but must be arranged prior to the assignment due date. Extensions requested after the due date will be denied. Extensions will not be granted for circumstances that are part of the academic experience: heavy course loads, academic projects and film shoots (with the exception of attending an academic conference), employment, Greek life, etc.

Evaluation Rubrics

An essay must meet ALL of the criteria to achieve the specified letter grade. (+) and (-) indicate slightly higher achievement or slightly lower achievement in that letter grade’s criteria. For example, an A- essay might meet all of the criteria but the last, containing several errors in grammar or confusing syntax.

A – an “A” essay demonstrates the highest quality of composition, analysis, research, and rhetoric.

  • Poses an intriguing, nuanced, and well-developed critical analysis/argument with a clear purpose/rhetorical aim about the rhetorical of fiction in the two novels, demonstrating critical inquiry and audience-specific composition.
  • Develops the purpose with an effective logic, utilizing creative rhetorical choices in design, structure, form, and delivery that effectively engages the audience and provides clear and consistent flow between and among ideas.
  • Demonstrates the ability to rhetorically support the purpose with research and credible sources, effectively incorporating theories and concepts from the course, including correct citation and formatting.
  • Invokes a specific audience through rhetorical choices in style and conventions, research, language, and theory, effectively joining a discourse.
  • Composes with a superior use of diction, voice, syntax, punctuation, grammar, design, and formatting. There will be no errors.


B – a “B” essay demonstrates a capacity to engage in quality composition, analysis, research, and rhetoric, although at times struggling in one or more areas.

  • Poses a critical analysis/argument with a somewhat clear purpose/aim about the rhetoric of fiction in the two novels. May lack significance, clarity, and/or originality, be general in critique rather than directed toward a specific focus.
  • Develops the purpose with a logic that is not always effective, using rhetorical choices lacking in creativity of design, structure, form, and delivery. May struggle at times to engage the audience and provide clear consistent flow between and among ideas.
  • Sometimes struggles to support the main purpose using theories and concepts from the course, lacking context, additional research, and/or a strong application of that discourse. May also (in addition to or despite the above issues) struggle to correctly cite sources.
  • Invokes a broad audience, meeting at times—but also struggling with—discursive and rhetorical choices in style and conventions, research, language, and theory.
  • Contains errors and inconsistencies in diction, voice, syntax, punctuation, grammar, and formatting that are sometimes distracting to the reader and confuse meaning.


C – a “C” essay demonstrates a development toward quality composition, analysis, research, and rhetoric, attempting but struggling to compose quality analysis, research, and rhetoric.

  • Struggles to pose a clear purpose relevant to the rhetoric of fiction. Lacks exigence, purpose, and originality, with an unclear focus. Tends to be underdeveloped (short).
  • Struggles to develop the purpose with a logic that meets audience needs, with ineffective rhetorical choices in design, structure, form, and delivery. Lacks a clear connection between ideas and concepts.
  • Struggles to support a main purpose, lacking discourse-specific research and sources and/or poor citation. Clearly lacks in understanding and application of course theories and concepts.
  • Rarely considers audience/discourse community with choices in style and conventions, research, language, and theory.
  • Contains distracting errors and inconsistencies in diction, voice, syntax, punctuation, grammar, and formatting that confuse meaning.


D – a “D” essay struggles and fails to meet expectations of quality in composition, analysis, research, and rhetoric, either through a need for continued experiences or by lack of effort.

  • Little to no discernible purpose relevant to the discourse of the rhetoric of fiction. Hard to qualify as a critical analysis/argument. Severely underdeveloped.
  • Confusing and limited structure, ineffective design, structure, form, and delivery.
  • Does not support purpose with credible research and sources, with little to no application of course theory and concepts.
  • Does not consider audience/discourse community with choices in style and conventions, research, language, and theory.
  • Contains severely distracting errors and inconsistencies in diction, voice, syntax, punctuation, and grammar that confuse meaning.


F – an “F” essay fails to meet any expectations of quality in all areas; this composition is typically very short, messy, and a demonstration of little to no engagement in the subject.


Critical Responses (blog posts) Evaluation Rubric

A – posts are of superior quality, demonstrating a strong understanding and interaction with the subject material, including direct, cited quotations, successful attempts at application, questions and analysis, and additional supporting research.

B – posts are of acceptable quality, demonstrating a growing understanding and a fairly good interaction with the subject material. Parts of the text will be cited, with attempts at application, and some questions and analysis. Will have some supporting research.

C – posts are of minimum scholarly quality, struggling to demonstrate an understanding and interaction with the subject material (underdeveloped and limited). Text will only be partially referenced, with few attempts at application, questioning, or analysis. Very little supporting research, or perhaps an overreliance on such (leaving questions of whether subject material was actually read).

D – posts are short and do not meet standards of scholarly quality. May be heavily reliant on secondary sources, or have none at all. Highly likely that the subject material was not read, or was only partially read.

F – posts are practically illegible, providing zero insight into material; extremely short. No effort.


Discussion Contribution Evaluation Rubric

A – consistently and thoughtfully participates in full class and small group discussions; completes all reading and brings annotated copies and notes to class; never is a distraction nor engages in non-academic technology use.

B – mostly participates in full class and small group discussions; completes readings but typically does not have notes or annotations for class discussion; rarely if ever a distraction nor engages in non-academic technology use.

C – struggles to meaningfully participate in full class and small group discussions; sometimes fails to complete readings for bring materials to class; sometimes engages in non-academic technology use.

D – rarely participates in discussions; fails to complete readings and does not bring material to class; may frequently engage in non-academic/course-specific technology use.

F – does not participate in discussions; does not complete readings; may consistently engage in non-academic technology use and/or be a distraction to others.