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The Fine Print

Office hours

During office hours I am available to talk with you about anything related to this class or to your studies at Geneseo. No need to make an appointment for an office hour; just drop in. I encourage you to come. I get to know you; you learn more from me. If you cannot make it to any of the scheduled office hours, we can set up a time to meet.

Email

From time to time I will need to communicate with the class as a whole or with you individually by means of email. When communicating with the class as a whole, I will use the class listserv address. Since emails sent to this address will come to students' Geneseo email accounts, it is absolutely imperative that you either regularly check your Geneseo email or have it automatically forwarded to the account you prefer to use. To set up automatic forwarding, go to http://webmail.geneseo.edu from any internet-connected computer, on campus or off. Log in with your Geneseo username and email password. In the left-navigation bar, click "forward account" and carefully follow instructions.

Please feel free to email me at schacht AT geneseo DOT edu on any matter related to the class or to academics generally. I will reply to whatever email address you send from; if the email comes back to me as undeliverable, I will reply to your Geneseo address.

Attendance

Attendance is your responsibility. Please do not phone or email just to explain why you weren't in or won't be in class on a particular day. On the other hand, if sickness or genuine crisis keeps you from the classroom for any length of time, of course I want to know. Conflicts with other classes or your personal life (weddings, friends who've just broken up with boyfriends/girlfrieds, etc.) must be resolved by you. I regret that I cannot make special arrangements to accommodate them.

Cellphones and Laptops in the Classroom

As a courtesy to your classmates, be sure that your cellphone is off or set to "silent" or "vibrate" before class begins. In general, it is prohibited to take phone calls during class. However, if you know before class begins that you must be prepared to take an important call, you may sit near the door and take the call outside the classroom when it comes. If you have a laptop computer, I encourage you to bring it to class in order to take notes or consult appropriate knowledge sources online. However, there may be times when I ask all laptop users to close their screens in order to promote maximum concentration on live discussion.

Papers

Be sure to proofread your paper closely for faulty grammar or usage, spelling errors, and typos; you are being graded partly on your ability to produce presentable work, an ability that matters both in the classroom and in the world beyond it.

Papers must be submitted electronically. I will grade papers in the order that I receive them and return them electronically.

Plagiarism

Though committed with alarming frequency and dispiriting casualness by people in high places, plagiarism is still a serious academic offense. You are committing plagiarism any time you borrow another writer's words without using quotation marks or providing appropriate documentation; borrow another writer's ideas without citing the source in which you found them.

If it is discovered that you have plagiarized on an assignment for this class, you will certainly fail the assignment and probably fail the class. In addition, the Dean of the College will be notified that you have committed an act of academic dishonesty, and you may face disciplinary measures from the administration. No excuses. No second chances. Not even for graduating seniors.

Examples of plagiarism:

  • An essay that uses, without proper documentation, words or ideas that you find in another student's paper--for example, a paper in the files of a fraternity or sorority, or a paper available on the Internet.
  • An essay that uses, without proper documentation, words or ideas that you find on a website.
  • An essay that uses, without proper documentation, words or ideas that you find in any secondary source, including Cliff's Notes, Sparks Notes, Classic Comics, or other guides of comparable scholarly respectability.

Since other students' papers and Cliff's or Sparks Notes are not appropriate sources for a college essay, you should avoid them altogether.

There is no such thing as accidental plagiarism. If you are unsure of the proper conventions for documentation, see me and I will tell you how to find the information you need. Better yet, consult the reference librarian at Milne.

If you think for yourself and use sources properly, you will not run into trouble. But remember, in questionable cases you are unlikely to receive the benefit of the doubt. If you err, be sure it is on the side of caution.

Exams

For help writing exam essays, consult Writing Essays Exams in the SUNY Geneseo Writing Guide.

Grades

Your grade reflects my honest and considered evaluation of your work. You have the right to question it. I have the right to stick by it, and that is what I invariably do (with certain obvious exceptions, such as miscalculation of an exam score). Total objectivity is no more possible in grading writing than in making any other judgment of value, but I do my best to maintain consistency and adhere to clearly defined standards. I base my grade on my opinion of your work, not on my opinion of you. If you have a question about your grade on an assignment, I encourage you to see me during office hours or schedule an appointment. I welcome the opportunity to explain to you why you got what you did. In grading papers and exams, my reference point is the "B."

  • A B paper or exam fulfills the terms of the assignment and is, in general, a competent performance. It is lucid, intelligent, and grammatical. If you receive a "B" on written work for this class, don't ask yourself, "What did I do wrong?" However, you may well want to ask yourself — and I encourage you to ask me — "What more could I have done right?"
  • An A paper or exam, then, is obviously better than competent. It not only fulfills the terms of the assignment but does so with unusual grace, wit, insight, imagination, originality, or clarity. It shows special and impressive care in the arrangement of ideas and the construction of sentences. Its organization is not only logical but interesting, its language not simply grammatical but striking. "A" work is extraordinary, outstanding, superior, distinguished. By definition, then, it is also rare.
  • A C paper or exam usually contains one or more serious defects in logic, organization, or grammar. If it contains none of these, it has probably failed in some way to fulfill the basic terms of the assignment. Perhaps it is 3 or 8 pages long rather than the required 5, or perhaps it discusses two texts without fulfilling the requirement to "compare and contrast" them. Be sure to read assignments carefully — at least twice — and ask questions, if you have them, well before the due date. Do not risk modifying assignments without permission — e.g., writing on a different text or submitting a poem or dialogue in place of an essay. Such gross failures to comply with an assignment may result in an "E."
  • A D paper or exam has the faults of a "C" paper to a larger extent or a greater degree. It has very few virtues.
  • An E paper or exam has completely missed the boat. "E" work is even rarer than "A" work, though naturally much easier to produce. Bear in mind, however, that an otherwise good or even excellent piece of writing may receive an "E" for fraud or flagrant negligence. Included here are, among other things, plagiarism, collaborative work presented as that of a single author, failure to quote from texts, and blatant disregard of an assignment's basic terms (see above under "C").
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