Grammar, Participation, & Academic Integrity

A Note on Grammar

Proper grammar is a loaded topic. On the one hand, ideas of what constitutes proper grammar are often elitist, classist, misogynistic and queerphobic, and racist. On the other, wielding grammar fluently will help you enter into certain conversations and will help readers understand you. What is important to me is that you write in a way that gets your ideas across clearly and cogently, and also that you think about your audience as you write.

With all of that in mind, in your writing for this course, you should be careful to avoid fragments, run-ons, and passively-voiced phrases, all common errors that will obscure your meaning and make it seem as though you haven’t edited your work.



I define participation as any of the following: making comments and questions in class, attending office hours several times, emailing me questions and comments.

As you may have already experienced, discussion on the college level is in some ways very different from high school (at various points we may talk about why!) For my purposes, active participation means that you are making your intellectual presence known in the “room,” without dominating discussion or speaking over others. We really do all learn more when as many people as possible participate in the conversation.

If you have a question or observation about a reading, no matter how small, someone else is also likely to have it, and your comments are important to other people’s learning.

BUT we are a big class, and that makes hearing regularly from everyone a bit trickier. Please consider the chat just as valid a way to contribute to our discussions as speaking aloud. You are welcome to use it instead of speaking or in addition to. I find that online courses work best when there’s a vibrant interchange of ideas going on in speech and in chat!


Academic Integrity/Plagiarism

Academic integrity means properly citing the sources (people, texts, etc) that you used for an assignment. While public writing pieces don’t have all the traditional kinds of citation like a formal paper does, you should still cite your sources. It’s part of being an ethical member of an academic community, and it gives your reader somewhere to go if they want more information about/from that source. Here is CUNY’s Academic Integrity policy.

Plagiarism—the use of someone else’s ideas without proper attribution—is essentially the opposite, and it is a serious academic offense, and I have a zero tolerance policy. If you use someone’s work without quotation marks (for exact words) and without both in-text citation in MLA or Chicago style and Works Cited, you will automatically fail the assignment, and potentially the course. We will do a workshop in class this term on how to cite things in public writing.