Course Syllabus

Brave New Worlds of Publishing: Transforming Your Writing for Scholarly and Popular Audiences

English 190: Senior Seminar || Winter 2018

Dr. Julia Voss

Contact Info:

Class Meeting Times:
Th 3:50-6:50 pm

St. Joseph Hall 309

Office Hours:
M/W 3:45-4:45 pm

St. Joseph Hall 203

Have you ever felt, after completing a research project for a course, that you'd just begun to scratch the surface of the topic? Or that if you could redo the project, knowing what you know now, you'd really do the topic justice? Or that you wanted an audience--outside your professor--to read the amazing work you'd done? Brave New Worlds of Publishing answers those wishes. It gives you the opportunity to 1) extend and deepen your work on an existing project and 2) learn about the genres, audiences, and expectations of scholarly and popular publication venues.

This course covers the topics most central to writing for real, live scholarly and popular audiences:

The genre of the scholarly article: What does published scholarship on your topic look like? Who reads it, and what do they expect? We'll do common readings on the structure and purpose of research articles to learn about these discourse communities and provide foundational concepts. You'll also research a specific journal in your field of study to apply these abstract generic concepts to a specific target journal.

The form and process of the (research-informed) popular culture article: How do you translate in-depth research into writing for a public, popular audience? Who reads these (usually online) popular venues? What do those readers look for in terms of topic, approach, content, and media-enriched presentation? How do you find an appropriate venue and pitch your idea? In addition to reading about the form and process of writing for popular audiences, you’ll also learn from guest experts who write for popular venues.

Writing/revision through multiple iterations: Throughout your college career you've undoubtedly encountered revision plenty of times. However, the short length of time you can spend on a single project during a typical class short-changes revision by limiting its scope and duration. This class is essentially a giant revision exercise through which you'll transform a course project by revising it for two distinct audiences, informed by 1) greatly expanded research and 2) investigation of two specific publication venues/audiences. Revision will focus not only on rewriting your work, but will take advantage of the advanced state of your project to make radical changes that cut/add/move entire sections and prompt additional research.

Major Projects/Tasks:

Scholarly Journal Analysis (15% of grade)

Based on your reading of 5+ articles from your target journal, what are the generic conventions of the articles it publishes? Who are its editors and readers? What is the journal interested/focused on, based on the major concerns/issues/topics treated in these articles? What are the formal requirements for submitted manuscripts? 

Popular Venue Analysis (10% of grade)

Based on your reading of +/10 pieces published recently by this venue, what are its generic, topical, and tonal characteristics? Make sure to pay special attention to length and media. Who are its readers, and what are they interested in? What kind of following/media presence does this venue have? How can you publish here? Includes a reflective component planning for how you'll adapt your project for this venue and identifying why your idea is a good fit for this venue.

Scholarly Article (40% of grade)

The fully revised research article you produce for your target scholarly journal. Includes 1) cover letter for journal submission addressed to the journal editor that explains your contribution and how it fits the target journal and 2) meta-reflection on your writing explaining how your piece fits the generic and rhetorical conventions of this journal.

Popular Article (20% of grade)

The fully revised article you produce for your target popular venue, incorporating all media that accompanies the written text. Includes pitch materials for your article.

Project Log & Workshop Participation (15% of grade)

  • Project log for documenting, planning, and reflecting on your research and writing progress (in response to in- and out-of-class prompts).
  • Evaluation of 1) your preparedness for in-class workshops and 2) your contributions to these workshops (determined via evaluations of self and others as peer reviewers). Workshop evaluation criteria will be determined collaboratively during Week 3

Nuts & Bolts: Readings, Communication, Course Policies 

Readings: The majority of reading you'll do for this class will be additional research done for your scholarly article, as well as background reading you'll do in your target scholarly and popular venues. Our few common readings will be linked from the Schedule/Home page on Camino.  

Communication: Between classes I'll communicate with you via email -- please check it regularly. To allow for individual work on your projects, I strongly encourage you to meet with me outside of class during office hours or via appointment.  

Assignment Submission:

  • Drafts for workshops: TBD -- we will disucss on the 1st day of class. 
  • Final drafts: submit to Camino as uploaded files -- check with me about file compatibility if you have questions. 

Late Work: The assignment sequence in this class is carefully calibrated to promote your development as a researcher and writer. Our work is also highly collaborative, meaning that coming to class unprepared or without completing assigned work sabotages your classmates' progress as well as your own. As a result, it is essential for our collective learning and the success of our writing projects that you submit assignments on time. Contact me in advance to discuss any deadline or schedule issues. 

Academic Integrity: From the SCU Undergraduate Bulletin: “The University is committed to academic excellence and integrity. Students are expected to do their own work and to cite any sources they use. A student who is guilty of a dishonest act in an examination, paper, or other work required for a course, or who assists others in such an act, may, at the discretion of the instructor, receive a grade of “F” for the course.” Your writing must be your own and it must be accurate/true to the best of your knowlege. Falsifying information or presenting someone else's work as your own is illegal and will get you blacklisted from scholarly and popular publishing circles. 

Attendance: Attendance is essential to your development in this class, particularly because we meet only once per week. Missing class deprives you of valuable opportunities to develop your writing. It also harms your classmates, by removing your voice and contributions from discussion and by depriving them of your feedback on their writing. Therefore, I treat absences very seriously. If you must miss class, discuss it with me so that we can minimize the damage to your work and the work of your classmates.

Technology Use: TBD -- we will discuss on the first day of class. 

Conduct: This class is an intellectual community created by the contributions of each member. This entails both active participation that is mature, professional, and productive. Comments in discussion or on written work are not always positive, but they must be constructive. Treat yourself and your classmates as serious researchers and writers, keeping in mind that we will spend 10 weeks working as an intellectual community.


HUB Writing Center: The HUB Writing Center offers additional support for writing assignments like the ones you’ll complete for this course. I encourage you to use their services, which follow the model of peer review and feedback we will use for in-class workshops.

Accessibility: Everyone is entitled to equal access to learning resources in this class. Please initiate a conversation with me about your needs face-to-face or via email at the beginning of the term so that I can arrange accommodations. I'm also happy to work with the the Office of Disabilities Resources to ensure your success in this class.Students who are pregnant and parenting are also entitled to accommodations: please discuss your needs with me. 

Mandatory Reporting Disclosure: 

While I want you to feel comfortable coming to me with issues you may be struggling with or concerns you may be having, please be aware that there are some reporting requirements that are part of my job at SCU.  

For example, if you inform me of an issue of harassment, sexual violence, or discrimination, I will keep the information as private as I can, but I am required to bring it to the attention of the institution’s EEO and Title IX Coordinator. If you inform me that you are struggling with an issue that may be resulting in, or caused by, traumatic or unusual stress, I will likely inform the campus Student Care Team (SCU CARE).

If you would like to reach out directly to the Student Care Team for assistance, you can contact them at If you would like to talk to the Office of EEO and Title IX directly, they can be reached at 408-554-3043 or by email at Reports may be submitted online through or anonymously through Ethicspoint: Additionally, you can report incidents or complaints to the Office of Student Life (OSL), Campus Safety Services, and local law enforcement. For confidential support, contact the Counseling and Psychological Services office (CAPS), the YWCA, or a member of the clergy (for example, an imam, rabbi, or minister).

Finally, please be aware that if, for some reason, our interaction involves a disruptive behavior, a concern about your safety or the safety of others, or potential violation of University policy, I will inform the Office of Student Life. The purpose of this is to keep OSL apprised of incidents of concern, and to ensure that students can receive or stay connected to the academic support and student wellness services they need. 

Course Schedule: see Home page

Course Summary:

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