UCOR 101 Section 85 (MWF 9:00-9:50)

UCOR 101
Section 85
Fisher Hall 725
MWF 9:00 AM to 9:50 AM

Instructor Information
Dr. Gregory D. Specter
Office: College Hall 632
Email: specterg@duq.edu
Office Hours: MWF 10:15-11:30 & by appointment

Course Introduction
Thinking and Writing Across the Curriculum is the most important course you will take in college. Not only does this class prepare you for the writing you will be required to do over the next four years, it will also prepare you to manage your time, read critically, produce professional-quality work, and move your mindset from high school to college. There is a great deal of reading and writing in this class. Students who receive an A in this class have really earned it.

Whale Objects

Products of the whaling industry

The Lens for Our Course
Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is the main text for our course; it is a fitting choice for class devoted to thinking and writing. Humans aren’t alone in their ability to communicate. However, the ability of humans to write and speak using language represents an important difference between us and the rest of the natural world. The ability to write and to speak allows us (perhaps even demands us) to give voice to the environmental plight affecting animals, plants, and every facet of the natural world. In contemplating the nature, our ability to communicate, especially through writing and the rhetorical choices we make, provides a powerful way of understanding our conception of the natural world around us. Through writing and reading (both words and the world around us) we can come to a better understanding of plants, animals, and the active forces, both natural and man-made, affecting our world. Our course will aid us in understanding the natural world around us rhetorically, while providing the skills necessary for entering, and succeeding in, the complex world of academic writing.

UCOR 101 Course Description and Learning Outcomes (Click for Details)

MD title page

Required Texts and Recommended Texts
Thomas Nickerson, Owen Chase, and Others, The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale: First-Person Accounts; ISBN: 9780140437966
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, ISBN: 9780393972832
A quality dictionary.

In addition to the required texts, the following items are recommended: a notebook for low stakes writing assignments; a folder for course materials; a flash drive to save work; access to an online file hosting service in order to back up your work. Additionally, it is recommended that you have access to a style guide that can provide information about the writing process, common issues that writers face, and basic information about formatting.


Quizzes / In Class Writing / Participation: 10%
A variety of in-class assignments & activities meant to measure student engagement

Reflection Essay 1: 15%
A 2 page reflection paper

Reflection Essay 2: 15%
A 2 page reflection paper

Image Analysis Essay: 20%
A 3 page paper that considers a primary source image

Primary Source Analysis: 20%
A 3 page paper that considers a primary source document

Bibliography: 10%
A short assignment that asks you to create a bibliography of 10 to 15 academically appropriate secondary sources related to the course theme.

Final Reflection: 10%
A brief 2 page reflection on your experience this semester.

Grade Scale
A 93-100%; A- 90-92%; B+ 88-89%; B 83-87%; B-; 80-82%; C+ 78-79%; C 70-77%; D 60-69%; F 0-59%


A global reach connecting locations around the globe: From New England to the coast of Africa

Students may miss no more than 6 TTH or 9 MWF classes—excused or unexcused—and pass the class. (The only exception to this rule—that is, the only absences that do not count as absences—are absences incurred as a result of participation in a varsity sport or university-sanctioned activity. However, students who will miss a significant number of classes because of such activity are not entitled to any special consideration and must turn in work on time.) Attendance will be taken every class period. While there is no penalty for the allotted absences described above, class participants will be held to the standard of automatic failure if they exceed the number of absences. Class participants are expected to arrive on time. We will do several activities and low stakes writings in class and these cannot be made up in the event of an absence. Please contact either of us if there is a major issue affecting your attendance or your ability to do well in our class.

Technology Policy
Feel free to use cell phones, tablets, and computers in class as portals to content related to our class or as tools to aid in your work. Technology can be a powerful tool for learning. Together we will do our best to make the most of this power. We will use these tools to facilitate our thinking, writing, and learning. Please be aware that technology can be a distraction to our own work and the work of others. Make sure that your devices are running muted or turned to silent. Occasionally we might make time to put away all electronic devices or turn off the wifi access. We’ll revisit this policy throughout the semester– if needed.


Charles W. Morgan, Mystic Seaport

Our time together will consist of  discussion and interaction with each other. Participation is an important part of ensuring success as a learning, thinker, and writer. Much of our writing and thinking instruction will be practiced through discussion and personal interaction. We will model best practices for writing and thinking by doing so through discussion. Participation can mean different things for students. The importance of participation will pay off indirectly in many ways ways, especially with our major writing assignments. Participation, as a grade, is a small part of the course. Throughout the semester we as ask for your engagement and commitment. Our time together will yield the most fruitful results through robust engagement with each other. We’ll also cover other ways of engagement that can be achieved outside of class, too.

Submission of Work and Late Work Policy
All assignments must be submitted as a hardcopy in class on the day that they are due. Assignments submitted via email will not be accepted unless previous arrangements have been made to do so. Generally, late work will not be accepted. However, over the course of the semester you may submit one assignment late. Please note: there is prerequisite. You must contact us via email 24 hours prior to the original due date of an assignment in order to make arrangements to submit your assignment with a new due date. The best way to manage project is by keeping up with the major assignments in all of your classes. Plan ahead this semester and have a sense of when your assignments are due in this class and others.

Schedule of Readings and Assignments
Please note we reserve the right to change the schedule, assignments, and syllabus at any time based on the needs of our class. It is your responsibility to make sure you know about any changes in the syllabus if you miss class.

Helpful Resources for Our Class
Here you’ll find resources that will be of use to you this semester.

Click here to access resources on Moby­-Dick and American whaling.

Click here to access a Twitter list of accounts related to Moby-Dick and other related topics.

Click here to access writing related resources from the Online Writing Lab from Purdue University.