Honors 104

Memory and Revision

Section 03: T/TH 8:00-9:15 Fisher Hall 618
Instructor: Dr. Gregory D. Specter
Office: College Hall 632
Email: specterg@duq.edu
Twitter: @gregspecter
Office Hours: T: 11:00-12:00; TH: 11:00-1:00; and by appointment
Required Texts

Paula Vogel, The Mammary Plays: Two Plays

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W. W. Norton, 2014.

Catherine Prendergast. Can I Use I? Because I Hate, Hate, Hate College Writing. Out of Pocket Press, 2015.

Seth, George Sprott

Herman Mann, The Female Review

Hamilton: An American Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Note: We will talk about access to George Sprott, Hamilton and The Female Review in class

In addition to the required texts, the following items are recommended: a notebook for low stakes writing assignments, a folder to keep 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 MLA formatting.

General Course Overview

Honors Inquiry 104, the Fall 2016 semester iteration of the Honors College First-Year Seminar, is one of the most important classes you will take in college, as it is intended to help you read, write, and think on a college level. In its essence, this class mirrors Duquesne’s UCOR 101 “Thinking and Writing Across the Curriculum” class, and as in that class, in IHP 104 you will be doing a great deal of careful reading and detailed analysis of written and visual texts that will provide the raw material for thoughtful, carefully and fluently argued persuasive academic papers. In 104 you’ll learn to situate your own ideas within the larger cultural conversation going on around certain issues, and you’ll learn how to pick out relevant and credible sources to back up your arguments. You’ll spend a great deal of time writing and rewriting, and you’ll develop and refine your ideas through this process. You’ll learn about ethics and “academic integrity,” which includes, but is not limited to questions of plagiarism and intellectual property. And you’ll start thinking about how you can put these skills to work in your life as an educated citizen of a democracy, a trained professional, and a graduate of Duquesne University.

Over the course of the semester we will consider the role of history and memory as broadly related to the immigrant experience. Together we will consider what it means for individuals to encounter the experience of arriving in places that are different and new.

Memory and Revision Questions

  • How do memory and history inform one another and reflect cultural identity?
  • How do we write our memories?
  • What role do texts—in multiple forms—play in how we remember and re-vision our experiences and life narratives?
  • “What’s past is prologue” (Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale). How does the past predict (or define, or even control) our future?
  • What role does interpretation play in our understanding of the past?

Learning Objectives

Course Subject Matter

  • Students will address issues of culture and memory through literary, nonfictional, and ethnographic texts
  • Students will engage in close reading of texts, using terminology and secondary sources specific to literary analysis
  • Students will use primary-source and secondary-source research to document change in a Pittsburgh neighborhood

Critical Thinking and Analysis

  • Students will employ critical thinking in analysis of writing and in use of information in their own writing
  • Students will distinguish between critical thinking and uncritical acceptance of received information
  • Students will analyze nonfictional and fictional texts and show an appreciation of the different tools used in different genres


  • Students will go beyond rigid conventions of high-school writing (e.g. the five-paragraph essay, prohibition of first-person voice) and select a voice and structure appropriate for the audience and rhetorical occasion

 Processes and Conventions

  • Students will construct academic papers driven by clear theses and consisting of unified, coherent, and fully developed paragraphs with ideas that contribute directly to the paper’s thesis
  • Students will write with a focus on process rather than product, and understand the purpose of drafting both for their writing and for their critical thinking
  • Students will learn to identify errors in standard written English that they make and how to correct those errors
  • Students will learn to locate and use reference sources on usage and mechanics
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the rhetorical importance of sentence-level issues

Research and Ethics

  • Students will integrate appropriate secondary materials into their arguments using paraphrase, summary, and direct quotation
  • Students will properly document outside sources and employ summary, paraphrase, and quotation
  • Students will be able to define plagiarism, understand its significance in an academic community, and understand the consequences of plagiarizing

Heinz History Center

Our class is partnering with the Heinz History Center in order to work with archival collections from local organizations. Working with archival materials will provide an opportunity to work with various primary sources. We will work together with our community partners to develop a research project and complete a public-facing piece of writing. The opportunity of working with these primary source collections will provide the opportunity to share what you learn with a larger audience. Throughout our time together we will explore the intricacies of conducting original research with primary sources. The assignments that we complete in class will represent the significant focus of our time together. We will work on the related steps of these assignments together in approaching this assignment and focus on developing the writing and analytical tools and skills needed to complete this assignment successfully. This assignment will require visiting an offsite archive and will provide experience in developing and implementing a long-term research project over the course of a semester.


 Quizzes / In Class Writing / Attendance: 10%

A variety of in-class assignments & activities meant to measure student engagement

Image Analysis: 15%

A 3 to 4 page paper that analyses a primary source image

 Primary Source Analysis: 15%

A 3 to 4 page paper that analyses a written primary source document

Project Proposal: 10%

A 2 page document describing the topic and the writer’s approach to the Local History project

Local History Project Progress Report: 10%

A 2 page pager that provides an update on the work accomplished and challenges faced in working on the Local History Project

Local History Project: 30%

A project equivalent to 5 to 7 written pages that is based off of archival research

Reflection: 10%

A brief 2 page reflection on the experience of researching and writing the Local History Project

 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%



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 me 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. 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. If we have questions we will use these tools to find answers. 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.


Our time together will consist of a lot 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 with different styles of learning. Recognizing that learning occurs in different ways and at different times, participation will not be assigned a formal grade, but it is understood that its importance will payoff in other ways, especially with our major writing assignments. We will collaborative address any issues regarding participation if they arise at any point in the semester.



Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Please note I 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.

UCOR 104 Syllabus Common Statements and Notices