Humanities 101: Language, Identity, & Belonging

Instructor: Dr. Cate Blouke           email:

Office: Olin 104                                Office phone: 864-597-5047

Office hours: Tuesdays 1:00-2:00, Fridays 1:00-2:00, and I’m very available by appointment

About the Course

At an institutional level, Humanities 101 is about two things: writing and values. The first is the doing of the course, what we will practice and cultivate over fourteen weeks together. We’ll explore a variety of writing styles and formats, develop analytical lenses for thinking and talking about writing, and we’ll tone our writerly muscles by doing a lot of writing. Values, on the other hand, are the thinking of the course, how we will shape our approach to writing. The course content for all of the many sections of HUM 101 you could have selected is shaped by the interests (i.e. values) of the professor teaching the class.

“Language, Identity, and Belonging” focuses explicitly on language (which is handy for a writing class) and how the way we talk about people/places/things shapes us as both individuals and a society. We’ll be reading and talking and writing a lot about language, beliefs, and how these things relate to our senses of self and to our relationship with others.

Since the goals of the course are to get you writing and thinking, and because as an instructor I value intellectual curiosity and personal responsibility, you’ll be given a lot of agency over what you choose to write about. I also value creativity, open-mindedness, digital literacy, and a willingness to take risks and make mistakes. As such, I’ve designed the class to reflect those values – both in terms of content and structure (as you’ll see further down in my grading policies).

Learning Objectives

If we’ve all done our jobs (y’all as engaged students and me as an effective professor) by the end of this semester, you should be able to:

  • Read your own and other people’s texts as a critic
  • Write in a variety of genres
  • Analyze how language and images affect and produce group identity
  • Navigate a number of digital media platforms
  • Experiment with forms and genres to create multimodal compositions
  • Reflect on your own learning process and evaluate progress

Required Texts

The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, by Paul Taylor.

The ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, by George Lakoff.

All other readings (or listenings or watchings, as will be the case with various podcasts and videos we’re likely to explore) will be made available to you in advance of the due date – either electronically in Moodle or hard copies handed out in class.

Grading and Assessment

Rather than a traditional model of grading that generates a complex math equation for how much each piece of work is worth in the overall pie chart of coursework, all major assignments are created equal in this class (in a certain sense). Your grade will be based on the work you accomplish and the progress you demonstrate rather than my subjective evaluation of the “quality” of your writing.

Below, I provide detailed and clear expectations for what is required to obtain a B in the class. This is the “contract” by which we will hold each other accountable. Regardless of strengths or weaknesses as writers, anyone in this class can get a B by fulfilling these expectations.

You are guaranteed a B if you:

1.    attend class regularly—not missing more than a week's worth of classes (2 absences);

2.    meet due dates and writing criteria for all major assignments;

3.    participate in all in-class discussions and activities, commenting at least twice but no more than three times

4.    complete all informal, low stakes writing assignments (e.g. journal writing, discussion-board writing, and learning observations);

5.    give thoughtful peer feedback during class workshops and work faithfully with your group on other collaborative tasks (e.g., sharing papers, commenting on drafts, peer editing, on-line discussion boards, answering peer questions);

6.    sustain effort and investment on each draft of all papers;

7.    make substantive revisions when the assignment is to revise—extending or changing the thinking or organization—not just editing or touching up;

8.    copy-edit all final revisions of main assignments until they conform to the conventions of edited, revised English;

9.    attend conferences with the teacher to discuss drafts and midterm portfolio;

10.  submit your mid term and final portfolio.

Thus you earn the grade of B entirely on the basis of what you do—on your conscientious effort and participation. The grade of B does not derive from my judgment about the quality of your writing. Grades higher than B, however, do rest on my judgment of writing quality. To earn higher grades you must produce writing—particularly for your final portfolio—that I judge to be exceptionally high quality. We will spend time in class talking about what constitutes “high quality” writing, and you are always welcome to revise any assignment (save the final portfolio).

Revisions are due two weeks from the date I provide you with my comments.

The projects and writing you complete will receive one of three marks: (M+), (M), or (M-). These represent the assessment that what you have turned in either Meets Contract Expectations (M), Does Not Meet Contract Expectations (M-), or Exceeds Contract Expectations (M+).

Overview of Major Assignments

There should be no mystery to my evaluations, and I will distribute detailed instructions for each assignment.

Daily blog posts/writing (+5 public, extended posts)

For each reading, I will offer some potential discussion questions to write about (which you’ll do in a private blog on Moodle). Alternately, you’re welcome to select a problem, question, or interesting passage from the reading and write about that. For your final portfolio, you will extend/revise/polish five of these daily writings and post them to a “public” blog.

Midterm reflection paper & ePortfolio (2-3 pages)

In lieu of a midterm exam, you will submit a written reflection on your growth/development as a writer/learner and pair it with your ePortfolio of the polished work you’ve completed thus far. We’ll meet in individual conferences to assess how well you are meeting (or exceeding) the contract expectations.

Community definitional reflection (2-3 pages)

Before selecting a primary community on which to focus, you’ll generate a mind map or other visual representation of 3-5 communities in which you participate/belong. I’ll ask you to reflect on your sense of what those communities are and your relationship to them.

Annotated bibliography (6-8 sources)

To get a sense of how others view your community, you’ll track down 6-8 “texts” about the group and write 2-3 paragraph summary/annotations of each source.

Long(er) journalistic piece, including interviews with community members (4-5 pages)

Once you’ve done some investigating, you will write a magazine-style article that incorporates interviews with at least two members of your community and two outsiders. This piece will be drafted, peer reviewed, and revised.

Personal autoethnography multimodal composition (+2 page reflection)

You will compose an authoethnography that draws on multiple media. This may take the form of a video, a podcast, an image collage, or something I haven’t even imagined. You’ll submit a 2 page reflection paper about the composition process when you submit the project.

Final reflection paper & Portfolio (3-4 pages)

In lieu of a final exam, you will submit a written reflection on your growth/development as a writer over the course of the semester to be paired with your final, polished ePortfolio.

Public Work

Some of your work for this course will live publicly on the web within open platforms like Wordpress. If you would like to remain anonymous, I encourage you to use a pseudonym. If you don’t want to include a photograph of yourself, you can upload an avatar to represent you. Think carefully about these choices. We will discuss issues related to privacy and the open web at various points in the semester.


To meet the minimum contract expectations and obtain a B, you can miss up to two class periods. Three absences will drop you to a C, and a fourth absence will result in your being withdrawn from the class (WP/WF as is appropriate). Arriving to class late or leaving early (without prior approval from me) will count as an absence. Please don’t let it come to this.

I do not “excuse” absences as such, but if an unavoidable problem prevents you from attending class, please contact me as soon as possible, preferably ahead of time, to let me know.

When you must miss a class, you are responsible for getting notes and assignments from a classmate.

Golden Ticket

Life happens. And although some places (like the DMV) are unlikely to be forgiving of honest mistakes, I value generosity and compassion. As such, each of you has one “golden ticket” to excuse a minor infraction from impacting your ability to meet the contract expectations. Use it wisely. This is not a blanket “get out of jail free” card, but it might make up for a late assignment or late arrival to class.

Academic Integrity

Wofford has a strict and clear honor code, and it applies to all work done for this class. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated.

For further reading on Wofford’s policies, please refer to the following:


Wofford College seeks to provide disabled students with reasonable accommodations needed to ensure equal access to the programs and activities of the college. Support for students with special needs is coordinated through Wofford College Wellness Center/ Accessibility Services. Please let me know how I can best assist you.

Further information can be found at the following: