English 336

Dr. Leah Zuidema

Dordt College,
Fall 2011
MWF 2:00-2:50 in CL 1302

Welcome to English 336. This course focuses on English grammar not only as a technical subject, but also as a craft, a field for inquiry and research, and a domain with sociocultural, political, and ethical dimensions. We will consider the nature and uses of grammar—or, as we at Dordt might say, the structure and direction of grammar.

This course takes an inquiry and apprenticeship approach that relies on you doing meaningful grammar work in order to explore a few key (and deceptively simple) questions:

  • What is grammar? What about rhetorical grammar? How do we determine the difference between good and bad grammar? What does it mean to take a prescriptive or descriptive approach to grammar?
  • How can the notice-name-apply framework be used to learn grammar? What are the names, characteristics, and functions of key grammar forms, structures, and techniques? How can we apply this grammar knowledge in our writing and reading?
  • How do educational perspectives, political debates, and sociocultural factors shape grammar practices and beliefs? How are ethical and biblical perspectives related to grammar?
  • How ought we to respond to others’ beliefs about and uses of grammar? What can/should/will we do with a theoretical-and-practical knowledge of grammar?

In order to develop thoughtful, informed answers to these questions, we will learn by doing—and therefore, there will be many exercises and reading/writing activities that prompt you to build/apply your grammar knowledge in context and then reflect on what you learned. Just as importantly, we will also study about grammar through readings, discussions, writings, and activities. Note, too, that I will regularly ask you to discuss your in-process and polished work with your classmates and me and to participate in small group discussions and activities.

The overarching goal of our work together is to inform your understanding of grammar at applied, theoretical, and evaluative levels. Upon completion of English 336, you should be able to (1) demonstrate your knowledge about grammar through analysis and through application to your writing, (2) offer in-depth answers to the focus questions, and (3) critique and respond constructively to approaches to grammar that you encounter.

English 336 meets program requirements for English majors with a writing emphasis, for linguistics minors, and for those in the teacher education program who have a major, minor, or specialization in English language arts or teaching English as a second language. Additionally, this course is appropriate for anyone interested in the creative and conventional nuances of the English language.




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Updated August 22, 2011

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