Inventive Modeling:  Autobiography / Literary Writing (Spring 2005)



English 4330-001  Office Hrs.: T/TH 2-3:30, and by appointment; 405 OR 203 Carlisle

Instructor: Dr. Roemer                      Please schedule all appointments in advance.                                                                 

T/TH  12:30-1;50                        Phone: 272-2729;  please leave name and phone number.

302 Preston Hall                                                                              Mailbox:  203 Carlisle



1.  to improve students' writing ability:  focus on non-fiction prose, especially narrative, descriptive, and autobiographical writing (though some students have used poetry, photography, illustrations, and music), as well as skills related to gathering and integrating oral narratives and written historical sources;

2.  to help students to see relationships between reading, writing, and self-discovery, especially the discovery of a written persona or voice:  focus on the connections between a ("factual" and storytelling) knowledge of place, family, and community and the development of a written voice.

* Means and assessment:  an intensive study of Momaday's THE WAY TO RAINY MOUNTAIN, including examination of the composing processes.  After this study, students will take an exam and then write their own versions of Momaday's book.



1.  one of the best ways to help students to improve their writing is to encourage them to see the relevance of reading and writing to identity creation;

2.  modeling the processes and form used by Momaday is one way to encourage such an awareness;

3.  the students enrolled in the class have already "mastered" "basic" writing skills (if students need a refresher, there are copies of the Simon & Schuster handbook in the English 1301 section of the UTA Bookstore; the Writing Center, Library, 4th floor can also help--bring this syllabus to show the instructors and tutors if you seek help in the Center);

4.  the amount of learning and enjoyment gained in this course depends to a large degree upon how disciplined students are, since much of the work during the semester will be conducted independently;

5.  key elements in the course are group and class discussions.  This is a highly individualistic course, but it is also a communal experience.  Students can benefit greatly from the experiences of their colleagues at all stages of composition.

6.  although I have helped more than 20 graduates of 4330 to publish parts of their collections, this course is not geared toward publication. The creation of a written identity, voice, or angle of vision is the primary goal. This identity should, nevertheless, help students in writing that is geared for publication.


REQUIRED READINGS: (Note: books such as Philip Gerard's CREATIVE NONFICTION may also help students)

--  N. Scott Momaday.  THE WAY TO RAINY MOUNTAIN [WTRM]. U of New Mexico


--  Packet [P]:  Momaday's "The Man Made of Words" and "Kiowa Legends from JOURNEY OF THE TAI-ME";  excerpts from writings about the Kiowa , e.g.,  James Mooney, Alice Marriott, Wilbur S. Nye,  Mildred Mayhall, and Maurice Boyd; several maps and illustrations, and two articles about this course that appeared in COLLEGE ENGLISH and PAINTBRUSH;  Kenneth Lincoln's "Tai-Me to Rainy Mountain";  Tim Morris, "Getting the Mail."

--  Published and unpublished writing and oral sources for each students collection





Even though the first part of the course will be devoted to an intensive study of RAINY MOUNTAIN, students should be thinking about the "landscape" or other focus they will use for their version of Momaday's book from the first day of the course.  After consulting with me about this landscape or focus, students should begin to jot down personal memories about that place and to gather oral and written sources.  Since the latter may involve writing away for information or interlibrary loan requests, it's best to begin collecting information as early as possible.


The deadlines and stages of composition outlined below represent "minimum" guidelines.  Some students may want to show me drafts of particular sections before the first three section drafts are due.  Some students may also want to set up individual appointments before or in between the required meetings. Also minor and/or major revision may occur at any stage of the composition. Pay close attention to announcements and this schedule; sometimes we meet as a class; sometimes for required individual conferences; sometimes there are no classes or required conferences  and students work "on there own." Reading assignments should be completed by the dates indicated


(S/U) indicates that the assignment will be graded satisfactory or unsatisfactory.  Unsatisfactory written work will have to be rewritten.  (G) indicates the usual A, B, C, D, F grading system. (P) indicates the course packet.




1/18                 Introduction to the course & an in-class writing sample (S/U)

                        Assign group discussion topics. Reading: Morris (P)




1/20, 25           The Text:  Initial Acquaintances with RAINY MOUNTAIN

                       Open questions; group discussions about the form; begin study of sections IV, VII, XVI, XVII, and XXIV)

                        Reading: RAINY MOUNTAIN  (the entire book)


1/27                The Text:  Form

                       Continue discussion of sections; discussions of the poems, prologue, introduction, epilogue, illustrations, book design, and typography

                        Reading:  RAINY MOUNTAIN; at least two essays from " Critical Contexts: Form" in APPROACHES


2/1                  The Contexts:  Biography, Sense of Place, Culture (slides), Literature

                        Discussions of Momaday, SW Oklahoma, Kiowa Culture, Modernism, Lyric Romanticism

                        Reading:  RAINY MOUNTAIN;  bio. sheet handout;  Schubnell (especially note the influence of Ivor Winters and modernism), Trout, Bataille, Kodaseet Interview, and Part One and Appendices of APPROACHES.  Morris (P)


2/3, 8              The Contexts:  Composition

                       Discussions of Momaday's composition processes;  discussions about why certain sections from JOURNEY were omitted in WTRM and about similarities and differences between sections of RAINY MOUNTAIN and Momaday's written, visual, and oral "sources."

                        Reading:  RAINY MOUNTAIN; "The Man Made of Words," "Kiowa Legends from JOURNEY,"  excerpts from Mooney, Marriott, Nye, Mayhall, Sullivan, Boyd, Momaday (AC and NAMES); maps; "Inventive Modeling";  "Returning the Gift"; "Pedagogical Contexts:  Composition" in APPROACHES; Lincoln, "Tai-me to Rainy Mt." (all in the course packet)


2/10                Examination (G)  Distribute guidelines for landscape/focus selection




2/15                Exams returned and discussed

2/15, 17           Individual meetings to discuss landscape/focus justification

                                  Requirement: justification of landscape/focus, 4/15 (S/U)                                   

2/22                Class discussion of landscape/focus selections


2/24                Continue gathering information (jotting notes about personal experiences,  finding materials about family, community and landscape)

                       Individual meetings are not required at this stage, but students needing help should set up appointments to see me.


3/1                  Individual meetings to discuss information gathered

                                    Requirement: typed list of written and oral sources (S/U)


3/3                  Class discussion of sources selected and possible relationships among voices (you should be writing the three "sample" sections)

                                    Requirements: students must be prepared to offer a brief description of their sources and the relations between specific voices (S/U)


3/3 or 4          Turn in draft of three, three-voice sections by 5 p.m, 3/4. (G).


3/8, 10 Individual meetings to discuss the drafts and organization


3/15, 17          Spring Break:  During this time students should be writing sections and considering further options for organization. 


3/22                Class discussions of overall organization

                                  Requirements: students must be prepared to discuss  tentative organization; 3/22 ; tentative outlines turned by 5 p.m. (S/U)


3/24, 29          Individual meetings to discuss organization;  continue writing and revising


3/31; 4/5,        Write  draft of fifteen to thirty, three-voice sections, including

7, 12                the three sections already turned in

                                   Requirements: individual meetings are not required during

                                    this period; however, students should feel free to set up

                                  appointments to discuss their work at any point during this draft writing.  A draft of the 15 to 30 sections will be due by 5 p.m. on 4/12 (G).

4/14, 19          Individual meetings to discuss the 15-30 sections; continue revising and write drafts of the introd. and closing sections, which can be prose and/or poetry


4/21, 26          Discussions of introductions, epilogues, illustrations, formatting

                       and of any other questions about the sections or relating the sections to the introductions, epilogues, illustrations, formatting.

                       Requirements: students must be prepared to discuss their introds. & epilogues [illustrations and formatting];  drafts of introds. and epilogue; due by 5 p.m. 4/26 (G).


4/28; 5/3        Introds. & epilogues returned (4/28); questions about final revisions, formatting. illustrations, sources and acknowledgments


5/5                  Turn in entire "final" draft.                     


5/12                Final drafts returned and class discussion of this type of reading and

11 a.m.            writing experience




The approximate "weights" of the assignments are listed below.  Although the S/U grades will not be averaged in numerically, they will weigh heavily when a student's semester grade is between two grades (e.g., C+ / B-). 


            --        examination    (G)                                        20%


            --        justification of selection (S/U)

            --        list of sources, notes, etc. (S/U)                       

            --        draft of three, three voice sections (G)          20%

            --        outline of organization (S/U)

            --        oral presentations (S/U)


            --        draft of 15 to 30 sections (G)                        25%


            --        draft of introd. & epilogue (G)                    10%


            --        "final" draft (G)                                              25%



I expect improvement "between" drafts, i.e., if one draft received a B and the next draft of that material is not improved, then the grade on that draft will be lower than B.


Under normal circumstances, no late assignments will be accepted.  Attendance: Five unexcused absences will result in a half-grade drop in the semester grade; ten = whole grade, etc.  Students wishing to drop the course must follow University procedures.  Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will be handled according to University policies. If you have questions about these matters, please contact me. 


To end on positive notes:  Consistent class participation will (positively) affect the semester grade.  Also, I am very willing to work with students who have disabilities.  At the beginning of the semester these students should provide me with documentation authorized by the appropriate University office. Note: UTA's Office of Student Success Programs (817-272-6107) offers academic, personal, and social advising.