Instructor Info

Dr. Guiseppe Getto

Office Hours
Mondays, Wednesdays 2:00 – 3:15 PM, 5:00 – 6:15 PM (in Bate 2108)
I’m also available to meet outside these hours by appointment

Virtual Office Hours
I will always be available during my physical office hours for synchronous online chat via Google Chat at (available for free if you have a gmail account, just search for my name on the lefthand side of the screen and send me an invitation to chat), or Skype at guiseppe.getto (available for free download).

Contact Info
Office Location: Bate 2108
Phone: 252-367-4364 (cell)
Instructor’s website:
Syllabus in pdf: SYLLABUS – ENGL 7780_Spring 2015.pdf

Course Info

Physical Time and Location
Mondays, Wednesdays 3:30 – 4:45 PM (in Bate 2019)

Course Website

Course Objectives
Theory is common to every academic discipline. It guides the formation of key terms, research questions, and the general knowledge-making practices members of that discipline share. It is also hotly debated, deeply political, and potentially divisive.

In the field of Technical and Professional Communication, for instance, all three of our key terms have been discussed, debated, and interrogated for decades now, and probably will continue to be debated as long as our field persists. What make knowledge technical? Is this opposed to mundane or public knowledge? What makes it professional? Does this mean related to the workplace or does it require a particular kind of workplace? And what about communication? Does this mean that TPC can deal with any kind of human communication or is it limited to only certain kinds?

To venture into these treacherous waters, we will be learning to treat theory as a way of solving problems, or as a heuristic for professional activity. If you haven’t guessed, that last sentence is my own answer to many of the questions mentioned above: theory should guide professional activity and vice versa. It is this reciprocal, and mutual, relationship, which makes it beneficial to an academic discipline, particularly one like TPC that (arguably) is supposed to actively draw on and engage with knowledge-making practices from beyond academia.

Some of the key areas we will focus on in this class include:

  • what theories are key to the understanding of TPC as a discipline
  • how theories are built in TPC and what role they play in the discipline
  • how theory can be a guide for the conduct of professional activities important to TPC, including research, teaching, training, strategy, writing, design, and communication
  • how new members of the discipline can make use of theory to help them find a place in the discipline

Course Policies

All writing courses require high levels of student-student and student-faculty interaction. You are therefore expected to attend each class session and to complete homework assignments on time. Because illnesses and emergencies sometimes occur, you are permitted three absences without penalty. After three absences your final grade for the course will go down by 1/3 of a letter grade for each additional absence. The exception to this is approved college activities, which you must notify me of at the beginning of the class. Otherwise, save your absences for emergencies. If an emergency arises that will require you to be absent more than three times (such as a serious illness), contact me immediately. Also: if you are going to be absent for any reason, you should contact me to find out what you will miss in class and check the course website accordingly.

Though I do not keep track of tardiness, if you are tardy to class on a regular basis, or choose to leave early without my approval, you will accumulate absences at a ratio of 3 tardies = 1 absence.

Academic Integrity
“Academic integrity is expected of every East Carolina University student. Academically violating the Honor Code consists of the following: cheating – the giving or receiving of any unauthorized aid or assistance or the giving or receiving of unfair advantage on any form of academic work; plagiarism – copying the language, structure, ideas, and/or thoughts of another and adopting those as one’s original work; falsification – statement of untruth, either verbal or written, regarding any circumstances relating to academic work; and attempting any act which if completed would constitute an academic integrity violation as defined above. No student may drop the involved course or withdraw from school prior to resolving an academic integrity charge.” From:

Disruptive Classroom Behavior
“East Carolina University is committed to providing each student with a rich, distinctive educational experience. To this end, students who do not follow reasonable standards of behavior in the classroom or other academic setting may be removed from the course by the instructor following appropriate notice. Students removed from a course under this policy will receive a grade of ‘drop’ according to university policy and are eligible for tuition refund as specified in the current tuition refund policy.” From:

Participation and Classroom Citizenship Policy
As far as participation goes, this class is constructed in such a way that your own thinking, writing and participation will provide most of the material. We will be reading about, writing about, and doing lots of stuff that you need to react to, to respond to. Just like the culture in which we live, I want you to think of this class as a participatory democracy. It is your responsibility, then, to contribute to our classroom culture in the same way you will contribute to the larger culture: your peers and yourself will be generating lots of writing, thinking, theories, arguments and ideas that need to be shared, discussed and interrogated in critical, but respectful ways, meaning respectful of diverse viewpoints, experiences, and identities. This class is your class, in the same way that this culture is your culture. And just like the culture in which we live, you will also be held accountable for this participation in various ways, because without you here, every day, prepared to think and respond, it will self-destruct, or worse: interests beside your own (such as mine) will make the decisions that matter for you.

For more about the actual structure of citizenship for our class, please visit the Students’ and Teacher’s Rights and Powers page.

Required Texts/Expenses

  • Johnson-Eilola, J. & Selber, S., (Eds.). (2013). Solving problems in technical communication. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 978-0226924076.
  • Numerous other readings will be linked to from this website or posted to Blackboard as PDFs (locations of readings are always indicated in the schedule for each project). You may download these to your computer or view them online at no expense, or may print them out at some expense.

Required Assignments

50% (500 pts.) for Modules

  • Module 1 (100 pts.): Theories as Heuristics for Professional Activity
  • Module 2 (100 pts.): Key Theories in TPC and Their Associated Professional Activities
  • Module 3 (100 pts.): Theory-Building in TPC
  • Module 4 (100 pts.): Disrupting Disciplinarity through New Theories and Professional Activities
  • Module 5 (100 pts.): Planning Theoretical and Professional Identities

30% (300 pts.) for the Final Project

10% (100 pts.) for Homework assignments (which will always be posted to the Schedule page ahead of time).

10% (100 pts.) Participation and Classroom Citizenship

  • Small online and in class activities
  • Informal and more formal presentations
  • Examples of your work for class discussion

Grading Policies

Grading Scale For Class
The total points possible in this class are 1000. Final grades will be tallied via the following scale:

  • A = 90-100%
  • B = 80-89%
  • C = 70-79%
  • F = 69% or less

Grading Criteria for Class

  • The grading criteria for each module and for the final project will be linked from each module and the final project before they are due. In general, however, my grading criteria for projects can be found here.
  • Incomplete or late final projects for the class will receive a zero.
  • Late modules will be downgraded 1.0 per day past the due date (the first reduction occurs as soon as the assignment is past due).
  • In the past, my policy has been to allow students to revise one module that they received an unsatisfactory grade on by the end of the semester. In order for me to re-evaluate a module, however, the writer must meet with me and make a proposal for what they plan to learn through the revision process, and, if I approve the revision, must submit a new cover letter detailing what they’ve changed and why.
  • Homework assignments and other smaller assignments are graded pass-fail: “pass” means you did the assignment well, you did it completely, and you turned it in on time; “fail” means you didn’t do it well, didn’t do it completely, or turned it in late (or not at all). No single one of these miscellaneous exercises will have that much impact on your overall grade. However, collectively, they will have some impact.
  • The smaller assignments in this class are important because they are steps on the way to the modules, which in turn are steps to the final project. Failure to do the smaller assignments will mean that you’ll miss a crucial step toward a module, and will fall behind in your writing and learning. Also, these small assignments should be places to play, experiment, and write.They are meant to be work for this class, but they are also meant to be enjoyable, creative, critical work. In order for you to be successful in doing them, then: you need to do them in the spirit of enjoyment, with an eye toward creating something new and interesting, and with your critical thinking cap on.

Due Dates

University Writing Center

“The UWC is open and available to students, faculty, and staff to work with trained undergraduate and graduate writing consultants on writing at any stage of the writing process.  Writers tend to benefit from having some idea of what they would like to discuss and work on in their writing consultation. For example, writers can consider various aspects of their writing assignment or where they are in their writing process for discussion during the session.”

For availability and to make an appointment, visit:

Students with Disabilities

If you have any special needs that you feel I should be aware of to assist you in your learning process, please make an appointment for a phone call or online chat. East Carolina University seeks to comply fully with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Students requesting accommodations based on a disability must be registered with the Department for Disability Support Services located in Slay 138 ((252) 737-1016 (Voice/TTY)).

Emergency Weather or Other Interference with Delivery of This Course

In the event of a weather emergency, information can be accessed through the following sources: ECU emergency notices or the ECU emergency information hotline at 252-328-0062. Should adverse weather, technology problems, or other situations interfere with delivery of this class, you will be contacted via email.


This syllabus represents a written contractual agreement between us. Occasionally, it may be necessary to revise this syllabus to meet students’ or university needs. I reserve the right to revise this syllabus if the need arises. Advance notification will be provided to you.