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Humor Writing

ENGW 3306

Instructor Info

Beth Eakman Re

Andre Hall #302

CMB 998


Office Hours: TR 12-4 and by appointment

Course Info

MWF 10-10:50

JBWN 204

Textbook: None. All reading online

Required Technologies

Google Drive account (free) account (free)




Students will be introduced to the history of rhetorical theories of humor/comedy and will apply theories and stylistic analyses to their own examinations of successful comedy writing. Students will learn to write for a wide range of genres and publications and how to pitch their work for publication. Students will work individually and collaboratively on projects.



This course uses a 1000 point scale:

1000-970      A+

960-940        A

930-900        A-

890-870        B+

860-840        B

830-800        B-

790-770        C+

760-700        C

690-600        D     

590-0             F



The grading formula for this class is very simple and uses points rather than percentages. Of a possible 1000 points, each of the following is worth 100. There are five written assignments and two tests that make up 700 points toward your grade. Just add them up.



Analysis paper (100)

McSweeney's (100)

Onion (100) List (100)

Script (100)



Midterm (100)

Final (100)



Participation (100)

Your active participation in class discussions is critical. You can earn points for thoughtful participation in class activities, but you may lose points for disrespectful behavior (eg, sleeping in class, reading outside material, texting, etc.). Cell phones must be on desktops, visible, not in pockets, backpacks, or laps where they may pose a temptation. 


Peer Editing Workshops and Table Reads (100)

Most professional comedy writing is collaborative. Think of SNL writers or the editorial staff for The Onion as they sit around the table and talk through ideas and read work aloud to each other. Timing, word choice, images, figurative language, cultural references, and many more subtle components have to work together for jokes to work and the best way to confirm that and get good feedback is through peer editing workshops and table reads, literally where we sit around a table and read to each other. We will also do some table reads as editorial pitch meetings to guage reaction to work at the idea stage. You will either get 100s, 50s, or 0s for these meetings. If you show up prepared, you get a 100. If you show up but don't have whatever you were assigned to bring, you get a 50, which is still better than a zero. If you don't show up, you'll get a 0. These cannot be made up. Keep all exercises and notes from these meetings for use on tests.


Attendance (100)

St. Edward’s University is committed to the retention and success of its students. Regular class attendance is critical to academic success. Plan to attend all class meetings unless you are nearly dead from illness. If you are well enough to function, plan to sit in the back row so that you do not spread your disease to your classmates. If you do miss class, it is your responsibility to get any notes or assignments from a classmate. I do not repeat lectures or assignments. In-class work cannot be made up. If you miss more than three class meetings, you may lose up to ten points toward your final grade or you may be dropped from the course with a W/A (withdrawn for absences).The good news is that perfect attendance adds two points to your final grade and only one absence adds one point. If you have any type of emergency (medical, family, personal, etc.), I encourage you to contact the office of student disabilities as soon as possible. They will help you to take the appropriate steps to avoid serious damage to your academic standing. The office is located on the ground floor of Moody Hall.




You may earn up to FIVE points of extra credit toward your final grade by creating a Storify story based on your Twitter jokes and including any other social media you've used to publish your comedy writing. You will turn this in during the final exam period by emailing me a link. You MUST talk to me and get my clearance before submitting this project. 



Academic integrity includes not only cheating on quizzes and exams, but also plagiarizing, presenting someone else’s work as your own. The SEU Undergraduate Bulletin states that “The normal penalty for a student who is dishonest in any work is to receive a mark of F for that course. Students who commit academic dishonesty more than once may be subject to expulsion. Please see your Undergraduate Bulletin for a description of the full range of penalties.



Your student activities fees entitle you to access to excellent writing tutoring absolutely free of charge. The tutors who work in the Writing Center (in the lovely new library!) are writing professors here at SEU. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this resource. Students who regularly use the writing center typically make better grades than those who do not.



If you have a medical, psychiatric, or learning disability and require accommodations in the class, please present your documentation to me as soon as you are eligible so that we can work together to make the appropriate accommodations. You will need to bring me official documentation from the Student Disability Service Office in Moody Hall 155 in Academic Planning and Support.


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