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Frequently Asked Questions

Students have asked the following questions thousands of times, so, it seems prudent to post the answers here. You can download these PDF files to your computer and then print them out or read them using the free program Adobe Acrobat. If you don't have a copy of Adobe Acrobat, you can download it here, for free.

Where can I contact the teacher?

A: e-mail: kwheeler@cn.edu is the best route if I'm not in my office. Other contact information can be found on the homepage.

What exactly is the breaking point between an "B-/C+" and a "C+"? How many points is that?

A: If you are in a 100 or 200 level course, click here for a chart.
If you are in a 300 or 400 level course, click here for a chart.

What qualities separate an "A" from a "B," "C," or "D"?

A: Here are two general guidelines. Be sure to pick the right one for your class!

Lower Division English Courses (100 & 200 level)
Upper Division English Courses (300 & 400 level)

Do you have any weird pet peeves as a teacher?

A: I am on a personal crusade to eliminate passive voice. You can learn more about what it is and how to avoid it here. Another quick way to annoy your teacher is to turn in essays that have not been stapled or paper-clipped together or to turn in an essay lacking the proper header and pagination. Finally, if I return a paper to you, after having spent half an hour writing comments on it, you will displease me if you throw it away before my eyes after only glancing at the grade. For a general discussion of academic etiquette, click here.

What is plagiarism and what happens if I plagiarize?

A: Click here to download information about plagiarism, or read about it at this webpage.

What are these grammatical abbreviations and proofreading marks in the margins of this paper you returned to me? What do they mean?

A: Click here to download a PDF file that provides a key to these abbreviations. It will not be very legible on a computer screen, but if you print it out, it will be quite legible. If you cannot read my handwriting, ask me to translate it for you.

Can I turn in my assignment to you late?

A: No.

Pretty please? I have a really good reason.

A: No.

Okay. Can I turn the assignment in early?

A: Yes. I will personally kiss and bless early papers.

What do I need to know if I have scheduled an appointment with the teacher?

A: Click here to download a conference guide. It explains how to make the most of an appointment.

What advice or survival tips would you give your students so that they will do well in your class?

A: Click here for survival tips.

What's that faint accent you sometimes have?

A: Texan/Oklahoman.

What kind of a name is Kip?

A: Welsh (from Middle Welsh "Kipp").

Are you willing to write letters of recommendation for students?

A: If time is available, I am often willing to write letters of recommendation for students. Two warnings! First, I will write what I honestly think are the strengths and weaknesses of the students, which means lackluster students may get lackluster reviews, while excellent students garner higher accolades. Second, you must allow me sufficient warning. The more time I have to write, the more thoughtful and specific your letter of recommendation will be. I will not write a letter of recommendation for a scholarship or program of study if it must be rushed to the mail within a couple of days. Finally, if you want me to write a letter for you, you should read this material on the PDF file first.

I am thinking about going to graduate school, or maybe even becoming a college professor of English. Do you have any advice about this?

A: Yes. You can find it here.

Why do you teach writing classes?

A: Writing is the path to critical thinking, imagination, and intellect. After reading, writing is the most important skill for any student. Excellent readers and writers are more likely to be excellent thinkers. They are more likely as citizens and voters to "read between the lines" and make careful decisions. They are less likely to be tricked by illogical arguments and sophistry. On a social level, I want to be surrounded by such citizens. They make it less likely our democratic government will blunder in its collective judgment.

In the same way, intelligent citizens with writing skills are more likely to reproduce their beliefs in a persuasive and convincing manner. Their superior vocabulary and rhetorical skills ensure that, if they have a good idea, they can disseminate it widely in speech or print. Even if they have beliefs that I don't share, I can at least be confident that they have written about their beliefs and argued about them with readers. Thus, their ideas have at least been challenged and enriched in the intellectual arena of debate. This exchange means that obvious logical fallacies and stupidities will be weeded out. I feel much more confident about my retirement (and the fate of western democracy) knowing that the next generation has gone through this process. Such an education lets people pilot their lives and their country well. Teaching writing (which includes teaching rhetoric, logic, critical thinking, close reading, and debate) is the best way I can think of to ensure that outcome. Teaching writing, for me, is an antidote to barbarism and totalitarianism. We transmit culture in the act of writing.

Why do you teach medieval literature?

A: Medieval literature is the most diverse, exciting, passionate, spiritual, violent, beautiful, horrifying, uplifting, thought-provoking, and astonishing art I have ever encountered. The medieval world offers us a window into a place alien and familiar, and it resonates to the heartbeat of history. It is the seed of the modern world, and the splendid stone marker outlining the classical world's boundaries. By reading ancient writings, we hear the voice of the dead and nourish our appetite for the eternal. By understanding the medieval, we better understand the modern. Finally, it has the most decapitations per page of any literature I have ever read. It's Quentin Tarentino cross-bred with Saint Augustine. What more could one desire for intellectual satisfaction and visceral entertainment?

Still Curious? Then click below to find out...

Twelve Things You Probably Didn't Know About Your Instructor


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Copyright Dr. L. Kip Wheeler 1998-2018. Permission is granted for non-profit, educational, and student reproduction. Last updated April 24, 2018. Contact: kwheeler@cn.edu Please e-mail corrections, suggestions, or comments to help me improve this site. Click here for credits, thanks, and additional copyright information.