A few words on email
1. Please make sure I have your current email address, the one checked most frequently for schoolwork, and that your account is open, current, and active.
2. Replying. I maintain an open email list for each class. You have the ability to send messages of special class interest to the entire list. In replying to my class notices, be sure you reply to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if that is what you intend and do not write accidentally to the entire class list -- since it is very easy to hit the reply button and run off a message. Please include your name, class, and email return address in your message. By the way, if you are not sure if your email is working, send a message to yourself.
3. The subject line: Please start email messages to me with the class number. The reason for this is that I receive a large amount of email I expect to get -- and even more that I do not want to get -- so I delete in several accounts dozens and dozens of junk messages daily without opening them. I also let a large number of routine messages sit for a while without opening them and open many more hastily without reading them. Any vague subject other than the class number (such as "your class," "urgent," "my paper," "assignment 3," "query," etc.) certainly won't get proper attention and may actually get deleted. I usually teach several different American literature courses on the same day, so "Yesterday's American literature class" doesn't help much either.
4. Queries and excuses. There are many legitimate queries, ranging from real problems with the syllabus and questions about assignments to serious personal issues. Sometimes re-reading the syllabus and class procedures pages carefully will make an email query unnecessary.
If you have a medical excuse for temporarily missing a scheduled exam or paper, please let me know of this fact as soon as possible and then submit physical documentation when you return to class. If you have a major or long term medical, personal, or family obstacle to class work, ask the dean of students to let all your instructors know so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Please keep in mind that while occasional late work will be accepted with a reduced grade, accumulated late work will result in failure in the course. Yes, email is wonderful, but please don't expect miracles just because you sent an email.
5. Papers. It is best to hand in papers in class when they are due. Except in medical emergencies, where you cannot come to campus, avoid sending papers to me by email: It will usually take a while -- perhaps several days -- until I download, print, and read the paper. You can leave late papers under my door (Hill 521) or on my mail shelf (5th floor Hill Hall), but I will probably not read them much before the next class meeting. Never send Microsoft Word attachments to anyone by email they are notoriously vulnerable to viruses, and I will not open them. If you are having a computer or typing problem, I will be glad to accept legible hand written papers of reasonable length.
A word on revision: please consider revising any out-of-class work after it is returned to you if you think you can improve your grade. The commonest improvements are additional evidence from the readings, a better developed or more integrated argument, or improvements in sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and style. Make any corrections or minor revisions in hand directly on the graded pages. Attach additional sheets if necessary. Please do not print out the paper again.
Backups: Until the end of the semester keep paper or computer copies of your papers when submitted and then the graded papers when returned in order to bring them to conferences as needed. Keep in mind that computer access at Rutgers-Newark is sometimes undependable: the networks or printers are sometimes down for service, seating space at terminals can become limited, and there are inevitable media problems (your file cannot be read because the floppy disk is damaged , or the file format in which you saved it is more recent -- especially when the latest versions of software included in new computers does not work with what the R-N labs have).
Heyward Ehrlich, Dept. of English, Rutgers-Newark