Required Texts

Carlton, Carla Harris. Barrel Strength: The Explosive Growth of America’s Whiskey. Clerisy Press, 2017.

  • All readings will be provided through PDF in the course reserves on Canvas.
  • A functional UK email account you check regularly.
  • A dropbox account and a flashdrive to back up/save materials. Don’t worry, dropbox is free. Www.dropbox.com.
  • A willingness and openness to learn!

Recommended Texts:

Mitenbuler, Reid. Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey. New York: Penguin, 2015.

Veach, Mike. Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage. Lexington: UK Press, 2013.

Greene, Heather. Whiskey Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life. New York: Penguin, 2014.

Jacob, Diane. Will Write for Food. Boston: Da Capo Press, 2005.

Rothbaum, Noah. The Art of American Whiskey: A Visual History of the Nation’s Most Storied Spirit, Through 100

            Iconic Labels. New York: Random House, LLC.

Student Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify the key raw materials and proportions necessary to produce bourbon: corn, barley or wheat, rye, and water.
  • Explain the brewing and distilling process for making bourbon.
  • Define “rectifying” and its importance for bourbon production and historiography.
  • Identify and analyze common genres for bourbon writing: travel essay, memoir, review, industry profile, distillery brochure and/or review, press release, podcast, recipe, tasting notes, etc.
  • Explain the changing economic viability of bourbon as post-Prohibition and the rise of its “Golden Age.”
  • Explain how professional writing plays an important role in bourbon, food, and alcohol-based industries.
  • Explain how branding connects to larger concepts of identity in Kentucky, the South, and beyond.
  • Understand key elements of “bourbon culture” and history.
  • Analyze (and ideally produce) social media content for bourbon and food industries.
  • Conduct primary and secondary research using oral history, archival documents, and digital databases.
  • Practice and employ a variety of narrative and persuasive strategies in your own writing.
  • Develop effective writing, revising, research, and collaborating strategies.
  • Publish (at least) one piece of writing in the class-authored publication, Distilling Lexington.


Resume, writerly mission statement 5%

A professional resume to be used for soliciting writing projects and a “mission statement” of what you hope to learn and want to write about in this class.

Brand/Social Media Analysis presentation 10%

You will track two identifiable brands for at least two weeks, and identify who they target and how. Alternatively, you will track the social media presence of two particular products noting how often and what they post, and whether or not they are successful for their audience. You will present your analysis to your peers, so we can collaboratively build a better understanding of branding and marketing strategies. Your 7 minute presentation must include images/slides to support your claims.

Mid-Term Exam 10%

You will demonstrate your knowledge of Bourbon history, vocabulary, and distillation process in a short exam.

Bourbon Backstory—research question— 0%

You will identify a bourbon-related research question you will pursue in primary and secondary research. It should be an “original” approach to a question or topic that uncovers a “bourbon backstory” something related to those not “traditionally” assumed to be part of Bourbon’s market and/or heritage—women, African Americans, Native Americans, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants, Jews, etc.

Writerly Review 5%

Visit a Lexington Bourbon destination (or make the case for a non-obvious one, *Note, if you plan to go this route be sure to obtain professor approval before you visit) and write a review for a specific audience.

Or Press Release about your bourbon backstory “find” or History/origin story based on it.


Final Project 35%

You may choose to work individually or in a collaborative team to both analyze and produce a piece of Bourbon writing to be published in our class publication Distilling Lexington. You choose the genre (memoir, podcast, distillery brochure, review, etc.), identify two models that you analyze, “pitch the story,”  and then write it. Note—these should be feature length and include primary or secondary research appropriate to the genre.

Breakdown of  points: Pitch/genre analysis/research annotations/final submission/peer review (5, 10, 5, 10, 5)

Reading/Writing/Annotating Log 25%

You will use this log to maintain a written record/digital scrapbook of what you read and write, keeping your research notes, story ideas, reading observations all in one place.  You will include quotes of what you like, what you want to emulate, and what you don’t, and explain why. This log will be collected twice in hard copy—once at mid-term and again at the end of the semester. The idea behind the log is to give you a space to write often and without the internal editor turned on—use it as a place to experiment, try things out, and make note of the kind of writing you like and why.

Daily Participation 5%

You must contribute to class discussion at least once every day, whether by making a detailed observation, posing a question, or answering someone else’s related to the daily readings or assignments. You complete all in-class writing exercises. *Note participation points can be the difference between A/B , B/C , etc.

Final Reflective Essay 5%

This 1000-1250 will reflect on your experiences in the class and explain what you learned and how, drawing evidence from your writing/reading log, formal assignments.

You must complete all assignments to receive a passing grade in the course.
Grades in the class are determined by your performance in two related but different tasks:

1) Your daily performance, participation, and engagement (reading/writing log, daily questions, conferences with me, attendance) and

2) Your performance on time-bound tasks that constitute the major assignments in this course (resume/mission statement, research question, review, pitch, analysis, final project). For major assignments, you will receive a letter grade.  At the end of the semester, final grades will be calculated on the following scale:
A         90-100%
B         80-89%
C         70-79%
D         60-69%
E         59% and below.

Attendance and Participation.
It probably goes without saying that part of the joy and delight of  a writing courses is that you get out of them what you put into them. To help ensure that we have a productive semester together, I require the following:

1) Each student will come to every class on time, prepared to actively discuss and engage the assigned reading material. In my experience, students who follow these guidelines tend to do better in college generally and my courses specifically.

Daily Questions

In order to help you come prepared, I require you to post questions to the Canvas discussion board by 8 am the day of class.  You must post at least three questions, and you do not have to post questions if you are submitting a writing response that day.  Over the course of the semester you are allowed to miss 2 classes worth of questions without penalty.  If you miss more than 2 classes worth of questions, you will lose points from the class participation part of your grade. You can assume you are receiving full credit for your questions, unless I contact you to inform you that you are not asking appropriate or acceptable questions.

Daily questions are important because they help you stay on top of and engaged with the reading, and they allow me to understand what you understood, what you didn’t, and what needs further explanation. Questions must demonstrate you’ve done the reading, but can ask for further clarification of definitions, issues, historical context, etc.

You may miss two classes no questions asked (though if work is due that day, it needs to be turned in to Canvas, even if you aren’t there). If you contract an illness that requires you to miss more than the allotted two classes, please contact me and provide appropriate medical documentation. Notice, your ethos will be substantially stronger if you contact me by email before you miss class. After six excused absences, you will be eligible according to SR to receive a ‘W’, or the Instructor of Record may award an ‘I’ for the course if the student declines to receive a ‘W.’”

[[Senate Rules SR states that “[i]f a student has excused absences in excess of one-fifth of the class contact hours for that course (participation activities for an online course, as defined in A), the student shall have the right to receive a ‘W’, or the Instructor of Record may award an ‘I’ for the course if the student declines to receive a ‘W.’”]]
If you find that an unavoidable problem prevents you from attending class, please discuss the problem with me. After your fourth unexcused absence, your final grade for the course will be reduced by 5 points or ½ a letter grade, in other words you will lose your participation points.

2) Each student will treat our class as a safe intellectual space and community, one that values challenging questions but which does not tolerate hateful language or behavior. I ask that you engage one another in ways that are respectful and productive and that you treat each other and me with collegiality and humanity. In our reciprocal community, sometimes the best way to demonstrate your respect for a person, text, or idea is to ask a difficult question, disagree with someone or something, or challenge the assumptions that gird a belief, idea, or response. I ask that we each find ways to challenge each other so that our responses further rather than shut down the conversation.

3) Part of building our reciprocal community requires that each person not only participate, but also be aware of his or her participation. Challenge yourself to both notice and moderate how much “verbal space” you take up in class. If you are the kind of person who participates freely and easily, challenge yourself to make space for others to participate. If you are the kind of person who often doesn’t speak much in class, challenge yourself to become an active participant.

Late Policy
Late arrivals are distracting for class activities, so do whatever you need to do to arrive on time and be alert. I will count two tardies as one absence.  If you are more than 10 minutes late for class, you will be marked absent for the day. To fully contribute to both the workshops and class discussions, it is important that you are not only physically but also mentally present in class. Although it is my general policy to let you know about exams or quizzes ahead of time (they are clearly marked on the daily schedule), I reserve the right to add quizzes to the class agenda if too many class members appear to be unprepared.

A note on preparation: When doing your reading, talk back to the text—ask questions, write in the margins, connect ideas to things you already know or are learning in other classes. Being prepared means being able to respond thoughtfully to the reading, not just doing it. Help yourself by taking notes so that you are prepared to discuss issues in depth. If you are keeping up with your writing/thinking/reading log you should be well-prepared for class.

Late Assignments
Your assignments for this course are due at the beginning of class on the dates indicated in the class schedule below. You may request (in advance) one two-day extension of the due date of a major assignment (not the first submission of the final paper).  Late assignments are not accepted unless a two-day extension has been requested and approved in advance of the deadline. If you cannot attend class on the day an assignment is due, you must post the assignment to Canvas by the beginning of class.  Short of catastrophic circumstances, you may not miss class on the day of peer review or presentations. If you do miss class on a peer review day, it will count as a double absence.

Part II of Student Rights and Responsibilities (6.3.1; online at http://www.uky.edu/StudentAffairs/Code/part2.html) describes what constitutes academic dishonesty and what the penalties are.  It states that all academic work‚ written or otherwise‚ submitted by students to their instructors or other academic supervisors‚ is expected to be the result of their own thought‚ research‚ or self–expression.

We will be learning proper citation methods in this course, and I expect you to follow them. You are responsible for making sure you follow proper citation methods, however, for all materials whether or not we explicitly discuss them in class.  If you ever have a citation question, please come talk to me. Plagiarism is serious stuff, and I’m always happy to talk with you about citation so that everyone’s ideas are properly credited.

Any material you use from someone else’s work must be appropriately recognized as such or you will be committing an act of plagiarism (regardless of whether you intended to or not). Any time you use someone else’s exact words you must put them in quotation marks. Any time you use someone else’s ideas but express them in your own words, you must provide the name of the author and the page number where you read about them as well as a full listing for the source in your works cited. If you do not follow proper citation methods, you will put yourself in danger of failing the course.

Some Ways Students Commit Plagiarism
When students submit work purporting to be their own‚ but which in any way borrows ideas‚ organization‚ wording or anything else from another source without appropriate acknowledgment of the fact‚ the students are guilty of plagiarism.

Plagiarism also includes reproducing someone else’s work‚ whether it is a published article‚ chapter of a book‚ a paper from a friend or some file‚ or another source, including the Internet. Plagiarism also includes the practice of employing or allowing another person to alter or revise the work which a student submits as his/her own‚ whoever that other person may be. Plagiarism also includes using someone else’s work during an oral presentation without properly citing that work in the form of an oral footnote.

Whenever you use outside sources or information‚ you must carefully acknowledge exactly what‚ where, and how you have employed them. If the words of someone else are used‚ you must put quotation marks around the passage in question and add an appropriate indication of its origin. Plagiarism also includes making simple changes while leaving the organization‚ content and phraseology intact. However‚ nothing in these rules shall apply to those ideas which are so generally and freely circulated as to be a part of the public domain.

You may discuss assignments among yourselves or with me or a tutor‚ but when the actual work is done‚ it must be done by you‚ and you alone. All work submitted must be new, original work; you may not submit work you have produced for another purpose or class.

Collaboration is something we will be doing a lot of in this class. Collaboration differs from collusion, which is an unsanctioned kind of working together that becomes an act of academic dishonesty. I have explicitly asked you to collaborate in specific ways for your oral presentations, sharing resources for final projects, doing peer review, and that’s all fine. Collusion would involve a case where two of you turned in the exact same assignment without acknowledging one another (i.e. it has the same structure, form, and uses the same examples even if the wording is not verbatim). If you are reading the syllabus carefully, you will note here you can earn half an extra credit point for sending me adorable lizard photos.  If you have a question about the nature of the collaboration you are engaging in, please come talk to me, BEFORE you turn in your assignment.

A Note about Cellphones:  Please turn them to silent during class.  If you have an emergency (someone is in the hospital or something of that nature of dire consequences), please let me know and then feel free to put your phone on vibrate and step out of class to answer your call.

Class Online Syllabus
I am responsive to student requests for changes in the schedule if you make a persuasive case for them, which means that the daily schedule may change during the semester. You will be responsible for checking the online syllabus and schedule before beginning your homework for each of our class meetings for any changes or updates. I will post all assignments on the class website and/or Canvas. If you lose an assignment page or handout, you are expected to get a copy from Canvas rather than me.

Gender and Pronoun Reference
It is no longer customary to use the masculine pronoun for cases of indefinite pronoun reference, e.g., “When a professor grades papers, he is often swayed by a student’s degree of effort.” Instead, style books recommend changing pronouns to the plural form, e.g., “When professors grade papers, they are often swayed by a student’s degree of effort.” It is standard procedure in professional settings and this class to use “gender-fair language.” Not sure how to write a sentence in a gender-fair way? Bring it to class, we’ll work together to figure it out.

All of your work in this class must be posted in the appropriate place in Canvas or online and available in hard copy. In general, all assignments will require a title, your name, my name, the name of our course, and the date. They should be formatted in accordance with MLA standards for academic essays.

Backing Up Your Work
Technological failures are bound to occur and you’ll need a back-up. If you follow my advice and back up to two places, you’ll be amazingly unbothered when your hard drive crashes or your roommate spills coffee on your laptop. Trust me.

You are required to save all work in at least two places: a flashdrive and your dropbox account. You may also opt to back up your materials to other locations such as your public folder, your email, or a CD-R/RW. If your assignment is lost in cyberspace, you will be expected to repost it within the same day.
“My computer crashed” is today’s equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” and neither will be accepted as excuses for late or missing work!

E-mail Policies
Regardless of how you address your friends, family, or peers, remember that in this class e-mail is an officially recognized mode of communication for class business. It’s an electronic letter and should be treated as such. When you e-mail me, please make sure you include a subject, i.e. “WRD 225, Bourbon Writing Class, Your student,” so I know it’s one of my students trying to reach me. In the text of the e-mail itself, be sure to use an opening and closing salutation, i.e. “Dear Dr. Jan:,” or “Hi Professor Fernheimer,” and “Sincerely,” “Best wishes,” or “See you in class.” Most importantly, make sure that you sign your name, so I know to whom I am responding. This part is especially important if your handle is something like “sugarspice or cooldaddy@hotmail.com.” Of course, if you’ve got a handle like the aforementioned, you probably want to use your official UK account for class-related correspondence.

In general, I will try to respond to your email within 48 hours, though there will be times in the semester when it may take me longer. If you don’t hear from me—gently ask in class to make sure it came through and did not go to my spam! Please do not hesitate to email me again. I also do not check email after 4:00 pm and on the weekends, so plan accordingly if you have an urgent question. I encourage and invite you to make use of office hours or email me for an appointment if your schedule conflicts.

Alternate Class Meeting Spaces
If it’s nice and you can stay focused, we may meet outside (consider that an incentive). On temperate days, you may want to dress accordingly (short shorts, skirts, and kilts may make sitting outside less comfortable). We will also have several class meetings not in our classroom (at the Town Branch Distiller, at Justin’s House of Bourbon, UK Special Collections (located in the King Library), so pay attention to the syllabus and Canvas announcements to make sure you’re in the right place.

Writing Center
The Writing Center is located in W. T. Young Library, Room B108B in the HUB (phone: 257-1368). The staff can help you with all aspects of your writing at any stage of the process, including brainstorming, organization of ideas, revising. I will not require you to go to The Writing Center, but I strongly recommend that all of you go at least once and try it out. Remember the staff who work there are trained writing professionals, so do not expect them to simply “correct” or “edit” your paper. Rather, know they will challenge you to think about your work and how to advance it. To have the best possible session, be sure to bring your assignment instructions along with whatever drafts, peer comments,  instructor feedback, or rubrics you’ve received.

Students with Disabilities. If you have a documented disability that requires academic accommodations, please see me as soon as possible. To receive accommodations in this course, you must provide me with a Letter of Accommodation from the Disability Resource Center (725 Rose Street, Suite 407 Multidisciplinary Science Building, Lexington, KY  40536-0082 (Building 82 on the Campus Map)

859-257-2754), for coordination of campus disability services available to students with disabilities. We can then collaborate on the best solution.

If you have a physical or other condition which is not quite a disability but might impair your ability to participate in class (an instructor who regularly keeps you late, a bad back which prevents you from sitting for long periods, the need to keep your blood sugar up, the feeling that you’ve lost all energy and motivation), please let me know. Although I’m not a medical doctor, I do know about a wide variety of student services that you have access to but might not be aware of, and I’m happy to point you in the right direction. If you’re not physically or otherwise comfortable, you cannot be fully intellectually engaged. There are ways to make arrangements so that everyone gets the support they need to be happy, comfortable, and productive. You’re human, not just student automatons.

Campus Climate and Bias Reporting
The University of Kentucky is committed to cultivating and nurturing an environment in which every student, staff, and faculty member feels and knows they belong.  In the event a student, staff, or faculty member experiences an instance of bias, hatred, or identity-based violence, there are services and resources to provide support and advocate for the person or group targeted.  Services can be accessed by contacting the Bias Incident Response Coordinator, Carol Taylor-Shim at 257-3189 or birt@uky.edu.  The Bias Incident Support Services (BISS) Office is located on the ground floor of Frazee Hall in Suite 4.  Services are available M-F 8:30am-5:00pm.

The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is the official university reporting system to address instances of bias, hate, and identity-based violence. Reports can be made anonymously. Reports can also be made with the expectation that the reporter will be contacted by the Bias Incident Response Coordinator via an outreach email to the impacted person’s university email.

The report form can be accessed at http://www.uky.edu/vipcenter/content/bias-incident-support

Intellectual Property
The University of Kentucky recognizes that a faculty member’s class and all parts of it: lectures, assignments, etc., are the intellectual property of the faculty member.  Class lectures and materials are the intellectual property of the faculty.  Consequently, students may record ONLY for their personal use. For any other use, including sharing with other students in the class, specific permission of the faculty member/employee is required to record.  Recording for any business/commercial purpose is a violation of federal IP (copyright) law as well as a violation of the faculty employee’s class policy (syllabus) and, thus, is strictly prohibited.

Equal Opportunity.

Discrimination is prohibited at UK. The University of Kentucky is committed to a policy of providing equal educational opportunities to all students regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability. Compliance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination, and with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is coordinated by the Equal Opportunity Office. If you experience an incident of discrimination we encourage you to report it to Institutional Equity & Equal Opportunity (IEEO) Office, 13 Main Building, University of Kentucky, (859) 257-8927.


Title IX.

The University of Kentucky faculty are committed to supporting students and upholding the University’s non-discrimination policy. Under Title IX, discrimination based upon sex and gender is prohibited. If you experience an incident of sex- or gender-based discrimination or interpersonal violence, we encourage you to report it. While you may talk to a faculty member, understand that as a “Responsible Employee” of the University the faculty member MUST report to the University’s Title IX Coordinator in the IEEO Office what you share.  If you would like to speak with someone who may be able to afford you confidentiality, the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) program (Frazee Hall – Lower Level; http://www.uky.edu/StudentAffairs/VIPCenter/), the Counseling Center (106 Frazee Hall, http://www.uky.edu/StudentAffairs/Counseling/), and the University Health Services (http://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/uhs/student-health/) are confidential resources on campus. You do not have to go through the experience alone.