UW20 Courses - Fall 2004

| Last Updated: 6/28/05 | 2:49 pm

Course Archives : Fall 2008 | Spring 2008 | Fall 2007 | Spring 2007 | Fall 2006 | Spring 2006 | Fall 2005 | Spring 2005 | Fall 2004 | Spring 2004 | Fall 2003

About UW20

Because all UW20 sections are theme-based, with their own individualized readings and writing assignments, it's important that you peruse the course descriptions below to find a theme that is of interest to you.

REQUIREMENTS: The following requirements and workload expectations are consistent across all sections of UW20. Students will complete a total of 25-30 pages of finished writing, developed through a process that may include pre-draft preparation, drafts, and revisions based on instructor's advice and classmates' comments. Each student will complete at least three writing assignments of increasing complexity. Papers will be based on assigned texts and often on additional reading; although instructors will develop assignments that reflect a variety of academic writing projects, one paper will require significant research.

Themes and Professors

Themes and Professors


(click on title for full course description)

Arianne Chernock - The Empire Strikes Back? Colonial Uprisings, 1794 to the Present
CRN: 85584 Section 10 MW 0800-0915 and F 800-850
CRN: 85597 Section 24 MW 1245-200 and F 1245-135
Ryan Claycomb - Food Fights: The Pleasures and Politics of What We Eat
CRN: 86419 Section 43 M 220-310 and WF 220-335
CRN: 86420 Section 44 M 0935-1025 and WF 935-1050
Eric Drown - Think Tank: The Production of Public Knowledge
CRN: 85588 Section 14 MW 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 86417 Section 40 M 0935-1025 and WF 935-1050
Dorothy Geller - Feminist Aesthetics
CRN: 86427 Section 51 MF 1110-1225 and W 1110-1200
CRN: 86431 Section 54 MF 3:55-5:10 and W 3:55-4:45
Gustavo Guerra - Psychoanalysis, Sexuality, and Nostalgia in Latin America
CRN: 85586 Section 12 TR 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 85601 Section 27 TR 220-335 and F 220-310
Elizabeth Harlan - True Crime?: Real & Fictionalized Mysteries & Society's Reactions to Them
CRN: 86432 Section 55 MW 3:55-5:10 and F 3:55-4:45
Carol Hayes - From Main Street to Times Square: Exploring America's Public Spaces
CRN: 85590 Section 16 MW 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 86421 Section 45 M 220-310 and WF 220-335

Architecture, Cities, and Politics in the Post-War United States
CRN: 86425 Section 49 M 0935-1025 and WF 935-1050

Ryan Jerving - "Uncommon Knowledge": Intellectual Property and Public Culture
CRN: 85589 Section 15 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025
CRN: 86407 Section 30 TR 0800 0915 and F 800-850
Randi Gray Kristensen - Word: Writing Cultures in Africa and the African Diaspora
CRN: 85596 Section 23 MW 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 86436 Section 59 MF 1110-1225 and W 1110-1200
Mark Mullen - Blood on the Plains: The Custer Autobiography Project
CRN: 86443 Section M5 TR 1130 1245 and F 1130 1220: ACAD301
Almila Ozdek - Dystopic Societies: Rhetoric of Apocalypse in Today's Culture
CRN: 86433 Section 56 MF 1110-1225 and W 1110-1200
Rachel Riedner - Revolutionary Writing, Democratic Visions, and Border Identities
CRN: 86439 Section M8 TR 1130-1245 and F 1130-1220: ACAD329
CRN: 86444 Section M6 TR 100 215 and F 100 150: ACAD301
Phyllis Ryder - In the Crossfire: Argument, Truth, and Academic Discourse
CRN: 86409 Section 33 TR 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 86410 Section 32 TR 1110-1225 and F 1110-1200
Heather Schell - Get a Life! Fans, Boosters, and Zealots
CRN: 85595 Section 21 TR 0800-0915 and F 800-850
CRN: 86408 Section 31 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025
David Thomas - On the Way to Human Rights
CRN: 85592 Section 18 TR 0800-0915 and F 800-850
CRN: 85593 Section 19 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025
Niles Tomlinson - Haunting and the Haunted: A Look at Ghosts in Time and Space
CRN: 86418 Section 42 M 220-310 and WF 220-335
Phillip Troutman - History as Revision
CRN: 85585 Section 11 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025
CRN: 86415 Section 38 TR 1245-200 and F 1245-135
Abby Wilkerson - Critical Conditions: Exploring, Writing, Resisting Ascriptions of Illness
CRN: 85598 Section 25 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025
CRN: 85600 Section 26 TR 1110-1225 and F 1110-1200
Zachary Wolfe - Law & Rhetoric: Arguing for a Better World
CRN: 86437 Section 39 MW 3:55-5:10 and F 3:55-4:45
Robbin Zeff - Race for the White House: Writing the Campaign Trail
CRN: 86441 Section M3 TR 220-335 and F 220-310 ACAD306
CRN: 86442 Section M4 TR 355-510 and F 355-445 ACAD306
Christy Zink - Cities of the Mind: Metropolis, Utopia, and Other Urban Imaginings
CRN: 85599 Section M1 MW 1000-1115 and F 1000-1050: ACAD306
CRN: 86440 Section M2 MW 1130-1245 and F 1130-1220: ACAD302


Architecture, Cities, and Politics in the Post-War United States
CRN: 86426 Section 50 M 220-310 and WF 220-335

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Arianne Chernock - The Empire Strikes Back? Colonial Uprisings, 1794 to the Present
CRN: 85584 Section 10 MW 0800-0915 and F 800-850
CRN: 85597 Section 24 MW 1245-200 and F 1245-135

This writing-intensive course will examine how various colonies, including Haiti, Ireland, India, the Belgian Congo (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Algeria, have historically responded to and challenged Western imperial rule. We will devote significant attention to the arguments and tactics used by colonized peoples to resist domination, with a particular focus on the role played by Western ideologies such as liberalism and nationalism in dismantling the imperialist system. In the final weeks of the course, we will consider the vexed legacy of imperialism to both colonizer and colonized, and weigh the ethical and moral responsibilities of countries including France, Britain and Belgium to intervene in crises in the regions they once controlled. Texts to be consulted will include C.L.R. James' Black Jacobins, M.K. Gandhi's Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule and Frantz Fanon's Black Skins, White Masks, among other works. In the process of investigating these themes, we will focus on improving your writing and thinking skills. Assignments will include book reviews, critical essays, bibliographies and class presentations - all projects designed to familiarize you with the kinds of work you'll be asked to pursue while an undergraduate at George Washington. The course will culminate with a research project on a topic of the student's choice (subject to the approval of the instructor).


Ryan Claycomb - Food Fights: The Pleasures and Politics of What We Eat
CRN: 86419 Section 43 M 220-310 and WF 220-335
CRN: 86420 Section 44 M 0935-1025 and WF 935-1050

Writing about food is a deeply personal, and often a deeply pleasurable experience. Marcel Proust, in the most literary of terms, remembers his childhood through the scent of cookies, while anyone who has ever read Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate can virtually smell her quail in rose petal sauce. But like all pleasurable experiences, writing and thinking about food is also embroiled in debate at every turn, as muckraker Upton Sinclair proved by changing minds and turning stomachs with The Jungle. The course will be divided into several units that move past nutritional counts to explore the economics, ethics, morals, and politics of the places and ways that we eat: "Eating Out" will find us writing restaurant reviews (please budget for several meals on the town), while "Eating Ethnic" will examine the ethics of having a meal with a side order of culture. "Eating Wild" will explore the variety of problems of adventure eating-chowing on exotic animals ranging from creepy crawly bugs to almost-human primates. "Eating Fast" will find us reading Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation to get a sense of how research into America's foodways should really be done, even as we begin research on our own final projects. And finally, "Eating In," will look at the gender dynamics, cultural habits and historical vestiges of what happens in our kitchens and dining rooms. Throughout, students will research their own food fights on topics relating to the ethics and power of food, from genetically modified corn to fair trade coffee to the challenges of local food banks.


Eric Drown - Think Tank: The Production of Public Knowledge
CRN: 85588 Section 14 MW 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 86417 Section 40 M 0935-1025 and WF 935-1050

This section of UW20 asks you to function as members of a think tank hired by a public agency to produce knowledge of interest and use to an identifiable constituent. Its most radical feature is that it uses your writing to make important decisions about the content and structure of the course. The first section of the course is dedicated to planning, forming ideas, assessing the findings of existing literature, and justifying the considerable time and money spent on this research project. Together we will decide on a broad topic of current interest on which to focus our efforts. Then, you and your classmates will formulate a set of research questions, assign research goals to individuals operating in work groups, and develop a common reading list from academic, professional, and public sources. In the middle section of the course you'll work both as individuals and members of small teams. We'll be practicing close reading skills and developing your ability to respond critically to academic and professional readings in short response essays. We'll assess the readings you chose in the first part of the course for content, research and argumentation strategies, and relevance to the project. Finally, the last part of the course is dedicated to research and the formal presentation of working papers to the public. Since you, as an intellectual community, will take responsibility for many stages of the process, you will need to be self-directed, to be able to work within small and large groups, to get work done on time, to take and give constructive criticism, and to manage the freedom and responsibility of a student-centered class. You'll use write to discover, develop, and elaborate ideas as well as to report and defend them. Accordingly, you'll be drafting, revising, and rewriting often. You can expect to keep a writer's journal of notes, readings, drafts, and reflection. In addition you'll submit a portfolio of finished writing for final assessment at the end of the course.


Ariane Fischer - Ideology: The History of a Concept
CRN: 86435 Section 58 MF 11:10-12:25 and W 11:10-12:00
CRN 86424 Section 48 M 0935-1025 and F 935-1050

This seminar-style course is aimed at facilitating conversations about ideology and its various locations in society. We will explore the intellectual history of the concept of ideology, follow its genealogies in a number of different disciplines, and discuss its continued theoretical significance in contemporary approaches not only to class but also to language, race, sexuality, gender, power, science and knowledge, aesthetics, etc. One of our main goals is to develop and formulate our own ideas about what ideology is and how it functions culturally and structurally.


This reading and writing intensive course is designed to enhance your ability to think critically. You will be asked to cultivate the skills necessary to comprehend, reflect on, and analyze scholarly texts. Furthermore, you are going to produce your own research paper, in which you will get to systematically pursue a topic of your choosing and ask questions that are of particular interest to you. Reading and writing will go hand in hand and should be conceived of as a continual process as peer reviews, revision, and rethinking will play a central role in this course.


Since you will learn how to become more competent in reading difficult texts, in thinking analytically about the ideas these texts put forth (as well as the assumptions, the logic, and the implications of those ideas), and in presenting your own thoughts effectively, you will also acquire tools helpful not only in many of your other classes, especially the humanities and the social sciences, but also in your future careers. Hopefully, however, you will experience the value of this learning process as being greater than its immediate practical uses.


Matthew Fullerty - Lost in the Academy: The Academic Novel in Britain and America
CRN: 85602 Section 29 MW 0800-0915 and F 800-850

Are you lost in the academy - yet? This course is designed to help students develop skills needed in university-level writing and research through the lens of academic fiction. Written and read by both academics and non-academics, the so called 'academic novel' - loosely termed as a novel set on campus - unpacks the ups and downs, the foibles and successes, of life on campus. Can we recognize the genre by its themes and preoccupations, or by its university or campus setting alone?
We will explore the overlap of these texts with postmodern culture and the notion of the subjective self. Are the characters alienated from real life? Is it surprising the books are packed with as much moral complacency, elitism, political-flag waving and bed-hopping as takes place in 'the real world'? And do these novels have a national flavor? What is the difference and/or relationship between the British and American versions? Or is academia somehow untouched by national consciousness - is the secluded campus a separate place? These novels allow us to question 'the writing life', the interaction of writing with language and the construction of meaning. You'll center your writing on aspects of the texts that grip you and develop your own research. You will also develop ideas about establishing yourself as writer, positioning your audience, and judging the relevance of political considerations such as race, class, gender and nationality.


The course readings range from the origins of the academic novel in Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim (1954) and the more sardonic vision created by Richard Russo in Straight Man (1997) to darker visions such as J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace (1999). We will also stray into writing beyond the British and American focus into theater, film, short stories, essays and critical works. The goal of this course is not only to introduce you to university-level writing and research, but to deal with wider questions such as "what does it mean to write like an academic and would you want to anyway?"


Cayo Gamber - Legacies of the Holocaust
CRN: 86413 Section 36 TR 1110-1225 and F 1110-1200
CRN: 86414 Section 37 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025

One of the primary legacies of the Holocaust has been the call to remember. In this course, we will discuss the various ways in which the Holocaust is remembered. We will bear witness to first-hand testimonies of memoirists (for example, Charlotte Delbo in Auschwitz and After) and the video testimony of survivours (in Yale's Fortunoff Video Archive). In addition, we will question the ways in which the Holocaust has been "interpreted" in middle-school and high-school curricula, in documentary film (for example, in Claude Lanzmann's Shoah), and in art (such as, Alan Jacobs' "Then and Now"). Finally, we will interrogate the "Americanization" of the Holocaust (for example, in Art Spiegelman's Maus I and II, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Donna Deitch's film of The Devil's Arithmetic). Over the course of the semester, you will choose a topic - related to the theme of the course - and will dedicate yourself to locating pertinent research; evaluating the merit of your research; fully attending to the arguments made by the scholars; thoughtfully and accurately incorporating those scholars' ideas into your own writing; and using their research findings in order to shape your own engaged and engaging arguments. Each of these tasks is incorporated into the series of assignments you will perform, in stages, over the course of the semester. In addition, one-on-one conferences, peer review, drafting, and revision will aid you as you develop coherent, complex, and compelling arguments.


Dorothy Geller - Feminist Aesthetics
CRN: 86427 Section 51 MF 1110-1225 and W 1110-1200
CRN: 86431 Section 54 MF 3:55-5:10 and W 3:55-4:45

The notion of patriarchy, according to its critics, suggests not only that there is something wrong with the family structure, but that the relations of the family reappear endlessly in the forming of institutional, national and social situations. This writing intensive course looks especially at feminist critics of patriarchy who engage the realm of the "aesthetic," as in poetry, painting and other media, in order to critique power and sometimes pose alternative spaces and structures. We will look at the question of how, when or whether aesthetics fit into a feminist social or political project, and the qualities of the scopic, aural, tactile, or otherwise iterative aspects of the critique of power invoked by different thinkers. We will read feminist theorists such as Donna Haraway, Maria Mies, and the poetic works of thinkers such as Monique Wittig, Meena Alexander, and Adrienne Rich, as well as works by John Berger and Paolo Freire and others. Students will be asked to compare conceptual differences, and learn how to engage the specific vocabularies of discrete ideas using an investigation of problems related to power, knowledge, patriarchy, and alternative feminist discourses in drafts of critical essays and in online discussions. Students will also be required to lead discussions by reading their writing aloud.


Gustavo Guerra - Psychoanalysis, Sexuality, and Nostalgia in Latin America
CRN: 85586 Section 12 TR 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 85601 Section 27 TR 220-335 and F 220-310

The term "Nostalgia" was coined in 1688 by a Swiss physician to describe a disease that caused patients to lose touch with the present and experience an overbearing sense of longing. In current discourse, "nostalgia" is often replaced by "desire." This writing intensive course explores issues and themes surrounding the discourse of nostalgia in connection with sexuality and identity within Latin American and Latino/ Latina studies. The course explores the significance and multiplicity of meanings of identity as a tool of analysis in literature, history, and politics. Some of the questions we will pursue are: How does identity and sexuality interact in Latino and Latina contemporary writing? How do issues of class, or national origin circumscribe the possible meanings attached to sexuality and identity? Is nostalgia somewhat related to issues of economy and property? Do we need to not have something in order to desire it? We will start with some basic readings in psychoanalytic theory that will serve as the interpretive framework of the course and then move on to a number of essay-type readings by Latin American authors.


Elizabeth Harlan - True Crime?: Real & Fictionalized Mysteries & Society's Reactions to Them
CRN: 86432 Section 55 MW 3:55-5:10 and F 3:55-4:45

All around us, mysteries are used as a form of entertainment. In newspapers, magazines, books, and movies, true crime stories are quite popular. The TV lineup is fraught with documentaries of cold cases, trials, and forensics, as well as “ripped from the headlines” episodes of prime time dramas. This course will examine why our society is so fascinated with mysteries and where the line is drawn between when people are saddened, horrified, or afraid due to the crimes we hear or read about, and when we are more detached and are able to see a real crime (or a representation of one) simply as entertainment. Additionally, newspaper accounts of historical and modern mysteries will be analyzed to discover how media coverage and public reactions have changed. Readings will likely include Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, journalistic accounts of mysteries, and scientific and psychological articles relating to mysteries; movies and TV shows will be analyzed as well. Assignments will include both group and individual projects, such as reviews, summaries of scholarly articles, and a research project.

Carol Hayes - From Main Street to Times Square: Exploring America's Public Spaces
CRN: 85590 Section 16 MW 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 86421 Section 45 M 220-310 and WF 220-335

Architecture, Cities, and Politics in the Post-War United States
CRN: 86425 Section 49 M 0935-1025 and WF 935-1050

This writing and research course is focused on the theme of public spaces in America. You'll write three short papers at the beginning of the semester, each exploring a different city space (beginning with a home space, moving to DC, and then finally exploring any city in the U.S. that interests you). By the end of the semester, you'll select one of those initial three papers to expand upon, and you'll write a 12-16 page research paper on that topic. To help you shape your analysis of these public spaces, we'll be discussing a number of texts that model different ways to think about city spaces. With the help of authors like Jeff Ferrell, who celebrate graffiti artists and street musicians, and authors like Christine Boyer, who criticize the "Disneyfication" of places like Times Square in New York City, we'll be exploring such questions as what we value in urban spaces, what we fear, and who has the right to access public spaces like malls, parks, streets, sidewalks, and downtown areas (the homeless? skateboarders? political and social activists? consumers?).

Ryan Jerving - "Uncommon Knowledge": Intellectual Property and Public Culture
CRN: 85589 Section 15 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025
CRN: 86407 Section 30 TR 0800 0915 and F 800-850

You might think your thoughts are your own, but you'd be wrong. That melody stuck in your head, that clever turn of a phrase, that elaborate critique you've built up about the global military-industrial-media complex-all of them, in part or in whole, came from some place else within the cultural storehouse of ideas. And increasingly they are likely, legally, to belong some place else too, as copyrights, trademarks, and patents come to enclose much of what you might call "yours." In this course, we'll consider the implications of this tension between the cultural reality of collective creation and the legal/economic reality of private claims to intellectual property. And we'll ask what this problematic will mean for you as a 21st-century citizen, consumer, and writer. You and your colleagues will determine and design the specific case studies we'll tackle concerning issues such as file sharing of movies and music, sampling, classified information, open source code, trademarked phrases ("you're fired"), internet fan fiction, academic "fair use," or pop culture parody. We'll also work to consider somewhat broader questions: How are ideas and the language through which we know them produced and passed on? What constitutes the public domain? Who can claim to speak for racial, religious, national, historical, or cultural groups (i.e., who owns Native American images, Islam, 9/11, the Holocaust, Hip-Hop)? And, as we conduct, cite, and document primary and secondary research, enter into scholarly "conversations," develop arguments that incorporate and rework the ideas and language of others, use and play with established writing genres, and revise in collaboration with our peers, how does the act of writing lead us to particularly murky waters of intellectual ownership? As a final, collective project, we'll get our hands dirty in practical matters of citation, permissions, restrictions, and collaboration as we work as a class to construct an online encyclopedia and resource guide to intellectual property.

Randi Gray Kristensen - Word: Writing Cultures in Africa and the African Diaspora
CRN: 85596 Section 23 MW 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 86436 Section 59 MF 1110-1225 and W 1110-1200

The primary emphasis of the class is on writing about the cultures of peoples of African descent. This simple statement belies the complexity of historical circumstances and conceptual frameworks that shape such writing. As readers, writers, and thinkers, students will develop their skills in recognizing and articulating that complexity, and will produce original, self-reflexive, and effective writing that reflects their close attention to class texts and contexts.


Africa itself occupies a special place in the Western mythos, so part of our work will involve a critical examination of Western notions of "Africa." Another part of our work will be reading and viewing contemporary representations and self-reflexive investigations by people of African descent in Africa and the Americas, and writing critical responses to those materials. We will also critically examine the effects of intercultural contact between peoples of African descent and the West. Students will write three major projects related to these themes: an autoethnography, an ethnography, and a major research paper. Throughout the semester, we will analyze the implications of doing cross- and intra-cultural research; for example, what are the implications of our research and writing for those about whom we research and write? We will engage these questions with special emphasis on language, form, and the critical evaluation of sources.

Kathy Larsen - The Gothic Aesthetic
CRN: 85603 Section 28 MW 0800-0915 and F 800-850
CRN: 86422 Section 46 M 0935-1025 and WF 935-1050

There is no stability to the term "Gothic." Ask five different people and you'll get five different, purely subjective answers. Consult five "authorities" and again, you will most likely come away with five very different descriptions. The term is widely used, and widely misused.


What this course seeks to do, in part, is to explore some of the many definitions of the terms "gothic" and "goth" in relation to art, architecture, literature, film, music and popular culture, considering both what is defined and who is defining it. We will look at a wide range of texts, both primary (beginning with what is arguably considered the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto and ending with late 20thC films and music) and secondary (Burke, Freud, and Ruskin among others) in an attempt to discover both exactly what this term means or has meant to various people at various moments and why we are so unflaggingly fascinated with the darker side of things.


Of course, this is first and foremost a writing course and the focus will always be on translating thoughts generated by reading, viewing and class discussion into polished prose. You will be actively encouraged to think beyond the readings assigned for the course, and to explore your own avenues of interest for the long research paper.

Chris Ann Matteo - The Classical Grand Tour: Travel and a Liberal Education
CRN: 86416 Section M7 MW 1130-1245 and F 1130-1220

Why do we leave home for college? Making a pilgrimage has always appealed to seekers of wisdom, whether that is to a secluded wilderness retreat or a bustling urban university. This course will introduce you to just one way that this journey was made in Enlightenment Europe, namely, in the Grand Tour of sites of antiquity and the "Oxbridge" mode of higher learning. The dramatic differences between then and now beg us to reexamine our own educational orientation. In our wanderings, you will compare word and image, because much of the experience of the Tour was in response to the landscape, ruins and masterworks of art. Observing its distinctly literary character, you will sample in translation a few of the ancient writers that the Grand Tourists would know well - Ovid, Horace, Plato - and you will also read poetry and fiction where the main character records and reflects on this journey. We will question how gender, class, education and nationality determine who may appreciate, or even apprehend, the classical tradition. Non-fiction essays and multimedia will raise the question of the tasks of a liberal education and of being an intellectual in the world. Many kinds of writing and imagined audiences for your reasoned opinions will be exercised, including journaling, interviewing, the documented scholarly essay (which has passed through several revisions) and writing multimedia for educators and the general public.

Mark Miller - Captivity, Slavery, and Imprisonment in Europe and the U.S.
CRN: 86411 Section 34 TR 2:20-3:35 and F 2:20-3:10
"History is but the record of crimes and misfortunes." --Voltaire, L'Ingénu

In this course we will reverse Voltaire's dictum and consider how "crimes and misfortunes" are themselves records of history. We will study various aspects of captivity, punishment and criminality to see what they can tell us about our history, our society, and ourselves. Topics we will consider include the social value of punishment, the creation of the criminal body, the extension of techniques of imprisonment into everyday life, the gendering of punishment and social control, and the production of deviant identities. Course materials will be eclectic. They may include articles about tattooing, novels such as Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Jean Genet's Querelle, and Gayl Jones' Corregidora, web sites such as The Innocence Project, court cases, Indian captivity narratives, Monster and other crime films, architectural treatises, newspaper advertisements for runaway slaves, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," historian Michel Foucault's Discipline & Punish, drawings, maps, and other documents. Over the course of the semester you will augment your capacity for critical thinking, writing and research by approaching these topics in sustained and meaningful ways. Not only will you analyze the course materials in formal essays and informal writing assignments, you will also, in dialogue with me and your peers, develop a research project that responds to your own individual interests and concerns regarding this topic.

Mark Mullen - Blood on the Plains: The Custer Autobiography Project
CRN: 86443 Section M5 TR 1130 1245 and F 1130 1220: ACAD301

One of the strangest artifacts to emerge from the US Plains Wars of the 1860s and 1870s is the autobiography of George Armstrong Custer. Penned by Custer during garrison duty in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, the series of articles that would eventually became known as My Life on the Plains, began appearing without introduction in the magazine The Galaxy (forerunner of The Atlantic Monthly) in early 1872 through late 1874. Recounting (and often enlarging) his role in the Black Hills campaigns, Custer's memoirs are a strange mix of acute geographical observation, strategic acumen, bravado, staggering racism, anthropological speculation, and self-aggrandizement. All of which means that these articles make for fascinating reading! Oddly enough, especially given their historical importance, these articles have not been collected in a form that is both accessible and serves a scholarly audience. Using the original Galaxy articles, this class will begin work on an annotated version of Custer's autobiography to be published on the web. Every member of the class will have a role in helping design and code the website (basic instruction in HTML editing will be provided), deciding what elements of each article need annotating, researching and writing those annotations, and selecting, researching, and writing a paper on an aspect of the Plains Wars.

Almila Ozdek - Dystopic Societies: Rhetoric of Apocalypse in Today's Culture
CRN: 86433 Section 56 MF 1110-1225 and W 1110-1200

When Thomas More published Utopia in 1516, he wanted to depict and define an ideal society in both public and private spaces covering from the legal systems and governance to familial relationships, class structures and distribution of wealth. During the almost five hundred years since its publication, people have been trying to achieve this state of perfection, wanting to believe that technological advancements, economic developments, and betterment of human rights will enable humanity to realize this utopian world. However, some argue that after the two world wars, man has fallen again: all hopes for a better state of world have relinquished, all advancements have caused bigger problems, and ours now is a dystopian world, a world in which nothing ever goes right.

This course will explore how the rhetoric of dystopia has permeated our daily lives. We will look at different genres from film to novel which employ dystopian themes and which proclaim that the end of the world has come. There will also be theoretical work, to provide us with a background in our interrogation of the dystopian rhetoric. You will be expected to write reviews of literature and responses/essays for the material we study; and there will be a final research paper in which you will introduce your own material to analyze and formulate a critical look and argument. Through peer-reviews and oral presentations, you will receive feedback on your work and learn to write to an audience, thus acquiring the skills to articulate yourself more effectively in your pursuits.

Pam Presser - Time Traveling : Writing About the Past and the Future
CRN: 85594 Section 20 MW 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 86429 Section 53 MF 355-510 and W 355-445

Are you defined by the times in which you live, or would your self remain stable even if you were thrust into the past or the future? Is your reaction to a text contingent upon the time in your life when you encounter it? Do some genres of writing capture time better than others? Is time an artificial construct?


In this course, we will study the conventions of different genres, including science fiction, poetry, and many different types of essays, in order to write about and discuss temporal markers in these texts. Through oral presentations, peer review, multiple-draft individual and collaborative writing projects, we will take an interdisciplinary approach toward analyzing representations of time. You will choose what time related topics to write about based on your own research interests, and you'll have the opportunity to pool resources with others during group projects. You might examine a keyword, like education or community or identity, to see how its meaning changes over time; you might study a particular historical period, or a specific event that could be used as a temporal marker. You might write a speculative paper about how technology might change the future. Make the time to talk about time!

Rachel Riedner - Revolutionary Writing, Democratic Visions, and Border Identities
CRN: 86439 Section M8 TR 1130-1245 and F 1130-1220: ACAD329
CRN: 86444 Section M6 TR 100 215 and F 100 150: ACAD301

In this course, we will read writing that has inspired new thinking, new forms of knowledge, and creates the possibility of different social identities. How do writers offer us new ways of thinking and, as a result, offer visions of social transformation? How do writers emancipate us from old ways of thinking and knowing and enable us to imagine a new, more democratic society? How do writers create space for the construction of new identities, for the elaboration of various types of relationships, for the development of new cultural forms?


What can learn about our own writing by reading and researching the circumstances surrounding revolutionary writing. Why is writing chosen a means of social and political protest? What do writers allow us to see, theorize, and argue? How does our own writing have important social and political consequences?

Matt Riley - Shifting Paradigms: Science and Our Place in the World
CRN: 86423 Section 47 M 220-310 and WF 220-335
CRN: 86428 Section 52 MF 355-510 and W 355-445

Although science increasingly warns that our future depends on how we come to terms with the earth's limitations, public policy often ignores these warnings, encouraging ever greater production and consumption. While the obstacles to change are many, what allows people to stare into a potentially disastrous future and risk it all has more to do with their underlying beliefs and assumptions about our place in the world. Should we treat other animals as equals? Will sustainable levels of consumption mean an end to progress? Will someone rescue us if we render the earth uninhabitable? Anyone who hopes to bring change to how we manage our resources must first understand these fundamental beliefs.


In this course, we will look at how some of these issues are framed in public discourse, while also examining the underlying paradigms. Each student will take a stab at defining how he or she sees our place in the world. From there we will settle on one issue to explore as a group, examining the assumptions underlying each side and developing arguments based on the available evidence in smaller research groups. Then, each student will deliver a position paper to the class. Finally, each student will choose a topic that relates to science and public policy and examine it thoroughly, producing an extended analytical essay that explains the issue, examines both sides, and either takes a position or makes an informed prediction about its fate.

Phyllis Ryder - In the Crossfire: Argument, Truth, and Academic Discourse
CRN: 86409 Section 33 TR 1245-200 and F 1245-135
CRN: 86410 Section 32 TR 1110-1225 and F 1110-1200

Every weeknight, Crossfire shoots across the airwaves from GW campus. A show full of zingers and sound bites, it draws plenty of viewers into the political arena. However, the show has been decried by sociolinguists and rhetorical theorists as demonstrating the worst of our culture: a battle ground where truth is sacrificed in a display of ego. What is the ideal space for examining and discovering truth? What role does the media play in this process? What is the role of institutions of higher learning, such as GWU? How do academics battle about knowledge, and what are considered the most effective strategies? We'll visit Crossfire, read Deborah Tannen's book Argument Culture, study the arguing styles of various academic disciplines, and write our own theories about proper methods of discovering truth. This course includes an in-depth research analysis of a particular forum for argument (such as a talk show, a town meeting, a cyber-meeting room, a senate hearing). Intensive writing and revision as a method of finding knowledge.

Heather Schell - Get a Life! Fans, Boosters, and Zealots
CRN: 85595 Section 21 TR 0800-0915 and F 800-850
CRN: 86408 Section 31 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025

In 1987, William Shatner, still famous for his role as Kirk on Star Trek, appeared on Saturday Night Live. During a skit, in which he was playing himself at a Star Trek convention, fans asked Shatner detailed questions that suggested they were taking the sci-fi series too seriously. He finally yelled, "Get a life!" In the aftermath of this hugely popular skit, debates raged among "Trekkers" about whether or not Shatner had really meant what he said. The incident raises a number of questions about fandom. For example, what ideas or texts or people are sufficiently important to deserve fans? (Football? Elvis? America?) How devoted can fans be to their chosen idol, without provoking concern or contempt? What's the difference between a fan and a fanatic, or a disciple, or a zealot? Why do people care so much about something that is, in almost every case, so remote from their personal lives as to appear to have absolutely no personal relevance to them? And there are times when fans, by their enduring enthusiasm, manage to make a cultural icon out of something absolutely undeserving, such as Rocky Horror or the Chicago Cubs. Are fans actually part of the creative process? Or are tribute bands and fan fiction writers merely parasites of other people's artistic creations? This semester, we will read and write about fans, enthusiasts, and zealots. We will examine theories about what motivates fans, and we will collect ethnographic data. In addition, every student will select an internet fandom (e.g., Dawson's Creek or Lord of the Rings) and participate in an online writing community devoted to that series.

April Shemak - Testimony, Truth, Justice and the Nation
April Shemak- Testimony, Truth, Justice and the Nation
CRN: 85587 Section 13 MW 0800-0915 and F 800-850
CRN: 86438 Section 41 M 0935-1025 and WF 935-1050

One of the defining features of many contemporary societies is the phenomenon of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other mass human rights violations that have been inflicted by regimes, states and other players on groups of people in places like Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cambodia, South Africa, Bosnia, and Rwanda. The primary focus of the class is on questions of testimony, truth and justice as these nations/peoples attempt to come to terms with the past. Through critical reading, thinking, discussion, research and writing we will examine such questions as how “truth” and “justice” are defined. What are the emotional, historical and juridical implications of these terms? How are recent events reflections of colonial histories? What are the implications of laying bare the “truth” of events that have occurred in the past--as part of ongoing nation-building processes? What are the repercussions of not addressing human rights violations on a national level? We will read and write on testimonio in the Latin American context, the “Gacaca” process in Rwanda and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, paying close attention to how arguments are constructed around these issues. Some possible texts that we will read are Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance edited by Beverley Bell, Martha Minnow’s Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence, Mahmood Mamdani’s When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and Genocide in Rwanda and Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa.


Throughout the semester you will write research proposals, annotated bibliographies, multiple drafts of papers, and one final complex research analysis which focuses on some aspect of testimony, truth, justice and nation-building. Some possible research topics could include: an in-depth analysis of one nation’s attempts to address the atrocities of the past; a comparison of the truth commissions of two nations; an exploration of how truth and justice are defined by one or more communities or nations; an event that has yet to be addressed in terms of human rights violations—i.e. reparations for slavery in the U.S., human rights violations in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, the torture of Haitians under the Duvalier regime, etc.

David Thomas - On the Way to Human Rights
CRN: 85592 Section 18 TR 0800-0915 and F 800-850
CRN: 85593 Section 19 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025

Many legal historians tell that human rights had no effective existence prior to 1948 or so, when horror at Nazi genocide after World War II ushered in newly concrete international agreements. Many cultural historians, however, see ideas of human rights implied in earlier contexts--notably in romantic-era declarations of the rights of man, rights of woman, rights of enslaved peoples, and so forth. What is that earlier rhetoric, if not a rhetoric of "human rights"? To answer this question, we will explore the modern discourse of rights, emphasizing British contexts from the mid-1600s through the 1820s, and reading in literary, legal and political texts. Major subtopics are revolution, empire, slavery, gender and political reform; major authors are Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Paine, Equiano, Wollstonecraft and Godwin. The course will proceed as a collaborative research group. Assignments include library research in original sources, bibliographic annotation, oral presentation, critical response to oral presentation, and a major research project.

Niles Tomlinson - Haunting and the Haunted: A Look at Ghosts in Time and Space
CRN: 86418 Section 42 M 220-310 and WF 220-335

Hamlet famously tells his companion: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." He is, of course, referring to the (re)appearance of his spectral father. But he is also alluding to the disjointedness of time itself which occurs with every ghostly event. Moreover, he implies the opening up of a haunted space that will continue to echo within the confines of the castle and within his own mind.

So, what does it mean to be haunted? And why does haunting occur? This course will examine the phenomenon of haunting as it applies to specific sites, specific historical events, and specific persons. We will be looking at haunting through a variety of lenses (including historical, psychological, theoretical, political) as a way to identify and understand competing rhetorics. As a method of inquiry, this course will use literature, film, essays, and case studies of famous hauntings. As a final project, students will be responsible for a research paper which investigates and argues for a unique reading of a particular haunting (for ex. a historical event, a famous personage, an individual site).

Phillip Troutman - History as Revision
CRN: 85585 Section 11 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025
CRN: 86415 Section 38 TR 1245-200 and F 1245-135

Historians and public commentators routinely deploy the term “revisionist” to dismiss new historical interpretations they find untenable or offensive. At the same time, most academic historians embrace the notion that historical practice itself is revision: researching new evidence, considering and responding to others’ points of view, rearticulating and reformulating approaches and arguments, in short, “looking again” at what we think we know. But what does it mean to see history as revision? What are facts if they always depend on the context of arguments? How do we decide which arguments are most viable and most important? How do these questions play out in academic and public arenas, and how should they? Students will explore these issues by writing in response to shared readings and original research into an area of controversy over historical revision. Topical choice is open; sites of investigation might include: debates over the Denmark Vesey conspiracy in historical journals; slavery and Civil War at Custis-Lee Mansion and Arlington National Cemetery; iconography in the Capitol building; the Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian; the Holocaust Museum; films like The Patriot or Life is Beautiful; Jefferson’s image in books like Gary Wills’s Negro President. Students will enact what it means to practice revision: to research new evidence, to consider and respond to others’ perspectives, to rearticulate and reformulate their approaches and arguments, in short, to “look again” at their own writing in a more sophisticated way. Students will sketch, draft, and revise various pieces—book/essay reviews, annotated bibliographies, research reports, short essays—then work from those to write the major essay. Reading and responding to peers’ work in small groups is central to the philosophy and design of this writing seminar.

Abby Wilkerson - Critical Conditions: Exploring, Writing, Resisting Ascriptions of Illness
CRN: 85598 Section 25 TR 0935-1050 and F 935-1025
CRN: 85600 Section 26 TR 1110-1225 and F 1110-1200

Who has the power to decide that you are sick or crazy? Who decides which bodies are considered normal, and which ones are considered different? When is it advantageous to be considered ill or disabled, and when is it against your interests? How are notions of illness and disability, both medical and popular, influenced by social constructions of gender, sexuality, race, and class? How do notions of illness influence these and other forms of social group difference? How and why have individuals and groups resisted ascriptions of illness or disability? We will explore these questions (1) in memoirs and other writings by people who have struggled with them firsthand, (2) through theoretical works which provide critical frameworks for these readings, and (3) through ethnographic-style research projects.

Zachary Wolfe - Law & Rhetoric: Arguing for a Better World
CRN: 86437 Section 39 MW 3:55-5:10 and F 3:55-4:45

“In the field of public education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place.” This declaration by a unanimous Supreme Court in 1954, at a time when people still spoke openly about minorities “knowing their place,” can still provoke us to think about what we want from society and our institutions.

For better or worse, law, and especially the language of rights, occupies a central place in our society. This course will explore how we use legal arguments in social debate, looking at examples from ancient Greek stories of Antigone resisting her brother, the King, to Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” to the gay families who convinced the Massachusetts Courts that the state may not refuse to recognize their marriages. Readings will include theoretical materials, advocacy pieces, and legal authorities.

We look to these materials to learn how to use the law as a tool for persuasive writing. We also learn by doing. Students will write several papers identifying the principles that various groups have sought to see effected through law, and analyzing how well law has served those designs. In addition, students will select a contemporary public debate as a topic for a major paper that uses the law and structured legal analysis to advance a position, while simultaneously exploring whether law ultimately is a useful or hopelessly flawed method of resolving society's problems.

Robbin Zeff - Race for the White House: Writing the Campaign Trail
CRN: 86441 Section M3 TR 220-335 and F 220-310 ACAD306
CRN: 86442 Section M4 TR 355-510 and F 355-445 ACAD306

On November 2nd, Americans will go to the polls to elect the 44th President of the United States. Will President George W. Bush win re-election and remain Commander-in-Chief? Will Senator John Kerry change the Administration and put the Democrats in the White House? Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, supporting a third party candidate, or completely undecided, this course will have you studying and experiencing the issues, the words, and the campaign strategies that make up the 2004 presidential election.

In this research-intensive writing course, we will look at the rhetoric of political parties and explore how that shapes the issues, the ads, and the speeches through books, articles, and documentaries of past campaigns. We will monitor daily news sources to observe how each candidate is spinning the issues and even try our hand at being a spin-doctor. We will also examine the heightened role the Internet is playing in this campaign. For many of you, this will be your first time voting so we will explore how the candidates can appeal to young voters. And after the election, we will do our own post-campaign analysis of who won, who lost, and what we think of the outcome.

Christy Zink - Cities of the Mind: Metropolis, Utopia, and Other Urban Imaginings
CRN: 85599 Section M1 MW 1000-1115 and F 1000-1050: ACAD306
CRN: 86440 Section M2 MW 1130-1245 and F 1130-1220: ACAD302

Architecture, Cities, and Politics in the Post-War United States
CRN: 86426 Section 50 M 220-310 and WF 220-335

What is it about The City that never fails to engage the human imagination? Our cities are alternately our utopias and dystopias, and we struggle with how they hold the best and worst that our civilizations have to offer. The artists among us—and here the word “artist” is used in the broad sense of the word for people creating city visions: writers, filmmakers, visual and performing artists and photographers, but also at times architects, planners, and educators—invent and reinvent just what the city can mean and do and offer. This course will look not only at our longstanding fascination with the city’s center but also toward the current moment in America as many people turn away from the characterless suburbs, those “geographies of nowhere,” to rediscover and reinvent the cities that they fled from only a generation ago, finding great worth in the personable, creative capital of cities. In particular, we’ll look at how artists re-dream the contemporary city, for as the American urbanist Jane Jacobs tells us, “Designing a dream city is easy; rebuilding a living one takes imagination.” In this course, we’ll take up the charge that Jacobs sets forward, using our imaginations to reconceive the city through critical argument writing and research projects and by interacting with artists and thinkers in the city we’re based in, here in Washington, DC.

Special attention will be given to American cities—New York City, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, and DC itself, for example, but we’ll also be looking at cities around the world such as Barcelona, Hong Kong, London, and St. Petersburg that hold in their city centers prime examples of the workings of human imagination. We’ll ask: What does living in the city require of our minds, and how does it alternately feed and test our human souls? Why have sex and the city always been entangled for us? How does a body both know and define itself by the urban landscape it occupies? How do other scholars’ imaginings on this topic challenge and prompt our own? As we move to define just what we mean when we speak of the city and urban life, we’ll examine complex questions about how we determine credibility and authority, how we create new definitions and build convincing arguments, and what vital choices we make when we write from the many perspectives and multiple audiences available. We will approach the topics at hand from a broad range of viewpoints, incorporating literature, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, anthropology, and urban studies, among other fields, to start thinking about the roots of effective research, critical writing, and scholarship. We begin, too, with the understanding that creative and critical writing are necessary partners, and that imagination and reason are inextricably linked in good writing, agreeing with the painter Goya’s dictum that “Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters; united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the source of their wonders.” Course readings and viewings may include Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Howard Dean Kunstler’s Geography of Nowhere, Metropolis, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, and Manhattan, as well as selections from Colson Whitehead, Chitra Divakaruni, Antoni Gaudi, Jane Jacobs, Jacob Riis, and Walter Benjamin.