UW20 Courses - Fall 2007

| Last Updated: 9/3/06 | 7:00 pm |

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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.

COURSE LISTINGS BY INSTRUCTOR AND DATE/TIME

Nicholas Boggs - Gender, Sexuality, and Literature [click for description]
CRN 66732 Section M20 | TR 1000 - 1115 ( ACAD 306 ) & F 1000 - 1050 ( ACAD 306 )
CRN 66736 Section M21 | TR 1130 - 1245 ( ACAD 306 ) & F 1130 - 1220 ( ACAD 306 )
NOTE: These courses are being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Jennifer Cho - Atomania! Remembering the A-Bomb in Literature & Film [click for description]
CRN 63734 Section 49 | WF 0935 - 1050 ( FNGR 222 ) & M 0935 - 1025 ( PHIL 111 )

Eric Drown - Conspiracy : Theory [click for description]
CRN 63491 Section 15 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 2020 K 6 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( 1776 G St., #102)
CRN 63719 Section 33 | TR 1245 - 1400 ( MON 350 ) & F 1245 - 1335 ( PHIL 417 )

Joseph Fisher - Be(ing) a Man [click for description]
CRN 64169 Section 63 | MW 0800 - 0915 ( ROME 351 ) & F 0800 - 0850 ( PHIL 510 )
CRN 64171 Section 65 | MW 0935 - 1050 ( PHIL 417 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( MON 113 )

Charity Fox - Defining Twentieth-Century “Cool” [click for description]
CRN 64184 Section 80 | W 1110 - 1200 ( GELM 608 ) & MF 1110 - 1225 ( DUQUES 152 )

Sandie Friedman - Write Lola Write: Critiquing the Postmodern Film[click for description]
CRN 63490 Section 14 | MW 1245 - 1400 ( 1776 G 107 ) & F 1245 - 1335 ( 1957 E 309 )
CRN 63736 Section 51 | W 1110 - 1200 ( GELM 610 ) & MF 1110 - 1225 ( MON B02 )

Joseph Fruscione - Stage, Page, and Screen: Drama on Film [click for description]
CRN 63731 Section 46 | WF 0935 - 1050 ( DUQUES 258 ) & M 0935 - 1025 ( ROME 459 )

Cayo Gamber - Legacies of the Holocaust [click for description]
CRN 63494 Section 19 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 2020 K 21 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( ON LINE )
CRN 63720 Section 32 | TR 1110 - 1225 ( 2020 K 23 ) & F 1110 - 1200 ( ON LINE )
CRN 64193 Section 35 | TR 1245 - 1400 ( 2020 K 23 ) & F 1245 - 1335 ( ON LINE )
NOTE: These courses are hybrid; classroom and on-line instruction.

Gustavo Guerra - On the Lyric Essay [click for description]
CRN 63718 Section 31 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 1957 E 309 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( MON 251 )
CRN 64898 Section 17 | TR 0800 - 0915 ( PHIL 108 ) & F 0800 - 0850 ( PHIL 414B )

Sharon Hamilton - Images of Italy [click for description]
CRN 66740 Section M25 | TR 1300 - 1415 ( ACAD 302 ) & F 1300 - 1350 ( ACAD 302 )
NOTE: This course is being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Elizabeth Harlan - Truthiness [click for description]
CRN 63735 Section 50 | M 02:20PM-03:10PM (2020 K St., #112) & WF 02:20PM-03:35PM (MON B01)
CRN 63740 Section 55 | MF 03:45PM-05:00PM (FNGR 207) & W 03:55PM-04:45PM (1776 G 102)

Stephanie Hartman - Trash Talk: The Meaning of Garbage [click for description]
CRN 63726 Section 40 | WF 0935 - 1050 ( 2020 K 21 ) & M 0935 - 1025 ( 1957 E 308 )
CRN 63730 Section 45 | WF 1420 - 1535 ( 1957 B14 ) & M 1420 - 1510 ( 1957 E 316)

Carol Hayes - Writing about New York, New York [click for description]
CRN 64194 Section M10 | MW 1300 - 1415 ( ACAD 329 ) & F 1300 - 1350 ( ACAD 329 )
NOTE: This course is being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Ryan Jerving - Uncommon Knowledge [click for description]
CRN 66068 Section 89 | TF 1420 - 1600 ( PHIL 415)
CRN 66069 Section 90 | TF 0800 - 0940 ( PHIL 417)
CRN 66070 Section 91 | TF 1110 - 1250 ( PHIL 416)

David Johnson - How To Do Things With Words: Tracing Rhetoric, Hegemony, and Culture in America [click for description]
CRN 64174 Section 70 | MW 0935 - 1050 ( ROME 352 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( DUQUES 250 )

David Johnson - Names for Themselves: Tracing Rhetoric and Culture in America[click for description]
CRN 64176 Section 74 | WF 0800 - 0915 ( PHIL 416 ) & M 0800 - 0850 ( PHIL 416 )

Jennifer Joyce Kissko - Homeless Chic? Poverty, Privilege, & Identity in Contemporary American Democracy [click for description]
CRN 63498 Section 24 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 1957 E 311 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( TOMP 202 )
CRN 64183 Section 79 | TR 1245 - 1400 ( MON B01 ) & F 1245 - 1335 ( PHIL 414B )

Randi Gray Kristensen - Poets of the Underdog[click for description]
CRN 63738 Section 53 | W 1555 - 1645 ( MPA 208 ) & MF 1545 - 1700 ( COR 205 )
CRN 63743 Section 59 | W 1110 - 1200 ( GOV 102 ) & MF 1110 - 1225 ( DUQUES 361 )

Kathy Larsen - The Real Thing: Fame, Celebrity and Fandom[click for description]
CRN 63489 Section 13 | MW 0800 - 0915 ( PHIL 417 ) & F 0800 - 0850 ( ROME 202 )
CRN 63729 Section 44 | WF 0935 - 1050 ( BELL 106 ) & M 0935 - 1025 ( PHIL 415 )

Clara Lewis - Writing Workshop on Campus Life [click for description]
CRN 63502 Section 27 | TR 1420 - 1535 ( GOV 104 ) & F 1420 - 1510 (GOV 325)

Jeannine Love - Poverty: Perceptions and Policy in the United States [click for description]
CRN 63742 Section 58 | W 1110 - 1200 ( TOMP 201 ) & MF 1110 - 1225 ( BELL 106 )

Derek Malone-France - Philosophical Explanations of Religion [click for description]
CRN 63723 Section 37 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 1957 E 310 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( TOMP 201 )
CRN 63724 Section 38 | TR 1245 - 1400 ( 2020 K St., #14) & F 1245 - 1335 ( PHIL 414A )

Diane Matlock - Exploring Washington , D.C.[click for description]
CRN 63495 Section 20 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 2020 K 9 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( GELM 609 )
CRN 63721 Section 34 | TR 1420 - 1535 ( MON 115 ) & F 1420 - 1510 ( ROME 459 )

Jessica Maxwell - White Trash, NASCAR, and Fried Chicken: Reading the American South [click for description]
CRN 64902 Section 73 | WF 0935 - 1050 ( 2020 K 6 ) & M 0935 - 1025 ( MON 252 )

Rachel McLaughlin - Postmodern, Posthuman [click for description
CRN 63733 Section 48 | WF 0935 - 1050 ( DUQUES 360 ) & M 0935 - 1025 ( PHIL 110 )
CRN 63741 Section 56 | W 1110 - 1200 ( TOMP 202 ) & MF 1110 - 1225 ( BELL 105 )

Nirmala Menon - Language of Power and the Power of Language [click for description]
CRN 64192 Section 57 | MF 03:45 - 05:00pm (2020 K St., #9) & W 03:55 - 04:45 (1957 E #314)

Danika Myers - Language, Language Games, and the Structure of English: Linguistic studies in Literature [click for description]
CRN 64191 Section 83 | W 1110 - 1200 ( GELM 607 ) & MF 1110 - 1225 ( DUQUES 251 )
CRN 66065 Section 88 | MW 1245 - 1400 ( 2020 K 9 ) & F 1245 - 1335 ( PHIL 111 )

Duc Nguyen - Reimagining the Idea of Self-Determination [click for description]
CRN 64185 Section 81 | WF 0935 - 1050 ( 1776 G 170 ) & M 0935 - 1025 ( ROME 351 )

Lara Payne - Culture, Identity & the Need for Subculture in the Modern World [click for description]
CRN 63745 Section 41 | WF 0935 - 1050 (PHIL 111) & M 0935 - 1025 (PHIL 217)

Pam Presser - Firing the American Canon: Symbolic Struggle and Cultural Wars [click for description]
CRN 64175 Section 71 | WF 1545 - 1700 ( 2020 K 6 ) & M 1555 - 1645 ( MON 451 )
CRN 64901 Section 69 | WF 1420 - 1535 ( 2020 K 6 ) & M 1420 - 1510 ( MON 250 )

Rachel Riedner - Writing from the Margins: BORF and Zapatistas in the Context of Globalization [click for description]
CRN 64187 Section 86 | TF 0800 - 0940 ( PHIL 413 )
CRN 64188 Section 87 | TF 1110 - 1250 ( ROME 202 )
CRN 64189 Section 85 | TF 1420 - 1600 ( PHIL 414A )

Matt Riley - Caught in the Web: Technology and Freedom [click for description]
CRN 64178 Section M9 | MW 1300 - 1415 ( ACAD 129 ) & F 1300 - 1350 ( ACAD 129 )
CRN 64182 Section M16 | MW 1430 - 1545 ( ACAD 129 ) & F 1430 - 1520 ( ACAD 129 )
NOTE: These courses are being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Robert Rubin - Spin: A Consumer's Guide [click for description]
CRN 63748 Section M4 | MW 1610 - 1725 ( ACAD 331 ) & F 1610 - 1700 ( ACAD 331 )
CRN 64195 Section M11 | MW 1430 - 1545 ( ACAD 331 ) & F 1430 - 1520 ( ACAD 331 )
NOTE: These courses are being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Phyllis Ryder - On Public Writing and Writing Publics [click for description]
CRN 63749 Section M5 | TR 1130 - 1245 ( ACAD 304 ) & F 1130 - 1220 (ON LINE)
CRN 63750 Section M6 | TR 1300 - 1415 ( ACAD 304 ) & F 1300 - 1350 (ON LINE)
CRN 66743 Section M28 | TR 1000 - 1115 ( ACAD 304 ) & F 1000 - 1050 (ON LINE)
NOTE: These courses are hybrid; classroom and on-line instruction
NOTE: These courses are being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Lauren Sallinger - Marching on Washington: Social Reflection and the Politics of Place [click for description]
CRN 63739 Section 54 | W 1555 - 1645 ( MPA 302 ) & MF 1545 - 1700 ( DUQUES 258 )
CRN 64186 Section 82 | WF 1420 - 1535 ( MON 113 ) & M 1420 - 1510 ( MON 353 )

Heather Schell - Bats in the Belfry:  Monster Movies and Our Cultural Imagination [click for description]
CRN 66864 Section 21 | TR 0800 - 0915 ( 1957 E 308 ) & F 0800 - 0850 (ONLINE)
CRN 64899 Section 22 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 1957 E 313 ) & F 0935 - 1025 (ONLINE)
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and on-line instruction

Sylvie Shapero - Working-Class Texts and Class-Conscious Performance [click for description]
CRN 63488 Section 12 | TR 1245 - 1400 ( MON B07 ) & F 1245 - 1335 ( PHIL 217 )
CRN 63492 Section 16 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 2020 K 16 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( ROME 352 )

Caroline Smith - ‘I Am Me': Writing about Women's Autobiography [click for description]
CRN 63500 Section M1 | MW 1000 - 1115 ( ACAD 331 ) & F 1000 - 1050 ( ACAD 331 )
CRN 63725 Section M7 | MW 1130 - 1245 ( ACAD 331 ) & F 1130 - 1220 ( ACAD 331 )
NOTE: These courses are being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Kimberly Stern - Bodies that Matter: Writing and Social Identity in
Nineteenth-Century Literature [click for description]

CRN 66737 Section M22 | TR 1000 - 1115 ( ACAD 301 ) & F 1000 - 1050 ( ACAD 301 )
CRN 66738 Section M23 | TR 1130 - 1245 ( ACAD 301 ) & F 1130 - 1220 ( ACAD 301 )
CRN 66739 Section M24 | TR 1430 - 1545 ( ACAD 304 ) & F 1430 - 1520 ( ACAD 304 )
NOTE: These courses are being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Michael Svoboda - Invasive Species [click for description]
CRN 64903 Section M18 | MW 1300 - 1415 ( ACAD 306 ) & F 1300 - 1350 (LIBR 142)
CRN 64904 Section M19 | MW 1430 - 1545 ( ACAD 306 ) & F 1430 - 1520 (LIBR 142)
NOTE: This course is being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Alison Thomas - What's So Funny? Examining and Employing the
Humorous Persuasion [click for description]

CRN 64172 Section 66 | MW 0935 - 1050 ( ROME 201 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( MON B03)

Niles Tomlinson - Animal/Human [click for description]
CRN 63487 Section 11 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 1776 G 170 ) & F 0935 - 1025 (1957 E #B14)

Phillip Troutman - Serious Comix: Graphic Novels and Manga as Visual Argument [click for description]
CRN 63746 Section M2 | MW 1430 - 1545 ( ACAD 329 ) & F 1430 - 1520 ( ACAD 329 )
CRN 64179 Section M12 | MW 1000 - 1115 ( ACAD 329 ) & F 1000 - 1050 ( ACAD 329 )
CRN 64180 Section M13 | MW 1300 - 1415 ( ACAD 312 ) & F 1300 - 1350 ( ACAD 312 )
NOTE: This course is being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

David Truncellito - Mens Sana In Corpore Sano: The Role Of Athletics In College Life [click for description]
CRN 63747 Section M3 | MW 1430 - 1545 ( ACAD 302 ) & F 1430 - 1520 ( ON LINE )
CRN 64181 Section M15 | MW 1130 - 1245 ( ACAD 329 ) & F 1130 - 1220 ( ON LINE )
NOTE: These courses are hybrid; classroom and on-line instruction.
NOTE: These courses are being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Abby Wilkerson - Food, Voice, and Social Change[click for description]
CRN 63499 Section 25 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 1957 E 308 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( TOMP 203 )
CRN 63501 Section 26 | TR 1110 - 1225 ( 1776 G 168 ) & F 1110 - 1200 ( ROME 201 )

Zachary Wolfe - Progressive Movements: (Re)writing History[click for description]
CRN 63728 Section 43 | WF 1420 - 1535 ( ROME 201 ) & M 1420 - 1510 ( DUQUES 250)

Zachary Wolfe - Law as a Force for Social Change
CRN 63737 Section 52 | W 1555 - 1645 ( MON 110 ) & MF 1545 - 1700 ( PHIL 413 )

Robbin Zeff - Political Junkie: Writing About Politics in the Nation's Capital[click for description]
CRN 66741 Section M26 | TR 1430 - 1545 ( LIBR 309 ) & F 1430 - 1520 (ON LINE)
CRN 66742 Section M27 | TR 1610 - 1725 ( LIBR 309 ) & F 1610 - 1700 (ON LINE)
NOTE: These courses are hybrid; classroom and on-line instruction
NOTE: These courses are being taught at the Mount Vernon campus.

Christy Zink - La Vie Boheme: Artists, Counterculture, and City Life[click for description]
CRN 63497 Section 23 | TR 0935 - 1050 ( 1957 E B14 ) & F 0935 - 1025 ( GELM 402 )
CRN 63722 Section 36 | TR 1110 - 1225 ( 2020 K 12 ) & F 1110 - 1200 ( MPA 208 )

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Nicholas Boggs - Gender, Sexuality, and Literature

Gender, according to conventional wisdom, is one of the most natural of all phenomena. The categories of man and woman define who we are, the roles we play in society, the way we look, and how we think of ourselves. Similarly, sexual orientation is often considered as fixed as either heterosexual or homosexual. Literature, however, often tells a different story. This intensive writing class explores a selection of novels, short stories, and critical essays by a wide range of authors--including Mark Twain, James Baldwin, J.M. Coetzee, Susan Minot, Judith Butler, and Eve Sedgwick--that complicate traditional categories of gender and sexuality. In doing so, we will be particularly concerned with understanding what literary representation can teach us about the social construction of gender and sexuality, and how these identities are formed in a dynamic relation to other categories of difference such as race, nation, and class.  Students will acquire skills for academic argument by writing and revising three papers in this class. Among those will be a close reading of one of the literary works on the syllabus, while another will be a research paper (including an annotated bibliography) that will give students the opportunity to employ the insights of literary analysis in order to provide fresh interpretations of gender and sexuality in other mediums, such as film, popular culture, mass media, history, and the social sciences. 

Jennifer Cho - CAtomania! Remembering the A-Bomb in Literature & Film

Delving into some of the literary and filmic "fallout" that followed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we will explore how cultural memory of the atomic bomb has been reconstructed in the global imagination –all done vis-à-vis your own writing. The purpose of this course is not to locate complicity on either the Japanese or American side for the events leading up to and including the detonation of the a-bomb, but to understand how artistic and cultural productions have the lasting power to shape public consciousness and collective memory. A shortlist of texts/films we will be using: Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills, Marguerite Duras’s Hiroshima Mon Amour (also the film version by Alain Resnais), Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Gojira, Atomic Café, and Dr. Strangelove. As this is an intensive writing seminar, you will produce smaller pieces (anywhere from 3-7 pgs.) that will closely analyze certain themes of the course and help push you towards the larger individual research project on representations of the a-bomb (10-12 pgs.). You will also be expected to contribute to a public reading (or course blog, depending on student interest). Not only will you be able to develop transferable rhetorical and critical skills suited for different audiences and purposes, you may hope to cultivate a personal awareness of your own reading and writing processes.

Eric Drown - Conspiracy : Theory

University Writing 20 aims to enhance first-year students' abilities to read, think, and write critically, as well as to equip them with university-level research and project-management tools. In these sections, we'll meet these goals by studying conspiracy theories and the people who create them. On first glance conspiracy theory hardly seems worth studying. What, after all, can be learned from reading the writings of paranoid crackpots given to delusional accounts of the world? But, as you will see, conspiracy theory is a form of thinking to which most Americans subscribe at one time or another to explain some aspects of their lives. Moreover, it is a form of writing with some significant parallels to university writing. Both academics and conspiracy theorists conduct extensive research, use elaborated arguments to convince others to see things their way, and circulate their work in highly critical public arenas. By developing sophisticated analytical methods and conducting first-hand research in conspiracy communities, you'll learn to see conspiracy theorists as astute, if eccentric, observers of society. More importantly, you'll learn how to use academic research and writing to formulate and answer questions that are more than merely academic. Writing assignments may include critical interpretations of select conspiracy theories, an original synthesis of primary sources, and a research-based essay, as well as participation in an online discussion group. Other assignments as necessary.

Joseph Fisher - Be(ing) a Man

For many (men), the dictate to “be a man” is stifling in its deployment. All too often, the notion of being a man is based on an opposition to static—and equally stifling—conceptions of femininity. Being a man requires that a man not “throw like a girl,” “run like a girl,” “fight like a girl,” and certainly not carry himself like a “girlie man.” While such dictates are, no doubt, problematic for their associations of femininity with frailty and weakness, they are also problematic because they demand that “true” men always be athletic, strong, and in no way “girlie.” In this intensive writing seminar, we will interrogate various constructions of masculinity through our class discussions, reading assignments, and writing assignments. Possible texts under consideration could include Robert Bly's Iron John: A Book about Men, Piri Thomas's Down These Mean Streets, Sanyika Shakur's Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member, John Fox's The Boys on the Rock, and Tucker M ax's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. The writing requirements for the course will include: (1) four short (4 to 5-page) argumentative essays; (2) participation in class discussions and writing workshop activities —both in class and during office hours with the instructor; (3) online discussion groups; (4) final research paper (10-12 pages) based on the course theme. This course will emphasize the importance of the writing process and therefore demands that each writing assignment be thoroughly drafted and revised before its final submission.

Charity Fox - Defining Twentieth-Century “Cool”

“Cool” is a largely undefined term in our culture, even though it possesses powerful social and economic implications. This course will examine the way that defining “cool” changed 20 th century American society by affecting popular perceptions of difficult, undefined, and complex aspects of culture like power, gender, race, and class. We will examine popular films, documentaries, and other cultural texts to determine the “cultural work” that these texts perform in defining, controlling, and profiting from the label “cool.”

Case studies of “cool” 20 th century trends will focus on the politics of fashion and race in the 1940s, the specter of teenage rebellion in the 1950s, and the social price of greed in the 1980s. In our discussions and writing, we will consider: power relationships involved in being “cool”; contemporary national and international events; displaying “cool” as a purchasable commodity; and the power of groupthink and the pressures of conformity (through both “normal” paths and “rebellion”).

The case studies will outline different analytical approaches, including race, gender, and class analyses, examining historical context, exploring the role(s) of iconic people, and detailing complex power structures. Students will produce several essays based on the case studies (5-7 pages each), an independent research paper (10-12 pages), and a digital in-class research presentation using these categories of analysis. Students will also participate in frequent writing workshops and weekly online discussions, activities that will serve as a model for approaching both the final project and future academic pursuits. Focusing on the complex ways that products of a privileged (or hated) trend can perform cultural work, this course seeks to expand students' capacity for critically reading, thinking, and writing, resisting the use of simple generalizations and rhetoric in writing in favor of more complex historical and cultural analysis.

Sandie Friedman - Write Lola Write: Critiquing the Postmodern Film

With twenty minutes to raise $100,000 to pay off a drug dealer who's going to kill her boyfriend, the heroine of Run Lola Run does what any postmodern punked-out redhead would do: she re-writes the film she's in; she re-writes her fate. Postmodern films like Run Lola Run confront viewers with unconventional modes of storytelling; they demand interpretation, and so offer an ideal field for honing the skills of academic writing. In this course, we consider questions raised by the experimental forms of postmodern film: do these disordered narratives reflect upheavals in culture? Do they mirror a chaotic postmodern consciousness? Why have such challenging, self-referential forms moved into the mainstream of American film? As part of our inquiry, students write three types of critical essay that prepare them for future academic work: a theoretical analysis, an analytical research essay, and a film review. For the research essay, students select a film to interpret in the context of its genre, the director's work, or its historical moment. Suggested films include: Adaptation , Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Memento, and Pulp Fiction. Lola runs, we write—and re-write.

Joseph Fruscione - Stage, Page, and Screen: Drama on Film

We have all seen—and reacted to—plays and films, either with high praise or harsh criticism. Thinking and writing about both genres will allow you to verbalize your own reactions, not only as a reviewer examining narrative, dialogue, and acting, but also as an academic writer exploring (and researching) broader issues, such as race, gender, constructions of truth, memory, trauma, and the “American Dream.”

This course will examine several play-film pairings, all of which will enable you to self-reflect on your own critical reading, thinking, and writing processes: Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden ; John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation ; David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross ; William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Drama, film, and scholarly works on them can provide you with lenses for examining and writing about other plays and films, allowing you to “bounce” ideas and arguments off each other to present your own case. How, for instance, can Shakespeare's depiction of Mercutio help you interpret Guare's portrayal of his protagonist, Paul? Likewise, how can a review of acting and music in Death and the Maiden support an argument about a film of Romeo and Juliet ? Drama, film, and academic writing are not distinct; rather, you can have these genres “talk” to each other to expand your critical reading, thinking, and writing skills, all the while working with familiar, enjoyable genres.

Writing assignments: Adaptation reviews; Creative Adaptation project; Objective Analysis exercise; workshopping; and a final research project.

Cayo Gamber - Legacies of the Holocaust

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, in oral histories collected at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) and the video testimony of survivors (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.

Hybrid Course: "Hybrid" is the name given to courses that blend face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning to improve learning outcomes. Hybrid courses thus move a significant amount of course work to an online environment. If you have any questions about this class, please contact Professor Gamber at cayo1@gwu.edu

Gustavo Guerra - On the Lyric Essay

This is a course in experimental critical writing that hopes to help writers develop their own voice and to uncover the rhetorical possibilities available under the rubric “lyric essay.” Recent developments in writing theory have focused on this particular genre as a highly desirable way to address a number of contemporary social problems. A lyric essay tends towards hybridity, often combining and borrowing freely from art, rant, manifestos, poetry, and drama. Often highly idiosyncratic, the lyric essay reveals a neurotic personality that obsessively attends to its own process of creation. This class will read a wide sample of authors and of topics. Because this is NOT a “topics” class as such, students will be given the opportunity to develop their own research topic as the semester progresses. Authors discussed may include Walter Benjamin, Severo Sarduy, Amitava Kumar, Joan Didion, Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick, Antonio Gramsci, Jose Lezama Lima, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Judith Butler, Sigmund Freud, Eduardo Galeano, Christopher Bollas, Adam Phillips, and others

Sharon Hamilton - Images of Italy

Italy has inspired some of the world’s greatest writing: poetry, travel writing, songs, biographies, and academic studies of everything from art, architecture, military history, economics, crime, and political studies to cooking and wine. Little wonder that so much great writing has been produced in or about Italy, a beautiful, richly blessed country with a long, fascinating history. The Italians, too, have inspired great writing by being great writers. In this class, we will explore the arts of persuasion, critical thinking, and skilled academic writing by looking at writing about, or from, Italy. We will practice close reading skills by examining poetry set in Italy; investigate the ways in which writers consciously shape their writing to suit different audiences by looking at contemporary travel writing; and learn how to convince our readers by exploring the writings of Cicero, one of the most talented defense lawyers of all time. The semester will end with a detailed independent research project in which students will be asked to research and develop a topic about Italy, a project intended to aid students in acquiring the specific skills needed for university-level writing and research.

Elizabeth Harlan - Truthiness

“Truthiness,” according to comedian Stephen Colbert, is the truth we feel in our gut, what we believe to be true, even if it opposes the facts. But is there such a thing as truth? Can you trust what you read in the paper or in textbooks to be factual? Did your past really happen the way you remember it? Do we read fiction and nonfiction in the same way? Should we? Through reading fiction, nonfiction, and journalism, in this course we will explore the concept of truth, how we find it, or if it even exists. Scholarly reading will focus on theories of the social construction of facts; additionally, we will be reading Truman Capote's In Cold Blood , articles by and about Jayson Blair, and Woodward and Bernstein's All the President's Men .

Whether writing a research paper or simply watching the news, deciphering the "truth" amidst contradictory sources can be difficult. Who gets to decide that the facts in your sources are true? Do your own preconceived ideas affect your research? Can you write a paper if you aren't sure what the truth of your topic is? We will explore all of these issues; writing assignments will include a research paper, an assessment of relevant scholarship, and a memoir.

Stephanie Hartman - Trash Talk: The Meaning of Garbage

Trash, by definition, might seem to be without value, beneath notice. But the waste we generate is tremendously revealing: plastic clamshell packaging, fast food wrappers, and outmoded cell phones form a record of how we live and what we value. Trash provides a kind of “shadow history” of consumer culture, a future archeologist's view of who we are. It also suggests a stratified social order in which people, too, can be deemed trash. Through a variety of reading and writing assignments, we'll explore what social historian Susan Strasser calls “the categorizing process that defines trash.” We will also use our analysis of trash-picking, reusing, and discarding to conceptualize the processes of research and revision, and the production of knowledge. As you've probably noticed, a paper doesn't spring fully formed from your solitary brain; it emerges from deep engagement with others' ideas. Some artists use others' trash as material for their own art; in a similar way, you will “repurpose” others' words, gleaning useful passages from numerous sources to produce something original. Using extensive research to revise multiple drafts of your final paper, you will salvage your best ideas and toss out what you determine to be extraneous as your project evolves.

Carol Hayes - Writing about New York , New York

Times Square, Greenwich Village, the Bronx . New York City thrives on crowds, controversy, and contrasts. We'll begin the semester by exploring New York-centered Hip-Hop and rap, analyzing the lyrics in a short essay to help us explore the place of these musical genres in New York 's social, political, gendered, and racial landscapes. You'll then build on these close reading skills by developing an independent research project through a series of essays focusing on any aspect of New York that interests you. As you develop this independent project, we'll be using our readings about New York to model a number of the research and writing skills that you'll be incorporating into your paper. For instance, we'll read accounts of the 1984 subway shootings where Bernhard Goetz–a white man–shot four black youths. These readings will model not only the variety of perspectives you'll be expected to bring into your own research and writing–there are almost always more than two sides to a story! – but also the importance of context: Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point argues that the Goetz shootings could only have taken place on the graffiti-laden subway. Finally, we'll use our readings throughout the semester to model how scholars writing at the university level frame their work within academic discourses–discussions of race, gender, politics, religion, and sexuality, among others–and you'll learn to frame your own writing in these ways.

Ryan Jerving - Uncommon Knowledge

You might think your thoughts are your own, but you'd be wrong. That melody stuck in your head, that cleverly deployed catchphrase, that elaborate critique of the global military-industrial-media complex that you've devised - all of it, in part or whole, comes from some other place within the shared cultural storehouse of ideas and expressions, our knowledge "commons." But increasingly - paradoxically - that material is also likely to be claimed by someone as their uncommon knowledge, with carefully guarded copyrights, trademarks, and patents enclosing much of what you might consider to be "yours" for the taking. 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 it all means for you as a 21st-century citizen, consumer, and writer.

You will propose, design, and lead class through our specific case studies into issues such as identity theft, sampling, Web 2.0, freedom of/from information, indigenous cultural property claims, scriptural authority, or collaborative research and authorship in the sciences. We'll frame our discussions within somewhat broader questions of cultural authority, intellectual autonomy, language communities, and the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction and digital dissemination. For a glimpse at the kind of work you'll be doing, see I-Prop (our collaboratively authored online resource at http://www.gwu.edu/~uw20ip/i-prop.htm) and Uncommon Knowledge at http://uncommonknowledge.wikispaces.com (our site for working collaboratively). And, as we learn to conduct, cite, and document primary and secondary research; to develop arguments that incorporate and rework the ideas and language of others; to engage in academic "fair use"; to invoke and tinker with established writing genres; and to revise in collaboration with our peers - as we do all that, we'll begin also to explore the particularly murky waters of intellectual ownership to which acts of scholarly writing and research inevitably lead.

David Johnson - How To Do Things With Words: Tracing Rhetoric, Hegemony, and Culture in America

In 1926, Antonio Gramsci began writing Notes From Prison , a formative and challenging collection of philosophical ideas about culture, power, and intellectualism. These writings, influenced by Marx, provided the theoretical groundwork for more leftist and controversial philosophies. By redefining culture, Gramsci showed the possible links between class and power, intellectual language and the production of ideologies, and oppression and freedom. Essentially, Gramsci opened new and provocative ways of apprehending the nature and idiosyncrasies of language, power, and culture.

In this course, we'll engage in close readings of various texts that speak about rhetoric, hegemony, and culture so that we can judge both the accuracy of their respective theories and the reasonableness of their particular arguments. In brief, we'll reveal the rhetorical ways people invent powerful places for themselves—often at the expense of others—within their respective cultures.

The objective of this course is for you to enhance your judgments by constructing weekly response essays, developing valuable research questions, and finally producing an independent research paper (12-15 pages) that logically argues a stance concerning the possible relationship between words and deeds. When all is said and done, as it were, you'll have gained the essential academic tools—close reading, stasis development, primary and secondary source acquisition, and framing—to assemble a scholarly writing artifact.

David Johnson - Names for Themselves: Tracing Rhetoric and Culture in America

It is inarguable that Madonna the Mother of Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad significantly impacted their respective societies as leaders of religious movements, and it is also fairly certain that Dylan Thomas substantially influenced his particular social order as a literary figure. Interestingly, what is perhaps equally clear is that their namesakes—Madonna, Muhammad Ali, and Bob Dylan—ambitiously sought to influence their own cultures as reinvented leaders of socio-political movements. In each case, the new principal players on the cultural stage made names for themselves either by reworking customary beliefs or by embodying rather strange and uneasy behavior. These second-comers harked back to their influential lineage for support, but also moved uniquely ahead to forge more progressive environments.

In this course, we'll pair these and other important individuals by name—including Cornel West and Kanye West, and Spike Lee and Bruce Lee— identify appropriate cultural contexts, discern rhetorical practices, and detect common methodological patterns for producing change within any social order. In sum, we'll discover the ways people discursively invent names for themselves.

The upshot of this course is for you to build on these discoveries by developing weekly response essays, advancing worthy research questions, and ultimately producing an independent research project (12-15 pages) that reasonably argues a position regarding inventive discourses. By the end of the day, you'll have acquired the necessary academic skills—close reading, stasis development, resource acquisition, and contextual framing—to construct a scholarly writing product.

Jennifer Joyce Kissko - Homeless Chic? Poverty, Privilege, & Identity in Contemporary American Democracy

Today, legislation from city to city across the United States aims to remove the presence of visible homelessness in an effort to clean up the streets and provide a feeling of security for others to enjoy. These criminal acts targeted by local ordinances include cutting across or loitering in parking lots, urinating in public, sleeping in or near subways or on public benches and tables, and panhandling. Meanwhile , a current trend among celebrities in Hollywood is “homeless chic”. This involves wearing dirty rags, disproportionately-sized apparel, and fingerless gloves. Is this trend reflective of something deeper than an aesthetic choice? What might be at stake for the face of an American culture that fetishizes mass media images that reflect the very identity the legal system works to hide? Why are we both fascinated and repulsed by homelessness? This modern-day juxtaposition of poverty and privilege offers tremendous occasion for critical thinking about the intersections of class, identity, citizenship, and power in America .

This 4-credit intensive writing course seeks to further comprehend the roots of our ideas regarding nationhood and ultimately democracy by uncovering America 's fears about homelessness through careful analysis of contemporary literature, film, essays, music, sociological studies, and news accounts. Throughout the semester, you'll develop your own academic writing voice, as demonstrated through a range of smaller, creative writing and research assignments. For your final paper, you will develop an original proposal and project that analyzes a particular aspect of poverty or privilege that interests you, challenging you to insert your own (well-supported) voice into the current conversation about class in America . Extensive collaborative sharing and revision of work will also be required.

Randi Gray Kristensen - Poets of the Underdog

Poet Audre Lorde claims that poetry “forms the quality of light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.” This is a course in critical reading, thinking and writing that focuses on student writer/researchers becoming poets of the underdog themselves . Writing assignments include an autoethnography, in which students reflect on their own relationship to language and social concerns; a major, collaborative, community-based research paper in which student writer/researchers attempt the process described by Lorde, whereby hopes and dreams become action, in the DC community; and a hybrid creative/analytical assignment. Texts include Beverly Bell's Walking on Fire: Testimonies of Haitian Women, and others selected and introduced by students.

Kathy Larsen - The Real Thing: Fame, Celebrity and Fandom

Why was the death of Anna Nicole Smith the top story on CNN? How did she become famous? How does anyone? What do we want from our celebrities? What place do they fill in our cultural imagination?

We have always been fascinated by the famous, those people who seem somehow larger than life no matter what their fields of endeavor. We write obsessively about them, devote hours of television programming to them and construct websites in their honor. Lately even the famous have become interested in the phenomenon of their own fame, exploring their situation in films, novels, and songs. The interest in celebrity status is not limited to popular culture venues. It has also become the subject of scholarly investigation.

Why have we become fascinated by our own fascination? Together we will try to answer this question, as well as the ones posed above, through a variety of readings, viewings and writing assignments. However, the emphasis will be on the development and execution of a research project that questions some aspect of fandom or celebrity, past or present.

Clara Lewis - Writing Workshop on Campus Life

Are American universities avenues of opportunity, testing grounds for talent, or markers of status and privilege? What can we learn about our society's values, norms and expectations from observing the Marvin Center, a fraternity party or the gym? This intensive writing seminar will explore the American university system's relationship to social stratification and observe the dynamics of student life at GWU. Students will conduct original research on an aspect of campus life of their choosing that will grow out of readings on contemporary issues in higher education. Using writing as a practice of critical thinking and tool for investigative learning, students will locate their individual educational histories within a broader social context. The course ultimately aims to familiarize students with the discipline of university writing, including the skills necessary to frame a sound research question, work analytically with multiple sources of evidence, and develop strategies to draft and revise in different prose styles.

Jeannine Love - Poverty: Perceptions and Policy in the United States

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, poverty in the United States became a prominent issue in the media. Unfortunately, tragedies such as Katrina often only momentarily focus our attention on issues of poverty, class, race and wealth inequality in the United States ; however, our ideas about these social phenomena are constantly being shaped, consciously and unconsciously, by our everyday experiences. This course explores the ways images, language and power often affect our understanding of poverty and wealth inequality in the United States .

Throughout the semester we will explore how poverty is defined, consider the ways in which poverty has been portrayed in mainstream media (e.g. news outlets, fiction, film, photography, music), read personal testimonies and social analyses, participate in community service and discuss government programs designed to fight “the war on poverty.” This course will push you to engage in cultural criticism through critical analysis and personal inquiry. Academic writing abilities will be developed and honed through a variety of short writing assignments and one longer research paper. The assignments will be designed to help you define your own perspective on important social issues through the development of critical thinking and writing skills.

Derek Malone-France - Philosophical Explanations of Religion

The religious impulse, the desire to formulate some understanding of “reality” and the significance of human existence, has—in one form or another—characterized every human society. In the modern world, however, the status of religious belief has been complicated by a greater appreciation of the psychological, sociological, and cultural dimensions of religious belief, leading more and more people to question the validity of their inherited “faith.” The erosion of the political authority wielded by “the Church” during “the Enlightenment” precipitated an era of tremendous philosophical interest in religion as an object of study and reflection, with some thinkers seeking to defend and others seeking to discredit it. Moreover, philosophers on both sides of the “question of religion” began to incorporate developments in science, psychology, anthropology, historical criticism, etc. to develop novel interpretations of religion itself, interpretations that, in some cases, exercised a powerful influence on the evolution of popular religion and spirituality.

We will study some of the central developments in philosophy of religion in Europe and America during the late-modern period (roughly 1700 to the Second World War). The wealth of perspectives on religion—ranging from the skeptical, to the faith-based, to the transformative—produced during this period will provide us with a rich conceptual context in which to explore basic intellectual issues such as: What constitutes a ‘rational claim'?; What sorts of ‘evidence' count in establishing such a claim?; Who decides what sorts of evidence count? How does the ‘meaning' of a claim get constructed in the relationship between author and audience?; Etc. As we shall see, the array of possible positions in the various debates over religion and its place in society is vastly more complex than the simple polemic between religion and ‘secularism' that dominates many current discussions of these topics.

Students will proceed through a succession of reading and writing assignments intended to introduce them to the skills and sensibilities necessary for quality academic writing in general. These assignments will build upon one another, so that as the students' capacity for sophisticated written argumentation grows they will be asked to formulate increasingly more complex and nuanced positions in relation to their own views on the legitimacy of religious belief and what is the proper role of such belief, if any, in modern life. Most importantly, students will learn to incorporate active drafting, revising, editing, and researching practices into their writing throughout their university experiences.

Diane Matlock - Exploring Washington, D.C.

The “official” tourist website for Washington, D.C., claims that “the District of Columbia's neighborhoods, people, history, and culture truly embody the American experience—from Duke Ellington to John Phillip Sousa and from the Civil War to civil rights.” Produced by the Washington, D.C., Convention and Tourism Corporation, the website also offers visitors the opportunity to discover the capital as “more than just a tourist.” To do so, we must experience the diversity of Washington, D.C.,—one of the few cities in the world designed specifically as a national capital. Built to embody the new Republic's aspirations, the city has come to represent what it means to be an American. In this course, we will explore Washington, D.C., as a site, space, and symbol of the American experience. We will therefore examine texts, images, objects, and places as we interrogate the interplay between material practices and the realm of ideas. As we explore Washington, D.C., both intellectually and physically, we will engage in a series of interconnected reading and writing assignments that will develop our analytical skills and culminate in a major research project using primary sources from the special collections of local libraries and museums.

Jessica Maxwell - White Trash, NASCAR, and Fried Chicken: Reading the American South

In this class we will explore how the American South has been represented in various mediums, such as film, literature and popular culture. Such discussions will require us to look not only at how the South is viewed today, but also the ways in which it has been scripted throughout American history. We will consider stereotypical portrayals of the South alongside texts which work to develop more nuanced representations. Ultimately, we will ask how these representations of the South work to create not only a narrative for the South, but also work to shape national identity. In other words, how and why is the South constructed in particular ways? In attempting to answer these questions, we will consider such topics as how Southern identity was and often continues to be shaped by the Civil War and the stark divisions between North and South.

This class is designed to develop your ability to write clear and effective argumentative prose. We will approach writing not as a product, but as a process that involves recognizing, developing, and effectively expressing our most interesting questions as compelling arguments. Requiring the analysis of not only assigned readings, but also each other's writing, this class emphasizes revision as an indispensable part of the critical-thinking process. Thus, class time will be spent discussing the assigned texts and your writing.

Rachel McLaughlin - Postmodern, Posthuman

Are you a robot? A cyborg? A human? Believe it or not, the answers to such basic questions are no longer obvious. Information and medical technologies have radically re-written the script of life in the early days of the 21st century. In our course, we will examine conceptualizations about living beings through a series of readings that engage the themes of genetic engineering, evolution, ecology, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Since the critical conversation about these topics is far from uniform, the course will consider a range of ideas (and writing strategies) with the aim of producing original argument, analysis, and research.

Theorists of contemporary culture such as Jean Baudrillard and Frederic Jameson describe postmodernity as a state of being saturated with media, information, technology and capital. One fundamental question we will consider, in our exploration of categories such as “human” and “machine,” is how Enlightenment ideas that we have inherited about science, reason, and progress (as espoused quintessentially in Francis Bacon's writings in the late 16th century) fare when they contend with and are transformed by the postmodern present.

We will spend the first half of the course exploring ideas about posthumanity through discussion, reading and writing. I will ask you to build your own arguments in short essays that engage with the theoretical selections that we will read closely together. In addition to the authors noted above, we will consider contributions from feminists (Donna Haraway), inventors (Ray Kurzweil), historians (Carolyn Merchant), and science journalists (Michael Pollan), among others. Later, students will write a substantial research paper on a topic of their choosing that makes use of the conceptual framework explored in the first half of the course.

Nirmala Menon - Language of Power and the Power of Language

Located as we are, in Washington DC , the term, “language of power” has an inescapable political resonance. And perhaps in some way this course does speak to the might of that power; only we look at it from the point of view of the English language and the clout that it enjoys as an international language. How do languages, like people, cultures or nation states, acquire a powerful status by themselves? Is the process gradual and “naturally” evolving or is there a deliberate strategy involved? How does the disproportionate power acquired by one language influence or affect the development of other languages and their literatures? The historical deployments of Shakespeare as a colonizing strategy compel us to reflect on the role of literature in the construction of linguistic hierarchies. Literature, as we will see, alternatively reinforces and disrupts this hierarchy through different narrative strategies. Using texts as Brian Friel's Translations , Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss and Zitkala-Sa's Flight of the Red Bird, we will explore the language issue and discuss the problems associated with the use and deployment of language. Do we see a future where cultural translations are monolingual, multi-dialects of varied Englishes? Or is the language debate getting more complicated? You will bring your own experience of language, and examine it critically against both the historical perspective and the current debates about language here in the US . You will have opportunities to write different kinds of papers, some research intensive, others informal but informative besides engaging in lively discussions about the unconscious and self-conscious role of language in our daily interactions.

Danika Myers - Language, Language Games, and the Structure of English: Linguistic studies in Literature

How is the very construction of language connected to meaning? Ernest Hemingway was famous for his short sentences, while William Faulkner was infamous for his long ones. Writers like Gertrude Stein and Hart Crane broke language apart and subverted traditional grammar. In every text, the mechanical and syntactical choices of the writer produce different textures, different tones, and different meanings. How do the author's rhetorical choices affect the finished text? What aspects of traditional grammar do experimental writers retain, and what do they discard or alter?

In this course we will endeavor to answer these questions by approaching literature from a linguistic perspective. Using a critical framework that will include Noam Chomsky's studies in language and knowledge and Stanley Fish's writings on interpretation and rhetorical context, we will analyze works of literature at the most basic level of language: the words chosen by the writer, and the syntax into which he or she places them. The course will focus on writers of fiction and poetry recognized for their unusual prose styles or unique understanding of how the English language could be assembled. We will also study experimental writing and language games—like the word replacement exercises used by the French Oulipo group—as a tool for learning what happens to language when a writer radically departs from linguistic norms by inverting or otherwise altering syntax, or by using the “wrong” parts of speech or inventing words.

Class assignments will include several short, analytical response papers, imitations, and a final paper analyzing a text from an applied linguistics standpoint. The final paper will require you to draw on both the critical readings used throughout the course and on your own research.

Duc Nguyen - Reimagining the Idea of Self-determination

The purpose of the first-year writing course is to improve academic writing. In addition to teaching the basic conventions of syntax and grammar, the course will encourage students to think critically about the writing they produce. Thus students will be asked to decide writing strategies based on purpose and audience, types of argument and the legitimacy of types of evidence. Students will also be required to research into various intellectual problems and situate their writings in the context of previous scholarship, properly acknowledging that which came before.

Discussions and papers for this section will be organized around the idea of self-determination. In the last several centuries, self-determination has meant different things and been used in various ways. The Declaration of Independence of what would eventually become the United States takes self-determination as a first principle that justifies the right of one “people” to “dissolve” political bond with another. In the still influential political thoughts of the Victorian writer John Mill, self-determination allowed individuals to make certain limited but unalienable demands of government. The idea was central to the arguments of decolonization. It remains an important component in language produced by international organizations like the United Nations. And one hears it repeatedly in outcries from disputed territories, where each party uses the idea to support its respective claims. As to be expected, the different versions of “self-determination” contrast with, compete against, and contradict one another. For instance, the discourse on self-determination produced in the present-day often conflates what had strictly been a principle of statehood and national sovereignty with universal individual rights. The many meanings of the idea of self-determination brings up the question: what makes the idea powerful enough that interested parties continue to organize their rhetoric around it? Additionally, what are some of the problems created by the different versions of the idea of self-determination? And more generally, what are the limits of the idea's authority? The over-determination of self-determination is the intellectual problem that will occupy us for the semester. All papers (between 5 – 10 pages) are topically related to the theme, although the final project may pursue issues independent of those brought up in class.

Lara Payne - Culture, Identity & the Need for Subculture in the Modern World

Straight-Edge, White, Artist, Heterosexual, Queer, Patriot, Vegan, WASP, Catholic, African-American, Geek, Latina , Athlete.

How do you identify? When do you differentiate yourself and when do you choose to fit in? Were you raised with a strong feeling of cultural identity? What type of person would you be if you had been born in a different century, or raised in a different place? Through the use of ethnography ––the study of human culture and experience using direct observation, research and interviewing–– we will explore ideas of culture and identity, and determine what makes a social group.

We will discuss the ways society and culture are shaped: through values, norms, institutions, beliefs and symbols. We will read essays by Amy Tan, Langston Hughes and Judith Ortiz Cofer, among others, responding with short writing assignments that will progress in complexity as the semester continues. We will supplement these with scholarly articles from sociologists and anthropologists.

For our final project we will research and write our own ethnography of a subculture or group. Margaret Mead said, "Thanks to television, for the first time the young are seeing history made before it is censored by their elders." Today she might add the Internet to this statement: MySpace, Blogs, online newsmedia and other participatory forums are reshaping how we interact with others. In the Information Age we see many people forming sub-groups as they look for community and a sense of self in the expanding world. Through participant observation, reading and research we will delve into the formation of subculture and explore why it is often necessary.

Pam Presser - Firing the American Canon: Symbolic Struggle and Cultural Wars

The writing classroom is a site of intense symbolic struggle. What exactly is good writing? How important is emphasis on aspects associated with traditional writing instruction, such as punctuation, word choice, or sentence structure? What set of ideas about writing should be developed and promoted in the classroom? What are the connections between writing and knowledge production? What constitutes rigorous research? What do our ideas about writing enable or restrict? Questions like these provoke heated debate in the academy.

This course will start with the assumption that classrooms are contested spaces, and instructors don't agree how best to choose texts to teach, or how to study the texts once they are selected. These debates are often referred to as "culture wars." As a student, you are well-equipped to participate in this conversation, since you have expertise about which pedagogical strategies work best for you, encouraging you to become engaged and knowledgeable about the subject you are studying, and you also know what methods fail to inspire you.

The course title is intended to invite inquiry about key terms such as "American canon" and "culture." As a class, we will discuss and write about pedagogical issues such as: Should classes be student or teacher centric? Should education be pleasurable? Is popular culture a suitable academic subject? What constitutes American literature? What can comics, movies and children's books reveal about the culture which produced them? How does time/culture/location/identity impact on our literacy, language use, rhetoric and consciousness? What feature makes writing good, and what inept? Has the answer to this question changed since Plato raised it? To what extent is what we write formed out of our unconscious mind and to what extent are our texts influenced by time and culture?

Students will complete at least three writing assignments of increasing complexity; these may include, but will not be limited to, an essay presenting a prescriptive argument, an analysis of a significant site in D.C., and a collaborative research project.

Rachel Riedner - Writing from the Margins: BORF and Zapatistas in the Context of Globalization

This course will use graffiti writing from Washington , DC , and New York City and Zapatista writing from Chiapas , Mexico , as a means to consider writing as a site of intervention and struggle by marginalized communities. We will use the following questions as a means of exploring what writing does and how it communicates within local and global contexts. We will ask: What does writing do? How does it create meaning? How, and in what contexts, might it fail to create meaning? Who is writing? Why are they writing? What are the contexts for writing and why do these contexts matter? How is writing turned into a crisis and what political purposes does this crisis serve? How does writing transform, or fail to transform, public spaces? How does writing affect us? How do we listen to voices from different cultural/political spaces? What would it mean to develop a politics of listening to writers of these spaces? Readings that will help us both think through as well as complicate these questions include Mary Louise Pratt's “Arts of the Contact Zone,” Subcomandante Marcos' “Letter to John Berger” and “Why We Use the Weapon of Resistance,” selections from Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands , Joe Austin's Taking the Train , and writing by the BORF Brigade. Joseph Harris' Rewriting will be used as an introduction to academic discourse.

As we read and discuss, we'll think about our own writing. We will ask ourselves what we can learn about our own writing by reading and researching writers who use writing as a strategy of intervention. All students will complete a major research essay as well as two shorter essays. We'll talk about writing as a process, incorporate revision and peer review into the writing process, and think about the possibilities as well as the limitations of academic discourse.

Matt Riley - Caught in the Web: Technology and Freedom

The modern era has been a story of technology freeing us from the burdens of reality— hunger, disease, oppression, and toil— and endowing us with prosperity the ancients might have called unnatural. In fact, few of us ever give a moment's thought to real survival anymore. But whether this is a good thing or not ultimately depends on whether we control technology or technology controls us. While freeing us to pursue the highest achievements of our species, sending people to the moon and redesigning the building blocks of life, technology has also made us ever more dependent on its drugs and devices, its speed and organization, all while slowly enveloping us in a matrix of excessive comfort and convenience. Yet, determining just who exactly is in control is no easy task. Much of what we believe about technology has been shaped by our cultural values and memory (or lack thereof), by competing political and economic theories, and by the forces of government and commerce, as expressed through the news and advertising. It therefore becomes crucial that we critically examine the sources of this influence—in literature, philosophy, the media, and scholarship— to see how our ideas are molded and shaped, which we will do using a theoretical framework called a device paradigm. Then, students will choose a particular form of technology that interests them and examine it through a series of essays that include a theoretical analysis, an historical analysis, and an extended researched-based argument, along with many shorter writing assignments and some very challenging reading.

Robert Rubin - Spin: A Consumer's Guide

The Greek philosopher Aristotle, complaining about what we now might term “spin” 2500 years ago, argued that “ It is not right to pervert the judge [of laws and ideas] by moving him to anger or envy or pity.” But, he admitted, people do so all the time. So, what's a modern philosopher to do?

It's said that we live in an age of spin. What does that mean? Is it any different than in Aristotle's day? H ow can you become a smarter consumer of persuasive language in politics, commerce, and public life? Must you just become a cynic, or shrug your shoulders and resign yourself to it? Or can you learn how to dive into the dumpster and extract arguments about what might be called “truth?”

In this writing-intensive class we'll examine the art of spin, past and present. We'll read three books: (1.) liberal linguist Geoffrey Nunberg's Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show ; (2.) conservative pollster Frank Luntz's Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear ; and (3.), satirist Christopher Buckley's fictional Thank You for Smoking. We'll try to identify current examples of spin in today's political debates, intellectual arguments, and commercial discourse, and learn how to recognize it. We'll read essays on language by writers such as Stanley Fish and George Orwell, and talk about how logical argument and “good writing” fit into the rough and tumble world of discourse. In the process, we'll learn how to be better writers and thinkers ourselves, and how to join the intellectual conversation of the modern academic community. In addition to class presentations and online discussions, each student will write three papers, one of which will be a substantial researched argument that explores the language strategies that a particular organization or interest group uses to advance its political, social, or commercial agenda.

Phyllis Ryder - On Public Writing and Writing Publics

What does it take to have a voice in public conversations, to shape the direction of our government or communities?

For some, the answer is self-evident: learn to write clearly and logically to people in power. Learn to research the facts and present them. Learn a few key genres--Letters to the Editor, letters to congress, letters to corporations. Maybe even learn to blog.

But there's another answer too— learn to listen, to mobilize people, to partner with community organizations that can make the change you want to see. In these contexts, public writing is much more complex than an individual citizen writing to a person in power. Public writing means reaching out to strangers. It's about reason and research, yes; but it's also about creating hope and possibility. How can we do that?

To find answers to these questions—and more!—we will study how it's done in local DC community organizations: what kind of public writing does it take to reclaim a park that was once given over to drug dealers, old tires, sewage? (Hint: Google Washington Parks and People.) What kind of public writing does it take to bring diverse neighbors together as a multicultural community? (Check out CentroNia.) What does it take to motivate inner-city sixth graders to spend their summers on more schoolwork? (Look up Higher Achievement Program.)

In addition to reading, researching and writing about social change, you will volunteer weekly with local organizations. Writing and research assignments will focus on how organizations define issues, generate public interest, and make a difference. You will write for multiple audiences to see how those contexts shape writing choices.

Hybrid Course: "Hybrid" is the name given to courses that blend face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning to improve learning outcomes. Hybrid courses thus move a significant amount of course work to an online environment. If you have any questions about this class, please contact Professor Phyllis Ryder at pryder@gwu.edu

Lauren Sallinger - Marching on Washington: Social Reflection and the Politics of Place

In 1939, Marian Anderson, an African-American woman denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall, sang instead from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before 75,000 people. During the 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” Martin Luther King deliberately gave his visionary “I Have a Dream” speech in the space where Marian Anderson had stood. In these and many other instances throughout American history, citizens have spoken to and for the nation by claiming its public spaces. In this course, we will examine how writers have used journeys by foot to parallel meditative journeys about gender inequality, racial subjugation and struggles with personal or national histories. Writers may include Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, W.G. Sebald, Edward Abbey, Henry David Thoreau, and Martin Luther King. Our investigation will then focus on the national stage of historic marches and debates within steps of our campus. We will explore how the streets of Washington have been used to reflect the national consciousness in such influential demonstrations as civil rights marches and Vietnam protests. This will be an active class, in which students will explore their own place in D.C., pursue their own viewpoints, and investigate the boundaries of their own education through mapping, traversing, and learning from the city. As a class, we will attend demonstrations and write about the questions, demands or visions they present. Thus, the course content will be determined in part by the national issues being played out on the streets of Washington: possibly the War in Iraq , globalization, or immigration issues. Students will write several short papers in varying forms and styles that explore the essential elements of college writing and independent thinking, culminating in a large research project.

Heather Schell - Bats in the Belfry:  Monster Movies and Our Cultural Imagination

Our superstitious ancestors lived in a world haunted by spooks and ghouls. Occasionally, fear of such monsters incited people to burn or decapitate their neighbors. We like to think of ourselves as more sophisticated nowadays. We are no longer tormented by brownies, magyr, or tengu. However, if we look at the realm of popular culture, monsters are still thriving. Why do they continue to fascinate us? Do they unveil our unconscious fears and desires? Do they relieve the stress of everyday life? Are they a shared memory of our prehistoric role as prey? The word “monster” itself, as cultural critic Donna Haraway points out, comes from the same root as the word “demonstrate”—monsters are showing us something. This semester, we'll try to figure out what exactly they are showing us. Starting with short essays, you will explore Dracula's many incarnations in film and scholarship. Next, you will write a substantial research paper on a movie monster. The final, collaborative project will entail researching, writing and recording a script for a DVD commentary. Students should be prepared to screen numerous monster movies, to master basic audio editing technology, and to be afraid—very afraid...

Hybrid Course: "Hybrid" is the name given to courses that blend face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning to improve learning outcomes. Hybrid courses thus move a significant amount of course work to an online environment. If you have any questions about this class, please contact Professor Schell at schellhm@gwu.edu

Sylvie Shapero - Working-Class Texts and Class-Conscious Performance

Class is an important category of difference. Just as our race or religion or gender gives us a unique perspective, the view of the world changes from rung to rung of the socioeconomic ladder. Yet here, in the United States , we are led to believe that society is largely egalitarian. According to the Center for Working Class Studies at Youngstown State University , “This erasure of class has denied individuals an important source of understanding of their experiences.” Class consciousness is necessary in order to overcome “powerful feelings of alienation and resentment both by and toward members of the working class.” In this course, we will discuss class consciousness. We will read essays, articles, short stories, and plays. Your first writing assignment will be a personal essay. After exploring concepts important for working-class writing, such as voice, we will write monologues and dialogue that focuses on voices from the margin that may or may not be represented in literature or history.

Though we will increase our understanding of class, we will also have a lot of questions, which will give us the opportunity to conduct research. Since research, like writing, is a process, in-class activities and writing exercises will build on each other so that you will not feel overwhelmed. Completing assignments little by little, we will focus on revision, which is substantially different from editing and, as a class, we will learn to think critically, articulate our thoughts, and create class-conscious pieces of academic writing. Because much of what we learn when we discuss class struggle demands that we take action, this course will focus on performance, including music and theater. Your final project will be a short performance piece with a research-based critical introduction.

Caroline Smith - ‘I Am Me’: Writing about Women’s Autobiography

In 2004, singer/songwriter Ashlee Simpson debuted her first album Autobiography , which was followed only a year later by the release I Am Me . Love her or hate her, Simpson, like many women “writers” who came before her, chronicles her own life. While Simpson's medium is music, other women autobiographers have recorded the self in different ways, from prose to poetry. In this class, we will examine the genre of autobiography and its possible manifestations, including diaries, memoirs, confessional poetry, blogs, music, and documentaries, and we will explore the challenges that one faces when writing the self. We will focus specifically on the work of women writers, such as Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, Le Ly Hayslip, Santha Rama Rau, and Sara Sureli, looking at the choices they make as they craft the stories of their lives, and we will consider how one's memory shapes one's narrative.

UW20 serves as the training ground for three important abilities – critical reading, researching, and writing at the college level. My intention in this class is to expose students to the thoughtful consideration of how writers effectively (or sometimes ineffectively) convince us of their points. Additionally, we will consider how we, as writers, best express ourselves. How can we make our own writing stronger? The autobiographical texts that we will read throughout the semester will serve as the starting point for our own writing assignments, which will be as varied as the texts that we will consider. Students will write response papers and short essays, and they will pursue an independent research project on the topic of their choice. These writing assignments will help students to develop a variety of reading, researching, and writing skills applicable to the remainder of their college career. In this course, students will explore the complexities of women's autobiography and the numerous challenges faced when writing the self.

Kimberly Stern - Bodies that Matter: Writing and Social Identity in Nineteenth-Century Literature

Frankenstein's monster, Harry Houdini, the Elephant Man. These and other nineteenth-century spectacles have captivated and enthralled for generations. But what attracts us to these figures in the first place? What is so intriguing about these extraordinary bodies? In this intensive writing seminar, we will examine major writings from the nineteenth century in an effort to understand not only how authors wrote about the body but also how the body itself can be inscribed with cultural and political meaning. Considering some of the most famous literary bodies of the time (such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man ) as well as marginalized figures (such as prostitutes, slaves, and opium-eaters), we will treat the nineteenth-century body as a cultural text capable of expressing the anxieties, fantasies, and preoccupations of the period. We will, to borrow the words of Judith Butler, try to determine why these are “bodies that matter.” While developing a deeper understanding of how to interrogate sources, develop an original argument, and meet the new challenges of writing at the university level, we will also raise important questions about the relationship between writing, the body, and identity. For example, to what extent do representations of the body help to define what is “normal” and what is not? How are issues of race, gender, and other forms of social identity “written” on the body? Above all, how can writing – or a body of writings – both create our cultural assumptions and take them to task?

Michael Svoboda - Invasive Species

The geographer Alfred W. Crosby described it as “ecological imperialism.” When Captain John Smith and his fellow English settlers established Jamestown on the shores of the Chesapeake in the summer of 1607, they were just the visible front of a major biological invasion. Eurasian animals, plants, and microbes also laid claim to the New World . Without them, Crosby argues, the Europeans themselves might not have survived. In the four centuries since 1607, the Asian bark and Japanese beetles, the gypsy moth, the kudzu vine, and the zebra mussel—to name just the most “successful”—have all “discovered” America, but the stories written about their first settlements are rather different than the stories written about Jamestown. Why? When does an explorer become an “invasive species”? And how will we make such distinctions when, in response to our changing climate, the whole world is on the move?

Context, definition, perspective: these are both important prompts and important goals for writing. In this section of UW 20, you will be invited to use the four-hundredth anniversary of Jamestown and the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as home harbors for your own voyage of discovery, a quest that questions humankind's place in nature. Through a sequence of writing assignments, including an extensive research paper, you too may discover a new world by invading an old one.

Alison Thomas - What's So Funny? Examining and Employing the Humorous Persuasion

"I want to make people laugh so they will begin to see things seriously"
William Zinsser

Nothing is funny just because it's funny – almost all humor has an ulterior motive.  In this course, students will examine the nature and character of humor, what it does to us, and why – how come some things make you laugh so hard that milk comes out your nose?  

We will look at how humor can be used, in writing and in other media, as a device of argument or persuasion.  Students will not only practice analytical skills, but will try their own hand at using humor convincingly – and that doesn't mean to tell a couple knock-knock jokes, but to make a point – as Zinsser suggests, to help an audience "see things seriously."  

This of course involves understanding the nature of writing and argumentation itself - the need to consider one's audience, purpose, style and organization as we contrast the "boring" essay with the "funny" one and as students craft their own rhetoric.  Students will develop their voice in writing, with emphasis on recognizing the choices available to them after practicing a variety of writing tools, and using research to deepen and solidify their understanding of topics of their choice. In doing so, students will engage in projects including writing a monologue a la Conan O'Brien or David Letterman, and preparing a satirical piece of writing about a current social or political issue.

Course texts will include Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," "The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil" by George Saunders, selections from Mark Twain's Collected Essays, fiction readings by Kurt Vonnegut, essays by David Sedaris, David Foster Wallace, Sarah Vowell, and a look at other comic forms - mock-news programs like "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," personalities like Woody Allen and Groucho Marx, and stand-up comics, both old and new.

Niles Tomlinson - Animal/Human

Animals have always fascinated and haunted humans; they have been considered figures of strength and beauty, but also of corruption/contagion (e.g., the snake in the Garden of Eden, the half-man/half-bull in the Cretan labyrinth). They have also served as useful foils (others) for the construction of humanity. That is, we tend to define human characteristics as precisely those that are not animal. Animals in different contexts—domestic, wild, feral, industrialized—evoke a wide range of human reactions that are often contradictory but nevertheless inform the important contemporary debate about animal rights and human dominion. 

Some questions we will consider: How do we distinguish between humans and animals and why might these distinguishing traits be useful and problematic? Is the traditional species hierarchy still beneficial or does it need to be rethought? What does thinking about animals teach us about human identity, both self and cultural? This course will address these questions through three different approaches: historical, literary/theoretical, and political/social. As methods of inquiry, we will use literature, critical essays, film, informative articles, and theoretical extracts. Students will have the opportunity to write essays in a variety of forms, including literary/film analysis, critical refutation, inquiry, and research writing. Students will also learn the value of writing as a process through library research, proposals, peer response, drafting, presentation of research, and revision. As a culminating project on the animal theme, students will write a substantial research paper on a critical issue of their choice.

Phillip Troutman - Serious Comix: Graphic Novels and Manga as Visual Argument

Can "comix" (graphic novels, comic books, manga) do viable argumentative and interpretative work in history? literature? philosophy? psychology? biography? journalism? politics? How do these image-based texts help us look at relevant issues in new ways? How do we decide what criteria to use in evaluating "sequential art" works like Maus, Persepolis, Palestine, or Pyongyang? By researching, analyzing, and responding to the writing of artists, writers, fans, critics, and scholars, students will develop their own analytical writing styles and learn to anticipate the expectations of academic readers. Students will work through a series of academic writing practices to develop a major research essay: identifying analytical interests and topical problems; researching for arguments, interpretations, and examples; designing a research plan; annotating a bibliography; and developing viable claims through logic, evidence, and critical use of other scholars' work. Special attention is given to sketching, drafting, revising, and editing; reviewing and commenting on peers' drafts; and revising responsively to readers' comments on drafts.

David Truncellito - Mens Sana In Corpore Sano: The Role Of Athletics In College Life

You're all here at GW as students, yet even for those of you who don't play on a sports team, the university's sports teams are likely an important part of your life. A winning season by the basketball team can generate more school spirit (and serve as a better recruiting tool) than a strong ranking by US News, a virtuoso performance by the symphony orchestra, or a campus visit by an ex-President. Why do athletics have this special place in the lives of many colleges and college students, and is it problematic that they do?

There are other difficult questions surrounding college athletics. For instance, Myles Brand, the President of the NCAA, recently argued before Congress that the NCAA should be tax-exempt because it's an educational institution, but others have argued that college athletes should be paid salaries; which is it? Debates about Title IX (the federal law dictating equal opportunity for men and women to play college sports) have raged since its passage in 1972. Coaches are among the highest-paid university employees, often earning more than even the president of the university; do they deserve to be? Should admissions standards be lowered for athletes?

In this course, we'll tackle these issues and others. Readings will include ESPN.com, NCAA.com, the sports pages of the Hatchet and the Washington Post, and others selected by you. (Since this is a hybrid course, many of our readings will be available online.) You'll write a variety of assignments, including a letter to a member of the college athletics community, a persuasive paper in which you take a stand on one of these issues, and a research paper in which you explore some aspect of college athletics in depth and add something to the discussion. By the end of the course, I hope that you will have come to appreciate the value of working on a project in stages, making revisions in light of feedback and new research findings. I also hope that you will have developed your ability to articulate and defend your own views, both in your formal assignments and in online and in-class discussions, and to have sharpened your critical thinking about your own work and that of others.

Hybrid Course: "Hybrid" is the name given to courses that blend face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning to improve learning outcomes. Hybrid courses thus move a significant amount of course work to an online environment. If you have any questions about this class, please contact Professor David Truncellito at truncell@gwu.edu

Abby Wilkerson - Food, Voice, and Social Change

Is your grandmother's recipe for gefilte fish or tamales or grape-leaves a bulletin from the frontlines of the struggle for cultural survival in the face of increasing industrialization? Does the ability to massage kale prove your status as a political and culinary renegade? Is Eric Schlosser correct that “Food politics underlie all politics in the United States ”—and why just the US ? If politics amounts to the distribution of power in society, how do our food practices and food-related interactions bear out issues of power and status? How has food been connected to anti-war efforts? What is the “foodshed,” what is “food sovereignty,” and why have they been identified as fundamental political concerns? How does food speak for us? How does it convey social dissent or social belonging? Is meat-eating connected to patriarchy? How are our lives and communities shaped through our relations as growers, producers, consumers, preparers, sellers, and servers? How do food practices reflect and reveal social norms and hierarchies? How can we use the food voice as a means of critically evaluating these norms and hierarchies and resisting unjust ones?

This course considers food as a politicized domain. We will explore how food and food writing serve as tools for meaning-making and political analysis by (1) examining published analyses of food politics from a range of fields and disciplines, considering the strategies for representation and analysis employed in these fields, (2) creating reflections and narratives, and (3) writing research papers which (a) investigate food politics in popular culture or specific subcultures, organizations, or practices shared by particular groups, and (b) situate these investigations in conversation with published research.

And if you need to know how to massage a nice big bunch of kale, or why on earth anyone would do such a thing, look no further.

Zachary Wolfe - Progressive Movements: (Re)Writing History

You can marry outside your race, now. Pre-adolescent children cannot work in coal mines, anymore. Women can attend all state-run military officer training schools, as of 1996. As Dr. King tells us, “human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts” of social justice movements. But most of us know very little about those tireless efforts that produced many of the rights and social assumptions we now take for granted. Although it is axiomatic that our present society is a function of countless social movements and other dynamics, some of those processes become storied while others are glossed-over or ignored.

In this course, through self-reflective and scholarly writing, students will examine the significance of these movements, their place in history, and what this tells us about where we come from and where we may be going. After hearing from a number of experienced activists, much of the semester will revolve around research and writing concerning a social movement of the student's own choosing, critically examining that movement as well as exploring why some (or some parts of) movements make the history books while others do not. Beyond advancing our understanding of social justice movements, the course will allow students to engage existing scholarship and pursue their own innovative research and writing projects.

Zachary Wolfe - Law as a Force for Social Change

"Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and . . . when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress." -- Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail"

To be sure, concepts of law have been used many times throughout our history to prevent social progress or even create intellectual justification for injustice, such as the once-revered concept of "separate but equal" and the notion that a person can be property. Despite this history, progressive movements continue to claim the law as their own, invoking the language of rights at every stage and ultimately turning to the court system and to new legislation to effect their demands.

This course will explore the language of law, as used by the legal system and by advocates for change. We examine changing conceptions of equality, competing ideas about the role of government, and most fundamentally, the seemingly incompatible ways in which movements for change both rely upon the law and strive to revolutionize it.

Class meetings typically consist of intense group discussion of the complexities of assigned readings, which include Dr. King, a civil rights lawyer's autobiography, judicial opinions, and contemporary human rights advocacy pieces. Students then explore these concepts even more thoroughly in their scholarly writing. In addition, students will produce a major final research paper on a self-selected topic, allowing them to apply the general principles we explore in class to advance contemporary social discourse.

Robbin Zeff - Political Junkie: Writing about Politics in the Nation's Capital

Washington, DC, is the ultimate political town-where national politics is local. This intensive writing seminar will explore the exciting world of contemporary American politics by monitoring how political issues are debated and observing how national policy is made. Students will conduct original research on a topic of their choice that will have them digging deep into the inner-workings of online database and social networking sites. Both short and long writing assignments will be used to learn the rigors and expectations of academic writing. Course reading will cover the craft of research and writing as well as contemporary political issues and events. In addition, students will be required to monitor daily news sources to stay on top of the current political landscape. A significant amount of work for this course will be conducted online; students will use course management software, take online tutorials, and use digital technology to facilitate research, writing, and revision.

Hybrid Course: "Hybrid" is the name given to courses that blend face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning to improve learning outcomes. Hybrid courses thus move a significant amount of course work to an online environment. If you have any questions about this class, please contact Professor Robbin Zeff at rzeff@gwu.edu

Christy Zink - La Vie Boheme: Artists, Counterculture, and City Life

Starve, brood, and be an outcast: those are the supposed requirements for being an artist. But what happens when groups of artists gather together in experimental living arrangements to integrate art and life? From the Dadaists to the Transcendentalists to members of the Harlem Renaissance, bohemian subcultures have changed art, politics, history, and mainstream society. In this course, we'll examine just what the bohemian identity entails. Do we include “musicians, artists, would-be artists, hustlers, and entrepreneurs” alike, as scholar Christine Stansell suggests? What about the peddlers of sex, drugs, and speculative development in so-called artistic districts? We'll look to city neighborhoods and see how boho groups rewrite—often literally—sexual norms, gender roles, race relations, and the urban experience by insistence on new daily lives. Just as bohemians, by their nature, take nothing established for granted, you'll study innovative, hybrid texts—including scholarly and creative writing, visual and performing arts, cinema, photography, and new media—and experiment with bohemian writing forms designed to upset the status quo. You will embark on inventive critical research to address the territories of past and neo-bohemia, then undertake a multimedia writing project to practice the collaborative work that has characterized the creative heart of bohemian culture.

Hybrid Course: "Hybrid" is the name given to courses that blend face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning to improve learning outcomes. Hybrid courses thus move a significant amount of course work to an online environment. If you have any questions about this class, please contact Professor Christy Zink at czink@gwu.edu