UW20 Courses - Summer 2009

Last Updated: 4/7/08 | 5:00 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.

Summer Courses

Regular Classroom

Summer Distance Learning

SECOND SUMMER SESSION (07/07/08 - 08/16/08)

Summer Scholars

  • Writing Seminar for Summer Scholars - UW002 (07/07/08 - 08/16/08)
    CRN 62107 Section M1 | TBA | Staff
    CRN 62108 Section M2 | TBA | Staff
    NOTE: These courses are taught at the Mt. Vernon campus. Registration restricted to Summer Scholars Program.

    Writing Seminar for Summer Scholars helps students hone critical thinking and analytic writing, skills essential for academic discourse in any college environment.  With Washington , D.C. as a thematic focus, students will engage in an exploration of the rich history, culture, and politics of the nation's capital.   A major project of the course will be a research essay and digital presentation, on which students will collaborate with their peers.  Required foundation course for the Summer Scholars Program.


Eric Drown - Conspiracy Theory

University Writing 20 aims to enhance first-year students’ abilities to read, think, and write critically and analytically; to explore emerging and traditional information resources; their grasp of rhetorical principle; their ability to frame sound questions or hypotheses; their abilities to edit and proofread carefully, as well as to equip them with university-level research and project-management tools. This course seeks to meet these learning 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 discover, 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 include an analysis of Alex Jones’s "Endgame" conspiracy theory, a research report, a research essay, peer reviews, and presentations.

Wade Fletcher - Image of Everyday Life

As participants in American society, we are deluged with a barrage of images on a daily basis. Visual argument presents itself in numerous forms and guises, from advertising and marketing to art and fashion, each competing in some way for our attentions. In this course, we will examine and interrogate the role of the image in everyday life, both on campus and in society at large, reading images alongside written texts, and exploring the parallels between the two forms. To this end, we’ll also discuss what it means to examine something as an “image,” investigating how visual narratives and arguments are formed, composed, and realized.

Throughout the course, we’ll work our way through a variety of visual and written texts, including graphic novels, advertisements and product packaging, and photography and visual art, as well as essays and criticism, in an effort to better understand the role of visual mediums in our lives. Students will build their reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills through journaling, group work and short “visual projects,” all leading into three essay assignments of increasing complexity, each focusing on a particular image.

Katherine Larsen - Washington on Film

Hollywood has depicted Washington as the target of alien attack, a hotbed of conspiracy, a site of student excess, and the wonk capital of the world.  This course will examine the ways that Washington has been used (and perhaps abused) on film.  To do this, you will be introduced to basic film techniques, including lighting, set design, costuming, camera angles and editing.  In most cases these are merely variations on the techniques that writers have always used to create effects on paper.

In addition to engaging in careful analysis of image, dialogue, and mise-en-scene, students also will investigate the larger context of at least one film, taking into account the historical moment, political climate, impact of the film when it was first released and enduring legacy it may have left behind. 

Jeannine Love - Povery, Perceptions and Policies

Hard work and determination are the keys to success in the United States; this is the American Dream. The availability of opportunity to overcome adversity is the cornerstone of the idea of America; this ideal shapes, consciously and unconsciously, our understandings of social institutions, cultural phenomena, and our everyday experiences. In this class we will explore how this ethos affects our ideas about poverty and the policies crafted to address it. 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, 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 - Scriptures and Constitutions

Religious and political communities face a similar challenge as they navigate the vicissitudes of history. The fundamental identity of a community must be preserved through the consistent transmission of its core principles and practices. Yet, these principles and practices must also remain relevant to the changing circumstances of each generation. Both religious and political communities depend upon the authority of foundational texts to meet this challenge: religious communities have scriptures and creeds; political communities have constitutional documents and bodies of law. However, such texts often require interpretation for their meaning to be ascertained and applied. And the question of what constitutes the “proper” method for such interpretation is necessarily connected to fundamental disagreements about the nature of the community itself and the rights and obligations of its members.

Our examination of the various ways in which theologians, philosophers, legal scholars, and others have approached the issue of interpretation will provide us with a rich conceptual context in which to explore basic intellectual issues such as: How does the ‘meaning' of a claim get constructed in the relationship between author and audience?; What justifies me in interpreting a text in this way, rather than that?; How can I establish the correctness (or at least legitimacy) of my perspective on a matter of controversy?; Etc. 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 positions. Most importantly, students will learn to incorporate active drafting, revising, editing, and researching practices into their writing throughout their university experiences.

B. Tomlinson - Ghosts of Washington

As a city located not only between north and south but also between the preserved past and the dynamic present, Washington DC is a unique kind of ghost town. To study Washington as a place of haunting is to explore how many of the greatest and most traumatic events in American history are never fully buried or repressed but are instead always returning and exerting their influence on the present. This course starts with William Faulkner’s premise that “[t]he past is never dead, it’s not even past,” and moves towards an exploration of how we might locate in Washington’s ghost legends and national memorials the interchange between past and present, the whisperings that continue to haunt the American imagination.

To begin the course we will identify specific strains of haunting in some of the most powerful American speeches, short fiction, and short essays. We will then look at five specific haunted sites in Washington, from the Halcyon House to the White House, to discover how folklore and ghostly legends often serve a larger rhetorical purpose. We will also examine the national memorials in Washington as concentrated sites of haunting, and each student will have the opportunity to research, analyze and write about a specific memorial of their choice. In all, this course will make the larger point that not only does Washington have a haunting side rarely read about in history textbooks, but also this spectral history is crucial in continually deepening and revitalizing the American imagination.