FALL 2013 UNIVERSITY WRITING COURSES
? UW1020 Course Listings by Faculty Member
? Detailed Course Descriptions
Note: All UW1020 Courses are taught on the Mount Vernon Campus.
Please consult the Schedule of Classes to verify times and room assignments.
FALL 2013 UW1020 COURSE LISTINGS BY FACULTY MEMBER
DETAILED COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
Berry, Shannon - Science, Religion, and Popular Culture
Since the Enlightenment science and religion have often been seen at odds with one another. This course will analyze the basic premises of this dichotomy, asking questions about this rift between faith and reason and its origins as well as how the relationship between the two has been understood and treated in popular culture. From analyzing television shows like The Big Bang Theory and Battlestar Galactica to films such as Star Wars and Tree of Life as well as contemporary novels and pieces of music, this course will both delve into the history of the conflict, engaging basic terminology in both science and Western religion, as well as look at the basic ideas that define both religion and science and the practice of the two. The final research project for this course will engage traditional sources as well as interviews, attendance of a religious service, and reading a sacred text. Finally, as this is a writing course, students will learn to process their own thoughts and research while honing their ability to write academically and sustain a thoughtful, well-reasoned argument about a two often-controversial topics: science and religion.
Bliss, Emily - All You Need Is Love?
Cultural and media messages inundate us with the idea that happiness lies in money, material objects, and social status. Facebook, Twitter, text-messaging, and email encourage us to live virtually, interacting with others principally through brief, superficial, technologically-mediated exchanges. And yet, emptiness and chronic searching seem endemic to any life conducted principally behind the curtain of technology or dedicated mainly to accruing things and attaining power. A primary reason these common modern existences feel lacking ? or even lonely and desolate ? may be an observation philosophers, neuroscientists, spiritual leaders, sociologists, and psychologists have all shared: interpersonal connections, emotional intimacy, and love (defined broadly) figure centrally in our sense of fulfillment and existential meaning. Those Beatles were on to something.
In this writing- and research-intensive course we will examine how writers and thinkers in multiple disciplines have used writing to explore the role of empathy, intimacy, and human relationships. Our reading and writing will lead us to investigate and consider recent developments in the neuroscience of empathy, ethical questions surrounding the problem of evil, and the role of human connections in modern institutions and lifestyles. The course will involve several short writing assignments, seminar-style discussions, workshops, and three analytical, research-based papers of increasing length and complexity. Our readings may include writing by Simon Baron-Cohen; Martin Buber; Viktor Frankl; Erich Fromm; Daniel Goleman; Marco Iacoboni; Douglas Kenrick; Carl Rogers; Sherry Turkle; and Frans de Waal. As we write and revise, we will practice analyzing information, connecting seemingly unrelated concepts, and applying theory to our lived experiences.
Buursma, Joshua - Darkest Hours: Film Noir, The Decline of American Civilization, and the Rise of Academic Film Criticism
You probably already know a bit about "film noir" even if you've never heard the phrase. The genre-- if indeed that's what noir is-- has been imitated, parodied, and argued over for a half century now. Though the moniker "noir" was originally applied by French critics to describe American detective films, crime stories, and other melodramas from the 1940s and early 1950s, today it's rather clumsily attached to a host of dark, violent narratives in all different genres and media. In September 2011, architects redesigning Times Square even claimed they wanted to give the area a "film noir feel."
What is film noir, anyway? That's one question this course will ask. The question is an academic one-- because really, what difference does it make?-- but as we'll see in our readings, renewed interest in film noir coincided with rise of academic film criticism. Beginning in the 1960s, films became objects of study by scholars in universities and at film institutes; some of these bookish types even went on to make films of their own (like Paul Schrader, MA in Film Studies, screenwriter of Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, director of Hardcore and Affliction, and author of the academic essay "Notes on Film Noir").
So our understanding of noir-- what it is, what it isn't-- is tied to the birth of Film Theory and Film Studies as academic disciplines, whether we like it or not. In this course, we'll practice writing academic essays, developing strategies for critical reading, research, and revision as we do. And yes, we'll tackle the seemingly minor question of what defines film noir. But we'll also be asking more important questions about the era from which the classic films noir of the 40s and 50s emerged: a period of disillusionment in the midst and aftermath of WWII, followed by apocalyptic paranoia during the Cold War. Why did this unique thing we call film noir-- defined as much by visual style as by story conventions-- emerge from that particular period? And what can these films tell us about mid-century America that, say, wartime propaganda or rosy post-war advertisements and sitcoms can't?
The course will culminate in an in-depth, thoroughly researched "case study" of a film from the classic period. Texts will include The Film Noir Reader Vol. 4, The Little Seagull Handbook, the films Kiss Me Deadly, Detour, and Crossfire, and other films and essays provided online.
Buursma, Joshua - The Living Dead Are Us: Zombies and the Cinema of Social Unrest
Horror films (and stories, and comics, and TV shows) have always been popular with American audiences, but they seem to be especially popular-- and culturally significant-- in times of crisis and social unrest. Hollywood genre director Don Siegel's 1956 The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers is a defining document of Cold War paranoia, having been interpreted both as a warning against communist subversion and as a critique of McCarthyism. Visionary low-budget filmmaker George Romero's early zombie films-- beginning with 1968's Night of the Living Dead, released in a year of global upheaval-- tapped into both supernatural and scientific anxieties to reflect on contemporary American conflicts concerning race, consumerism, crime, and war. Today, with new social and economic crises creating unrest around the globe, zombie narratives (both originals and adaptations) are resurgent across a variety of media, from hit television shows to video games to government PSAs. These cultural products, from their low-culture pulp origins to their more prestigious, mainstream incarnations, provide a fascinating window through which to study American culture and its reactions to social unrest.
In this course, we'll use the critical and scholarly conversations surrounding American zombie narratives (and related strains within the horror genre) as an occasion to develop the reading, research, and writing habits necessary for academic argument. We'll critically engage with generations of writers who have sought to understand the character and significance of the horror genre, as well as examine the real historical conflicts from which these narratives emerged. Roughly speaking, the first half of the course will focus on academic reading and research methods, while the second half will focus on writing style and on refining individual students' research projects. Assignments will include short responses to films and other course texts, a scholarly book review, an annotated bibliography, and an in-depth research paper.
Coulter, Charles - American Myth in the Western Film
Many have said that jazz music and the western film genre represent
two of the few quintessentially American art forms. However, the
classical view of the western genre as fundamentally conservative in
outlook has been shaped somewhat by poor journalism.
In fact, western films that receive the praise of serious critics
and maintain cultural staying-power (they continue to be watched on
Turner Classic Movies or purchased as DVDs) possess values that fly
in the face of the stereotypical lone gunman forced to clean up the
town. In many ways, the genre responds to the cultural undercurrents
of its times better than most so-called independent films do today.
In this course, we will watch the films of directors such as John
Ford, William Wellman, and Clint Eastwood. While this is a class
about university-level writing, we will master film terminology and
attempt "readings" of these films as texts that reveal much about
the periods in which they were made. History and politics are
important to this discussion. What do westerns say about sexual
morality or the construction of racial/ethnic identity for that
At the crux of the western film is a profound meditation both of what it means to be American and to be civilized. Students will develop skills critical analysis and writing that will help them develop polished, well-researched university-level arguments. Students will draft short analytical response papers, daily writing and one larger research essay.
Text: Jim Kitses' Horizons West: Directing the Western from John Ford to Clint Eastwood
Coulter, Charles - Analyzing the Zombie Apocalypse
Dawn arrives. Crossing a barren field under a slate sky, I see one lumbering numbly beside a grave. To prepare: stockpile bottled water. Retreat to a cellar, or any defensible locked location, and board all windows and doors. Be aware of the arrival of individuals with sluggish movements, a lack of discernible purpose, and heavily grayed skin-tone. Remember: if it doesn't bleed, it isn't alive. If you encounter a zombie, anything blunt or sharp can act as a weapon; shovels, cudgels, and scythes prove particularly useful. It is best to keep your hair short, your clothing tight, and better still if you have chainmail, a wet suit, or an old football or motorcycle helmet at hand.
In this course, we will examine that obscure pop culture artifact, the zombie, from its incisive incarnation in Val Lewton's I Walked with a Zombie, to the early high watermark that is George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, as well as the "serious" graphic novel, The Walking Dead, the fast, malevolent terror inherent to World War Z, and the fear of airborne toxins animating 28 Days Later. In this course, the writing comes first. If you cannot don your best critical thinking mindset and truly dissect the semiotic value of this sclerotic creature, perhaps the zombies should find you first. After all, pop culture is serious business. There is a reason for the sudden resurgence of this monster from a bygone era - and it is the task of the crazy/brave student writer to probe the mystery of this phenomenon in argumentative essays that strike at the heart of why we care about these ugly creatures.
Dueck, Jonathan - Beautiful Play: Writing Gesture In Sport And Dance
"That was a beautiful play!" your friend exclaims. But what does she mean by that? And what was the athlete who performed the beautiful play doing? Were they making meanings or moving bodies? When we describe sport as "beautiful" (or dance as "athletic"), when we use visual media to represent movement (like a video game or a YouTube clip), and when we try to teach someone else to move in a certain way (ever taught a friend to snowboard?) we find ourselves in the midst of a tricky question that most academic writers face: how do we connect the world of sensations and movements that are part of experience in our bodies to the meanings--images, words, ways of speaking--that are always connected to our bodies? This is a question about what scholars sometimes call "gesture."
In this class, we will work together to answer this question through our own research and writing. We'll start by writing a "field scene," a vivid description representing our own embodied experiences of a sport or dance, placing those experiences in conversation with anthropologists who write about the senses, sport, and dance. Then we'll explore movement in video and video games, writing a critical review of a video or video game in which we offer some suggestions not only to the video/game-makers but also to the cultural studies scholars who write about those mediums. Finally you'll strike out on your own and, in consultation with a research librarian and myself, you'll write a research-based multimedia essay a particular embodied practice of your choice (a dance performance, a sport, a martial art, et cetera) and a set of representations (TV coverage, magazine articles, or video games, for example), placing these things in conversation with anthropological / cultural studies writings on gesture.
In the end you'll have begun to think through one of the trickiest problems you'll face as an academic writer, and made your own entry into scholarly debates on how to move between embodied experience and writerly voice.
Fitzpatrick, Brian - In on the Joke: Humor and What's Behind It
What is the purpose of humor? Sure, laughing feels good, but is that all? Does our development of humor simply illustrate a curiosity with our own language? A desire to test the limitations of communication? Or does humor serve a more essential function to our experience?
In this course we will examine humor in various media in an attempt to work toward answering these larger questions through vigorous conversations and analytical and research-based writings. We'll explore fundamental differences between humor writing, jokes, comedic films, and stand-up comedy, among other things. Specifically, we will turn a critical eye towards the people and circumstances surrounding the great funny texts of all media Vonnegut, Twain, Chaplin, (Homer)Simpson, etc. We will examine what makes something funny, look for noticeable trends in humor (what is the lifespan of a joke?), and consider the many ways which humor operates in text, film, and in real life.
Finally, we will consider the dilemmas of humor, like the possible moral implications of laughter are there times in which it is more okay to laugh than others? Times when it is not okay to laugh? We will read humorous texts written during, after, or about global/individual traumas and try to understand the authors and their experiences. We'll ask questions like can humor help heal? Can it alter power structures? Can it bring about change? Mostly we'll seek to determine how humor works and try to get in on the joke.
Fletcher, Wade - Reading Without Words: The Image as Text
Are images texts? Can images be "read?" What does it mean to "read" an image? As individuals, we are confronted with, interpret, process, and even ignore a barrage of images on a daily basis. Via these images, visual argument manifests across many spectrums, from business, advertising and politics to popular culture, art and fashion, each image vying for our attentions. In this course, we'll intersect with the study of visual culture and visual rhetoric, considering the role images play in our culture(s), while exploring what it means to examine something as an "image" and investigating how visual narratives and arguments are formed, composed, and realized. To this end, we'll also examine images alongside written texts, exploring the parallels between the two forms.
Our subject matter will include two wordless graphic novels, visual art (specifically the collections at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum), and cultural images, the latter of which will potentially comprise photographs, advertising, branding and marketing, iconic images, and much more. Assignments will include three essays of increasing length, each focusing on a particular image (or set of images) a critique, an analysis of a visual argument, and an argumentative research essay as well as short visual projects, contributions to an online class discussion forum, and a turn (with a partner) leading class discussion.
Friedman, Sandie - Cinema Nation: Cultural Critique of Hollywood Classics
"We're not in Kansas anymore." "Here's looking at you, kid." "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse." You know these lines, even if you haven't seen the classic films they're from: The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, and The Godfather. Hollywood classics permeate American culture; they shape our collective consciousness, and they also mirror our anxieties and aspirations. In this course, we analyze Hollywood movies from a cultural perspective: What forms of ideology underpin these classics? How do great American films reflect the historical moment of their creation? Our film choices are drawn from The American Film Institute's list of 100 best. We approach old favorites in a new way by writing critically about them, building towards a research essay that interprets a film in its cultural context. The next time somebody quotes The Godfather, offer to analyze the movie for him; he can't refuse.
Fruscione, Joe - Writing and Rewriting Gatsby
It's been made into four films (with a fifth on the way), a graphic novel, a handful of print novels, a video game, and all sorts of other things. The Great Gatsby, perhaps F. Scott Fitzgerald's most subtle novel, will be the centerpiece of this course. We'll focus on it as a novel, source text for the 1974 film adaptation, work in progress, and evidence of Fitzgerald's writing process.
An ongoing debate in contemporary fiction revolves around what makes a "good" or "faithful" adaptation. The Great Gatsby has proven a difficult novel to adapt, given its subtlety and style. We'll begin and end the class by reading the published novel. Between, we'll read the first version (Trimalchio), watch the 1974 film, understand some scholarly works, and discuss some marketing for the forthcoming Baz Luhrmann version. We'll also seek to understand the novel in terms of narration, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, morality, and social class. As we'll see, this is a novel that needs to be reread.
Required texts: The Great Gatsby (Simon & Schuster), Trimalchio (Cambridge UP), The Little Seagull Handbook (WW Norton).
Assignments: Analysis papers on the novel and film; creative adaptation work; research and library projects; a final research essay.
Fruscione, Joe - Adapting Shakespeare: Richard III
This section is reserved exclusively for the Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare students; any other students must get the permission of the program's director (Alex Huang: email@example.com) and the course's instructor.
This first-year writing course will examine Shakespeare's complex play Richard III (1597) on its own and as a source work for various adaptations, among them: the graphic novel Kill Shakespeare, the films Looking for Richard and Richard III, and the rewritten version from 1700.
Through both content and rhetorical analysis of the play, its adaptations, and scholarly criticism, we will explore these and other questions: What makes a 'good' or 'quality' adaptation of Shakespeare generally and Richard III specifically? What does it mean to adapt and rewrite Shakespeare? Are the strongest adaptations of this play those that maintain the 15th-century setting, those that modernize the setting, or those that seek to do both? What does it mean to move from the stage medium to visual, aural, and cinematic media?
Assignments and Requirements: An analytical essay on the play and graphic novel; a progressive research assignment on a chosen set of themes and questions related to the play; and a multi-genre, multi-audience analysis of the play and an adaptation.
Gamber, Cayo -Legacies of the Holocaust
I have not chosen the theme of this course Legacies of the Holocaust because I believe that engaging in such study necessarily will prevent a future Holocaust, future acts of genocide. Moreover, I concur with Terrence Des Pres when he argues that in the course of such study, we will not learn to understand the Holocaust. As Des Pres argues: "The question Why? will naturally persist. Why enroll in such a course?.... And certainly, if by good we mean answers and rational explanation, if we mean atonement and redemption, then there is nothing to be gained by knowing the facts of the death camps" (35).
While we may not be able to make amends for the Holocaust, I believe that through the careful study of the lives of those who perished and the words of those who survived, we become witnesses who are willing to be bearers of the stories and history of the Shoah. The range of research topics is wide, from the role art played in the Holocaust to the workings of a particular concentration camp; or from the role liberators played (or failed to play) to what is known about the "bearers of secrets," the Sonderkommando, who were eyewitnesses to the Final Solution.
The series of writing tasks you will perform -- including composing brief response papers, annotating sources, writing a research paper (in a series of stages which afford you multiple opportunities for revision) that integrates both primary and secondary sources -- are designed both to help you write an authoritative study of your chosen topic and to help familiarize you with some of the types of academic writing you will perform in the semesters to come.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: This is a service learning course.
Goward, Shonda - Out of Her Mind: Women and Madness through the Lens of Literature
American social norms have attached a derogatory label of "mad" to women who assert themselves, who seek to define their lives separate and apart from social norms, or who stand in the way of their husband's younger prospective bride. However, many of the women labeled mad were simply fighting against patriarchy for the right to be equal, or in the case of women of color, fighting to be considered human. Nonetheless, many women have actually gone mad for various reasons including being forced to remain in suffocating marriages, being subjected to abuse, or from the fear of death as they petitioned their nation for rights.
This class will explore women and madness in literature to uncover how American women writers depict the descent into madness and its causes. Our work will include analyzing the time period in which the work was written and that period's influence on the writer. Our methods will include peer to peer workshops; journaling; historical research; and analytical writing which will all challenge your ability to read critically and write on a scholarly level.
Goward, Shonda - Perceptions of Black Poetics: Harlem Renaissance to Hip Hop
Hamilton, Leah - When 'That's Just the Way It Is' Does Not Suffice: Examining
Assumptions in American Culture
In this course, students will be raising the questions that are so
essential that they are seldom asked, such as: Why do people go to
college? Why do we eat what we eat? What is proper English? Why is
this class required? As a class, we will raise questions about aspects
of daily life that are so rarely examined that they have become
assumptions. At some point in time, these questions might have been
dismissed with "That's just the way it is," but as students consider
these questions more deeply, that answer will no longer satisfy them.
Examining cultural phenomena such as tattooing, Facebook, Wal-Mart,
and MLA format through a variety of essays and short readings,
students in this course will learn not only how to read critically and
learn from published writers' attempts and techniques, but also how to
identify assumptions which writers (oftentimes unintentionally) reveal
through their writing. Then, by harnessing this awareness and
directing it toward their own writing, students in this course will
move toward a greater recognition of and control over the ways in
which their own assumptions influence their thought processes and
Assignments will include frequent short writings, an annotated
bibliography, and three longer writing assignments. Two of the longer
writing assignments will incorporate research, giving students both
preparation and practice for future writing intensive classes at the
Hamilton, Leah - That's Epic!
This is a UW20 course about brave warriors and noble ladies in
Medieval Literature. Come explore college-level writing as a genre and
a skill, while having the opportunity to read some of the most
influential Epic and Romance literature of all time: Beowulf, as a
text in translation and through the eyes of Tolkien, French works by
Chretien de Troyes and Marie de France, and selections by Sir Thomas
Malory. It simply does not get any more enjoyable!
There will be knights and princesses, there will be seminal literary
criticism regarding these works (which you may or may not agree with),
and there will be three major writing assignments and one group
research project (designed to ease your workload and certainly not to
add any interpersonal stress to your life): An 8-10 page essay, a
10-12 page research paper engaging with specific literary critics
regarding one or two works that you have read, and a 5-page article
written to a student audience. The group research project will
comprise a 6-page annotated bibliography and group presentation of a
single article from your research.
No previous experience is necessary simply bring your enthusiasm,
writing ability, and your laptops (which are required for this
Hayes, Carol - WTF?! Profanity and its Contexts
Words have power. But that power, and often the meaning of the words, can change depending on context. How a word is used by and to whom, and for what purpose (also known as the rhetorical situation) is vital to understanding the power of a word. We'll begin the semester by reading excerpts from Randall Kennedy's Nigger:The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, which takes up the question of what the N-word means, based on when, how, and by whom it is used--and also asks whether the word should be shunned or continued in its uses. The first paper of the semester will ask you to place a piece of profanity in a particular context (perhaps a particular subculture, such as a sports team, or an ethnic culture), to make visible the impact of the rhetorical situation on the word as it was used in that particular time and place. We'll use the readings throughout the semester to introduce ideas of disciplinarity: scholars who discuss profanity work within Hip Hop culture, Women's Studies, Linguistics, Anthropology, Queer Studies, Philosophy, African American studies, and many other fields. Readings from these disciplines will model how scholars frame their writing within academic discourses. Through a series of writing and research projects that focus on specific instances of profanity, you'll learn to frame your own work in these ways as well, so that by the end of the semester you'll not simply be reporting on what other scholars have said, but actively engaging as participants in university-level writing and research.
Helfers, Edward - Architecture and Ecology
Are cities greener than suburbs? Is public space a human right?
Should all historical buildings be preserved? How does the digital
world transform our relationship with the physical world? What do
ethics have to do with architecture? How sustainable is
These are just some of the questions we will tackle in this course.
Our readings will cover a wide range of academic disciplines,
including Anthropology, Biology, Creative Writing, Digital Media
Studies, Environmental Studies, History, Philosophy, and Urban
Planning. Our discussions will explore the promises and pitfalls of
utopian experiments, suburban developments, and urban renewal
projects. We will look both near (GW's proposed Science and
Engineering Hall) and far (Earthships, a Southwestern biotecture
firm), real (Chicago's Cabrini Green) and imagined (Le Corbusier's
"City of the Future"). Our exercises and assignments will help you
read critically and write persuasively. In the process, we will come
to a better understanding of how we shape our spaces, and how our
spaces shape us.
Along with a site visit, students in this course will be expected to
complete three major essays: analytic (3-5 pages), conversation (5-7
pages), and research-based (7-12 pages).
Howell, Katherine - Rewritng Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre: early feminist, lonely romantic, inter-dimensional kidnap victim, or vampire slayer? Edward Rochester: brooding hero, abusive jerk, misunderstood and mentally ill, or mythical beast? Why choose when we can examine the ways that authors have built on Bront?'s masterpiece to make new meaning? Students will read and write about Jane Eyre and will have the opportunity to read a "rewritten" version (Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, or Sherri Browning Erwin's Jane Slayre). We'll read Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault for different approaches to authorship as we discuss the ethics of fan-fiction and neovictorian writing. Students will participate in the act of rewriting and determine for themselves what it means to be an author.
Johnston, Elizabeth - American Environmental Advocacy
In this course we will examine with a fresh eye some of the canonical
texts of the American environmental movement works by Henry David
Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson, among many
others as well as writing by politicians, non-profit groups, and even
judges all eager to persuade. We'll study more recent efforts to
inspire the grass-roots, like those of Greenpeace, Earth First!, Earth
Day, and Al Gore. Lastly, we will read critics to help us interrogate
these texts. With other scholars, we will ask: why study the
environmental movement? How has it made a difference in human
behavior? What sways people more to act in-your-face, shocking works,
or subtle, open-ended pieces that pose questions to which we do not
yet have answers? How have such strategies shifted or been contested
over the course of American environmental history, and what shapes can
we imagine them adopting in the future? Students will have an
opportunity to write papers dissecting the campaigns of a non-profit
group of their choice as well as a chance to create their own
environmental protest. In the process, they will discover the
persuasive techniques environmental advocates employ and determine how
they might deploy such tactics to persuade in their own writing, both
as members of an academic institution and as citizens.
Larsen, Katherine - Media Fandom: Geeks, Fanboys and Stalker Chicks
Lonely Trekkies in Vulcan ears, hysterical Twilight fans weeping at the sight of Robert Pattinson, basement dwellers, pale in the glow of a computer screen. These are our stereotypes of media fans. They make us laugh, they make us nervous, they are objects of derision, but who are they really and what do they do?
"Most people are fans of something. If not, they are bound to know someone who is. As much as we all have a sense of who fans are and that they do, the question arises as to why we need to furhter study a phenonomenom we seem so familiar with. Why do the questions of which television program, music or artist we follow make an important contribution to our understanding of modern life? How can a focus on pleasure and entertainment be justified at the wne of what will enter the history books as a centruy of violence, driven by rapid social, cultural, economic and technological change, and with the twenty first century set to follow the same trajectory? What contribution can the study of fans make to a world faced with war, ethnic conflict, widening inequality, political and religious violence, and irreversible climate change among other disasters?"
Thus begins the Introduction to Fandom, edited by Jonanthan Gray, Cornell Sandvoss and C. Lee Harrington. We will begin here as well, posing these questions and idetifying others that may also need to be asked. This writing and research intensive course will begin with an examination of the current research on fans and fan communities. We will then look closely at fan practices in online fan communities and analyze fan generated media. Student research will involve close examination of a online fan community.
This course is a partial hybrid. Friday class sessions will sometimes make use of alternative online spaces such as Live Journal and Twitter; these sessions may also take the form of conferences or small group meetings.
In this course, we will examine representations of Asian American experiences in contemporary American society. The course is designed to introduce you to historical and cultural concepts of "Asianness" as imagined by Asian American writers and artists. Throughout this course, we will focus on questions of documentation and representation. What are the historical and cultural forces that shape the immigrant experiences of Asians past and present, in America? Where does one find historical "truths" and cultural "facts" of immigrant patterns and acculturation to American society? What are the social issues that riddle the lives of contemporary Asians and how are they depicted? What questions of "native" culture linger for those Americans of Asian descent, those individuals born and raised in America? To begin to answer these questions depends on developing critical skills of thinking; to engage responsibly and write intelligently in response to these questions also depends on developing critical skills of research. As part of our contact with a wide range of texts ? short stories, graphic novels, essays, artwork, and films ? we will read, discuss and write about Asian American experiences within a broader American culture. The course materials will serve as topics of conversation for class discussions as well as the content for your writings. The writing assignments will give you opportunity to sharpen your writing and research skills on the specific themes of this writing course. While based on the topic of Asian American experiences, the themes of this course serve as material from which you will develop your writing and research skills to better engage in the intellectual conversations that shape our American culture.
In this course, "Black Speech in Public Space" is not limited to an examination of what is variably labeled African American Vernacular Speech, Black Language, Ebonics etc. It refers more broadly to the sociolinguistic study of Black Speech and the ways this speech has been used to convey history and argument. In addition, we expand the concept of Black Speech in order to understand the ways this language operates rhetorically (whether subtly or overtly) in visual art, film, dance, the pulpit, music, and theater. This will allow us to appreciate how contexts and issues relevant to Black life in America are framed within the public sphere. Emphasis will be placed on class discussions based on reading a variety of texts. Students will be expected to undertake research that produces fresh approaches and observations through the production of three papers including one major research paper. Class participation is weighted equally with other graded work. Students will also be expected to attend evening lectures featuring guest lectures, off campus events, relevant university events and one field trip.
McCaughey, Jessica - Please Like Us: Selling With Social Media
What convinces us to buy or support a company or a cause? What makes writing effective in the world of social media marketing and promotion? How does this shift from industry to industry? When a business disaster strikes, how do organizations respond through social media? How should they? The new and complex rhetoric of selling through social media (whether one is selling an idea, a product, a person, or a cause) has its own language and writing conventions?even if not everyone using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Pinterest, or blogs for this purpose has mastered them yet.
In this class students will take on the roles of scholar and critic, examining the rhetoric of social media as it is used for selling and promotion. They will choose a related group of individuals, companies, or organizations that are active in social media and track, analyze, and critique their marketing or promotion efforts over the course of the semester. Further, they will work to develop critical thinking skills and find, understand, and utilize research in a series of written arguments. The class will focus significant time and energy exploring audience, evidence, and revision, both in our own work and in the writing of outside individuals and organizations as students become expert critics of social media selling.
Mullen, Mark - A Casual Obsession: Videogames for Everyone
When I say the words "videogame" or "gamer" there are probably a number of images that immediately come to mind. Most likely you picture someone who owns a Playstation or an Xbox, and plays a lot of games involving mayhem and arterial blood spray. Most likely that person you are picturing is also a guy. But have you ever found it impossible to avoid dipping into a game of Solitaire while your teacher drones on at the front of the room? Ever lost an entire afternoon to Angry Birds? Ever grown concerned that your Farmville crops are going unharvested? Then you, my friend, are also a gamer. In fact, you are part of a growing wave of gamers that are redefining what it means to design and play videogames.
Regardless of whether you are an avid fan of videogames, a casual player, or someone completely skeptical that that such activities have any redeeming social value whatsoever, this course will challenge many of your preconceptions about videogames and those who play them. The most common question directed at a videogame is: what type of game is it? This produces a discussion of games organized according to conventional "genres" (strategy, action, etc.). But we're going to be asking (at least) two other questions. How are games played? (This leads to the distinction between casual and "hardcore" games, for example). What can playing games do? (This leads us into a discussion of so-called "alternate reality games"). Hovering over everything we examine concerning games this semester is one very simple question with numerous complex answers: why do people play videogames?
In order to answer some of these questions, we will be drawing on your First Chapter reading selection, Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken.
The main reason for looking at this topic, however, is that it provides excellent material for both investigating the way current writing and communication practices are changing, and honing the skills necessary to write for diverse audiences across a variety of contexts: academic, professional, and popular. Videogames are, perhaps surprisingly, intensive writing arenas. Developers write lengthy descriptions of their work and respond to player's questions; players write extensively as they organize guilds and society and communicate with one another; some players who enjoy role-playing use the game worlds as a jumping off point for creating their own character fictions. We will be analyzing some of these examples of new media writing and responding in kind with our own efforts. Over the course of the semester you will be writing a review of a casual game for a popular audience, and an extended research project for a scholarly audience. You will also be developing the concept for your own reality game, providing a post-mortem analysis of the implementation of a game, and developing your ability to use writing for reflective self-analysis.
Note: For this class we will be playing a series of games which are designed to play in most web browsers. If you own an Apple computer you may find that some of them don't work well in Safari. The simple remedy is to install a second browser (which is a good practice if you have a computer anyway); I would suggest Firefox.
Myers, Danika -Handmade Resistance: Craft Activists & D-I-Y Rebels
Yarnbombers wrapping cities in hand-knit stripes. Punks stabbing safety pins in home-made shirts. Riot Grrls Xeroxing music magazines. "Green" bloggers posting tutorials to make Goodwill t-shirts look like Anthropologie. This class will explore the ways handmaking, crafting and self-conscious craftivist communities consciously and unconsciously form around political ideals and take action towards political change
Though some think of DIY as a bland pastime for housewives, and traditional crafts like knitting and crochet as innocuous hobbies for old ladies, crafts and craft-based communities are and have historically been a place where politics happen. Recent DIY movements and the craft renewal of the past decade have political roots, whether the anti-authoritarian rejection of mass-produced fashion or media, the explicitly pacifist activism of textile artist Marianne Jorgensen's knitted pink cozy draped over a military tank, or the quietly anti-consumption spirit of a sewing and craft blog like Kathreen Ricketson's whipup.net, where making is prized over buying.
Assignments in the class will include participating in a class blog, an article critique, an annotated bibliography and research project exploring the political implications of a historical or contemporary craft, instance of craftivism, or DIY movement, and a personal essay. This is a hybrid course, which means that significant course work will make use of cyberspace formats including wordpress blogs and wiki technology.
Pollack, Rachel - Dutch Painting at the National Gallery of Art
In this course we will develop writing skills through careful observation and analysis of 17th Century Dutch painting at the National Gallery of Art. Each student will write 2 polished catalogue entries (2-3 page each) of works from the National Gallery collection, a short exhibition review (3-5 pages), a short research paper (5-7 pages) and a larger research project (15-20 pages). Artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals will be the central focus of class discussion, as well as various landscape and still life masters. We will explore issues of technique (i.e. materials and methods) and art historical interpretations. Why do we consider Rembrandt a "genius?" Did Vermeer use the camera obscura? How did the new wealthy middle class affect art patronage? Together we will read a selection of scholarly articles related to each subject, as well as visiting the museum collection firsthand. Through critical writing, class discussion, and individual research, each student will learn to see and appreciate the art of the Dutch Golden Age.
Presser, Pam - Brain Matters: Should Science Solve the Mystery of Your Mind?
If you could find out everything about how your mind works, would you want this knowledge?
Or does some of the magic of life evaporate if all secrets are revealed? Utilizing recent
discoveries about the brain, this class will interrogate the role values should play in scientific
Freud believed that unconscious wishes and repressed memories continuously controlled us,
regulating what we thought during the day and what we dreamed at night.After scientists began
discussing the chemical transmission of nerve impulses in the brain,. physicians rejected Freud's
model of the mind, turning to biological approaches. Yet, as an interdisciplinary field which
focuses on cognition has emerged, Freud's ideas have made a comeback. Neurologists,
biologists, and psychiatrists are collaborating to analyze discoveries made possible by recent
technologies which seem to corroborate Freud's theories.
This work has implications for students and teachers of the writing process. Understanding how
the brain works can provide insight into how people construct meaning, use language, create
narratives and develop arguments. Assignments for this class might include, but will not be
limited to, a collaborative project, an annotated bibliography, and an analysis of a blog which is
relevant to course concerns.
Riley, Matt - Songs & Script: Critical Writing about Music
This course is an ongoing study conducted by first year students about how popular music serves as a reflection of society. We will investigate a variety of ways that music is analyzed and argued about in both popular and academic communities, and we will research the issues about music that we, as a group, consider to be important. Songs and Script is based on the idea that students who take the course, past, present, and future, should form a community of scholars who build the course over repeated semesters. Consequently, the issues we address and the knowledge we establish comes equally from the students and the professor, and current students must always build upon the work of previous classes. Further, the course maintains a concentrated focus on different means of analysis. Therefore, not only will students write analytical research essays about critical issues, but they will also participate in several collaborative group projects, including writing, composing, and producing an original song and developing a multimedia presentation that investigates an historically significant music artist. Every assignment will involve research, analysis, argument, and formal expression.
Ryder, Phyllis - Writing for Social Change: Writing with DC Community Organizations
When people write in the real world?as when community organizers publish brochures to motivate their neighbors to fight injustice or even when college professors argue for a way to classify knowledge?they must consider their rhetorical situation carefully. In addition to conveying information, they must convince people that what they say matters, that what they are proposing has merit, that what they are asking is reasonable and possible. They must convey a sense of urgency and a sense of agency.
How do people make their words do all this? First, they learn to analyze how the context in which they are speaking affects their persuasiveness. Second, they develop a repertoire of strategies for responding?ways to enhance their credibility among different kinds of audiences, ways to heighten or diffuse audience concerns, ways to signal that they share their audience's values. They develop this repertoire by studying, with a writer's eye, how other people in the community speak, act, and write. That's what we'll do in this course.
We'll study the discourse of community organizations to understand these moves. Community organizations are a helpful starting point because their purposes and contexts are readily apparent. Looking at their mission statements, their websites, their history, demographics of their communities and so on, we can identify the challenges that they face as they seek to persuade others to work with them. As you partner with the organizations throughout the semester, you will gain an insider's perspective on the methods that they use to bring people together to make change.
Coming from this experience, we'll then consider the somewhat more elusive rhetorical context of academic writing. Just as a community organization is united around a particular social goal and a particular method of achieving it, so the academic community at a research university unites around its social goals and accepted methods. Using the analytical abilities we developed by studying community organizations, we'll study academic discourse and learn how to write in a way that signals that you are part of this academic community.
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 email@example.com
Schell, Heather - Darwin's Legacy: Science, Religion, and American Politics
Darwin's transformative On the Origin of Species shook the world when it was published, not only because it challenged literalist interpretations of the Bible but also because it offered a grim view of what the poet Tennyson termed "nature red in tooth and claw." More than one hundred and fifty years later, long after the rest of the world has come to terms with Darwin's ideas, controversy about evolutionary continues unabated here in the United States. This has shown most clearly in our public school system, where a battle over the right to teach evolutionary theory has been waged since the Scopes Trial of 1925. While evolutionary theory is a fundamental building block of the life sciences today, a sizable group of Americans does not believe that species have evolved and actively campaigns to keep Darwin's ideas out of the science curriculum. This semester, we will look at this war of ideas at the level of writing. We will use techniques of rhetoric analysis to examine the ways in which the players in this ongoing debate frame themselves as authorities, appeal to their audiences, produce evidence, define their terms, and address alternate perspectives. We will also explore the way that contemporary journalistic practice may contribute to public misunderstanding. In your essays this semester, you will explore the use of evolutionary theory in a political debate, critically analyze a scholarly essay, and research the underpinnings of America's uneasy relationship with Darwin.
This is a hybrid course, meaning that a significant amount of the course work will make use of internet and other electronic media; these sessions may at times also take the form of small group workshops or field trips.
Note: laptops required.
Smith, Caroline It's a Mad, Mad World: Writing About AMC's Television Series Mad Men
When the television series Mad Men first aired in the summer of 2007, it didn't have much going for it. After all, it was a period drama airing on a network best known for showing classic films. But, before long, it became clear that Mad Men was here to stay winning Emmys for best drama in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. All of the sudden,Mad Men seemed to be everywhere. Banana Republic's fall 2009 line was inspired by the show's fashions. AMC's webpage allows you to create your own Mad Men character and post it to your Facebook page. Even Sesame Street spoofed the series.
UW20 serves as the training ground for three important abilities critical reading, researching, and writing at the college level, and in this course, we will use the television series Mad Men and the readings associated with it as the starting point for our own writing assignments. 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? What research lenses might we apply to our work in order to enrich it? Students will produce a variety of writing assignments, including a DVD commentary assignment analyzing scenes from the series and 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. Note: Students in this course need not have viewed the series before enrolling.
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 Caroline Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Svoboda, Michael -Frankenstorms, Politics, and Media: Communicating Climate Change in a Polarized Atmosphere
Sometimes nature is monstrous. By naming the convergence of hurricane Sandy and an unnamed nor'easter a "frankenstorm," "we" seemed to acknowledge that fact. But do we understand our personal experiences of this storm better by thinking of a composite creature who escaped the control of his human creator? And are we empowered or disempowered by the comparison?
In this class we will try to see and understand the connections between personal experiences of dramatic events, media coverage of those events, and the processes by which we decide how to respond to such events. To do this, we will examine natural risks and human choices from multiple perspectives, and we will read, compare, and practice the different styles of writing associated with these perspectives.
Whether the great storm of fall 2012 or some other disaster, then, this class offers you the opportunity to make and share your own sense of a formative regional or national experience.
Note: This course is a partial hybrid. Some Friday class sessions will make use of online spaces. Others may be used for consultations, group meetings, draft workshops?or for relevant events sponsored by DC-based organizations like American Enterprise Institute, American Meteorological Society, Brookings Institution, Cato Institute, Center for American Progress, Woodrow Wilson Center, etc. We should take advantage of the fact that we live in one of the major capital cities of the world!
Tomlinson, Niles - Fake News and Ironic Views: Satire as Social Critique
While satire has a long history of exposing social/political pretensions and human folly, never has it been so prevalent as in our current cultural moment. From The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to The Simpsons to the mockumentaries of Sasha Baron Cohen to the controversial Danish Muhammad cartoons, satire is a potent and sometimes dangerous rhetorical tool for illuminating the absurdities of extremist views and partisan propaganda. This course starts with the question of why satire has become such a pervasive phenomenon and then moves towards an exploration of the value of, and potential problems with, satire as a rhetorical lens of social criticism.
We will begin by identifying specific strains of satire (Horatian, Juvenalian, black comedy, etc.) in essays, short stories, films, and tv shows. Students will then write their own argumentative satires on a subject of their choice and will close read a satirical text. The final research project will give students a chance to explore in-depth a particular manifestation of satire in contemporary culture. In all, this course will make the larger points that the language of satire and irony is our language and that laughter and seriousness are not mutually exclusive.
Troutman, Phillip - Serious Comix: Graphic Novels as Social Criticism
In this Service Learning course, you will connect what you learn--both about writing and about comics--to the real world. Student teams will work with Safe Shores DC (safeshores.org) to research, design, and compose short educational comic books aimed at children aged 10-14 who have experienced or witnessed trauma or abuse. No prior comics or art skills are required.
Do comic books, graphic novels, and manga make an "art argument" (as artist Paul Pope asserts)? Can this entertaining image/text medium really contribute to knowledge in history, literature, philosophy, psychology, journalism, politics, religion, or education? What criteria help us evaluate graphic novels like Maus, Persepolis, Palestine, or Pyongyang? By treating the comics medium as an object of academic analysis, you will develop key writing and research practices valued in academic work. You will acquire, practice, and refine a specialized analytical vocabulary; discover and frame relevant questions in terms of existing scholarly literature; and develop your own analytical voice by anticipating the expectations of academic readers. You will practice writing as a recursive process of sketching, drafting, researching, revising, and editing, especially by learning to respond substantively to peers' work and to their comments on your work.
Troutman, Phillip - The Visual Past: Images in American History
Images say things. Cartoons, paintings, films?even maps and photographs?interpret, idealize, and shade the truth. They even lie outright. Ideas have been represented, reinterpreted, and reinscribed in images from the earliest colonial encounters through slavery and civil rights, from frontier wars through civil wars, foreign wars, and culture wars. People have used images to do important cultural "work" in regards to race, gender norms and identity, class mobilization, democratic politics, national expansion, immigration and migration, scientific thinking, and religious ideologies. But images do not speak for themselves. Scholars of visual culture have created specialized terms and concepts that you will need to adopt and adapt to do your own analytical work.
To write about images requires description, which almost automatically requires some level of interpretation, or at least translation from visual to verbal. So writing about images will help you hone your critical thinking, research, and analytic skills. But you will also have to approach image description and analysis with creativity, finding new words and phrases to rise to the task.
Wilkerson, Abby - Food Movements and Rhetorics of Social Change
Food is not simply a biological necessity but a part of life situating each of us in a network of growers, producers, consumers, preparers, and sellers?a network that has expanded to encompass the globe. Food is also a rhetorical domain, in which meanings are created and struggles enacted through language?writing about food and agriculture, as well as food used as language. This course uses the context of food and food politics as a site for exploring rhetorical agency, how speakers, writers, and all makers of meaning accomplish their goals through persuasion, argument, and advocacy of all kinds. In particular, we will investigate rhetorical positions and frameworks taken up in recent debates on sustainable eating. Coursework includes (1) examining published work on food politics, considering their strategies for representation and analysis, (2) creating reflections and narratives, and (3) conducting research on the rhetorical dimensions of specific instances of food politics and practices.
"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"
Manipulations of law have been used many times throughout our hiistory 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 courts and legislation to effect their
demands. When those arenas are functioning at their best, we get to
see words and ideas taken seriously. Advocates construct legal
briefs, OpEd articles, scholarly journal articles, and legal
opinions. These will be our course materials, which we explore in
often intense seminar-style class meetings. Students then explore
these concepts even more thoroughly in their scholarly writing,
culminating in a major final research paper that will advance the
discourse on a self-selected social justice issue in current public
Zink, Christine -Pedagogy and Praxis for Writing Tutors
This writing-intensive course immerses students in the field of Writing Studies, through writing center scholarship in particular, to gain a strong foundation in tutoring pedagogy and to understand the rich history of inquiry into university writing centers. Moving forward from that grounded knowledge, students will engage in authentic writing and research within this field and develop techniques of observation, thoughtful deliberation, self-reflective practices, and writing throughout the semester, meeting theoretical reading and critical response with the experiential learning necessary to prepare for writing center work.