University of Rochester

College Writing Program


Reasoning & Writing in the College
CAS 105

Spring 2006

General Description: Each section description is based on the general CAS 105/105E course description developed by the Interdisciplinary College Writing Commiteee.


**Courses address issues of diversity

Writing about:

Writing about Cultural Studies


You are What You Eat: Writing about Food & Culture
Tanya Bakhmetyeva, College Writing Program
TR 12:30 – 1:45  CRN 18272

In nineteenth-century England, people believed that by finding out what a person ate, it was possible to discover the person's social status. "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are," they declared. This formula does not seem to work any more in our age when everyone eats at McDonalds and gets their coffee at Starbucks. Or does it? In this course we will look at and write about the different ways food serves as a means to preserve and strengthen (or change) our personal and ethnic identities, to make friends (or enemies), to celebrate, to mourn and to pray. Drawing on sources from various academic disciplines, as well as film and literature, we will explore questions such as why do we diet? Why do we eat out? Why do all religions require fasting? And others. Furthermore, similar to the way we use food to enter and be part of a community of people, we will use writing to begin entering an academic community. Be prepared to share your own work and taste the work of others through peer-reviews and self-assessments. Come hungry to learn, to write and maybe even sample some new flavors.

Recovering Radio
Marty Boyden, Department of English
TR 4:50 – 6:05   CRN 72697
TR 6:15 – 7:30  CRN 18083

In 1938 Orson Welles's radio theatre accidentally convinced over a million people that Martians were invading the Earth.  Do modern radio superstars like Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh possess anything like that power?  Is radio even relevant in the internet age?  Over the past century, people's relationship with radio has been subject to near constant argument and revision.  In this course, we will study those arguments to assess what, if any, role radio may have in our future.  

As a medium with which almost all college students have a great deal of realized or unrealized familiarity, radio is a ready subject through which to practice the critical writing and research skills students will need throughout their undergraduate studies and beyond. Moreover, studying radio in a college writing course provides an opportunity to recognize the different expectations within popular media and scholarly communication. The work for this course engages a wide range of reading and listening exercises (from popular, academic, government, and "radiophonic" sources) and will require students to contribute to in class and online discussion, a journal, a number of short essays, and a research paper.  Revision, peer review, and self assessment exercises will be coupled to writing assignments to strengthen students' consciousness and flexibility as writers.

Big Brother in the Bedroom
Kathleen Casey, Department of History
TR 2:00 – 3:15  CRN 18166

At first glance the government of the United States and the private sex lives of American citizens seem to be two disparate topics.  However, in this course, we will explore these two concepts as they converge in various cultural arenas by examining a broad range of topics including prostitution, pornography, and sex education.  Through reading, writing and discussion we will investigate multiple perspectives on the changing role of government in shaping the private lives of citizens in recent America.  To accomplish this we will examine and discuss various texts on a weekly basis and construct argumentative essays as well as an 8-10 page research paper.  In this course, our main focus will be to develop essential writing tools such as peer review and self-assessment while increasing our knowledge of on-going cultural debates.

**Sweeeet!: High School Films from the 1980s to the Present
Kevin Cryderman, Department of English
TR 11:05 - 12:20 CRN 18309

In this class, we will explore various films set in and around High Schools and related issues, such as: identity, gender, sexuality, love, class, race and nostalgia.  The primary texts will be films, but we will also read various critical articles related to the films as well as the novel Emma by Jane Austin, one of the inspirations behind Clueless.  Other potential films include: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Sixteen Candles; The Breakfast Club; Fast Times at Ridgemont High; Heathers; Rushmore; Donnie Darko; Mean Girls and Napoleon Dynamite.  

The emphasis in the course will be the development of critical reading, writing and research skills as well as the ‘nuts and bolts’ mechanics of composition.  Through peer evaluation, revision, and rewriting, students will write three shorter essays and one 8-10 page research project.  Along the way, various homework assignments will bolster the in-class discussions of the course’s themes and enhance students’ compositional skills. 

Love and the Popular Imagination
Aviva Dove-Viebahn, Visual and Cultural Studies Program
TR 12:30 – 1:45  CRN 18358

What is love?  Why is love portrayed as a compelling motive for everything from heroism to homicide?  Does “love” even exist or is it a figment of the popular imagination? This course aims to address these and other questions by investigating both critical and romantic notions of love and how it is depicted in contemporary media.   We will use psychoanalysis, literary and critical theory, and more popular approaches to media to analyze literature and visual art, as well as a number of contemporary films and television shows.  Specific topics may include the similarities/differences of male and female love narratives; love, sex and marriage; romance and desire; love and heroism/sacrifice; and how romance and love affect consumerism.  The curriculum will stress class participation and will include three short essays and a longer research paper, as well as weekly readings, student responses, writing exercises, peer reviews, revisions, editing and self-assessment.  Students will be challenged to explore and consider seriously a diverse range of representations of love and how its depiction influences contemporary culture.  The goal of this course is for students to develop a greater understanding of the writing process as a whole while cultivating critical approaches to popular media.

Environmental Conceptions
Ryan Harper, Department of English
MW 2:00 – 3:15 CRN 18218

Most of us hear the term “environment” often enough to accept it as a normal component of social and political discourse, but what does it really mean?  What does it stand for? It often seems to be associated with some concept of “nature” or the “natural world,” but what is this “natural world” and how exactly does it relate to the “environment”? Is this “environment” of common discourse intended to be a purely ecological construct, or does it have geographical, social, cultural, physical and economic components as well? In this course we will explore such questions through both the weekly readings and student responses to them. Readings will include poetry, essays, excerpts from novels and historical studies by several writers including Edward Abbey, David James Duncan and William Cronon. Three short papers and one longer paper will be required, and all assignments will include revisions, peer feedback and self-assessment exercises.

Illusion or Reality
José Périllán, Department of History, Physics
TR 4:50 – 6:05 CRN 18247

What do quantum physics, mysticism, and magic have in common? In one sense, the three embody an essential tension between illusion and reality. One seminal truth about humanity is that we live in a state of flux between what is real and what is illusory. Does reality exist beyond our perceptions? Is truth an absolute? This course will examine three distinct perspectives from science, religion and entertainment in order to explore the dialogues between what we consider the worlds of reality and illusion. Coursework will focus on weekly readings, written responses to these readings, three short essays and a final research paper. We will use class time for discussions on the readings and peer-review workshops, where we will revise and assess our writing. Self assessment will be used as a learning tool for all papers throughout the semester.


English Language and Literature


Americans Abroad: Reading Travel Writing
Heidi Bollinger, Department of English
TR 12:30 – 1:45   CRN 18360

Each year, countless numbers of Americans travel abroad—as students, tourists, soldiers, and workers—and attempt to make a home for themselves (however temporary) in a foreign country.  This course will explore why travel appeals to the imaginations of Americans, particularly young people.  We will think about the crossing of national borders as a potential testing of cultural beliefs and boundaries, including differences in public behavior/custom, language, history, and ethnic and national identity.  What cultural expectations or prejudices do we take with us when we travel?  How does the experience of travel challenge or reaffirm our sense of national and personal identity?  How do we transform the places we visit, and how do they transform us?  What do we hope to bring home from our trip?  We will explore how a number of travel writers answer these questions, but we will also evaluate how they act as spectators and how they choose to represent on paper what they see.  To do so, we will unpack a suitcase full of 20th century literature, including works by authors such as James Baldwin, David Sedaris, Jhumpa Lahari, and Ernest Hemingway.  We will engage these readings and the questions they raise through class discussion, informal writing exercises, several short papers and a longer research paper.  Like a traveler, a successful writer must be gutsy and willing to follow new, unfamiliar routes.  This course will challenge you to craft polished, compelling pieces of argumentative writing, and will emphasize the importance of revision, peer review, and self-assessment.  

Comic Books: Kid Stuff?
John Chandler, Department of English
MW 2:00 – 3:15  CRN 18074

Comic books are often considered light reading, something good for kids, but not the object of serious attention.  This course will give comics serious, scholarly attention by discussing the medium and the reasons why comics are considered “low” or “popular” culture.  Through a variety of methods, we will look at a range of questions, such as: how does the comic book integrate art and text to create a more complex story?  How do comics interact with society by reflecting the concerns of readers and the populace in general?  How might adaptation to another medium, such as novel, film or television, change the essential quality of a comic book character?  As there are no strict models for academic writing about comics, we will explore a number of styles through several short papers, journals, in-class writing and a formal research paper.  Although readings will focus on the superhero genre, especially Batman as a highly visible and popular character, other comics will be considered.  The course will also emphasize self-assessment, peer feedback and revision as methods for independent growth as a writer in this and future classes.

The Writing on the Wall
Jessica Crabill, Department of English
TR 2:00 – 3:15  CRN 18291

Through class discussion, informal journal responses, and short paper assignments, students will explore the topic of graffiti through questioning.  What is the difference between a "graffiti writer" and a "graffiti artist"?  Can we distinguish between the "work" of convicted vandals and graffiti-influenced artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat?  Should our definition of graffiti include the cave paintings of Lascaux, the west side of the Berlin wall, and the sharpie "tags" scrawled on public utilities?  Finally, how do we write about what we see when we look at graffiti?  Students in this class will enhance their skills in clear writing, critical thinking, and persuasive analysis and argument through their regular participation in peer-feedback and editing workshops and their development of a portfolio of notes, writings and revisions.  Students will be asked to do a short in-class presentation leading up to a final research paper (8-10 pages) on a topic of their own choosing.

Suggestive Substitutions: Cold War Metaphors in American Culture
Anita Durkin, Department of English
TR 9:40 – 10:55  CRN 68687

In its simplest form, metaphor often functions as a means of understanding abstract ideas through comparison with concrete things. This relationship, in turn, creates the possibility of speaking and thinking about a difficult concept in terms of the recognizable object to which it is compared. As a conflict that was technically devoid of any physical fighting, the Cold War was, in some ways, as much an abstract idea as it was a real (and dangerous) diplomatic disagreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. How did various Americans, then, understand the Cold War? What metaphors did they use to describe it? Which metaphors appear consistently throughout the Cold War era, and which ones appear anomalously? How do metaphors build off other metaphors? How are metaphors used to further political causes? During the semester, students in this course will explore questions such as these through careful examination of novels, poetry, songs, and films produced during the Cold War era. Students will likewise be encouraged to pose their own questions and gradually form conclusions through daily participation in class discussions and the (guided) writing of three short papers, in addition to a full-length research paper.

Individualism in a Mass-Produced Society
Dustin Hannum, Department of English
MW 12:30 – 1:45  CRN 18346

We live in a society in which we have nearly unlimited choices. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the entertainment we enjoy- all of these categories feature numerous options and we generally consider the options we choose to be reflections of our selves and our personal tastes. We also live in a society in which most of the products we buy are mass-produced and bought by thousands- if not millions- of others. Does the unprecedented number of choices available to us now allow us more freedom to be ourselves than ever before, or are we limited by the products and images that others create for us? In this course, we will examine the ways in which we imagine ourselves to be individuals in a mass-produced world. You will be asked to think and write about the concept of individualism in our society. We will discuss various aspects of contemporary American culture, including advertising, generational trends, food, business, and geography. The course will also feature secondary readings that explore the idea of individualism in our society. You will be responsible for writing a few shorter papers, leading up to a major 8-10 page research paper. The writing process will involve drafting, peer feedback, self-assessment, and revision. In addition to this, you will be asked to participate in and contribute to class discussion on writing and the course theme.

Women in the West
Annie Heckel, Department of English
MW 12:30 – 1:45  CRN 18133

Women in the West will explore the medieval roots of our modern concept of “woman,” and examine current culture in light of what we can learn about the past. Although the main text for the course will be Alcuin Blamires’ Woman Defamed and Woman Defended, students will also be expected explore a wide variety of media (from television and movies to fashion magazines and romance novels) in order to develop an understanding of “woman” as she is constructed in the twenty-first century. The central focus of the course will be the distillation of individual views and understanding into four formal papers (three short and one long). All of these papers will undergo cycles of peer review and self assessment, through which students will learn to not only incorporate others’ feedback into their work, but also to assess their own writing from a reader-based point of view.

Writing in Camelot
Emily Huber, Department of English
MW 4:50 – 6:05  CRN 18179

Arthurian literature and film is, perhaps more than any other story-telling cycle in our culture, an organic and constantly growing entity. It has consistently expanded from 1136 —the date of the composition of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain,—and is still growing today. The motif is as much a part of contemporary popular culture as it is a part of our medieval heritage. From this viewpoint, we will read modern adaptations of the Arthurian legend by T.H. White, Bernard Cornwell, and Wendy Mnookin, as well as excerpts by Mary Stewart and Marion Zimmer Bradley, and through these readings enter into a context of writing and research. How does one write about popular culture in an academic fashion? Especially in such a sprawling body of sources, how can one narrow a topic for discussion in a paper or presentation, and keep that topic focused so as to promote the most effective argument? The University of Rochester is home to fantastic resources for Arthurian subjects and our course will include strategies in online and library research, utilizing the Camelot Project and the Robbins Library. Students will have the opportunity to explore the modern adaptations’ connections with their medieval sources through an oral report. Additional assignments will consist of three short papers, peer reviews, in-class revisions, and a longer research paper.

The Uncanny
Daniel Hutchins, Department of English
TR 11:05 – 12:20  CRN 18198

The Uncanny Valley principle of robotics states that when a robot becomes humanlike in its appearance and motion the emotional response from a human being to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathetic. As the robot starts looking too human, however, the response suddenly becomes strongly repulsive. The Uncanny Valley principle of robotics is an example of how the term uncanny is applied and offers a possible starting point for understanding the uncanny: a reaction that induces terror from something strangely familiar. We will begin the course by establishing some working definitions of the term "uncanny" based on writings by Sigmund Freud and others. Throughout the semester, we will be asking the following questions: How has the uncanny been used in literature over the past two centuries? How has the idea of the uncanny been changed and adapted? How is this idea used today in movies, literature, and politics? How is our role as a reader challenged by the uncanny?

In this course students will develop, refine and eventually communicate their own definitions of the uncanny through writing assignments, readings and discussion. Formal assignments will include one 8-10 page research paper and several shorter analytical essays as well as self-assessments and peer reviews of rough drafts. We will read non-fiction essays and articles, short stories, a play or two, and possibly a short novel. We will also view and discuss at least one movie. Possible authors may include: Sigmund Freud, E.T.A. Hoffman, Heinrich Von Kleist, Phillip K. Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Theodor Adorno and Peter Brooks.

**Provocative Solicitations: The Art of Seduction in Advertising
Gilbert Kirton, Department of English
TR 11:05 – 12:20  CRN 18205

This course will explore the persuasive rhetoric and enticing images found within various forms of modern advertisements in Western civilization. Such an exploration into sensual advertising is needed in order to better understand the seductive power of lightly sheathed visual and verbal messages in the television commercials, magazine ads, and newspaper articles that consumers come into contact with every day. In order to strip advertisements down to their bare essentials, we will consider the following questions: What are the implications of saying that sex sells? In what ways could one’s culture be sexualized? Are advertisements promiscuous? What type of response do different types of advertisements seek to elicit from one audience or another? Through our active engagement with such questions, we will develop skills in analysis, critical thinking, and writing. Thus, students will be expected to participate in class discussions, peer-reviews, and ongoing revision as well as complete self-assessments, multiple essays, and an 8-10 page research paper.    

Immigration and American Identity
Stephanie Li, Department of English Post-doc
MW 12:30 – 1:45  CRN 18371
MW 3:25 -4:40  CRN 73051

How does an American become an American?  How do new immigrants adjust to life in the United States while still maintaining ties to their countries of origin?  In this class, we will study contemporary autobiographies and narratives that describe experiences of immigration and assimilation into American life.  What is the relationship between the immigrant and his or her “home country” and culture?  What does it mean to become an “American”?  We will study how immigration affects changes in language, culture, values and social relationships, and also consider how certain narrative conventions and innovations have been employed to describe experiences of Americanization and alienation from the family homeland. In addition to reading such memoirs as Kingston's "The Woman Warrior" and Rodriguez's "Hunger of Memory," students will analyze a wide array of materials including the national naturalization oath and test, films such as "Mississippi Masala" and "In America," essays, poems and the Ellis Island Portraits of Augustus Sherman.    Assignments will emphasize writing as a process; peer review, editing, revision and self-assessment will enable students to develop their writing skills

Making Space: Exploring Domestic, Urban, and Textual Spaces
Rachel Lee, Department of English
TR 3:25 – 4:40  CRN 18111

What do feng shui, graffiti, urban exploration, and installation art all have in common?  They all illustrate our interactions with space, both public and private.  This course will deal mainly with writings about various spaces; readings may include explorations of the Victorian domestic interior through Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the basic tenets of feng shui (the practice of object placement to achieve harmony with the environment), the urban explorations of Henry Miller, and examples of installation art in public spaces.  These readings, and the conversations and writing they will inspire, will focus on such questions as: How do we affect the space we inhabit?  How does our surrounding physical space affect us?  What determines the borders between public and private spaces, and what happens when we transgress them?  We will be using the approaches of exploration, navigation, and transgression as models of reading and writing, and through class discussion, group work, individual exercises, peer review, and self-assessments, we will explore the writing process.  Writing assignments will include several shorter papers (with revisions) and a longer 8-10 page paper. 

**Screaming With the Lights On, Laughing in the Dark: Genre and Masculinity
Jennie Lightweis-Goff, Department of English
TR 2:00 – 3:15  CRN 18144

This course builds on prior experience with argumentative writing and introduces new ideas about representations of masculinity in horror and comedy. Class conversation and writing assignments will provide open-ended inquiry into the representation of masculinity within these genres. Other fields of identity – such as race – will be interrogated to see how masculinity changes when these variables are introduced by textual representation. The required texts will include short stories, essay, popular films, and audio recordings of stand-up comedy. The class will examine the relationship between the genres through their representation of male desire and their images of sexual variation. The texts will provide themes and concepts for three brief papers. Original student research on a related subject will provide material for a long research paper. Questions about genre as well as masculinity will guide class conversation during the semester. The bulk of class time will be spent in conversation that fosters a sense of a community among students and instructor. During the semester, the class will function as a discourse community that encourages critical thinking and writing. In-class participation is required, and includes classroom response, self-assessment, and peer review in group settings.

Art in a Diverse World
Shaila Mehra, Department of English
TR 9:40 – 10:55  CRN 18182

As soon as art leaves the hand or mind of the artist, it becomes available to the public -- and the public response can be unpredictable. As members of a diverse public audience, we often focus on controversies related to art – who makes it, who encounters it (and where), who pays for it, and what purpose it serves. In this class, we will explore specific case studies in which art divides a public. What happens, as in the case of Richard Serra's Tilted Arc, when a publicly-funded artwork makes its own audience angry? What do we do with literature that challenges American claims to unity within diversity (Baldwin, X, Mukherjee)? What do these reactions say about us as readers/viewers? The grounding question of this class will be: what is the status of art in a diverse world?

These artistic objects, acts, or moments provoked plenty of debate and argument in their time. In order to speak cogently about them today, you too will be asked to produce coherent and persuasive arguments that draw upon your experiences as members of a diverse world. To this end, we will utilize peer review, self-assessment, class discussion, formal and informal writing, and revision to improve reading, writing, and reasoning skills. The culminating project will be an argumentative research paper.

**American Psychos:  Representations of Madness in American Film and Literature
April Miller, Department of English
TR 12:30 – 1:45  CRN 18069
TR 9:40 - 10:55 CRN 18100

The mad-but-brilliant artist, the depressed and suicidal teenager, the "psycho" serial killer.  We will consider how such cultural constructions of "madness" influence the public's attitudes toward people living with mental health issues. Although we will consider various medical explanations of mental illness, we will not rely solely on the word of doctors.  We will think about how artists and authors question and explore what it means to be "sane" and what it means to "cure" others. Because they often raise troubling questions about cultural constructions of femininity and masculinity, normality and deviance, we will also discuss how mental-illness narratives challenge social understandings of gender and race. Throughout the course, students will develop the critical reading, writing and research skills necessary to construct a diverse portfolio of writing, including an extended argumentative essay and a final research paper. Assessment will emphasize the importance of revision, self-evaluation, and participation in class discussion.  The goal is to have students emerge from this class as more confident writers who are capable of handling the diverse tasks in composition they will be asked to perform as both students and professionals.  Writers under consideration will include: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Susanna Kaysen, Angela Carter, and Ken Kesey.  Films may include: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Pi, American Psycho, Badlands, and Monster.

N.B.  Some of the material covered in this course includes violent imagery, harsh language, and explicit sexual content.  Please examine the course content to determine whether you will be comfortable watching the proposed films and discussing this material in a classroom setting.

Gothic Women Writers
Amira Richler, Department of English
TR 11:05 – 12:20  CRN 18392

Today, the word "gothic" tends to conjure up pictures of angry, rebellious, and depressed teenagers who dress in black, paint their faces white, and listen to the music of Marilyn Manson.  However, is this how gothic writers initially conceptualized the term gothic? In this course, we will be primarily interested in delving into the formative role that women writers have played in defining and redefining our interpretation of the gothic. We will ask ourselves some of the following questions: what is the relationship between the ways in which we currently envision the gothic and the ways in which past authors such as Ann Radcliffe, Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, and Christina Rossetti imagine the gothic? What are the conventions associated with gothic literature? How do women writers employ these conventions for their own particular literary agendas? In considering these questions, we will examine a variety of novels, poems, short stories, and critical essays, and will endeavor to sharpen our analytical thinking, writing, and oral skills through revision, peer review, and self-assessment. Students are required to complete several short papers, as well as a longer research paper of approximately 8-10 pages.

Dangerous Words: Censorship Debates in American Culture
Stefanie Vischansky, Department of English
TR 9:40 - 10:55  CRN 18263

America prides itself on its value and protection of free expression.  Nonetheless, there is an ongoing debate about how to regulate the transmission of ideas that are perceived as potentially dangerous or subversive.  What are the limits of our first amendment rights?  What forms can censorship take? What causes a fictional work to be perceived as dangerous and corrupting?   Should some works of literature, art, and entertainment be banned?  In this course we will investigate these difficult questions, critically analyzing various texts—fiction, song lyrics, film—that have provoked calls for censorship. 

We will discuss works that have been suppressed on political, sexual, social, or religious grounds, considering multiple perspectives within censorship-related debates and exploring what the suppression of certain texts reveals about our society.  Authors will include, among others, Vladmir Nabakov, Azar Nafisi, Mark Twain, and Richard Wright.  Since this is primarily a writing class, the theme of censorship serves as an interesting and provocative subject to consider as we practice and discuss strategies for becoming more confident and effective academic writers.  The class will emphasize the writing process, incorporating self-assessment, peer-review, and revision. Formal paper assignments include a few shorter analytical essays and one longer research paper.

Writing about History


Does it have to be this way?: Writing about Social, Political and Cultural Reform Movements in US History
Shane Butterfield, Department of History
TR 9:40 – 10:55  CRN 18323

Achieving lasting national agreement on compelling issues has been a rare occurrence in US history, and the reform movements involved in these conflicts have influenced America in profound ways. Through the writings of groups such as the American revolutionaries, transcendentalists and civil rights activists, as well as writing of our own, we will investigate various reform efforts, constructing arguments and sharing insights. In evaluating these attempts at change, we will ask important questions, such as: what have been the primary motivations for the various reform efforts?  Which social groups were most active in their attempts at reform, and why was this so?  What place did these reformers have in the dominant American ideology? In the course of our examination, we will explore issues, search for answers, and work to convey ideas effectively in our writing.  Through classroom discussion, the drafting of short essays, revision, self-assessment, peer feedback and an 8-10 page argumentative research paper, students will gain experience in making inferences and presenting arguments in writing.

Crimes of War
Corinne Carpenter, Department of History
MW 3:25 – 4:40  CRN 18289

 “This is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.”

                                    Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) The Big Lebowski

Actually, in “‘Nam,” rules did exist regarding acceptable practices on the field of battle, even if they were sometimes stretched and broken.  Codes of conduct governing the decisions and behavior of generals and soldiers have been central to ‘the art of war’ for thousands of years.  In this course, we will address war crimes in discussion and written assignments by considering such questions as: What is a war crime?  Who decides?  Who can and should be prosecuted and punished?  How has the definition of war crimes changed over time?  Primary sources written by both warriors and civilians will be considered as our evidence, as well as scholarly secondary sources on the topic.  Along with short readings and discussion, peer feedback, self-assessment, revision, and an 8-10 page argumentative research paper will constitute the work for the course. 

**Selling the American Dream: Advertising in U.S. Culture
Christine Ridarsky, Department of History
TR 9:40 – 10:55  CRN 18157

This course will examine the changing role of advertising in American culture from the late nineteenth century through the present. By examining and analyzing advertising from different time periods and in various media, including print, radio, television, and the Internet, we will consider how advertiser's methods and messages have changed over time. We will address questions such as: What methods have advertisers used to sell their products? What messages have been communicated? Do ads reflect American culture and values? How much does advertising influence American culture? What roles have race and gender played in advertising? Through class discussion, self-assessment, peer review, and ongoing revision, students will develop skills in analysis, critical thinking, and writing. Students will be expected to create a portfolio of work that includes a series of journal entries, several short papers, and a final research paper of 8-10 pages.

Writing about Music


Punk Rock: Politics, Philosophy, and Music
Drew Abrams, Department of Physics and Astronomy
TR 2:00 – 3:15 CRN 18385

This course will use the movement known as "punk" to explore not only the music, but the philosophy and the politics surrounding the music. We will start with a brief history of punk and ask, "What circumstances in the US and Britain led to the development of punk rock as a genre of music?" From there, we will look closer at the culture of punk and examine issues such as anarchy, media representation, and DIY. Finally, the current state of punk will be analyzed and we will ask, "Is punk dead?" This course will emphasize writing throughout with workshops, peer-evaluations, self-evaluations, student journals, and, in particular, a comparison of punk to other musical genre and an analysis of the message the songwriter is trying to send through his/her music.

Gangstas, Sistas, and Activists: A Brief History of Rap
Amy Fenstermaker, Department of English
TR 12:30 – 1:45  CRN  72779

This course will focus on the lyrical content of rap music, as well as the political and social conditions to which rappers are responding. While early rappers like Run DMC and LL Cool J seem, at least initially, content with simply bragging about their lyrical prowess, rappers like Grand Master Flash suggest that social commentary has always been an important part of the music. It is this attention to social commentary that we will explore in the lyrics of NWA, Public Enemy, and Queen Latifah, to name a few. Students will be asked to do in-class presentations, as well as informal/exploratory writing, and write a total of four formal papers; the last of these will be an 8-10 page argumentative research paper on a topic of your choice. In the writing and revising of each of these papers, peer-feedback and self-assessment will play a prominent role.

From Woody Guthrie to Ani DiFranco: Historical Perspectives on American Protest Music
Tara Mc Carthy, Department of History
MW 12:30 – 1:45  CRN 18095
MW 3:25 - 4:40 CRN 18254

Historians reconstruct and interpret the past by studying primary sources.  Song lyrics, like novels and diaries, can reveal past and present social concerns.  In this class we will explore folk/protest music in its social and political context, analyzing lyrics and developing arguments about musicians and the causes they championed.  Topics include: Woody Guthrie’s labor ballads, anti-war music of the Sixties, and, more recently, gun control.  Interpreting sources and formulating arguments are two important steps in the writing process.  Revision is another.  During the semester, you will write four formal papers, including a research paper.  After each assignment, you will have the opportunity to revise your work several times, giving and receiving feedback in class through peer review.  The research project, on the musician or protest theme of your choice (not limited to the folk genre), will also involve a presentation to the class.

Writing about Philosophy


**Writing to Effect Social Change
Jackie Augustine, Department of Philosophy
TR 9:40 – 10:55  CRN 18314

When the internal reactions to societal injustices are powerful, translating these feelings into words can seem a daunting task.  The leaders of many moral movements put their own feelings into words that not only resonated with others, but served as an inspiration and catalyst for action.  Through an examination of the personal and political writings of influential thinkers, this course will not only explore the power of the written word, but will challenge students to harness their own thoughts on contemporary issues into compelling and well-reasoned essays. This solidifies the message that the written word is not only a powerful means of self expression, but a necessary and effective component of social and political change.

Philosophy of Science: Scientific Progress and the Nature of Science
Dan Mittag, Department of Philosophy
MW 2:00 – 3:15  CRN 18220

This course is an introduction to college-level writing that focuses on issues in the philosophy of science. In particular, we will explore various theories about the nature of science, scientific progress, and scientific method.  While this will be our central focus, we also will examine such disparate topics as the Copernican Revolution and the politically charged debate regarding Evolution and Intelligent Design.  Through writing, reading, and classroom discussion, students will come to understand and develop reasoned, well thought out appraisals of each of the theories we discuss. Careful reasoning and open and thoughtful classroom interaction will be an essential part of this course, whether during discussions, peer review, or individual writing exercises.  Students will write and revise a series of critical papers of varying lengths, will continually evaluate their own work, and will produce clear, careful, academic prose. Through this process, students not only will come to better understand the complexity of the issues discussed in class, but also will come to refine their critical thinking, writing, and argumentative skills.

Ancient Philosophy and Contemporary Problems
Chris Tillman, Department of Philosophy
MW 12:30 – 1:45  CRN 18125

"The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato"

 (A.N. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 1929)

You can find elements of most contemporary philosophical debates in the works of ancient philosophy. In this course, we will discuss a number of contemporary philosophical problems by first going back to their origin. Through focused writing and revision, we will examine ancient philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, The Epicureans, The Stoics, and The Skeptics. Critically writing about the views of these philosophers will help students develop the skills to (1) Extract arguments from texts, (2) Evaluate those arguments, and (3) Construct clear, concise and well-reasoned essays that present those extractions and evaluations. By the end of this course, students should have the skills to write strong argumentative essays about any given subject matter.

What Are We? Persons, Identity, And Immortality
Bob Muhnickel, Department of Philosophy
MW 12:30 – 1:45  CRN 18236

The goal of CAS 105 is that each student learn to read critically, write effectively, and think clearly.  CAS 105 meets the College’s Primary Writing requirement.

What are we? This section of CAS 105 combines reading and writing about philosophical problems concerning the nature of persons, the identity of persons, and whether persons survive death. We will read, discuss, and write about the nature of persons, the mind-body relationship, the existence of a soul, and what constitutes a single person’s psychology across time. We will discuss what we can know about individual survival after death and the grounds of such knowledge. Some ethical implications will be discussed.

This section of CAS 105 exposes students to philosophical dialogues and essays, basic formal arguments, and philosophers’ arguments for substantive claims. We will discuss the difference between arguing for claims and exploring the implications of claims found in religion and common belief. We will focus on developing skills needed to write an argumentative essay. By means of reading, class discussion, self-assessment, peer review, and instructor’s feedback, students will learn how writing and argument help them clarify their understanding of concepts and express their understanding more effectively in writing. Required writing includes brief writing assignments, in-class writing, three essays, and a research paper. Students should finish the course with an improved ability to write a clear, organized essay that argues for a substantial philosophical position.




Theories of Human Motivation
Arlen Moller, Department of Clinical and Social Psychology
TR 12:30 - 1:45  CRN 18337

Why did you get out of bed this morning?  What forces give us the energy to engage the world and behave in the myriad ways that we do?  These are the types of questions addressed by social psychologists who study human motivation.  In this class, students will read and discuss various theories of human motivation, then apply these theories to their own lives in structured writing assignments.  Students will write three papers (3-4 pages) that will evaluate the extent to which a given theory of motivation adequately explains an instance of their own behavior.  The course will culminate with a longer argumentative research paper (8-10 pages) integrating and evaluating several theories of motivation.  Over the course of the semester, students will receive feedback on their writing both from the instructor and their peers.  Other important features of the course include practicing self-assessment and revision of one’s work.  Through this class, students will gain insight not only into formulating clear and convincing written arguments, but also into themselves.

last updated December 20, 2005