College Writing Program

Reasoning & Writing in the College WRT 105/105E and 245

(formerly CAS 105/105E and 245)

Fall 2008

Each section has a unique content and grows out of the general WRT 105/105E course description developed by the Interdisciplinary College Writing Committee.

**Courses address issues of diversity

Writing about Cultural Studies

**Dysfunctional American Families
Justin Coyne, Department of English
MW 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 91302

“All unhappy families are unhappy in their own way.” Tolstoy

How do we define ourselves in relation to our families?  What does it mean to belong to a family and how do the issues of race, class, gender, nationality, politics and religion intersect in our experiences of family life?  In what ways do we defy, deny, accept and extend our families throughout the various stages of our life?  This class will address these questions by examining how unspoken narratives in both fictional and factual representations of American families shape the identities of fictional characters and reveal the ideological values of creators as well. 

Weekly assignments will cover various literary genres and visual mediums and our in-class discussions of these materials will be oriented around close, critical reading practices which will lay the foundation for clear, precise, and persuasive reader-based essays. Students will submit three shorter essays and an 8-10 page research paper.  The writing process itself will involve drafting, peer review, self-assessment and revision.

Growing Up Asian-American: Asian American Children's and Young Adult Literature
Qian Hua Ge, Department of English
MW 6:15 - 7:30 CRN 91467

***course description forthcoming***

**Watch that Step: Dance as a Cultural Lens
Liz Hallmark, Warner School of Education
TR 2:00 - 3:15 CRN 91365

In this course, we will explore dance as an embodied social practice that can give insight into social categories of identity. How do various forms of publicly displayed bodily motion reflect, resist or transform social meaning?  To begin with, dance movement can provide markers for group affiliation; ideals of social class, race and gender; conceptions of beauty, virility, dominance and stereotype.  As such, the dancing body serves as "text" for understanding or misreading human social relations.

With the help of some Effort/Shape analytical tools from the dance field, we will look at different kinds of dance as a way to sort through contradictory interpretations of movement.  To ground students' perspective, we will study a variety of essays, films, television shows, magazine articles, and live dance. The course may also include optional introductory dance lessons in tango, African, contact improvisation or Capoeira.  No worries, non-dancers! Any physical participation will be for developing your own experiential insight, not for assessment.

Three essays and a formal research paper will be required: through small group work, self-assessments, peer review and on-going revisions of writing, students will learn to organize and develop their ideas, analyze texts and integrate sources to effectively shape their writing.

**Borderlands and Border Thinking: Space, Place and Identity on the Mexico / U.S. Border
Daniel Hutchins, Department of English
TR 9:40 - 10:55 CRN 91403

From the Santa Barbara Fiestas and South Carolina's kitschy “South of the Border” tourist complex, to a Mexican Beatles cover band and Chicano rap, this class is concerned with understanding the Mexico / U.S. border as a laboratory of hybridity that continues to ignite the popular imagination of both Mexico and the United States.

Through class discussion, informal writing, and formal essays we will be examining the work of people like Chicana poet and feminist cultural theorist Gloria Anzaldúa, visual artist Rubén Ortiz-Torres and performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña. Also, we will be watching a few films, including The 3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Lone Star.

The primary goal of this class will be for students to improve their writing, reading and critical thinking skills. Formal assignments will include one 8-10 page research paper and three shorter analytical essays as well as self-assessments and peer reviews of rough drafts.

**Reforming America's Schools
Burke Scarbrough, Warner School of Education
TR 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 91494

It is nearly impossible to open a newspaper without reading a critique of America’s schools. Headlines, editorials, and famous school tragedies raise a host of complaints: schools are dangerous; students are undisciplined; public education is a failure; teachers are apathetic and undertrained; applying to college is overly stressful; all that matters are standardized tests; American students won’t be able to compete with students from other countries; a decent education is only available to the rich. Even as a host of reform initiatives attempt to revolutionize American schools, success stories appear few and far between.

As a student in “Reforming America’s Schools”, you will have one major semester project: to design your own school. From the first day of class, you will shape and revise a proposal for a new elementary, middle, or high school to be opened somewhere in America. As a class, our goals throughout the semester will be to read a range of perspectives on school reform, discuss some of the most controversial issues about the nature and purpose of education, and use various genres of writing to develop your proposed schools. Our ongoing discussions will be informed by the diverse work of educators, social scientists, journalists, activists, parents, and other students. Though the class is organized around a particular project, the skills you develop as writers and thinkers will be crucial in any discipline. You will learn to self-assess your writing for clarity, sound argument, and rich research, knowing that your goal all semester is to design the most effective school possible and to win support for it. Your informal response papers, formal analysis papers and final research paper (8-10 pp)will help you elaborate your school proposal more fully. Meanwhile, you will bring your expertise as longtime students to each other’s work through discussion and peer review. Above all, together we will challenge some of our most basic assumptions about school and allow ourselves to “think outside the box” as you propose your own answer to the constant calls for reform in American education


Writing about English Language and Literature

Shell-Shock Nation
Robert Baker, Department of English
TR 4:50 - 6:05 CRN 91343

The death of one million soldiers was not the only British tragedy in World War I. The war traumatized the soldiers who survived and the civilians who welcomed them home. British veterans suffering from the recurring terrors of shell-shock sought help in the new science of psychotherapy. Tormented by grief, thousands of bereaved relatives turned to the occult in order to communicate with dead sons and husbands.

In this class, we will explore the emotional and psychological response to the Great War. England wrestled with the same questions that vex us in the current age of terror and protracted warfare: How do we care for the mental health of soldiers? How are expectations about soldiers’ behavior dictated by social constructions of masculinity and gender? Is civilian dissent compatible with support for soldiers? How do we reconcile acute feelings of grief and fear with the stoic attitude mandated by society?

In this class, we will examine literary texts that depict the English response to the terrors of World War I. We will read fiction, memoirs, poetry, and drama by Siegfried Sassoon, Virginia Woolf, Somerset Maugham, and others. We also will examine recent analysis by writers such as Pat Barker and Paul Fussell. In an attempt to sort out conflicting responses to the war, our critical investigation will employ peer review workshops, informal writing assignments, and self-assessments. We will sharpen reasoning skills through focused, in-class discussion and formal papers, including an argumentative research paper. Because writing is a recursive process, we will pay particular attention to the role of revision.

**What to do when the Knight is a Monster: Examining Medieval Outsiders
Kristi Castleberry, Department of English
TR 11:05 - 12:20 CRN 91279

A knight in shining armor fights a dragon, and we know immediately which of the two to cheer on. The knight is the hero, and the dragon is the monster. Medieval literature often conjures up such clearly defined images of insider and outsider, human and beast, and good and evil for people. But how and why have these categories been formed, and what do we do when the categories don’t fit and we’re forced to reexamine them? What happens when monsters transform into people or people into monsters? What do we do when we simply cannot tell which is which? In this class, we will attempt to grapple with these questions through formal and informal writings and group discussions of works such as Marie de France’s Bisclavret, Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The main goal of the course is to engage in critical inquiry and to write organized and thoughtful essays using peer review, self-assessment, and revision. Students will practice various kinds of writing, and will ultimately produce an 8-10 page research paper.

In the Face of Chaos
Bryce Condit, Department of English
MW 2:00 - 3:15 CRN 91429

“This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself…”

—Friedrich Nietzsche

Everyday our society struggles to maintain order against the threat of the unpredictable and unquantifiable whether it come in the form of wars, crimes, natural disasters, economic crises, political dissent, or even intellectual upheavals. This course will examine what happens when such chaotic elements breach the institutions we expect to safeguard us from the “monster of energy.” Through class discussion and written assignments we will investigate questions such as: How is the chaotic element defined and represented in literature and other fields? What are its relationships with our conceptions of order? What are the results of such interactions?

Over the course of the semester students will engage in issues such as these as they develop, test, and communicate their ideas by writing a series of short papers and one longer 8-10 page paper on works such as Beowulf, Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, and John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. Class discussions, peer review, and self-assessments will be required to aid invention and facilitate ongoing revision. Interdisciplinary perspectives are welcomed.

Truth Universally (Un)Acknowledged– Jane Austen on Film
Andrea Everett, Department of English
TR 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 91522

The works of Jane Austen have given rise to a popular culture phenomenon, which notably manifests itself in movie adaptations for film and television.  Some scholars suggest that such adaptations—for the general public—encourage the substitution of viewing for reading. This substitution seems to be to a greater or lesser extent problematic according to the degree of “truth” that the films maintain with regard to their source material. In this course, through reading several Austen texts (including Pride and Prejudice) and viewing various films, we will explore ways in which the medium of film and the creative decisions of filmmakers may alter the interpretation of Austen novels.  Is the alteration significant?  How do filmmakers deal with questions of feminism, eroticism, etc.?  Should the film version of a literary text be considered an adaptation or an interpretation? What are the critical implications of such a distinction?  You will construct answers to these questions (as well as questions of your own) through class discussion, short essays, and a final 8-10 page research paper. The writing process will include peer feedback, drafting, revision, and self-assessment.

American Literature of the 1920's
Amy Fenstermaker, Department of English
MW 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 91448

The literary landscape of the 1920s was dominated by two artistic movements: modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. Modernism is perhaps best known for its white male authors, particularly, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams, but women like Hilda Doolittle and Marianne Moore also helped shape the movement. Occurring simultaneously, the Harlem Renaissance was a time of extraordinary artistic creativity for black Americans. With respect to literature, the Harlem Renaissance is perhaps best known for the works of Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, and Angelina Weld Grimké. In focusing on modernism and the Harlem Renaissance, this writing course will explore the defining characteristics and central debates of each movement, and consider what the two movements have in common.Students will read literature by each of the authors named above, as well as secondary articles on some of their works. Writing assignments will include informal, exploratory writing and three formal papers, all of which will prepare students for the final, 8-10 page, argumentative research paper. Peer-feedback and self-assessment will play a prominent role in the writing and revising of each paper.

Reasoning and Writing in the College
Stefanie Vischansky , Department of English
TR 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 91535

WRT 105 introduces students to disciplinary writing at the college level by offering instruction in small sections that focus on the act of writing. It provides instruction and practice in clear and effective writing and in constructing cogent and compelling arguments, as students draft and revise numerous papers of different forms and lengths. These papers introduce some of the forms of writing students are expected to produce later in their college careers as well as in their public and professional lives after graduation. The subject of the course is writing, but since writing is about something, each section of WRT 105 presents various texts, mostly written, for analysis and discussion in preparation for constructing extended argumentative essays and a final research paper. Students consider the roles of audience and purpose in shaping the organization, style and argumentative strategies of their own papers, and they learn to become critical readers of their writing through peer critiques and revision and editing workshops. Through active engagement 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 to complete self-assessments, multiple essays, and an 8-10 page research paper.  

Language, Literature, and Discourse Communities
Drema Lipscomb, College Writing Program
TR 9:40 - 10:55 CRN 97999
TR 2:00 - 3:15 CRN 98000

This semester we are going to try to understand what it means to be part of a language community, that is, to understand the dynamics of moving in and out of groups that use language in definitive ways.  We will think critically about this phenomenon by exploring our own and others’ experience with such communities.  You will accomplish this task through the formal study of rhetoric—its technical and artistic forms.  You will read, discuss, and write about works by various authors and rhetoricians.  Their works reveal common themes such as individualism, dissent, social harmony/disharmony, and reflect contemporary attitudes concerning displacement, cultural identity, poverty, racism, gender bias, and sexual orientation.  Moreover, this course will examine rhetoric’s historic relationship to civic life along with its “precarious” contemporary relationship to modern political publics.  By applying various rhetorical tropes to the principles of public policy analysis, you will explore and investigate—in specific ways—the role language plays in formulating local, state, or national policy on controversial social and political issues.

Students in this course will read, discuss and write with an emphasis on careful, methodical inquiry in analyzing arguments.  A fundamental aim is to draw attention to the context of an argument, its structure, and its specific rhetorical features—whether it’s yours or someone else’s.   Other course requirements include class participation, peer reviews, self-assessments, revision, and an 8-10 page research paper.  

Poetry of Womanhood
Hilarie Lloyd, Department of English
MW 4:50 - 6:05 CRN 95655

In the 1950s and 60s, women poets such as Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, and Audre Lorde defied the traditionally androcentric conventions and themes of poetry by writing about their own private, personal experiences.  They wrote about taboo subjects, including madness, sexuality, divorce, depression, and abortion.  This course will explore what it means to be a woman writing about aspects of womanhood that are traditionally kept "quiet."  What drove them to write about their private life experiences?  What language did they use to describe these experiences?  How did the act of writing poems relate to their lives?  We will examine both the poets' works and lives by reading their poetry, interviews, essays, and journals, as well as examine critical responses to their work.  Through discussion, close reading, weekly reading and writing assignments, and a final research paper of 8-10 pages, we will think critically and write argumentatively about women’s poetry. The paper-writing process will involve several revisions, self-assessments, and peer reviews to develop our writing and critical thinking skills.

Portrayals of Family and Personal Struggles in early 20th Century Immigrant Lives 
Wesley Mills, Department of English
TR 9:40 - 10:55 CRN 91351

What kinds of family and personal struggles did early 20th Century immigrants face? How were concerns of failure, success, and pursuing the American dream made manifest in the literature from these immigrants? In this course, we will examine five works and explore through reading and writing how they depict and represent the struggles, efforts, challenges and tribulations within family relationships and within these first generation immigrant lives. These works, written by prominent Jewish American writers are Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, The Assistant by Bernard Malamud, Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon, Seize the Day by Saul Bellow and Call it Sleep by Henry Roth. You will be expected to read (and in some cases watch) these works and to also read several scholarly articles that pertain to the many and varied discussion topics, and partake in class discussions. You will also be required to write several short, analytical papers and one 8-10 page research paper. All papers will undergo several revisions, self-assessments, and peer reviews. Your papers will become part of a larger portfolio that you will assemble for the class.   

‘Saying I’: Victorian Literature and the Narrative Voice
Megan Morris, Department of English
MW 2:00 - 3:15 CRN 91326

As Joan Didion implies in “Why I Write,” every text has a voice behind it, a narrator who is attempting to secure the audience’s attention and sympathy.   This is as true for academic writing as it is for novels, poetry, and stories.  In this course, students will write a series of creative nonfiction essays to develop a sense of the power of these voices, then focus on the role of similar narrative frameworks in the works of authors such as J.M. Barrie, Charlotte Brontë, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, and Emily Brontë.  How do the narrative voices that these authors create engage with problems of imperialism?  Gender roles?  Class boundaries?  Through discussing and writing about issues raised in the course, students will develop their ability to participate in academic dialogues.  Formal assignments in the course will include three short formal essays and a research paper.  Since audience and dialogue are central to this course, peer review and self-assessment will play important roles in the writing process.

**Narratives of Illness: A Postcolonial Perspective
Amira Richler, Department of English
MW 3:25 - 4:40 CRN 91430

This class will focus on contemporary representations of illness in postcolonial regions such as Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia.  During the course of the semester, we will grapple with some of the following questions:  How do Western definitions of health and sickness contrast with non-Western understandings of disease? What are the long-term psychological and physical effects of colonial rule on individuals, communities, and nations?  What role do factors such as sexuality, gender, race, and class play in constructions of HIV/AIDS, eating disorders, and “madness” across the globe? From an interdisciplinary point of view, we will examine fiction, non-fiction, and film to begin the complex process of addressing these questions. Possible texts to be studied include Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother, and Calixthe Beyala’s Your Name Shall Be Tanga. One of our main goals this semester will be to sharpen our understanding of disease in a postcolonial context through the process of argumentative writing, revision, in-class discussion and debate, peer review, and self-assessment. Students are required to complete several short papers, as well as a longer research paper (approximately 8-12 pages).

Existential America
Russell Sbriglia, Department of English
TR 11:05 - 12:20 CRN 91399

The father of existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, once asserted that, “There is no pessimism in America regarding human nature and social organization.” Our primary focus this semester will be to challenge this claim by exploring—through discussions and writing exercises intended to further develop students’ critical reading, writing, and rhetorical skills—the often overlooked feelings of anxiety and absurdity, dread and despair, lurking beneath romantic and idealistic visions of the American dream. We will engage American literature’s so-called “power of blackness” in order to question whether it depicts a “land of the free” or instead reflects, in the words of Herman Melville, a “ruthless democracy.” In addition to Melville, we will read Jonathan Edwards, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Stephen Crane, and Kurt Vonnegut. Readings and discussions will be supplemented by frequent informal response papers, a few 3-4 page formal analytical papers, and an 8-10 page research paper, all of which will be revised through the processes of peer review and self-assessment.

National Literature, Cultural Identity, Irish Writing.
Daniel Stokes, Department of English
TR 2:00 - 3:15  CRN 91481

What does it mean to identify oneself by a national identity?  What does it mean to be labeled by such an identity?  Are there ever single answers to question like these, and how do such answers change over time?  In this course we will examine issues of culture, race, religion, and ethnicity, by looking specifically at the nature of “Irishness”.  By using “Irish” texts stretching from the literature of the Middle Ages to contemporary cinema we will discuss the changing nature of Irish identities, their relationship(s) to perceived and/or actual British identities and the Catholic Church, and the ways in which Irishness is recognized today.  Students will hone their writing skills, learning the tools of argument, analysis, organization, revision, and editing, while exploring their own ideas. Students will write three formal essays and an eight-to-ten page research paper; they will learn how to develop their own ideas, support their arguments with pertinent data, and critique their own, as well as their fellow classmates’ compositions.

The Essay
Andrew Wadowski, Department of Linguistics
TR 9:40 - 10:55 CRN 98079
TR 4:50 - 6:05 CRN 95649

The word “essay” means to attempt, search after, or put to the test. The written essay does all of these things as it simultaneously presents arguments and asks questions. It is an infinitely flexible medium that follows specific rules; it opens up new avenues of thinking about problems while following a precisely defined path to its conclusions. As a form of persuasive writing, it has defined the ways people throughout the world have thought about the most important issues faced by society: civil rights, individual liberty, the nature of justice, to name but a few. This class will examine essays by writers such as George Orwell, Michel de Montaigne, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to better understand the posing of critical questions, the framing of arguments, and the development of conclusions. In order to understand the inner working of the essay form, we will debate these essays’ claims and propose alternate arguments. Looking at multiple versions of the same essay or at a writer’s later restatements of an earlier theme, we will explore them not only as finished products but as part of an ongoing process of thinking that takes place through writing, revision, and rewriting. That is, we will use the essay form as a means of developing our own fundamental skills of essay writing. Our own writing will follow the model of what we read in class. Like our readings, our essays will be the subject of peer-review and group discussion, drafting and revision in light of what we learn from review and discussion. As well, they will be objects for self-assessment as we learn to reflect on our choices as writers and the effects of those choices on our readers. This course will culminate in the creation of an 8-10 page research-based persuasive essay in which we put the skills developed over the course of the semester to use. These papers will develop a persuasive argument that emerges from critical questions; that is sustained by evidence; and is in dialogue with other critical voices.

Fantasy and its Discontent; J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth Narratives
Stella Wang , Department of English
TR 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 96872
TR 3:25 - 4:40 CRN 96889

This course addresses a few questions about fantastic literature and uses Tolkien's creative works as a contentious case in point. His works have been excluded from several theoretical discussions of fantastic literature for lack of generic, social, or psychological import. At the same time, their global popularity has generated divergent views about not only Tolkien’s texts but also fantasy as a genre. What working definitions of fantasy writing, one may ask, are available for a critical discussion of the genre? In what way may fantastic literature be related to myth and cultural beliefs? In light of social and personal psychology, how may fantasy be perceived as escapist literature and how do fantasy writers, readers and scholars respond to such interpretations? These debates call attention to distinct but comparable mythic apparatus in folktales across cultures as well as the strong fantasy elements in related fields of contemporary cultural production, including films, video games and manga. By considering The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, some of his imaginary short stories, including their radio/film adaptations and related paintings and art works, the course provides an open forum to explore the various cultural forces that may have helped popularize Tolkien’s and other alternative fantastic texts and sharpened the controversy over their modern and post-modern relevancy. Throughout the semester, students will be expected to build up their critical thinking and writing skills by actively participating in class work, including roundtable discussions, writing workshops, peer reviews, self-assessments, informal and formal writings, revisions and an individual, student-initiated research project.


Writing about History

Bon Voyage – Literature, History, and the Sea
Paul Dingman, Department of History
MW 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 91519

What is it about the sea that fascinates so many of us?  Is it the natural beauty or sense of freedom one feels on the water?  Could it be an attraction to or fear of the unknown?  How is it that a nautical voyage can often change someone’s ideas of community, identity, or even mortality? 

In this course, we will dive into maritime literature and history to explore these questions and others through lively discussions and critical analysis.  Tales by Homer, Melville, and LeGuin will be considered along with a few brief historical accounts of seafaring.  We will also screen a popular movie on the subject such as Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.

In addition to active participation in class discussions, students will write informally in response to the readings.  Peer reviews, self-assessments, and revisions will make up important parts of the process as students strive to communicate ideas effectively and construct cohesive arguments in their written work    A few short analytical essays and a longer, final research paper are required.

Medieval Holy War: The Crusades, 1095 – 1453
Daniel Franke, Department of History
MW 4:50 - 6:05 CRN 91266

The word “crusade” is often used in modern culture to symbolize a good cause, a positive campaign, and a noble undertaking.  The medieval crusades, however, were far more complex, and raised issues which still resonate with us today.  This course seeks to develop students’ critical reasoning abilities by examining the origins and context of the crusades, and how the crusading image is used in the present day.  What was a crusade—and does its meaning change over time?  How and why did Christianity develop a doctrine of warfare?  Were the crusades “just” wars?  How should we approach and assess these historical events?  Students will engage in dialogue with major crusades scholars and primary sources, and develop their own critical arguments regarding the crusades.  They will expand and communicate these ideas by means of discussion, exercises, two short essays, and a research paper.  Finally, peer review and self assessment will assist students in critiquing and analyzing their own writing, so that they may better communicate with their audience regarding one of the most complex features of medieval and modern society.

The German Army in World War II: Campaigns, Crimes, and Cultural Memory
Daniel Franke, Department of History
MW 2:00 - 3:15 CRN 91298

This course seeks to develop students’ critical reasoning abilities by examining various issues raised by the conduct of the German Army in the Second World War, and the army’s post-war history.  What is a war crime?  When should a soldier be held responsible for his or her actions in the field?  Or do superior orders shift the responsibility?  Does ideological motivation play a part in committing a war crime?  Is it possible to label an entire organization “criminal”?  Is it possible, fundamentally, to fight a “good war” for a “bad government”?    Students will explore and formulate arguments regarding these issues, which they will then expand and communicate by means of discussion, response papers, two short essays, and a research paper.  Peer review and self assessment will help students to analyze and critique their own writing and argumentation.  Readings will include scholarly articles, personal accounts, selections from German war memoirs, and editorials, as well as documentary and feature film clips. 

**Imagining History in the United States
John Havard, Department of English
TR 9:40 - 10:55 CRN 91456

Nations often produce imagined histories that serve more to legitimate national self-conceptions than to respect documented fact. In this course, we will analyze historically-minded fictional narratives produced in the United States, ranging from Hawthorne and Faulkner’s fiction to films like The Last of the Mohicans and Gangs of New York. Students will develop expository, analytic, and argumentative skills as we explore questions related to these works. For example, what myths do Americans live by, and how do the imagined histories we read accept, challenge, or redefine those myths? On what subjects do such narratives focus, and why do these subjects change over time? How do subgroups within the nation, such as Southerners, imagine the nation’s history? These and other questions will guide discussions and initiate a revision-focused writing process through which students will produce written responses, short writing exercises, peer reviews, self-assessments, three formal essays, and a final eight to ten page argumentative research paper.

America and the World: The City on the Hill from Across the Border
Jay Learned, Department of History
TR 9:40 - 10:55 CRN 91380

This course will explore foreign and domestic views of the United States at certain important points in its history, including the present. Some of the earliest Americans arrived with visions and rhetoric of a society chosen of God, creating a “city upon a hill”. Has this Puritan notion of America as a beacon of goodness shaped America's self concept and policies? What other concepts contribute to shape America? What did outsiders such as Alexis de Tocqueville and other foreign visitors think about early America and its policies? How have Americans and others regarded America's immigration, its wars, and its role as the sole superpower? In daily exercises students will engage a variety of sources, including student-selected examples, focusing on written arguments, and will also consider the value of statistics to persuasive arguments, and the role of film and other media in projecting national images. Formal assignments will include one 8-10 page research paper and three shorter analytical essays as well as self-assessments and peer reviews of rough drafts, all stressing the importance of revision.

The West Wing: Not Just an Aaron Sorkin Television Series
Jeffrey Ludwig, Department of History
MW 4:50 - 6:05 CRN 91506

As the country heads into the end of the Bush administration, the transfer of power seems a timely occasion to reflect on broad questions. How much influence can one individual politician exert over a whole society? Do Presidents define eras like the “Reagan Eighties” and “Clinton Nineties,” or are they defined by large events like the end of the Cold War and 9-11? How do the pressures of partisanship and ideology shape political decision-making? To what extent does public opinion matter to the White House, and, what rhetorical strategies are employed in attempts to control or “spin” it? Through writings and discussion, this course focuses on these issues and on the general phenomenon that is the office of the President.  Following contemporary journalistic sources, historical literature, and films like Oliver Stone’s Nixon, the class examines the types of personalities drawn to high power. By glancing backwards through the enigmatic figures that have inhabited the Oval Office, we will trace the genesis of the modern presidency.  Students will write three short formal essays and complete several peer-review, drafting stages for a longer 8-10 page research paper addressing a presidential subject of their choice.

Violence, Conquest, & Chivalry in the High Middle Ages: 1066 - 1171
Peter Spossato, Department of History
MW 3:25 - 4:40 CRN 91475

This course seeks to develop critical reasoning and writing abilities through readings on chivalry, violence, and conquest in the Middle Ages.  We will examine the use of these timeless themes in the context of ‘imperial’ language employed to justify various episodes of conquest. How was religion and cultural superiority used to justify military conquest?  Was some violence licit, some illicit?  Was chivalry a catalyst of violent deeds or an instrument of restraint?  Evidence will come from the British Isles, the Holy Land, and the Mediterranean, incorporating selections from accounts of the Norman conquests of Sicily (1060), England (1066), Wales (1080s), and Antioch during the First Crusade (1098), as well as the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland (1170-1). The goal is to learn to extract, analyze, and present arguments. A number of in-class exercises and discussions will accompany self-assessments, peer reviews, shorter essays, and an 8-10 page research paper.


Writing about Science & Engineering

Big ideas and writing in science and engineering
Philip Brune, Department of Mechanical Engineering
MWF 11:00 - 11:50 CRN 91378

What is chaos theory, and what does it have to do with butterflies?  How were the Romans able to create buildings that are still marveled at today?  Why does everybody think Stephen Hawking is so smart?  While exploring these questions and others like them, this class will empower students to write well about all kinds of ideas, particularly technical/interdisciplinary ones.

We’ll start with books/movies on the above topics, before moving into looks at research projects on campus and topics motivated by students’ intellectual interests.  Through discussion sessions, writing exercises, and creativity workshops that look at how a variety of ideas from various fields can be combined, students will develop academic writing skills and critical/creative thinking abilities.  These skills will be put to use in several peer-reviewed and revised short essays, as well as an 8-10 page final research paper.


Writing about Philosophy

Puzzles about Knowledge
Jonathan Matheson, Department of Philosophy
TR 3:25 - 4:40 CRN 91317

Ancient and contemporary philosophers alike have been concerned with the topic of skepticism.  Most of us claim that we know a lot, but the skeptic challenges such claims of knowledge.  This class will examine and investigate answers to this central philosophical problem.  In so doing we will consider such skeptical questions as: What can I know?  Do I know that I am currently reading a course description?  Do I know that I am not in the Matrix?  Do I have any good reasons to believe the external world is the way that I think it is?  Through writing and discussion we will also examine questions related to proposed answers to the problem of skepticism such as: What does the word ‘know’ mean?  Does common sense rule out skepticism?  Can we know things that we deduce from other things that we know?     

Through our examination of these questions students will learn to extract and evaluate arguments from the text, as well as write clear argumentative essays of their own where the student formulates and defends answers to these questions.  This will be accomplished through class discussion, as well as peer review, self-assessment, and revision of the student's own written work.  There will be several short papers and an 8-10 page research paper. 

Poverty and Moral Obligation
Andrew Wake, Department of Philosophy
TR 6:15 - 7:30   CRN 91334

There is a wide disparity in wealth and resources between certain portions of the world’s population.  As a result, the poor frequently struggle while the wealthy live comfortably.  Through class discussion and informal writing, this course will examine questions of moral obligation that result from these circumstances, such as:  Are the wealthy morally obligated to ensure that the poor live better lives?  If so, how ought the wealthy act in order to discharge this obligation?  Do we have a stronger obligation to aid the poor in our country than we have to aid the poor in other countries?  During the course of the semester, students will write several short papers and one longer paper on these questions.  We will learn to extract, analyze, and critically evaluate arguments.  Through a process of drafting, peer review, and revision, students will learn to clearly and precisely present and defend arguments in academic writing.


Writing about Political Science

Political Economy of Africa
Subhasish Ray, Department of Political Science
MW 3:25 - 4:40 CRN 91412

Recent political and economic developments in Africa since the end of the Cold War have both vindicated and belied Robert Kaplan’s famous prediction of a “coming anarchy” in the region. Drawing on the rich social science literature on the political economy of contemporary Africa, the course will address a set of critical questions that will have important implications for the well-being of the people of the continent and the world in the twenty-first century. The central questions we will address are: Why is most of Africa poor? Why do states fail so often in Africa? Why has Botswana, a small country in Southern Africa, been able to sustain economic growth and democratic politics since its independence? Can international aid resurrect growth and democracy on a wide scale in Africa? The course will explore answers to these questions by using an integrated reading-and-writing approach. The writing assignments for the course will include informal response pieces, short analytical essays, and an 8-10 page research paper. For the paper, students will be expected to develop a research idea throughout the semester based on regular in-class peer-reviews and self-assessments. Although the substantive focus of the course will be on the politics and economics of contemporary Africa, its larger goal is to equip students with the basic reasoning and writing skills required in all disciplines.


Extended Courses (105E) (Program Permission Required)

**Crossing Oceans of Space
Esther Arnold, Department of English
MW 4:50 - 6:05 CRN 91787

**Students must register for recitation section F 12:00 - 12:50 (CRN 91815) when registering for this course**

How do we feel when we gaze at the night sky, knowing its stars are light-years away? What happens to our sense of self when we think of all the people who lived before us, who live today, and who will live after us? Do these thoughts isolate us or strengthen our sense of belonging to the human race? Walt Whitman describes the soul as standing alone in “measureless oceans of space.” He suggests that we spend our lives trying, often unsuccessfully, to reach across that space to make connections with others. Whether we live in remote villages or crowded cities, we may feel there are vast distances — cultural, ideological, or emotional — separating us. How do we cross these oceans of space, time, and mind? We will discuss and write about this topic as it appears in a selection of short stories, poems, plays, and films. In the process, we may cross into territory explored by philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists. You will be expected to participate in discussions and to do informal writing that will lay the groundwork for formal essays. There will be several short, analytical papers and one 8-10 page research paper, all involving multiple revisions, peer reviews, and self-assessments. 

**The Politics of Sport
Tanya Bakhmetyeva, College Writing Program
MW 2:00 - 3:15 CRN 91793

**Students must register for recitation section F 1:00 – 1:50(CRN 91842) when registering for this course**

***course description forthcoming***

Autobiography and Self-Invention
Heidi Bollinger, Department of English
TR 11:05 - 12:20 CRN 91695

**Students must register for recitation section M 10:00 - 10:50 (CRN 91749) when registering for this course**

Talk show confessions, Myspace pages, driver's licences, self-portraits, legal testimonies, private diaries, and published memoirs: these are all common examples of autobiography.  Autobiographical writing allows us to construct our identities through language, and even reinvent ourselves by omitting, emphasizing, and inventing certain details.  Autobiographical writing blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction, memory and imagination.  How do we judge 'the truth' in autobiography?  What authority does the autobiographical form carry?  What are its limitations?  How do writers use personal experience to comment on social and political issues?  To explore these questions and more, we will examine readings by authors such as Frederick Douglass, Maxine Hong Kingston, Samuel R. Delany, Leslie Marmon Silko, Richard Rodriguez, and Audre Lorde, and films such as Twilight: Los Angeles and Persepolis.  Part of the autobiographer's project is self-examination, and as we work on formal analytical essays about these readings, we will reflect on our own writing practices and practice new techniques for more effective interpretation and evaluation.  Our formal writing projects will include several short argumentative papers and an 8-10 page argumentative research paper.  This class will emphasize peer review, self-assessment, and revision as strategies for becoming more confident, effective writers in an academic and professional setting. 

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 91669
**Students must register for recitation section M 12:00 - 12:50 (CRN 91570) when registering or his course**

TR 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 91541
**Students must register for recitation section M 11:00 - 11:50 (CRN 91553) when registering or his course**

Because of the American tradition of free thought and action, achieving lasting national agreement has been a rare occurrence in US history. As a consequence of such frequent division, debates about fundamental human goals and the special movements created to pursue them have been common and have influenced America in profound ways. Among the crucial issues addressed in such reformers’ writings are the quest for national and individual freedom, the importance of personal spiritualism in an industrial, modern world, and the search for gender and racial equality in a free society.  Using writings such as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Lydia Marie Child’s What is Beauty?, and the Seneca Falls Declaration of Women’s Rights—and writing of our own—we will investigate vital debates and efforts at reform, constructing arguments and sharing insights about these goals and movements, 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 final argumentative research paper, students will gain experience in making inferences and presenting arguments in writing about the character of historical debates. .

Big Brother in the Bedroom
Kathleen Casey, Department of History
MW 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 91755

**Students must register for recitation section F 11:00 – 11:50 (CRN 91683) when registering for this course**

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 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.

Remakes and Revisions: Literary Adaptations
John Chandler, Department of English
TR 9:40 - 10:55 CRN 91821

**Students must register for recitation section F 12:00 – 12:50(CRN 91674) when registering for this course**

“The book was better.” This is a common complaint about movies based on literary sources. But behind this assessment is an assumption that a film is trying to be faithful to the themes, ideas, and presentation of a book – an impossible task. This class will read a few different works, which may include a short play by Shakespeare, Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, along with various critical pieces on the adaptations of these texts. We will look at these tales in a variety of media, including films, television, and comics, questioning the hierarchy of media, and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the different versions. Some questions we will consider are “what makes these tales so popular,” “how are the stories adapted to reflect contemporary concerns,” and “why take this literary masterpiece and give it a new form?” We will also look at our own assumptions about and expectations for the adaptations: what is lost in the revision? What is gained? Though classroom discussion, informal writing exercises, peer evaluation, self-assessment, and on-going revision, students will develop critical reasoning and writing skills. While we will focus on adaptations from book to film, other kinds of adaptation (including comics, television, and movie-to-book) are all possibilities for the short analytical papers; adaptations of the student’s choice will fuel the 8-10 page argumentative research paper.

African American Women Writers
Amy Fenstermaker, Department of English
MW 3:25 - 4:40 CRN 91732

**Students must register for recitation section F 12:00 - 12:50(CRN 91728) when registering for this course**

In focusing on literature by African American women, this writing course will consider the defining characteristics and central debates of each author’s work. Students will read poetry by Phillis Wheatley, Frances Harper, and Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as fiction by Harriet Jacobs and Nella Larsen. In addition, students may also read essays by Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. While learning how to analyze and construct written arguments about literature, students will be asked to consider what each author is saying about the subjects of race, gender, and literature. To help further develop students’ thinking and writing abilities, secondary articles on each author’s work will also be assigned. Writing assignments will include informal, exploratory writing and three formal papers, all of which will prepare students for the final, 8-10 page, argumentative research paper. Peer-feedback and self-assessment will play a prominent role in the writing and revising of each paper.

Pleasurable Suffering
Dustin Hannum , Department of English
TR 11:05 - 12:20 CRN 95305

**Students must register for recitation section F 12:00 - 12:50(CRN 95318) when registering for this course**

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." ˆMel Brooks

Brooks' ironic definitions of comedy and tragedy emphasize that there are many instances in which we derive pleasure from the suffering of others. Why is this? What are the ethical implications of viewing tragic events on stage or film? How can we justify finding beauty in photographs of death and carnage? Are these practices sympathetic or sadistic? What is the moral status of practices such as force-feeding animals or boiling them alive for the preparation of culinary delicacies like foie gras or lobster? Should we sympathize with animals in the same way that we do with humans? In this class we will read what other thinkers have had to say about these issues, using their arguments as starting points for our own discussion and writing on the topics. You will be responsible for writing a series of informal response papers, as well as 3 shorter formal papers that will lead 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.

Nature, Art, and Writing
Rachel Lee, Department of English
TR 3:25 - 4:40 CRN 91776

**Students must register for recitation section F 12:00 - 12:50(CRN 91564) when registering for this course**

We use nature in lots of ways – we shape, deplete, endanger, and protect it. We love it, but litter. We control it, but also depend on it for survival. But what happens when nature becomes art? How does art convey our relationship with nature? Can we experience nature through art? We will explore these and other questions by examining art that uses nature as inspiration and escape, such as the poetry of the Romantic poets. We will also consider art that uses the material of nature for its production, such as the sculptures of Andy Goldsworthy. As we investigate the intersections between art and nature through poetry, non-fiction, and visual artifacts, you will develop and strengthen your academic writing skills through discussion, group work, and individual research projects. The process of argumentative writing depends upon revision, self-assessment, and peer review. Formal assignments will consist of two argumentative essays and a final research project, which includes a project proposal, annotated bibliography, and an 8-10 page research paper.

The Body Electric
Ali McGhee , Department of English
TR 12:30 - 1:45 CRN 91761

**Students must register for recitation section M 11:00 - 11:50 (CRN 91704) when registering for this course**

As we move further into the 21st century, ideas that were once considered science fiction have become real possibilities with advances in science. But with these advances come new concerns, and debates surrounding genetic engineering, cloning, and robotics rage in the political, medical, and academic spheres. Is our accepted definition of humanity changing? What are the advantages and consequences of our evolving perceptions? We will engage in a critical conversation about these topics and others, which we will use to develop ideas for discussion and writing about the subject matter. We will examine the stories of Philip K. Dick (along with films), the uneasy place of biotechnology in Japanese anime, writings on post- and trans-humanism, and the “body horror” of David Cronenberg in our discussion of these topics. Working with the course material, you will formulate topics to write 3 short papers and a longer (8-10 page) research paper. The paper-writing process will revision-intensive, and you will be expected to utilize both self-assessments and peer reviews to further develop your writing and critical thinking skills.

**Imagining America
Shaila Mehra, Department of English
MW 12:30 -1:45 CRN 91839

**Students must register for recitation section R 12:30 - 1:45(CRN 91710) when registering for this course**

Throughout the relatively brief history of the United States, its artists have been concerned – some may say obsessed – with defining and understanding what it means to be American. In this course, we will examine how artists, intellectuals, and public figures balance the reality of America’s diversity – economic, geographic, racial, sexual, linguistic, political – with the desire to forge a unified, shared national identity. From Walt Whitman’s barbaric poetic yawps to James Baldwin’s expatriate essays on American identity, from Bob Dylan’s social protest songs to the controversial silent films of D.W. Griffith, we will cast our net far and wide to get the broadest responses to a central question: what does it mean to be American?

In WRT 105E, we will write our own way through this question by examining, closely and critically, works of literature, film, and music. Our close analyses will form the basis of four papers (including an 8-10 page research paper) in which we develop consistent, substantiated arguments of precise scope, written in clear, engaging prose. The course emphasizes class discussion, revision, peer feedback, and self-evaluation.


WRT 245/ENG 285

Advanced Writing & Peer Tutoring (WRT 245/ENG 285 CRN 91884)
Deborah Rossen-Knill, College Writing Program
TR 9:40 - 10:55 CRN 91868

***permission of department required***


Return to Course Descriptions List