Spring 2016 UW1020 Courses

For room assignments, please see the Schedule of Classes.

Hybrid courses blend face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning to improve learning outcomes. Hybrid courses thus move a significant amount of course work to an online environment.

Service-learning courses address a community need through direct or indirect service and community-based research.

Course Offerings

Course Descriptions

Women & Knowledge in the Work of Jane Austen

Donovan, Julie
CRN 71671 Section M69 | TR 08:30 AM - 9:45 AM  F 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction. This course intended for WLP students only. Departmental approval required to register.

Jane Austen may not have been a rebel rabble rouser, but she was a caustic critic of the society in which she lived, a society that limited women’s freedom and frequently dictated what they should learn. The notion of female knowledge is the overarching theme in our course, and this theme will proliferate in many directions as we read three of Austen’s novels: Emma (1815), Pride and Prejudice (1813), and Mansfield Park (1814), which wittily and brilliantly probe assumptions about truth and knowledge.

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Beautiful Play: Writing Gesture in Sport and Dance

Dueck, Jonathan
CRN 71772 Section M40 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
CRN 71998 Section M25 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

"That was a beautiful play!" your friend exclaims. But what does she mean by that? And what was the athlete who performed the beautiful play doing? Were they making meanings or moving bodies? When we describe sport as "beautiful" (or dance as "athletic"), when we use visual media to represent movement (like a video game or a YouTube clip), and when we try to teach someone else to move in a certain way (ever taught a friend to snowboard?) we find ourselves in the midst of a tricky question that most academic writers face: how do we connect the world of sensations and movements that are part of experience in our bodies to the meanings—images, words, ways of speaking—that are always connected to our bodies? This is a question about what scholars sometimes call "gesture."

In this class, we will work together to answer this question through our own research and writing. We’ll start by exploring movement in video and video games, writing a critical review of a video or video game in which we offer some suggestions not only to the video/game-makers but also to the cultural studies scholars who write about those mediums. Then we’ll write a "field scene," a vivid description representing our own embodied experiences of a sport or dance, placing those experiences in conversation with anthropologists who write about the senses, sport, and dance. Finally you'll strike out on your own and, in consultation with a research librarian and myself, you'll write a research-based multimedia essay on a particular embodied practice of your choice (a dance performance, a sport, a martial art, et cetera) and a set of representations (TV coverage, magazine articles, or video games, for example), placing these things in conversation with anthropological / cultural studies writings on gesture.

In the end you'll have begun to think through one of the trickiest problems you'll face as an academic writer, and made your own entry into scholarly debates on how to move between embodied experience and writerly voice.

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Reading Without Words: The Image as Text

Fletcher, Wade
CRN 71665 Section M1 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
CRN 71678 Section M15 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM

Are images texts? Can images be “read?” What does it mean to “read” an image? As individuals, we are confronted with, interpret, process, and ignore a barrage of images every day. Via these images, visual narratives and arguments manifest across many spectrums, from business, advertising, and politics, to popular culture, art, and fashion, with each image vying for our attentions. In this course, we intersect with the study of visual culture and visual rhetoric, considering the role images play in our culture(s), while exploring what it means to examine something as an "image" and investigating how visual narratives and arguments are formed, composed, and realized. To this end, we’ll examine images alongside written texts, exploring the parallels between the two forms.

Our subject matter will include two wordless graphic novels, visual art (specifically the collection at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum), and iconic and cultural images, the latter of which will potentially comprise photographs, advertising, branding and marketing, iconic images, and much more. Assignments will include three essays of increasing length, each focusing on a particular image (or set of images) – a blog critique, an analysis of a visual argument, and an argumentative research essay – as well as short visual projects, contributions to an online class discussion forum, and a turn (with a partner) leading class discussion. 

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The Writer in Context: Writing as a Social Practice

Friedman, Sandra
CRN 71870 Section M70 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM

“I begin: the first memory. This was of red and purple flowers on a black ground - my mother’s dress; and she was sitting either in a train or in an omnibus, and I was on her lap.” Virginia Woolf begins her memoir, “A Sketch of the Past,” with the vivid and rapturous sensations of earliest childhood. Woolf used writing to revisit memories, to process “sudden shocks” of realization, and to uncover patterns beneath the apparent randomness of everyday life. For Woolf, giving form to experience through writing was “far more necessary than anything else.” While some of us, like Woolf, write from internal necessity, we all write in response to external demands, whether from school, work, or our personal lives. The premise of this course is that by studying writing itself, students can become more skilled writers in diverse contexts.

We begin the semester by considering Writing Studies scholar Deborah Brandt’s argument that our ways of reading and writing are profoundly shaped by “literacy sponsors.” We read literacy narratives by writers including Woolf, Richard Rodriguez, Amy Tan, and Malcolm X. Drawing ideas from these sources, students write their own literacy autobiographies. In the second part of the class, students choose a social context – within the university, in the professional world, or on social media – and conduct research, interviewing experts on how writing works in this community. What secret rules govern writing in this community? How have writers learned to decode these rules? At the close of the semester, students create a multimedia presentation of their findings about ways of thinking, doing, and writing in the community they have researched.

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Legacies of the Holocaust

Gamber, Cayo
CRN 72550 Section M16 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM (ONLINE)
CRN 71776 Section M66 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 72232 Section M77 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

In this course, the series of tasks you will perform – writing a research paper that integrates both primary and secondary sources – are designed both to help you become familiar with an array of research efforts as well as familiar with writing an authoritative study of your chosen topic. The range of research topics is wide, from the role art played in the Holocaust to the workings of a particular concentration camp; or from the role liberators played (or failed to play); to what is known about the "bearers of secrets," the Sonderkommando, who were eyewitnesses to the Final Solution. While we may not be able to make amends for the Holocaust, I believe that through the careful study of the lives of those who perished and the words of those who survived, we become witnesses for the eyewitnesses, witnesses who are willing to be bearers of the stories and history of the Shoah. If you have any questions about this class, please contact Professor Gamber at [email protected].

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Out of Her Mind: Women and Madness Through the Lens of Literature

Goward, Shonda
CRN 71679 Section M19 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction.  

American social norms have attached a derogatory label of "mad" to women who assert themselves, who seek to define their lives separate and apart from social norms, or who stand in the way of their husband's younger prospective bride. However, many of the women labeled mad were simply fighting against patriarchy for the right to be equal, or in the case of women of color, fighting to be considered human. Nonetheless, many women have actually gone mad for various reasons including being forced to remain in suffocating marriages, being subjected to abuse, or from the fear of death as they petitioned their nation for rights. This class will explore women and madness in literature to uncover how American women writers depict the descent into madness and its causes. Our work will include analyzing the time period in which the work was written and that period's influence on the writer. Our methods will include peer to peer workshops; journaling; historical research; and analytical writing which will all challenge your ability to read critically and write on a scholarly level.

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Power to the People: Black Art as Social Commentary

Goward, Shonda
CRN 77841 Section M80 | TR 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction.  

This course examines how black artists in poetry, literature, and music respond to, and sometimes generate social conflict. We will discuss how the artists of Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts Movement, and early years of Hip hop movements addressed racial, political, and economic inequity.  Our methods will include peer to peer workshops; journaling and reflection; socio-cultural research; and analytical writing.
The series of writing tasks you will perform - including composing brief response papers, annotating sources, writing a research paper (in a series of stages which afford you multiple opportunities for revision) that integrates both primary and secondary sources - are designed both to help you write an authoritative study of your chosen topic and to help familiarize you with some of the types of academic writing you will perform in the semesters to come.

That's Epic! (and Romance)

Hamilton, Leah
CRN 71875 Section M28 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM

Medieval Literature is certainly not covered in every major – but this class is your chance to get an introduction. The earliest roots of the English language and a great many modern conventions (religious, literary, and cultural) can be understood most properly through an examination of (often translated) texts from this time period, and since there is an entire millennium's worth of writing to choose from, this course boasts some of the best of the best in text selections. Come explore college-level writing as a genre and a skill, while having the opportunity to read some of the most influential Epic and Romance literature of all time: Beowulf, as a text in translation and as analyzed by Tolkien, French works by Chretien de Troyes and Marie de France, and even an Icelandic saga. It simply does not get any more enjoyable!
There will be knights and princesses (and exactly one dragon), there will be seminal literary criticism regarding these works (which you may or may not agree with), and there will be three major writing assignments, an annotated bibliography, and one in-class presentation. These will include an 8-10 page essay, a 10-12 page research paper engaging with specific literary critics regarding one or two works that you have read, and a 5-page article written to a student audience. 

No previous experience is necessary; simply bring your enthusiasm, writing ability, and your laptops (which are required for this course).

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WTF?! Profanity and Its Contexts

Hayes, Carol
CRN 71787 Section M42 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

Words have power. But that power, and often the meaning of the words, can change depending on context. How a word is used – by and to whom, and for what purpose (also known as the rhetorical situation) – is vital to understanding the power of a word. We'll begin the semester by reading excerpts from Randall Kennedy's Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, which takes up the question of what the N-word means, based on when, how, and by whom it is used--and also asks whether the word should be shunned or continued in its uses. The first paper of the semester will ask you to place a piece of profanity in a particular context (perhaps a particular subculture, such as a sports team, or an ethnic culture) in order to make visible the impact of the rhetorical situation on the word as it was used in that particular time and place. We'll use the readings throughout the semester to introduce ideas of disciplinarity: scholars who discuss profanity work within Hip Hop culture, Linguistics, Anthropology, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, and many other fields. Readings from these disciplines will model how scholars frame their writing within academic discourses. Through a series of writing and research projects that focus on specific instances of profanity, you'll learn to frame your own work in these ways as well, so that by the end of the semester you'll not simply be reporting on what other scholars have said, but actively engaging as participants in university-level writing and research.

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Rewriting Jane Eyre

Howell, Katherine
CRN 71876 Section M17 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM

Jane Eyre: early feminist, lonely romantic, inter-dimensional kidnap victim, or vampire slayer? Edward Rochester: brooding hero, abusive jerk, misunderstood and mentally ill, or mythical beast? Why choose when we can examine the ways that authors have built on Brontë's masterpiece to make new meaning? Students will read and write about Jane Eyre and will have the opportunity to read a "rewritten" version. We'll read Chantal Zabus and Adrienne Rich for different approaches to rewriting as we discuss the ethics of adaptation, including fan writing. Students will participate in the act of rewriting and determine for themselves what it means to be an author.

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The Shifting Debate of Global Climate Change

Jacoby, Lindsay
CRN 71669 Section M5 | MW 8:30 AM - 9:45 PM  F 8:30 AM - 9:20 PM
CRN 71771 Section M67 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

This seminar will immerse you in public debates about global climate change, as we trace its evolution from arguments over facts and causes to more recent focus on effects and actions. We will study the ways that scientific information is used in climate change debates. We will also consider the pressing question of whether it’s mandatory to have a picture of a polar bear in any text about climate change and how such visuals can dramatize its effects. And, we’ll discern ways that various publics can be informed about the issue and persuaded to respond. Since this is a class about language, argument, and writing, we seek to learn from other speakers a range of ways to talk about climate change, so that we can enter the debate too. This course will have you analyzing films, images, museum exhibits, scientific writing, and popular texts, and you will write a definitional argument, a rhetorical analysis, and a research-driven project.

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American Environmental Advocacy

Johnston, Elizabeth
CRN 71877 Section M7 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM

In the action film The Day After Tomorrow, climate change happens overnight, and the surviving inhabitants of the United States move to Mexico in a matter of weeks. But in real life, change happens more slowly, which prompts our course’s chief question: How can we promote the rapid shift to a sustainable future that our present environmental circumstances seem to require? In this course we will examine with a fresh eye some of the canonical texts of the American environmental movement – by authors like Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Rachel Carson, and Al Gore, among others – as well as writing by journalists, activists, and artists, all eager to create change. With other scholars, we will ask: What sways people more to act – in-your-face, shocking works or subtle, open-ended pieces that pose questions to which we do not yet have answers? How have such strategies shifted or been contested over the course of American environmental history, and what shapes can we imagine them adopting in the future? In addition, we’ll look at other modes of advocacy – including genres like documentary and feature film, children’s literature, and speeches – to determine how environmental advocates choose their forms and approaches to transforming others’ outlook and behavior.

Over the course of three writing and research projects that focus on specific pieces of environmental advocacy, students will learn how to use other scholars’ concepts to help you make a strong case about your own original ideas. 

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The Politics of Performance: Theatre, Political Arenas, and Their Masses

Koenig, Susan
CRN 71673 Section M10 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
CRN 77839 Section M78 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 AM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 AM

Politics and performance are intimately tied to one another. Politics is, arguably, performance distilled by rhetoric, while performances tend to be politically driven. You cannot ever entirely separate the two. Throughout this course we will dwell on a variety of questions, including: Is it possible to remove performance from its political ties or vice versa? What sort of relationship is formed between verbal and visual rhetoric in political performance and performative politics? What kind of relationships do we see being performed by the speechwriter/organizer/playwright and the politician/protestor/actor? What does it mean for the general populace that the three are so closely tied? How do audiences respond to provocation where they seek entertainment? How do voters respond to entertainment where they seek provocation?

While we will focus on theatrical and political performance in our readings, this course certainly will not limit itself to traditional theatrical and political spaces. Students are encouraged to think about the ways in which political performativity takes center stage at Slutwalks, #BlackLivesMatter rallies, the RNC and DNC, Pride Parades, news interviews, talk shows, and other similar political phenomena. Our primary texts will be two politically minded plays, with supplements from a variety of performance studies texts with various critical lenses. From these readings we will branch out into the many avenues performance and politics cohabit.

As writing is the center of the course, students will be asked to write an ethnographic paper on a political rally or theatrical performance of their choice, and a final research paper.

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Art and Revolution

Kristensen, Randi Gray
CRN 71878 Section M4 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction. 

This course is designed as a writing workshop for our interrogations of the relationship between art and revolution. Some of the questions we might consider include: What do we mean by art? What do we mean by revolution? Is there a relationship between artistic revolutions and political ones? How do we recognize art and/or revolution? How do we consider the implications of the new? How do we participate in art and/or revolution? You will come up with more and perhaps better questions about these themes. And we will, as a class, write our way to provisional answers and perhaps unanswerable questions.

Together, we will read closely authors of your and my choosing, both for their ideas and arguments about art and revolution, and also for their methods of approaching these ideas and arguments. What are their rhetorical strategies? What audience(s) are they attempting to reach? What voice(s) are they using? How are they engaging with other voices? What kinds of styles do they deploy? Do we want to model our writing on theirs? Why or why not?

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Media Fandom: Geeks, Fanboys and Stalker Chicks

Larsen, Katherine
CRN 71667 Section M3 | TR 08:30 AM - 9:45 AM  F 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM (ONLINE)
CRN 71676 Section M13 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM (ONLINE)
CRN 72553 Section M48 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

Lonely Trekkies in Vulcan ears, hysterical Twilight fans weeping at the sight of Robert Pattinson, basement dwellers, pale in the glow of a computer screen. These are our stereotypes of media fans. They make us laugh, they make us nervous, they are objects of derision, but who are they really?

A better question might be who we are – since we are all fans of something – and how do we consume culture. How do we talk back to it, reshape it, pull it to pieces and then put it back together? The answers to these questions have the potential to offer insight into what we value (or devalue) as a culture and why. What captures our imaginations? Why do we love Sherlock or Doctor Who or Mass Attack or One Direction? Why do others look down on us for loving them? If we all consume so much media why do we have such a problem with fans?

This writing and research intensive course will begin with an examination of the current research on fans and fan communities. We will then look closely at fan practices in online fan communities and analyze a range of fan generated media, especially fan fiction. Student research will involve close examination of an online fan community.

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Visual Culture/Digital Identities

Lee, Jee Yoon
CRN 73158 Section M34 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

In this course, we will examine digital identities on the Internet by focusing on the visual and textual aspects of creating cultures. What kind of digital identities are created on the Internet? What are the possibilities? And what are the limits? In what ways do our identities shape access and interactions with others online? How do these online engagements forge visual cultures of seeing and being seen? To begin to answer these questions depends on developing critical skills of thinking; to engage responsibly and write intelligently in response to these questions also depends on developing critical skills of research. We will read, discuss and write about works that include but are not limited to Orwell, Foucault, Haraway, and Nakamura. The course materials will serve as topics of conversation for class discussions as well as the content for your writings. The theme of this course serves as material from which you will develop your writing and research skills to better engage in the intellectual conversations that shape our American culture in the digital age.

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Image-World-Text: Writing about Photojournalism

Lee, Nicole
CRN 73157 Section M61 | TR 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM

The rise of the smartphone and the allure of social media have turned America into a nation of avid photographers. In 2011 Americans took 80 billion digital photographs, National Geographic estimates, and that number is expected to rise to 105 billion by 2015. But while technology and the Internet have empowered the amateur photographer, they may well have marginalized the professional news photographer. As a result of staff cutbacks, the number of visual journalists fell by almost half between 2000 and 2012, according to the American Society of News Editors. “There are eyes missing on major stories,” war photographer Ron Haviv warned in The Atlantic last year.

Photojournalists are not just eyewitnesses—they bear witness, their pictures “[making] visible the unseen, the unknown, and the forgotten,” photography writer Marianne Fulton argues. In this class, you’ll study the works of contemporary photojournalists, and you’ll learn a variety of techniques and theories to help you analyze and interpret their photographs. By familiarizing yourself with different theories and scholarly approaches, you’ll get to grips with the idea of disciplinarity; disciplines such as communications, cultural studies, visual arts, philosophy, for example, all offer multiple approaches for analyzing photographs.

You’ll ask and answer questions like “what is the argument this photograph is trying to make?” and “how should this photograph be ‘read’?” You’ll learn to recognize the ways in which visual images attempt to influence what you see, think, and believe, and you’ll consider the contribution that photojournalism can make to debates over the issues that matter to us as a society, and as citizens of the world. You'll write three papers of increasing complexity; the final paper will be a research paper in which you will select 1) a specific photo story to analyze, as well as 2) a scholarly "lens" through which to analyze it. By “reading” photographs and writing about them, you’ll sharpen a key skill that you’ll need not just in this class, but in your other college classes as well: analytical thinking.

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Writing Race, Filming History

Mantler, Gordon
CRN 74623 Section M75 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
CRN 74621 Section M36 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
CRN 74622 Section M20 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM

Narratives about America’s past can take many forms. Traditionally, it comes through the written word, whether it is formal history books, works of literature, or primary sources such as speeches and diaries. But popular culture, especially film, is another, arguably more widespread way in which we become familiar with certain stories in our nation’s history. Films such as Platoon and Mississippi Burning have helped shape a generation’s understanding of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement – and the central role of race in those events. A new generation of films including The Help and 12 Years a Slave may do the same thing. Yet, this prompts a series of questions. How historically reliable are such accounts? Are movies ever really dependable sources on the subject at hand, or are they more valuable as artifacts of the time in which they were produced?  Are the differences between Hollywood studio-made films and documentaries as great as we might assume? And, perhaps most importantly for a writing course, are there explicit rhetorical features that distinguish academic history and argument from more popular ones? In this class, you will assess how our culture narrates U.S. racial history through film, using a rich mix of texts – from the movies themselves to film reviews, protest materials, and more traditional written histories. In the process, you will be asked to write your own argument-driven narratives, sharpening not just your ability to convey your thoughts on paper but also bolstering an array of academic skills, such as critical reading, argument development, substantive revision, and primary source analysis.

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Jacked: The Appropriation and Exploitation of African American Culture

Marcus, Robin
CRN 71681 Section M22 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 71873 Section M44 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 72560 Section M55 | MW 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction. 

Using the terms "appropriation" and "exploitation," this course examines the theft of African American labor, income stability, wealth building capacity and intellectual property as a result of institutional racism. Over the semester, students will examine, analyze and discuss questions of cultural authenticity and realness, white supremacy, and the ways appropriation and exploitation have been embedded in American institutions, and will explore contemporary strategies for resistance and reclamation. Selected texts (scholarly and non-scholarly) will provide a foundation for class discussion and analysis. Students will write three linked papers of increasing length and complexity. The research process is designed to produce a discovery that contributes to the body of knowledge related to a subject of students’ choosing.

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Please Like Us: Selling With Social Media

McCaughey, Jessica
CRN 72233 Section M71 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 71768 Section M31 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

What convinces us to buy or support a company or a cause? What makes writing effective in the world of social media marketing and promotion? How does this shift from industry to industry? When a business disaster strikes, how do organizations respond through social media? How should they? The new and complex rhetoric of selling through social media (whether one is selling an idea, a product, a person, or a cause) has its own language and writing conventions – even if not everyone using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Pinterest, or blogs for this purpose has mastered them yet.

In this class students will take on the roles of scholar and critic, examining the rhetoric of social media as it is used for selling and promotion. They will choose a related group of individuals, companies, or organizations that are active in social media and track, analyze, and critique their marketing or promotion efforts over the course of the semester. Further, they will work to develop critical thinking skills and find, understand, and utilize research in a series of written arguments. The class will focus significant time and energy exploring audience, evidence, and revision, both in our own work and in the writing of outside individuals and organizations as students become expert critics of social media selling.

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Learning to Read and the Evolution of Literacy

Mendoza, Elijah
CRN 72552 Section M46 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
CRN 72234 Section M74 | MW 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM

Do you remember learning to speak? Do you remember learning to read? Now, imagine living in a society where the majority of people are illiterate.

While current global literacy rates vary widely, the ability to read and write is a recent development in human history. Because literacy is a basic requirement on a college campus, the act of reading is something we may take for granted. In this course, we will seek to define literacy. Is reading a stop sign enough? What is the difference between reading and comprehension? What are the repercussions of illiteracy in the modern world?

To begin this discussion, we will examine how reading and writing English has evolved from a specialized skill to a necessary part of our daily lives. By learning about the context in which English formally developed, students will practice and improve their writing skills for any discipline.

To explore how language functions, we will take a broad historical view of diverse texts from the King James Bible to science writing to business proposals to emoji. Students will complete brief writing assignments based on their response to weekly readings. The course will culminate in a research paper comparing a historical text selected by the student to a contemporary piece of writing in any form. This comparison will require students to create their own definition of literacy.

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Covering Chaos

Mullen, Mark
CRN 71769 Section M33 | MW 08:30 AM - 9:45 AM  F 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM (ONLINE)
CRN 71682 Section M24 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM (ONLINE)
CRN 71674 Section M11 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

We will examine the ways in which the news media cover international events, with a special focus on war reporting and coverage of disasters (famine, earthquakes, etc.).  The core writing assignments for the class will investigate how news images communicate meaning, the important role of both objectivity and bias, how news satire works, and some of the problems with entertainment-driven news coverage. The entire semester is also organized around an innovative game structure in order to maximize not only your choice of topics but styles of writing that you might like to investigate further.  You might, for example, like to dig more deeply into problems of censorship, the impact of new media, or changing patterns of media ownership, while trying your own hand at satire, advocacy journalism, or an op-ed piece.

As a specialized form of communication, news coverage throws many of the challenges inherent in writing in general into sharp relief.  Making connections between the text of a specific report and the larger context of events is a challenge for reporters and researchers; journalists struggle with tailoring their work to a specific audience just as do other writers; maintaining credibility is a constant preoccupation for many journalists and professional writers; and figuring out how to make a contribution to the public discourse is imperative in both contexts, whether it be breaking a story or persuading an audience to take action about a given issue.  In this writing course we will be using examples of war and disaster journalism to help hone our writing skills in all these areas; we will look at news reports and scholarly studies of journalism issues not simply for their informational content but for what they can tell us about how writing works in the world, and how we can use them to help develop our own writing skills. This course theme will also challenge you to develop sophisticated research projects comparing US and International journalistic coverage of events, and developing a critical analysis of specific instances of war and disaster reporting.  More generally this course will focus not simply on the skills and strategies necessary for effective research writing, but on developing an understanding of the world of research: what drives researchers and how do they produce work that really matters?

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Fashion Emergency!: Clothing and Global Capitalism

Myers, Danika
CRN 71766 Section M26 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 74101 Section M37 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

Did you wake up this morning and feel like you had nothing to wear? Where does that feeling come from, when you’re standing in front of a closet full of clothes? Or maybe you feel like you pay no attention to what you wear—yet what you “thoughtlessly” put on still tells the world something about you.

This class will start by exploring the cultural meanings that articles of clothing acquire: how can clothes communicate a sense of humor, morality or religious beliefs, an appreciation for certain types of music or culture, lifestyle, class, and even politics? From there, we will begin to consider how economics and modes of production shape our desire for clothing that communicates the “right” message while layering our clothing with additional meaning.

Over the past decade, fast fashion, off-shore manufacturing, and shortened design “seasons” have all put pressure on consumers to purchase more and more clothing, while “slow fashion”, DIY movements, and small retailers that advertise ethical labor practices and environmentally sustainable manufacturing have grown. Paradoxically, these movements “sell” themselves as a way to defy the pressures of a global capitalist fashion industry while tapping into a different set of consumer desires.

Over the course of the semester you will first familiarize yourself with some of the questions scholars ask about how clothing fashions mean and matter in the contemporary economic and cultural landscape, and then develop an original research project that takes a closer look at some aspect of clothing, exploring how and why it communicates meaning, and identifying those economic and cultural forces that shape our complex relationship with clothing.

Assignments in the class will include an article review, an annotated bibliography, and a final research project.  This is a hybrid course, which means that significant course work will make use of cyberspace formats including wordpress blogs and wiki technology.

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Handmade Rebellion: Craft Activists and DIY Rebels

Myers, Danika
CRN 71997 Section M27 | TR 08:30 AM - 9:45 AM  F 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM (ONLINE)
CRN 71672 Section M30 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

Yarn-bombing. Radical knitting. Subversive quilting. Though some think of traditional crafts like knitting and crochet as innocuous hobbies for old ladies, crafts and craft-based communities are and have historically been a place where politics happen. The craft renewal of the past decade has political roots, whether the explicitly pacifist activism of textile artist Marianne Jorgensen's knitted pink cozy draped over a military tank, or the quietly anti-consumption spirit of a sewing and craft blog like Karen Barbe's Textileria, which values making over buying. This class will explore ways contemporary communities centered around crafting, back-to-basics handmaking, and DIY practices consciously and unconsciously form around political ideals and take action towards political change.

Assignments in the class will include participating in a class blog, a critique of a scholarly article, an annotated bibliography, and a final project exploring the political implications of a historical or contemporary craft, instance of craft activism, or craft-based community. Recent student research projects have included an analysis of group house living in the DC area as "DIY democracies," an exploration of the performance of masculinity by makers of DIY exercise equipment, and a reconsideration of practices of making in homeless communities. This is a hybrid course, which means that significant course work will make use of cyberspace formats including Wordpress blogs and wiki technology.

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Dutch Painting at the National Gallery of Art

Pollack, Rachel
CRN 71773 Section M41 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
NOTE: These sections meet at the National Gallery on Fridays.  

In this course we will develop writing skills through careful observation and analysis of 17th Century Dutch painting at the National Gallery of Art. Each student will write 2 polished catalogue entries (2-3 pages each) of works from the National Gallery collection, a short exhibition review (3-5 pages), a short research paper (5-7 pages) and a larger research project (15-20 pages). Artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals will be the central focus of class discussion, as well as various landscape and still life masters. We will explore issues of technique (i.e. materials and methods) and art historical interpretations. Why do we consider Rembrandt a "genius?" Did Vermeer use the camera obscura? How did the new wealthy middle class affect art patronage? Together we will read a selection of scholarly articles related to each subject, as well as visiting the museum collection firsthand. Through critical writing, class discussion, and individual research, each student will learn to see and appreciate the art of the Dutch Golden Age.

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The Greek Ideal in Art

Pollack, Rachel
CRN 71670 Section M6 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
NOTE: These sections meet at the National Gallery on Fridays.  

This course examines the greatest surviving masterpieces of Greco-Roman sculpture and explores their enduring significance in western art from antiquity to the present day. From this essential canon of ancient sculpture, which includes the Doryphoros (Spear Bearer), the Laocoon, the Aphrodite of Knidos, the Spinario, and the Weary Hercules, we will analyze why these works have both inspired artists and stirred scholarly debate amongst ancient writers, art historians, archaeologists, Renaissance humanists, and Enlightenment philosophers. During the first half and the semester, the class will study the exhibition Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World, on view at the National Gallery of Art. Each student will then select a sculpture from the exhibition and write a short research paper on the subject. (~6 pages). During the second half of the course, the class will then design an exhibition around the course theme The Greek Ideal in Art. Each student will select two objects (one antique sculpture and one Renaissance or later artwork inspired by this sculpture) and write a catalogue entry for each object (~2-3 pages each). Finally, each student will write an essay (~10 pages) on a topic related to his or her chosen objects for the class’s exhibition.

Class will meet Fridays at the National Gallery of Art. These museum visits are an essential component to the course and students should plan their Friday class schedules accordingly.

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Writing Lives: Composing Consciousness and Service Learning

Presser, Pamela
CRN 72554 Section M49 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 71770 Section M45 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 72559 Section M54 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 72562 Section M57 | TR 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction. This is a service learning course.

To what extent is your sense of self shaped by your culture, circumstances and location? How does where you are living and working influence what you dream? Does performing service, and writing about your experiences, change your ideas about who you are?

Such questions fall within the domain of consciousness studies, an interdisciplinary field which will be the subject of this class. Because consciousness studies in its present incarnation is a new and largely uncharted field, most questions its scholars are asking remain unanswered. This course, then, will be best suited for curious students eager to explore inner and outer space. Indeed, the course requires a willingness to leave the GWU bubble, since students will be required to perform 20 hours of community service off campus, with a non-profit organization.

Assignments may include, but will not be limited to, collaborative projects, an annotated bibliography, a journal in which you engage in meta-cognitive writing, and a final paper combining research on service and consciousness. This is a hybrid class, and will include a significant amount of on-line instruction and discussion. Class texts will be drawn from several genres and will include academic essays, autobiographies, and graphic narratives. 

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Writing Global Women's Lives 

Riedner, Rachel
CRN 71666 Section M2 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

Beginning with historical analysis of the veil in France, we’ll consider the powerful local and global forces that shape women’s lives. Drawing upon Joan Scott’s Politics of the Veil and other short readings, shared readings will lead to writing projects that look closely and carefully at women’s experiences beyond literal or popular representations of their lives and explore how we can (or, cannot) rigorously write about and represent women. To begin our conversations about writing women’s lives, we'll reflect upon how history shapes our writing, how we include the voices of others in our writing, how we use and frame evidence, and how we ethically represent our own knowledge claims. The course includes three major writing assignments as well as graded short writing assignments. The first assignment is an analytical and critical assignment that works closely and critically with shared course reading. The lengthiest assignment of the semester is a student-generated, critical research project that draws from writing and research methodologies learned in class. The course will end with an oral presentation where students present their research to an audience of their peers.

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Songs & Script: Writing Critically about Music

Riley, Matthew
CRN 72231 Section M76 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
CRN 72563 Section M64 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
CRN 72564 Section M72 | MW 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM

This course is an ongoing study conducted by first year students about how popular music serves as a reflection of society. We will investigate a variety of ways that music is analyzed and argued about in both popular and academic communities, and we will research the issues about music that we, as a group, consider to be important. "Songs and Script" is based on the idea that students who take the course, past, present, and future, should form a community of scholars who build the course over repeated semesters. Consequently, the issues we address and the knowledge we establish comes equally from the students and the professor, and current students must always build upon the work of previous classes. Further, the course maintains a concentrated focus on different means of analysis. Therefore, not only will students write analytical research essays about critical issues, but they will also participate in several collaborative group projects, including writing, composing, and producing an original song and developing a multimedia presentation that investigates an historically significant music artist. Every assignment will involve research, analysis, argument, and formal expression.

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Writing for Social Change: Civil Rights, Then and Now

Ryder, Phyllis
CRN 72551 Section M32 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
NOTE: This is a service learning course, for more information see http://serve.gwu.edu/information-students.

Would you have marched at Selma?  Would you march for Civil Rights today? In this service-learning class, we will study the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement 50 years later to discover how it applies to contemporary life in DC today. How did the organizations within the Civil Rights Movement define (and argue about) the problem they were up against, the appropriate methods for naming that problem, and the best methods for demanding change? At the same time, we’ll work with DC community organizations to learn from and support today’s leaders as they continue to work for equality and freedom. We'll draw on academic and community research to consider whether the circumstances of our contemporary political, economic, and media systems require new models of social change. As we explore all of this in a writing class, we will focus on the power of language to create justice. 

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Academic Writing in an Age of BS

Salchak, Steven
CRN 72901 Section M59 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM (ONLINE)
CRN 72555 Section M50 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 72629 Section M73 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 2:50 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction. This course intended for WLP students only. Departmental approval required to register.

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his fair share.  But we tend to take the situation for granted.”  So begins Harry G. Frankfurt’s essay "On Bullshit" and so begins our course. Academics often think of their writing practices as a counterpoint for the dominance of bullshit in our lives; students often think of academic writing as just another kind of Bullshit. In this course we will look at both Bullshit and Academic Writing as forms of persuasion with a special emphasis on student experiences with and conceptualizations of academic writing and themselves as academic writers. Studying bullshit as a form of persuasion and focusing on student experiences with academic writing provides a particularly rich backdrop for learning to inquire, read, write, and communicate in ways sanctioned by academic and other communities.

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Happily Ever After: Love Stories and American Culture

Schell, Heather
CRN 72557 Section M52 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 72565 Section M47 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 72566 Section M38 | TR 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

Love stories are tremendously popular in the US.  According to industry statistics compiled by the professional society Romance Writers of America, sales of romance novels in the U.S. grossed more than $1 billion in 2013 and comprised 13% of adult fiction purchases.   These numbers represent only consumer spending, but data from the Nielsen Romance Buyer Survey suggest that many readers also borrow popular romance novels from libraries and friends.  We not only love romance narratives in fiction but also relish them in movies, songs, comics, computer games, and so on.  At the same time, love stories seem to unleash passionate responses from their detractors as well:  people either love romance or loathe it.  In 2014, for example, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to prohibit the National Endowment for the Humanities from funding any “project related to love or romance.”  A quick online search yields decades of journalism decrying romance as ridiculous “mommy porn” or actively detrimental, perhaps even “lead[ing] women to make poor health decisions,” as an article by Rachel Rettner on the blog LiveScience suggests.  Why all these strong feelings?  Is it because America does not like the concept of women-centered leisure activity?  Is romance really worse than other types of popular culture?  Do love stories foster unrealistic ideas about relationships, or merely reflect them?  Or might they actually be good for us?
This course will delve into the debate using several approaches:  1) we will look at the perspective of scholars from multiple fields; 2) we will explore the perspective of romance novelists and fans; and 3) we will dive into the study of a few representative texts. Later, in the second half of the semester, you will work with me to design and implement a quantitative study about popular attitudes on romance, drawing on methods from the social sciences.  Once a week, we will discuss articles online.

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Feminist Filmakers? Writing about Women and the Movies

Smith, Caroline
CRN 74100  Section M62 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 71675 Section M12 |  MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 71872 Section M43 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

Girl meets boy. It’s the simple plotline of the incredibly popular genre known as the romantic comedy. In this course, we will explore a select group of contemporary, American romantic comedies and associated readings, examining how these seemingly innocuous films actually reflect a great deal about our current cultural climate. We will consider why – despite their predictable narratives – audiences flock to see these films. We’ll also examine the messages that these films impart to their audiences about gender, race, and class. And, we will consider the ways in which the genre has – or hasn’t – evolved from the early screwball comedies of the Great Depression.

While these movies will serve as the basis of our class discussions, our primary focus will be on how to critically read, research, and write about these films. What observations might we have about these movies? What have other scholars written about these films? What research lenses might we apply to our work in order to enrich it? And, how might we – as writers – effectively convince our audience of these claims. Students will produce a variety of writing assignments, including an independent research project on the topic of their choice. These writing assignments will help students to develop a variety of reading, researching, and writing skills applicable to the remainder of their college career.

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Women Aren't Funny and Other Nonsense from the Patriarchy

Sparks, Allison
CRN 71874 Section M39 | TR 08:30 AM - 9:45 AM  F 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM
CRN 77840 Section M79 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

Google “Women aren’t funny.” Surprised to see how many men will tell you that this is true?  Women in comedy has historically been a tricky business, to say the least. But is the cultural moment for funny women finally here? In this seminar, we’ll explore the careers of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Amy Schumer, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson (and more!). We’ll delve into the past to explore who paved the way for these comediennes today by investigating feminism in its various iterations and comediennes like Lucille Ball, Goldie Hawn (Kate Hudson’s mom), and Joan Rivers.  We’ll answer questions like is Hillary Clinton funny? What was up with SNL’s stupid comments on women of color in comedy? Has the industry really changed for the better? Or are these women simply refusing to be told “women aren’t funny”? 
Texts may include: 
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Bossypants by Tina Fey 
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
I was Told There’d be Cake by Sloane Crosley
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
And relevant movies, stand up specials, TV episodes, essays and short stories. 

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The Political Brain

Svoboda, Michael
CRN 72558 Section M53 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
CRN 72561 Section M56 | TR 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM

We like to believe we can be perfectly rational. Consequently, when others disagree with us when we think we are being rational, we also like to believe our opponents are being completely irrational. Sadly, both beliefs are almost certainly false, especially when it comes to politics. Our political convictions have psychological underpinnings. But, we must hasten to add, our psychological analyses of politics can also be prompted by political motivations.
In “The Political Brain,” we will examine models of cognitive psychology, media biases and effects, moral psychology, neuro-politics, and popular culture to see what they can tell us about contemporary American politics, the politics brewing in the upcoming 2016 presidential election in particular.
In this section of UW 1020, you can join the ever-increasing number of media analysts, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists, and, yes, voters, who are trying to understand the dysfunctional state of American politics. Through a carefully selected set of readings, you will participate in a broad interdisciplinary conversation. And through the critical thinking, creative research, and reflective writing you will practice in the assignments for this course, you will be able to make an original contribution to this ongoing discussion.

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Fake News and Ironic Views: Satire as Social Critique

Tomlinson, Niles
CRN 72902 Section M18 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM

While satire has a long history of exposing social/political excess and human folly, never has it been so prevalent as in our current cultural moment. From The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to The Simpsons to the mockumentaries of Sasha Baron Cohen to the controversial Jutland Post Muhammad cartoons, satire is a potent and sometimes dangerous rhetorical tool for illuminating the absurdities of extremist views and partisan propaganda. This course starts with the question of why satire has become such a pervasive phenomenon and then moves towards an exploration of the value of, and potential problems with, satire as a rhetorical lens of social criticism.

This course will include assignments like a self-written and performed satire that critiques a relevant current issue, a rhetorical analysis of a scholarly article on satire, a critical reading of a satirical film or novel, and a capstone research project which will give students a chance to explore in depth a particular example of satire in contemporary culture. In all, this course will make the larger points that the language of satire and irony is our language and that laughter and seriousness are not mutually exclusive. 

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The Visual Past: Images in American History

Troutman, Phillip
CRN 71767 Section M29 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
CRN 71680 Section M21 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
CRN 71774 Section M63 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM

Images from the past say things. Political cartoons, propaganda posters, paintings, and films obviously interpret, idealize, and shade the truth. But so do photographs, maps, and technical drawings. They even lie outright. From the earliest colonial encounters through slavery and civil rights, from frontier wars through civil wars, foreign wars, and culture wars, people have used images to represent, reinterpret, and reinscribe ideas about race, gender, national identity, class, democratic politics, immigration and migration, science and technology, and religion. But images do not speak for themselves. To write about images requires description, which implies some level of interpretation, or at least translation from visual to verbal. Scholars of visual culture have created specialized terms and concepts you will need to adopt and adapt in order to do your own analytical work. In this course, you will analyze primary sources from GW’s Special Collections and from digital archives, engaging in ongoing debates about the roles images have played in American history. Researching and writing about images in a scholarly way will help you hone your critical thinking, research, and analytic skills generally. But you will also have to approach image description and analysis with creativity, finding new words and phrases, and new interpretations to rise to the task.

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Composing Disability: Crip Ecologies

Wilkerson, Abby
CRN 71677 Section M14 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
CRN 72556 Section M51 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
CRN 73156 Section M23 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM

This course (like the GWU conference from which it takes its name) brings together work across the fields of ecocriticism, disability, and queer studies. The term “crip” has been widely deployed over the past few decades by radical activists and cultural producers in the global movement for disability justice. “Queer” affirms fluid and non-normative sexual identities. Our goal is to think through the queer interchanges of environments and bodies in radical ways. As vulnerable embodied beings that interact with our environments, we are not only affected by the places we inhabit, but we also leave our imprint on these locations as well. Marginalized subjects, including disabled people, often experience their lives in greater proximity to environmental threats such as toxicity, climate change, generational exposures to unsafe living conditions due to poverty, militarization, body-exhausting labors as in the case of migrant workers, etc. 

This queer/crip/ecological conjunction is a rich site for exploring rhetorical agency—how meanings are created and struggles enacted through language; and how speakers, writers, and all makers of meaning accomplish their goals through persuasion, argument, and expression. Ethnography will serve as a case study in academic writing, and a method of inquiry that grounds our experiences in specific settings—environments and ecologies. Coursework includes (1) reading a variety of queer/crip/ecological texts; (2) studying how academic writing works by analyzing relevant published scholarship; (3) producing a collaborative ethnographic project and using published scholarship to analyze this material; and (4) participating in the “Crip Ecologies” conference in April.

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[email protected] Identities & Stereotypes in the United States

Yunis, Bernardita
CRN 72900 Section M58 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
CRN 71668 Section M68 | MW 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM

From Lucy and Ricky Ricardo to the Sofia Vergaras and Salma Hayeks of today, [email protected] in the United States have regularly been the objects of exaggerated representations, commercializing [email protected] culture and history for popular consumption. A focus on [email protected] stereotypes in the United States will provide an opportunity for practice in the processes and techniques of academic writing, drawing upon a current topic from a particular intellectual interest that will encourage students to use critical analysis skills and thoughtful evaluation in their writing. Through the use of writing assignments that require creativity and research, this course will help students be critics of the [email protected] identities presented by the media. Students will create their own testimonios (testimonials/memoirs) and research papers that look at the process of identity creation and how that can quickly devolve to stereotypes and misrepresentations. These projects will give students a platform from which to use critical thinking and researched argumentation in order to shine a light on the inaccuracies and oversimplifications of [email protected] stereotypes that develop in our media culture.

The goal is that towards the end of the semester, students will have developed rhetorical strategies and critical analysis skills. These skills will be important tools not only for future academic writing, but also for consuming media and cultural narratives with more awareness and a keen critical eye.

Truth and Lies: Documenting American Lives in Writing and Film

Zink, Christy
CRN 71775 Section M65 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM (ONLINE)
CRN 72907 Section M60 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM (ONLINE)
CRN 72045 Section M35 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM (ONLINE)
NOTE: These sections are hybrid; classroom and online instruction. 

“Every fact in my films is true,” documentary filmmaker Michael Moore told Time magazine. While facts are by definition true, he felt the need to clarify, “The opinions in the film are mine. They may not be true, but I think they are.” At first glance, we take for granted that documentary film is straight truth. But on closer look, we learn that most documentarians are quick to acknowledge – and struggle with – the central tensions in their work between fact and fabrication and between the real and its representation on the big screen. 

This course takes as its central texts film documentaries on the American experience that rest with no easy answers. We will examine questions of fair and ethical representation, of substantial research and handling of facts and argument, and of what, in the end, it means to even try to document the truth. These very questions are, indeed, central to good writing work. In this course, you will take on the role as both critical audience and creative auteur to determine what constitutes truth and lies in film and writing alike. The series of writing projects includes a critical review of a contemporary documentary, a scholarly research project, and your own documentary treatment and short film.

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