Spring UW Course Descriptions


Registration Transaction Forms (RTFs)

Please note that all Fall and Spring UW1020 sections are capped at 17 students and that this cap cannot be exceeded for any reason. UW instructors cannot sign RTF forms to add students to a section. The only way to add a section of UW1020 is through the GWeb system. If a section is full, you should either check GWeb frequently for open seats, select a different section, or plan to take UW the following semester.

Spring 2024


UW 1020 Courses:

Abbas, Nasreen - The Othering of Muslims: Contemporary Diasporic Literature

Can a person be Middle Eastern or is Middle Eastern purely a geographic entity? The texts we will explore together will allow us to investigate these questions and understand the perspectives from this diverse region. You might think that the authors of our assigned texts are "Middle Eastern" because they are (a) Muslim and (b) have their roots in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Is that a fact or just an assumption? Using Edward Said's definition of Orientalism, we will learn that the term "Middle East" is just a catch-all phrase to talk about geographical areas or people that some living in the West are unfamiliar with. Through our texts we will explore burning topics such as “what is a migrant?” Is a migrant and an immigrant the same? Is there a difference between a migrant and a refugee? What kind of crises lead to people becoming migrants or refugees? You will also discover the intersectionality between this course and what you learn in your other courses, such as international affairs, comparative politics, psychology, history, economics and more.

The texts you will read to “enlighten” you on the above questions are written by diasporic writers living in the West, often labeled as “Re-orientalists,” as they write in English about people in or from their birth countries. As we read and discuss each text, your challenge will be—

  •  Are these writers sharing their lived experiences?
  • Are they writing with animosity against their country of origin and its people?
  • How are they depicting what it is to be a Muslim?
  • Are all Muslims easily radicalized?
  • Is the label Good Muslim vs Bad Muslim viable?
Art, Andrew - Saying I: Point of View as Rhetorical Strategy

In this course, we will examine how authors include themselves in texts. When does the first-person point of view successfully contribute to an argument? How can drawing from our personal experience create an effective portrait of the author? What does storytelling afford our writing? How do we talk about ourselves? By considering the rhetorical implications of writers calling attention to their individuality, we will approach the topic of subjectivity as it relates to various academic disciplines. With this framework in mind, we will read and discuss texts in a variety of genres: documentary films, critical theory, peer-reviewed research, investigative journalism, poetry, and self-portraits. In each case, we will consider the presence or the absence of the author, how they establish authority and trust, and the roles that visual and linguistic rhetoric play in our response to argument and point of view. Among shorter writing exercises, you will have the opportunity to contribute to an existing body of scholarship in a research project that will include an exploration of the personal dimensions of thinking and writing within a discourse community. You will be encouraged to develop your own identity as a writer and consider how your lived experiences contribute to existing conversations.

Barlow, Jameta - Writing Science and Health: Women's Health As Point of Inquiry

This community engaged writing course meets any student, STEM major or not, at the door of discovery. Recent political moments have attempted to sanitize science in a way that can inhibit such discovery. We, as co-learners, will describe scientific discoveries so our audience could possibly replicate the experience. This method offers you to consider multiple standpoints, interrogate their philosophy of science and consider alternative ways of knowing—all skills critical to introducing you to university writing and an academic learning environment.

You will leave this class appreciating the discovery and application of science (STEM), improving critical thinking skills and communicating through multiple genres. Teaching students how to deconstruct research, as well as think critically about current events in STEM may encourage ongoing practice beyond the end of the course. Women’s health remains a timely science and health-based issue, deeply immersed in politics. We will anchor our learning process by using women’s health as the point of inquiry into writing about science and health, working directly with a DC area organization. Students will participate in community engaged writing and see their writing live on in the mission of the organization.

You will engage in a comprehensive overview of the intricacies between objectivity, moral ethic, science and truth. This process will expand your approach to information—how you receive it and how you understand it—as well as inform your worldview and give you applied experience.

Bolgiano, Anney - Apology Studies

Once we start paying attention, we find apologies everywhere – they are issued in press briefings from local government officials, folded into a national spending bill, posted on a celebrity’s Instagram, enacted through material reparations, recited on the floor of a nation’s parliament, sung in the lyrics of a song, inscribed in a memorial, spoken during a news conference or an interview on Oprah, or written in a personal letter.

Studying the amorphous genre of apology not only forefronts rhetorical principles but invites us into the fields of philosophy, political science, art and criticism, law, social work, communications, and more. In this course we will first examine and attempt to define the genre and subgenres of apology. We will then analyze various cases to study the rhetorical devices applied and identify the strategies and appeals the apologizer uses and assess their effectiveness (first discussing possible definitions of “effective”). Students are also invited to question – is an apology an argument? What are the limits of an apology? Are rhetorical frameworks helping in understanding apologies? What do apologies teach us about the workings of language in relation to our social values? Are apologies always helpful? We will explore these and other questions through writing, research, and discussion. We will practice writing as an extension of our private thought process, as well as towards a clearly defined purpose, including a researched argument at the end of the course.

Some students have reported that this course equips them with a practical knowledge of apologies and strategies they might apply, while others approach the course with greater interest in how to analyze, rather than how to make an apology. Through reflective writing, research, and discussions, I hope you are able to clarify and distill some of your thoughts. However, I’ll know I did my job well if you leave the course with more questions than answers.

Carter, Katharine - Critical Responses: Writing the Implications about Racism and Systemic Inequity

From federal and state laws to school and workforce rules and codes of conduct, systems have historically placed barriers to people’s freedoms and access to opportunities on the basis of race.

Additionally, these institutionalized drivers of inequity are often embedded into society’s culture, where they are far more subtle but equally as unjust. Scholars have used critical responses to identify and address instances of these occurrences.

In this course students will learn the tenets of critical race theory, highlight examples of institutionalized racism in a wide variety of readings, and demonstrate applications of systemic inequity to real-life occurrences. Students will be tasked with reading a variety of sources, including legislative proposals, existing laws, opinion pieces, social media posts, historical texts, and media coverage of current events. Through each assigned reading, learners will explore the various ways that inequity is related to its messaging.

Students will use critical analysis to provide written responses to the readings that will communicate how the content of readings can have an impact on disadvantaged groups. The responses will examine the broader issues of systemic oppression and implicit bias beyond the primary message of the reading.

Counts, Benjamin - Conflict, Kayfabe, and Information Literacy

This course examines the idea of political conflict as performance art. Throughout the semester, students will use performance-based frameworks to examine political conflicts around the world, with an initial focus on the United States. Students will become familiar with jargon and narrative structures from professional wrestling and other storytelling genres as lenses to examine conflicts between celebrities, legislators, nation-states, and even ordinary people. Together, we will see how all conflicts operate at three levels: What is shown, what is hidden, and what goes unnoticed.

Along the way, students will read a variety of texts from political commentators, creative writers, and scholars. Students will learn how to spot the “inside baseball” played by media personalities, allowing them to differentiate between analysis and promotion, fact and narrative, and strategy and theater.

The course will include a comprehensive annotated bibliography, research paper, argumentative essay, and narrative essay. While the course will revolve around comparing and understanding conflicts both real and imagined, students will select conflicts from outside the assigned readings for their research. Students will take part in interdisciplinary conversation, critical thinking, and self-reflection. At every level, creative thinking and approaches will be key.

Daqqa, Hanan - “Not Another Home Movie”: How Do You Research When the Subject is Yourself?

Be prepared to change what you know about writing, and maybe even what you know about yourself. This course will give you the opportunity to make an impact powerfully and artfully through the telling of that family story, hidden in the attic. Give it the attention it needs, so it can connect you to yourself. As we connect, we gain control.

Telling your story, you will be wearing three hats: the journalist, the researcher, and the filmmaker.

As a journalist, you will learn how to take risks and dig deeper into yourself in order to tell a captivating and impactful story, and you will conduct an important interview.

As a researcher, you will learn how to formulate your own research question and how to let your question drive the journey. Your question focus will be on how to tell your story on film.

Finally, as a filmmaker, you will learn how to use framing, camera movements and sound to tell a story. Your film will be screened during the last week of class. A keepsake for generations to come. 

Erfani, Kylie - “Your Silence Will Not Protect You”: Using Rhetoric to Refuse Injustice

Amid global climate crisis, ever-widening social inequality, war, and intensifying forms of exploitation, the democratic imperative to “speak your mind” seems altogether too feeble to stand up to the challenges ahead. Indeed, speaking out--by itself--is not a formula for saving the world; but if we follow the insight of the great poet and feminist philosopher Audre Lorde, we learn that speaking out about what pains and oppresses us is existentially, intellectually, and politically necessary. Yet we don’t give much thought to the forms of effective complaint.  

To be fair, complaint gets dismissed because it’s contraposed to real action; in other words, some people think that whiners aren’t doers. However, effective complaint is usually the first step to conflict resolution and social transformation. As a genre, complaining has a fascinating complex history that we can explore and excavate for contemporary ways of expressing discontent, challenging the status quo, and exploring new horizons of possibility. 

Together we will read some of history’s most effective complainers and analyze their rhetorical, logical, and formal appeals for justice, redress and recognition. Close reading and analysis exercises will aid students in identifying the techniques employed in well-crafted complaints, including evidence selection, counterarguments, and persuasive language. Additionally, we will learn to assess different audience types and adapt rhetorical strategies accordingly to enhance the effectiveness of our own complaints. By framing our scholarly projects in terms of developing legitimate complaints, students will be encouraged to think critically about social issues, consumer experiences, and other relevant contexts that spark complaints. This will foster a deeper understanding of the power of language and scholarship in shaping public opinion. Moreover, students will have their own opportunity to participate in that shaping by crafting their own formal research complaint about a social issue of their choosing.

Fletcher, Wade - An Empirical Approach: Writing in the Social Sciences

Media portrayals of social science research, such as a Time Magazine report on “how laughter can boost one’s attractiveness,” often result in sensational claims made in limited contexts, which some scholars say devalues the important work being done in fields such as sociology, psychology, and education. How is social science research relevant to our daily lives? What ethical implications accompany such research? How do disciplinary conventions function in social science disciplines, and how do these differ from those with which we are more accustomed?

In this course, we will seek to better understand how knowledge is constructed in the social sciences, explore how this knowledge is communicated rhetorically, and consider how tenets of social science research and writing can inform our own work in other areas and disciplines. Assignments will include three papers of increasing length — a genre analysis, a rhetorical analysis, and an argumentative research paper on a current issue in a social science discipline — as well as short projects, a poster presentation, and contributions to an online class discussion forum.

Francois, Emma - Fashioning Thought: Writing with Style & Intent

“Fashion has to do with ideas,” Coco Chanel said, “the way we live, what is happening.” This course explores the fundamentals of writing by considering fashion. What can the principles of design teach us about our own writing and the writing we love? How can we fashion our writerly identities to produce meaningful texts engaging the world we live, dress, and write in? 

We’ll start the semester exploring fashion writing across genres by translating a scholarly essay into an article for a popular media platform. As we write, we’ll experiment with skills from the designer’s toolkit (like social brainstorming, vision boards, and sketches) to disrupt and examine our own writing processes. Other major assignments include a “collage annotated bibliography” and a class field trip to a museum in D.C. to explore how writing, in conjunction with other mediums, exists beyond the page. Drawing on this experience and research conducted throughout the semester, we’ll write an 8-10 page object essay to discern—and communicate—how one sartorial text can change and reflect the world.

Friedman, Sandie - The New Vanguard: Women Writing Radical Fiction

A girl tosses her friend’s beloved doll through a grate and into a cellar, where it can’t be retrieved. A wife’s head rolls off her body when her husband unties the ribbon around her neck. A young artist rides her motorcycle at record-breaking speeds—until she crashes.

With these snippets of plot, we glimpse fictional worlds created by 21st century women. Critic Parul Sehgal observed that: “The books steering literature in new directions — to new forms, new concerns — almost invariably have a woman at the helm, an Elena Ferrante, a Rachel Cusk, a Zadie Smith.” How can fiction, in Sehgal’s words, “suggest and embody unexplored possibilities in form, feeling and knowledge”? How do women “invent a language for their lives” in the 21st century (Sehgal)? In this class, we take as our starting point “The New Vanguard,” a collection of 15 works of fiction, assembled by three New York Times literary critics. The list ranges from Allison Bechdel’s The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For to Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Our project in this class is to develop our own writing skills by studying the work of radical fiction writers. Using a feminist lens, we consider what makes these works innovative—at the sentence level and through the arc of a whole narrative. We will read as writers, considering how groundbreaking fiction might inform—or even transform—our work as critics and academic writers. As the medium for developing our ideas, we will study and practice writing essays—a genre that blends personal experience, literary analysis, and research.

Gretes, Andrew - Existentialism and the Rhetoric of Authenticity

Few philosophical movements have sparked the popular imagination as vividly as existentialism. But what precisely was (is?) existentialism? Was it merely what we call “emo” in embryo, or was there something of more substance underneath all those black turtlenecks and angsty bumper stickers? In this course, we’ll explore rhetoric and writing by examining a host of existential concepts, such as despair, angst, authenticity, freedom, and mass-man (aka “sheeple”). In particular, we’ll take a close look at the various rhetorical stages that existentialists choose to audition their ideas—be they parables, dramas, aphorisms, or analytic essays—and how such genres entail specific appeals and strategies. Throughout the semester, students will engage in a variety of writing projects, including a research-based essay in which students will take a specific concept from existentialism and use it as a tool to explore and re-think an issue in our own culture.

Hayes, Carol - "I'm a Bad Writer" and Other Myths about Writing

To write is to convey your thoughts on paper in a traceable form that others can then respond to. Writing is thus both a challenge (are you able to put what you mean into words on the screen or page?) and an act of vulnerability (you are opening yourself to response from your readers, whatever those responses might be). Very, very few people find writing “easy” (I am not among them). Your past experiences with writing and language, whether good or bad, will have shaped your emotions, your writing process, and your view of your own writing identity.

 This UW class is designed to give you a space to explore your experiences and challenges with writing, with the goal of increasing your writing knowledge in ways that will support your transitions to writing in other contexts, such as other GW courses, internships, and beyond. You will use social science methodologies—interviews and surveys—to research the writing experiences of college-age peers who may share the challenges you have faced. Drawing upon writing studies research (yes, scholars research writing!) and research in educational psychology, you’ll use that research to help you analyze your own and your peers’ writing experiences.

Hijazi, Nabila - Contested Bodies: Beyond a Standard Refugee Narrative

Mainstream migration and refugee discourses often frame refugees as living in limbo and waiting to return home. Moreover, refugee women’s voices and experiences are framed within a dominant narrative of female fragility. Departing from these prevailing understandings of refugees as victims, objects of rescue, and problems, this course reconsiders refugees as fluid subjects and historical actors, inquiring into their social and cultural positioning. With refugee women as our primary case study, this course asks students to engage with the lived experience of refugee women, subjects that have been perceived as passive, vulnerable, or even violent in the Western context; and to evaluate their construction of agency. Engaging in various texts – including academic arguments, personal narratives, TED Talks, lectures by guest speakers, and documentaries, we will explore how refugee women are complex individuals experiencing immense challenges but also exerting great resilience. Instead of confirming the standard narrative that presents refugees as victims, we will examine how they are agents in finding ways not only to survive but also to thrive and gain economic mobility. This semester, you will learn to summarize, analyze, research, inquire, reflect, argue and remediate—rhetorical skills necessary for ethical public engagement, rigorous academic scholarship, and exemplary professional practice.

Janzen, Kristi - Beyond The Numbers: Business, Money & Markets

This course aims to deepen students’ understanding of business, money and markets, while introducing them to university-level research and academic writing. By examining writings on currently hot financial-news topics—such as inflation, cryptocurrency, the cost of higher education, corporate earnings, interest rates, mortgages, anti-trust laws, the minimum wage, taxes, and more—students will both broaden their practical understanding of business and the economy, and hone their ability to write about them. Students will read about the discipline of writing and examine different styles and types of business/economics writing. We will also discuss research techniques, context, information sources, and methods of evaluating those sources, while analyzing why and how particular choices are made about what data or information to include or exclude. Several smaller writing assignments will lead up to a research paper, in which the student presents evidence and supports a new claim on a subject of their choosing within the realm of business and economics. Over the course of the class, students will discuss their writing in class, both to improve everyone’s writing and to enrich our understanding of the broad range of topics.

Kristensen, Randi - Africa and the African Diaspora

Black Panther. Black Panthers. Black Lives Matter. Slavery. Colonialism. Modernity. Afro-futurism. Critical Race Theory. These and other signifiers of Black life in the 21st century circulate widely. What do they mean? Why do they matter? Why is their teaching being outlawed in some places in the United States? In this course, we will bring our critical reading, thinking, and writing skills to bear on these and other questions. We will also strive to discern the many and complicated versions of Blackness that co-exist, sometimes uneasily, in the US and worldwide. We will also question the implications of doing research within and across cultures; for example, what is the significance of our research and writing for those about whom we research and write? What are the effects of our choices of language and form?

As readers, writers and thinkers, we will develop our skills in recognizing and articulating these complexities, and will produce original and effective writing that reflects our close attention to the research questions that engage us, and sources that inform us. Major assignments include an autoethnography, and a carefully researched, documented, and argued research paper on a writer-selected topic that increases our understanding of contemporary Black life. In addition, we will develop a public-facing version of our research for each other and the wider community.

Marcus, Robin "The Warmth of Other Suns " or, "I'm Going Back to the South...": Finding the Familiar in Stories from the Great Migration

In this UW course students will read Isabel Wilkerson’s epic examination of America's "Great Migration", the period in the nation's history when more than 50% of Black people living in the South dispersed across the country via three escape routes to the North, Midwest and West Coast. This migration transformed the country in quantifiable ways. Using TWOOS as a template, students (and this professor) will examine/research our family’s migration stories to produce  a final, multi-disciplinary/multi-media project guided by the working title: “The Story of My People.” 

Malone-France, Derek - Peace and Conflict in Colombia

Colombia has endured the longest ongoing civil armed conflict in modern world history. From the country’s original post-colonial founding, as one half of New Granada, through to the present day, stark economic and social divides and inequalities have played a fundamental role in shaping both political and conflict dynamics there. In addition, the emergence of multiple national and regional organized armed groups and militias, as well as the development of a massive shadow-economy associated with extreme criminal violence in the form of narcotrafficking in the 20th century, have created a highly complex and deeply tragic situation confronting those who wish to see lasting peace and prosperity for Colombians. We will research, analyze, and write about this complex reality.

Mantler, Gordon - Memorials, Museums and Monuments: Writing the Past through Place and Space

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened just a few years ago on the Mall – the culmination of more than a century of advocacy for such an institution. But while the museum has enjoyed tremendous attention in its first several years, many other museums, memorials, and monuments already here in Washington have commemorated and narrated the American story, or stories, of race for generations. From the African American Civil War memorial to the National Museum of the American Indian, public spaces throughout the city depict the nation’s often tortured relationship with race. A few, of late, have even been taken down, and yet, generally, visitors of these spaces consider them reliable vehicles for telling history. How historically reliable are such public history accounts? What sorts of pressures do these institutions face in relating their interpretations? And, perhaps most importantly for a writing course, are there explicit rhetorical features that distinguish academic history and argument from popular ones found in museums, memorials, and monuments? In this class, students will analyze these carefully crafted, sometimes controversial places and spaces around Washington and how they narrate American history, particularly its racial history, including these sites’ physical locations, visual symbolism, and written interpretations – as much as the pandemic will allow us, at least. 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.

McCaughey, Jessica - “I Tried to Live, but I got Distracted”: How to Think, Act, and Write in a World that Wants to Sidetrack You

Johann Hari, the author of Stolen Focus, suggests a motto for our era: “I tried to live, but I got distracted.” Deep work and focus are arguably more challenging right now than they’ve ever been. In this class, we’ll try to understand what this means for us as writers. We’ll interrogate factors ranging from stress and our environment to productivity culture and technology in an effort to make sense of why focus and complex intellectual engagement are so challenging. In doing so, we will interrogate our own experiences and consider, yes, issues of willpower and individual tactics to regain and harness our attention—but more so, we will deliberate how we operate in larger systems that are designed to distract. We’ll also try to determine whether or not, at this moment, it’s actually possible to be in control of our own attention and reach our goals without getting sidetracked.

Over the course of the semester, we’ll pay particular attention to the ways in which our distracted world makes an already extremely challenging process of development—becoming an adept researcher and writer at the college level—much, much harder. We’ll develop our academic writing and research skills through a series of increasingly complex assignments, each one scaffolded with the support of substantial feedback from peers and your professor. As we do so, we’ll consider catalysts and implications of “stolen focus” across disciplines, from environmental studies and national security to medicine and marketing, while working to develop the analytical skills necessary to consider, research, and express nuanced intellectual arguments clearly and effectively across a variety of forms of writing. We’ll also inevitably address what it means to be competing for the attention of others with our own writing, whether in college, the workplace, or publicly. Ultimately, it’s my hope that we’ll find lasting ways to engage and function in a world that seemingly wants to keep us operating only at the surface level—rather than engaging in the deep, focused thinking that complex writing requires.

Michiels, Paul - Writing and Learning

The theme of this writing course is learning. You will learn about writing as you learn what the fields of neuroscience, educational and cognitive psychology, and education have to tell us about how students learn. The theme of learning will anchor your research practices and help us select articles that we will read as a class to help inform your different writing activities. You will also use the theme as a springboard to develop your own individual lines of inquiry that you will follow and investigate throughout the semester, beginning with an assignment that asks you to investigate an issue/problem related to the theme of “learning,” then moving to a longer researched piece that more deeply explores one aspect of learning. We will conclude with an adaptation of your researched paper for a different audience and in a new form.

This class will focus on writing as a form of reasoning and knowledge production used in the university, at work, and in daily life, and it will explore how different writing situations and different audiences influence how we question, analyze, make claims, and present information and ideas. The course will explore critical writing skills which involve pre-writing, paraphrasing, summarizing, synthesizing, drafting, and revising. Particular (though not exclusive) emphasis will be placed on source-based writing as a means of acquiring, communicating, and transforming knowledge. Finally, special emphasis will be placed on peer review, in other words, on providing peers with useful, usable, and theoretically-informed feedback on writing (an essential skill with applications in academic, professional, and personal life).

Mullen, Mark - Playing at Life

This is a course about writing, and about playing games, with a particular emphasis on a style of board game known as “Eurogames” or “Hobby Games,” to distinguish them from mass market games (e.g. Terraforming Mars or Brass: Birmingham vs Clue and Monopoly). Renowned videogame designer Sid Meier (creator of the Civilization series of games, as well asGettysburg!, Railroad Tycoon, and Pirates!) once defined the art of creating a fun and challenging game as the process of crafting "interesting decisions" for players. An immersive game, he noted, was made up of numerous choices, each relatively simple, but carrying with it some inevitable trade-offs that require deliberation, however brief. Like learning to play games well, becoming adept at writing and research involves becoming comfortable with recognizing important decision points, making a choice. . .and being prepared to live with the consequences of those decisions.

In our investigation of both writing and games we will be focusing on one particular type of choice environment: simulation. In a variety of professional contexts, simulation is employed as a powerful learning and training tool. At its core, however, simulation is simply the ability to model a system, and there are many ways to do that, many of which don’t involve high tech digital tools. Many hobby games are complex simulations of everything from the spread of disease pathogens to the insurgency in Afghanistan; soldier bonds during WWI to the courtship rituals in Jane Austen’s novels. We will be playing, analyzing, critiquing, and writing about many of these games.

Above all, however, we will be using our engagement with simulation board games to develop your writing skills. We will, first of all, be exploring the ways in which learning about writing is in fact a complex simulation activity and—perhaps—the ways in which education itself can productively be regarded as a game. By asking you to engage with new modes of writing and analysis, this class will develop your writing, research, and critical thinking skills.

Myers, Danika - Poetry + Research

There is no telling this story; it must be told” – NourbeSe Philip, Zong
When I write comma I come closer to people I want to know comma to the language I want to speak” - Layli Long Soldier, Whereas

Are poetry and research opposing forms? Is poetry always subjective, while research is strictly objective? How does poetry seek truth? How can poetry become the medium for research and exploration? In this class, we will analyze books of poetry obsessed with communicating truth. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong dwells on the events of the 1781 massacre, when 132 of the 470 enslaved Africans held captive on the British ship Zong were thrown overboard. By drawing legal language into fractured poetics Philip subverts it to convey horror and grief. Layli Long Soldier’s book Whereas is a response to the 2009 Congressional resolution of apology to Native Americans that draws on historical documents to critique the contemporary legacies of settler-colonialism. Philip Metres' Sand Opera is a poetry collection that uses extensive research to explore the human cost of the United States' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By combining poetic forms with meticulous research and reliance on sources, works like these challenge dominant narratives and offer new ways of understanding history and identity.

This section of UW 1020 invites you to use texts that combine research + poetry as a starting point to explore research, writing, and the production of knowledge. It seeks to support you in developing a sophisticated understanding of the infinite ways sources can be engaged or critiqued, subverted or celebrated, and see how it feels to adopt such techniques in your own writing. We will also consider what these texts reveal about how other, more familiar, forms of research-based and academic writing operate. How might traditional academic research–supposedly an objective form –silence particular voices or perpetuate systems of power? How can poetry transform our understanding of research and what research values? Assignments will include a poetry portfolio, a group presentation, and a research-based poem sequence. Homework will frequently require you to attempt archaic or byzantine poetic forms or ask you to render the conventions of academic genres in verse.

Ohno-Machado, Thomas - Linguistic Landscapes of Opportunity: Rhetoric and the American Dream

“The American Dream.” A term many of us have heard but still struggle to define. This class will engage with the idea of the American Dream by analyzing the rhetoric of leaders, scholars, and artists who have critiqued it in the past. From leaders like Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama, to singers like Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, and Marvin Gaye, to playwrights and poets such as August Wilson and Langston Hughes, access, opportunity, and the American Dream itself, have been argued through different forms of written expression. Students will be examining language through a variety of mediums, such as speeches, music, and films that demonstrate the multimodal nature of rhetoric, argumentation, and reflection. 

In studying the methods of argumentation that leaders, scholars, and artists have employed throughout American history, we can learn how to formulate our own effective arguments. In addition to analyzing rhetoric, this course prepares students for the rigors of the academic and professional world. Students will engage with various stages of the writing process, and by the end of the course, will be developing their own processes to become skilled writers, eloquent communicators, and critical thinkers. In constructing strong arguments, students will learn effective strategies for brainstorming, working through writer’s block, researching, revising, and editing. Class dialogue and discussion will coincide with peer review. As a result, writing can be viewed as a social activity that involves the active participation and critical input of a community of people that support and care for one another. By the end of the course, students should be able to access different registers of language through a mixture of low, medium, and high stakes writing that places them in a stronger position to achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals. 

Paiz, J.M. - Composing in/for an AI-rich World

In today's rapidly evolving technological landscape, artificial intelligence (AI) plays an increasingly prominent role in various aspects of our lives, including writing and composition. In this course, students will explore the intersection of AI tools, rhetoric, and composition, aiming to develop a nuanced understanding of how we can effectively integrate these tools while upholding the value of human expertise. This section of University Writing begins by immersing students in the world of AI and its implications for composition processes. This work will be supported by drawing on critical texts such as Frank Pasquale's New Laws of Robotics and Kate Crawford's The Atlas of AI. Students will critically examine AI adoption's ethical, social, and cultural dimensions in writing and knowledge-work practices by engaging with these texts. These texts will provide a foundation for discussions on the responsible and mindful integration of AI tools in writing processes.

Throughout the course, students can experiment with various AI-based writing tools, analyze their strengths and limitations, and reflect on their implications for creativity, authorship, and intellectual property. Students will also explore how AI can assist in generating ideas, improving grammar and style, and providing feedback on drafts. The course will foster an understanding of the importance of balancing AI assistance and human expertise in composing. Students will delve into topics such as the ethical considerations of AI-generated content, the impact of AI on authorial agency, and the potential biases embedded in AI algorithms. As students engage in hands-on activities, critical discussions, and reflective writing, they will develop their abilities to navigate and leverage the AI-rich composition landscape. By the end of the course, students will have a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges that arise when composing in an AI-rich world, enabling them to make informed decisions about integrating AI tools while preserving the essence of human expression and creativity.

Utilizing a writing-as-inquiry approach, students in this section of UW will practice composing in an array of genres—from informal discussion forum posts to explore initial ideas to crafting operationalized definitions to create lenses for later inquiry that will become crystalized in a formal research paper.

Note: This course assumes no prior knowledge of AI or technical expertise. It welcomes students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds who are interested in exploring the intersection of AI and composition in contemporary society.

Pollack, Rachel - Dutch Painting at the National Gallery of Art

In this course we will develop writing skills through careful observation and analysis of 17th Century Dutch painting at the National Gallery of Art. Each student will write 2 polished catalogue entries (2-3 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.

Pollack, Rachel - The Art & History of Textiles

In this writing course, we will examine the intersection between the visual arts and the history of textiles. The Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection at The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum will serve as the foundation of research for all assignments throughout the semester. Art museum catalogue entries, academic research papers, and exhibition proposals will be the main focus of these assignments. From a rich array of materials and mediums spanning centuries of diverse cultures, we will visually reconstruct how the art of textiles framed history. How did the art of weaving and needlework define the roles of women? Why are textiles often overlooked in the study of art history?  How can we change this paradigm in how we connect textiles to the history of art? Hans Holbein the Younger, Johannes Vermeer, Anthony van Dyck, Henri Matisse, and Walter Gropius, will be among the artists explored in class discussion.

Presser, Pamela - Writing Lives: Composing Consciousness and Service Learning

NOTE: This is a service learning course. Learn more about service learning courses.

NOTE: This course will be taught via remote instruction.

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 GW 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.

Quave, Kylie - Writing the Past for the Future: Archaeologies of Racism and Anti-racism

What researchers know about us as humans results from the negotiation of scientific knowledge. That knowledge is created by individuals and groups working within our social and political realities. We will use the field of archaeology as a case study of how knowledge is created in comparison with other sciences. We will reflect on what the process of communicating the human past tells us about ourselves as humans today, and what it can teach us about possibilities for better human futures.

While archaeologists actively push back against such primitivizing theories as ancient aliens in non-European cultures, archaeologists are also (sometimes unwittingly) contributing to white supremacist and exoticizing views of human societies. For example, archaeologists have underestimated peoples from outside Western Europe, ignored descendant communities, and de-legitimized Indigenous histories. At the same time, many archaeologists also push the discipline toward an anti-racist, anti-colonialist focus. Archaeology is not unique: its history as a field overlaps with other areas of study, which can provide us insight into how “the sausage of science is made.”

To communicate the human past, present, and future to different readers, we will evaluate scientific evidence from within and beyond archaeology, propose new research, respond to readings and peer writing, collaboratively and independently revise, and compose in multimedia genres. Students will rhetorically evaluate archaeological arguments and respond to them in socially relevant ways for both expert and broader public audiences.

Richter, Jacob - Writing Democracy: Professional Writing’s Utility for Democracy and Social Justice

Democracy is fragile. Polls that survey voters from across the political spectrum consistently show that many voters view democracy in the United States as being under threat. Discourse surrounding race-based gerrymandering, voter suppression, voting machines, mail-in ballots, and election misinformation is here to stay, with public communication of these topics being perhaps more important than ever. Topics related to elections and democracy might seem like odd fits for a writing course that engages professional writing genres, but as students in this course will learn, professional writing represents a valuable opportunity for civic communication related to Democracy.

In this “Writing Democracy: Professional Writing’s Utility for Democracy and Social Justice”-themed UW 1020 course, students will connect professional writing genres such as white papers, visual reports, and grant proposals with social justice topics related to democracy including race-based gerrymandering, voting machine discourse, and election misinformation. Topics related to democracy and elections—both past and future— provide compelling civic opportunities for writers to communicate complex information about voting machines, to educate the public about how gerrymandering impacts the political process, and to leverage visual communication to help citizens understand how social media platforms both enable and constrain political activities.

This course centers professional writing as an opportunity for educating audiences, for pursuing social justice related to voting rights, and for designing innovative rhetorical actions for civic impact. Students will connect professional writing genres with democratic rhetorical actions by completing projects such as the “Advocacy White Paper,” which examines election misinformation and voting machine discourse by working to educate and then persuade the public in a professional writing genre. Across the duration of this course, students will write, research, revise, and design in professional writing genres that enact communication of complex information related to the evolving discourse surrounding democracy in the United States.

Russ, Ebony - Anti-Racist Writing in the 21st Century

Understanding the importance of amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups in academia, publications, and media is key to contributing to anti-racist writing. Our writing skills and style are informed by the subject matter of which we partake. Approaching anti-racist writing with intent can be pivotal to your success as a well-informed scholar. Exercising inclusivity can be superficial and deceptive if one does not possess the foundational knowledge of the interplay of race, racism, and scholarship in academia. Anti-racist writing is a function of scholar activism which is a component of social justice which can contribute to overall equality and societal transformation.

In this course, we will examine tenents of anti-racist writing in the 21st century while comparing the similarities and differences in social justice work from past centuries. Our examination of anti-racism will be guided by exploring race and racism in scholarly writings. This will involve critically reading and writing about scholarly and popular text authored by African American authors as well as many other Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). Assignments include identifying scientific evidence, original research writing, responses to readings and peer writing, collaborative and independent revision, and graphical display of information (tables, charts, and infographics). Students will rhetorically evaluate scientific arguments and respond to them in socially relevant ways for both expert and broader public audiences.

Ryder, Phyllis - Writing for Social Change

NOTE: This course is a service learning course. For more information, see Support for Students in Community Engaged Scholarship Courses website.

Learning to “write well” means learning to wrestle with power. “Writing for Social Change” is a space where we will work with local DC nonprofits to confront social inequities, study how to use writing to build community, and convince people that a more just world is possible. We also will wrestle with the power of “writing well” at a more meta level: the rules for “good writing” are themselves tools that can include and exclude people from power. By the end of the semester, you will have your own toolbox for developing complex, meaningful writing projects and a philosophy of writing that reflects your personal values and engages diverse audiences.

Over the semester, you will build on the writing strategies you learned in high school to become stronger, more deliberate writers. I will challenge you to reflect on your own values and identity, so that you can connect with your readers. I will push you to think more fully about the sources you draw on, so that your essays are complex and compelling. I have high expectations, but you will have a great deal of support. The assignments are divided into manageable pieces and you will receive a lot of feedback along the way. If you do all the work, you will get a good grade.

Sauer, Beverly - Risk Communication

The Shuttle Challenger and Columbia disasters, the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, the Woodley Park and Fort Totten Metro crashes, and the Surfside Condominium collapse demonstrate that communication plays an important role in risk management. Since the beginning of 2020, we ourselves have struggled to make sense of risk information about COVID as we consider whether to travel, see our families, party with friends, or mask (or not) in public spaces.

Risk demands action. But facts alone may not persuade stakeholders to act. What kinds of evidence can we draw upon to persuade people to act in what we perceive to be their best interests? Who can we trust? What does science tell us—or fail to tell us—about how to behave and act in the face of uncertain and contradictory data?

Writing assignments in this class are designed to help students construct persuasive fact-based ethical and logical risk communication messages for a particular audience. Although the disasters presented in the class are interesting from a technical point of view, we will focus our attention on communication strategies (visual, verbal, graphical, and written) that influenced the outcomes of the disaster. Students will summarize and critique previously published analyses of communication failures; construct a research-based assessment of risk of their choice; learn to construct a ‘mental model’ of what audiences know or believe (audience analysis) about a particular risk; explore the challenges of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary risk communication; and produce a short research paper in which they apply the skills they have learned to persuade, inform or move a specific audience to act to reduce risk.

Ultimately, students will develop critical thinking skills that enable them to identify and mitigate communication failures before, during, and after a crisis. 

No technical experience is required.

Smith, Caroline - Communicating Feminism

Most of us have probably seen the iconic image of Beyoncé in front of a giant screen on which the word FEMINIST is emblazoned. You may even be familiar with the feminist author Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s speech “We Should All Be Feminists,” which Beyoncé samples in her song “Flawless.” But, have you ever considered what Beyoncé means by feminism? Or how her feminism might be similar or different to Adichie’s? What does the term feminism actually signify?

In this course, we will study the history of the feminist movement and consider the various strategies that feminist writers use to educate and inspire their audience. Students will have an opportunity to explore a range of feminist issues from different disciplinary angles. We will also produce our own feminist writing in a variety of genres. Students will work in partnership with the Wiki Education foundation to create and revise content about feminists and feminist issues on Wikipedia in order to help close Wikipedia’s gender gap. Students will also research and write on the feminist topic of their choice for an independent research project. The skills we will work on in this introductory course will prepare students for other academic challenges throughout the remainder of their college career.

Smith, Nichole - I am #Kenough: Writing Gender and Sexuality in Popular Culture

The course offers students the ability to engage-and begin writing on-aspects of how popular culture represents issues and inequalities related to gender and inequality. With the backlash of the feminist movements in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, debates surrounding representation has now been tied to aspects of “wokeness” and political correctness. This class seeks to answer the preliminary questions: how does popular culture-such as films like Barbie, Legally Blonde, and other forms of media-represent gender and sexuality, and critically engage with unique social issues of the twenty-first century? And, more critically, what is representation’s importance?

This course serves as an early introduction into writing about gender and sexuality issues, but tied with how such issues and inequalities are represented in the aspects of the everyday; from the movies we see (Barbie, Promising Young Women, etc.), to the books we read (Grass, among others), and the social media that we are engaging with. We are also going to critically think about how far we’ve come and how far we still must go for equality and social change.

This course is designated to give you an introduction to university writing, including the preliminary aspects of crafting and implementing research tied to your burgeoning interests within this course. On top of the ability to write short, preliminary papers, you will be responsible for a final research paper due at the end of the semester. I will be here to guide you through the writing process and answer any questions you may have.

Svoboda, Michael - The Political Brain

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.

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.

Tomlinson, B. - Fake News and Ironic Views: Satire as Social Critique

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.

Wilkerson, Abby - Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability, Intersectionality, & Social Justice

From Disney villains, blind superheroes, and YA romances with cancer storylines, to sports injuries and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for disabled students, we see social dynamics of disability. According to the philosopher Susan Wendell, “the oppression of disabled people is the oppression of everyone’s real bodies” — and, we should add, our minds and emotions. If you care about social justice, this class will interest you, even if you have never thought much about disability before. What do disability perspectives reveal about what is considered normal and why “normalcy” seems to matter so much? What do they reveal about the effects of labeling and stigmatizing people’s identities? How does disability intersect with race, sexual identity, socioeconomic class, and gender?

And what do the words “out and proud” mean to you? For some disabled activists identifying as “crip,” these words convey resistance to demands for conformity. Some “crip” activists, writers, and artists are LGBTQAI+ activists identifying as “queer,” or inspired by queer activism and culture. Together we’ll explore how the language we use to talk about disability and the stories we tell might shift perspectives. For the major research project, students collaborate, interviewing people you know and composing narratives, then putting these stories in conversation with published scholarship in order to highlight, understand, and critique social dynamics of disability.

Wolfe, Zachary - Law as a Force for Social Change

This course uses the theme of law and its role in progressive social movements to introduce students to university-level research and writing. Understanding that law is an important means by which we structure social relations consistent with shared values, this course will examine historical and contemporary social movements that have used the language of rights and turned to legal systems for solutions. We will explore how advocates for social change — in the streets, in courtrooms, and in academic journals — have challenged and redefined foundational concepts, invoking history and law in order to challenge the status quo. Throughout all of this, we consider how to evaluate arguments, what makes for effective advocacy, and the ways in which thoughtful analysis contributes to our understanding of contentious social issues. Each student’s own research and reflection will form a major part of this course, particularly in the final weeks. This course culminates in a research paper on a subject for which advocates today employ law to advance their cause. Within those general parameters, the specific topic is selected by each student, so this course will reflect intense research on a variety of subjects. While finalizing the research paper, each student will contribute to the others’ understanding of their respective topics through participation in an in-class conference.

Upper-Level UW Courses:

Friedman, Sandie - UW 2111W Preparation for Peer Tutors in Writing / UW 2112 Pedagogy and Praxis for Writing Consultants

Both UW 2111W and UW 2112 are prerequisites for students applying to tutor in the Writing Center; UW2112 fulfills 4 credits towards the WID requirement.

UW 2111W offers an introduction to writing studies; UW 2112 includes a practicum in which students observe and practice tutoring.  

In UW 2111W and UW 2112, we will immerse ourselves in writing studies scholarship to gain a deeper understanding of how people write, how writing conventions vary across communities, and how writing and identity are intertwined. You'll practice three research methodologies common in writing studies: autoethnography, ethnography, and discourse analysis, as you observe and reflect on writing center culture and sessions. The paired-course is premised on the observations that as people draft and revise, they conjure themselves as writers, invoke their readers, and create their relationship within a text. Therefore, we will focus on the interpersonal skills that are central to teaching writing -- how to connect, listen deeply, and stay attentive to the full, complex humanity of writers (including yourselves).

McCaughey, Jessica - UW 2020W Foundations of Professional Writing in Communication Roles

Whether in government, non-profits, or corporate settings writing in communication roles requires the ability to juggle substantial content and rhetorical knowledge. This course aims to help students develop these skills and become more adept and flexible writers. As a class, we’ll consider writing as a set of crucial problem-solving approaches that will allow students to read, interrogate, analyze, and emulate a variety of common genres, such as media pitches, speeches, press releases, advocacy-related documents, social media, and other digital writing. We’ll also practice the skills to successfully approach and write in the unfamiliar genres that students will inevitably encounter in the future. Additionally, students will be given the opportunity to focus their individual inquiries on particular professional settings, as they consider the complexities of communicating in specific careers and industries. Throughout our writing endeavors, we will work together to understand and interrogate organizational discourse communities; consider, practice, and critically investigate what it means to conduct and communicate research in these roles; grapple with the concepts of agency, power, and ethics in communication writing; and write collaboratively. Finally, students will develop a professional portfolio to showcase finished work, and also, ideally, to serve as a site for future employers and others to access writing samples and learn more about the student/professional.

Wolfe, Zachary - UW 2031W Equality & the Law: Introduction to Legal Research and Writing

This course offers an introduction to how lawyers and legal scholars research and write about specific disputes that arise in the context of complex social issues. It is one of the required courses for the minor in law and society and satisfies a WID requirement.

Legal writing, like all forms of scholarly writing, is best understood in context and in practice. In this course, we have the opportunity to explore an ongoing challenge to our society in general and the legal system in particular: the promise of equality, and how government relates to it. We do so by examining judicial decisions, statutes, regulations, and law review articles concerning matters related to race, sexual orientation and gender, disability, and others issues that continue to advance major challenges to the system’s ability to realize legal and civil equality. That examination requires an understanding of legal audience expectations as well as the ability to use specialized research techniques and craft written analysis in particular forms, so students will learn about the nuances of argument in the interdisciplinary field of law and the unique requirements of legal research and writing.