UW1020 Courses

Spring 2017

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

(De)Constructing the Non-Human

Bieda, Casey
CRN 52313 | Section M47 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
CRN 52314 | Section M38 | TR 4:10 PM  - 5:25 PM F  4:10 PM - 5:00 PM

With the vast proliferation and popularity of science fiction in video games, comic books, and popular literature at large, the actor of the “non-human” (or “other”) has cycled through a vast number of representations. These representations have long been the subjects of theological, political,  philosophical, sociological, and scientific debate. These debates have raised larger issues of “humanity”, creationist responsibility, animate/inanimate “life”, “animacy” hierarchy, anthropomorphism, and technological supremacy.  What is “human”? In this age of technology and exploration, how do we define ideas of “human”, “post-human”, and “non-human”? What happens when those definitions touch, blend, or oppose one another? What narratives do they create? Who gets to tell those narratives, and why are those narratives important in how we engage with our contemporary culture?

In this course, we will investigate points in literature, film, graphic narratives, and other media forms where the familiar and unfamiliar touch and analyze how humans both react and interact with these non-human entities. Through these points of contact we will grapple with larger discussions of scientific advancement, animal rights, and how the world expands (or contracts) when we consider life beyond the purely “human”. We will investigate, challenge, and report on several sources of interest ranging from Medieval poetry, to 1950’s science fiction, to contemporary podcasts and graphic narratives  through several concentrated writing assignments and classroom discussion. We will also write a final intensive research paper focused on one subject from/or based on our classroom material.

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Women & Knowledge in the Work of Jane Austen

Donovan, Julie
CRN 52572 | Section M59 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 51528 | Section M69 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
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 51619 | Section M40 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites  
CRN 51816 | Section M25 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites

NOTE: This course is a hybrid; in addition to classroom instruction, students are required to participate in course activities for 50 minutes every week in lieu of a Friday class meeting.

"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 51522 | Section M1 | TR 10:00 AM  - 11:15 AM + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 51535 | Section M15 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites

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 51713 | 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 Ta-Nehisi Coates, 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 an expert on how writing works in this community.  What are the shared goals, and how do members use writing to meet those goals?  What genres do experienced writers use, and why?  How do novice members learn to write in these genres?  In the final project, students look back on the work they have done and the concepts they’ve acquired over the course of the term; from this material, each student develops her own theory of writing.

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

Goward, Shonda
CRN 51536 | Section M19 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM

NOTE: This course is a 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 56148 | Section M65 | TR 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
NOTE: This course is a 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.

WTF?! Profanity and Its Contexts

Hayes, Carol
CRN 51633 | 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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Magazine Journalism

Hindin, Zachary
CRN 51720 | Section M4 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites

Over a century ago, McClure's Magazine was the Gawker of its day, digging up and publishing scandalous information about America's famous and powerful. When it folded in 1911, readers raised the same questions that came up last August, when a court order effectively shut down Gawker Media. Where is the line between free speech and libel? What is the relationship between truth and power? Whose voices get to be heard, and who gets to decide? What does our media say about us?
These questions will be with us during the first part of our class, as we survey magazines and their descendants (including podcasts, blogs, and certain TV shows). As we’ll see, most magazines die out sooner than later, and yet they keep being born. In print, on-air, and across the internet, magazines, in their infinite variety, put the soul of a culture into language. They're gossipy, intellectual, artistic, pornographic. They're used as propaganda, status symbols, and lining for bird cages. However they look, magazines help a culture make sense of itself, bringing people together even as dwindling attention spans threaten to drive them apart.
In the course of our survey, we'll keep a lookout for writerly moves you will put to use in the second part of this class, when you start your own magazine. As both a writer and editor-in-chief, you'll learn to pitch, report, and edit two different kinds of writing: cultural criticism and narrative journalism.
In the first paper, you'll write about a film, album, or show of your choosing. In the second, you'll use somebody's story (maybe even your own) to advance an argument about a public issue--say, gentrification, the minimum wage, climate change, etc. In both papers, you'll engage scholarly sources to identify the different points of view and kinds of information at play. Instead of worrying about innate talent, we'll approach research, writing, and revision as skills that can be practiced and developed in your intellectual life at this university and beyond. 

Shifting Debates of Global Change

Jacoby, Lindsay
CRN 51618 | 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 51719 | Section M7 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
CRN 52786 | Section M61 | MW 10:000 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

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 changes in environmental attitudes that our present circumstances 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, and Rachel Carson, 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, music, and photography – 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 them make a strong case about their own original ideas.

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

Koenig, Susan
CRN 51530 | Section M10 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
CRN 56146 | Section M35 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM

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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Sympathy and Empathy: Mediating the Self and the Other

Kirch, Lisa
CRN 52300 | Section M46 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
CRN 51525 | Section M68 | MW 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  F 4:10 PM- 5:00 PM
This seminar will help you strengthen your writing skills through exploring questions about the self and the other through the lenses of sympathy and empathy.  The definition of sympathy has changed throughout time, but the idea that sympathy describes an affinity between two separate entities remains pervasive.  In contemporary British and American society, this affinity is usually interpreted as a force for good that provides comfort to the suffering and wards against the sympathizer’s selfishness.  The concept of empathy picks up where sympathy leaves off, suggesting that we can move beyond ourselves and feel the emotions of the other. The sympathizer is generally praised for focusing on the feelings of the sufferer rather than her own.  And when we think of an empathetic person, we think of someone who can relate to another and offer her comfort. But what might we discover by exploring the darker sides of sympathy and empathy—their capacity to create imbalances of power between the one who feels and the one who suffers?  And what of their ability to foster affinities between some people at the expense of others? 
In this course, we will grapple with these concepts and their history, exploring depictions of sympathy and empathy in British and American short stories, novels, poetry, newspaper articles, and other texts from the eighteenth century to the present. We will analyze how sympathy between readers and literary characters helps shape readers’ identities, and consider how poetic form teaches us about the self’s encounter with the other. We will also interrogate the roles of sympathy and empathy within representations of refugees and immigrants in fiction and non-fiction, and analyze the media’s depictions of people experiencing homelessness in our own city: Washington, DC.  Through a wide range of texts, we will consider if sympathy and empathy might be positive and negative, peace enacting and conflict inciting, and both at the same time.  Assignments will include several short textual analyses, online discussion posts, three papers, and a class presentation.

Media Fandom: Geeks, Fanboys, and Stalker Chicks.

Larsen, Katherine
CRN 51524 | Section M3 | TR 8:30 AM - 9:45 AM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 51533 | Section M13 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 52301 | Section M48 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites 
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction. Larsen, Katherine

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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Composition Through Creative Nonfiction

Magellan, Peter
CRN 58453 | Section M75 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 58454 | Section M76 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites

"Here was a man inspecting his mind as a means of inspecting the human mind."

-John Jeremiah Sullivan

Creative nonfiction, and in particular the personal essay, has given writers a special form, a space where they can merge experience with research, in order to ask complex questions about the world we live in. It is a genre that encourages writers to look at life closely and make arguments about themselves and by extension, humanity as a whole. This class will study the personal essay as a form, letting students explore narrative and argument, pulling from experiences in their lives and putting them under the microscope, using this specificity to unlock universal ideas. It will focus on observation, critical thinking, and reflection, the most important tools in an essayist’s toolbox.

We will read essays by Annie Dillard, Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and others and discuss the ways that these essayists pair their own experience with research in order to address interesting (and sometimes difficult) topics. Graded work will be comprised of weekly pastiches and prompts, which will get students to look analytically at moments in their lives, and use certain experiences as entry points into examining larger questions about the world. There will be two major essay assignments, one a personal essay that requires students to balance narrative and reflection, the other an argumentative piece that relies on research to explore a question, or problem, that they think needs to be answered. 

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

Mantler, Gordon
CRN 53931 | Section M14 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM 
CRN 53929 | Section M36 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
CRN 53930 | Section M20 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM

The National Museum of African American History and Culture just opened on the Mall – the culmination of more than one hundred years of advocacy for such an institution. But while the museum has enjoyed tremendous attention in its opening months, 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. Visitors of such spaces generally consider them reliable vehicles for telling that history. But 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 race – including their physical locations, their visual symbolism, and written interpretations. 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 51538 | Section M22 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites 
CRN 51715 | Section M44 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 52308 | Section M55 | MW 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
NOTE: This course is a 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 52028 | Section M71 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM 
CRN 51615 | Section M31 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
NOTE: This course is a 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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Imagining the Future: Genetics in Popular Culture

McReynolds, Leigha
CRN 51526 | Section M5 | MW 8:30 AM - 9:45 AM  F 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM
CRN 52787 | Section M34 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

From the mainstream news media to Hollywood, our obsession with genetics suggests that some of our strongest fears surround the human ability to manipulate DNA. Our cultural preoccupation with this issue is rooted in the birth of eugenics at the end of the nineteenth century. Since then, scientific progress has led us to contemplate the potentially threatening consequences of technologies from cloning to gene therapy. Imagining dystopic futures where genes determine one’s destiny or where expensive procedures create a genetic underclass is far more common than depictions of progressive futures where a democratic society is enhanced by access to lifesaving therapies. In this class we will explore where these fears come from; what, exactly, we are so afraid of; and how our fears about and the promises of genetic research and technology are represented and manipulated.

We will begin the class by performing cultural analyses of popular culture artifacts that center around or draw on genetic science. We will consider the purpose of these artifacts — why do they use genetics and what message are they presenting to the audience? — as well as the developments in science and technology that have enabled these representations. Then through a conceptual archaeology and a synthesis paper, you will research in-depth an aspect of genetics that is of particular interest to you; you will trace its development through history and science as well as various popular media such as comics or cinema. We will end the semester with a research paper in which you present an original contribution on the ways that culture is shaped by and in turn shapes advances in genetics.

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Music as a Reaction to Societal Ills and as a Source of Community

Miller, Bruce
CRN 51718 | Section M17 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
CRN 58452 | Section M74 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM

From homemade banjo-like stringed instruments employed by rural Malawians, Florida musician Moses Williams fashioning a one-stringed instrument out of a door, to Nigerian Afro beat pioneer Fela Kuti’s slogan that “music is a weapon”, various types of sound art have been used to stare down poverty, radicalize groups of people into a movement for social justice, or simply allow us all to recognize something about where we come from and what we have in common. In this course, we will survey readings, performance, video, documentary, and no doubt some deep listening in order to craft our own writing, and perhaps opinion, on the subject. Along the way, we’ll take on everything from urban free jazz, rural folk and the complexities inherent in semi-known folk-pop hybrids from Mauritania to Thailand.

Students will craft papers that trace anything from origins of a particular musical form and how it was shaped by environment, to musical statements both cultural and political, to various folk traditions, and how they are either preserved or threatened. Topics may deal with movements such as Rock Against Racism, and Riot Grrrl; we will check in with the West Blue Nile People of Sudan and note their ability to harness song and dance in order to fight back against a government that bombs its own people. There will also be a chance to write short reviews or other commentary on the importance of an artist or style.

Texts may include:

  • Alan Lomax’s The Land Where the Blues Began (video)
  • Michael Azerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life
  • Francis Bebey’s African Music: A People’s Art
  • Photo collections of early phonograph memorabilia from around the globe
  • Reebee Garofalo’s Rockin’ The Boat: Mass Music and Mass Movements
  • Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony

…and of course, select recordings to enhance what we discuss and write about.  

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Choose Wisely

Mullen, Mark
CRN 51616 | Section M33 | MW 8:30 AM - 9:45 AM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 51539 | Section M24 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 51531 | Section M11 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction.

Renowned videogame designer Sid Meier 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 one relatively simple, but each carrying with it some inevitable trade-offs. It is this issue of choices where the apparently disparate worlds of videogames and writing intersect. Like learning to play videogames well, becoming adept at writing and research involves becoming comfortable with recognizing important decision points, choosing wisely ... and being prepared to live with the consequences of those decisions!
In this course we will be using the conventions of videogames to explore the world of writing, and the conventions of writing to explore the world of videogames with a special emphasis on the most overtly choice-based game genre of them all: the classic text-based adventure game. This course theme provides excellent material for both investigating the way current writing and communication practices are changing, and honing the skills necessary to write for diverse audiences across a variety of contexts: academic, professional, and popular. The class will culminate with you researching and creating your own text-based adventure game.
Note: Chances are that you are actually a videogame player even if you don't think of yourself as one (ever played Temple Run? Gandy Crush? Plants vs. Zombies? Solitaire?). But even if you have never played any videogames whatsoever you will not find yourself at a disadvantage. In fact, you may even have the edge over those who think they already know everything their is to know about videogames.

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Fashion Emergency!: Clothing and Global Capitalism

Myers, Danika
CRN 53535 | Section M37 | TR 8:30 AM - 9:45 AM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 51529 | Section M30 | TR 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 51613 | Section M26 |TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
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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Dutch Painting at the National Gallery of Art

Pollack, Rachel
CRN 51527 | Section M6 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
CRN 51623 | Section M66 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM 
NOTE: Friday classes meet at the National Gallery of Art. See department for details.

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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Writing Lives: Composing Consciousness and Service Learning

Presser, Pamela
CRN 52302 | Section M49 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM  
CRN 51617 | Section M45 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
CRN 52310 | Section M57 | TR 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM F 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction. This is a service learning course, for more information see http://serve.gwu.edu/information-students.

CRN 52307 | Section M54 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
NOTE: This course is a hybrid; classroom and online instruction. This course intended for WLP students only. Departmental approval required to register.

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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Philosophy of New Media

Renault-Steele, Summer

CRN 51815 | Section M27 | MW 8:30 AM - 9:45 AM  F 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM
CRN 52298 | Section M16 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM


 “New media” can be described as the family of ever-evolving technologies that enable—among other things—the mass production, distribution and reception of images around the globe. This course traces aesthetic considerations of such technology, from its historical antecedents in photography and film through to its contemporary, digital and internet-based manifestations. Some of the abiding questions we will concern ourselves with are: is human perception bound up with its medium? How do different media forms impact upon, or even modify, human sensory experience? What new perspectives can issue from new media and conversely, what perspectives are (or have been) lost? Finally, what can the status of “art” be, in an age of new media? Through in-class experimentation with digital media, reflective writing exercises and essay composition, students will learn to develop clear, convincing articulations of their own insights into the texts and technologies at hand.

Writing Global Women's Lives 

Riedner, Rachel
CRN 51523 | Section M2 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM

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: Critical Writing About Music

Riley, Matthew
CRN 52026 | Section M23 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
CRN 52311 | Section M64 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
CRN 52312 | Section M72 | TR 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 52299 | Section M32 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

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 52303 | Section M50 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites
CRN 52367 | Section M73 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  + 50 mins/week unscheduled activites 
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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Feminist Filmakers? Writing about Women and the Movies

Smith, Caroline
CRN 53534 | Section M62 | TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM 
CRN 51532 | Section M12 | TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
CRN 51714 | Section M43 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
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 51716 | Section M39 | TR 8:30 AM - 9:45 AM  F 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM
CRN 56147 | Section M60 | 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”?

Further, this topic and course are designed to develop students’ writing skills. Students will practice critical analysis by engaging with comic performances and writing, criticism, and feminist theory. Much like comedians, who strive not only to evoke laughter, but to challenge audiences to arrive at new ideas, students will grapple with provocative material that will inspire new ways of thinking. Students will undertake their own research projects in order to become engaged in the ongoing dialogue surrounding comedy and feminism.  All students will complete two original, argumentative research essays that undergo extensive revision to achieve successful final projects. By studying and emulating the dedication these funny women have to their craft, students will hone their skills as critical thinkers, researchers, and writers.

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The Political Brain

Svoboda, Michael
CRN 52306 | Section M53 | TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM
CRN 52309 | 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, B.
CRN 52573 | 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 History

Troutman, Phillip
CRN 51614 | Section M29 | MW 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM  F 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
CRN 51537 | Section M21 | MW 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM  F 11:30 AM - 12:20 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 digital archives, engaging in ongoing debates about the roles images have played in 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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Students' History of GWU & MVC

Troutman, Phillip
CRN 51621 | Section M63 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM 

Did you know that in 1970 Thurston Hall was called “the Holiday Inn of the Revolution” as students invited anti-war protesters nationwide to camp in the dorm? Or that The Hatchet’s editors were sacked in a 1938 showdown over academic freedom? Or that students at the all-women’s Mount Vernon College played baseball, basketball, and tennis, and attended Women’s Suffrage demonstrations? GW’s Archives has the full run of The Hatchet (1904-), all GW and MV yearbooks, student literary journals, and a scandalous Prohibition-flaunting student magazine, The Ghost. Plus records of student organizations like the Columbian Women (1894-), Progressive Student Union (1966-), and GW Pride (1971-). Plus scrapbooks, photographs, and other materials donated by alumni over the years. In this course, you’ll generate new knowledge—discovering and interpreting GW/MV students’ history—campus life, student organizations, social movements, sports—both for a scholarly audience and, in a web-based exhibit, for a public audience of GW students and alumni.

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Latin@ Identities & Stereotypes in the United States

Yunis, Bernardita
CRN 51620 | Section M41 | MW 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM  F 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
CRN 52571 | Section M58 | MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM  F 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM

From Lucy and Ricky Ricardo to the Sofia Vergaras, Gina Rodriguezes, and Salma Hayeks of today, Latin@s in the United States have regularly been the objects of exaggerated representations, commercializing Latin@ culture and history for popular consumption. A focus on Latin@ identities and stereotypes in the United States will provide an opportunity for practice in the processes and techniques of academic writing 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 Latin@ identities presented by the media and the society at large. 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 Latin@ 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 that 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 in their everyday lives.

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