Featured Courses

December 2016 Critical Writing Program

WRIT 030313 CRITICAL WRITING SEMINAR: BEYONCÉ

WALKER, R.
Two sections:
TR 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
TR 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Fulfills the Writing Requirement

Beloved of children, young adults, their parents, and even presidents, Beyoncé Knowles stands peerless in today’s saturated entertainment industry. To be unfamiliar with her is—as a scene in the recent Dr. Strange film makes delightfully literal—one has to have been a monk sequestered in a remote cave. Her appeal is so wide and so immediate that it resists analysis, to the point where simply asking why a person likes Beyoncé can seem impertinent. In this writing seminar, we’ll risk such impertinence in an attempt to come to terms with this icon of our age. Beyoncé is a living, breathing bundle of rhetoric, so she’ll require a multifaceted approach: we’ll listen to some of her music (both from her Destiny’s Child phase and her solo career), watch a few of her videos, and consider her editorial writing. In the process, we’ll consult the latest Bey-related scholarship to help us come to grips with her peculiar feminism, her unparalleled methods of self-styling, and her relationship to consumer culture—to name just a few of our concerns. Studying this maestro at pleasing will provide students with the perfect vehicle for cultivating their own skill in rhetoric, and the analysis that we’ll bring to this endeavor will do much to exercise their faculties of logic and reasoning. Through writing about Queen Bee, students will gain the equipment necessary to write for college and beyond.

WRIT030310 CRITICAL WRITING SEMINAR: GLOBAL POLITICS OF HUNGER

BURRI, M.
TR 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Fulfills the Writing Requirement

In 2000, world leaders and experts declared the eradication of hunger to be an urgent and attainable goal. Since then, the rise in commodity food prices has been linked to both a widening global gap between the rich and the poor, and to political unrest from the Arab Spring to Latin America. With the right-wing focused on private sector solutions and the left-wing dedicated to the use of public money, new forms of technocratic philanthropy have promised a humanitarian relief model capable of transcending traditional political categories. Speaking to G20 leaders in 2011, Bill Gates argued that “people who are pessimistic about the future tend to extrapolate from the present in a straight line.” The Gates Foundation would break that straight line. Yet, can a philanthrocapitalism that David Rieff recently described as “irreducibly undemocratic” live up to its big promises? This seminar examines controversies of global food security and the troubled new solutions for extra food production.

WRIT026304 WRITING SEMINAR IN CLASSICAL STUDIES: MONSTERS & DEMONS

FEELEY, J.
TR 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Fulfills the Writing Requirement

Monsters are everywhere: they appear in novels, museums, movies, newspapers, the Bible, comic books, video games, our daily speech, and even on public buildings. What are monsters and why do we fear them? Why has the human imagination, from ancient times until the present, conjured up fantastical beasts or machines that terrify us? And why do they fascinate us despite their fearsome qualities? In this course, we will explore these questions by looking at representations of monsters from ancient to contemporary times. We will consider beasts, witches, demons, and giants. And we will look at depictions of monsters in myths, science, artwork, movies, religious texts, and the media. To facilitate our examination of monsters and humans’ fear and fascination of them, we will make use of Stephen Asma’s recent book, On Monsters: An Unnatural History of our Worst Fears.

WRIT 027301 WRITING SEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE: ALIENS, HUMANS & HYBRIDS

HOWARD, A.
TR 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Fulfills the Writing Requirement

The discovery of extraterrestrial life has long been a staple of science fiction films. From the loveable Ewoks of Star Wars to the tentacled creatures seeking to exterminate the human race in Independence Day, aliens assume a range of forms, reflecting our hopes, fears, and prejudices. This course will examine how science fiction films use aliens to question our assumptions about what it means to be human, with a particular emphasis on the role of gender. Through close study of the Alien film franchise, we will consider such questions as: how does the evolution of the films’ protagonist, Lt. Ellen Ripley, reflect evolving definitions of gender and identity? How do we map our ideas about gender onto alien beings? How do these films disrupt the typical boundary between human and alien? And how does science fiction as a genre grapple with female heroes?

WRIT 039305 WRITING SEMINAR IN ENGLISH: WRITING LIKE A SCIENTIST

TARANSKY, M.
TR 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Fulfills the Writing Requirement

After the atomic bomb drop in 1945, scientists experienced a cultural dominance as their work was featured on the radio and in newspapers. The popularity of "Scientific American" magazine made many poets wonder if there remained a need and place for poetry in this scientific America. Once Americans saw that science could tell us what the world was made of as well as how life worked, what would poetry do? In this course we will think about the place of poetry in a scientific America. We will look at how poets, since the drop of the Atom Bomb, use scientific methods in their work. We will encounter poets that challenge our understanding of what science can do and scientists that expand how we can read poetry. What does it mean for a poem to transmit the unknown? Why would a poem reach towards potential instead of reflecting the actual? We will ask how poetry and the sciences can define and redefine our sense of self, how poetry can perform valuable research, and how these disciplines and their practitioners have been and continue to be in dialogue.

WRIT 076301 WRITING SEMINAR IN POLITICAL SCIENCE: COMEDY IN DARK TIMES

BERKMAN, M.
MW 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Fulfills the Writing Requirement

What role do jokes play in a 21st century empire facing down the effects of global techno-war, economic decline, and catastrophic climate change? In this course we explore the role of the politically-engaged comedian and the changing face of American humor since 9/11. Drawing on Paul Lewis's Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict, we seek to understand how professional comedy both critiques and enables some of our worst impulses.

WRIT 088305 WRITING SEMINAR IN SOCIOLOGY: CHILDHOOD STUDIES

WU, T.
TR 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Fulfills the Writing Requirement


Focusing on Madeleine Leonard's brief book, "The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation," this course will explore the interdisciplinary field of childhood studies, offering a range of research and writing opportunities for students, including the social, cultural, economic, and political contexts and definitions of childhood.