Course Descriptions for WRI 101 & WRI 102
WRI 101: First Year Writing
Offered Every Semester
Prerequisite : Placement
First Year Writing offers writing support for FSP First Seminar and WRI 102 Academic Writing. A zero-credit, ungraded, repeatable studio course, First Year Writing must be taken concurrently with FSP or with WRI 102. May be repeated.
WRI 102: Academic Writing
1 Course Unit
Academic Writing offers students the opportunity to develop, advance, and practice skills in the production of academic prose. Within a framework of sophisticated readings, highly coordinated writing workshops, and instructor feedback, students practice the modes of writing necessary to succeed in college. Students read critically, cultivate habits of effective and ethical research, practice conventions of documentation, and use information technologies. Topical readings may vary among sections.
Celebrity & Society
WRI 102-01, MR 8:30-9:50am
WRI 102-02, MR 10:00-11:20am
WRI 102-03, MR 12:30-1:50pm
In 1966 John Lennon said of the Beatles “We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first” rock n’ roll or Christianity.” Pop culture and celebrity interest has increasingly become an obsession in America. From clothing choices to political opinions, celebrities help shape how people view themselves and the world around them. But in a secular society, just how much of a cultural effect do celebrities have? In this course we will use scholarly articles magazine and newspaper articles, as well as visual media, to look at the American obsession with celebrities and critically assess how our starry-eyed obsession affects society.
WRI 102-04, MR 10:00-11:20am
Taking and sharing photographs is easier than ever with digital cameras and smartphones. No longer only reserved for special occasions, we now take pictures of everything and often do so without thinking before we shoot, and even without experiencing the moment first. This course will explore culture’s evolving and deepening relationship with photography, including tackling questions like: What is photography good for? How might photography aid and hinder experience? Is photography art? Does making technology more accessible cheapen its function? Why are images the main engine behind the social media revolution? Does photography reinforce stereotypes or challenge them? And, of course, is a picture really worth 1,000 words?
Food, Glorious Food
WRI 102-05, MR 10:00-11:20am
WRI 102-06, MR 12:30-1:50pm
Affordable, plentiful food is now more readily produced and available than it ever has been-formerly, tending and procuring enough food for one’s family took up huge portions of a person’s life and resources. Students will write argumentative papers that examine the current cheap abundance of food and its costs to society and individualism terms of health, pollution, and social abuses.
Wanderlust:Exploring Issues in Travel
WRI 102-07, MR 12:30-1:50pm
WRI 102-08, MR 10:00-11:20am
Why do we travel? What motivates us to seek cultures and experiences beyond what we know? Students in this class will read articles and essays and also analyze advertising in order to debate not only the motivating factors for travel, but also travel’s social, political, and economic impact. Paper topics will focus on current debates in travel including authentic travel, study abroad, voluntourism, and slum tourism.
Body Image and Visual Media
WRI 102-09, MR 8:30-9:50am
WRI 102-10, MR 10:00-11:20am
How do media images (from advertisements, magazines, television, film, etc.) featuring often-idealized human bodies shape our perceptions of our own bodies? Our perceptions of what is “ideal,” “normal,” “feminine,” and “masculine”? What kinds of effects do such images have on us? By examining essays concerned with the visual representation of bodies in American culture as well as by analyzing actual media images, students will develop arguments about the complicated relationship between media images and our collective and individual ideas about our gender and sexual identities.
Youth, Gender & Sexuality
WRI 102-11, TF 2:00-3:20pm
WRI 102-12, TF 12:30-1:50pm
What does it mean to be a young woman or man in contemporary America? In this section we will consider the causes and effects of gender and socialization. In other words, are males and females different as a result of biology, or because of a myriad of social factors? What are the implications of these very different realities and expectations for the sexes? We will discuss, read, and write about topics such as masculinities, violence, the prom, “hooking up,” and much more, with the goal of critically analyzing their impacts on both an individual and societal level.
Mixed Messages About Gender in Popular Culture
WRI 102-13, TF 12:30-1:50pm
WRI 102-14, TF 2:00-3:20pm
What are the mixed messages about masculinity and femininity embedded in American popular culture, and how do these messages place undue pressure on men and women to conform to impossible standards? In this course we will investigate the contradictions that exist in widespread cultural messages about gender, specifically as they relate to sexuality, family, work, and power. Through engagement with a variety of visual and written texts, including documentaries, advertisements, television programs, and scholarly works, we will analyze the ways in which cultural definitions of gender are transmitted and diagnose the consequences of gender ideals on our jobs, our families, and ourselves.
WRI 102-15, TF 10:00-11:20am
There’s no doubt about it – we’re addicted to technology. From the Blackberries, iPhones and other tools that we carry like an extra appendage, to the social networking sites that keep us connected, we’re hooked. But do the very devices that enable us to access a virtual world in our pockets actually do more harm than good? How much is technology shaping what it means to be human? In this course we will examine the possibilities and the problems that digital technology poses.
The Argument of Film
WRI 102-16, TF 10:00-11:20am
In analyzing films, we will explore how screenplay, camera angle, editing, acting, and direction help form story and particularly our response to it. How we engage with a film shows us the impact of the argument the filmmaker is making. That argument might be about how we see each other, how film provides an escape, how it engages us, or the impact of oppression and the possibility of change. Why is a film compelling? How can an audience’s response to a film make a difference in the world? Focusing on the implicit visual arguments that films make will allow us to create our own explicit written arguments about these films.
Family Matters: Legal Issues in the Modern Family
WRI 102-17, TR 7:00-8:20pm
It is said that the American family is the most basic building block of this nation. If this is so, the laws that define and surround family life become very important. These family laws spark controversial questions that hit home for each of us. How do we define a family? How do our family values get translated into laws? Who should decide?
Are Big-Time College Sports Too Big?
WRI 102-18, MR 8:30-9:50am
The transition of intercollegiate athletics from extracurricular activity to multibillion-dollar business has created challenges and problems for many years, leading some people to question whether big-time college sports have become too big to control. In this course students will examine some of the issues created by the increasing commercialization of college sports, particularly Division I football and men’s basketball. Students will read a variety of articles and essays that address these problems, examine the ideas presented and the rhetorical strategies employed in these works, and write argumentative papers defending their own position on the issues.
Race: Not Just a Physical Condition
WRI 102-19, TR 5:30-6:50pm
WRI 102-20, TR 7:00-8:20pm
In this course race will be approached by means of various lenses. Through the utilization of narrative and the historical divide, race was and is categorized based on different criteria. In an effort to analyze race critically, yet not rigidly, one must look toward this multiplicity of defining factors and not just skin color as a means of classifying such a complex and broad topic. Race will be explored not just as a physical condition, but as a term that conveys the exactitude of a historically changing political construction according to time period, area of origination, and political and religious beliefs. Students will engage in reading novels and scholarly essays. Students will respond by redirecting the a priori conception of race and crafting critical essays of their own.
The Rhetoric and Representation of American Law
WRI 102-21, MW 5:30-6:50pm
WRI 102-22, MW 7:00-8:20pm
This course explores the rhetoric used in the American legal system and investigates how the system has been represented in the media and popular culture. We will analyze the rhetoric used in texts like legal arguments, legal journalism, fictional television programs, film, and political commentaries and will cover a variety of questions, including what types of legal argument are most persuasive and/or accurate given the context in which one makes them? How does media bias affect journalists’ presentation of emerging and continuing legal news stories? How do representations of lawyers, law firms, and the criminal justice system in popular, fictional television programs inform and/or skew our understanding of the American justice system and the role of legal professionals in it? How does film or political commentary present an argument about the American legal system and governmental policy? The goal of this section is to help students, through an inquiry about the American legal system and popular representations of it, to develop and sharpen their analytical thinking, reading, and writing skills essential for college work.
The Postmodern Superhero
WRI 102-23, TR 5:30-6:50pm
WRI 102-24, TR 7:00-8:20pm
What do Gilgamesh, Achilles, Heracles, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Kickass have in common? They are all super-heroic representations of the hopes, fears, and aspirations of their cultures. We will explore our favorite superheroes and the concept of a superhero through a semiotic lens. Assignments and readings will focus on cultural identity, as well as issues of gender, race, and class. Aside from superheroes with household names, we will take a look at America’s new breed of superheroes who struggle with personal identity, trauma, and terrorism in a post 9/11 world. Do we still need our super-heroic icons? How have they changed to fit the needs of a 21st century world? We will use academic journals, newspaper articles, graphic novels, comic books, and visual texts (films, advertisements, commercials, sitcoms, and documentaries) to investigate America’s new-found love of comics culture and why superheroes have decided to go mainstream.
Living in the Information Age
WRI 102-25, TR 5:30-6:50pm
WRI 102-26, TR 7:00-8:20pm
Models of everything from self-promotion to efforts to address issues of social and global injustices now rely on the Internet, generally, and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, specifically, to disseminate information to all individuals. While this model has undoubtedly yielded some positive results, it has also created a culture of hyperaware individuals, who must now continuously sift through an unending stream of information—about friends, family, work, themselves, their culture, and their world—all vying for their attention. What does it mean to live in an age of hyperawareness? And how does our hyperactive virtual life affect our ability to be still, to focus, and to think and consider deeply in our physical lives? By examining a number of texts, including Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, and excerpts from Sherry Turkle, James Gleick, and various news articles, we will consider the changes, both social and physiological, brought about by our information age.
How Should We Elect Our President?
WRI 102-27, MW 7:00-8:20pm
The question of how we should elect our president has been contentious since our formation. By all accounts it was one of the most hotly debated topics during the Constitutional Convention. And a quick internet search provides clear evidence that the debate rages on today. Proponents of maintaining the status quo, of an indirect election, argue that the current method has stood the test of time. Those wishing to move to a direct method of electing our president argue that the reasons the founding fathers had for settling on an indirect method of election no longer exist due to advances made in our country over the past 200 years. What do you think? Does the emphasis on “swing states or battleground states” suit you or bother you? The objective of this course is to enable you to sharpen your persuasive writing skills by making written arguments in support of your point of view on the question of how we should elect our president. We will read and analyze both historical and modern day speeches and articles to critique arguments made in favor of and against the Electoral College system. You will practice using various methods of advancing your point of view such as how to appeal to reason or how to appeal to emotion. And, you will practice analyzing your desired result for a particular writing to know which method of appeal would be more persuasive for a given situation and based on your intended reader.
The Meaning of Work
WRI 102-28, TF 12:30-1:50pm
WRI 102-31, TF 2-3:20pm
If we are lucky, we choose the kind of life’s work we will do – but sometimes, our work chooses us. This course will explore how the culture of the workplace reflects our personality and innate aptitudes, and, in turn, shapes our identity. How does a personal code of ethics develop out of the kind of work we do? What are the advantages and limitations of collaborative work? What trends in our contemporary workplace reflect the influence of globalization and other cultural shifts? As the effects of unemployment continue to affect many Americans, we will consider how the absence of work affects both the individual and the society at large. Paper and discussion topics will focus on current debates on these questions from the realms of academia, business, technology, medicine, and the arts
Reading the New York Times
WRI 102-29, MW 5:30-6:50pm
This section of Academic Writing is for students who like to read and who want to develop the habit of reading a newspaper to stay informed about our contemporary world. We will focus on the paper’s news analysis, editorials, opinion pieces, and investigative journalism in order to see argumentation in action. The class will blog regularly on student-selected articles to understand and evaluate the persuasive strategies being used. What makes an argument most effective and how can we learn from those who do it on a regular basis? How are the arguments in public media different from arguments in an academic setting? By comparing how a topic is treated differently in the scholarship of your intended major, you will also gain critical awareness of the qualities most valued in college writing and be more prepared for papers in your future courses.
The Green Economy
WRI 102-30, TF 8:30-9:50am
What happens when the concept of sustainability becomes “big business”? As Americans we understand that what we buy gives us power and a sense of identity; yet, this social pressure to consume is increasingly in competition with environmental concerns and the need for sustainability. In this course, we will look at these competing forces and their effects in both the public and personal spheres.