Environmental Design Building
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3020 - Topics in Writing Course Descriptions

The following list is alphabetical, by course title. The course offerings below are for the Fall 2015 semester. Check the current Course Schedule.

Coming soon.
The road is where both opportunities arise and dreams die. The road is peopled with a variety of characters—the outcast, the runaway, the opportunist, the felon, the lost soul, the intellect, the sopping wet and hopeless, the observer, the elitist, and the phony, just to name a few. While there are similarities between all these people, the road offers something different to each. In this class we will investigate the myriad reasons why we take to the road and attempt interpretations of what happens when we get there (wherever or whatever “there” is). Questions such as: In what ways might these forces, these exploratory impulses, be distinctly American, and in which ways are they more central to the essence of the human character? What is the role of the road in literature/media/art, and how does this role help shape public consciousness concerning the road? What do we seek to learn through travel? Can travel teach us anything about the value of slowing down or speeding up? Can it give us any insight into the human character that lies beneath cultural trappings? Once we’ve heard from others, we will then attempt to enter the conversation ourselves through an extended piece of literary journalism in an attempt to show through personal experience and contemplation some of the ideas, questions and concepts explored in the course.
We will use current issues in biomedical ethics to study the basic elements of an argument. We will write three papers, the first of which will be patterned after the MCAT writing test. This assignment is designed to introduce students to the basic elements of awritten analysis. (The assignment might also offer valuable test-taking preparation to students planning to take the MCAT.) In the second paper, students will respond to a fictional case study or public policy scenario in light of some of the common ethical precepts that inform biomedical debate. This assignment is designed to help students develop a sense of audience and to teach them how to summarize and refute counterarguments. In the last paper, students will perform one of the following tasks: they will refute a brief essay on a current issue in biomedical ethics, or they will analyze an existing policy or professional code to show that it is unlikely to achieve its stated ends. This is not a survey course in biomedical ethics; instead, we will use issues in biomedical ethics as a framework for developing the students' skills as writers and analytical thinkers.
The law pervades American society: from the O.J. Simpson trial to Judge Judy, from contracts to traffic tickets. Through our writings, we will discuss the law as its own creation and as a civilizing force. Topics for exploration may include the unique language of the law, how the law is viewed by those inside and outside of the profession, the development of common law versus statutory law, alternatives to "the law," and the law in other societies.
Cross-Cultural Writing for International Students is a section of WRTG 3020, 3030, and 3040 that is intended for non-native speakers of English who wish to enroll in an upper-division writing course. The course is taught as a rigorous writing workshop using advanced readings and materials, emphasizing critical thinking, analysis, and argumentative writing. Course readings focus on cross-cultural communication in the arts, business, and scientific fields. Assignments will be tailored to meet the needs and interests of individual students.
Through the centuries writers as diverse as Jonathan Swift, Plato, Stanley Milgram, E.D. Hirsch, Ivan Illich, and Noam Chomsky have concerned themselves with questions about authority-systems, education, and the ongoing efforts of human beings to develop and maintain modes of social living that enhance people’s lives. In this course, you will engage a series of challenging texts by these and other writers as you consider the conundrums that arise in these areas. You will begin by writing refutations and short critiques of others’ arguments; by the end of the term, you will write your own arguments as you contribute to ongoing discussions of these important matters. You will also write a researched analysis of a controversy involving questions about education and authority. The course will emphasize critical reading, clear thinking, and the relationship between sentence-structure and precise, nuanced communication. It will also demand a creative approach to policy-making and will provide you with tools relevant to academic writing and civic engagement.
Environmental Writing is a second-level writing course that expands and refines students’ writing, critical thinking, and communication skills. Topics such as sustainability, environmental ethics, environmental communication, and current environmental issues that also contain scientific, economic, and political considerations are the grounding for our semester-long practice of writing and rhetoric. The course introduces, analyzes, and guides the production of various texts in important genres of environmental and professional writing, and aims to prepare students for the writing situations and critical-thinking challenges that they will encounter as professionals and citizens.
EUROPE IN CRISIS, Dr. Damian Doyle
Coming Soon.
FOOD & CULTURE, Dawn Colley
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him... the people who give you their food give you their heart. —Cesar Chavez

Food is both a necessity and a statement: of identity, of belonging, of belief. It is also, according to Chavez, an extension of the self. This course will explore the relationship between a variety of issues—food and social relations, ethics of farming and food production, and the evolution of sustainable foodscapes—in an effort to understand the role of food in the invention and shaping of culture. Further, it will consider the notion that while food and food production create culture, the connection to food remains intimate, complicated, and individual. Potential topics for investigation include cannibalism and food taboos, self and the senses, race and ethnicity, factory farming versus local food movements and sustainable agriculture, and gender, sexuality, and kinship. Students will be asked to write two shorter essays and a longer, persuasive essay, document a cooking/eating experience, and complete a final digital storytelling assignment.

FOOD & CULTURE: Food Glorious Food: From Industrial to Local (service-learning),  Dr. Veronica House
As a class, we are going to study the rhetoric surrounding the food movement in the United States and relate it to current issues of sustainability, resilience, and access in Boulder County. To do so, we will consider the rise of agribusiness, large-scale monoculture, and factory farms, counter-movements such as the organic and local movements, and social issues such as food security and food justice. We will consider who has access to what kinds of food, the socio-economic consequences of our current food system, the role of government subsidies, and how organic, beyond-organic, and local food movements have responded to the current food climate. For the service-learning portion of the course, we will work as a class with a local non-profit called The Local Food Shift on a variety of writing and communication projects.

Assignments will include a comparative rhetorical analysis, a community discourse analysis, a community-based research and/or writing project, an oral presentation to Local Food Shift representatives, and a multimodal final project. Our course readings, discussions, writing assignments, and community-based work will center on the intersection of food, sustainability, and rhetoric. We will read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and excerpts from Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, and others. We also will analyze documentaries about the local food initiatives springing up around the country.

FROM ESSAY TO BLOG, Dr. Sarah Massey-Warren
In this course, we’ll explore the protean, creative form of the essay and its Internet version, the blog, using a selection of essays drawn from a number of sources, including The Next American Essay, by John D’Agata and other readings that will be on D2L and online. What is an essay or a blog? How do current events, locations, politics, ethnicity, other genres, cultural psychology, economics, and so forth affect the form and narrative of the essay? In this class, we will extract the essay from its academic box and understand what a rich poetic, political, and cultural heritage it has. We will investigate the essay’s vital role in social, political, physical, and emotional exploration into what it means to be human on this planet. We will query how the narrator’s position in relation to audience, use of rhetorical devices and poetics, publication medium, and real world context affect the essay. An understanding of the work of essayists and bloggers can influence your own forays into critical and creative writing and thinking. You will write a series of essays (including a blog) of different lengths to experiment with different kinds of essays for different audiences. Your essays will constitute a substantial part of class reading.
In this course students will critically examine how gender and sexuality are socially and culturally constructed through new media. The term "new media" is difficult to define, as the definition changes as quickly as technology evolves. In determining new media’s influence on gender and sexuality, at both an individual and societal level, students will analyze how on-demand access to unregulated content affects how we practice and internalize gender and sexuality. Students will examine whether or not sexuality and sexual systems are products of particular genderizing practices, or whether sexual systems themselves constitute gender.
We will investigate a variety of claims made about gender, sexuality and relationships, including competing claims made by scientists and social constructionists. We will examine the assumptions and values on which these claims are based and we will evaluate the validity of the reasoning, evidence and rhetorical devices used to support them. You will write several short analytical papers in response to readings and documentaries about related issues, such as gender roles, transsexual and intersexidentities, alternatives to monogamy, and the marriage movement. You will also complete a course project in which you develop and defend a sustained critique of a particular essay. A variety of homework assignments and in-class activities will help you improve the skills you need to successfully complete these assignments. This course will also further strengthen your skills in reading critically, composing strong paragraphs, evaluating and using outside sources, targeting specific audiences, revising for clarity and conciseness, and editing for publication.
The grotesque in art and literature has been described as a clash of opposites, as representing the ambiguous nature of the abnormal, and as something that contains an element of surprise. Authors and artists who use the grotesque typically take an image or concept and distort it into something that is carnivalesque (Alice in Wonderland), twisted (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), or haunting (many early fairy tales). The grotesque therefore has a base in reality, but in its distortion of that reality it allows the audience to see the incongruities that often marginalize people and ideas. In this class, we will explore representations of the grotesque in art, literature, and film. We will examine the verbal and visual rhetoric authors and artists use in order to illuminate the distortions they see in their own societies.
What has Africa traditionally meant for those of us in the West, steeped in an imaginary largely crafted upon the travelogues and ethnographies of European explorers?  Which of these representations are shared or refuted by African authors/filmmakers?  This course leads students through questions and practices of rhetorical, textual and cultural analysis from a comparative perspective, examining representations of Africa within popular media, literature and film from both the U.S. and Africa.  Which Africas does Hollywood tend to sell – and which do we buy?  How do African authors/filmmakers voice their own perspectives within larger cultural-historical narratives?  What role do categories of race, gender, religion, language or nation play within these representations – and within our ability to interpret them? 
NARRATIVE AND THE SELF, Dr. Patricia Sullivan
The stories we tell about our lives/become our lives. Adrienne Rich

It might be said that each of us constructs and lives a “narrative,” and that this narrative is us, our identities. Oliver Sacks

In this course we will explore the provocative thesis that the self is essentially a narrative construct—that we are, in a sense, “the stories we tell about our lives.” Our inquiry will include questions of narrative (What constitutes a narrative? Do all genres “tell a story?” Is the world intelligible without stories?); questions of self and identity (What constitutes a self? Is a self given content/shape/meaning through the telling and retelling of stories? Can we imagine an “I” apart from the capacity to narrate?); and questions of the relationship between story and self (How do particular narratives construct particular selves/identities? What role does rhetoric play in creating and maintaining identities? What roles do history and culture play? Do we revise our “selves” when we revise the personal narratives we write?)

Zitkala-Sa published a series of articles that helped her become the 'darling' of Boston literati for a short time. But one critic claimed that Zitkala-Sa "injures herself and harms...the race from which she spring." By analyzing Zitkala-Sa's collected writings and by dissecting her critic's charge, we will attempt to discover why her stories repelled some and charmed others. We will then explore some contemporary American Indian works to see if we can discern similar patterns of accommodation and rupture of audience expectations.
Through selected readings, videos and research, we will look at the history of drugs (both worldwide and in the U.S.), the politics of the drug war and its propaganda, as well as related issues such as drugs and race, class and gender. The class will ask such questions as: What is a drug? Why are some drugs illegal and others accepted and legal? Is there a basic human need for drugs? What is the relationship between the war on drugs and other U.S. policies (both domestic and international)? In addition, each student will be able to research and explore areas of his or her own interest: drugs and music, addiction, caffeine as drug, prescription drug abuse, etc.
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TRAVEL WRITING, Dr. Christine Macdonald
“Wherever you go, there you are.” This cliché implies that people cannot change themselves or their perspective by changing their location. In this course we will explore the potential and limitations of travel as a means to facilitate different types of journeys: physical, cultural and psychological. We will study theories of “place,” and the interplay between the viewpoints of traveler, “native,” writer, and reader. In addition to writing critical analyses of the readings, students will write their own travel narratives. You need not have traveled extensively to take this course. Readings may include works by John Steinbeck, Annie Dillard, Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux, Rory Stewart, Alexandra Fuller, Eula Biss, and others.
TRAVEL WRITING, Dr. Paula Wenger
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