Environmental Design Building
1060 18th Street
ENVD Rm. 1B60
317 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
(303) 492 8188 | pwr@colorado.edu

3020 - Topics in Writing Course Descriptions

The following list is alphabetical, by course title. Not every course shown below is offered every semester. Check the current Course Schedule.

ACADEMIC PROPOSAL WRITING, Dr. Christine Macdonald
This course in Academic Proposal Writing, open to all students in A&S, helps students hone their critical thinking and rhetorical analysis skills as they develop a research plan for an academic project within their discipline. The course culminates with a grant proposal to gain funding for an academic research project. While most proposals will be UROP grants, students may obtain instructor approval to write a different grant of similar scope. For grant guidelines and eligibility please see: http://enrichment.colorado.edu/urop/.

Important considerations:
  • Fulfills the A&S upper division writing requirement.
  • Students need to be committed to developing a research project worthy of funding and should have a project in mind before the semester begins.
  • Research projects must be determined before the semester and must either be in the student’s major or, if the project is interdisciplinary, include the major field of study in a significant way.
  • Funding is not guaranteed.
  • This is not an Honors Thesis writing class; rather, students will be making a case for the importance and viability of the project they want to pursue in a future semester, and for which they want to acquire funding support. Funding for proposals is not guaranteed.
  • Students will complete their UROP proposals in time to submit them for the funding cycle for the following academic year. Thus, although the course could be useful for graduating seniors who are planning to go to graduate school, seniors should note that they will not be eligible to receive UROP funding after they graduate.
AFTER THE HOLOCAUST — The Narrative of Survival, Dr. Naomi Rachel
"Who knows only his own generation remains forever a child." (Quote above the entrance to the George Norlin Library)

We have learned a great deal from the Holocaust and in this course we will explore those lessons from the Nuremburg Code (medical research standards) to contemporary hate speech legislation. But anti–Semitism, ethnic cleansing and racial conflicts are still part of daily life throughout the world. Beginning with "Maus," the two part graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, we will explore the narrative of survival including concepts such as the banality of evil and identification with the aggressor. We will end with the memoir by war correspondent Christopher Hedges titled "War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning." Students will give news updates, presentations and write research papers on contemporary topics with a direct link to the Holocaust. The reading will vary from graphic novels to fiction, memoirs, and critical works. The written work for this course will be as diverse as (and directly linked to) the reading. Students will learn how to critique the writing of their peers and to revise their own work. Although the focus of this course is on writing, our discussions will combine history, sociology, art and ethnic studies. Participation is an important part of the class experience.

AMERICAN ROAD TRIP, Steven Caldes
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.
AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, Tobin von der Nuell
Working under the concept that "everything is an argument," we will explore the realm of contemporary American short stories to shape and defend arguable opinions. We first will work through the challenges of reading stories critically to discern what questions they raise. Next we will derive working issues to frame arguments, and then we will analyze the text to find evidence to support our claims in defense of a thesis. We will shape arguments to convince a variety of audiences to our opinions. We will not be crafting short stories in the class; on the contrary, we will work hard to learn how to pull stories apart and argue within the confines of their data. The stories will come from such sources as the Best American Short Stories series, The New Yorker, Harper's, and The Atlantic Monthly.
BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS, Dr. Eric Burger
In his introduction to The Best American Essays 2007, Guest Editor David Foster Wallace writes with characteristic candor, "your guest editor isn’t sure what an essay even is." In this class you'll see that DFW’s bewilderment—about a genre he excelled in—is a marker of honest engagement rather than ignorance or laziness. The essay is a curiously elastic, mobile, slippery form. There are personal essays, lyric essays, argumentative essays, literary journalism pieces, travel essays, and much more. There are wonderfully meandering, discursive essays like Thoreau’s classic "Walking," and then there’s Stephen Dunn’s "Little Essay on Form" which reads, in its entirety, "We build the corral as we reinvent the horse." In Best American Essays, we’ll read widely in the essay genre, write studiously in the many sub–genres, and push ourselves to both learn and challenge established taxonomies/compositional strategies. We’ll also consider the essay’s history and role in civic engagement. Ultimately, I want you to know so much about the genre’s practitioners, its permutations, its compositional challenges and opportunities, that your head spins when you consider reducing "essay" to a catchall description. "We build the corral as we reinvent the horse," writes Dunn. And in the essay world, we never stop that reinventing.
BIOMEDICAL ETHICS, Don Wilkerson
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.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND NEW MEDIA, Michelle Albert
What does it mean to be “literate” in the 21st Century? What does it mean to be “engaged” in college, on the CU campus, and in your local and national communities? In this course, we will examine the intersections of literacy practices, new media, and civic engagement. In the digital and networked and globalized world of the 21st Century, we need to redefine literacy in ways that reflect the actual communication practices we engage in every day, especially in civic settings. In this class, you will learn rhetorical, composition, and digital literacy skills that allow you to communicate effectively in the world beyond the classroom and empower you to become part of broader public conversations.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND NEW MEDIA, Dr. Gary Hink
“Most young Americans possess little of the knowledge that makes for an informed citizen, and too few of them master the skills needed to negotiate an information-heavy, communication-based society and economy. Furthermore, they avoid the resources and media that might enlighten them and boost their talents” (16)―so asserts Mark Bauerlein in The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (2009). This position presents our point of Contrast: that our lack of “critical thinking” and deliberative reason preclude democratic citizenship; these reactions and conservative technophobia are articulated increasingly, ongoing in recent publications and attitudes (for instance, about “millenials”).
In contrast, we will explore the potential of the Network as participatory community, guided by the Theory of Gregory L. Ulmer. Electronic Monuments (2005) provides the method and general project, working in “electracy”―the emergent apparatus beyond literacy―to engage “the Internet as living monument” (xv) and the “group subject” of electronically mediated networks: “a primary site of self knowledge both individual and collective, and hence a site supporting a new politics and ethics, as well as a new dimension of education” (xxi). Using the cultural logic of contemporary media forms―particularly digital culture, memes, social platforms―we will develop the potential for new aca­d­e­mic work as civic engage­ment through a series of inno­v­a­tive projects, which cultivate the unique skills and intuition of responsible “network participants.” Combining critical thinking, reflexive insights, and creative expression: the “Target” of our experiment will compose mediated expressions of “collective self knowledge” (140) and participatory experience.
COMPOSING KNOWLEDGE, Dr. Rolf Norgaard

“Composing Knowledge” is a rhetorically informed upper-division seminar intended for juniors and seniors and is a combination of WRTG 3020, WRTG 3030, and WRTG 3040. The course addresses the intellectual and rhetorical challenges of engaging in disciplinary conversations, and asks students to reflect on the nature and conventions of those disciplinary communities—be they in the arts and humanities, sciences and engineering, or business. Throughout, we’ll explore the role of language and rhetoric in composing how and what we know, and the influence of disciplinary conventions on processes of inquiry. The course is taught as an intensive writing seminar emphasizing critical thinking, revision, oral communication skills, and strategies for addressing specialized disciplinary and/or discourse communities.

The first half of the term will be devoted to short assignments and essays that raise issues germane to the topic of composing knowledge. The final half of the term will be devoted to a major project of your own design that takes up in detail one issue or facet of composing knowledge, relevant to your interests and your major. Drawing on primary and secondary research, and on feedback on preliminary drafts, you will have the opportunity to develop a sustained argument that showcases the fruits of your inquiry. The course will also address oral communication skills essential to presenting your work effectively before an audience.

Rolf Norgaard is a long-time faculty member who has an interest in writing across the curriculum. In 2006 he won the Boulder Faculty Assembly Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest campus-wide teaching award.

CONVERSATIONS ON THE LAW, Dr. Gail Georgeson
In this upper division course we will explore legal arguments on a variety of issues at the forefront of cutting edge law and policy including those in the arenas of discrimination, privacy and free speech. Students will become involved in the process of researching and writing briefs, developing rhetorical strategies, and they will practice their oral argument skills in a “Moot Court” case based on an actual controversy before the courts. Conducting outside research and working as part of a legal team will be important components of the course. Issues explored will be driven by students’ own interests; students will develop critical thinking skills while gaining experience in simulated law firm and courtroom settings.
CONVERSATIONS ON THE LAW, Dr. Kathryn Pieplow
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 & FILM, Dr. Michael Ennis
Hailed by many critics as the greatest TV series ever produced, “The Wire” explores life in Baltimore through intersecting plots that touch on all levels of the city: the police and drug gangs, politicians and the media, schools and reformers, unions and lobbyists. More than a TV entertainment, “The Wire” provides a unique document of urban life in America. A prominent sociologist argues that “The Wire” is much better than academic writing and the news media at producing knowledge about how “the inner city weaves into the fabric of a city.” In this course, students will engage “The Wire” not only as a piece of fiction, but take up the debate about its relative strengths and weaknesses as a document of urban life. What does fiction accomplish that academic writing or journalism cannot? What are the strengths and weaknesses of drama vs. analytic writing when trying to argue about systems as complex as a modern city? Through their own writing, students will explore these questions, as well as larger questions “The Wire” raises about race and class in America.
THE DOCUMENTARY, Kelsey Cody
Through selected readings, videos, and research, we will look at the history of the documentary (both worldwide and in the U.S), the kinds of documentaries that exist (educational, persuasive, propaganda, etc.), and the methods used in composing them. The class will ask such questions as: “What has been the role of the documentary in portraying social problems to the American public?”; “How have documentaries changed over time and why?”; “What makes a documentary popular?”; “When have documentaries motivated social change?”; “What patterns emerge between documentaries on the same subjects?”; “What is the future of the documentary?” etc. Students will write review articles, memos, a long form journalism piece, and an academic research paper. In the final paper, students will be able to research and explore documentaries on social problems of their own interest.
DON'T FENCE ME IN, Dr. Jay Ellis
"I don't know what happens to country."— John Grady Cole in All the Pretty Horses. How is it that Americans feel entitled to open spaces, with privacy somehow included? This course studies the aesthetics of, ambivalence about, and violence in American spaces (real and imagined) to provide students with a field of inquiry for writing well researched and radically revised academic essays. We will range widely from poetry and fiction through spatial theory in two progressions. Progression I, Dimensional American Fictions, leads through brief exercises to a revised close reading essay on literature or film. Progression II, Histories and Theories of Space, explores the violence that tensions over space elicit in art and life; students weave extensive research through several revisions of an interdisciplinary essay. Readings may include poetry from Emily Dickinson to Walt Whitman; fiction from Chester Himes to Flannery O'Connor and Cormac McCarthy; and brief selections of non-fiction from F. J. Turner to Michel de Certeau and contemporary journalists. We will study one film, such as Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. All students are welcome: close reading skills, advanced research, attention to the writing process, and stylistic prowess are goals of - not prerequisites to - this class.
DYSTOPIAS ON FILM, Dr. James Walker
Films like The Matrix, Bladerunner, and Brazil dramatize not just futuristic fictions, but present-day fears, questions and social concerns. What is the nature of intelligence (artificial or otherwise) and how do our answers to this reflect on what it means to be human? How do we define or “know” reality and how is technology challenging this? What are the limits of government in overseeing, protecting, or policing our personal freedoms – and what are our responsibilities? The course uses recent filmic representations of dystopias – that is, anti-utopias or worlds-gone-wrong – to address these and other issues. Students are encouraged and assisted in developing their own analytical and creative responses, which may be based on films, written texts, secondary sources, and/or concepts – including current trends or events. Why and how have artists at least since Plato turned to imagined worlds to discuss the here and now? Why is it we so often fear what we create? What is the nature of the world we are creating?
FOOD & CULTURE — You Aren’t Always What You Eat Dr. John Chavez
At the heart of our industrialized food system, according to critics and alternative producers of food alike, is dysfunction. In fact, essayists, reality TV personalities/ chefs, nonfiction prose writers, and filmmakers all have commented on this dysfunction, and their points of view and voices have worked to highlight the power rhetoric has both within and beyond this discourse community. Take, for example, the fries you eat at lunch and imagine a world were a small child is able identify the fry but not the vegetable from which it was made; or, imagine a world where a family loses a child to E. coli poisoning but cannot harness enough political power to change food safety regulations. Now, imagine a world where we not only use technology to feed the world, but also one where we care for the ways in which we feed the world. Put simply, we aren’t always what we eat, and our choices to eat fast food, to eat organic food, to eat non-genetically modified food, etc., are at times antithetical to our values and at times in sync with our values. Whatever the case, this course explores the food system, from topics centered on the industrial food system, to childhood obesity and school lunches, to globalization’s impact on small farmers, to local food movements and sustainable agriculture, etc., and it does so in the service of exploring the notion that food and the system by which it has been produced, though they have informed our culture and other cultures for centuries, is as intimate and complicated an issue as any that impacts people’s lives each and every day. And, in this case, with each and every bite.
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.
GENDER REPRESENTATION, Sally Green
Gender Representation examines gendered images of divinity and representations of men and women in monotheistic faith traditions, including prehistoric goddess worship, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Particular attention will be paid both to the representation of men and women as sexual and spiritual actors in these symbolic systems, as well as the gendering of images of divinity itself. What kinds of agency and attributes have been assigned to women and men in these religions? How is divinity perceived differently in its various gendered guises? How does all this filter through depictions of women's and men's bodies, and of God? Readings may include Ovid's Metamorphoses, the writings of medieval mystics, the Sufi poet Rumi, and relevant contemporary theory and art history. We will examine visual imagery as well as written texts. Students will participate in extensive in-class discussion, write short analytical and persuasive papers, give presentations, and engage in a final project of their choosing.
GENDER, SEXUALITY, & NEW MEDIA, Diane DeBella
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.
GENDER, SEXUALITY, & NEW MEDIA, Amy Goodloe
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.
GENDER, SEXUALITY, & NEW MEDIA, Stephanie Hartzell
This course explores contemporary theories of gender and sexuality with a particular interest in how new media discourses interact with these ideas. We will read and write in multiple genres, from traditional academic to new media texts. Over the course of the semester, we will question and complicate concepts that are often taken for granted, including sex and gender binaries, essentialist understandings of gender and sexuality, and stabilized identities. Through critical thinking, reading, and writing, we will work to better understand the ways in which gender and sexuality are produced, negotiated, embodied, and transformed. Course assignments include frequent reflective writing, short analytic and response essays, and a mixed media semester project.
THE GROTESQUE, Sharon Beck
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.
THE LANGUAGE OF WAR, Dr. Seth Tucker
This is a writing course based on the culture of war, with a focus on the rhetorical strategies and language used by both sides of the issue. Our primary concern is to consider how literary forms and genres have developed to make sense of the twentieth century's mass wars, how wars are remembered and forgotten, and how war has been adapted to the dominant aesthetic and cultural movements of the century. The bulk of our readings will center on the American Civil War, World War I, the Vietnam War (from both perspectives), World War II, and from more recent conflicts such as the first Persian Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will end the class with “research” in speculative fiction for World War III, dystopian futures, etc. Issues of national identity, memory, gender, irony, and protest, will be at the forefront of our inquiry. We will read both combatant and civilian writers, and our readings will be drawn from a variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, memoir, film, cultural studies, and theory. This is a writing workshop, so there will be particular attention paid to differing approaches to specific genres, careful craft techniques, and revision strategies.

The course is organized chronologically, but each week we will explore a broad topic, applying certain concepts to the literature of the time. We will write extensively and sophisticatedly about the following topics: conventional war language and its undermining; the body in pain; the language(s) of protest; masculinity resplendent and masculinity under siege; commemoration and memorialization; the problem of mental disease (shell shock, post-traumatic stress disorder); reporting, propaganda, and the press; experimental forms for representing war (absurdism, black humor).

MULTI-CULTURAL RHETORICS, Dr. Michael Ennis

When Spanish sailors first saw Maya and Aztec pyramids rising above the Mexican jungle, they described the cities as “another Cairo, as grand as Constantinople.” Since this first contact, Europeans have consistently tried to explain Native Peoples with their own experience of cultural contact. The New World has been believed to be home to golden cities, populated by the lost tribes of Israel, and even (more recently) in contact with extraterrestrials. But Indigenous peoples preserved their histories and languages by using their own myths and narratives to explain the arrival of Europeans and imagine their own place in a newly discovered world.

In this course, you will make your own discovery of the Indigenous cultures of Latin America. Through interdisciplinary research and direct engagement with both Indigenous and Spanish sources, you will develop the critical skills necessary to engage rhetorical problems such as the reliability of translation, issues of ethnic survival, and the difficulties of communication in a multicultural world. In this way, writing becomes a process of discovering the self and the world as you formulate, revise, and re-articulate your own views in a critical conversation with sources from a variety of historical periods and cultural perspectives. You will write different kinds of pieces to develop skills in research, argument, and awareness of genre.

MULTI-CULTURAL RHETORICS, Dr. Andrea Feldman
This course will ask students to write analyses and arguments based on readings that reflect our multi-cultural heritage. In responding to texts that represent cultural diversity, students will evaluate issues and relate them to their own multi-cultural experiences. Through these readings as well as class discussion of written assignments, students will learn to make reasoned arguments in defense of their own opinions. By examining diverse voices, this course helps students meet the challenges of academic writing. The need for a cross-cultural writing course becomes more apparent as the United States becomes ever more interdependent with its worldwide neighbors. Students need to join this "global village" by thinking critically about the roles of writing and language in forging a multi-cultural society. Because language and writing are necessarily culturally bound, diverse aspects of our own culture are often neglected in traditional writing courses. This course offers a chance to examine and debate concerns which are all too often undervalued or ignored. Language — often a tool to disenfranchise — can thereby become a tool to meld.
NATIVE AMERICAN TOPICS, Dr. Catherine Kunce
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.
ON THE BORDER: U.S. AND MEXICO, Dr. Tracy Ferrell
This course will explore the spaces where Mexico and the U.S. intersect both on a literal and metaphorical level. We will look at the unique cultures of the “frontera”, the effects of government legislation on the peoples of the two nations and the ways in which Mexican and U.S. cultures inform one another on a larger scale. In exploring these issues, students will explore such questions as: What effect has NAFTA had on the peoples and economies of the two nations? In what ways is illegal immigration beneficial or detrimental to the two countries? Does Mexican and American cultural integration create new forms of culture? How do drug cartels and the war on drugs affect the border regions? The course will employ fiction, non-fiction, music and video in exploring these topics. Readings may include T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain, Sandra Cisneros’ short stories, essays by Gloria Anzaldua and more.
RACE, CLASS, GENDER, Dr. Tracy Ferrell
Writing 3020 satisfies upper-division core requirements in the College of Arts & Sciences by extending student rhetorical knowledge and writing skills, engaging theoretical perspectives and addressing specialized disciplinary communities. This course is meant to build upon the knowledge you gained in WRTG 1150 and will help you to improve your writing by introducing you to more complex analytical reading skills as well as a variety of rhetorical strategies. Readings and in-class discussions are meant to arouse curiosity and allow for the practice of critical thinking and analysis. You will further your understanding of rhetorical concepts through the reading and analysis of various discourses related to the study of race, class and gender. The course will address the ways in which these categories impact our own identities and interactions with society. Also, we will analyze the rhetoric of race, class and gender as it plays itself out in readings and various cultural forms (film, television, advertisement, etc). In addition to daily reading and written responses to readings and discussions, students will be responsible for three major written assignments—a rhetorical analysis, a persuasive argument, and a research project.
RACE, CLASS, GENDER, Dr. Patricia Sullivan
Race, class, gender—all three are tied to the basic question of identity. In this class, we’ll begin by reading and discussing a wide range of perspectives on identity. We’ll then explore how various definitions of identity are revealed in matters of race, class, and gender through analyzing both scholarly and popular texts. The course will involve three major writing projects that emphasize analysis and argument.
RHETORIC OF EXILE, Dr. Olivia Miller
In this course we will explore how exile influences a writer rhetorically. In a recent essay, Wole Soyinka writes that “sometimes exile is indeed a place, and thus a new-found-land...and so, in both physical and other senses, one confronts the question: Is there a moment when you know intuitively and accept that you have now truly arrived in exile?” How does this acceptance or denial of a politicized geography impact a writer’s work? With a quick glance through history, one can see the connection between writers and exile is vast. There are many famous exiles: Dante, Aristotle, Byron, Shelley, Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Gertrude Stein, Thomas Mann, Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Pablo Neruda, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and many others. In this course we will read and analyze essays from authors about their experiences in exile in order to understand the deep connection between home, the loss of a homeland and the creation of a new home in order to understand how we write and experience exile.
THE RHETORICS OF SUSTAINABILITY, Dr. Veronica House
How is food rhetorical? What arguments do you make with every food purchase and with every bite you eat? As a class, we are going to study the rhetoric surrounding the burgeoning food movement in the United States and its connection to issues of sustainability. To do so, we will consider the history of U.S. agricultural and meatpacking practices, the rise of agribusiness 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, the practices of factory farming and large-scale monoculture, and how organic, beyond-organic, and local food movements have responded to the current food climate.

Our course readings, discussions, writing assignments, and service-learning community 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, Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver, and others. We will analyze documentaries about the national and global food crisis. For the service-learning portion of the course, which will consist of a minimum of 15 hours of community-based work spread across the semester, you will work with community organizations that engage in food issues in Boulder. The course will end with a service-learning showcase for the CU and Boulder communities, featuring your poster presentations and multimedia or interactive projects about local and national food concerns.

SPORTS IN AMERICAN CULTURE, Dr. Peter Kratzke
This section of WRTG 3020 will examine how sports not only define but, sometimes, even transcend their competitive boundaries. That they do is easy to spot: in 1971, people everywhere were mesmerized by a chess match--a chess match!--between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky; in 1980, folks far from the frozen ponds of the upper Midwest pulled over in their cars, honking their horns to the US Hockey Team's "Miracle on Ice." This spring, we'll examine why such moments register and ripple in our collective conscious and, so, have both reflected and informed American history. As such, the course should appeal to those with interests in Sociology, History, American Studies, and the like. But beware: our topic will provide only the occasion for students to continue developing their writing skills; assignments will include succinct essays and three sustained arguments.
SPORTS IN AMERICAN CULTURE, David Visser
Sports in America are a multi-billion dollar industry-- and yet, somehow, one that we're supposed to simply enjoy and not think too much about or scrutinize too closely. Why not? What do sports say? Specifically, this course will involve intense on-sight observation and analysis of a professional sports experience, the recognition and utilization of rhetoric within sports, and a multi-media presentation aimed at answering a larger question regarding the intersection of sports and culture. We'll attempt to arrive at responses, however fleeting, as to what our collective passion for sports says about our American culture.
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES, Catherine Lasswell
In this course we will read and write about many current environmental issues as we cultivate our awareness of writing as engaged environmental action. We will investigate the interface of the environment, society, the economy, and social justice in today’s context of climate change, energy use, industrialized food production. Of critical focus will be the specific ways these issues are discussed rhetorically. Course texts will include works by leading environmental writers Bill McKibben, Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollen, John Muir, Alan Weisman, E. O. Wilson, and others. Students will use scholarly research from their disciplines to compose a persuasive project that aims to effect a positive change on the environment. The course will include a local outdoor project with Boulder County Open Space which will help us see the ways that public and private entities can find common ground. Throughout the course, we will seek ways to de-politicize environmental writing and to carve out spaces of shared values in order to reach wider audiences. In the end, we will explore our own human connections to nature to find our own “place in the family of things.”
TECHNOLOGY & AMERICAN CULTURE, Dr. Gary Hink
This course proceeds from the fundamental understanding that we are in the midst of an apparatus shift beyond literacy toward an emerging paradigm of "electracy," as theorized by Gregory L. Ulmer. Ulmer explains that Electracy "is to digital media what literacy is to alphabetic writing: an apparatus, or social machine, partly technological, partly institutional " (Networked 2009). The effects of this shift impact not only communication and identity formation, but cultural forms and perhaps academic practices as well. One goal of this course is to examine closely the technological transitions already familiar to us in network society and contemporary culture—with new developments and potential for digital rhetoric and multimodal composition. A second part to this premise is that whereas the prior "television age" involved audiences’ passively receiving the dominant culture as "consumers," the network age situates us in a participatory role regarding information, media, and discourse. We will explore the rhetorical implications of this on-going shift, with students and "audience members" becoming contributors and not just receiver-consumers of culture and discourse. Note: topic and specific culture form will vary by semester.
TELEVISION & AMERICAN CULTURE, Jamie Jones
In 1961, Newton Minow (Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman) referred to television as a "vast wasteland," which is a description that has long since been associated with the medium. Despite this assessment, television has become more ubiquitous and influential. As a result, the medium requires increased critical attention. This class will use a variety of approaches to assess the material, rhetorical and cultural impact of a medium that many people have been eager to dismiss. In this class, we will seek to answer such questions as: How do audiences of the 21st century tune in and why? How do we define the contemporary viewing experience(s)? How does that experience differ from earlier decades? How has television adapted to the new media environment? How has the TV industry changed through the years? We will address these queries through class discussions, weekly critiques, along with plenty of writing and analysis.
TRAVEL WRITING, Dr. Tracy Ferrell
This course will examine a variety of modes of writing about travel including journal format, creative non-fiction, research-based essays, satires, reviews and more. In addition to studying the different techniques and forms of writing about travel, the class will also explore the ethical considerations inherent in travel itself. Students will read selections from such well-known travel writers as Peter Mathiessen, Bruce Chatwin, Elizabeth Eaves, Paul Theroux, and Cheryl Strayed. Besides writing analytical responses to the various reading selections in the course, students will also write two major travel writing pieces of their own, in addition to writing for a course blog.
TRAVEL WRITING, Dr. Ginger Knowlton
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrowmindedness,” Mark Twain wrote during his travels to the Kingdom of Hawaii. In more recent years, Larry McMurtry suggested that “[i]t may be that the availability of speedy travel has mainly worked to make the human animal—or at least the American animal—more impatient.” There is a lot of philosophical space between these statements, which we will explore throughout this course via a wide-ranging exploration, including (but by no means limited to):

• What is the role of place in literature; what is its role in shaping consciousness? What relationships exist between place and movement, between place and culture?

• How might social philosophy and consequent policy borne of travel contribute to or alter the tragedy of the commons?

• 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 human character independent of cultural trappings?

• What dangers of cultural appropriation exist? How should a traveler treat a distinct (and foreign) culture? What value exists in preservation of /noninterference with autonomous/unique cultures? How do concepts of cultural relativism factor into these arguments?

Readings are likely to include material from (amongst others): Pico Iyer, Barry Lopez, Vandana Shiva, Timothy Morton, Rebecca Solnit, Paul Bowles, and Sandra Meek.

TRAVEL WRITING, Catherine Lasswell
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things,” wrote travel memoirist Henry Miller.  Is this why we leave home to venture into the unknown – to try to gain a new perspective?  Sometimes we’re trying to escape our troubled inner landscapes as seen in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild.  In this course, we will read travel literature that will take us through history and across cultures: writings by Bill Bryson, Joan Didion, Jon Krakauer, Elizabeth Gilbert, Paul Theroux, Isak Dinesen, and Lawrence Durrell. Through these readings, we will learn the art and craft of travel writing which will aid us in writing our own travel narratives. We will also explore the ethical issues that travelers face, particularly in eco-travel and excursions to ‘dark sites in the newly emerging field of thanatourism. You need not be an experienced traveler to take this course.
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 Jon Krakauer, Herman Melville, Annie Dillard, Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux, Homer, and others.
WOMEN WRITERS, Diane DeBella
It has become commonplace to say that women’s voices have been absent from the Western rhetorical tradition, as either practitioners or theorists. So total has been this erasure that no standard history of rhetoric includes even one woman, leading many to conclude that women had nothing to contribute to theories or practices of persuasion. Recently, however, there have been a number of challenges to such assumptions. As a result, we are recovering–and finally hearing–women’s voices, and we are examining how women’s life experiences—their personal truths—have led to greater societal change. In this course you will be exposed to history, literature, psychology, and feminist theory as you analyze the lives and writings of creative women who have examined themselves as subject since the eighteenth century, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Adrienne Rich, Maya Angelou, Isabel Allende, Amy Tan, and others. You will see how their life experiences, choice of genre, and intended audience shaped their rhetorical message, and you will examine the impact those messages had on the society in which these women lived.
WORD AND IMAGE, Dr. Alexander Fobes
Students will explore the extraordinary 20th- and 21st-century convergence of word and image through a host of artistic and social media, with the goal of honing their discursive ability and versatility. Readings and viewings will include a cinematic novel, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and theory, as well as photography, painting, sculpture, film, and all that falls in between. In a variety of approaches, students will analyze, critique, and create visual texts, select and pursue lines of inquiry related to their areas of interest, and apply their informed knowledge of word, image, form, and perspective to refine their communicative skills and style. Engaged class and workshop participation a must.
WRITING ABOUT ART, Frances Charteris
Writing about Art offers art majors and non-art majors an opportunity to explore different genres of writing in this field. Students write personal narratives and non–fiction; a multimedia essay that involves turning a text into a 3–5 minute video with voiceover and sound, storyboards with captions, followed by a self–reflective paper; a close analysis of film sequences; a review; finally, either a grant proposal or a series of professional documents: CV, bio, personal statement, and a cover letter. Students write individually on topics of their choice; then workshop papers in small groups, while receiving weekly feedback from the instructor on every work submitted. Participants also give one professional–standard audio–visual presentation on one of the academic papers.
WRITING ABOUT MUSIC, Dr. Patricia Malesh
Description coming soon.
WRITING TO KNOW POETRY, Dr. Eric Burger
This course is an exploration of 20th century American poetry, with an emphasis on how students can come to know poems better through their own writing. You’ll write a variety of critical papers in this class and, in the process, learn how to better analyze poetry for academic audiences. You’ll also produce less traditionally academic work: for instance, a creative nonfiction piece on the complicated role of poetry in American culture, imitations of assigned poets’ work, and formal/informal reflections on your interpretive and compositional processes. We’ll workshop major assignments and we’ll read, among others, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, Frank O’Hara, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, Sonia Sanchez, James Tate, Marilyn Hacker, and Lyn Hejinian. Throughout, we’ll keep our eyes on the big question: What does it really mean to know a poem, anyway? It is my hope that in writing in a number of ways about poetry—by using writing broadly as a tool for sustained inquiry into our subject—you’ll develop a rich, rewarding relationship with poetry, and grow as a writer in the process.
WRITING TO KNOW POETRY, Dr. Sigman Byrd
This course will focus on poetry written in the United States and around the world since 1970 and will explore fresh, invigorating ways of writing about poetry that push beyond standard academic writing. While analyzing and evaluating the work of such poets as W.S. Merwin, Louise Gluck, Tomas Transtromer, and Wislawa Szymborska, we will also consider how genres such as the personal essay, literary journalism, analytical critiques and reviews can deepen our understanding of poetry and strengthen our vision of the poet as a provocateur of the imagination, or, in the words of Wallace Stevens, as one who “creates the world to which we turn incessantly.”