ENG 111 Writing Seminar Descriptions – Spring 2013

Slang to Schoolbooks: Arguments About Language and Language in Arguments
Prof. Laura L. Aull
Spring 2013  Section Q  17483  ENG 111 Q          TR   12:30-1:45

What are the features of formal, academic English? How are they different than slang and colloquial language? And why is it that people care so much about said differences? In
this course, we will read arguments about language use from Wake Forest slang to academic writing across disciplines, and we will analyze how these arguments are made.

Course materials will include popular and academic articles about language use as well as other articles from a discipline of your choice later in the semester. There will be several short writing assignments, two mid-length writing assignments, and one group project at the end of the term.

Prof. Heather Branstetter
Spring  2013        Section  I           15503     ENG 111 I                MWF 2:00-2:50

What are the causes of social revolution? Why and how do revolutions occur? What are the differences between internal revolutions and revolution that is driven from an “outside” perspective? This class will explore the cultural, economic, religious, artistic, and institutional manifestations of human-driven revolutionary activity. We will write about the concept of revolution and its ethical implications from multiple disciplinary lenses.  We will examine apocalyptic and utopic conceptions of the future, and we will examine theoretical approaches that might explain our desire to overturn the past.
Course materials and assignments will explore different kinds of cultural, political, and thought revolutions through varied media. Students will be highly involved in the day-to-day structure of the course; although we will share required readings, students are encouraged to negotiate together which internet phenomena, podcasts, music, films, and selections of writing to engage. Students are also encouraged to choose how and what to write about, depending upon their future interests. Possible options include personal or persuasive essays or blogs, scholarly literature reviews, grant proposals, policy papers, and public service announcements, among others. Written assignments will include scholarly research and students may incorporate their own empirical or ethnographic research as well as digital media composition elements. The course will culminate in a multimedia or video project at the end of the semester.
Possible curriculum selections include: movies and TV series such as
In Time, The Hunger Games, Mississippi Burning, John Adams, and/or others chosen by students in the course; excerpts from autobiographies or persuasive writing by Malcolm X, Che Guevara, and Nelson Mandela, for example; non-fiction essays, speeches, and scholarly pieces by or about Leonardo DaVinci, Mahatma Gandhi, Kate Millett, and Paulo Friere; as well as fictional or philosophical explorations by writers ranging from Rohinton Mistry to Judith  Butler and Henri Bergson.

The Underworld
Prof. Heather Branstetter
Spring 2013    Section A        15495  ENG 111 A            MWF 10-10:50

Spring 2013        Section D          15498 ENG 111 D               MWF 11-11:50
Examine the edges of human experience by taking a look into the underworld of humanity, both literal and metaphorical. Students will explore the criminal underground, street life, and other kinds of journeys beneath the surface of society. We will delve into the psyche and motivations of those who are a part of the underworld: serial killers, snitches, spies, drug lords, prostitutes, artists and musicians, the homeless, and others generally relegated to the edges of society. Which ethical principles and taboo desires drive underground activity? Why are we fascinated with vigilante heroes and villains? This class will include both historic and fictional underworlds from our past and present as we examine the concept of the underworld from scientific and metaphorical approaches as well; related topics for discussion and course materials thus include addiction, insanity, street art, militias, religious extremism or isolationism, conceptions of hell, microbes, parasites, and rhizomes, in addition to zombies, ghosts, and the paranormal.

Course materials and assignments will explore the underworld in art, music, writing, and philosophy through various media. Students will be highly involved in the design of the course, assignments, and evaluation criteria—although there will be some required reading, students are encouraged to negotiate together which internet phenomena, podcasts, music, films, and selections of writing to engage. Students are also encouraged to choose how and what to write about, depending upon their future interests. Possible options include personal or persuasive essays or blogs, scholarly literature reviews, grant proposals, policy papers, and public service announcements, among others. Written assignments will include scholarly research and students may incorporate their own empirical or ethnographic research as well as digital media composition elements. The course will culminate in a multimedia or video project at the end of the semester.
Possible curriculum selections include: movies and TV series episodes such as
City of God, Shutter Island, The Dark Knight, The Wire, and/or others chosen by students in the course; excerpts from autobiographies or fiction works by writers ranging from Niccolo Machiavelli to Iceberg Slim, Chuck Palahniuk, and Marya Hornbacher; non-fiction essays, speeches, and scholarly pieces such as The Lost Sisterhood or Publics and Counterpublics, as well as more psychological, philosophical, or scientific explorations by writers such as Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Bataille, and Carl Sagan.

Writing and Reading About Reading and Writing – A Service Learning Course
Prof.  Eric Ekstrand

Spring 2013     Section K     18610     ENG 111 K     TR 9:30-10:45

Spring 2013     Section O     15508     ENG 111 O     TR 11:00-12:15

While some bemoan the perceived “illiteracy” rampant among millennials, research shows that young people today actually may write and read more than any generation previous—it’s simply that the genres, the methods of publication and the writing tools young people use to communicate have become more diverse.  Reading and writing are how people justify wars, seduce, instigate, organize, repulse, tickle, join, worship, run for office and conduct business. Writing is perhaps the most important human invention and we use it daily, constantly.  Yet, rarely do we pause to consider how our abilities to write and read have shaped who we are and the world in which we live.  

In this class, we will explore literacy education as critical to the development of personal identity as well as political, social and economic agency.  We will begin by crafting a literacy narrative: a story about how you acquired writing and reading skills, and how these have shaped, in some significant way, who you are. Early in the semester, students will be asked to organize a short portfolio that is a collection of writing information broadly construed, including an inventory of a day’s writing, (notes, text messages, emails, tweets, social network communications, etc) and then use this as data for a study of literacy practices.  We will also be learning to read arguments about literacy and education as well as craft our own throughout the semester.  Finally, students will formulate their own topic of inquiry that has naturally arisen out of our writing practice and class discussions over some issue in literacy, pedagogy or identity and craft a final project that explores that problematic and significant question by integrating argument, research and personal narrative.

In addition to reading, researching and writing, as a class, we will do some literacy education work at an area middle school.  Our observations and journaling that come out of our service will ground in a shared, lived experience our conversations.  Our goal in this will be to craft arguments that are less abstract, and more immediate and crucial as well as to imagine real-world contexts and audiences for the intellectual work we do in the class.  

Sample Reading List

Adler-Kassner. Considering Literacy: Reading and Writing the Educational Experience. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2006. Print.

Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein.  They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009. Print.

What are Friends for?

Prof. Marianne Erhardt

Spring 2013        Section L        15505   ENG 111 L        TR 9:30-10:45
Old friends, new friends, Facebook friends, frenemies. In a culture where “friending” is something we can do with a couple of clicks on the computer,  it is valuable to consider what we mean when we talk about friendship. Is friendship an art? Are friends made? Is friendship a game? Are friends won? Can we find friendship in solitude? Is friendship a civic duty? We will consider a variety of perspectives drawn from philosophy, literature, film, television, social science, journalism, social media, and our own writings and discussions. We’ll imagine what Aristotle might say about Facebook. We’ll ask peers to interpret the cultural phenomenon of Greek rush on campus. We’ll analyze scholarly arguments that say real, authentic friendship is in decline and hurting our communities. We’ll shape our own informed ideas into polished arguments on the nature, importance, and evolution of friendship; and hopefully find some friends along the way.

Texts may include works by Annie Dillard, Yazmina Reza, Chuck Palahniuk, Nicholas Christakis, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Plato, and your BFF. We’ll meet these texts with discussion and extensive writing practice, including revision and peer review. Assignments will include a personal essay, a series of short analytical essays, and a research project and presentation.

Introduction to Academic Writing in English

Prof. Zak Lancaster

Spring 2013        Section U        15512    ENG 111 W        

Learning to write effectively in college requires wrapping your head around apparent contradictions. On the one hand, your writing is expected to be clear, concise, plain, simple, and direct. On the other hand, it is also expected to be academic, complex, nuanced, and subtle. These are all adjectives commonly used by instructors to describe good writing. Here are some other contradictions you may hear:

Take a stance, offer your perspective, but be objective and unbiased. Use your own “voice,” but don’t be colloquial or slangy. Write assertively and with authority, but don’t forget you’re a student and lack expertise. Be creative, experiment with new ways of thinking and writing, but be direct and get to the point.  

How do you offer your perspective on a topic while also appearing “objective”? How do you write in a way that is “clear” but also “complex”? In this course, you will learn principles of writing that help you to navigate these apparently contradictory values. We will examine others’ writing and see how (or if) they achieved these effects. Specific topics that this course covers include: how to establish “flow” between sentences and paragraphs; how to structure research-based arguments; how to increase argumentative “complexity” by incorporating others’ views in your writing; how to adapt your tone to meet your audience and purpose; and how to project a stance that is both open-minded and authoritative.

The course is intended for students who have had little experience with academic writing in English and would like an opportunity to focus on the nuts and bolts of developing sophisticated academic texts. The course will involve almost daily homework assignments (the key to success is consistent work every week), which often will ask you to read, analyze, and critique others’ writing, including your classmates’. Longer writing assignments will include various kinds of argumentative essays and a final research report.  Registration is by Permission of Instructor only.

Teenage Wasteland

Prof. Kathleen McClancy

Spring 2013        Section J        15504    ENG 111 J        MWF 2:00-2:50

The image of the American teenager occupies a central place in US culture.  Given their market share, that position should be no surprise; the annual spending of 13- to 17-year-olds is estimated at more than $30 billion, and adolescents and children now influence over $600 billion worth of spending annually.  Advertisers, retailers, and media executives are naturally eager to woo this demographic, and of the top ten grossing films of 2011, five were aimed at youth audiences, three featured teenage protagonists, and one was based on a comic book character.  Teenagers have such a strong impact on popular culture that there now exists a broadcast network that caters specifically to programming featuring teenagers—the teenager has at last escaped basic cable.  As a result, it’s easy to forget that the word “teenager” was coined in the 20th century.  The idea of teenage culture is a modern concept which emerged, seemingly full-blown, in the wake of World War II.  How, then, did the teenager become so important in US society so quickly?  How did this new designation not only become standardized but prominent?  Why does American culture put such emphasis on the teenager, and how does it manipulate the teenage image?  In this course, we will explore the development of the American teenager, or rather, the American “teenager”: the iconographic teenager depicted in mainstream American media.  We will follow these teenagers—nearly always white, middle-class, and suburban—from their earliest conceptions until their perpetual adolescence reaches maturity, and beyond.  And in the process, we will question what the American Peter-Pan-like focus on this liminal stage between childhood and adulthood has to tell us about US culture more generally; furthermore, we will investigate how cultural forms create and define demographic markers and social roles, and how this normative image of what a “teenager” is excludes and silences adolescents of other races, ethnicities, classes and experiences.

This is a writing course, and as such, our examination of the American teenager serves a more specific purpose: in decoding how the teenage image is constructed, we will learn both how to analyze and describe such constructions and how to build constructions of our own.  We will experiment within the genre of academic prose, learning different methods for approaching the various stylings of literature, film, television, and journalism, as well as learning how to incorporate those stylings into our own work.  We will, in essence, use the folk tales of teenagers to take our writing from an immature, uncertain, adolescent stage to a confident adulthood.

Readings may include: Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye; Hinton, The Outsiders; Ellis, Less Than Zero; Collins, The Hunger Games.  Films may include: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Halloween (1978), Fame (1980), The Breakfast Club (1985), Boyz n the Hood (1991), Better Luck Tomorrow (2002), Footloose (1984).

Thinking Like a Mountain: Nature, Culture, and Identity
Prof. Eric Stottlemyer

Spring 2013        Section P        14510   ENG 111 P      TR 12:30-1:45

Spring 2013        Section S        15510   ENG 111 S      TR 2:00-3:15

As of 2012, one of Brazil’s last surviving indigenous tribes, the Awá, remains un-contacted by Western society and has been observed only from a protective distance. Living comfortably deep within remote sections of the Amazon rainforest, some Awá tribal members have had no interaction with—and know nothing about—the modern world. Their histories, their cosmologies, and indeed their very lives are inseparable from the natural environment upon which they rely for sustenance, for shelter, and for meaning. Simply put, the Awá’s sense of reality is so far removed from our own that it is virtually incomprehensible. In the twenty-first century, then, perhaps what most divides us from the Awá is our profound alienation from the natural world. How has our separation from nature fundamentally altered how we think about our own lives? What specific values do we attach to culture and how do we relate those values to the environment? If we do not accept the premise that all life is interdependent, as ecologist Aldo Leopold suggests, are we endangering the future of our species? Given the chance, how might the Awá perceive us and our connection to nature?

 In this course we will critically examine our own relationships to the environment on individual, cultural, and national levels. We will explore problematic terms, such as “nature” and “the natural world,” while interrogating their historical and cultural contexts. We will think critically about the purpose of higher education and the role of ecology and ecological thinking in all of our actions. Finally, we will attempt to arrive at a much deeper understanding of identity as something that is both culturally and materially constructed. Throughout the course, we will focus intently upon the rhetorical strategies various writers use to present sophisticated arguments about their environmental concerns. We will discuss genre and its relationship to audience, purpose, and rhetorical convention. We will write, then revise—then revise again—substantive essays in the service of lucid, well-organized, argumentative prose. 

What is Language? Rhetoric and Representation
Prof. Belinda Walzer

Spring 2013    Section M     15506    ENG 111 M    TR 9:30-10:45

Spring 2013    Section N     15507    ENG 111 N     TR 11:00-12:15

Every means of expression used in society is based, in principle, on collective behavior or—what amounts to the same thing—on convention (Ferdinand de Saussure)

Language is widely understood as a set of conventions in which communities and individuals participate, but does language help shape those communities/individuals or do the communities/individuals shape the language? Does language construct reality or does language merely represent reality (or some combination of all of the above)? Is it possible to adequately and ethically represent and describe the entirety of an event or experience in language? In considering these questions and more, we will interrogate how language and writing function as sites of inquiry, truth seeking, and knowledge production.

This class will serve as an introduction to written rhetoric. Rhetoric is language use that “represents a set of activities—reading, writing, speaking, listening, and discussing—that all intellectually engaged people—students, teachers, and public figures alike—participate in every day” (preface to
Everyday Use by Hephzibah Roskelly and David Jolliffe). Therefore, we are all already rhetoricians and so will also be doing significant critical thinking about our own language use and its relationship to our position(s) within communities, both large and small. We will read and/or practice several different types of writing including critical academic writing, exploratory personal writing and fiction. Authors might include Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wayne Booth, Jonathan Safron Foer, Judith Butler and more. At the end of the semester, you will compile your polished writing in a final portfolio and reflect on your writing process throughout the semester. A portion of almost all classes will be devoted to in-class writing and there will be an assignment due each week, either a journal or a paper, all of which you should keep for your final portfolio.

“Righting Wrongs”: The Rhetoric of Human Rights
Prof. Belinda Walzer

Spring 2013    Section T     15511    ENG 111T     TR 2:00-3:15

Rhetorically, human rights are an inventory of axioms about what it means to be human that everyone presumably knows; practically, it is necessary to admit that, at the very best, they constitute what everyone should know.
- Joseph Slaughter

Human Rights is a concept familiar to most, but what do you really know about universal human rights? Can you list the first three articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)? Have you ever considered what might be problematic about a universal concept of rights? Although education is fundamental to the concept of human rights, the UDHR and other rights instruments are rarely, if ever, taught in schools. As declarations and thus rhetorical acts, these documents call for being analyzed rhetorically in terms of the kinds of normative discourses they produce. Therefore, this section of English 111 will explore the rhetoric of contemporary Human Rights by examining the pedagogical impulse that underwrites the language of human rights and the normative culture that education constructs. We will ask questions and examine topics such as:    

What are international human rights?

How do we know what we know about human rights?

What narratives do human rights recognize, produce, ignore?

How do different texts (understood broadly including film, short stories, alternative media, art etc) offer alternatives to the problems of human rights discourse or expand the scope of its narratives?

What does ethical action look like?

In asking these questions and developing answers, we will learn about the rhetorical foundations of different methods of persuasion for action, both ethical and not, all the while learning about individual writing processes. Student goals include gaining a better understanding of the language that surrounds you, its power, and how to manipulate it, developing a more fluid and coherent implementation of argumentation, developing an understanding of the rhetorical triangle and good research practices and, most importantly, developing your critical thinking skills in relation to your position in this world.

Readings will include selections from world leaders including Hillary Clinton and the Dalai Lama, documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other rights based declarations, short stories, selections of graphic narrative, film, advocacy literature, and more. Assignments may include free writes, weekly journals, rhetorical analyses, and an argumentative research project with significant revision for all formal assignments and a reflective component at the end.

The Music of the 1990s

Prof. Casey Wasserman

Spring 2013    Section E    15499    ENG 111E     MWF 12:00-12:50

We listen to music not only for enjoyment and entertainment but to have our values affirmed or contested. This class seeks to examine how the music of the ‘90s represented a period in American cultural history in which the tastes of those on the periphery became the mainstream, the unusual became typical, and seemingly shared cultural value systems underwent a tremendous transformation. Over the course of the decade, there emerged a true diversity of mainstream musical genres ranging from grunge to gangsta rap to country with each responding to American society in its own way.

Over the course of the semester, students will “read” ‘90s music (and music videos) to question how particular artists or genres confronted racism, classism, regionalism, sexism, sexuality, technological developments and socio-economic changes. The primary course goal is to develop and cultivate a voice as a writer and cultural critic through an examination of how others have down so through musical and visual pursuits as well as cultural criticism. Students will write a personal essay, several short analytical essays (including close readings of songs and videos as well as analyses of scholarly responses to our primary musical texts), and a research project on an artist or unstudied genre of the student’s choice that will culminate in a presentation to the class. We will spend a significant amount of time writing and revising essays with different approaches examining academic writing and popular culture that will include multiple drafts, self-reflection, and peer review. The diversity of assignments and revision strategies will allow you to produce a range of writing that engages with personal, analytical, and critical styles while developing your voice as a writer.

Some questions for consideration include: how do certain personal biases alter our perceptions of popular culture particularly when a cultural moment is from the past? How might some of the same cultural concerns from the ‘90s linger into the present day? Do all forms of entertainment address cultural issues or can entertainment simply be entertainment?

While a good deal of time will be spent engaging directly with the music and videos from the era, students can expect to encounter a wide range of critical essays and interpretations in a course reader as we historicize this music. In addition to several documentaries (Uprising: Hip-Hop and the L.A. Riots and Pearl Jam Twenty), selections may be taken from: David Brackett’s The Pop, Rock & Soul Reader; Margo Jefferson’s On Michael Jackson; Paul Friedlander’s Rock and Roll: A Social History; Michael Eric Dyson’s Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur; Andy Greenwald’s Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo; Andy Yarm’s Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge.

Science / Fiction(s)
Prof. Elizabeth Way
Spring 2013        Section R        15509   ENG 111 R        TR 2:00-3:15

Science and fiction are two disciplines often considered as antithetical to one another. In this course we will explore the relationship between science, as the mode of factual observation and exploration, and fiction, the creative mode of narrating experience. How does the rhetoric of science (and its emphasis on record-keeping, giving evidence or proof, bearing witness, etc.) engage the rhetoric of fiction (that which is empirically not true but which often aspires to realism) to interrogate issues of power, religious belief, gender, class, and/or race? What rhetorical or narrative “experiments” are being conducted in fiction and non-fiction texts as well as sci-fi films? We will begin with a blog that analyzes various medical advertisements: from the billboard wars between Winston-Salem’s two prominent hospitals to ads by major pharmaceutical companies. From there we will progress to longer, more formal written responses to various “science-minded” works. As a writing seminar, our main goal is to hone and improve our writing and critical thinking skills through various written responses to these diverse sources. Assignments include three formal essays: a close reading, a comparative analysis, and a research project. Students will also give one oral presentation related to their writing projects, maintain a reading journal/blog, and participate in regular peer critiques, full class writing workshops, and individual grading conferences. By the end of the semester, students will produce a writing portfolio of twenty pages of polished writing.

Authors and materials may include selections from: Mary Shelley, Humphry Davy, Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Max Nordau, Cesare Lombroso, Bram Stoker, and Sigmund Freud,  Charlotte Perkins Gilman; articles from the Medical Laboratory Observer, Science, The New York Times, Washington Post, and Forbes; films such as “Bladerunner,” and “The Matrix.

Us Versus Them:  The Rhetoric of Groups
Professor Elisabeth Whitehead

Spring 2013   Section B   15496   ENG 111 B   MWF 10:00-10:50

Spring 2013   Section C   15497   ENG 111 C   MWF 11:11:50

Sometimes we choose the group, and sometimes the group chooses us.  But whether it is race, gender, religion, sexuality, a nation or an ideology, we all can claim numerous group affiliations.  Group membership can fulfill important needs, helping us to negotiate and establish identity, reduce chaos, and create a sense of larger purpose.  It can also instill in us a feeling of safety and confidence, or even aid in our survival.  So when is group alliance functioning in a life-giving way, and when does it become dangerous?  

In this course we will be investigating the psychology and rhetoric of groups, especially as it relates to written text. We will look at themes such as conformity, obedience to authority, dispersal of responsibility, group privilege and power, and stereotypes.  We will discuss through what lens groups see each other, speak to each other, and write about each other.  Analyzing texts about issues including the Holocaust, hazing, the glass ceiling, racism, Abu Ghraib, sexual identity, and cults, we will examine the language of prejudice and exclusion.  In addition, we will study authors who embrace a very different vision, of empathy and inclusion, including Martin Luther King Jr. who once wrote: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

This is a reading and writing intensive course.  We will be exploring a variety of texts, including nonfiction essays, journalism, literature, psychological studies, film, letters, speeches, poetry, and the graphic novel.  In addition to analytical and researched writing, you will also have the opportunity to write narratives from personal experience.

Texts may include work by Martin Luther King Jr., Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, Thomas Jefferson, Malcolm X, Art Spiegleman, Maxine Hong Kingston, Mahatma Gandhi, Studs Terkel, Augusten Burroughs, and Deborah Layton.

Writing Life: The Art of the Personal Narrative

Professor Elisabeth Whitehead

Spring 2013  Section H   15502  ENG 111H    MWF 2:00-2:50

In this course we will examine the social, political, and rhetorical functions of the personal narrative.  With a focus on enhancing critical reading, writing, and thinking skills, we will study a variety of texts including essays, memoirs, journals, film, a graphic novel, and poetry in order to consider an approach to argumentation and advocacy that prioritizes the personal voice.

Author Joan Didion writes, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” When authors engage in the act and art of writing based on their own life experiences, they can come to know themselves better.  But beyond this, they can use narrative to extend past their own circle of experience in order to communicate with, contribute to, comment on, and make arguments concerning the larger human experience. How can life stories reach past a particular event to speak to a broader vision and a larger meaning?  What purpose could a narrative serve, socially, politically, and artistically?  We will address these questions as well as engaging in a comparison of texts that make arguments entirely through narrative, texts that balance narrative with research and other forms of outside opinion, and texts that do not utilize the personal voice.  Through comparison we will investigate the inherent advantages and risks of engaging in a more subjective approach to argument.  

This is a writing intensive course. Projects will include in-depth analyses of rhetorical strategies employed by published authors; research projects that seek to balance and integrate narrative with gathered facts, statistics, expert opinion, and psychological studies; a creative project that reflects on and experiments with the functions of genre; as well as assignments that will allow you to compose your own narratives, experimenting with elements such as organization, design, style, and voice.  We will especially investigate the importance of audience awareness in narrative writing, considering how to present experience in a way that will allow a reader to stop and listen and then perhaps take action. We will also closely analyze and then practice elements such as scene, dialogue, sensory detail, imagery, plot, and character.  

Texts may include work by Sister Helen Prejean, Jon Krakauer, Opal Whiteley, Susana Kaysen, Augusten Burroughs, Art Spiegelman, Joan Didion, Barbara Ehrenreich, Maxine Hong Kingston, Malcolm X, and David Small.

Containment and Liberation

Prof. Grace Wetzel

Spring 2013        Section V        15513                WF 11:00-12:15

Spring 2013        Section W        15514                WF 12:30-1:45

How does American society contain individuals and groups through its institutions, structures, and policies?  What prisons – both literal and figurative – entrap Americans?  In what senses and through what means is liberation possible?  This course will explore the theme of “Containment & Liberation” from several angles to: 1) sharpen our critical thinking, close reading, and argumentative writing skills; and 2) prepare us for the writing we will do in future college courses and beyond.  We will explore topics and questions such as:

Imprisonment: Is freedom possible in a prison setting?  In any institutional setting?  To what degree are we ourselves institutionalized or imprisoned?

Hunger and Poverty: What cycles of hunger and poverty exist in Winston-Salem and the larger United States?  How might we break these cycles?

Gender roles: To what degree do we conform to gender expectations?  What are the possibilities and limitations of social constructions of masculinity and femininity?

Our hyper-technological world:  In what ways does technology empower us?  How does it simultaneously inhibit us?

Our exploration of these issues in editorials, short stories, poems, photographs, graffiti art, film, blogs, and other websites will teach us to identify elements of effective arguments and then apply these principles to essays of our own.  This course will also strengthen our information literacy skills by teaching strategies for finding, assessing, using, and documenting source materials.  

Required Texts:

Wood, Nancy. Essentials of Argument, 3rd edition

Course Packet that includes (among other texts): Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” Jeanette Winterson’s “Imagination and Reality,” Walker Percy’s “Loss of the Creature,” Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” “Gloria Steinem’s “If Men Could Menstruate,” Graffiti Art by Banksy, Ken Light’s Texas Death Row (selections), Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation (selections), and newspapers editorials from The Old Gold and Black, Winston-Salem Journal, and New York Times.

Documentary as Social Critique: A Service Learning Course

Prof. Grace Wetzel

Spring 2013        Section X        17935                WF 2:00-3:15

This course explores the rhetorical and social significance of documentary film in order to: 1) sharpen our critical thinking, close reading, and writing skills; and 2) prepare us for the writing we will do in future college courses and beyond.  In this class, we will closely analyze the means by which this genre creates meaning and engages in political, cultural, and social critique – a process in which documentary film does not merely “passively represent a reality,” but rather “has the potential to transform that reality…as a part of the cultural discourses which carry on the process of transformation” (Plantinga 45).

To this end, we will: 1) view a wide range of documentaries on subjects including Hurricane Katrina (When the Levees Broke), homelessness (Civil Indigent), consumerism (Mickey Mouse Monopoly), media representations of women (Miss Representation), and our hyper-technological world (Twittamentary); 2) rhetorically analyze these documentaries through writing and discussion, while engaging in close readings of documentary theory and academic critical analyses; and 3) compose documentaries of our own that address social problems in our local community and at Wake Forest University.

Our major course assignments will follow this trajectory: We will begin with a rhetorical analysis of a documentary film, considering how this genre constructs meaning through various strategies of persuasion.  Then, we will progress to an inter-textual analysis comparing the rhetorical strategies of two treatments (one documentary text and one non-documentary text) of the same topic.  After composing an annotated bibliography that will enhance our research capacity, we will conclude the semester by applying our research to documentary films of our own design (supplemented by a written explanation of our rhetorical choices).  Our planning, further research, and filming for these projects will take us outside the gates of Wake Forest—for this reason, students should be prepared to spend time outside of class in our local community.

Required Texts (tentative):

Wood, Nancy. Essentials of Argument, 3rd edition.

Jack C. Ellis and Betsy A. McLane, A New History of Documentary Film (2005).

Course Packet that includes documentary theory, journal articles, and other chapters, essays, and media.

Hacker, Diana. Writer’s Help.

Tell Me A Story  

Prof. Phoebe Zerwick

Spring 2013    Section F   15500      ENG 111 F    MWF 12:00-12:50

Spring 2013    Section G  15501      ENG 111 G    MWF 100-1:50

Don Hewitt, the founder of the CBS news show 60 Minutes, lived by four simple words: Tell Me A Story. That motto transformed television news from a series of reports to engaging stories about the issues of the day – large and small. In this course, you will practice storytelling as a way to add meaning and depth to your academic writing. We will practice the writing process in class, including the development of an idea, writing the first draft, peer response and making revisions. Written assignments will give you the chance to practice a variety of genres, including a personal essay, a persuasive essay, a text analysis and shorter assignments. Readings will include examples of narrative writing, persuasive essays, speeches, and other texts chosen to inspire you in your work. Student writers do best when they find a topic that stirs their passions and means something to them. That freedom and self-direction, however, carries responsibility. You will be graded on your participation. You will be expected to read beyond the list of assigned readings and bring samples of writing that inspires you to share with your classmates. You will be expected to find your own topics for longer assignments. And you will be expected to actively engage in peer review.

Students will be expected to read the following books on writing: The Glamour of Grammar, Roy Peter Clark and “They Say, I Say” The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, Gerald Graff. Readings will also include selected magazine pieces, essays, speeches, letters and other texts that make use of narrative techniques which I will post on the Sakai page for this class. You should also purchase the on-line version of Writer’s Help, by Diana Hacker, as a reference for all your writing at Wake Forest.