ENG 111 Writing Seminar Descriptions – Spring 2012

American Con/Texts

Prof. Laura L. Aull

Spring 2012        Section G    15501 ENG 111 G     MW   2:00-3:15


If you grew up in or with an affiliation to the United States, you have probably been asked to read and interpret “American literature” repeatedly. But you may not have been asked as regularly to consider the very definitions and processes that help construct it. In this section of English 111, we will explore the ways that culture and society are constructed through American literature, and so we will spend time analyzing both “American” texts as well as the ways they are presented and marketed. We will discuss various ways that “literature” and “American culture” are defined, and we will come up with our own definitions as we explore them. More generally, this course will help you continue to develop as critical readers, thinkers, and writers able to communicate in cultural and academic communities; to that end, we will strive to improve your ability to write clear, organized, engaged essays and to aid your development as a critical interpreter of written arguments. Throughout the course, we will spend time analyzing rhetorical patterns in the texts we read and write; examining the apparatus and framing surrounding those texts and the assumptions embedded therein; and considering audience, purpose, and ways of revising in our own and others’ writing. Formal assignments will include several short argumentative essays, a multi-media assignment, and a final group project and presentation.

Required texts:

Paul Lauter (Ed) Heath Anthology of American Literature, 6th edition

Nina Baym (Ed) Norton Anthology of American Literature, 7th edition


Freedom and Modern Society 

Prof. Michelle Balaev

Spring 2012        Section A    15495 ENG 111 A     MWF   9:00-9:50

This course explores the subject of civic rights and freedom in the formation of modern society.  In exploring Western concepts derived from the Enlightenment period regarding rights and freedoms, we will consider how these tenets are implemented in modern societies. We will analyze and practice the literary form of the essay as a tool to persuade and initiate social change. Through our course readings, discussions, and writing assignments, we will endeavor to address the topic and arrive at our own positions. Writing workshops will create the opportunity for feedback and revisions as your ideas and literary style evolve. Formal essays, informal essays, a writing journal, presentations, and group work will be required.

Texts include selected essays by Michel de Montaigne, Rights of Man by Thomas Paine, Of The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft, Letters from An American Farmer by J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur , and the Writer’s Help handbook.

English 111 Jazz and American Culture

Prof. Bruce Barnhart

Spring 2012        Section J        15504        ENG 111 J        TR 2:00-3:15

Spring 2012        Section M        15506        ENG 111 M        TR 3:30-4:45

What is American culture and how does it shape us? What role does culture play in the way we think about the world? These are the rather large questions we will attempt to answer in this seminar. We will work towards our answers by considering the relationship between music and society, particularly the relationship between jazz music and American society. The Greek philosopher Aristotle and the American composer Duke Ellington both saw an essential link between styles of musical performance and the character of a community. Our goal in this class will be to investigate these kinds of claims and to see what focused attention on the jazz tradition can tell us about American culture.  We will listen to jazz recordings, write critical and creative responses to these recordings, and read critics who use the music to comment on American society.

An Ecological Education

Prof. Paul Bogard

Spring 2012        Section R    15509 ENG 111 R            WF 12:30-1:45

Spring 2012        Section U    15512 ENG 111 U             WF 2:00-3:15

“First, all education is environmental education. By what is included or excluded we teach students that they are part of or apart from the natural world. To teach economics, for example, without reference to the laws of thermodynamics or those of ecology is to teach a fundamentally important ecological lesson: that physics and ecology have nothing to do with the economy. That just happens to be dead wrong. The same is true throughout all of the curriculum.

--David Orr, Earth in Mind (2004)

Where do you come from; where do you call home? How well do you know the natural world around you? If the science of ecology tells us that everything is connected, how are we as humans connected to the rest of nature, and what are the implications of that connection? What kind of formal education about the environment have you received so far? In this English 111 course we will engage with questions such as these—including asking if they matter, and why.  

As we do, we’ll pay close attention to Aldo Leopold’s notion of “an ecological education,” which he said, “calls for a reversal of specialization; instead of learning more and more about less and less, we must learn more and more about the whole biotic landscape.” We’ll question what kind of ecological education Americans receive today, and how having an ecological education might change the way you see your chosen major and career—whatever they may turn out to be.

Course themes will include the connection between human health and the health of “the environment”; sustainability; and—keeping in mind Michael Pollan’s argument that “the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world”—food.


Writing assignments will include a series of essays that will offer you an opportunity to practice your skills in sharing reflection and research, argument and analysis. We will approach writing as a process of exploration and learning, with workshopping and revision leading to essays of increasing clarity and focus, appropriate language and style, attention to audience, and an absence of grammatical errors.

From “The Lady of Shalott” to Lady Gaga: Beauty and Ugliness

Prof. Erin Branch

Spring 2012        Section N        15507   ENG 111 N         WF 9:30-10:45

Whatever we might think of her music, we would be hard-pressed to find someone willing to argue that Lady Gaga, with her outré fashion choices and sculptural hairdos, is the 21st century’s ideal of beauty. Yet if we consider the characteristics that make Lady Gaga Lady Gaga, we can locate a natural extension of a long philosophical and aesthetic tradition that values surface over depth, performance over authenticity, and repeatability over uniqueness.

This course begins in the 19th century, dipping into the Gothic and the Romantic periods, and dwelling for a time on the fin-de-siècle movement known as Aestheticism. We will also explore some 20th and 21st century extensions of these aesthetic philosophies, and we’ll study some examples of visual art, literature, and philosophy that offer new conceptions of beauty in a post-modern world.

Our texts--which include narrative fiction, poetry, visual art, music, and philosophy-- offer us rich material for discussing the purpose of art and the nature of representation. We will examine the social utility of aesthetic categories like “beautiful” and “ugly,” and we think about whether beauty itself, which we often consider a subjective category (i.e., beauty is in the eye of the beholder), is “real” or simply a rhetorical construct. As such, the course topic promotes thinking deeply and writing purposefully about the persuasive power of language. And since questions of beauty are often tangled up with questions of race, class, and gender, the course provides excellent fodder for thinking and writing about public concerns and social justice.

Writing assignments will ask you to use our readings as the “case studies” that ground the arguments you make about more theoretical concepts. Some assignments will have interpretive aims (what the text means), and others will have rhetorical aims (how the text means). This twofold approach will allow you to practice the kinds of close reading, critical thinking, and argumentative writing that characterize academic discourse.

Readings may include selections from Soren Kierkegaard, Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, J.K. Huysmans, Toni Morrison, Susan Sontag, and Zadie Smith. Writing and other assignments may ask you to perform close readings, to write evidence-based arguments, to conduct research, and to present findings.

Eating Our Words: Rhetorics of Food

Prof. Erin Branch

Spring 2012        Section S        15510   ENG 111 S        WF 11:00-12:15

Spring 2012        Section V        15513   ENG 111 V        WF   2:00 – 3:15

How much do you know about where your food comes from? How much time do you spend thinking about what you put in your mouth every day? If you are like most Americans, the answer to the both of these questions is probably “not much.” We live in an era dominated by processed convenience food and discount bulk retailers, and we have come to expect year-round availability of all products--even those that are only ripe on the other side of the planet. Nonetheless, people have begun to take steps to know more about their food. The food movement has taken off, and with it, food writing.

In this course, we will ask not only where this shift in the public attitude about food is coming from, but also why so many more people are interested in reading and writing about something as ordinary as food. We will explore a range of books, articles, and films that have helped popularize the shift toward a more attentive, purposeful approach to buying, preparing, and eating food. We will consider questions such as: What, exactly, are we eating? Where does it come from? What motivates our food choices? How do our eating habits map onto other aspects of our lives, including urbanism, corporatization, consumerism, and capitalism? How do food narratives allow us to study community development, politics, and ethics? As this is a writing course, we will consider how the particular genres and texts we study try to shape public discourse around food, nutrition, and the environment. We will be particularly attentive to the rhetorical strategies these authors employ to establish themselves as credible authorities, to address (or constitute) audiences, and to argue for new approaches to cooking and eating.

Readings may include selections from M.F.K. Fisher, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, and others. Writing assignments may include short argumentative essays, a research paper, and presentations.

Guyland: Exploring the Language of Contemporary Masculinity in Popular and College Culture

Prof. Collin Craig

Spring 2012    Section O   15508    ENG 111 O                WF 9:30-10:45

Michael Kimmel states that in America masculinity is primarily “a homosocial experience, performed for, and judged by other men.”  So who are these guys that teach us what it means to be a man? What is an American man?  Such phrases as, “Be a Man!” “Real Men Don’t Cry,” “Grow a pair!” or “Bro’s before Hoes” have become staple phrases in an American discourse on masculinity. What do these phrases mean for college masculinity in America?  What do they suggests about the role of women in men’s lives?  What do they imply about the role language plays in shaping how we view and talk about masculinity?  If we might venture to say that language plays a role in how we construct ourselves as gendered beings, then how might we also use language to question and revise what it means to be a contemporary man in America? These are some of the questions that we will be exploring in our writing, reading and research practices. We will also consider the role that mediums of communication, such as social media and alphabetic texts play in demonstrating American masculinity as performance, rhetoric, and social practice. Within the contexts of popular culture media, literature, and social and digital media, we will use critical literacies to approach American masculinity as both ideological, social, community situated and constructed by various language practices. We will explore writings across multiple genres to analyze the meaning of masculinity in men lives.

This course is designed to build your critical thinking skills, your ability to read and write in multiple genres, and your facility through research practices to join and participate in various academic conversations. We will draw on multiple resources to invent, arrange, and revise existing ideas about gender, gendered language practices, and American popular college culture.  Therefore we will be doing ALOT of writing, reading and research.  As participants in the cultures in which American masculinity exist, this course will serve as a space in which we can also become producers of cultures of masculinity in America through critical thinking, research and writing.

What Is All This Story About?

Prof. Rachael Deagman

Spring 2012    Section GG  14538    ENG 111 GG        MW 2:00-3:15

The title of this course, drawn from the end of Laurence Sterne’s great novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, will be the guiding question for this class as we read, write and think about stories.  This question asks us to recognize storytellers as individual subjects, each with a particular life (hi)story, and to contemplate how these individuals fit into larger social groups.  The course texts encourage us to recognize language as an important resource for understanding and representing the self and the community, resources from which we will draw to improve our own writing skills as the semester progresses.  We begin with blogs about storytelling to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of arguments and to think about the rhetorical moves that might add to or detract from the effectiveness of persuasive writing.  From there we turn to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a rich collection of tales depicting a wide range of topics from marriage and gender relations to religion and class.  This section of the course emphasizes close reading and critical thinking skills that will prove to be crucial for successful academic writing.  We then switch genres and time periods to explore two classic stories that appeal to children and adults alike: Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  Although we will explore many stories over the semester, the class emphasizes our ability to clearly articulate our own stories, whether through lucid academic writing or through informal free writing exercises.  Assignments include short writing exercises that build to a longer essay, workshop critiques, peer critiques, and an in-class essay exam.  

Why Do We Think about Fictional Persons?

Prof. Michael Klotz

Spring 2012        Section H        15502  ENG 111 H        TR 11:00-12:15

When we read a novel, a short story, or any other imaginative work we are presented with a fictional world populated by persons who do not actually exist. As readers we spend a considerable amount of time thinking about and imagining the lives of these people. One reason that we do this is that it’s often fun to do so. It is an experience: we may laugh, cry, feel scared, anxious, or triumphant. But is there anything else to be gained? Are we better able to make decisions in our own lives (choosing a profession, a place to live, a person to marry) by reading about fictional characters making similar decisions, and seeing how these choices work out for them? Does imagining the lives of fictional people make us more curious about the lives of the people around us in the real world? Are we better able to sympathize with the misfortunes of the people around us if we have already “experienced” them in a fictional work? How is thinking about a fictional character different from imagining the life of a historical person who is no longer alive? How is it different from thinking about an existing historical person who we will never be able to locate in real life? These are some of the questions that we will consider as we read a range of arguments on this topic from writers, critics, and theorists that include George Eliot, Samuel Johnson, E.M. Forster, William H. Gass, Stanley Fish, Jorge Luis Borges, Mark McGurl, James Wood, Harold Bloom, Lisa Zunshine, Thomas Pavel, and David Foster Wallace. The ideas provided by these authors will provide the basis of our discussion and sustained consideration of the utility, value, and significance of fictional people. During the semester you will write four essays (between 4-5 pages in length), and for each paper you will be required to workshop a draft of your essay with a peer and you will receive written feedback from me regarding your draft. This course provides focused instruction in writing, structuring an argument, and identifying and analyzing appropriate evidence. This is a discussion-based seminar and you will be required to arrive at class promptly, having completed the assigned reading/viewing for that day, and ready to discuss the material. All students will be asked to give a 5-10 minute presentation, and there will be periodic unannounced reading quizzes.

Teenage Wasteland

Prof. Kathleen McClancy

Spring 2012        Section C   15497    ENG 111 C     MWF 11:00-11:50

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 2010, 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; Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent; Hinton, The Outsiders; Gaines, Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia’s Dead End Kids; Seventeen magazine; examples of EC horror comics.  Films may include: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), The Blob (1958), Halloween (1978), Fame (1980), The Breakfast Club (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), Save the Last Dance (2001), Brick (2005), examples of Coronet Instructional Films.  Television episodes may include examples of: Beverly Hills, 90210, My So-Called Life, The O.C., Veronica Mars.

Representations of Illness in Literature and Culture 

Prof. Patrick Moran

Spring  2012        Section B   15496 ENG 111 B     MWF 9:00-9:50

This writing seminar will examine the role of health, illness, and stigma in the modern cultural imagination.  Above all, we will consider the role that language plays in the social construction of physical and mental ailments, such as cancer, AIDS, addiction, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Throughout the semester, we will enter into on-going critical conversations as we analyze novels, plays, memoirs, diagnostic texts, films, and reality television programs that all stage pathology.  We will reflect on how cultures—past and present—create and police the boundaries between the healthy and the unhealthy, the normal and the abnormal, the sane and the insane.  By discovering the strategies and nuances of a range of academic discourses, you will hone critical thinking, writing, and research skills.  Sequenced writing projects, based not only on your readings, but also your field experience, will explore how the realities of illness are alternatively reflected, inverted, mythologized, or obscured through representation.

Because you have chosen a course in public engagement, you will have the opportunity to learn from patients and health-care clinicians as you serve in a volunteer capacity at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.  You will be called upon to put your knowledge, sensitivity, and critical thinking skills into practice as you work one-on-one with individuals struggling with the uncertain borders of illness.  Inevitably, these experiences beyond the classroom will enrich our collective inquiry throughout the semester.  In addition to normal class time it is important that you are available to volunteer 4 hours per week at WFU’s Hospital.

Travel, Tourism, and the Hotel

Prof. Randi Saloman

Spring 2012 Section E   15499 ENG 111 E     MWF        1:00-1:50

What counts as tourism in a global world? What is the relationship between hotels and the countries or cities in which they are located? Or the people who work and stay within their walls? In this course, we will examine travel and tourism from literary, cultural, political, and economic perspectives. We will pay particular attention to the hotel space as it develops across time, both reflecting and enabling the increase in wide-ranging and international travel. Readings will include works of fiction, travel narratives, and autobiographical accounts, along with historical accounts of the growth of the railroad and automobile industries and theoretical works on the implications of tourism. Writing assignments will range from close readings and analyses to personal essays. While our focus will be the 20th Century, we will look backward to works such as Forster’s A Room with a View and forward to postmodern considerations of space and travel, which view our current lack of rootedness with a more skeptical eye. Through an engagement with the literary, historical, cultural, and critical aspects of travel and tourism, students will hone their skills at close readings, comparative evaluations of texts and ideas, and analytical thinking.

Over the course of the semester, students will write a series of short essays of increasing length and complexity. The development of writing skills will be a primary focus of this course, and regular in-class workshops, peer reviews, and essay revisions, will feature prominently as we work to achieve this goal. All students will be required to meet with the instructor for one-on-one conferences during the semester. In addition, students will keep a portfolio of their writing over the course of the semester (containing all writing exercises, drafts, essays, peer reviews, etc.) and will conduct self-evaluations of their writing at the beginning, mid-point, and end of the semester.

Arnold Bennett, The Grand Babylon Hotel

E.M. Forster, A Room with a View

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Henry James, Daisy Miller

Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place

George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London

Carl Thompson, Travel Writing: The New Critical Idiom



Life and Debt

Eat, Pray, Love

Ritual and Initiation: The Moment of Vision

Prof. Dennis Sampson

Spring 2012 Section MM         17935 ENG 111 MM        TR 3:30-4:45

"There is no iron," says the Russian short story writer, Isaac Babel, "that can enter the human heart with such stupefying effect as a period placed just at the right moment." This class will draw on stories, essays, and poems that emphasize the rituals and initiations we all participate in, all captured as a sudden insight which alters the way we look at ourselves and the world. A man realizes that personal freedom is a terrible thing in a story by the French writer, Albert Camus. In her essay "The Death of a Moth" Virginia Woolf's narrator senses the democratic nature of death and is shocked. Close examination of modern and contemporary poems will be a part of this class, as well as learning to write a simple and evocative essay. Writing assignments will be geared toward orchestrating sentence and paragraph around the visionary moment so it might be conveyed with full effect: the "period placed just at the right moment." Students will keep a journal, and there will be in-class workshops dedicated to critique and revision of student papers.
A sense of humor would be appreciated, as would a willingness to make and to acknowledge our mistakes.


  1. Stoner, a novel, by John Williams
  2. The Best American Short Stories Of The Century, ed. John Updike
  3. Packet of Hand-outs

Speaking of HIV/AIDS: A Service Learning Course

Prof. Erica Still

Spring 2012        Section P        14510        ENG 111 P        WF 9:30-10:45

In the past three decades, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has gained national and now global attention. While the early days of the infection and disease were generally characterized by secrecy and denial, today the conversation about HIV/AIDS has a very different tone. From World AIDS Day to Product Red to MTV’s television movie Pedro, popular culture has mounted a campaign to inform and enlist the public in widespread efforts to prevent, cure, and ultimately eradicate the disease. Even so, the issue continues to spark debates, as the controversies surrounding the “down low” phenomenon and Pope Benedict XVI’s comments about condom use in Africa demonstrate. In this course, we will examine the various discourses addressing the problems and experiences of HIV/AIDS: through a wide range of texts and discourses, we will focus on the language and strategies used to represent the disease. At the center of our examination will be ongoing attention to our own writing process, so that by the end of the semester we will be able to add our critically informed voices to the ongoing conversation speaking of HIV/AIDS.

This is a service-learning course, so students should plan to commit to working outside the classroom with local agencies and/or organizations involved in HIV/AIDS advocacy.  Careful reading and thoughtful writing are also crucial to success in this class. Through a variety of written assignments, we will move from observation and description, to comparison and assessment, to argument and proposition—skills that will serve you well in a variety of future writing contexts. Texts will include some combination of the following: Before It Hits Home; My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story; Yesterday; HIV/AIDS: A Very Short Introduction; The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa; and “You’re the First One I’ve Told: New Faces of HIV in the South, along with a course reader.

Sounding Out American Identity

Prof. Casey Wasserman

Spring 2012    Section F       15500 ENG 111 F     MWF 1:00-1:50

This course will examine the ways sound and African American popular music are intrinsically tied to personal and national identities through an examination of several genres including jazz and hip-hop as well as their literary counterparts in the form of poetry, autobiography, and novels. 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 personal essays, creative pursuits, and critical considerations of the relationship of sound to identity. How will your voice join these on-going critical conversations about American culture?

The semester will begin with a consideration of personal narratives of listening and hearing.  After looking at several philosophical theories of sound, essays by novelist and jazz musician Ralph Ellison will help us consider the difference between noise and music whereas selections authored by Frederick Douglass will get us to think through ideas about sound and memory as we write our own sonic or audio-biographies. We’ll move on to think about the relationship of sound to lyrical or narrative content by looking at the works of Tupac Shakur and Jay-Z to see what happens to meaning when music is present or absent. Using Jay-Z’s autobiography and lyrical companion Decoded in addition to Michael Eric Dyson’s critical examination of Shakur’s life and career, we’ll experiment with using rhetorical analysis to unpack lyrical content through a series of short papers. We’ll also look at David Margolick’s “biography” of one of Billie Holliday’s signature songs to gain a different perspective on the relationship of poetry to musical performance particularly when addressing contentious social issues. The course will come to a close by writing and responding to the way authors channel musical aesthetics to enhance thematic concerns addressing race, gender, and class. How do musical aesthetics or impulses affect our ability to read and interpret texts? What is the relationship of the aural to the written? These key questions will guide you as you write and revise a longer critical paper weaving together the personal, creative, and critical materials covered during the term.

Because this is a writing course, we will spend a significant amount of time writing and revising essays with different approaches and methods for examining literature, academic writing, and popular culture. Assignments will include short reflections on listening experiences to help play with initial interests or ideas, longer critical essays to develop an argument or thesis over an extended period, and critiques of music scholarship to learn about rhetorical strategies for strengthening presentations of academic scholarship. The diversity of assignments will allow you to produce a range of writing that engages with personal, analytical, and critical styles while developing your voice as a writer.

Readings may include: Ralph Ellison, Living with Music; Jay-Z, Decoded; Tupac Shakur, The Rose that Grew From Concrete; Michael Eric Dyson, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur; David Margolick, Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song; Alice Walker and James Baldwin, selected short stories

Novel Cartographies: Fact, Fiction, and Mapping One’s Journeys

Prof. Elizabeth Way

Spring 2012        Section D        15498   ENG 111 D        MWF 12:00-12:50

In our global world, travel, for most, is a given. Certainly easier now than even just half a

century ago, travel is a click away on Expedia or Travelocity—websites whose very names

suggest speed, quickness, and ease when it comes to hitting the road, taking to the skies, or

sailing the seas. As recently as November 2011, NASA launched its Curiosity rover to Mars—

indeed, even the sky no longer seems the limit nor the “final frontier”! In this course we will

examine the human tendency for (or resistance to) indulging wanderlust. Through a wide

range of materials, we will also analyze the relationship between geographical travel and more

figurative, interior journeys. Why do we like to travel? And upon return, why do we like to tell

others about it? What is the purpose or value of mapping one’s experiences, of creating “novel

cartographies,” literally and figuratively speaking? By examining our own perspectives on and

experiences with wanderlust as well as some portrayals in fiction, poetry, critical commentaries,

and visual texts, we will grapple with what motivates us to wander from home, seek new

frontiers, or the converse—why we fear new places and cultures and rather stay home. Our

semester may conclude by putting theory into practice with a trip of our own to the North

Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, where we will extend our investigation and consideration of the

internal and external journeys in The Life of Pi into the “real world.”

Students will write four essays that will go through several drafts. One of the essays will be

an in-class essay. Revision will be presented as a process and skill that applies to all forms of

academic writing. Assignments will include an exploratory essay, an argumentative essay, a

comparative analysis, and a research project. Students will also give two oral presentations

related to their writing projects, maintain a journal/blog, and complete various in-class writing

and drafting assignments. By the end of the semester, students will produce a writing portfolio of

twenty pages of polished writing.

Materials are likely to include:

Elizabeth Bishop, Poems (Farrar)

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Oxford)

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (Vintage)

Yann Martel, Life of Pi (Harcourt)

Mary Seacole, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (Penguin)

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America (Penguin)

Carl Thompson, Travel Writing (Routledge)

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Harcourt)

Maps, paintings, sketches, postcards, and other visual resources posted on Sakai


Imprisonment in America – A Service Learning Course

Prof. Grace Wetzel

Spring 2012        Section W        15514        ENG 111 W        WF 2:00-3:15

The United States incarcerates over 2 million people – a larger percentage of its adult population than any nation in the world.  How does American culture represent this social problem?  What textual, visual, literary, and non-literary arguments do we encounter, and how does close reading allow us to critically analyze them?  How can writing enable us to: 1) explore and critique the rhetorical strategies used to represent imprisonment to particular audiences; and 2) compose persuasive, socially responsible arguments of our own?  This course will investigate American imprisonment as represented in newspaper editorials, photographs, personal narratives, poems, government documents, blogs, news broadcasts, music videos, TV, and film.  We will examine topics such as capital punishment, prison education, the U.S. justice system, and systemic reasons for crime.  We will also explore figurative forms of imprisonment – especially cycles of hunger and poverty in Winston-Salem (and the larger U.S.) and our nation’s increasing entrapment in a hyper-technological world.

Through a series of portfolio writing assignments, we will both analyze and create arguments about imprisonment in America.  We will begin with a rhetorical analysis that considers how a text constructs meaning through various strategies of persuasion.  Then, we will progress to an intertextual analysis comparing the rhetorical strategies of texts from different genres.  After composing a researched argumentative essay, we will conclude the semester by representing this argument in a different genre of choice: newspaper editorial (+ reflection); website; business letter/proposal; series of poems/songs; short documentary; etc.  Students will also contribute regularly to our course blog through short responses to readings.

This course aims to foster critical thinking, close reading, and argumentative writing skills – all while enhancing social consciousness, public engagement, and awareness of diverse perspectives.  To this end, we will take a service-learning trip to Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia, SC, where we will conduct in-person peer reviews with inmates enrolled in a prison education program.

Required Texts:

  1. Wood, Nancy. Essentials of Argument, 3rd edition
  2. Prejean, Helen.  Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account Of The Death Penalty In The United States.
  3. Course Packet that includes (among other texts) selections from: Jane Evelyn Atwood’s Too Much Time: Women in Prison, Marie Mulvey-Roberts’s Writing For Their Lives: Death Row U.S.A, Ken Light and Suzanne Donovan’s Texas Death Row, Margaret Morton’s Fragile Dwelling, Walker Percy’s “The Loss of the Creature,” Robert Coles’ “The Tradition: Fact or Fiction,” Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” and newspapers such as The Old Gold and Black, Winston-Salem Journal, and New York Times.

Containment and Liberation

Prof. Grace Wetzel

Spring 2012        Section Q        17483   ENG 111 Q        WF 9:30-10:45

Spring 2012        Section T        15511   ENG 111 T        WF 11:00-12:15

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:

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.  By studying, critiquing, and responding to issues of “Containment & Liberation” through writing, we should feel more confident about our ability to write about academic and public topics rigorously, articulately, and persuasively.

Our portfolio writing assignments will build upon each other.  We will begin with a rhetorical analysis that considers how a text constructs meaning through various strategies of persuasion.  Then, we will progress to an intertextual analysis comparing the rhetorical strategies of texts from different genres.  After composing a researched argumentative essay, we will conclude the semester by publicizing this argument in a different genre of choice: newspaper editorial; website; business letter/proposal; etc.  Students will also contribute regularly to our course blog through short responses to readings.

Required Texts:

  1. Wood, Nancy. Essentials of Argument, 3rd edition
  2. Course Packet that includes (among other texts): Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” Jeanette Winterson’s “Imagination and Reality,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “Gloria Steinem’s “If Men Could Menstruate,” Graffiti Art by Banksy, Marie Mulvey-Roberts’s Writing For Their Lives: Death Row U.S.A (selections), Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed (selections), Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation (selections), and newspapers editorials from The Old Gold and Black, Winston-Salem Journal, and New York Times.

Tell Me A Story

Prof. Phoebe Zerwick

Spring 2012    Section I        15503   ENG 111 I     TR 12:30-1:45

Spring 2012    Section L       15505   ENG 111 L    TR 2:00-3:15

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 students the chance to practice a variety of genres, including a personal essay, a persuasive essay, a research paper and shorter assignments. Readings will include examples of narrative writing, persuasive essays, speeches, and other writing chosen to inspire students in their own 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. Students in this class will be graded on their 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: Writing for Story, Jon Franklin; Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott; The Glamour of Grammar, Roy Peter Clark. Readings will also include selected magazine pieces, essays, speeches, letters and other texts that make use of narrative techniques.