2014-2015 University Catalog 
    
    Aug 17, 2018  
2014-2015 University Catalog archived

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WRIT 100 - Writing Seminar for First-Years


FDR: FW
Credits: 3
Planned Offering: Fall, Winter



No credit for students who have completed FW through exemption. Prerequisite: First-year standing. Concentrated work in composition with readings ranging across modes, forms, and genres in the humanities, social sciences, or sciences. The sections vary in thematic focus across disciplines, but all students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing  several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. All sections stress active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style.

Winter 2015 topics:

WRIT 100-01: Writing Seminar for First-Years: The Literary Memoir: Power, Pilgrimage and Politics (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. Patricia Hampl says, "True memoir is an attempt to find not only a self but a world. To write one's life is to live it twice...a memoir reaches deep within the personality as it seeks its narrative form and it also grasps the life-of-the-times as no political analysis can." In this seminar, we analyze short prose, graphic novels, poetry and digital narratives by writers using memoir as a tool to construct and inhabit an identity. How does each writer convey a sense of self within key cultural moments? Authors include Allie Brosh, Mark Doty, Allison Bechdal, Sherman Alexie, Dorothy Allison, Lynda Barry, Art Speigelman. (FW) Miranda.

WRIT 100-02: Writing Seminar for First-Years: Dialogue and Discovery (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. This seminar uses ideas and tools from philosophy to help develop writing skills. Perhaps more than any other philosopher, Plato understood that engaging in dialogue was both a means of discovering truth and a vehicle for communicating truth to an audience. Through a selection of Plato's dialogues, and other more recent articles, this course investigates the process of finding and expressing truth. We explore thought-provoking questions, such as: What is the role of rhetoric in discovering and communicating truth? Is truth the same for everybody, or can my truth be different from yours? What does it mean to be excellent or good? (FW) Lowney.

WRIT 100-03: Writing Seminar for First-Years: Grotesques and Goths: Southerners Describe the South (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. In this section, we discover what makes Southern literature "Southern" and many Americans uncomfortable with a region and a literature at odds with the values we as a people are supposed to cherish. (FW) Leland.

WRIT 100-04: Writing Seminar for First-Years: Farce and Friends: Comic Writing, Ancient and Modern (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. In this section, we look at comic writing. In addition to ancient Greek and Roman examples, we consider modern comic plays and satires modeled on ancient originals. The practical goal of the course is to learn what we can from the many excellences of comic writing, in order to improve the quality of our own writing. In exploring the persistence of comic models from ancient to modern times, however, students should also get a deeper sense of the nature of comedy itself. (FW) Crotty.

WRIT 100-05: Writing Seminar for First-Years: I See Dead People (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. Concentrated work in composition analyzing gothic representations of the afterlife. In addition to short, informal assignments, students draft and revise four essays stressing writing process, active reading, argumentation, presentation of evidence, methods of analysis, and clarity of style. Texts may include: Henry James, The Turn of the Screw; Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle; George Romero, The Night of the Living Dead; Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead; Toni Morrison, Beloved. (FW) Gavaler.

WRIT 100-06: Writing Seminar for First-Years: Misfits, Rebels, and Outcasts (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. The title of this section leaves out a lot. If extended, it might include strangers, visionaries, fanatics, prophets, artists, lovers, criminals, transients, deviants, freaks, monsters, and so on. We read stories, poems, and plays about individuals challenging the status quo, either directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously. We consider, among other things, what happens to the individual in the process, and what happens to the status quo. (FW) Oliver.

WRIT 100-07: Writing Seminar for First-Years: Animals, People, and Cyborgs (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. This section examines the relationships of human beings to nature and technology. What kinds of relationships do we have with animals, both wild and domestic? Where do we draw the boundary between humans and machines? Does humanity occupy a (privileged) middle ground between other kinds of being? Our readings come from a mix of science, environmental literature, and science fiction. (FW) Warren.

WRIT 100-08: Writing Seminar for First-Years: A Whole New World (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. In this age of global travel, economics, and politics, people can go almost anywhere and find similar technology and consumer goods, experiencing a new place as a comfortable and in some ways familiar variation on home. At other times visitors and newcomers really have discovered a whole new world. In this section, students study novels, movies, and other accounts of cultural encounters between people who have been in the same place but experienced very different worlds. Works include James Welch's Fools Crow about white men first meeting the Blackfeet Indians in Montana, Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart about the English first coming to Nigeria, and Cormac McCarthy's The Road about the breakdown of shared culture in a post-apocalyptic world. We also think about how such encounters are depicted in popular culture, from Disney movies to international thrillers. We compare these fictional encounters with international experiences, issues, and conflicts today. (FW) Smout.

WRIT 100-09: Writing Seminar for First-Years: Immigrant Voices (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. The voices of recent immigrants to the United States speak to us about social struggle, tradition, isolation, discovery, prejudice, identity, transition and freedom. In this seminar we explore the lives and experiences, cultural differences and challenges of various immigrant communities and different generations within immigrant families. Throughout focused reading, class discussion and intensive writing about contemporary novels, short stories, and related articles by and about recent immigrants to the United States, students learn to compose clear, organized, and well-supported articulations of their understanding of the texts and issues at hand. (FW) Ruiz.

Fall 2014 topics:

WRIT 100-02: Writing Seminar for First Years: 'War is hell': Literary Depictions of the Second World War (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. In this course we analyze some of the most ambitious attempts by novelists to assess the impact of the Second World War on soldiers, civilians, and society at large. Our principal texts are Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead; Guenter Grass, The Tin Drum; Joseph Heller, Catch 22; and Thomas Keneally, Schindler's List. How does each writer seek to convey a sense of the suffering caused by "total war," its long-term psychological effects, and its role in causing social change? What can we learn about history from works of fiction? We also view the films inspired by each novel and discuss the choices made by their screenwriters and directors as they sought to bring these complex stories to the screen. (FW) Patch.

WRIT 100-03: Writing Seminar for First Years: Faith, Doubt, and Identity (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. In this writing-intensive seminar, we explore the topic of belief and how it shapes a person's selfhood. How does being a part of a religious community, or a variety of religious communities, shape one's identity? How does identity change with the adoption of either belief, skepticism, or another culture? We ask these questions primarily through the genres of novels and short stories, examining lives of faith and doubt. Texts include Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gilead, about a Congregationalist minister descended from abolitionists; Orhan Pamuk's Snow, about enforced secularization and Muslim experience in Turkey; John Patrick Shanley's play, Doubt, covering Catholic education and priest abuse scandals; essays and stories from Flannery O'Conner, Jonathan Franzen, and John Sullivan; and selections from memoirs by contemporary Muslim American writers. (FW) Gertz.

WRIT 100-04: Writing Seminar for First Years: Dialogue and Discovery (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. This seminar uses ideas and tools from philosophy to help develop writing skills. Perhaps more than any other philosopher, Plato understood that engaging in dialogue was both a means of discovering truth and a vehicle for communicating truth to an audience. Through a selection of Plato's dialogues, and other more recent articles, this course investigates the process of finding and expressing truth. We explore thought-provoking questions, such as: Is truth the same for everybody, or can my truth be different from yours? What does it mean to be excellent or good? Do we need to be morally good to be truly happy? Does God (or the Good) exist? Are we immortal? Does being in love delude us or help us gain knowledge? What is the role of rhetoric in discovering and communicating truth? Does beauty reveal truth? By pursuing discussions that Plato began, we develop the skills of raising questions, analyzing and constructing arguments, listening to objections, considering counterarguments, and modifying or defending claims. Students use these skills to come to their own conclusions about the topics we discuss and learn to write persuasive papers with strong arguments. (FW) Lowney.

RIT 100-05: Writing Seminar for First Years: The Good Wife (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. We study the good wife, or how to survive a marriage, run a household, and save a kingdom. This seminar examines two iconic wives in literature: Griselda and Scheherazade. One is known for her sacrificial patience, the other, cunning fabrication. Yet both share the status of female paragons around whom a community coheres. Reading an eclectic range of texts from the medieval to the postmodern, we ask how gender shapes representation, and vice versa. We chart the various transformations of the two female archetypes through literary history and are on the lookout for moments of breakdown under the burden of exemplarity. And if their goodness resides in securing common profit, how do Griselda and Scheherazade compare to other figures of femininity, such as the diva and the whore? Throughout the seminar, our emphasis is on learning the craft of academic writing via close reading, research, and engagement with critical sources. That is, we read, think, and write like Griselda and Scheherazade--with fortitude and deftness. (FW) Kao.

WRIT 100-06: Writing Seminar for First Years: Raking Muck (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. A writing-intensive seminar, the course explores how journalists known as muckrakers changed America. Students examine the writing and newsgathering techniques employed by famous journalists from Nellie Bly and Ida Tarbell to Lincoln Steffens and Bob Woodward--and learn how journalism and investigative reporting, in particular, evolved throughout history. (FW) Locy.

WRIT 100-07: Writing Seminar for First Years: Grotesques and Goths: Southerners Describe the South (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. In this section, we discover what makes Southern literature "Southern" and many Americans uncomfortable with a region and a literature at odds with the values we as a people are supposed to cherish. (FW) Leland.

WRIT 100-08: Writing Seminar for First Years: Aspects of Elizabeth (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) is among history's most fascinating figures. She ruled a small island, beset by threats both external and internal, during a period of tremendous political, religious and cultural change. Her 45-year reign saw the conspiracies and eventual execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, the consolidation of the Church of England, the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and the flowering of English culture in such figures as Shakespeare, Donne, and Marlowe. We learn about both the public and private Elizabeth by focusing on four distinct topics: her own poetry, letters and speeches; the portraits of her as princess and queen; her controversial personal and political relationship with Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (put to death for treason in 1601); and films about Elizabeth. The primary texts of the course are each other's essays; we learn about our topic by reading what other students have written, even while focusing most of our class time on improving our writing skills. (FW) Dobin.

WRIT 100-09: Writing Seminar for First Years: This Writing Seminar is About You:  The Paranoid Imagination (3).  Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. As this course's title demonstrates, it is easy enough to feel a twinge of paranoia at times, to be fearfully certain that some unseen force or group is conspiring to trouble you (yes, you).  In order to get a better grip on these paranoid moments, this course dissects the tangled webs of the paranoid imagination.  We read detective stories wherein vast conspiracies are uncovered, science fiction novels where reality is not quite what it seems, and dystopian fiction where a paranoid sensibility proves to be necessary for survival.  Along the way we consider some key questions concerning the paranoid mindset.  Are paranoids in touch with some hidden reality or are they sadly confused?  What are the political and social consequences of paranoia?  Authors and texts include:  novels by Thomas Pynchon, Philip K. Dick, and George Orwell; short stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Lu Xun, and Shirley Jackson; episodes of The Twilight Zone, and the film The Parallax View.  (FW) Keiser.

WRIT 100-10: Writing Seminar for First Years: (Human) Nature: Individualism and Community in Environmental Literature (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. What is nature, and how do our relationships to it vary depending on culture and individual experience? How have historical and contemporary writers, thinkers, religious figures and poets understood their relationship to "the natural world"? What is the American understanding of individualism, and how does that understanding influence a cultural relationship with nature? We read widely within American environmental literature; Emerson, Whitman, William Cronon, Annie Dillard, and Wendell Berry, among others, frame our discussion of nature, religious experience, community and individualism. We explore implications that these interrelated themes carry for the individual life as well as for a globalizing world in which ecological concern is a matter of daily news and attention. (FW) Green.

WRIT 100-11: Writing Seminar for First Years: Misfits, Rebels, and Outcasts (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. The title of the course leaves out a lot. If extended, it might include strangers, visionaries, fanatics, prophets, artists, lovers, criminals, transients, deviants, freaks, monsters, and so on. We read stories, poems, and plays about individuals challenging the status quo, either directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously. We consider, among other things, what happens to the individual in the process, and what happens to the status quo. (FW) Oliver.

WRIT 100-12: Writing Seminar for First Years: Wicked Women (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. This section begins with Chaucer's Wife of Bath and ends with recent essays on Hillary Clinton. In between, we examine witches, femme fatales and prostitutes, considering representations of difficult women in literature, journalism and film. The course is not for women only--for instance, our discussion of witchcraft and wizardry runs from Miller's The Crucible through excerpts from Harry Potter. (FW) Brodie.

WRIT 100-13: Writing Seminar for First Years: Nonconformity and Community: Honor Beyond the Classroom (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. What's the proper role of nonconformity in the healthy community? How much conformity is needed to sustain a culture? Are complete nonconformity and strict conformity even possible? Through readings by classic and contemporary writers, we explore the importance of sameness and difference within the various communities to which we belong. In the process, the course includes an examination of some of Washington and Lee's core values, including honor and integrity. (FW) Pickett.

WRIT 100-14: Writing Seminar for First Years: Meditation and Self-Knowledge (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. For 2500 years, Hindus and Buddhists have promoted meditation as a means to attain insight and liberation from suffering, a goal sometimes understood in terms of divinity or Buddha-nature. Meditation has also been adopted by some in the West over the last century, often for psychological or physical benefits apart from any devotional context. What had traditionally been a practice for ordained monks was popularized in the West, a trend that then caught on in Asia as well. We look at the origins of meditative practices in Asian traditions, using primary sources, social context, and personal experience of basic meditative techniques. The course concludes by noting that some contemporary neuroscientists are looking to meditation to better understand mind, brain, emotion, and cognition. (FW) Lubin.

WRIT 100-15:  Writing Seminar for First Years:  Sex, Gender, and Desire (3).  Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. In this section, we consider three familiar categories that structure so much of life: sex, gender, and desire. Standardly, we assume that sex is the biological fact that determines our gender, and our gender, in turn, determines our sexual desires.  This term we examine just how mistaken these standard assumptions are, and what it means to deny their truth. N.B. This class features frank and occasionally graphic material about sex, gender, and sexuality.  If you are uncomfortable with such material, you should choose a different section of WRIT 100. (FW) Burstein.

WRIT 100-16: Writing Seminar for First Years: Power and the Cultural Imagination (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. With an eye to deciphering our contemporary political and cultural landscape(s), this course aims to build our conceptual vocabulary on the topics of power and image. We trace these terms--as well as their relationship to one another--throughout a sampling of readings in philosophy, political theory, media and cultural studies. Some of the abiding questions we concern ourselves with are: What is the nature of image, representation and icon? Can such things be "culturally shared"? If so, how do images, representations or icons intervene in or influence our social and political relationships? Through class discussion, reflective writing exercises and essay composition, students are encouraged to develop clear, convincing articulations of their own insights into the texts and issues at hand. (FW) Renault-Steele.

WRIT 100-17: Writing Seminar for First Years: Love, Death, and Other Passions (3). Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. Is passion a necessary element of a good life?  Much in contemporary society makes it difficult and perhaps even unwise to live a passionate life, and yet we are also told that finding our passion is the key to success, that love is all we need for happiness, and that passionate people make great leaders.  This course addresses the confusion in how we talk and think about passion, the passions, and the place they hold in individual and collective life.  Course materials are drawn from a diversity of disciplines and perspectives, which may include literature, art, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and economics. (FW) Kosky.





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