2015-2016 University Catalog 
    
    Feb 27, 2020  
2015-2016 University Catalog archived

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WRIT 100 - Writing Seminar for First-Years


FDR: FW
Credits: 3


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 2016, WRIT 100-01: Writing Seminar for First Years: The Nature of Nature: Environmental Thought and 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. This seminar is an exploration of the human relationship to nature. How do writers, poets, and environmental thinkers understand their relationships to "the natural world"? How can we understand our own? In this section, we read widely within environmental literature. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, William Cronon, Annie Dillard, and Wendell Berry, among others, provide scaffolding for our discussion of "nature," "truth," "individuality," "community," "life," "death," "knowledge," and "mystery," and the relationship of these ideas to one another. We explore the implications of such understandings for the individual life, as well as for a modern world in which ecological concern is a matter of daily news and attention. (FW) Green.

Winter 2016, WRIT 100-02: Writing Seminar for First Years: Queering Sex, Race, and Time (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. "It takes time to make queer people," Gertrude Stein once observed. In other words, queer cultures emerged at a particular historical moment and resulted from a lot of hard work by LGBTQ thinkers. Expanding on this idea a bit, we might further note that it took time to make queers a people. Indeed, modern ideas about sexuality are incomprehensible without modern ideas about race, and vice versa. In this seminar we read, discuss, and write about how theories of sexuality and race have transformed one another, as well as our understanding of history. Through an assortment of novels, films, and secondary readings, we examine how queer thinking offers us radical visions of the past, present, and future. (FW) Alexander.

Winter 2016, WRIT 100-03 and 100-04: Writing Seminar for First Years: The Philosophy of New Media (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. "New media" can be described as the family of ever-evolving technologies that enable--among other things--the mass production, distribution and reception of images around the globe. This seminar traces aesthetic considerations of such technology, from its historical antecedents in photography and film through to its contemporary, digital, and internet-based manifestations. Some of the abiding questions we concern ourselves with are: is human perception bound up with its medium? How do different media forms impact upon, or even modify, human sensory experience? What new perspectives can issue from new media and conversely, what perspectives are (or have been) lost? Finally, what can the status of "art" be, in an age of new media? (FW) Renault-Steele.

Winter 2016, WRIT 100-05: Writing Seminar for First Years: Mysteries, Puzzles, and Conundrums (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. Melville writes that "significance lurks in all things." In other words, meaning exists everywhere but is hidden and sometimes difficult, even impossible to discover. Upon this belief rests the possibility of mystery. And it is with mysteries that we concern ourselves this term--"mysteries" not in the generic sense of stories about crime and detection but mysteries of character, morality, religion, and art. Central to each of the works we read is some puzzle, secret, riddle, enigma, ambiguity, or complexity. Sometimes the work itself is the mystery, a kind of hieroglyph. Each work, in its own way, raises questions about your own writing as a means of investigation and discovery as well, with an emphasis on developing the skills necessary to build convincing "cases" (i.e., arguments) when evidence is incomplete, ambiguous, or contradictory. (FW) Oliver.

Winter 2016, WRIT 100-06: 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 seminar 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.

Winter 2016, WRIT 100-07: Writing Seminar for First Years: Pretty Hurts: Race and Beauty from Claudette Colbert to Beyoncé (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. Beyoncé's 2013 album asked listeners to recognize ways that American standards of beauty negatively affect women's experiences. In this seminar, we think about where those beauty standards came from, and the ways standards of female beauty are tied to ideas about race in America. We consider how racialized notions of beauty affect identity and experience, what it means to watch women onscreen and evaluate them for their appearance, and how artists challenge dominant perceptions of beauty. (FW) Bufkin.

Winter 2016, WRIT 100-08: 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 seminar includes an examination of some of Washington and Lee's core values, including honor and integrity. (FW) Pickett.

Winter 2016, 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. We examine how the voices of recent immigrants to the United States speak to us about social struggle, tradition, isolation, discovery, prejudice, identity, transition and freedom. We explore the lives and experiences, cultural differences and challenges of various immigrant communities and different generations within immigrant families. Throughout focused reading and class discussions about contemporary novels, short stories, media, 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.

Winter 2016, WRIT 100-10: 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.

Winter 2016, WRIT 100-11: Writing Seminar for First Years: The Science of Sherlock (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. Sherlock Holmes, the world's most famous literary detective, uses the power of observation, deductive reasoning, and a bit of forensic science to solve crimes. In this seminar, we explore the scientific methods and forensic science techniques used by the great detective in Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories and in modern television adaptions. Moreover, we examine Holmes' influence on the development of modern forensic science. (FW) LaRiviere.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-01: 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. 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.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-02: 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.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-03: Writing Seminar for First Years: Strangers in Shakespeare's London (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 use as our springboard for this course on college writing three plays by William Shakespeare. Each of these plays has, as a central character, a figure that would be a foreign and unwelcome presence in Shakespeare's London. A Moor, a black man employed as a general in Venice, is the main character in Othello. Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, occupies the heart of The Merchant of Venice. And The Tempest features a barely-human character, Caliban, who represents the natives of the continents opened up by European exploration. We bring to our study of the plays themselves a wealth of historical and cultural material about such aliens in early modern Europe. Written assignments range from literary analysis, to historical research, to theoretical approaches to the problem of "otherness", and to reviews of performances on stage or film. (FW) Dobin.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-04: 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. General William T. Sherman famously told a crowd in Columbus, Ohio, in the year 1880 that, "There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell." In this seminar, we read and analyze three famous novels by authors who agreed with Sherman but chose very different strategies to convey that message: The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer (1948), Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961), and Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally (1982). We compare these novels with reminiscences by women workers on the "home front" to investigate the different forms of suffering caused by the Second World War, its long-term psychological impact, and its role in causing social change in postwar America. We investigate the usefulness of works of fiction for learning about history and compare the book version of Schindler's List with the famous film directed by Steven Spielberg. (FW) Patch.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-05: Writing Seminar for First Years: College in Theory and Practice, Then and Now (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 course surveys both non-fictional and fictional accounts of college life with particular attention to the guiding principles behind the various ways the intellectual content of undergraduate education has been conceived of and then how those principles have been put into practice. In addition to supplying the students with a focused topic upon which they can hone their analytical writing skills, this course serves as a gateway to their careers at W&L by allowing them to think seriously, on their own and in this seminar, about the different ways in which both institutions and individuals have sought to imagine, contemplate, criticize, and improve the important endeavor upon which they are entering. Likely texts include autobiographies and novels by such writers as Henry Adams, H. G. Wells, Jill Kerr Conway, Ursula K. Leguin, J. K. Rowling, John Williams, and Jeffrey Eugenides, in addition to selections from theoretical works by such figures as Rabelais, John Henry Newman, and William Deresiewicz. (FW) Adams.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-06: Writing Seminar for First Years: Pretty Hurts: Race and Beauty from Claudette Colbert to Beyoncé (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. Beyoncé's 2013 album asked listeners to recognize ways American standards of beauty can negatively affect women's experiences. In this class, we think about where those beauty standards came from, and the ways that standards of female beauty have been tied to ideas about race in America. We consider how racialized notions of beauty affect identity and experience, and what happens when you don't look like the women on the movie screen. We also think about what it means to watch women onscreen and evaluate them for their appearance, and about how writers and artists challenge dominant perceptions of beauty. To accomplish this, we analyze novels (Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Gish Jen, Mona in the Promised Land), movies (Imitation of Life), and music (Beyoncé, Beyoncé: The Visual Album) along with secondary and contextual readings from Laura Mulvey, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and others. (FW) Bufkin.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-07: Writing Seminar for First Years: Between Philosophy and 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. Philosophy is not a story or a poem; it is certainly not a work of literature...or is it? This course explores, teases, and challenges the distinctions between philosophy and literature. Gathering together key texts from both disciplines, we consider their varying treatments of mutual topics of concern such as: freedom, absurdity, subjectivity, and time. Through class discussion, reflective writing exercises, and essay composition, students learn to develop clear, convincing articulations of their own insights into the texts and ideas at hand. (FW) Renault-Steele.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-08: Writing Seminar for First Years: Mysteries, Puzzles, and Conundrums (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. Melville wrote that "significance lurks in all things." In other words, meaning exists everywhere but is hidden and sometimes difficult, even impossible to discover. Upon this belief rests the possibility of mystery. And it is with mysteries that we concern ourselves this term--"mysteries" not in the generic sense of stories about crime and detection but mysteries of character, morality, religion, and art. Central to each of the works we read is some puzzle, secret, riddle, enigma, ambiguity, or complexity. Sometimes the work itself is the mystery, a kind of hieroglyph. Each work, in its own way, raises questions about the methods and the limitations of human discovery. We approach your own writing as a means of investigation and discovery as well, with an emphasis on developing the skills necessary to build convincing "cases" (i.e., arguments) when evidence is incomplete, ambiguous, or contradictory. (FW) Oliver.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-09: Writing Seminar for First Years: I See Dead People (3). Concentrated work in composition analyzing representations of ghosts and 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; Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior. (FW) Gavaler.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-10: 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.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-11: Writing Seminar for First Years: Race, Culture and Violence (3).  This seminar explores the intersections of race, culture, and violence from the 19th to the 21st century.  While there are interests in how racialized violence is perpetuated by culture, we also examine how such violence emerges through racial representation.  How do authors and filmmakers render violence in ways that overlap or break from legal restrictions?  Does racialized and cultural violence exist outside legal codes and boundaries?  Readings include: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Poe); Our Nig (Wilson); Celia, A Slave (McLaurin); Native Son (Wright); and Beloved (Morrison).  Filmic portrayals include: Without Sanctuary, Manderlay, Django Unchained, and Fruitville Station.  (FW) Campbell.

FALL 2015, 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.

FALL 2015, WRIT 100-13: Writing Seminar for First Years: Forms of Loss (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 the Mourning Diary he started after the death of his mother, Roland Barthes wrote, "Each of us has his own rhythm of suffering." Barthes' comment suggests that while we speak of loss as a general category of experience, and develop language with which to schematize it, our emotional responses to mourning are utterly particular. And yet, for all of loss' disparate rhythms, survivors have often turned to rigorously codified cultural practices as the means with which to articulate mourning as not only an emotional experience but also an aesthetic one. In this class, we explore different kinds of loss and a variety of aesthetic forms that are indelibly tied to, and transformed by, mourning. (FW) K. Alexander.

  Planned Offering: Fall, Winter




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