How to Read an Essay
An essayist can transform a personal experience, like growing up listening to a Tribe Called Quest, into a meditation on music, race and creativity or take a topic that seems specialized like immigration policy or indigenous medicine and bring it alive for a reader who may never have understood its importance. In this course, you'll study essays that live at the intersection of the popular and academic, the personal, political and the critical. Your goal is to write powerful essays of your own.
Writing For Laughs
Writers in this course will read and produce humorous online list-based articles (listicles) that appeal to a wide readership. Students will read articles from successful humor writers on online repositories for comedy writing such as Cracked, College Humor, The Onion, and Medium. Based on our analysis of these articles, we will establish criteria for successful comedic writing, and apply these criteria to our work. Major assignments include a written analysis of a humorous online article of each student's choice and two original, list-based humor articles. Thoughtful prewriting activities, independent research, and extensive revision through independent review, peer critique, and extensive workshopping (modeled on Cracked Writer's Workshop) will be required.
Writing for Multimedia: Digital Storytelling
This course explores the power of multi-media storytelling, a form that's been embraced by publications like the New York Times that want to bring their readers stories with richness and impact. These stories combine the essay, video, graphic representations of data and image to educate, report, and advocate. Students will produce digital stories that combine writing, video, graphics and images while exploring the rhetorical and critical principles involved in producing them.
The Art of Writing About Food
The art of writing about food requires a keen interest in the topic, a desire to acquire further knowledge through research, and the ability to translate our food-related experiences into writing that incorporates concrete sensory details. We will study a variety of food writing, from restaurant reviews, magazine articles, essays and memoirs, recipe-centered pieces, food history, and scholarly research, in order to facilitate your ability to create your own writing of a food-centered personal essay (that will incorporate research and can be combined with a recipe, destination, or historical element), a review of a restaurant, book or other food-related item/place, and finally a more formal academic piece. Online classes will involve posting freewriting to generate ideas, research, workshopping for feedback from your peers, and close analysis of readings by some of the best food writers, both past and present (MFK Fisher, Michael Pollan, Julia Child, Eddie Huang, Jeffrey Steingarten, Anthony Bourdain).
Writing about Science, Medicine, and Technology
Writing about scientific discoveries, medical breakthroughs, and technological advances is difficult because so much of it depends on translation. How does a scientist translate her work so that it appeals to a larger audience, for example, or how does a layperson write about a STEM field in which he has no formal training? In this class, we will study various forms of literature concerning science, medicine, and technology that have been written for a general audience, from renowned authors and journalists like Mary Roach, Oliver Sacks, Atul Gawande, Siddartha Mukherjee, and Leslie Jamison.
Writing About America
Writing About America In this course, students will critically explore the range of ways they identify with, relate to, and are situated within America today. Through the study of historical, fictional, civic, and political narratives, we will trace the variations in texture, sound, form, and experience that mark the similarities and differences in our individual (hi)stories, and consider how they are interwoven with the "America" (hi)story. Writers in this course will compose a series of short essays, including critical reading responses, a personal narrative, an experientially-driven civic (hi)story (a civic commentary drawn from personal experience and informed by other social and political pieces), and a longer paper that builds upon a reading from one course text to consider the personal, historical, and political forces at work in telling the story of "America."
Reading and Writing Blogs
This seminar is to familiarize students with the history, theories, and practices surrounding blogging while offering an overview of some of the tools and sites available for publishing blogs like WordPress, Atavist, Tumblr and Twitter. In this course, students will consider how blogging has evolved, discuss the presentation of self, examine how the personal is political, read and respond to blogs, and create and post their own blogs. At the end of the course, students will be able to speak about the origins and evolution of blogging, reflect on theories surrounding blog writing, speak about cyberactivism and its role in driving social change, and create and critique blogs. Students will submit a final portfolio of revised work including a 7-10 page essay reflecting on their blogging, framed by class readings and their own research, a 5-7 page review of at least three blogs they read throughout the semester, and a reflective essay that addresses their learning and the connections they have made between course material and their lives or other courses.
Slaying Your Draconic Writing Classes
Often students worry that their non-academic interests are not "academic" enough to become a productive subject of inquiry. This course helps students learn how to translate their love of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game Thrones, across various academic genres. Over the course of this session, students will use the popular fantasy genre to focus on improving the writing, researching, and editing skills needed to be successful in courses. Students will be required to write at least 20 pages throughout the session, completing such major assignments as reading responses, a research paper, and a book/movie review.
Writing About Horror
A style of architecture that came into being in the medieval era, and a literary/artistic movement that thrived in the nineteenth century, "Gothic" is still at large, raising its scary head in film, music, fashion, popular culture, and literature. In this course, we will examine the deep-seated cultural influence of Gothic horror and discuss its persistent allure through canonical transatlantic short stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and others. We will ponder and communicate our reactions to horror as 21st century readers, and simultaneously delve into in-depth critical analysis of the genre. This course will help students develop critical thinking and writing skills through the appreciation of the historical context and narrative style of this seminal genre. Students will write a short response paper based on the readings, and a longer research paper. In addition to the written assignments, students will be expected to participate actively in online discussion forums.
Writing Your Fandom
This seminar will familiarize students with the theories and practices of writing in fan communities and introduce some tools available for publishing online content. In this course, students will explore multiple online fan communities, read essays about these communities, participate in a fan community of their choice, and critically reflect on these practices. Students will discuss their experiences in their communities using our class readings as a framework. At the end of the course, students will be able to explain theories of writing in fan spaces informed by their own experiences. Students will produce a final portfolio of revised work including a 7-10 page research essay informed by research regarding their chosen fan community, a 5-7 page personal essay about their experience in the fan community, and an excerpt of writing they did in their fan community.
Writing About Banned YA Books
Writing About Controversy in YA Literature: Each year, young adult novels dominate the top spots on the American Library Association's list of most challenged and banned books. The reasons for making it onto the list vary: from sexual content to inappropriate language; from homosexuality to interracial relationships. However, what these books all have in common is that they challenge the status quo of their times. In this course, we will examine banned young adult novels in order to investigate the following through writing: what aspects of these novels' content made them controversial, how their characters subvert traditional thinking, and what is revealed about society based on their contestation. We will use novels such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Baby Be-Bop to write about themes especially important today (i.e., challenging the status quo, breaking boundaries, and subverting traditional thinking). This course will ask you to consider these YA themes while conducting close readings and analysis, making real-world connections, constructing original arguments in academic papers, and using personal writing to explore your own experiences challenging the status quo. Emphasis will be placed on writing as a process: idea generation, drafting, workshopping, revising, and publishing.
Three-hundred level courses are offered online during summer and winter sessions. For more information on any of these classes, contact Sean Fenty, Director, Writing Initiative and First-Year Writing, or Angie Pelekidis, Assistant Director of First-Year Writing.