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.
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.
Writing about Disney
Disney as a cultural institution has evolved throughout the decades, from Snow White to Moana. Princesses have become objectified damsels to strong leaders; gender roles have been reversed; and movies have become reality inclusive. But those changes do not apply throughout. In this course, we will explore both the changes and the conventions of Disney movies. How do the animated movies advance into the live action remakes? How does Disney adapt fairy tales and classic literature to appeal to a mass audience of all ages? Authors include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and J.M. Barrie. Movies include Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan. This course is a 4-credit course, which means that students are expected to do at least 35 hours of course-related work each week of the 5-week Summer Session. This includes work done completing assigned readings, studying for tests and examinations, preparing written assignments and other course-related tasks.
Writing About Harry Potter
The Harry Potter franchise has defined generations. Through the Boy Who Lived--and the mastermind who created him--children have learned how to empathize, accept others, and handle stressors beyond their control. Yet although these books are found in the children's section of Barnes and Noble, much of Harry Potter is meant for adults to analyze and comprehend. In this course, we will focus on the Wizarding World and how the Harry Potter series transcends fantasy into reality. What makes these books significant to so many countries across the world that they are printed in over 80 different languages? How do these books relate to historical and contemporary problems in society? This course is a 4-credit course, which means that students are expected to do at least 35 hours of course-related work each week of the Summer Session. This includes work done completing assigned readings, studying for tests and examinations, preparing written assignments, and other course-related tasks.
Writing About Happiness
Research has proven that our happiness can be drastically increased through small changes in our daily lives. But happiness experts have very different ideas about how we can achieve this. From "treat yourself" to the one-minute rule, we will examine the techniques of leading happiness gurus Gretchin Rubin, Oprah Winfrey, Dan Gilbert, Laurie Santos, and Shawn Achor. As a class, we will listen to podcast episodes, watch TED Talks, and read The Happiness Project. Students will construct original arguments around our course themes including productivity, building relationships, social media, clutter clearing, and self care. Emphasis will be placed on writing as a process: idea generation, drafting, workshopping, revising, and publishing.
Writing About Sex and Dating
What does a hobby magazine have to do with personal ads? Ever heard of a Tinder Humanitarian? Is pornography a genre or an argument for censorship? Students will investigate these controversies and more as they become familiar with the history, theories, and practices of writing about sex and dating. This class will explore various genres of writing such as academic arguments, blogs, dating profiles, personal ads, social media posts, comics, and memes to consider a variety of issues related to sex, sexuality, dating, and sex work. Students will also examine the #MeToo movement as it relates to dating and activism. Class work includes, but is not limited to: readings, writing assignments, peer review, and online participation. Students will produce a final portfolio of revised work. This course is a 4-credit course, which means that students are expected to do at least 35 hours of course-related work each week of the 5-week summer session. This includes work done completing assigned readings, studying for tests and examinations, preparing written assignments, and other course-related tasks.
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.
The Argument of Remix
This course explores the possibilities of creative expression in remix art and composition. We will analyze the artistic agency of remix (through its ability to mix together different media to create a message), while we also investigate its increasing political efficacy—as shown by popular, political remixes performed by Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart. Together in this course, we will examine the rich history of this tradition as well as implement some of its strategies within a digital context (e.g., image/text collage, video remix, social media storytelling). While contemporary remix reveals a range that spans from homage to critique, at its core is the desire to share knowledge within a community of people with related interests. So, we will focus on the collaborative nature of remix as well as its unique possibilities for social intervention.
Writing the Resistance
This course examines the role of writing in political activism and social movements. We will draw on texts by contemporary activists from Hong Kong to Standing Rock as well as their predecessors--abolitionists, pacifists, labor organizers, civil-rights leaders, and other--to consider the role of writing, rhetoric, and technologies of communication in both enabling and suppressing social movements. By studying these texts and testing out their compositional methods, students will develop a nuanced understanding of the language of activism: its practices and possibilities, its uses and failures, and its role shaping broader public discourses. This course is a 4-credit course, which means that students are expected to do at least 35 hours of course-related work each week of the summer session. This includes work done completing assigned readings, studying for tests and examinations, preparing written assignments, and other course-related tasks.
Writing About Music
Have you ever wished you knew how to explain the way your favorite song or album makes you feel? Writing about music can be a challenge, but in this course you will learn how to put the way the notes make you feel into words. We will consider a variety of ways to think and talk about music in our academic writing, approaching your favorite songs and albums as individual compositions, interventions in genres, incidences of popular phenomena, and the emblems of social and cultural movements. Exploring a variety of examples of professional music writing - and the music those examples illuminate - over the course of the semester, this course will give you the opportunity to learn how to formulate written arguments about the music you love. This course is a 4-credit course, which means that students are expected to do at least 35 hours of course-related work each week of the 5 week session. This includes work done completing assigned readings, studying for tests and examinations, preparing written assignments, and other course-related tasks.
Writing About TV Scripts
We often fall in love with TV's most unlikeable characters despite the realization that we could never bear to live or work beside them in real life. Screenwriters use these selfish, eccentric characters to explore themes such as friendship, romantic relationships, abuse, identity, race, socioeconomic status, and gender. In this course, we will use writing to analyze scripts from contemporary TV shows with bold antiheroes including The Office, Shameless, Girls, Pose, and Schitt's Creek. As a class, we will examine these themes while conducting close readings of the scripts, making real-world connections, and constructing original arguments in academic papers. Emphasis will be placed on writing as a process: idea generation, drafting, workshopping, revising, and publishing. This course is a 4-credit course, which means that students are expected to do at least 35 hours of course-related work each week of the summer session. This includes work done completing assigned readings, studying for tests and examinations, preparing written assignments, and other course-related tasks.
Writing About "WAP"
Misogyny is a common trope in all genres of music, but hip-hop and rap are particularly known for their overt misogyny. Songs like Snoop Dogg's "Ain't No Fun" and Eminem's "Kim," for example, overtly attack and degrade women; however, female rap and hip-hop artists have been defying misogyny since the '80s, and Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's newly released song "WAP" appropriates the sexual degradation from notorious rap songs into a new dominance based on a woman's choice. In this class, we will discuss female rap and hip-hop artists and how their songs fight against misogyny and show female empowerment, from "Ladies First" to "WAP." Literature includes On the Come Up and Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger. Artists include Queen Latifah, Salt-n-Pepa, Maluca, Nicki Minaj, and Megan Thee Stallion.
Civic Rhetoric and Public Life
This course teaches the art of civic engagement and public advocacy in a contemporary democracy. Through the lens of spoken, written, and digital history, we discuss civic engagement in the critical judgment of communication techniques; we also focus on some major components of cultural rhetorics and rhetorical theory in order to interrogate inequities that challenge an idea of American pluralism. Some of the readings we address include a range of historical figures--Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Zitkala-Sa, Susan B Anthony, Elie Wiesel, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Helene Cixous, etc.--and a range of contemporary figures--Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Claudia Rankine, Michelle Obama, John Oliver, Greta Thunberg, Mitch McConnell, etc. In successfully completing this course, we will recognize how our rhetorical ecology affects social change. Oral and written assignment represent a chance for you to develop and refine your voice as an advocate and participant in civic culture.