Rhetoric and Inquiry

Writing 2 Provides declarative knowledge about writing, with a special focus on writing from research, composing in multiple genres, and transferring knowledge about writing to new contexts. Prerequisite(s): College 1 and satisfaction of the Entry Level Writing; or College 80A, 80D, or 80F and satisfaction of the C1 requirement. Enrollment is restricted to frosh, sophomore and junior students. Enrollment limited to 25. (General Education Code(s): C.).

Writing 2 classes fill quickly. Students needing Writing 2 should enroll during their first-pass enrollment appointments.

Spring 2020 Sections - Enrollments end at 4:00pm, Friday, April 3

Writing Program Faculty 

Writing the Emerging Africa: beyond the four D’s

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, an award-winning American journalist who worked in Johannesburg, South Africa for NPR and CNN, stated in an interview for her book New News out of Africa that Americans “aren’t getting the information they need to understand Africa. Reporting [in the US] is dominated by the four d’s ... death, disease, disaster and despair. ... If all you hear about is hunger, drought, disease and conflict, people conclude that Africa’s problems are intractable and that nothing in Africa ever changes.” In this course, we will examine two common American notions of Africa as a lost continent: first, that Africa is lost from our view, or as in Hunter-Gault’s criticism of American media, only partially—and usually negatively—viewed; second, that Africa is somehow hopelessly lost due to “the four d’s. ... death, disease, disaster and despair.” In this research and composition course, we will examine these four d’s, but we will also discover, through research, critical reading, and analytical writing, other, more complex and balanced visions of an Africa emerging into our view. We will research popular and scholarly texts to find a new set of “d’s” of our own, with the intention of composing original, informative, and elegantly written responses. Goals of this course include helping you become a stronger reader, a more incisive thinker, and a more effective writer. The course will encourage you to create new strategies for generating and supporting ideas, improve your skill and confidence as a researcher and writer, and expand your understanding of the writing process through active revision—all while you articulate your own emerging knowledge of Africa.

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Choosing to Apologize, to Research, to Listen

This course is oriented around three major projects, supported by a variety of smaller assignments. Each project builds on the skills from the previous unit, while at the same time allowing you to do something “new.” Each project also focuses on what it means to choose and to not have choices. 

  • The first project focuses on rhetorics of apology, particularly how and when we choose to apologize (and why we often choose not to). The project asks you to deeply analyze a single text (an apology of your choice) and make multiple arguments about it (instead of just one “reaction”). This project is also about being succinct, as you’ll “dissect” your apology and place your succinct critiques around it on a single page.
  • The second project is our extended research project, focused on two research questions you choose and refine. The first question is on a topic of your choosing, and the second question will focus on proven scientific theories and facts that people “choose” not to believe (such as climate change, vaccine safety, and the earth being round). You’ll produce an argumentative annotated bibliography that draws off your critical skills from the first project and teaches you library and online researching skills.
  • The third project will ask what happens when we choose to listen. We will go in one of two directions (and we’ll decide which direction once we get to this point in the course). (1) You’ll have a conversation with someone on a topic on which you disagree, and you’ll write about the experience you had having that conversation and choosing to listen. (2) You’ll think about your “choices” during COVID-19 and tell a specific story about one of those choices/non-choices. We’ll draw on principles of creative nonfiction in writing our stories, and you’ll learn the important skill of narrating yourself (as you’ll have to do in applying for jobs, grants, and possible post-graduate education).

At each step, you will reflect on what they are learning and why, as research reveals that such reflection increases student learning. Everyone is encouraged to be in touch about their specific learning needs, including disability accommodations. Also, it perhaps goes without saying that we’ll all be navigating this course in an uncertain environment, and we’ll work to support each other and figure out what works best.

The Rhetoric of Subversion: Counterculture, Horror and Resistance

In this composition course we will investigate the many inroads to counterculture, or ways of being that resist and revolt against the dominant culture. Modern philosophers like Dr. Timothy Leary, Anton LaVey and Louise Hay will bridge the canon of Psychedelic and Horror Literature. In this class we will explore expressions of unique subcultures whose very existence are revolutionary in their atypicality of thought and being. Self-expression and self-inquiry about the Dark can reveal much about the Light, and writing within our class’ subject matter hopefully challenges your own established beliefs, identity(s), and values so that the fabric of their underlying nature may be more deeply probed.

Have we created a culture where the insane outnumber the sane and waking zombies outnumber metacognitive humans? In this course may you cull from the herd and wake up to the call of your soul’s mission through an exploration of Counterculture from the late 1960s until today as it is represented in art, books, movies and music. Students will have the opportunity to metacognitively examine how their own perspectives of the dominant culture inform their ways of being in Self and society through assignments that include class dialogue, group participation, trips to McHenry Library’s “Dead Central,” several analytical writing assignments, several Metacognitive Reading Logs, a research essay, and a creative writing essay.

Writing for Public Audiences

In this composition class, students will learn how to write for public audiences. Together, we'll think deeply about the needs of general readers, and how they differ from those of academic and other professional communities. Since non-specialized audiences tend to get their information from media outlets, we'll focus our analysis on the reporting and rhetorical strategies journalists use to present complex ideas. Students will research, report, write, and rewrite two inquiry-driven pieces of journalism— one reported feature article and one op-ed—on a topic of their choosing. Through class discussions and assignments, students will develop their ability to engage, inform, and persuade readers in an ethical manner.

Writing, Noticing, and Uncertainty

In this class, we will develop practices for working productively with our uncertainties and for noticing what we notice. These practices will provide a way of getting in touch with our own authentic questions and ideas, which will form a powerful starting point for writing. We will compose in a variety of genres, beginning by exploring strategies for discovering more in the texts we encounter, engaging productively with uncertainty, and cultivating a mindset as writers that encourages resilience and growth. We will also explore the ways in which understanding rhetorical situations and genre conventions can help us to become stronger and more sophisticated readers and writers in any new situation we encounter. We will employ these strategies and habits of mind in writing a profile project, the foundation of which will be interviews you conduct with a person of interest to you. You’ll further develop your profile through research about an issue central to understanding some aspect of your interviewee’s experience. Along the way, we will practice skills for effectively engaging in a larger conversation, posing well-formulated questions, evaluating sources, conducting research, and presenting our own ideas with purpose and clarity. 

Viral Vampires

In Bram Stoker’s vampire classic, Dracula, a group of vampire hunters utilize technologies new and old in order to defeat the vampire Dracula. This course takes for its focus classical and modern technologies of literacy featured in Dracula in order to cultivate an understanding of traditional and contemporary literacy technologies. We will use the contemporary equivalents to different literacy technologies used within the novel to gain a greater critical understanding of genres and their functions. Our course is an exploration of ancient, modern, and contemporary literacy technologies ranging from the art of letter writing’s applicability to email and the cover letter, telegraph to tweet, phonograph recording to podcast, cartography to digital mapping, etc. Students will develop writing skills by studying the rhetorical utility of these forms. For instance, students will compare the 19th century telegraph used in Dracula to the 21st century Tweet, cultivating the art of succinct writing and learning how to determine Twitter sources’ credibility. Students will reproduce these genres-- tweets, letters, a podcast--in order to develop their final research project. For their final project, students will create either an expository essay or a website based on their research theme, related to some aspect of literacy in Dracula. I encourage students to use this research opportunity to study genres that pertain to their own field of study to gain a greater critical understanding of those genres early on in their professional lives. 

Breaking Science

In this course, we investigate and make sense out of a variety of complex issues in science, including tracking current news from issues of Science and Nature magazines and other current science writing. We engage in understanding and communicating research in science and engineering, including communicating in different genres for a variety of audiences and purposes. We engage rhetorical principles in our writing of persuasive arguments on topics affecting science and society. As in every Writing 2 course, students in this class write several substantive essays, including a research project (literature review) and an argument based on researched sources. Emphasis is on clear written communication of complex scientific inquiry.

Developing your Superpower – Writing to the Rescue

The pen is mightier than the sword. Now prove it!  Through an inquiry-based approach into how writers of various genres have helped effect change, we will explore the power of key rhetorical concepts. We will then develop our skills, as writers, learners, and leaders, by compiling a writer’s notebook in which we analyze writing strategies, articles, and discussions. Finally, you will design your own battle of the pen by producing an annotated bibliography and a research paper to fight a struggle of your choice.

Language and Education

This composition course will prepare you to write analytically across a variety of genres and will equip you with strategies to locate, evaluate, and apply the information you need to grapple with complex questions. The course develops these practices through the theme of language and education. This thematic focus allows us to explore the role that language plays in shaping students’ educational experiences, which will provide you with important insights into the types of language and literacy practices you are expected to develop in college. You will draw on a range of sources to compose pieces that deliberately attend to purpose and audience and engage complex issues thoughtfully. We will read and discuss research articles as well as pieces from popular media and examine how language and questions of language shape the politics and the practice of schooling as well as public perceptions of education. You will have the opportunity to reflect on your own experiences and begin to view those experiences analytically as we consider various perspectives on the opportunities and challenges of educating a linguistically diverse population.  You will write formal and informal papers that call for a range of thinking and writing practices, including reflection, analysis, and source-based argument. By the end of this course, you will be able to analyze a writing task, make strategic decisions based on the nature of the task, and work through the stages of the writing process.

Rememory as a Tool of Empowerment through Writing

In this course, we will be taking the time to discover the brilliance of Toni Morrison’s writing in her renowned 1987 novel, Beloved, by reading it in its entirety. The novel details a family’s struggle for survival post-Emancipation, focusing on the survival of a mother, Sethe, and her two daughters, Beloved and Denver. Morrison states in the preface to the novel that she drew her inspiration for the narrative from a real-life example of a slave mother, Margaret Garner, who killed her children in order to save them from slavery; the mother was then hanged. For Morrison, it is crucial to re-write, or re-member, a history (in the form of a novel) that focuses on the struggle for survival of African American women who were denied the right to motherhood. By reading the novel in its entirety, we will explore how Morrison’s writing serves as a counter-narrative to the traditional and often white and male-centered narratives of Reconstruction and beyond. These counter-narratives, rewritings, or rememories are keys to survival in a world that profits from the oppression of people of color, particularly women. Through our examination of Morrison’s novel and other articles, essays, and interviews, we will be taking the time to uncover the different genres of writing such as personal, academic, and every-day writing. At the end of the course, you will have the choice to write a traditional paper or develop an original genre that explores how Morrison’s use of writing as a tool of empowerment shapes your own relationship to writing.

Writing about Criminal Justice Reform

This course asks students to develop complex rhetorical tools to untangle and challenge aspects of the American criminal justice system. We will begin with a survey of the history of incarceration in America, the War on Drugs, and recent reform efforts, and we will conclude with students’ independent and in-depth research on topics broadly related to the course theme. In this course, students will engage with a variety of texts (podcasts, popular media, film, peer reviewed articles) and will produce a variety of genres over multiple drafts. For example, students will: explore the etymology of words related to incarceration and criminal justice reform, read and analyze popular sources and peer reviewed articles on related topics, produce an annotated bibliography and research proposal, draft and revise a research paper, and present their work in thematic panels to a larger audience.

Mindfulness of the Creative Experience

In this course we explore how mindfulness, and paying attention to the process of our creative experiences, makes us stronger writers as we move through different writing genres that prepare us for our professional, personal, and academic lives. Through mindfulness writing practice, we begin to realize that creativity is paradoxical. It requires expertise and hard work yet involves freedom and spontaneity. The creative process brings joy and delight yet is fraught with fear, frustration, and even terror. How do we prepare ourselves to be open and responsive to whatever writing challenge awaits us? Be it drafting a cover letter to a potential employer, writing a eulogy for a loved one’s funeral, or completing a lengthy investigative research paper. As writers in this course, we engage critically with readings that examine creativity and mindfulness in both theory and practice. We also explore the questions: How do we learn to ignite awareness and compassion for ourselves as writers and for the subjects of our writing? Once this awareness and compassion ignites, how do we use rhetoric and inquiry to help us sustain our passion? Lastly, as writers, for whom do we create? Is our audience professional, personal, and academic as stated above? Or do we sometimes create for a more wilder divine that points to something more unspeakable and unknown? As a way of promoting good will towards ourselves and our writing practice, this course will include mindfulness based stress reduction writing and meditation practices.

UCSC’s First Annual Conference on Climate Change

Take this course if you’re alarmed about climate change and want to do something about it.  In the class, material from multiple genres (book chapters, scientific articles, popular press articles, policy reviews, speeches, blogs, films) will help us  investigate the different “sides” of the debate and how -- sometimes -- emotional appeals can be stronger than facts. As in other W2 courses, you will learn to write in multiple genres for different audiences and strengthen your arguments, organization, research skills, and rhetorical techniques.  Several weeks of the class will be geared towards planning an actual conference (writing grant proposals, seeking funding, composing calls for papers and publicity campaigns), and several more to writing a research essay on some aspect of climate change for presentation at the conference itself next fall.

Investigating Erasures

The Oxford English Dictionary offers the following as one definition of “erasure”: “the action of erasing or obliterating.” What we create in this class will likely problematize, respond to, or investigate the stakes of erasures—be they cultural, historical, environmental, political, or even those related to academic disciplines such as Writing Studies. Not coincidentally, our course materials privilege historically marginalized or underrepresented voices who similarly investigate and problematize an erasure that they seek to highlight and learn from. Thus, the course asks us to consider how such writers position themselves strategically amongst stakeholders, and through their rhetorical tactics or research methodologies. The course tasks us with contemplating—more personally—what content and perspectives writers and researchers in our own chosen disciplines of interest commonly omit, sideline, forget, or overlook. Consequently, it challenges us as writers to consider highlighting and reckoning with some of these absences through our own research inquiries and development of new ideas.

Youth Identity in a Networked Culture

​In this course, ​we will seek to answer questions such as​ these​: How is your constructed online self a mirror​--or distortion--​of your own identity? How have you been defined by your personal involvement with social media, social networks, and digital devices? ​How are our thinking and learning shaped by our interactions in social media and o​ther ​virtual worlds? ​We​ will read and respond to a variety of texts, focusing on the ways in which our identities—including our own digital selves—are created and manipulated online. While ​examining how we invent and reinvent ourselves ​through our participation in social media and other virtual worlds​, w​​e will investigate how to write effectively​ ​by ​crafting ​​a number of essays, including a research paper. Additionally, you will participate in regular writing groups--peer editing conferences designed to help improve the style, content, and structure of your written work.

Writing Journalism

In this class we will study the practice of writing through a focus on journalism, taking up Santa Cruz as a shared site of investigation and critical inquiry. Throughout the course we will read about and write in a variety of genres (both journalistic and academic), and also draw important connections between journalistic methods of investigation and scholarly research.

This is a project-based course in which students work in groups to create their own print publication by the end of the quarter. These projects will feature multiple writings from each student in the group, and also reflect a collaborative process of research, drafting, revision, copyediting, and creative design. By the end of the quarter, each student will submit an individual portfolio alongside their group publication project. 

Writing about Illness and Wellness

This course is concerned with discourses of illness and health. What meaning and coherence can we achieve in the face of suffering or trauma? How do personal narratives help shape our understanding of illness and wellness?

Students will undertake a term-long research project on a topic of their own choosing, based on the course theme. Through a series of assignments, we will explore multiple strategies for delivering rhetorically-effective arguments across a range of academic and professional genres and media. 

The Story

This course focuses on the theme of stories:  From narratives where what actually happened is questionable, to how we can think of intellectual writing as telling a story.  We will write a personal story, analyze long-form journalism—both print and audio—look at media coverage of current events in order to develop better media literacy, and write an investigative essay based on student research.  Texts include articles from The New Yorker, Wired, The New York Times and others;  podcasts of This American Life, The Moth, RadioLab, Studio 360, Bullseye, Snap Judgement, On the Media and others.  This course prepares students to write across the disciplines.  Students can expect to learn about all steps of the writing process—planning, researching, drafting, revising and editing—to read, listen, and watch interesting texts, and to engage in lively discussion.

Critical Thinking

In this course we'll use advanced Heuristic techniques such as Semiotics to analyze various kinds of “texts” in order to determine what they can tell us about the state of the culture that produced them. Possibilities for examination include advertising, film and television programs (including broadcast journalism), music, videogames and immersive virtual reality spaces. We'll learn how to "read" such "texts" critically, and to convince others of the legitimacy of our reading as well as of our judgment about what the social effects of the messages are. We'll also examine scholarly written criticism of popular culture as models to be emulated, as expert positions to support our views, or as points of departure or disagreement. One essay will be revised and expanded into the final research project. In addition, we’ll use writing workshop groups to get feedback on drafts.

The Democratic Essay

In this composition class we'll hone our writing skills while looking at the roles we can play as citizens in a democracy—and the ways writing can help us carry out our work as citizens. To this end, we will be reading essay-length pieces on a variety of topics and writing frequently ourselves. In particular, we will work to create a rhetoric that is well informed, conscious of what it doesn't know, respectful in its advocacy, thoughtfully researched and supported, and conscious of its place in an on-going conversation among engaged, caring citizens.

Writing Against the Silence 

So many silences are created by societies, by societies’ need to obscure their operational power. And as a writer you dwell in silences. You dwell in what’s not being said, you dwell in what’s not being discussed, you dwell in what’s being erased. And from my point of view, no matter what [you] write about, it has a way of working against, cutting across the grain of a society that wants you to forget and not to see.

--Pulitzer Prize Winner Junot Diaz, Smithsonian interview  “In His Own Words”

What does it mean to dwell in the silences created by society? To enter into ongoing conversations and assess what perspectives are being left out, what narratives need to be developed, challenged, advanced? What does it mean to speak out of these silences, to write against, as Junot Diaz says, “the grain of a society that wants you to forget and not to see?” And, how do we most effectively write against these silences? In this course, we will analyze texts in a variety of genres and medias about suppressed groups (racial, ethnic, cultural) in the Americas in order to help answer these questions and to explore effective and diverse techniques for writing.

We will focus on the significance of rhetorical situations (including context, audience, and purpose) and will sequentially and recursively build academic writing skills (summary, citation, synthesis, analysis, argument). As a research project, students will be asked to dwell in some aspect of silence and write to address that silence. Topics may be chosen from our course texts, from the “text” of your life, or from our current society. A cumulative portfolio project will be due at the end of the course.

Who Tells Your Story: Writing About Hamilton: An American Musical

When it was first staged in 2015, no one expected much from a musical about Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first Treasury Secretary and the face of the $10 bill. Yet somehow, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical became a cultural and critical sensation. Hamilton arrived in New York as an orphaned Caribbean immigrant. However, by the time he was shot and killed by Vice President Aaron Burr, Hamilton had aided George Washington, helped to ratify the Constitution, and established the United States’ economic system. He even starred in the new nation’s first sex scandal. How did he achieve so much? He was a great writer.

In the spirit of great writers like Hamilton and Miranda, this course will help you to develop critical reading, composition, revision, and editing practices and expand your rhetorical knowledge and control. You will have the opportunity to compose in multiple genres, adapting your rhetorical choices according to your purpose and your audience’s needs. You will ask strategic questions and learn to find, evaluate, synthesize, and cite research materials on a topic of interest to you. In addition, you will experiment with language use and arrangement as you explore your personal writing style and voice. We will conclude with a multimodal #Ham4Ham collaborative writing presentation. If you want to spend time writing about and enjoying a hip-hop musical with hints of Tupac, Beyonce, the Beatles, and Les Mis, this is the class for you!

Are We Having Fun Yet?: The Rhetoric of Leisure

This course is devoted to deconstructing “fun”: What does our culture consider fun/leisurely/entertaining, and why? Where do we learn how to be entertained? What can we learn about our broader cultural values and motivations by studying what we do in our free time? We’ll analyze public spaces and discourses associated with leisure, learn about the history of the weekend, and trace our culture’s ideologies of recreation and entertainment. We’ll be thinking about the media that we consume, the subcultures that we affiliate ourselves with, and the various built environments that we inhabit in our leisure lives. Students will conduct research throughout the quarter related to these issues, gaining experience with primary, secondary, and mixed methods research; undertaking both social sciences and humanities approaches to research; and writing for a range of audiences, both scholarly and popular.

#Trending: Exploring Popular Media and Movements

In this class, we will examine contemporary culture as both consumers and creators.  We will do so by unpacking how we use and respond to popular media and movements, considering questions like the following: Who are we online? How does the internet shape our behavior and sense of self? Whose voices are amplified in digital spaces and whose are silenced? Which social, cultural, and political stories gain our attention and go viral? How can we be more critical audiences of the texts we view and listen to on a daily basis (e.g. TV shows, films, music videos)?  And why might such critical engagement matter, to ourselves and to those from communities beyond our own? In asking and answering these questions, we will analyze texts from a variety of genres and synthesize source material to gain a deeper understanding of each topic. We will also conduct a good deal of research, learning how to use multiple databases, both public and university-based; employ a range of strategies for expanding, refining, and deepening our searches; and evaluate the texts we find for their credibility and relevance.  Key to this work will be drafting and revising in stages so as to compose projects that meet our audiences’ needs and convey our purposes precisely, ethically, and impactfully.

Fun, Food and Fantasy: Contemporary Narratives of Health and Well Being 

How do culture and mass media shape perceptions of fitness and success? And why do some researchers claim that physical health and neuro-emotional intelligence contribute to a person's success in life much more so than idealized formations of beauty or high performance on IQ tests, SAT scores and other standardized exams? These are two of the questions we will consider as we negotiate several genres of criticism about how culture promotes health, well-being, food, nutrition, and body image.

Students will have the opportunity to examine how their own perspectives about health and well-being have been influenced--for better or worse--by culture.  Assignments will include class discussions, peer group workshops, several analytical writing assignments, and a research essay.

Climate Change, Biodiversity, and the Environment

Students will explore a major ecological problem: global climate change and the loss of biodiversity on planet Earth. Students choose a major research topic, then complete several writing projects that navigate the process of writing up research. Each student follows the same process as a scientist or policy analyst reviewing the current state of knowledge on a scientific or environmental issue. Individual writing assignments will be revised and then incorporated into a final research project. Although the class emphasizes reading, understanding, and writing scientific and policy reviews and arguments, non-science students will find the step-by-step writing process helpful for writing up research in any discipline.

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The Art of Living through Writing 

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, […] and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”—Henry David Thoreau

We routinely train for a sport, for endurance, for the realization of long term goals, but we rarely train for life...yet how much more difficult and important is life?  The single question of “how to live” is one of the oldest questions preoccupying some of the greatest thinkers around the world from the beginning of writing. This course engages the philosophical writings of both classical western thinkers (such as  Montaigne and Epictetus) and non–western texts (such as the Tao Te Ching) to explore the connections between writing and living purposefully. In addition to learning from these classics something about the art of living, we’ll also learn how writing is tied to self-knowledge and empowerment. This course is writing intensive and engages the full writing process from experimental, informal, reflective writing to research and revision. Specifically, we begin the course by exploring the relationship between the birth of the “essay” and the art of living in the works of Michel de Montaigne.  Next, we’ll focus on Epictetus to consider how to apply Stoic philosophy to the art of living. Finally, we’ll explore the Tao Te Ching, scholarship on Taoism, and again relate Taoist philosophy and scholarship to the practice of a deliberate, meaningful life. Throughout the course, students will engage in independent research to apply philosophy to the art of living.

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Writing Human Rights

This course will explore the meanings and practices of human rights in both global and local contexts. The academic field of human rights is an interdisciplinary one, spanning history, economics, international relations, law, philosophy, literature, and cultural studies (among others), and its chief concerns resemble those of academic writing and discourse: How do we—as humans, as writers—equitably and sensitively participate in a larger community? And how do we do so in a way that respects difference and limits harm? We will engage with a variety of texts that speak to the difficulty of answering such questions, and your intellectual growth throughout the term will stem from your engagement with these texts. In addition to developing an in-depth knowledge of key theories and issues surrounding human rights, you will achieve proficiency with a diverse array of writing techniques, strategies, and genres.

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Writing the Urban Landscape

 The journey of this course will provide class members the space to read, think, and write about architecture, buildings, communities, urban studies, social justice – and the relationship(s) among them.  We’ll read and work with a series of texts that engage architectural and urban studies topics such as public space, gentrification, buildings and their relationship with people, and other topics of related interest selected by members of the class.  Course readings and materials will vary from scholarly texts to news articles to multi-media sources. Through reading, class discussion, and independent work, students will gain greater awareness of the writing process, of different approaches to and forms of academic and professional writing; additionally, students will develop methods for successful independent editing of their writing.  Coursework will include short papers as well as one longer research project that will involve an overview of the research process. Revision will be a major focus of all writing projects.

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Mapping the Neighborhood: Writing about Communities, Social Justice, Social Change

 In this course we will read about, explore, and write on a number of contemporary social problems and social justice issues, particularly as they pertain to the communities we inhabit and know. We’ll focus on urban studies, race and class, gentrification, community identities and activism, and other current topics of interest to class members. Readings will include selections by Howard Zinn, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldúa, Mike Davis, Luis Rodriguez, and others.  We will also work with news articles, scholarly texts, and multi-media sources. Through reading, class discussion, and independent work, students will gain greater awareness of the writing process, of different rhetorical moves writers make, of various genres relevant to writing both inside and outside the university, and will develop methods for successful independent editing. Students will write several short papers as well as one longer research project that will involve an overview of the research process. Revision will be a major focus of all writing projects.

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This Writing 2 course is themed around nonfiction. Our readings will include travel essays by Pico Iyer, food writing by Anthony Bourdain, the journalistic comics of Joe Sacco, and the narrative journalism of the inimitable David Grann. This class is designed to be relevant to a wide range of students—not just English majors or those in the humanities.

A House Divided: Reading and Writing about Contemporary America

"Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today." So begins Tony Judt's recent commentary, Ill Fares the Land. Jobs are disappearing; the social services that our parents and grandparents erected over the second half of the twentieth century are under threat; public schools are decaying; healthcare is all but unaffordable. Above all, we live in a country divided, divided by religion as well as politics, by belief as much as ideology, a country where, for many, our sense of belonging and collective identity has eroded under the pressure of violence, economic struggle, and political rancor. What has happened? What divides us from our neighbors and and makes common cause so difficult to find within a haze of social resentment and name calling? While carefully examining the craft of writing--how to generate questions and topics, how to synthesize and employ evidence, how to structure coherent arguments--we will explore the society we live in, what has gone wrong, and what is to be done. Assignments will embrace all aspects of a collaborative writing process, ranging from invention, research, and drafting, to revision and editing, and will seek to promote the composition of inventive essays that explore the issues that unite all of our lives

Cyberspace, Big Money, and the Biosphere

In this course, we will explore two profoundly relevant realms, cyberspace and the biosphere, and the influence of big money on both. We will begin by examining our incessant immersion in cyberspace and how it affects our identity and relationships. Do our digital devices offer enhancement, distraction, or addiction? Has our immersion in cyberspace cut us off from a deep connection to the biosphere? We will then explore how capitalism controls cyberspace and the impact of billionaire money and social media on the political process. As the most important election in American history approaches, the survival of our democracy and the fate of the planet hang in the balance. How can we contribute to positive change and live satisfied, meaningful lives in the midst of so much distraction while facing the threats of plutocracy and catastrophic climate change? You do not need a scientific, economic, or political background for this course, but only a willingness to explore through writing your personal future and the future of the planet. You will write the opening pages of a science fiction novel set thirty years in the future, a persuasive essay on how our increasingly pervasive social interaction through screens is affecting our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and a research paper on some aspect of the climate crisis, as well as much informal writing. Through sharing our writing online and through participation in small group and class discussions, we will create a classroom community that nurtures your ability to think critically and to successfully write academic papers.

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Curiosity, Engagement, Persistence, and Reflection

 What is writing if not an attempt to make visible a writer’s thoughts and interpretations of the worlds in which they live? What is the value of a writer’s thoughts if they do not come from a place of sincere curiosity and engagement with these worlds? What is the value of a writer’s research if it is not conducted with an openness to new ideas, attention, and integrity? How can compelling writing be created without practice, persistence, reflection, and knowledge of craft?

Students in this course will practice becoming curious, engaged, persistent, reflective writers while researching a topic of their own choosing. As in other Writing 2 courses, students will locate and determine credibility of sources, sustain meaningful inquiry, analyze and synthesize source material, and observe and strengthen their writing processes.   

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Writing our Relationship to Animals

In this composition course, we will read and write various genres to explore human attitudes toward and treatment of other animals. The messages we give and get about animals in human society come to us in many forms, and can shape our views and behavior if they are composed with rhetorical awareness. Understanding who your audience is and what message you want to convey to them will help you figure out which rhetorical strategies to use yourself. Through research, you will have the opportunity to investigate an animal-related issue that interests you and write about it in a various genres. The habits and strategies you practice in thinking and writing rhetorically about animals should serve you beyond this class and topic.

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Writing Across the Genres: Art and Activism

In college and beyond, writers must practice strategies for persuading their intended audience to take their ideas seriously. During times of political division, and when the stakes are high, it is particularly challenging to gain the ear, much less the support, of readers whose viewpoints differ from your own. In this course, we will explore genre as a rhetorical tool for reaching a particular audience with our purpose. By reading and writing in a range of genres--including researched position papers, art and performance reviews, magazine articles, manifestos, and lyric essays—we will become more fluent in the language of genre, employing a variety of conventions to achieve our intended effects.  Caveat emptor: we may perform an intervention on the genre of “the academic paper” that many of you learned in high school and work our way up to more inventive trans-genre writing that draws on your creative interests. Beyond genre interventions, we will study political interventions by innovative writers and artists in diverse fields, analyzing how their written, performative, filmic, and visual rhetoric changes the political and the rhetorical situation.  An intensive course focus will be upon on “threshold concepts” in Writing Studies to help students develop a reflective and metacognitive relationship to their rhetorical choices in the composing process.

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Pens and Swords: Writing as a Force in Social Change 

If the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, as English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote in 1839, how can we put it to use?  We live in turbulent times, and often we may feel that our ideas get lost in the many opinions that divide people rather than prompting them simply to listen and respond to each other.  In this class we will look at the ways that writing can play a part in social change, with a particular focus on examining the voices of those often silenced. Together we will see how we can use writing as a powerful force in a democratic society.  Students will write about self-chosen topics that truly matter to them, and in the process examine the many genres that can allow for multiple perspectives to be heard. Research work will run throughout the quarter, in a different form for each type of writing we practice.  Social justice, equality, and passion for the transformations possible in this society will center our work as writers in a changing world. Is the pen mightier than the sword? Let’s find out.

Perspectives on Happiness and Well-Being

Does money make us happy?  Can meditation improve our state of mind?  Is nature essential to our well-being? In this section of Writing 2 we will discuss these questions and many others relating to the topic of happiness.  The readings for this course are drawn from a number of different traditions and disciplines: psychology, philosophy, sociology, self-help, and Buddhism.  These readings explore not only the personal choices and conditions that contribute to our individual well-being, but also the social norms and expectations that affect all of us in American society today.  Through a thoughtful engagement with these ideas, you will be encouraged to think critically and write papers that you really care about. All students will participate in class discussions, take part in collaborative group work, write compositions in different genres, submit some type of writing before most class sessions, and complete the course with a multi-stage research project.