Rhetoric and Composition

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.

Fall enrollments for all Writing Program courses close at 4pm, Friday, September 30.

Summer Options for Writing 2/Composition 2 Requirement

 

Fall 2022



Communicating about the Climate Crisis

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, why people often don’t act or even pay attention, 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. But in this class, we’ll go one step further, writing for real audiences and discussing how to use words (as well as bodies, sometimes!) to motivate others to ACT.

Writing as a Revolutionary Act

 

This class is about the revolution that writing can create when we step out of our social and intellectual circle in the classroom to interact with an audience who is politically in charge of our country. Expect to write a lot, expect to write about national topics that are controversial NOW, expect to explore the meaning of protest art and to create multimodal texts. Expect to write to people outside our class, to interview people who oppose your points of view, and to step outside the class in order to convey your message to a real audience. Your main task for this class will be to create a dialogue between you and those who oppose your points of view so that logical, practical solutions can be created and social / political change can happen. To achieve this goal, you will use social media, write respectfully about other points of view, create fact sheets and posters, interview people, and organize multimodal presentations. Be prepared to do group and individual work. 

Contemporary Narratives of Health, Fitness, and Well Being

 

How are social relationships, emotional well-being, and physical fitness sabotaged by culture and mass media? How might psychological and physical problem(s) resulting from culture and mass media be approached or resolved?  Students will have the opportunity to explore these questions and examine how their own perspectives about health and well-being have been influenced--for better or worse--by culture and mass media.


Coursework will include short papers and genre investigations, as well as one longer research project that will involve an overview of the research process.  Regular writing groups–peer editing conferences–will provide opportunities to improve the style, content, and structure of written work, as well as refine writing criticism. Conscientious engagement with assignments will help you fulfill the most important goal of this class—increasing your command of the principles of writing effective academic genres.

Empathy, Narrative and Social Change


Can our stories help inspire social and environmental change? How might evoking empathy unify rather than divide us? In this class, we will develop our storytelling skills through a variety of genres. We will explore the ways in which empathy functions as a rhetorical tool to inspire social and environmental change. Along the way, we will develop a writing process, use rhetorical concepts, develop our research skills and ultimately learn to craft stories that evoke empathy. Note: this is an online course, which means you will need a functional device(s) and stable internet access; the class will be primarily asynchronous, but requires your participation in weekly Learning Pod appointments via Zoom.

What’s in the New Yorker This Week?

What makes writing interesting? We'll read & write in response to The New Yorker magazine--one of the oldest American magazines currently publishing, and noted for its reporting, commentary, cover art, and cartoons. In 2016, The New Yorker magazine won the first Pulitzers given to any magazine: one to Emily Nussbaum for television criticism, one for Feature Writing ( Kathryn Schulz "The Really Big One"), another for UCSC Alum William Finnegan's biography Barbarian Days. In 2018, Ronan Farrow won for his reporting on Harvey Weinstein. In 2020, artist Barry Blitt won for Editorial Cartooning, and Colson Whitehead's "The Nickel Boys", winner in the Fiction category, was excerpted in the magazine. How did they get so good? We'll employ the classic tools of rhetoric, analysis, and research to find out. Readings will include The New Yorker, They Say, I Say 4th edition, and Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers (a free, online textbook). Students will write regularly, revise often, and frequently work with peers. You can see the current issue at www.newyorker.com.

Rhetoric + Bullshit


Is bullshit the excess of our collective bowel, or the force that keeps it “regular”? The stench of bullshit is near and clear, and we’re going to study it! In this online course, we will explore the role bullshit (taurascatics) plays in a “democratic society” by analyzing its relationship to rhetoric; to do this, we will write, read, critique, reflect, and interact with a variety of “texts” that explore a myriad of rhetorical situations and discursive formations -- ancient and modern, political and popular, fabricated and factual -- as a means for studying the excrement of our society. In short, this class will interrogate the shit that stains our collective un/conscious. Note: this is an online course, which means you will need a functional device(s) and stable internet access; the class will be primarily asynchronous, but requires your participation in weekly writing community appointments via Zoom.

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.

The Big Questions: Writing and What it Means to Live


Over two millennia ago, as he defended himself before being sentenced to death, the Athenian Philosopher Socrates left us with this simple admonishment: "the unexamined life is not worth living."  As we move forward through an era of climate change, pandemics, and political upheaval, it behooves us to return to the philosopher's pithy reminder and to consider the fundamental questions that surround it.  What is human life--your experience, your education at UCSC, your future vocation--for? What do we do with the lives that we have? Through readings in short fiction, poetry, philosophy, and the contemporary essay, this course will explore various attempts to come to terms with human experience and what it means to live while carefully examining the craft of writing--how to generate questions and ideas, how to synthesize and employ evidence, how to structure coherent arguments. Reflecting a collaborative writing process that includes invention and research, as well as drafting, revising, and editing, assignments will promote the composition of trenchant, inventive, and elegant essays that seek to answer the most basic of human questions.

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 an Open Education Resource and library ebook textbooks.  This course prepares students to write across the disciplines and develop media literacy.  Students can expect to learn about all steps of the writing process—planning, researching, drafting, revising, editing and citation—to read, listen, and watch interesting texts, and to engage in lively discussion.

Writing for Public Audiences

In this course, 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, rewrite, and self-publish one inquiry-driven piece of journalism 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 and Listening in a Changing World 

 

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 to simply listen to others’ voices.  So what can we do?  We can write.  In this class we will look at the ways that writing can play a part in social change. Reading and writing in a variety of genres and formats we will examine the many perspectives that enter into the conversations and the controversies that affect the many people whose voices might not be heard in the turmoil.  We will use writing to see how we can join that social conversation.  Students will write about self-chosen topics that truly matter to them, and in the process examine the many genres that can allow 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.

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.

#StraightOutOfATelenovela: Studying Rhetoric through Jane the Virgin 

 

CW television show Jane the Virgin (2014-2019) combines humor and heart as it recounts the twists and turns of the life of Jane Gloriana Villanueva, an aspiring writer in her early twenties who, through a series of extraordinary events, suddenly finds herself a pregnant virgin after being accidentally artificially inseminated. As the witty and anonymous “Latin Lover” narrator repeatedly tells the audience, the fantastical events of the show are like something “straight out of a telenovela,” a genre which this television show pays homage to as well as parodies and expands into a type of political and social commentary on intersections of race, class, and gender. 

 

The narrator’s commentary points to another key aspect of this show—that Jane the Virgin is a metanarrative—a story about telling a story. Through its witty narration and key focus on Jane as writer, the show explores the brave act of writing, an act filled with both possibilities and problematics. Our course will focus on what Jane the Virgin teaches us about the act of writing—both writing strategies (such as metacommentary and trajectory development) as well as the necessity of critical reflection about rhetorical choices. As a student in this class, you will be tasked with exploring your own rhetorical choices and constraints when writing in various forms and critically reflecting about the ethical and social impact of your choices.  

 

While this course is ASYNCHRONOUS, you will follow a MWF schedule for due dates and be required to meet weekly in SYNCHRONOUS virtual or in-person small groups to discuss the course content and receive feedback on your thinking and writing. There will be various time slots available (TBD) from which you may select.

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. This is a hybrid class that meets on campus Mondays and is asynchronous the rest of the week.

Climate Change, Biodiversity, and the Environment

 

In this course, 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 follow the same process as a scientist or policy analyst reviewing the current state of knowledge on a scientific or environmental problem. The class will emphasize the development of research-level information literacy skills across disciplines, and assignments will navigate the process of writing up research. Although the class emphasizes reading, understanding, and writing up scientific research, non-science students will find the class helpful for writing up research in any discipline.  


(Note: this is a fully online W2 section and has no in-person or zoom class meetings, so please think about whether you will do well in a fully online course. Online courses offer more flexibility and accessibility, giving students more choice over when and how they learn. And no student works on their writing alone. Weekly peer review Canvas discussions offer supportive writing feedback from other students and the instructor. But some students may need in-person instruction so they are motivated to learn. And everyone will need a functional device(s), reliable internet access, and the UCSC VPN. Email the instructor tterhaar@ucsc.edu if you have questions about whether this class is a good fit for your learning style.)

Writing! Writing? Writing.

 

The theme of this course is writing: it’s what we’ll talk about: it’s what we’ll read about; it’s what we’ll write about. This may mean debating why so much academic research isn’t freely available, why Wikipedia might be okay after all, and/or when to give up pre-writing strategies that aren’t helping you.

 

I’ll be working on the class over the summer, but here’s what you can count on:

  • This course consists of major projects supported by a variety of smaller assignments. 
  • Expect to read, write, and/or revise for every class period (Tue/Thu). 
  • This course uses “contract grading.” This means that I will provide a list of what you must do to get a B, with each assignment marked complete/incomplete with lots of feedback. (Details on getting an A in class.) I find that students produce more and better writing with this system. 
  • Our conversations, readings, and assignments will pertain to how and why we write, with attention to issues of equity, discrimination, and inclusion. Everyone is encouraged to be in touch about their specific learning needs, including disability accommodations. 
  • This course will be held in person. Other options will be provided if there are Covid exposures and related emergencies, but there will not be a regular “Zoom option” for all students.

Mindfulness of the Creative Experience

 

In this course, we explore how mindfulness, and paying attention to the process of our creative experiences, make 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 report. As writers in this course, we critically engage 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 ignite, which research questions do we ask and what rhetorical devices and techniques do we use 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?

Brevity

This iteration of Writing 2 examines communication forms defined by concision. We'll tweet and tell anecdotes, analyze film clips and compose abstracts. We'll close read short stories and craft emoji tales.

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 (using Storymaps software) that will involve an overview of the research process. Revision will be a major focus of all writing projects.

Writing with Agility

This Writing 2 course is foremost about versatile communication and research.  Whether we realize it or not, all of us frequently shift our written, spoken and body language depending on our audience, context, and purpose.  In “Writing with Agility,” you will build upon your pre-existing communication skills and intuition, sharpening your ability to write effectively across a wide variety of contexts and disciplines.  In this course, you have the freedom to choose your own research topic, which you will follow through the quarter as you hone a range of critical reading and research skills.  Though this is a remote asynchronous course, we will consistently interact as a community using online platforms.  You can expect to regularly work with your classmates as part of improving your own writing.  Together, we will study and put into action key rhetorical concepts including audience, genre, rhetorical situation, disciplinary discourse, and purpose.  Course readings will be drawn from a variety of academic and non-academic sources, including non-textual.  Writing assignments will emphasize research, critical thinking, intellectual empathy, metacognition, and the reflective writing process.  Ultimately there is no one right way to write, because different situations call for different kinds of writing.  This course will help you build a set of tools to tackle college level writing assignments as well as a multitude of writing situations beyond the classroom.

Investigative Journalism

In this class we will study the practice of writing and research through a focus on investigative journalism, taking up the present moment as a shared site of 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 methods of journalistic 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.  

 

The structure of the class is online asynchronous, designed to accommodate students with a flexible schedule, but also to provide weekly routines and forms of group accountability. While most of the course work can be completed at your own pace, with deadlines at the end of each week, the course also features synchronous components, including mandatory group meetings and peer-review sessions, optional writing workshops, and individual or group appointments with the instructor.

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.

Passion Projects: Exploring our Interests through Research & Writing

 

In this course, students will use the academic research process as a way to dive deeper into the things they are personally passionate about and compose texts that communicate the significance of these topics to a variety of audiences. This course will take place in-person on campus.

The Future: Utopia or Dystopia?

 

Humanity stands at a turning point in planetary history. We have the knowledge and technological tools to create a utopia, yet our trajectory as a species is accelerating toward dystopia, or even extinction. How we perceive and react to this crisis is determined to a large extent by the words written about it. In this composition course, we will closely read and respond to contemporary texts in diverse genres, from Black Mirror episodes to peer-reviewed research. A primary text for the course will be Bill McKibben’s Falter, a book connecting the seemingly disparate dangers posed by runaway climate change, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and libertarianism. We will research and respond to these controversial issues by examining McKibben’s sources, composing in multiple genres, and revising through multiple drafts. Through sharing our writing online and through participation in small group and class discussions, we will create a classroom community that improves our ability to write, leads to academic success, and illuminates a path forward through these troubled times.

#Trending: Exploring Viral Stories

 

In this class, students will examine viral stories that pique their curiosities, teasing out their facts and fictions.  To do so, they will choose a story that has recently garnered the attention of media creators and consumers due to its social, cultural, political, or historical ramifications.  This story will act as a springboard to students’ investigation and writing over the quarter -- from posing questions, to conducting research via popular and university databases, to evaluating texts for their rhetorical use and credibility,  to synthesizing source material, to crafting complex arguments, and ultimately, to developing an authorial ethos. Integral to students’ work will be composing and revising in stages, considering along the way how best to meet their audiences’ needs and achieve their purposes in precise, ethical, and impactful ways.  Please note that this section of Writing 2 will be taught in an online asynchronous format. However, in order to foster a supportive community and provide productive spaces in which to generate ideas and workshop writing, students will meet in writing groups for approximately 1 hour each week on a day/time of the group’s choosing.

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.

“If Only We’re Brave Enough to Be It”: Writing for Change (Online Course)

We are taught how to write according to strict rules and requirements, from the five-paragraph essay to not using “I” in your writing. Too often, our writing is boring and not meaningful. Student writers, however, have been powerful sources for change in their communities.

This course will aim to empower you as a writer, giving you opportunities to write about issues and questions that are meaningful to you. We will read and write about ourselves and our communities, including writing by diverse young student writers, activists, and organizers whose work is helping to create positive changes in the world. You will have the opportunity to compose in multiple genres, including a multimodal research project, as you explore questions that interest you. In addition, you will reflect on your reading and writing practices in order to transfer your knowledge and skills to other tasks. Finally, you will experiment with language as you develop your personal writing style. If you’ve ever felt like you were not a good writer, this course will help you share your voice!

This is a fully online, asynchronous course. You will need a computer, internet, and Canvas access. There are no set times for in-person or Zoom meetings, although you will meet with the instructor independently and with small groups, with a choice of times for meetings. Online courses can be really flexible, accessible, and welcoming. Students often appreciate that they have more choices over when and how they learn. However, online courses are not for everyone. Please email the instructor if you have questions about the course and whether it would be a good fit for you. 

Choose your own research adventure (online asynchronous)


Our work in this course will be motivated by several concepts that are fundamental to understanding how to write effectively: analysis, genre, audience, and style. By studying these concepts, you will gain conceptual knowledge about writing that will help you to become a more confident and informed writer. Major course projects will be interconnected and invite you to sustain inquiry on a research question of your choosing (instructor approval of research question is required).

 

This section of Writing 2 is online (asynchronous), and so there are no regular class meetings with the instructor/whole class. You will, however, be placed in a writing group with other enrolled students, and you will collaborate on a small number of homework assignments with members of your group. You'll also receive support for your individual writing projects from group members. Your instructor will be available during office hours for consultations on any and all assigned work.


To be successful in this course, you need a computer and stable access to the internet, a good dose of internal motivation, and strong reading skills. Many students thrive in online courses, because they tend to offer more flexibility than do on-site courses. However, not all students do well in online courses. If you're wondering if this asynchronous class is right for you, feel free to reach out to the course instructor prior to enrollment (hshearer@ucsc.edu) with questions.

Developing your Superpowers: Writing for Action

The pen is mightier than the sword. Now prove it! Let’s examine, explore, practice, and play with the skill, the art, and the power of writing in order to take action to improve the state of our world. 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 which will lead to a well-developed research paper to fight a struggle of your choice. Note: this is an online course, which means you will need a functional device(s) and stable internet access; the class will be primarily asynchronous with several optional zoom meetings.

Gen Z: Social Media, Social Networks, Social Change

This course examines a topic that has defined the current generation: social media. In this course, students will focus on the effective use of language, analysis, and argumentation in college-level academic writing while considering the role that social media (in its many forms) plays in their own lives and in the lives of their peers, the members of Gen Z. Through course readings, discussion prompts, and major writing assignments, students will examine how social media has shaped their identity, including their values, beliefs, and aspirations, and will explore the role of social media in ongoing social change.

In this course, students will develop their ability to write for a specific purpose and for a specific audience, and to synthesize evidence from both popular sources and scholarly articles. Major assignments will include developing a research question and writing a research proposal, conducting a rhetorical analysis of a popular article, writing a research review for an academic audience, and adapting research for a public audience.

Write for the Job You Want

When I graduated from college and started working, I found that an undergraduate curricula that focuses only on academic writing did not truly prepare me for jobs in industries other than academia. 

This course is about addressing different rhetorical needs through writing, while pushing the students to dive into their career interests. You will build upon your pre-existing communication skills and knowledge, developing your ability to write effectively across a wide variety of contexts. You will have the freedom to choose a job industry that will be at the core of each writing assignment, and you will collaborate with your classmates while sharpening your own writing. Together, we will study and put into action key rhetorical concepts including audience, genre, rhetorical situation, and purpose. Course readings will be drawn from a variety of academic and non-academic sources, including non-textual. Writing assignments will emphasize research, critical thinking, real-life skills, and the reflective writing process. Ultimately there is no one right way to write because different situations call for different kinds of writing. This course will help you develop a set of tools to tackle college-level writing assignments as well as specific rhetorical situations found in jobs across a multitude of industries. Because of the focus on practicing your skills, in this class you will be reading and writing on daily basis.

Note: In Spring 2022, this class will be offered in a hybrid format. This means that Mondays will be in-person on campus, while Wednesdays & Fridays will be on Zoom. To make the most of this format, cameras will be expected to be on during our remote meetings.

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.

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.

Writing in the Digital Ecosystem 


The digital revolution of the past generation has completely transformed literacy. To be successful with our writing in this exciting, yet dangerous age, we must understand the complexity and dynamism of the digital ecosystem. And we must effectively practice writing everything from research papers to clickbait. In this asynchronous, online course you will learn the fundamental properties and systems that shape writing in our current moment. And you will acquire strategies for advanced digital research and composing practices in both popular and scholarly genres. Students will have flexibility in choosing research questions around topics such as: memology, the spread of misinformation, polarization and extremism, algorithms and social biases, writing and machine learning, privacy and surveillance, digital activism, and online identity formation. 


This course is completely online and asynchronous. Frequent instructor office hours and occasional, optional Zoom workshops will be offered, but students are expected to be highly self-motivated and self-directed with asynchronous content.


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What We Value


How do we arrive at decisions about what we value, as individuals and as a society? This course examines different ways of arriving at conclusions about what’s valuable.  We will explore how different authors have expressed their personal experiences, their views about the world, and what they consider valuable. These writings occur in different forms of inquiry: in personal reflection, academic papers, and fiction. This course prepares students to write across the disciplines.  Students can expect to learn about all steps of the writing process—planning, drafting, revising and editing, to read interesting selections, and to participate in engaging discussions. We will write a personal reflection, analyze texts of various genres, and write an investigative essay based on student research. 

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Writing in the Digital Age


​​Do you rotfl when your professor says something nsfw? Tl;dr: This course examines writing and genre as they pertain to our age of new media. We will be interested in discerning how communication has changed in the digital age, including what types of messages emerge through internet platforms like social media or text messaging, and how conventional notions of academic writing may be informed or challenged by these new methods of communication. We’ll also cover topics such as the ideology of genre, digital writing and memory, and remediation. We will read both scholarly articles and imaginative writing from the likes of Marshall McLuhan, Harryette Mullen, N. Katherine Hayles, and Alexander Galloway. Through careful reading, discussion, and written practice, students will develop an increased awareness of how different media shape the information we consume. Students will parley a series of shorter written assignments into a longer research project about digital writing.

Utopia or Dystopia? ‘Black Mirror’, Technology, and Writing about the Future. 

“I like technology, but 'Black Mirror' is more [about] what the consequences are and it doesn't tend to be about technology itself: it tends to be how we use or misuse it. We've not really thought through the consequences of it.”  

-‘Black Mirror’ creator Charlie Brooker

Technology permeates so many aspects of our daily lives (our homes, our workplace, our bodies, etc) that it is difficult to imagine an area that remains untouched by it. But what impact does our use and reliance on technology have on modern society? What effect does it have on our own psyche and well-being? What does it say about our tendencies (both good and bad) as humans? Charlie Brooker’s anthology series ‘Black Mirror’ often depicts a troubled future where technological advances bring out the ugly side of humanity, yet sometimes it demonstrates that hope and love can overcome some difficult obstacles. 

Using several episodes of ‘Black Mirror’ (as well as key writings from a variety of genres) as objects of analysis and inquiry, this writing course will reflect deeply on the questions raised by our reliance on technology and the consequences that may have for the future of humanity. In this course, students will continue to build their academic writing skills by focusing specifically on writing in multiple contexts, for disparate audiences, and with distinct rhetorical purposes; as the mastery of these concepts will help students write more effectively and persuasively throughout their respective academic disciplines and beyond. Through several assignments (rhetorical analysis, reflection papers, annotated bibliography, research paper, and a final multimodal project), students will pursue more in-depth research proficiency and writing agility. Finally, in this course, we will think profoundly about a variety of technology-related themes and question whether we consider these advances for the detriment or betterment of humanity.

Retrowave: Rhetorics of the Futurepast

 

From Stranger Things to vaporwave memes, Retrowave is a movement that crystalizes and reinterprets the nostalgic aesthetics and sounds of the 1980s for contemporary times. We’ll explore the revival of the neon 80s and other rebirths of classic aesthetic time periods as a lens through which to examine the nuances of multimodal communication, noting and analyzing the subtext residing at the intersection of eras colliding and being reimagined. What is nostalgia to you—commodity, curiosity, trend? Are pop culture eras repeating themselves at a faster rate? How do we spot the differences between original artifacts and replicants?

 

This course will be in person and contain three major writing projects focusing on research, critique, comparison, and your own authorial voice; and involves lively in-class discussions and activities so be prepared to participate. We will explore a variety of genres and media types centered on Retrowave and other Retrofuturistic imaginings largely sourced from 20th century Western media, though some discussion of global movements will be touched upon and are welcome and encouraged in student work. Through close observation and comparison, we’ll practice writing in a way that integrates these defined eras with ourselves and explores our connection to the futurepast.

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 (Montaigne and Epictetus) and non–western texts (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, exploration, and conversations with others. This course is writing intensive and engages the full writing process from experimental, informal, reflective writing to research and revision.

Write for the Job You Want

This course is about addressing different needs through writing. You will build upon your pre-existing communication skills and knowledge, honing your ability to write effectively across a wide variety of contexts and disciplines. Students have the freedom to choose a job industry that will be at the core of each writing assignment. You will work with your classmates as part of sharpening your own writing. Together, we will study and put into action key rhetorical concepts including audience, genre, rhetorical situation, disciplinary discourse, and purpose. Course readings will be drawn from a variety of academic and non-academic sources, including non-textual. Writing assignments will emphasize research, critical thinking, real-life skills, and the reflective writing process. Ultimately there is no one right way to write, because different situations call for different kinds of writing. This course will help you build a set of tools to tackle college level writing assignments as well as specific rhetorical situations found in jobs across a multitude of industries.

Writing As Play

As we use language, language uses us; we use it and are used by it. Language is not simply a tool we put to work, but a living, dynamic, sometimes violent, sometimes world-building force that both precedes and exceeds, shapes and undermines, our communicative and expressive desires and intentions as writers. In this course, we will explore the theoretical, political, ethical, and – most importantly – the practical implications of understanding writing as a form of play. We will adopt – experimentally, openly, and uncertainly – playful approaches in our practices of reading and writing, in order to produce work that interrogates, challenges, resists, refuses, and/or transforms established habits, patterns, and rules. The course is designed to encourage, rather than penalize, risk-taking in your writing. Students will conduct a staggered, quarter-long self-directed research project, alongside a range of writing activities and textual experiments. We will read, watch, listen to, and write about works across a wide range of genres, forms, and media, and students will have the opportunity to influence what we focus on as the quarter unfolds. Through practical and theoretical explorations of writing as play, this course aims to challenge your understanding of what writing can do, while cultivating a stronger sense what you can do as writers within and beyond academia.

Language & the Environment: Writing Our Relationship with the Natural World

 

In a world where the environmental consequences of human actions are increasingly visible, what responsibilities do we have toward each other and the non-human world? This course will begin by examining the relationship between language, place, and the environment. We will explore different ways of understanding nature and humanity’s relationship to it and consider the implications of these understandings for conservation and environmental sustainability. 

This course will ask you to examine the writing you engage with and in, as students, citizens, consumers, and members of different communities. You will be introduced to rhetorical concepts through reading and analyzing texts from a variety of perspectives and genres, including popular and scholarly sources. In addition, you will explore an environmental topic of your choosing and develop a research question to drive a more focused investigation. You will compose and revise several written assignments related to this topic, including a major research paper, and gain experience writing for different audiences in multiple genres. Through reading, class discussion, and composition, you will improve your understanding of the writing process and the rhetorical choices writers make and develop strategies you can bring to future writing tasks within and beyond the university.

Writing as Play

As we use language, language uses us; we use it and are used by it. Language is not simply a tool we put to work, but a living, dynamic, sometimes violent, sometimes world-building force that both precedes and exceeds, shapes and undermines, our communicative and expressive desires and intentions as writers. In this course, we will explore the theoretical, political, ethical, and – most importantly – the practical implications of understanding writing as a form of play. We will adopt – experimentally, openly, and uncertainly – playful approaches in our practices of reading and writing, in order to produce work that interrogates, challenges, resists, refuses, and/or transforms established habits, patterns, and rules. The course is designed to encourage, rather than penalize, risk-taking in your writing. Students will conduct a staggered, quarter-long self-directed research project, alongside a range of writing activities and textual experiments. We will read, watch, listen to, and write about works across a wide range of genres, forms, and media, and students will have the opportunity to influence what we focus on as the quarter unfolds. Through practical and theoretical explorations of writing as play, this course aims to challenge your understanding of what writing can do, while cultivating a stronger sense what you can do as writers within and beyond academia.

(Un)original Writing

(Un)original Writing takes seriously the value of playfully approaching all writing as influenced by, indebted to, and collaborating with the elements of its rhetorical situation (author, genre, audience, purpose, context). No writing exists in isolation, no writer a lone master, no content divisible from the world of its production or the world of its reader. In place of novelty, (Un)original writing practices strategies for curiosity and creativity with focus on both conceptual and practical knowledge about writing. In this course, you will read and write across different modes, forms, and mediums. Assignments will ask you to participate in in-class discussions and writing activities; complete asynchronous Writing Prompts from creative and critical offerings; and design and execute a Capstone Project around a self-selected topic. Through emphasis on the workshop model and reflection, you will develop a writerly habit of mind and leave the course prepared to write for situations in and outside of the academy.

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

How do culture and mass media shape perceptions of success, fitness, intelligence, and other aspects of well being? 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 physical 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 and politics advance and avert health and well being.

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.