Writing

Note: Course details for Summer 2019 will be available on December 15. The courses below were offered in Summer 2018 and can serve as a guide to what is typically offered.

College of Arts & Sciences

Writing Seminar (100)

Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Short Fiction. Muriel Ruykeyser once said, “The world is made of stories, not of atoms.” This seminar takes Rukeyser’s quote as its guide and examines the world through the lens of short fiction. Does literature reflect or direct society? What insights can be gleaned about a culture or period from reading? To answer these questions, this class studies major figures of American fiction, such as Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, and Jhumpa Lahiri and combines a deepening appreciation of varied short stories with energetic, critical readings of their works. The seminar also introduces a critical vocabulary for discussing fiction. This section is reserved for non-native English speakers. 4 cr.

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: The Corporation in American Culture. Why do corporations seem to occupy a central, but uncertain, place in American culture? Authors, journalists and filmmakers never seem quite sure about how to represent the people behind the corporations. At times, American writers have held up corporate executives as cultural heroes. At other points in U.S. history, corporations and their leaders have been cast as forces that threaten some of the nation’s most cherished values. This class takes an interdisciplinary approach to this question by examining a range of corporate heroes and villains in American culture. Students explore Americans’ sometimes contradictory feelings about business in a range of texts, including journalistic exposes, political cartoons, films, and television commercials. Throughout, the class considers the ways in which wider cultural, political, and social changes have shaped how Americans view the world of business. 4 cr.

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Boston Jazz Now. This seminar examines jazz music, with a focus on Boston as a leading center for jazz in the U.S. Topics include the evolution of jazz, its spread to different regions of the country, and its development in Boston, with special attention to Boston’s musicians, musical styles, schools, and clubs, both past and present. Course readings are drawn from a variety of genres, including biography/autobiography, reviews, historical accounts, and scholarly articles. Major sources include Jazz 101 (John Szwed); The History of Jazz (Ted Gioia); The Norton Jazz Recordings (eds. Scott DeVeaux and Gary Giddins); and The Oxford Companion to Jazz (ed. Bill Kirchner). This section is reserved for non-native English speakers. 4 cr.

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Global Tragedy. Since its development in Ancient Greece, tragic drama has been a central artistic form for Western civilization, and it still remains a vibrant cultural touchstone throughout Europe, America, and the world at large. This course specifically examines the tragic genre in conversation with other cultural traditions from non-Western nations and regions. It begins with an introduction to classical Greek Tragedy but quickly moves to more contemporary plays from Nigeria, India, and the Caribbean that draw upon the tragic mode and tragic theater conventions. Topics include cultural hybridity, colonial and post-colonial conflicts, and (time permitting) a final unit on Japanese Noh theater and its impacts. Likely readings include Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, Manjula Padmanabhan’s Harvest, and Derek Walcott’s The Sea at Dauphin. 4 cr.

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Inventing the American Individualist. “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” So wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, expressing a sentiment that seems native to the American character. From mountain men to entrepreneurs, from pioneers to beatniks, from suffragettes to senators, Americans have identified with roles that are individualistic, independent, and self-reliant. This seminar investigates the degree to which this attitude is rooted and reflected in our literary tradition. Readings will include Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” Ginsburg’s “Howl,” and Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. 4 cr.

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Ethical Missteps in Public Health. This course addresses the contemporary relevance of selected ethics issues that have arisen in the public health arena over the last 100 years. Topics include theories about the biology of race and “fitness” in the Progressive Era; the U.S. Public Health Service’s 40-year Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis; and the American eugenics movement, which culminated in the Supreme Court decision in Buck v. Bell. Students read firsthand accounts by public health practitioners and policymakers at the time, as well as more recent scholarship that seeks to make reasoned “trans-historical moral judgments” about past wrongs. 4 cr.

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: The Graphic Self. This seminar explores the construction of the self in graphic memoirs. As students explore this visual-textual form of autobiographical writing, they engage in important conversations about the blurry boundary between truth and fiction, past and present, public and private. They also analyze how graphic choices contribute to the evolving construction of the author’s identity and how form and style impact both the author’s voice and the reader’s experience. Students develop their own narrative voice through periodic journal assignments related to readings and discussions. Texts may include Art Spiegelman’s Maus; Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis; John Lewis’s March; and Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, along with supplementary scholarly articles and theoretical texts. This section is reserved for non-native English speakers. 4 cr.

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