Writing

Course details for Summer 2017 will be available on December 15. The courses below were offered in Summer 2016 and can serve as a guide to what is typically offered.

Colleges: College of Arts & Sciences | College of Communication

Courses in: Writing Seminar (WR 098) | Writing Seminar (WR 100) | Writing and Research Seminar (WR 150) | College of Communication Writing Program

College of Arts & Sciences

Writing Seminar (WR 098)

Academic Writing for ESL Students 2

CAS WR 098

Prereq: (CAS WR 097) or placement test results. Emphasis on critical reading and analytical writing in response to various theme-based texts. Review of grammar and mechanics in context. Intensive practice in the patterns of academic argumentation through multiple writing assignments of increasing complexity. Refinement of speaking skills through discussions and oral presentations. 4 cr.


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Writing Seminar (WR 100)

Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Madness in Film. As the art of film and science of psychiatry both grew in cultural prominence over the past hundred years, movies often attempted to represent madness—sometimes in ways that reflected the current medical understanding of mental illness and sometimes in ways that challenged that understanding. In this class, we explore films that evoke the experience of madness and read thinkers who critique psychiatry in order to explore the complicated relationship between art, culture, and mental illness. Films may include Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Hitchcock’s Psycho, Polanski’s Repulsion, and Von Trier’s Melancholia. 4 cr.


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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Boston Jazz Now! This course examines 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: The History of Jazz (Ted Gioia), Jazz (Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux); The Norton Jazz Recordings (ed. DeVeaux and 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: Short Fiction.The poet Muriel Rukeyser insists that “The world is made of stories, not of atoms.” In this seminar, we examine the world through the lens of short fiction, considering such questions as what view of the world these pieces offer us and what we can discover about ourselves or the broader world from them. We also consider how successfully short fiction speaks across generations or cultures. We examine the conventions and challenges of the genre, and readings may include seminal works by authors such as Shirley Jackson, Willa Cather, Kate Chopin and William Faulkner as well as from more contemporary authors such as Louise Erdrich, Tim O’Brien, Jamaica Kincaid, and Gish Jen. This section is reserved for non-native English speakers. 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. In this seminar, we investigate 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: Boston in Film and Literature. Beantown. The Hub. The Athens of America. Whatever its moniker, Boston has captivated writers and artists for centuries. In this seminar, we look at Boston as subject and setting of a number of very different works in order to understand the social, political, historical, and artistic forces that have shaped this great American city. Texts include the fiction of Nick Flynn and Dennis Lehane, the poetry of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, and the films of Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese. This section is reserved for non-native English speakers. 4 cr.


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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Heroes and Villains in American Business. Authors, journalists and filmmakers never seem quite sure what to do with business people. At times, American writers have held up business professionals as cultural heroes. At other points in U.S. history, though, business and business people have been cast as forces that threaten some of the nation’s most cherished values. Why does business seem to occupy a central, but uncertain, place in American culture? In this class, we take an interdisciplinary approach to this question by examining a range of business heroes and villains in American culture. We will read works by authors including Ida Tarbell, Ayn Rand, and Upton Sinclair, as well as examine more recent cultural artifacts about business, such as movies and television shows. Throughout, we consider these texts alongside recent scholarship about the history of American capitalism to consider 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 and Research Seminar (WR 150)

Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Magical Realism. This course focuses on magic realism, a type of literature in which the impossible is possible. We study examples of fiction, poetry, and film from around the world, considering the common threads that unite instances of magic realism across national and cultural boundaries. As we develop our individual voices as writers, we think about what makes literature Great, why we read Great Literature, and whether the answers to these questions are culturally relative. 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: After Auschwitz: The Search for Ethics in Post-Holocaust Thought. In this course, we examine the problem of ethics after the Holocaust as it appears in literature, philosophy, theology, political thought, graphic novels, and film. We explore the innovative ways in which writers, thinkers, and artists create new approaches to ethics in spite of undeniable evidence of humanity’s propensity for brutality. We will read texts by Elie Wiesel, Hannah Arendt, Emmanuel Levinas, Loung Ung, Ishmael Beah, and others. Films will include Life is Beautiful and The Act of Killing. Graphic novels will include Magneto Testament, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, and Joe Kubert’s Yossel, 19. April 1943. 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Running for the Presidency – The 2016 Campaign. Who will be the next American president? During this summer, the Democratic and Republican nominees for the Presidency, as well as any third party candidates, will be established. As voters make their electoral choices, scholars and political commentators are closely examining the candidates, their policies, and their campaigns. In this course, students participate as researchers and writers in that process in several ways. Students compose biographical sketches, memos, position papers, and political analyses. Students also investigate how candidates define themselves and attack their opponents; how the candidates respond to criticism, gaffes, scandals, and polls; and why one candidate is most likely to win the presidential office. Campaigns offer visions of the future, but placing this one in historical context also enables us to see how the past might influence this present contest. Readings include T.H. White’s The Making of the President – 1960; the campaign rhetoric of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Nixon, Romney, Obama, and others; and, most importantly, the real-time words of the current candidates seeking the office of the American Presidency. 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Sympathy for the Devil. After a very quick look at the religious and mythological background to the concept of the Devil, we look at the twentieth-century Christian apologist C.S. Lewis’s account of the Devil, at John Milton’s creation of a character of great stature, at various treatments of the Faust theme, and at the great Russian political satire The Master and Margarita. Finally we divide into groups which carry out their own research on literary treatments of witches and Satanists as devil-worshippers; folklore traditions of the devil; political and satirical uses of the devil; and the devil in the entertainment industry (theater, movies, television). 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Gendered Expressions of Performance. As director Ann Bogart insists, “artists are individuals willing to articulate in the face of flux and transformation. And the successful artist finds new shapes for our present ambiguities and uncertainties.” In this seminar, we study how contemporary, American, female playwrights and performance artists attempt to give voice to the particular “ambiguities and uncertainties” of modern life. We consider how plays and performance art can be political vehicles to illuminate questions of gender and race. By analyzing both scripts and visual performances, we gain a broader understanding of what women artists believe needs to be articulated. Artists studied include performance theorist Judith Butler, director Ann Bogart, playwrights Suzan Lori Parks and Sarah Rhul, and performance artists Anna Deavere Smith and Lorrie Anderson. 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Cultural Anthropology through Science Fiction. Anthropology is the discipline studying human beings from a holistic and cross-cultural perspective; science fiction is a genre exploring facets of human behavior in imaginary settings. Both deal with a combination of the foreign and the familiar, so together, anthropology and science fiction offer an ideal opportunity to explore a variety of interesting topics: politics, cross-cultural communication, religion, evolution, socialization, identity, gender, war, government, dreams, and others. Readings include short stories, novels, and essays by authors such as Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, and Chad Oliver. 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Literary Monsters. This course investigates some of literature’s most famous and hideous creatures: humans, beasts, and the wild things in between; what lurks under the bed and out on the moors. Surveying texts from Anglo-Saxon England to twentieth-century America, we consider what monsters show (de-monst[e]r-ate) about the cultures that create them and about the generations of readers drawn to them. Readings and films may include Beowulf, Shakespeare's The Tempest, Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula, King Kong, Shelley's Frankenstine, Godzilla, and Pan's Labyrinth. 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: The Matter of King Arthur. The matter of King Arthur is deeply rooted in Western Europe's medieval imagination, particularly in the histories and stories of the Welsh, French, German, and English cultures. With origins in the sixth century and cresting in the twelfth century, the legend of King Arthur has been fully realized in the fifteenth century by Sir Thomas Malory in Le Morte d’Arthur, which has become the basis of most of the later art and literature surrounding the matter of King Arthur. In this course, we focus on Malory's magnificent story with additional supplementary readings. With such an enduring and complex history brought together by Malory, the matter of King Arthur offers a treasure trove of topics for research essays. 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: The Novel Now. For some, the interactive, instantly gratifying world of online entertainment spells doom for the art of the novel. But there are signs that the contemporary novel is not only surviving but thriving in the new millennium. This course focuses on the particular kind of linguistic inventiveness, passion, originality, and energy that powerful novels provide. Readings are the following: Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and Tim Winton's Breath. 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Albums of the 70s and 80s. In this course, we look at and listen to a number of albums by critically-acclaimed singer-songwriters. Emphasis is on the song lyrics and the ways in which individual songs work together to produce a cohesive album. We analyze, in addition to albums chosen by students, Workingman’s Dead by The Grateful Dead, Blue by Joni Mitchell, Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan, The Late Great Townes Van Zandt, The Pogues’ Rum Sodomy & the Lash, Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones, Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man, and (cheating by a year) Vic Chesnutt’s West of Rome. 4 cr.


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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Marijuana in American History. Marijuana prohibition in America has evolved to reflect political, social, economic and scientific trends in twentieth century U.S. history. This course examines the role of science and morality in drug enforcement policy and evaluates the recent push for decriminalization during three periods: the prohibition years in the first half of the century, the countercultural period after the 1950s and the medicinal marijuana era that followed the 1980s. Sources for this course will include: Dan Baum, Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure; Richard Nixon’s presidential recordings; Dorm Room Dealer: Drugs and the Privileges of Race and Class by Mohamed and Fritsvold as well as examples of popular culture from Reefer Madness to Cheech and Chong. 4 cr.


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College of Communication

College of Communication Writing Program

Introduction to Communication Writing

COM CO 201

Prereq: (CAS WR 100) or equivalent. The core writing course for communication students. Students review editing skills and apply those skills to professional writing assignments for the web and print: news stories, memoirs, proposals, film scripts, and profiles. Weekly written assignments and writing workshops offer an emphasis on revision. Students consider how text and media work together in informational, persuasive, and narrative writing for specific audiences. Prepares students to write with confidence in communication fields. 4 cr.


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