Writing

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

For classes in Creative Writing see additional listings under English.

College of Arts & Sciences Writing Program

The purpose of the CAS Writing Program is to help students read challenging works with critical discernment, to write with a refined sense of style, and to speak with appropriate eloquence. Although the topics of the seminars differ, all seminars are designed to foster lively discussions about works of literature that serve as models for effective writing. Every writing seminar teaches grammatical correctness and stylistic versatility. All seminars lead students through a common assignment sequence that stresses the process of revision. Students enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences are required to complete two courses of formal instruction in writing, reading, research, and speaking. The two-course sequence CAS WR 100 and WR 150 is the usual means of satisfying this requirement. WR 097 (not offered in summer) and WR 098 are reserved for ESL (English as a Second Language) students whose score on the ESL Writing Placement Test indicates a need for preparatory work prior to enrolling in WR 100-150.

Tutorial assistance is available to students enrolled in summer composition courses. To make an appointment with a tutor, please go to bu.edu/writingprogram/the-writing-center or call 617-358-1500.

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. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

Summer 2 (June 29-August 6)

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Writing Seminar (WR 100)

Imaginative engagement through reading and writing with a theme or topic in literature, thought, and society. Emphasis on assimilation of challenging readings into essays that are clear, accurate, persuasive, and engaging. Practice in classroom discussion of ideas and refinement of speaking skills. Special attention to comparison and synthesis. Individual conferences.

Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Boston Jazz Now. This course examines Boston as a leading center for jazz in the US. 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 (Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux); The History of Jazz (Ted Gioia); 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. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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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 course investigates the degree to which this attitude is rooted and reflected in our literary tradition. Readings include Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, Ginsburg’s Howl, and Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Madness in Film. As the art of film and the science of psychiatry both grew in cultural prominence over the course of the twentieth century, movies often endeavored to represent madness--sometimes in ways that reflected the changing medical understanding of mental illness and sometimes in ways that challenged these views. In this class, students explore films that evoke the experience of madness and read thinkers who critique modern 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. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Contemporary Disasters. This seminar investigates the contemporary meaning of disaster from a variety of perspectives, beginning with two case studies of contemporary disasters: 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Drawing on scholarship in sociology, anthropology, ecology, geology, the study of literature and culture, and the relatively recent field of disaster studies, one can question whether there is such a thing as a natural disaster, whether disasters expose any differences between ‘nature’ and ‘culture,’ and in today’s geo-political, multi-national, urbanized, globalized world, whether there is such a thing as an “American” disaster or if there’s anything especially American about how citizens of the United States think and talk about disaster. Readings include excerpts from Bill McKibben's The End of Nature, Rebecca Solnit's Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, Rob Nixon's Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, and Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster, edited by Anthony Oliver-Smith and Susana Hoffmann. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Elements of Danger in American Short Fiction. The danger tale may be the oldest narrative form. It serves as a warning, an entertainment, a history, and a means by which to challenge social norms. Sometimes, it performs these functions simultaneously. The central task of this course is to explore the idea of danger. In one story, characters may risk embarrassment. In another, they may risk their lives. Are the stakes the same within the stories’ contexts? Can a story of manners be as compelling as a violent drama? Over the millennia, danger narratives have developed and refined their structures and mechanisms for delivering their messages. Can these systems remain effective, even if readers recognize and categorize the devices? The course will principally focus on American short fiction, but may also explore poetry, non-fiction, art, and film to test theories about form and content. Authors include Ernest Hemingway, Shirley Jackson, Bharati Mukherjee, Chuck Palahniuk, and Stephen King, among others. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 2 (June 29-August 6)

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Writing Seminar

CAS WR 100

Topic: Boston in Film and Literature. This course looks at Boston as the subject and setting of a number of works across genres. Texts include the fiction of Nick Flynn and Dennis Lehane; the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Lowell; and the films of Clint Eastwood, Ben Affleck, and Martin Scorsese. This section is reserved for non-native English speakers. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 2 (June 29-August 6)

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Writing and Research Seminar (WR 150)

Imaginative engagement through reading and writing with a theme or topic in literature, thought, and society. Emphasis on research techniques, including the location, evaluation, and synthesis of secondary sources. Special attention to the role of evidence in persuasive writing. Assignments include oral presentations and two research papers.

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. This course examines three of the finest Arthurian stories written: the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur; and Alfred Lord Tennyson’s group of poems, Idylls of the King, drawn from Malory but clearly addressing more contemporary issues. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: City of Ideas: A History of Innovation in Boston. Boston’s innovations have made important contributions to American life in areas as diverse as commerce and industry, education, civic life, the environment, the arts, and medicine. As students investigate some of the key innovations to emerge from the Boston area in the last three centuries, they also consider the characteristics of the city’s creative culture. Readings (from a wide range of historical and contemporary sources) are complemented by visits to local sites and museums that showcase some of Boston’s innovations. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Anthropology through Science Fiction. Anthropology is a discipline that studies human beings from a holistic and cross-cultural perspective; science fiction is a genre that explores facets of human behavior in imaginary settings. Both deal with a combination of the foreign and the familiar. Together, anthropology and science fiction offer a rich opportunity to explore a variety of topics: culture, cross-cultural communication, religion, evolution, socialization, identity, gender, war, government, dreams, and others. This seminar explores anthropology through a variety of science fiction short stories, novels, essays, and films. Readings may include The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin, A World of Difference by Harry Turtledove, and other texts. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Revisiting Fairy Tales. In this seminar, students do in-depth case studies of several classic tales, reading fairy tales, short stories, and poetry alongside critical essays by scholars working from anthropological, literary-critical, and psychological viewpoints. The course examines recurring themes of violence, adolescence, and maturation while exploring research questions such as oral versus print transmission, authored versus unauthored texts, certain tales' persistence in popular culture, and the significance of the continual revisioning of familiar tales and motifs such as the monstrous bride/groom. Authors include Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Emma Donoghue, Anne Sexton, and Angela Carter, among others. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Lincoln and His Legacy. Americans are taught from childhood the story of Abraham Lincoln. To some, he is to be revered for emancipating the slaves and saving the nation during the American Civil War; but to others, Lincoln's heroic stature is more fairy tale than fact. How should we remember Abraham Lincoln, 150 years after both his death and the end of the Civil War? This course looks closely at the biographical facts of Lincoln's life, his words, and his deeds within the context of 19th century America. It also examines Lincoln’s legacy, as it exists in memorials, films, poems, and other cultural artifacts. Texts include Lincoln's pre-presidential speeches, including the House Divided address, as well as letters both personal and political; his remarkable presidential rhetoric, including the Gettysburg Address, and his First and Second Inaugurals; and the words of Walt Whitman and Martin Luther King, two Americans who worked to keep Lincoln’s legacy alive. A variety of critical points of view on Lincoln are also studied, including David Donald's biography, Lincoln. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: The Rhetoric of Business. This writing seminar investigates how rhetorical approaches and appeals pervade the business landscape. From the "elevator pitch" to the written proposal, one can have precious little time to persuade one's audience. Central to the success of such endeavors is strong argumentation. The class begins with a rhetorical analysis of the management style of Sir Alex Ferguson, longtime manager of Manchester United, and then examines how popular culture represents (or misrepresents) the business pitch. For their final projects, students will have an opportunity to write a case study on a topic of their choosing. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Bob Dylan’s lyrics. This course examines Bob Dylan’s lyrics in light of his artistic influences, life, and milieu. Students explore the wealth of criticism and reactions his songs have inspired, paying special attention to questions concerning the nature of his art—for example, the relationship between song lyrics and poetry—and the current critical discussion about his legacy. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 2 (June 29-August 6)

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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 US 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. Texts for this course include Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure by Dan Baum; Richard Nixon’s presidential recordings; Dorm Room Dealer: Drugs and the Privileges of Race and Class by A. Rafik Mohamed and Erik D. Fritsvold; as well as examples from popular culture, including Reefer Madness and Cheech and Chong. 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 2 (June 29-August 6)

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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 life—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. Tuition: $2480

Summer 2 (June 29-August 6)

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Writing and Research Seminar

CAS WR 150

Topic: Fear in Society: Political Philosophy Through Horror Films. The specific topic of this section is the insight horror movies offer into common fears, and what these fears reveal about society. Students use classic monster and horror movies (such as King Kong and Dawn of the Dead) as central exhibits for exploring the fears which surround our senses of self, society, and technology. Students engage with influential philosophical and sociological essays in order to develop a sense of what these films—and the fears they represent—indicate about ourselves and our society.‬‬‬‬ 4 cr. Tuition: $2480

Summer 2 (June 29-August 6)

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College of Communication

College of Communication Writing Program

The College of Communication Writing Center, located in Room B27A at the College of Communication, is available to Communication students who would like help with their writing. Writing fellows staff the Writing Center four hours a day, Monday through Thursday. Students may sign up for an appointment online at bu.mywconline.com. Call 617-353-6632 for further information.

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 with 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. Tuition: $2480

Summer 1 (May 19-June 25)

Summer 2 (June 29-August 6)

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