Sample Courses

Dr. Peter Kunze ~ In my course, we examine the implications of identity for ourselves and our society through a close analysis of the news media and popular culture. We interrogate how identities are constructed as well as how issues of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and physical ability inform the larger conversations in society. Students are encouraged to reflect upon their own experiences with these concerns before turning their critical eye towards current events and cultural products. We begin with a personal essay that explores how we came to understand ourselves as “masculine,” “feminine,” or something altogether different. Our next assignment examines a figure from popular music, determining how his or her persona is created for a specific demographic and then perpetuated across various genres, including song lyrics, music videos, and images in the press media. The course concludes with a researched argument that analyzes the intersections of gender and a contemporary social issue, encouraging students not only to develop a broad understanding of the issue, but also to offer a unique, nuanced reply to the ongoing conversation. Throughout the term, students learn that writing is a process they are developing rather than a skill they should have acquired already. By examining rhetorical situations and learning how to adjust one’s writing accordingly, students prepare to contribute to the public discourses which inform their daily lives. 

Dr. Evelyn Baldwin ~ Through the act of writing, we simultaneously document the existence of ideas and occurrences in the world and create new ideas in meaning through the method we choose to write. In this class, we study American consumerism and the way that it shapes our culture. We will write about over-consumption as it takes a variety of forms, but all ones “on the edge” or problematized by modern American life. Through the writing methods of analysis and argument, we are able to unpack the ideas behind a country that can eat an 800-calorie Big Mac and is torn over the marijuana debate. We will ask the how and the why, and then call for the should and the must. 

Ms. Amanda Giracca ~ This course is loosely centered around the theme humans, nature, and place. Over the course of the semester, students will write a personal narrative that incorporates research about the place they consider home, they will write an analysis of a film, and they will write an argumentative essay in which they conduct scholarly research to explore a social phenomena. The course theme allows students to consider both their own place in this world, as well as gives them an opportunity to learn about other communities and cultures. Emphasis is on revision and the writing process; student work is frequently shared and workshopped by the entire class. At the end of the semester students will give group presentations on what sort of writing, critical inquiry, and analysis they will be doing in their own disciplines. 

Ms. Lisa Arrastía ~ As writers, we will explore and model different forms of writing through an interdisciplinary, critical inquiry into young people and their response to the contemporary world. We will investigate and explore various sides of a guiding question: How are young people responding to the social, political and economic conditions of their lives? We will ask open-ended questions (e.g., who, what, why, where, when, and how) and look for connections between seemingly disparate ideas, problems, and issues. Finally, we will write in class, out of class, and across my WCI sections–always with the purpose of processing our questions, challenges, sources and, ultimately, our thinking. The class readings and writing will focus on three broad areas, and we will use case studies as exploratory tools.