ENC1101/1102 Class Themes
Classes are identified as follows:
(Section numbers are not provided because we often have to change instructor/section assignments before the semester begins, and this has caused some problems in the past when students get instructors and themes that they have not chosen.)
ENC1101 Composition I
Women in the Horror Genre
In this class, we will study different depictions of women in popular horror films. We will focus on both supernatural and slasher films, analyzing the reasons why and methods by which particular violences are enacted by and upon women. The horror genre provides a unique venue to analyze larger social ideologies about women and women’s bodies, pregnancy, motherhood, sexuality, religion, and victimization. Specifically, areas of analysis will include the virgin/whore motif, insanity vs. supernatural ability, the prevalence of religious iconography in female-centered horror films, and the dual expression of power and sexuality. Using these films, theory, criticism, and other supplemental readings, students will spend the semester learning to construct sound academic arguments using Toulmin’s format for argumentation and will be expected to produce a 6-8 page final paper that outlines a particular issue of interest from one of our class texts.
Writing Style: Language Moves and Grooves
Writing style varies across genre, audience, and author purpose. As academic writers, we must pay attention to disciplinary conventions, or what a writing situation asks of us, and authorial craft, or what creative choices we have. In this section of ENC 1101, we will study language in different contexts, exploring the ways in which writing functions as expression, as persuasive force, and as symbolic action. We will analyze style as the dress of discourse that results in a particular sound of voice. And, we will write and research different types of essays, exploring the boundaries between traditional academic style and experimental style.
Occupy Your World: Millennials, Action, and Argument
Students have historically been at the forefront of social movements throughout the world, often leading the charge for social change. However, some authors have characterized the current youth generation in America as apathetic toward not only social or political issues, but toward life in general. In this class, we will seek to find out if this is true and, if not, how we can counter this assumed notion. By studying what others are saying about millennials, we will develop a framework by which we will more critically evaluate this question of youth apathy. In this class, we will learn how to analyze and engage in argumentative writing and mediated texts to critically investigate what this means for America and, subsequently, other areas of the world. Particular emphasis will be placed on the roles of social media, popular culture, and politics. Students can expect to engage in daily reading and writing assignments, rigorous class discussion, a class debate, and a final argumentative research paper.
Fast Food Culture: Health, Consumerism, and Globalization
This course will use the concept of fast food “culture” as an entrance into the debate about the rise of global consumerism. Directly and indirectly, the fast food industry affects each of us, sometimes in ways we may not even be aware of. Criticism abounds regarding fast food in terms of health concerns related to both obesity and food safety issues, advertising that targets teens and children, and the promotion of an “instant gratification” mindset—not to mention critiques of the homogenizing effect the fast food mentality has on culture worldwide. We will look at multiple arguments surrounding these debates in hopes of not only understanding and being sensitive to opposing viewpoints, but also of being aware of our own investment in particular views and standpoints. This topic will serve as a jumping-off point for the practice of academic writing and discussion. We will explore, examine, and evaluate a variety of genres and relevant topics, incorporating research strategies toward the goal of effectively using rhetoric to produce persuasive argumentative papers.
ENC1102 Composition II
Activism is a vital part of a free society, and the ability to articulate a position to the public is crucial to the success of any social or cultural movement. In this class, you’ll create a hypothetical nonprofit organization to support a cause you care about. Over the course of the semester, you’ll thoroughly research your cause and learn to write documents like mission statements, open letters, position papers, and proposals. The course will culminate with a presentation that advertises your organization to the class.
The Power of Language
In ENC 1102, English Composition II, you will examine and construct arguments within a variety of disciplines in order to heighten awareness of the power of language (and other media) to shape understanding and to persuade. This course emphasizes clear and direct writing. You will form coherent, logical arguments aimed at a well-defined audience, conduct research, and develop a writing process that includes revision, to meet the expectations and demands of college writing assignments. The majority of the assignments require spoken and/or written response to a text, so that ENC 1102 is a course in critical thinking as well as in writing. Writing is approached as a re-visionary and often collaborative process that does not merely exist in abstraction but culminates in carefully studied and revised drafts. Our goal is to write papers that argue issues of intellectual interest and that use the available resources―mainly, the ideas and work of others―to make points in the most persuasive and authoritative way possible. While building upon the knowledge and skills gained in this course, you should hopefully be encouraged and prepared to continue to develop the confidence, willingness, and ability to effectively express yourself (your own ideas and those of others) clearly, comfortably, and persuasively in both written and spoken form.
Almost Famous: A Study of America’s Cult of Personality
In this Composition II course, students will read select texts that examine America’s love affair with fame. We will endeavor to answer question like why many people believe that fame will end all their problems, and we will look at biographical accounts that frankly discuss the disillusionment that follows fame when the problems not only remain but also become more complex. Fame is supposed to be accompanied by fortune, but in today’s instant fame culture, as exemplified on YouTube and Facebook, fame and its demands can exist without the compensating factor of wealth. Students will devise methods of broadcasting via the Internet to discuss our findings. Furthermore, our class will make a documentary on fame.
Film as Argument
This course will closely examine recent documentary films as examples of public argument, analyzing the claims each film makes and the ways in which each director supports his claims. Our focus will be on the formulation of good political arguments. Students will not only analyze the arguments of these films but will also create their own arguments both in writing and in the production of a short piece of film produced in small groups. We will research and discuss many current issues including health care, climate change, gun control, and the role of the media in public argument. Students will read and write samples of editorials and film criticism. Films for discussion will include Bowling for Columbine, Sicko, and An Inconvenient Truth.
Twitter and Facebook and YouTube—Oh My!
In this class, we will analyze and discuss the explosion of social media and technology and the effects it has on our everyday lives. We will explore how websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube influence politics, education, and other areas of communication. Technology is rapidly growing and changing the way people communicate and share ideas. These changes, some positive and some negative, affect everyone. Understanding how to locate, interpret, and share information on the web is vital. As a final project, you will be required to make your own social media website in the form of a blog, a vlog, or a forum.
Ethics and Public Discourse
This course will use the genres of public writing to explore both the complexity of contemporary moral issues and the relation of these issues to the fundamental problems of Western ethics. Readings for the course will come from classical ethical theorists, from the dialogues of Plato and the sermons of Christ to the philosophies of Kant, Nietzsche, Sartre, and John Stewart Mill, as well as from contemporary writers and filmmakers addressing the major ethical issues confronting life in 21st century America. Topics for discussion will include abortion, poverty and tax laws, euthanasia, drug use, marriage and sexuality, among others. Students will gain experience writing editorials, commentaries, position papers, blogs, and film and book reviews. Much of students’ work will concentrate on developing lucid arguments, incorporating careful evidence, and displaying balanced consideration of, and dialogue with, alternative perspectives.
The Mediated Body
Representations of the human body have changed over time in response to technological advances and shifts in cultural values. The course will examine these changes through art, literature, film, and public discourse during the 20th and 21st centuries in order to examine how the notion of “humanity” in American society has changed and is changing. Primary texts are drawn from a variety of media and most will be available through the Pace Library’s Course Reserves. Students will engage in a variety of writing genres as well as group and individual presentations to demonstrate proficiency in course objectives.
Social Commentary in South Park, “Mmmkay?”
Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s long-running hit series South Park has sparked much public debate since its debut in 1997. As an animated comedy rife with social and political implications, South Park responds to issues in American culture in unique and controversial ways. The show, by conflating “toilet humor” with satire, employs a specific set of rhetorical devices to perform its social and political commentaries. For this course, we will take up South Park as our primary text, attending to the arguments it makes as well as to the arguments of its pundits who vilify the show on the grounds that it is an incubator of moral decay. With a primary emphasis on argumentation, we will explore the conventions of various public genres as we interpret opposing arguments. To fulfill the objectives of this course, students will be expected to synthesize class discussions with required readings in an effort to construct their own arguments in various rhetorical situations appropriate for the public sphere. Some assignments include, but are not limited to, the following: a commentary, a movie review, a rhetorical analysis, and a position paper that will be presented at the end of the semester.
What Does a College Degree Mean Today?
Why do people go to college? Why is composition a required class? What is the purpose of higher education? In this course, we will examine the American education system and the role of education in America. Economic concerns often dictate our educational choices. In our study of the complex relationships between democracy and literacy, socio-economics and pedagogy, we will examine a variety of essays, short readings, and documentaries, which both critique and validate the need for higher education and education reform. Students will be asked to examine the political realities surrounding higher education while engaging in various forms of public writing. Assignments will include but are not limited to frequent short writings, a resume and business application letter, and two extended writing assignments culminating in a final presentation project.
Pow! Right in the Kisser: The TV Sitcom as Cultural Barometer
Contrary to what your Grandma may have told you, there is a smart way to watch the “idiot box.” Far from being mere entertainment, television mirrors the values and popular anxieties at work in the cultural moment in which they air. This course will explore the roles of power and dissent in situation comedies from the WASP family sitcoms of the fifties to the blacksploitation comedies of the seventies to the politically charged programs of the present. Students will draw on relevant themes in the programs of their choice to compose texts for various public genres.
The World of Tomorrow…Today: Censorship and Technology
Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451, imagined an oppressive future society that is numbed by technology and burns books to prevent the unhappiness that knowledge brings. Almost sixty years later, we are living in a hyper-technological age, and cases of book burnings, censorship, First Amendment violations, Internet security, and politically correct versions of classic literature are popular news. We will examine the ways Bradbury’s novel continues to inform our ideas about censorship, technological dependence, and art’s role in social and political commentary. We also will consider how these contemporary incidents complicate our ideas about free speech and censorship.
Becoming Americans: Ellis Island and Beyond
This course will equip the student with the required skills for public writing. Although the issue of immigration is currently a ‘hot topic’ dividing those who are citizens against those who are newcomers (undocumented worker), we are, in fact, a nation of immigrants. Our exploration of the theme of immigration will include not only the immigrant’s motivations and experiences, but also how the concept of being an immigrant has evolved and changed over the years. Our focus for the beginning of this course will revolve around the history of immigration and the creation of Ellis Island. Students will write on a variety issues in both an informative and a persuasive way based on their research into the historical, sociological, and even the biological aspects of becoming an American through the gateway of Ellis Island, Angel Island or even outside of the law. We will examine various texts including first person accounts of immigrants; the film Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese); the essay “The Great Divider” by George Saunders (as published in Braindead Megaphone); and the ABC News 20/20 documentary “Is America Number One?” (John Stossel, 1999). Other documentaries will include "Island of Tears" (Ellis Island) and "Angel Island;" and additional reading selections may be taken from American Passage: The History of Ellis Island (Vincent Cannato); Being American: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing (Ilan Stavans); The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War (David Laskin); Immigrant Kids (Russell Freedman); and Immigrant Women (Elizabeth Ewen). Optional readings include the novel House of Sand and Fog (Andre Dubus III).
The Beat Generation
The Beat Generation was a group of experimental writers and artists that emerged in the years following World War II. Greatly impacted by the war years and the political climate of the 1950s, these men and women wrote literature and developed visual art that explored social and political issues that continue to resonate decades after its original creation. In this class, we will read the original texts, watch films, host guest speakers, and go on “field trips” to study further the cultural significance of this diverse group of writers. Using the study of the Beat Generation as our class theme, we will study various genres of public writing as we interpret multiple styles of argument. Students will be expected to discuss the primary texts to develop their own arguments and rhetorical skills to use in the public sphere. Students will create position papers and develop a rhetorical analysis. Students will also write editorials, reviews, media releases, as well as examine and create graphic design for a final class project related to the study of The Beat Generation.
Technology Changes Us
In this course, students will study the genres of public writing by focusing on how developments in technology have impacted our lives across a range of disciplines. All aspects of contemporary society are affected by technological innovations in some way. Humans innovate, create new technologies, and sometimes fail to consider how the introduction of a new technology impacts human relations and culture. Each student will choose a discipline of interest, identify how a specific technology is impacting that discipline, and prepare a summary in a genre of the student’s choosing. We will examine the strengths and weaknesses of various genres of public writing both on-line and print copy: magazines, books, blogs, letters, news sources, science articles for the general public, memoirs, travel logs, presentations, and interviews. The final project will be for the class to e-publish the collective material in an effective format—to be determined in part by their works.
Debates in the Public Sphere
In the context of the critical debates that have recently been enabled by the radical politics of “counter-capitalist” groups such as the Occupy Wall Street and Arab Spring protest movements, this class will explore the rhetoric and counter-rhetoric that has framed these debates in the public sphere. We will analyze the delivery of political rhetoric as deployed in popular film, news media, and social media, focusing on the ways in which a diverse array of public genres are used to circumscribe public interpretations of politics in the 21st century. With a focus on public argumentation, students will work with a variety of authentic public genres, culminating in a final project that will utilize both written and visual media as a tool for participation in contemporary political debate.
In Search of . . .
The number of people in the world who believe in ESP, UFO’s, EVP’s, the Bermuda Triangle, and ghosts is growing. It’s the believers vs. the skeptics, the blogger vs. the blogger, and Ghost Hunters vs. Ghost Adventures. This class is designed to focus on the following questions: What role does the paranormal play in society? How is the digital age affecting the global debate on the paranormal? What is the latest evidence? Students will engage in class discussion forums, participate in and track blogs, and focus on writing that engages paranormal topics in a variety of electronic genres.