Spring 2014 First Year Writing Seminar Courses
151. First-Year Writing Seminar.
Degree Requirement: F2
A course that develops the ability to read and think critically, to employ discussion and writing as a means of exploring and refining ideas, and to express those ideas in effective prose. Individual sections of the course will explore different topics in reading, discussion, and writing. Topics are selected by individual professors and are designed to help students develop transferable skills of analysis and argumentation, applicable to the various disciplines of the liberal arts and sciences. Several papers will be required, at least one of which will involve use of the library and proper documentation. The seminar will emphasize successive stages of the writing process, including prewriting, drafting, and revision, and will provide feedback from classmates and the instructor.
FYWS 151. Folklore and Oral History
In today’s world with its dependence on print and electronic media, it is worthwhile to ask ourselves what roles the spoken word continues to play in our society and in our lives. In what ways are oral traditions embedded in historical sources, and how might history, in turn, derive from oral tradition? In what ways do our own traditions inform our responses to fiction, news events, and the world around us? What ethical issues are involved in the collection of folklore and oral history? These and related questions will help guide our reading and discussion across four units, each of which will culminate in a tightly-focused paper. The first section of this course will explore uses of folklore in modern fiction; a second unit will involve work with the oral history collections of Crossroads to Freedom, a digital, multimedia archive sponsored by Rhodes College that documents Memphis in the Civil Rights era. In the third unit you will collect, contextualize, and interpret items of folklore and oral history in your own families or communities. Finally, you will research a specific oral tradition, drawing extensively on print and electronic library resources in the preparation of an annotated bibliography and research paper. Throughout the entire semester, we will analyze various modes of oral and written communication with the primary goal of increasing awareness of the complex factors that guide our many choices as writers FYWS 151. Text us . . .
Section 01 MWF 09:00-09:50 am
Section 06 MWF 01:00-01:50 pm
Professor Lori Garner
FYWS 151. Text us . . .
In daily conversation, the word “text” usually refers to a message sent from a mobile phone. However, the word, from the Latin textus, derives from a root that means “to make,” and it has a long history; in the form texere, it first meant “to weave.” Texts, from textiles to textbooks and text messages, are, and always have been, created or constructed.
In education, texts are the fabric of our lives—books, films, music, paintings, plans, reports, and records that others have “made” are indispensable. College students are expected to respond to these by “texting,” carefully constructing their own written responses that are in keeping with academic convention. For that reason, this class is designed to develop students’ abilities to read texts and contexts, and to become skilled critics and crafters of writing themselves.
During this course, students will experience, analyze, and respond not only to texts about texts, but also to verbal, visual, and sound material drawn from a variety of genres, including literature and pop culture. This is a forum in which you may read an essay by Zadie Smith and analyze a blog by Dave Zirin, read a column by Geoff Calkins and laugh at Gaylord Focker, or read a story by Mark Behr even as you think about Sugar Bear. In this class, you will be prepared (in the many senses of that word) for “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo!” and you will surely text about it.
Enrollment in this course will privilege students seeking a multinational classroom experience.
Section 02 MWF 09:00-09:50 am FYWS 151: Adam Smith Goes Shopping
Section 05 MWF 12:00-12:50 pm
Professor Anne Reef
FYWS 151: Adam Smith Goes Shopping
In the current aftermath of a financial crisis, now is a better time than most to give careful consideration to the work of Adam Smith, one of the first and still most insightful theorists of capitalism. In this course we will consider significant questions addressed by Smith from the vantage point of our own twenty-first century society: Do consumer goods improve our lives? Does the division of labor make us smarter or dumber? Does capitalism promote virtue? Does free trade promote political freedom? Our focus throughout will be on the philosophical and ethical questions that Smith emphasizes in his work. We begin by reading substantial portions of Smith’s two major books, Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and Wealth of Nations (1776). We then consider works by later writers who take up aspects of Smith’s argument, including contemporary economists such as Deirdre McCloskey and Nancy Folbre.
Section 03 MWF 10:00-10:50 am
Section 04 MWF 12:00-12:50 pm
Professor Gordon Bigelow
FYWS 151: Writing About Art
This unique writing seminar will look critically at art and artists that are currently generating a meaningful contemporary dialogue, both professionally and in popular culture. They say that everyone’s a critic but how many can analyze art insightfully and express themselves clearly and eloquently by writing about it? Students in this course will engage directly with the art and exhibitions of the present, making particular use of local exhibits and practicing artists. As well as covering important International artists and events, we will also visit with local artists and critics, and analyze art exhibitions at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Clough Hanson Gallery, and other exhibition spaces in Memphis. Students will develop their ability to analyze art, to read critically about art, and to write meaningfully about art. No special skills are required other than a willingness to keep an open mind and engage fully in the course. FYWS151 emphasizes successive stages of the writing process, including pre-writing, drafting, and revision. At least one of your papers will involve the use of the library and research material and proper documentation. Students will read from books, reviews, exhibition catalogues, and leading art journals. Students are also expected to participate in art events outside of class. Emphasis will be placed on developing analytical and critical abilities while honing writing skills.
Section 07 TR 09:30-10:45 am
Professor Victor Coonin
FYWS 151. Fighting Words: Narrating American Wars.
We will look closely at both World War II and the Vietnam War, and discuss how these two particular wars have shaped and continue to shape American cultural consciousness. As a class, we will investigate the myriad ways these two wars are represented not only in historical accounts, but also in literary works, pieces of journalism, films, documentaries, photographic images, and memorials. We will ask how an understanding of war is shaped through these mediums and how, in turn, cultural consciousness is shaped through our understanding of a particular war. In other words, what “work” do these representations do? Do they re-write certain wars as part of a nation-building exercise or, conversely, do they work as a piece of protest? How do these texts work to complicate and dismantle previous assumptions regarding a particular war? By addressing these questions and many more, we will begin to form an understanding of how and why wars are scripted and remembered in very particular ways. This class is designed to develop your ability to write clear and effective argumentative prose. We will approach writing not as a product, but as a process that involves recognizing, developing, and effectively expressing our most interesting questions as compelling arguments. Requiring the analysis of not only assigned readings, but also each other′s writing, this class emphasizes revision as an indispensable part of the critical-thinking process.
Section 08 TR 11:00-12:15 pm
Section 09 TR 12:30-01:45 pm
Professor Jessica Maxwell
First Year Writing Seminar 155
Daily Themes (A Special Section of the First-Year Writing Seminar)
An alternative to FYWS 151 offered to outstanding first-year writers, by invitation from the Director of College Writing. The course is limited to 12 students who meet as a class once a week and individually with the instructor or in small groups with the Writing Fellow once a week. Students will turn in 4 one-page themes each week. Some research and writing will be required, and students will use their daily themes as the basis for two longer papers: one at mid term and the other at the end of the semester. Students may not take both FYWS 151 and FYWS 155.
Degree Requirement: F2
The New Yorker
Harold Ross, the first publisher of The New Yorker, once projected that his magazine would “hate bunk,” and sure enough, nearly 90 years later, The New Yorker still publishes writing unparalleled in its sophistication, currency, and craft. Each week we will read the latest copy of the magazine and decide, as a class, which articles we want to analyze. Students in the class write critical reactions daily, and few prompts are given, allowing students to explore the subject and rhetoric most provocative to them. Students receive substantial feedback on their daily written work and spend the semester developing both their writer’s voice and rhetorical skills, all the while reading and analyzing some of the best prose stylists in the country. Favorite readings in the past include “Trial by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man?”; “The Borrowers: Why rent when you can buy?”; “Drinking Games: How much people drink may matter less than how they drink it”; “The Mask of Doom: A nonconformist rapper’s second act”; and “Getting In: The social logic of Ivy League admissions.” We will read and write about such topics as crime, music, neuroscience, social networking, presidential candidates, celebrities, shopping, and subjects heretofore unimaginable. You should have earned a B+ or higher in your senior English course. FYWS 155 meets once each week.
To be considered for FYWS 155: Daily Themes, please email a brief letter of interest and a writing sample to Finlayson@rhodes.edu no later than November 4th, 2013. You should have earned a B+ or higher in your senior English course.
R 11:00-12:15 pm
Professor Rebecca Finlayson