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Haverford College

2011-12 Course Catalog

Areas of Concentration / Programs: Writing Program, 2011-12

DescriptionFacultyCoursesCourses at Bryn Mawr


As a vital part of academic study, personal expression and civic life, writing merits concerted attention in a liberal education. The Writing Program encourages students to become rigorous thinkers and writers who can construct arguments that matter, craft prose that resonates with their intended audience and understand how writing and learning cannot be extricated. The Writing Program is affiliated with the Writing Center, and administers the first-year writing seminars.

All first-year students take one of these writing seminars. Taught by faculty from across the College, the seminars explore a particular theme or field of study while emphasizing writing as a means of inquiry, analysis and persuasion. The courses come in three varieties: WS-D sections adopt the perspective of a particular academic discipline; WS-T sections focus on a given topic; and WS-I sections prepare students who need extra exposure to academic writing. To help students negotiate the demands of academic writing, courses include practice in critical reading, argumentation, style and editing; they also stress writing as a process, where the first draft is not the last and where feedback from peers becomes crucial in revising.

Students interested in Creative Writing will find these courses listed under the English Department.

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Acting Director of the Writing Program and Assistant Professor of English Debora Sherman
Director of the Writing Center and Assistant Professor of Writing Kristin Lindgren
Francis P. Gummere Professor of English Kimberly Benston
Professor of History Emma Lapsansky-Werner
Associate Professor of French Duane Kight
Visiting Assistant Professor Classics Danielle LaLonde
Visiting Assistant Professor of English Alice Boone
Visiting Assistant Professor of English Tom Devaney
Visiting Assistant Professor of Visual Culture, Fine Arts and Philosophy John Muse
Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Joseph Benatov
Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Sue Benston
Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Barbara Hall
Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Matt Ruben
Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Carol Schilling
Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Writing Christian DuComb

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105 Perspectives on Kinship and the Family in the Contemporary United States HU

Using the anthropological study of kinship as a foundation, this course will analyze kinship and the family in the United States from multiple academic perspectives. We will consider the ways in which these biogenetic ties both increasingly rely on and are challenged by reproductive technologies like in-vitro fertilization and explore the challenges to Schneider's assertion formed by contemporary transracial adoption practices. We will also examine the ways in which variation in socioeconomic class, culture, race and religion may affect the experience of American kinship, including analyses of shifting means of cultural reproduction within immigrant families and the role kinship and parenting practices have in reproducing educational and academic advantage across generations. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program.

106 Children of the Night and Their Music HU

An examination of monstrosity in literature, film, culture and theory. By focusing on three monster figures that have drawn the attention of a number of authors and filmmakers—the Vampire, the Creature and the Double—this course seeks to discover what monsters are, what kinds of fears they embody, how they can be read against each other, and why these figures and their relatives continue to fascinate us. Readings include three novels and a number of other texts (short stories, poems, films, theoretical essays). Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

109 Perspectives on Immigration and Education in the United States HU

The primary goal of this course is to challenge students as academic readers, writers and thinkers while providing support for continuous growth. We will immerse ourselves in the historical, social, cultural, political, linguistic and various other contexts of immigration to the United States, with a focus on salient issues relating to k-12 public education. What kinds of experiences, we will ask, have immigrant students had in American schools in the past century? Have schools served this population well? How are schooling and citizenship related? Does public education facilitate or hinder immigrant students in attaining the "American dream" of success and fortune? How do various kinds of educational practice (like bilingual education, English as a Second Language instruction and contemporary multicultural education) marginalize or empower immigrant students? Readings for the course will include a wide variety of perspectives on these issues, and to that end will include academic articles, ethnographic texts, autobiographical writing and fiction. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program.

113 Madness in Greek Myths HU

D.La Londe
In this course we consider the role of madness in Greek mythology and Greek tragedy in particular. Why do the men and women of Greek mythology like Heracles and Cassandra suffer madness and why was this topic so frequently depicted in Greek tragedy? The origins of Greek tragedy lie in the worship of Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of ecstacy and intoxication. Dionysus embodies the ancient Greeks’ attempts to understand the relationship between divine inspiration and madness. Some questions we shall explore are: Is madness ever a good thing? Why does madness feature so prominently in Greek mythology and especially Greek tragedy? What are the symptoms of madness? We focus on Greek tragedy from 5th century BCE Athens (e.g., Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Sophocles’ Ajax, Euripides’ Bacchae) with selections from other classical texts, such as Homer’s Iliad and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

117 Reading Culture: Poverty in the United States HU

Poverty is one of the most persistent problems and controversial issues in the United States. Along with its obvious economic dimensions, poverty has a wide variety of cultural meanings. In fact, the subject of poverty forces us to think critically about how we define and understand the concept of culture. Through a selective critical examination of fiction and nonfiction works addressing the theme of poverty in America, this course will explore key methods for studying and writing about culture. It will look at how poverty and poor people have been discussed and represented in the United Sates at various points during the last 125 years, and it will provide an opportunity to explore the many ways "poverty" and "culture" intersect and interact, each term affecting the meaning of the other. Readings from Horatio Alger, Sandra Cisneros, Michael Eric Dyson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Michael Harrington, Jacob Riis and Richard Wright. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program.

118 Disability and Difference HU

An exploration of disability in a variety of genres and contexts. The texts for the course include memoirs that chronicle the experience of living with disability or parenting a disabled child; essays that examine contested definitions of impairment, disability and normalcy; and representations of disability in case histories, works of fiction and film. We will ask: How is the "normal" body constituted by discourses of disability and difference? What is the relationship between the disabled body and the rhetorics of medicine, democracy, gender, race, class and social justice? Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

119 Memoirs About Creating a Life in Science or Medicine HU

This seminar brings together two seemingly dissimilar activities: writing about a life and making a career in science or medicine. Yet life writing—a term that includes autobiography, memoir, personal essay, biography, blog and more—and doing science or medicine have more in common than might at first seem likely. They share the intellectual pursuit of making discoveries, the ethical challenge of creating trust and the act of making choices. This semester we’ll read a selection of life writing that describes the process of becoming a scientist or physician. The readings will include first-person essays by physicians and Audrey Young’s memoir of her moral and professional growth during her first years as a hospital physician, The House of Hope and Fear. We’ll also turn to James Watson’s The Double Helix, which describes the work in his early twenties that led to the co-discovery of the structure of DNA molecule, and Brenda Maddox’s biography Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA, written to correct Watson’s representation of Franklin. While these readings will expose some myths about doing science and medicine, they’ll also create new ones. The readings will also instigate ethical questions about life writing itself, especially about the responsibilities and complexities of representing one’s self and others to the world. This project will ultimately invite us to explore the relationship between composing a story and composing a life. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

120 Evolutionary Arguments HU

When Darwin somewhat humbly prophesized at the end of The Origin of Species, “In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches,” he was thinking about research into the past. “Light will be thrown,” he added, “on the origin of man and his history.” While that prediction has come true, other research that follows his theory of selection has focused on the future, one shaped by efforts to directly control the human genome. In this seminar, we’ll read and debate recent arguments by bioethicists about the ethics of genetic manipulations and follow those arguments into such works of the imagination as the film Gattaca and Kenny Fries’s memoir, The History of My Shoes and The Evolution of Darwin’s Theory. Along the way, we’ll pause to learn about the eugenics movement of the past and cultural understandings of human perfection, normalcy and disability. We’ll question the formal structures of the arguments, their definitions of key terms like natural, and the assumptions they make about human relationships, aspirations and worth. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

124 Writing and the Senses HU

“What I am trying to translate,” Cezanne said, “is more mysterious; it is entwined in the very roots of being.” Reading our senses requires interpretation. What do the senses teach us about ourselves? How do they help us understand who we are in our sense-saturated world? How do the senses simultaneously inform each other? What on-going problems do they pose and which do they help us resolve? Writing and the Senses is a course that will help you to become a more effective and sophisticated writer using the five senses as a focus. The mode of the class is “close reading” and the analysis of text combined with the exploration of how our sense-data provides insight into the cognitive, biological and spiritual aspects of our human nature. The seminar is designed to sharpen and broaden your senses and sensibilities via expository writing. Readings include selections from Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf, Letters on Cezanne by Rainer Maria Rilke, Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks and How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher. Prerequisite: Open only to students as assigned by the Director of the Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

125 The Nature of Money HU

Money is one of the most enigmatic of things. On the one hand it seems to be an utterly banal and concrete aspect of everyday life, and yet on reflection money turns out to be one of the most ephemeral, spiritual and even magical things in the world. The recent financial crisis has led, among other things, to a flowering of debate over and experimentation with the nature of money itself. In keeping with the urgent sense felt by many within and without the academy that fundamental concepts of economy must be reconsidered, in this class we will take a distinctly philosophical approach to the concept of money, working through some of the historical, structural, religious and erotic dimensions of exchange in an attempt to gain greater understanding of the role money has played and continues to play in everyday life. Readings for the course include (but may not be limited to) selections from Georges Bataille's The Accursed Share, Norman O. Brown's "Filthy Lucre," Georg Simmel's Philosophy of Money and Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

127 Are We Modern? HU

Why do we call ourselves modern? In an era of globalization, when it becomes increasingly difficult to contrast a modern world with one that is "primitive" or "uncivilized," what kinds of values and investments do we still have in the notion that we—whoever we are—are modern? Are we modern because we are scientific? Technological? Democratic? Capitalist? Secular? The conceptual geography of debates about modernity and modernism touch upon nearly every field in the humanities and social sciences, and underlie many debates in contemporary politics and popular culture. In this course, rather than attempt a systematic overview, we will look carefully and closely at two texts that shed extremely interesting light on what it has meant, and what it could mean, to be modern: Giambattista Vico's The New Science, written in the 17th century, and Bruno Latour's Cult of the Factish Gods, published just last year. Between these two texts, we will seek to engage our own presuppositions through a critical investigations into the nature of the modern, using Vico and Latour as lenses through which to think and write about a variety of issues facing contemporary society. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

133 The American West in Fact and Fiction SO

An examination of the imagery of the American West. Using visual and verbal images, this course explores such diverse aspects of the West as cowboys, cartography, water rights, race and social class, technology, religion, prostitution and landscape painting. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

148 Innovation, Rebellion and Dissent HU

What motivates people to rebel? This course examines the notions of originality and dissent from both a social and an aesthetic perspective. Our readings and analyses during the semester will demonstrate that there is no clear-cut separation between these two spheres and that artistic and social idiosyncrasy are mutually constitutive elements. Readings include Herman Melville's Bartleby, the Scrivener; Jorge Luis Borges' Tl'n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius; Philip Roth's The Conversion of the Jews, Eli the Fanatic; J.D. Salinger's A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Teddy; Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Quentin Tarantinp's Pulp Fiction; Spike Jones' Adaptation; Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

150 Introduction to Literary Analysis HU (Cross-listed in English)

Intended like other sections of the Writing Program to advance students' critical reading and analytical writing skills, this course is geared specifically towards introducing students to the discipline that studies the literary traditions of the English language. One of its aims is to explore the broad range of thematic interests inherent in these traditions, sharing as they do common roots in the history of our language and its influences. The powers and limits of language; ideas of character and community, and the relation between person and place; heroic endeavor and the mystery of evil; loss and renovation—these are among the themes to be tracked through various strategies of literary representation and interpretation in a variety of genres (epic, narrative and poetry) and modes (realism, allegory and romance), and across a range of historical periods. Our goal is to develop the vocabulary, skills and knowledge necessary to understand not only how we decide what literary texts mean, but also how literary texts generate and contemplate meaning. Prerequisite: Open only to members of the first-year class as assigned by the Director of Writing Program. (Satisfies the first year writing requirement.)

480 Independent Study HU

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Courses at Bryn Mawr

(These courses do not fulfill the writing requirement of Haverford College but are open to Haverford students as space is available.)

English 125 Writing Workshop
English 126 Writing Workshop for Non-Native Speakers of English
English 220 Writing in Theory/Writing in Practice: The Study of the Teaching of Writing (Also listed as Education 220)

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