WRPR 101A 01,02 Finding A Voice: Identity, Environment, and Intellectual Inquiry
This course considers students fluid relationship to identities that they examine, explore, and take on through course materials. We begin by examining how difference is perceived/obscured/challenged and/or bridged in constructions of identity. We then consider how identities exist in the physical environment and how environment affects these identities. In particular, we will look closely at the debate concerning hydraulic gas fracturing, or fracking. Haverford Colleges location in Pennsylvania, home of the Marcellus Shale and location of many fracking sites, makes this topic especially relevant. The different positions that experts have taken in the debate about fracking serve as a model, finally, for students to enter another scholarly debate within an area of interest in a possible prospective major. In this later stage of the course, students try on the identity of a major and examine how to think and write like someone in that prospective major. This course involves significant reading, writing, and research. You will learn how to move between several different kinds of writing: from writing to express yourself to writing to communicate with an audience, to take a position on a written text, to create arguments and counter-arguments, to learn scholarly research skills, to learn interview and presentation skills, and to develop your own voice through your writing and speaking in order to participate more fully in the work of intellectual inquiry. This is a first-semester course with individual tutorials that prepares students for a second semester writing seminar.
The first-year writing seminars explore a particular theme or field of study while emphasizing writing as a means of inquiry, analysis, and persuasion.
Different seminars extend intellectual inquiry into different aspects of the curriculum and can serve as an introduction to different disciplines. The seminars found under the WS rubric fulfill the First Year Writing Requirement. The intensive writing seminars (WSI) in the fall semester prepare students who need extra exposure to academic writing and are followed by a WS seminar in the spring semester. To help students negotiate the demands of academic writing, all seminars 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.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Your first-year writing seminar need not be linked to your anticipated major or demonstrated strengths (although it can be). While all seminars are rigorous, they are also introductory; none assumes prior experience in a particular subject matter. Consider the seminar an opportunity to expand your intellectual life and don’t be afraid to venture into new areas of intellectual inquiry.
- For writing seminars, differences in course numbers do not signal differences in course difficulty. All seminars include approximately the same amount of reading and writing.
- An "A" after the course number indicates that the seminar will be taught in the fall; a "B" indicates spring. The Writing Seminar can be taken in either semester.
- Please refer to the overview of the placement process for an extended explanation of the differences between the two kinds of Writing Seminars (WSI, WS). You can submit both your seminar preferences and placement essay using the online form. Please refer to the placement page for more details.
- These courses are open only to members of the first-year class as assigned by the Director of College Writing.
Writing Seminars: Individualized (WSI)
WRPR 101A 01,02 Finding A Voice: Identity, Environment, and Intellectual Inquiry
WRPR 1XXA001 Cleopatra: The Woman, The Queen, and The Icon
This seminar will guide students through recovering the historical figure of Cleopatra, as well as applying feminist theory to investigate how her image has been manipulated through the ages to suit the purposes of moralists, artists, and scholars. Students will also explore the topic of Cleopatra’s race and ethnicity. Drawing on a variety of ancient sources, including texts, coins, and statuary, we will examine the evidence of Cleopatra’s physical appearance. Students will also read several pieces of modern scholarship that argue for different interpretations of her racial and ethnic identity. Finally, we will consider and discuss why Cleopatra’s racial and ethnic identity is (or is not) an important question for us as modern students. [Counts towards the major in Classical Culture and Society.]
WRPR 1XXB001 Russian Literature in Russian History
This course looks at Russian literature from the 19th and 20th c. in the context of Russian history, that is, as an important historical source and resource through which to trace tumultuous cultural and political movements such as an aristocracy in decline (Pushkin, Queen of Spades); a rebellious younger generation Turgenev, Father and Sons); terrorism (Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment); colonialism and racism (Tolstoi, Hadji Murad); and revolution (Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago).
WRPR 1XXA001 On Higher Ed: Introduction to Critical University Studies
Welcome to college!
Wait. Why are you here?
Throughout your college experience, you will likely confront the weight of this question. It may come in the form of needing to declare a major, the feeling of “imposter syndrome” in class or while writing, or the struggle of deciding how to balance your extracurricular activities with your curricular interests and responsibilities. The idea that college is a place where you choose what to study and do may feel like a newfound personal freedom! It may also feel like a newfound personal burden. What if I choose the “wrong” thing, you may ask yourself. What if I waste my chance, my time, my energy, my money? What even is the point of college? And should I even be here? While these feelings and negotiations will resonate as deeply personal throughout your college experience, they also speak to a number of structural and historical conditions that define higher education. This seminar offers an opportunity to explore such conditions by asking what college is as a historical, political, economic, and cultural institution. We will think about the way that college shapes individual experiences, subjectivities, desires, hopes, and dreams. We will read about higher education as a space of changing cultural practices and values. We will historicize the impact of political-economics structures on higher education. We will critique different methods of teaching and learning (i.e. pedagogies). We will analyze the way that knowledges are produced and divided throughout the academy (i.e. methods and disciplines). And finally, we will take the time to reflect on how different structural conditions appear within our own personal experiences during this first-semester transition into higher education. Through such reflection we aim to become more intentional, less self-critical, and more joyful agents in these years of our lives called “college.”
Writing assignments for this course will include: critical reflection journals; critical reading summaries; argumentative essays; comparative essays; cultural object analyses; peer reader responses; theses, outlines, and abstracts.
WRPR 1XXB001, 002 Real Work and Dream Jobs: Theories and Visual Representations of Work
This introductory course offers an entry into theories of work. It will help participants think critically and historically about the role of work in society, the promise of the so-called creative industries as idealized or un-alienated forms of work, and the structural persistence of gendered, classed, and racial divisions of labor. Participants will be asked to read and discuss a range of interdisciplinary cultural theory texts that will help us establish key terms while analyzing specific forms of work. Such terms will include: “alienation,” “primitive accumulation,” “post- fordism,” “neoliberalism,” “emotional” or “affective labor,” “flexiblization,” “precarity,” “debt,” “automation,” “work-life balance,” and “post-work.” In doing so, the class will focus on thinkers who consider work in relation to gender, race, globalization, justice, and major moments of historical change. Alongside critical readings we will also watch filmic representation of work. We will focus primarily, though not exclusively, on US-based popular films in order to practice thinking critically about the stories we tell ourselves, or are told, about work. Writing assignments for this class will be designed to help students apply critical concepts about work to their own formal and ideological analyses of film. Assignments include: film journals; a glossary of key terms; argumentative essays; comparative essays; peer reader responses; film review annotations; theses, outlines, and abstracts. [Counts towards Gender & Sexuality Studies; cross-listed with Visual Studies]
WRPR 1XXA001 Gender & Sexuality in Islamic Texts and Practices
This course introduces students to the debates on gender and sexuality in Islam. We will draw on primary sources, philosophy, historiographical work, and ethnographies of Islam; we will also read Islamic views of gender and sexuality against key texts in second- and third-wave feminism. We will identify the key issues at stake, and how these issues have been addressed; we will also investigate the drawbacks and limitations of each approach — from textual analysis, to political economic analysis, to cultural critique. We will explore the intersection of religion, race, and gender, and ask to what extent what we learn in this class can speak to the BLM protests. [Counts towards Gender & Sexuality Studies.]
WRPR 111B001 Power, Place and Film
This course will take a thematic approach to the introduction of film by exploring the intersections of power and place and considering the impact of forces like immigration, colonialism, and racism. By considering how places—communities, cities, countries—are changed by the people in them, perceptions others have of them, and the distribution of power across them, we will study film’s unique role in both the generation and representation of power and place. In addition to critical and theoretical readings, readings will include Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Deveare Smith’s Twilight Los Angeles; films will include Hugo, Black Panther, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Argo and My Name is Khan. [Counts towards the minor in Visual Studies]
WRPR 112A 001, 002 Interaction Ritual: The Novel and Sociology
How do we define a social interaction? How do we know the difference between a good conversation and a bad one? In this course, we will read a range of texts devoted to dissecting the interaction in British and American society and culture. These texts explore how the social interaction functions when it goes smoothly—and how it can go wrong. We will read sociology from Emile Durkheim, Erving Goffman, W.E.B. Du Bois, Georg Simmel, George Herbert Mead, and Pierre Bourdieu, among others, in order to consider how the rituals of interaction are established in the first place and how their participants continually enforce their established codes. In conversation with these thinkers, we will consider not only the social interaction as a ritual, but examine how these customary scripts intersect with issues of class, race, and gender. To begin our discussion, we will start with two introductory documents: Dickens’s “Mr. Minns and His Cousin,” a short story about the breakdown of a social visit, and the introduction to Erving Goffman’s Interaction Ritual, from which this course takes its title and which outlines a sociology of the encounter. Then, alongside additional social theory, we will begin reading novels that center on the interaction ritual, moving from the nineteenth-century to the present. We will begin with Austen and James in the hopes that the archaic-seeming interaction rituals detailed in their novels will productively defamiliarize the more recognizable codes of conduct in twentieth- and twenty-first century literature.
WRPR 116B001, 002 Black Philadelphia
This course will engage cultural products by Black writers, artists and activists who explore the racial and spatial politics of Black life in Philadelphia since the dawn of the 20th century. Philadelphia remains a site of precarious Black freedom, due to its early ‘emancipation’ of slaves but enduring presence as a city rife with punitive institutions, segregation, forced labor and police violence. In the early 20th century, Philadelphia’s proximity to northern and southern states made it a troubled site of both freedom and unfreedom. We will examine how literary and cultural texts, including film, nonfiction and visual art, can inform how we understand, theorize and inhabit Philadelphia’s urban landscape. Key issues will include displacement, incarceration, deindustrialization and Black resistance. We will consider how social movements have shaped the social, political and spatial determinants of Black life in the city. This course will begin with W.E.B Du Bois’ famous sociological study, The Philadelphia Negro, and will span the works of prison writer Mumia Abu-Jamal and literary works by contemporary writers like Asali Solomon. Questions for this course include: What constitutes Black urban space? How does literature represent and transform space? Where can we locate spaces of freedom? What are the boundaries of home and community? How are black people and communities constituted in this city? This course will help students learn to write critical argumentative scholarly essays about literature alongside mediums such as non-fiction and visual mediums. Students will engage critically with secondary sources focused on literary criticism, local history, urban studies, feminism and cultural geography in order to develop their own unique final essays. In addition to short essays, pre-writing and research assignments, writing exercises will include digital mapping and walking tours of the city’s historical markers and sites. [Counts towards the concentration in Africana and African Studies]
WRPR 118A001 Portraits of Disability and Difference
Rosemarie Garland-Thomson writes: "staring is an interrogative gesture that asks what’s going on and demands the story. The eyes hang on, working to recognize what seems illegible, order what seems unruly, know what seems strange." In this seminar we will explore visual and literary portraits and self-portraits of bodies marked by difference, bodies that often elicit stares. We will ask: What kinds of stories are told about these bodies? How do memoirs and self-portraits by people with disabilities draw on and challenge traditions of life writing and portraiture? How does this work enlarge cultural, aesthetic, and bioethical views of embodiment, disability, and difference? How do portraits of disability engage differences of gender, race, and class? Our seminar will host a visiting artist who will guide us through a digital self-portraiture project. Through close readings of essays, memoirs, paintings, and photographs, students will hone their descriptive and interpretive skills and develop their ability to craft clear and persuasive arguments. [Counts towards the minors in Visual Studies and in Health Studies]
WRPR 127B001 Reading Jazz
A study of jazz and its many meanings, from Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane, and from Charles Mingus to Sun Ra. We’ll explore the music itself, of course. But our main focus will be on the stories that its creators tell about themselves, and the stories that various eye (and ear) witnesses and critics tell about why it matters, and what it means. Together, we will discuss, question, and write about topics such as art and entertainment, difference and race, ownership and authenticity, discrimination and community. [Counts towards the concentration in Africana and African Studies. Cross-listed as MUSC 127.]
WRPR 128B001 Reading Sacred Texts Through Race, Gender and Sexuality
An introduction to reading reading race, sexuality and religion in/and out of sacred texts [primarily the Bible and Quran] in an academic setting. In this course we will apply a variety of methodological approaches--literary, historical, sociological, anthropological or philosophical--to the reading of religious texts, documents and materials. [Cross-listed as RELG 128.]
WRPR 133A001 The American West in Fact and Fiction
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.
WRPR 135A001, 002. Black Ecologies
This course engages writings and cultural works about Black eco-literary and ecological traditions. Black Ecologies focuses on the multiple ecological and spatial conditions that have over-determined Black life and relationships to nature including the middle passage, slavery, racial segregation, food apartheid, gentrification and even incarceration. All these phenomena have produced unequal access to natural resources, space, food and land through systems that racialize, gender and commodify space. By exploring Black cultural and land based worker’s literary, cultural, and community responses to anti-Black environmental conditions, we will consider how Black communities reclaim spatial autonomy through creative modes of collective liberation. Student's critical and creative writing will be based on course texts and outdoor experiences of observation and laboring collectively at Haverfarm. [Counts towards Africana Studies and Environmental Studies.]
WRPR 146B001 Narratives of Ethical Leadership: Soldier, Sage, Statesman, Saint
Four larger-than-life and endlessly fascinating individuals from the past—Alexander the Great, Socrates, Cicero, and St Anthony—provide powerful (and contradictory) models of leadership in its many facets. Alexander, for example, was arguably the most successful and resourceful military commander in history, but his erratic impulses are infamous (he murdered one of his close friends in a drunken rage). Socrates’ refusal to escape from his unjust condemnation, Cicero’s defense of the Republic, and Anthony’s public displays of civil disobedience are all fruitful examples of different modes of leadership. This course will be broadly structured around these four persons and the time periods in which they lived, allowing students to view leadership from a variety of thematic and temporal perspectives. By reading the narrative texts associated with these figures, as well as the philosophical, rhetorical, and historical literature that help contextualize them, we will explore the many problems associated with successful leadership and the modern act of evaluating leaders from the past: Is it permissible to perform a small evil to achieve a greater good? Should politicians lie to their constituents if they believe deception will benefit society? Is it better for a leader to be loved or feared? Can someone who committed such terrible atrocities be remembered as “the Great?” By what standards should we judge persons from antiquity and how should we remember them? Why are the four prominent leaders in this class all men? This course hopes to give students the opportunity to answer these and other questions for themselves. [Counts towards the major in Classical Culture and Society.]
WRPR 150A001 Approaches to Literary Analysis: Marvelous and Monstrous Passions of the West—From Homer to the Holocaust
Philosopher Walter Benjamin writes: There is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism. Western literature--extending from roots in Greek (Homeric) and Judeo-Christian (biblical) traditions--can be read as an extended exploration of Benjamins insight, unfolding as a debate about its own ability to fashion and transmit meaning in a world often governed by chance, cruelty, and confusion. Through stories pitting heroic energies against mysterious challenges--stories of traumatic violence and passionate restoration, of travel into the unknown and quest for sanctuary--bardic wordsmiths, priestly mythographers, epic poets, experimental novelists, and modern autobiographers have alike tested and transformed traditional values as a means of mastering experience. This course will explore how Western literary culture creates itself by confronting its own dreadful limits and creative possibilities, as each great text reworks its predecessors through a blend of inspiration and repudiation. Works studied will include: Homer's The Odyssey; Genesis; Milton's Paradise Lost; Shelley's Frankenstein; Douglass's Narrative of the Life of an American Slave; and Levi's Survival in Auschwitz. [Carries credit towards the English major.]
WRPR 150A002 Approaches to Literary Analysis: All’s Fair in Love and War
Throughout most of recorded history, war has been the business of men, while women have served variously as excuses for conflict, prizes for successful warriors, distractions from battle, and embodiments of peace. We will consider various ways in which the tension between love and war has been figured across a range of historical periods, from classical to medieval to modern. Are there constants in the representation of this opposition across time? How do successive authors revise the tropes established by their predecessors? What happens to the theme of love and war as it moves between genres as varied as epic, romance, drama, lyric and novel? By engaging such questions in the context of a course focused on close reading, students will develop their skills as critical thinkers, readers and writers. [Carries credit toward the English major.]
WRPR 150B001 Introduction to Literary Analysis: Memory: The Use(s) of the Past
Frequently in his descent into the Inferno, Dante is accosted by those who ask of him but one thing: "[W]hen you return to earth's sweet light,/ Recall my memory there to the human world." What is memory that it should be so grievously lost? What are its uses? What is its value? Through different literary works, we will press the issue of narrative representation in terms of its capacities to revisit, to remember, to recollect and the subsequent revision of that memory into text. How does narrative "remember"? Is memory coterminous with self? And is memory only ever singular and individual or can it be multiple and plural--can there be a cultural practice of memory? We will pursue these questions through Virgil's retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to Milton's great elegy, "Lycidas"--both paradigms for memory--to Shakespeare's competing histories in The Tempest; Wordsworth's technik of memory in The Prelude; Woolf's elegy for her parents in To the Lighthouse ("I used to think of him & mother daily; but writing The Lighthouse, laid them in my mind"); T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland which remembers literature past; the artwork and photography of Yinka Shonibare, Shimon Zttie, James Whitten, and Dawood Bey; and selected critical essays, Freud, Caruth, etc. The focus of the course will be on close reading and critical analysis in short essays, revised and reworked in small group tutorials. [Carries credit towards the English major.]
WRPR 150B002 Approaches to Literary Analysis: Reality is an Activity of the Most August Imagination
The hallucination we call reality has captured the imagination of many authors, and this course explores that haunting register across a variety of literary forms. Beginning with a translation of Homers Odyssey, we will consider how theories of translation can inform our understanding of the realities with which writers contend. If we all live in language, what genres of living might emerge? How does a writer like Shakespeare help us to experience those props, especially when we need a dictionary and lots of footnotes to understand them? (Can a dictionary be read like a poem?) What is the reality at work in the novels of Jane Austen and why do people love losing themselves there? (What does it mean to lose yourself in reading?) Can the supreme fictions of Wallace Stevens help us out? Is an Emerson essay really a crazy salad? What ghosts from Homer and Shakespeare return when Derek Walcott stages the Odyssey through the haunting registers of Caribbean history? Emphasis on rereading and writing as pleasure zones for discoveries of thought. [Carries credit toward the English major.]
WRPR 150B003 Approaches to Literary Analysis: Crossing Borders
How do borders structure relationships between individuals, groups, and nations? In this course, we will explore geographic, linguistic, social, and racial border crossing. Beginning with Homer’s The Odyssey and ending with Refugee Tales (2016), we will examine the boundary between home and the foreign and consider the problems and opportunities that arise when people cross national and cultural borders. In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, we will study cross-dressing and gender performance, analyzing how characters negotiate the border between prescribed male and female behaviors and desires. Reading Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688) and Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929), we will examine the construction of racial boundaries and consider what happens when individuals cross these borders. Finally, turning to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), we will consider the borders between the living and the dead and the natural and the supernatural. Throughout the course we will also consider questions of translation and communication: What happens when a text is translated from one language into another or from verse into prose? How does an author communicate the experiences of a character to an audience? [Carries credit towards the English major.]
WRPR 155B001. Origin Stories: Narrating Asian America
Through works ranging from memoirs to graphic narratives to speculative fictions, this course foregrounds the complex individual, familial, communal, and national histories that have constituted “Asian American” as a political formation/formulation. Readings include Miné Okubo’s Citizen 13660 and Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior, memoirs that illuminate the ways in which U.S. national policies and international relations have shaped patterns of immigration, opened possibilities for mobility, and engendered traumas related to displacement in relation to ongoing practices of settler colonialism; Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons!, G.B. Tran’s Vietnamerica, and Mira Jacob’s Good Talk, graphic narratives that illustrate how racial identities are constructed in a matrix of economic, political, and interpersonal dynamics; Chang Rae Lee’s Native Speaker and Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown are novels that explore and explode the stereotypes that continue to inform popular culture. Our discussions will be organized around a set of interrelated questions: What role do cultural productions play in constituting individual and collective identities, in framing specific world views and in fostering possibilities for reflection, contestation, and/or change? What is at stake in acts of reading, interpretation, analysis, and creative imagination? How do we understand our own critical and material situation in these histories; what roles or responsibilities do we have as critical and creative agents?
WRPR 182B001 The American Family in Historical Perspective
"The American family in historical perspective" will invite us to take a look at a variety of family structures, behaviors, values, and stresses, as times, peoples, regions, and issues interface with our notions and realities of “family.” Including [but not limited to] Native American, Mexican, African American; Protestant, Jewish, Mormon and Catholic, North, South and West, over time, we will explore not only demographics, comparative rituals of birth, marriage, illness, disability; expectations of family/community "loyalty" vs. "individuation." While pursuing such critical concerns as immigration, migration, labor, and economy, we will also look at such topics as recreation and dietary norms, family-crisis management; "privilege" and lack thereof; and notions of education [e.g., who should get it, what kind, and to what end?]. [Counts towards the minor in Health Studies.]
WRPR 186B001 Haverford College, Rufus Jones and the Invention of Quaker Liberalism
Quakerism isn’t stable. It varies from generation to generation. The form of Quakerism that is mostly closely associated with Haverford College today is, for example, quite distinct from the sort of Quakerism that was connected to the college in 1970s. That variety of Quakerism was, in turn, quite distinct from the one that was connected to Haverford a century earlier. There is a real sense in which Quakerism was reinvented in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Students in the course will examine some of the changes that Quakerism underwent between the 1870s and the 1970s by examining the writings of two Haverfordians: Rufus Jones (1863-1948) and Henry Cadbury (1883-1974). Both men tried to reconcile Quaker traditions with modern life and thought, but they did so in different ways. They reached markedly different conclusions about what Quakerism had been in the past and about what it should be in the future. [May count towards the concentration in Peace, Justice and Human Rights when the concentration is declared]
WRPR 188A01, 02 Epidemics and Society
Epidemic diseases are often imagined as microscopic germs unleashing devastation as they traverse the globe. But epidemics are not merely biological phenomena; they are shaped by society, culture, and popular representation. As historian Charles Rosenberg has argued, epidemics often take on “the quality of pageant—mobilizing communities to act out propitiatory rituals that incorporate and reaffirm fundamental social values and modes of understanding.” How do individuals and the media construct narratives to make sense of epidemic outbreaks? How do cultural assumptions, political ideologies, and popular representations influence medical, social, and governmental responses to epidemics? This writing course examines cultural responses to epidemics, considering how ideas about race, class, gender, sexuality, and national identity inflect responses to disease outbreaks; the social and cultural implications of outbreak narratives; and the ways in which responses to epidemic disease both reflect and constitute the boundaries of political communities. Guided by these questions, students will develop their skills in close reading, clear writing, and crafting effective arguments. Readings will emphasize historical primary sources, and may include newspaper and other popular accounts, medical articles, and documentary films. [Counts towards the minor in Health Studies]
WRPR 191B001 Constructions of Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World
This course explores the many ways Greeks and Romans thought about race and ethnicity and considers how that thinking remains influential today. By studying ancient literary texts and artistic works, we will examine how categories of race and ethnicity are constructed and presented in Greece and Rome. Our case studies will draw from a wide range of ancient texts, including the works of Homer, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Aristotle, Vergil, Caesar, Tacitus and Plutarch. Key topics will include attempts to deal with otherness; ideas about racial origins; theories concerning human difference; notions of ethnic superiority; and the role of geography, biology, genetics, language, religion and culture in ethnic differentiation. We will consider how the Greeks and Romans viewed the many people they encountered, including those of Africa, Gaul, German, Britain, Persia, and Judea. Although many of our sources present a decidedly Greek or Roman perspective of other people, we will try to understand the perspectives of the other wherever possible. We will complement our readings of primary sources with modern scholarship on critical race theory to make distinctions between ancient models of race and ethnicity and modern ones, as well as identify their points of continuity and convergence. In that way, we can better understand how the Greeks and Romans recognized the varieties of humanity in the world as they knew and it and consider how these perceptions still resonate today. [Counts towards the major in Classical Culture and Society.]
WRPR 194B001 Explaining the Universe
In this seminar we will explore the biggest questions in the Universe, along with other recent developments in astrophysics via a series of writing assignments. Topics are likely to include black holes, dark matter, dark energy, the Big Bang, exoplanets and life in the Universe. As with all First Year Writing Seminars, you will have the opportunity to develop the reading, research and writing skills necessary for successful writing about any topic with clarity and appropriate conciseness. Our practice texts will relate to questions in astrophysics - as explained to a variety of audiences, and in a variety of writing styles. You cannot write about a topic without understanding it first. Class-time will be a mixture of discussion of the astrophysical content that you will need to understand in order to be able to articulate the questions, and a set of topics aimed at covering different aspects of the writing process. We will also cover some of the estimation techniques of scientists, which are so useful for gaining a basic physical understanding of objects in space.
WRPR 199B 01, 02 Childhood and Children’s Literature
In this course, we will focus on how British culture constructed childhood in the nineteenth century. We will trace how the books, games, and toys of the period portrayed childhood as just a prelude to a professional future. In doing so, these materials not only changed the cultural understanding of childhood, but also characterized modern professionalism itself, with its continual stages of advancement and growth, as an extension of youth. We will examine how this discourse assumes that the child is white, British, male, and middle-class, and study moments when children who do not fit this descriptor challenge this normative profile. We will begin by reading early entries in the children’s literature canon such as The History of Little Goody-Two Shoes, Thomas Day’s The History of Sanford and Merton, and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Original Stories from Real Life, and look at how these narratives, alongside board games and toys like The Game of Human Life, placed the child at the center of professional society. Then, we will consider how this ideology spoke to girls, who were largely excluded from having professional futures of their own, by conditioning them to expect marriages to professional men. We will read Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and look at the plethora of fortune-telling toys that focused on “predicting” girls’ future husbands. Lastly, we will examine how, by the end of the century, children’s literature, games, and toys cast the British Empire as the new frontier for professional conquest, representing the people living in the Caribbean, India, the Middle East, and South America as merely challenges to be conquered in the future careers of British boys. [Counts towards the concentration in Gender & Sexuality Studies]