Spring 2016 First-Year Writing Seminars


Food Systems in the Developing World: Health, Poverty, Opportunity

What is it like to be a subsistence farmer in the developing world? What choices and challenges do these farmers face—how do they balance priorities and pursue opportunities in order to maximize the health and happiness of their families? This seminar explores smallholder food systems and household welfare in sub-Saharan Africa, employing an interactive farmer-simulation game, diverse readings, and writing assignments from a farmer's perspective. Throughout the semester, each student will seek to maximize the welfare of a given farming family by making planting and investment decisions, allocating family labor, and dealing with crises of weather or health. Writing assignments will include some research, and will often take the form of farmer reports to the United Nations, assessing the effectiveness of “development” policy recommendations.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Leah Bevis 17649 Cindy Van Es


Economics and the Environment

Political leaders, media sources, and businesses are beginning to adapt to the reality of impending climate change rather than debating its existence. Still, we are left with the question of how to balance the need to adjust humankind’s environmental footprint against the material needs of society and the desires of the developing world to attain a better standard of living. How do we square economic needs with the imperative to protect the planet? Environmental economics has stressed the importance of weighing societal benefits against private costs. Topics will include pollution, energy and urban environmental policies; writing assignments will stress the skill of conveying the complexity of scientific findings and policy debates in a range of academic and journalistic styles.

SEM 102 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Andrew Waxman 17650 Gregory Poe


Common Ground: Education Beyond the Ivory Tower (Boynton Middle School)

This course offers you a chance to become a more engaged member of the Ithaca community as part of your first-year writing experience. For two afternoons a week, Cornell students will engage with Ithaca middle school students as mentors and tutors outside of class. Writing assignments will help you reflect on the tutoring experience and the role of education and responsible citizenship in a democratic society. Readings will include Savage Inequalities by Kozol, Life and Death of the Great American School System by Ravitch and essays by Barber, Freire, and King. Our ultimate goal will be to broaden students' perspectives on our public educational system and the role of universities in their communities. x-listed w/ Writ 1400 & Engl 1140. Please select Writ 1400.101 to enroll in this seminar.

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Darlene Evans 18403

Student schedules must accommodate TR trips (3-5 PM) to Boynton Middle School. Please select Writ 1400.101 to enroll in this seminar.


Common Ground: Education Beyond the Ivory Tower (New Roots)

Become a more engaged member of the Ithaca community! This course offers students a meaningful civic interaction as part of their writing experience. Specifically, Cornell students will meet at regular intervals (during the normal class time) with a class of seniors at Ithaca’s New Roots Charter School where we will engage in critical discussions about our community and social values. Considering the role of education in constituting community, we will engage such texts as those by Orwell, Barber, Freire, Ravitch, and King. Writing assignments and projects relating to local issues will draw on experiences of both classes. Ideally, students will broaden their perspectives about what constitutes community while developing a greater comprehension of textual material, as well as verbal and written skill in considering that material rhetorically. x-listed w/Writ 1400 & AmSt 1140. Please select Writ 1400.102 to enroll in this class.

SEM 102 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Darlene Evans 18404

Student schedules must accommodate extended class time on Friday (8:30-10:10) for travel to and from New Roots. x-listed w/Writ 1400 & Engl 1140. Please select Writ 1400.102 to enroll in this class.


Culture, Society, and Power: Brazil Beyond the Olympics

From the World Cup to the Olympics, Brazil has been in the news. Much of what we hear in these contexts is filtered through media and advertising. This course will look beyond the brochures to the great diversity of Brazilian life. From the streets of Rio to the shores of the Amazon, Anthropology examines the lives, communities, beliefs, practices, and politics of this diverse country. This course will look at issues of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, ritual, environment, development, and human rights across Brazil. We will examine rural and urban cultures, discuss African and European influences, and explore the relations between indigenous and national cultures. We will look at the roles played by religion, food, dress, soccer, samba, and carnival, in a series of papers ranging from personal narrative to a researched essay.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Jane Fajans 17657


Culture, Society, and Power: (Re)assessing Success—Ethnographic Approaches to Efficacy

What makes success successful? What makes us want to succeed? Through questioning the self-evident nature of success, this course invites us to inquire on how we come to consider certain outcomes as successes or failures. We will approach “how to” methods to success not in order to apply them, but rather to explore how particular goals become desirable in the first place. The class will cover texts from authors such as E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, and others from anthropology and science and technology studies. Writing assignments will focus on coming up with critical arguments on ideas of success from a variety of topics including health and well-being, technological advancement, and business. Students will develop a final project on a topic of their choosing.

SEM 102 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Mariana Saavedra 17658 Stacey Langwick


Culture, Society, and Power: South Asian Religions and Healing Practices

In this course, by examining a series of ethnographic case studies, we investigate phenomena such as ritual, pilgrimage, possession, healing, monasticism, and revivalism. Our special focus will be on healing traditions as they relate to both changing health care debates (e.g., bio-medicalization vs. alternative “traditional” medicine) and religious ideas of the person. The course begins with a short survey of the major religious traditions of South Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Skhism, and Islam; we examine the development of these traditions through historical and cultural perspectives. The course then turns to the modern period, considering the impact on religious ideologies and practices of colonialism, nationalism, mass mediation, and globalization. Students will reflect on the healing traditions of Indian religions through a series of short essays.

SEM 103 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Andrew Willford 17659


Culture, Society, and Power: Age of Extinctions: Morality, Conservation, and Design

In a world radically altered by biodiversity loss and climate change, where do we look for signs on how to act?

What does extinction mean today, when we can conserve plant and animal species by genome sequencing? How can architecture and design help us rethink climate change adaptation strategies? Can one talk about sustainability and the colonization of Mars in the same breath? What makes future a destination worth arriving at, and why do humans think they must survive? Exploring topics such as climate migration, geoengineering, conservation genomics, and Mars One mission through academic texts, fiction, non-fiction, and film, this seminar examines the social and humanistic implications of contemporary ecological challenges. Writing assignments will encourage guided research and experimentation with style and format.

SEM 104 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Can Daylan 17660 Stacey Langwick


Culture, Society, and Power: Zombie Apocalypse! Concepts of Collapse in North American Culture

What is the end of the world? How will we know if it has happened? Can we live through it, and if so, how? Anthropologists, artists, activists, historians, and people of faith have much to say about the collapse of life as we know it. In this course, we’ll think, write, and talk about how American cultural understandings of risk, disaster, apocalypse, and collapse shape our day-to-day lives, our politics, and our relationships. Through discussions and writing assignments such as essays, reflections on course material, and creative writing, we’ll address pop culture images of the zombie apocalypse, scholarly explorations of nuclear winter, our own future fears, and more. You’ll enhance your analytical writing skills in this class, also you’ll learn how to survive a zombie apocalypse.

SEM 105 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Charis Boke 17661 Stacey Langwick


Culture, Society, and Power: Studying Science Scandals

When does the creation of “scientific knowledge” become scandalous? How do certain scientific scandals become international news? What do the more scandalous sciences as well as international scientific scandals tell us about the ways in which human and other bio-cultural lives and bodies are understood, exchanged, and imbued with value in the interconnected political, religious, and economic spheres of modernity? In this class, we will do our own research into scientific controversies to better understand how science works and why it matters. We will investigate the production and communication of scientific knowledge by looking at some high-profile science scandals—like the creation of the “first cloned human being,” the “discovery of cold fusion,” and the more recent stem cell research scandals in East Asia. We will also look at how science (re)produces prejudiced beliefs about race, gender, and sexuality and see how gender and nationality is staged in scientific spectacles.

SEM 106 MW 07:30–08:45 p.m. Marcie Middlebrooks 18398 Stacey Langwick


Theme Parking: Using the History of the Theme Park to Understand Contemporary Built Environments and Mass Media 1884–2016

"Theme Parking" considers theme parks' architectural and urban influences. Our sites include theme parks, skyscrapers, hotels, television sets, prisons, and suburbs. We will juxtapose mass media texts such as YouTube videos, television shows, Instagram and professional photographs, movies, songs, and architectural and urban plans with writings by designers, historians, philosophers, and novelists. The driving questions behind each reading and viewing assignment include: How do various media move us to consume themed spaces? How are these environments defined by mass media? How does writing about the mass media make us more critical about our everyday environments? This course will give students a toolkit to answer these questions and more through describing and analyzing assigned and self-selected texts and by creating their own theme parks and advertising campaigns.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Whitten Overby 17662 D. Medina Lasansky


Indelible Marks: Global Artistic Exchange in the Italian Renaissance

Encounters with other cultures left indelible marks on Italian Renaissance society, just as Italian visual culture influenced art and architecture in distant lands. Early modern artists seized opportunities to travel or work for patrons abroad, while individuals like Lorenzo de’ Medici eagerly collected objects from around the world. Following trade routes, our investigation of artistic exchange in the Renaissance will center in Italy, but take us from Venice to Jerusalem and Constantinople, from Genoa to Bruges, Florence to Flanders, Rome to Egypt. Along the way, we will examine travelers’ accounts, costume books, household inventories, tapestries, paintings, and drawings that transmitted artistic and cultural ideals. Students will write visual and contextual analyses, engage with secondary research, and curate a temporary online exhibition.

SEM 101 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Victoria Ehrlich 17663 Claudia Lazzaro


Archaeology and Photography

How do we create an image of the past? Archaeology, the science of old things, emerged at the same time as photography, a technique for fixing momentary arrangements of things in space. The two have evolved in tandem ever since, profoundly impacting our view of past cultures. While both make claims to objectivity, they simultaneously reveal the commitments of specific archaeologists and photographers. We will investigate these entangled histories by reading texts written by and about archaeologists and explorers, and by hands-on study of archival photographs owned by Cornell libraries, including images of sites currently under threat of destruction. Writing assignments will cover a variety of genres, including formal analysis, the preparation of museum labels, and creative reconstruction of the experiences of past photographers.

SEM 101   TR 08:40–09:55 a.m.   Benjamin Anderson  17664


The Tourist’s Gaze

How do tourist’s see and record their destinations, in literary, visual, and digital forms? And how is this tourist’s gaze interconnected with those of artists and the workers who support the travel industry? This course considers tourism critically as a practice of viewing, by exploring: a long history of travel accounts and their current incarnations; the ways in which artists and writers from tourist destinations confront the exploitive nature of this gaze, like Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua), NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), and Coco Fusco (Cuba); how travel encourages reflections of home, in the work of James Baldwin (U.S.), Ana Mendieta (Cuba), and James Joyce (Ireland); and how chronicling travel can be creatively and personally generative, through works by Sigur Ros (Iceland), Elizabeth Gilbert (U.S.), and Cheryl Strayed (U.S.). The class will travel together and independently, and create a multi-media travelogue. Writing assignments will include analysis of art, film, and literature, as well as some newly self-aware travel writing.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Hannah Ryan 17665 Claudia Lazzaro


Narrative, Memory, and Representation of the Past

Do we look for or expect to find narrative in life? Looking back on our own past, do we emplot our memories into stories? What is at stake in the ways that individuals and communities remember their past and transmit that memory to future generations? In this class, we will look at how narrative and memory interact and are used in all sorts of writing (fiction and non-fiction), then reflect on the implications of this for academic writing. Readings include short stories from Japan and China, historical materials, the novel This Boy’s Life, and several scholarly articles from different academic fields. Class assignments will range from analysis of these readings to creative pieces that involve storytelling.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Robin McNeal 17668


Breaking Bad Writing

Breaking Bad is one of the most iconic shows in television history, whose influence will surely be discussed for decades to come. In anticipation of this retrospective flood, this course sets a precedent by defining and applying the show’s academic potential. Breaking Bad is many things: controversial, morose, and dramatic among them, yet it stands above all as a model for effective wordsmithery. Popular culture can sustain serious intellectual inquiry; this course uses the tropes of televised drama to promote learning of principles essential to college writing. The seminar asks students to produce writing inspired by the sweeping moral dilemmas that make the show so poignant. More importantly, it seeks to break misconceptions around so-called “bad writing,” resulting in more focused, contextually-minded writers.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Tyran Grillo 18483


Pan-African Freedom Fighters in Their Own Words

This seminar will examine autobiographical writings and advocacy statements and speeches by selected freedom fighters from Black America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Through written and oral communication, students will explore the ideas, values, activities, and impact of individuals such as W. E. B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Amy Jacques Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement (including Ella Baker, Septima Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Angela Davis), Nelson Mandela, African Women in the South African Anti-Apartheid Struggle (including Winnie Mandela, Ruth Mompati, Mavivi Manzini, Albertina Sisulu), and Bob Marley. Video and film presentations will augment reading, discussion, and writing assignments.

SEM 101 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Locksley Edmondson 17672


Culture and Society

This course will introduce students to debates about culture and society from a multidisciplinary perspective. In the first part, we shall look at contemporary debates regarding how we go about understanding culture and its artifacts. Our focus here turns on different analytical approaches to understanding culture. In the second part, we shall consider debates about modern culture, its strengths and its limits. The third and final part of the course looks at how the insights garnered from the first two parts help us to make sense of aspects of a phenomenon which cuts across cultures, societies and borders but which has a peculiarly modern inflection: globalization.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Olufemi Taiwo 18863


Engineering Marvels Deconstructed

From the Pyramids of Giza to the Rosetta Space Probe, engineers have accomplished feats that broaden the scope of human achievement. Before long, Google’s self-driving cars will progress from beta testing to possibly become the most common vehicle on our highways. Through the exploration of these engineering marvels, we will uncover how people with different expertise collaborate to overcome technical, social, and political challenges to transform these visions into reality. Students will recognize that strong communication skills are critical to these successes, and will hone their writing skills through iterations of self-critique and peer feedback.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. John Foo 18478 Chris Schaffer


Greek Myth

This course will focus on the stories about the gods and heroes of the Greeks as they appear in ancient literature and art. We will examine the relationship between myths and the cultural, religious, and political conditions of the society in which they took shape. Beginning with theories of myth and proceeding to the analysis of individual stories and cycles, the material will serve as a vehicle for improving your written communication skills. Assignments include preparatory writing and six essays focusing on readings and discussions in class.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Theodore Harwood 17675 Eric Rebillard


Classics and Comics

Contemporary literature, graphic novels, cinema, and even games often appeal to stories, characters, and imagery from ancient Greece, Rome, and other ancient cultures. What makes these stories and characters so persistently powerful? Part of the answer lies in the art and literature from ancient cultures where low literacy rates fostered effective combinations of verbal and visual storytelling techniques. In this class, we’ll explore ancient stories such as Homer’s Iliad and their modern reimaginings, discussing how they preserve as well as alter elements of their ancient “originals.” Writing assignments will ask students to compare highlights of visual narrative from the ancient world to the narrative techniques used in modern graphic novels, visual art, and cinema, as well as to analyze parallels between the strong orientation toward the visual in ancient cultures and our own.

SEM 101 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Courtney Roby 17679


Writing across Cultures: Reading Poetry

Poems are puzzles, and in this class we’ll figure them out by writing about them. We’ll read short poems by Housman, Frost, Pushkin, Lermontov, and Tsvetaeva, among others (all reading is in English). We’ll learn how to answer the key question “What is this poem about?...,” and how to explain our conclusions to other readers. The language of poetry may be distinguished from everyday language, but the skills needed for understanding and writing about poetry are broadly useful, for academic and for more practical purposes.

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Nancy Pollak 17693


Writing across Cultures: Writing the ‘I’ in Modern Poetry

In Plato’s Republic, Socrates famously imagines the ideal city as one without literature. Socrates feared the power of literature to corrupt the citizenry because, when we read, we put ourselves into the minds of others—potentially opening ourselves to pernicious influence. When you read a poem written in the first-person perspective out loud, you pretend that you (or “I”) are someone else, potentially someone morally corrupt. In this class, we will seek to reclaim poetry for society, examining the way Modernist poets have played with the idea of the “I” and the expression of a poet’s identity. The class will question writing’s ability to represent an individual’s persona while challenging students to adopt and develop their own authorial personae to build more effective arguments.

SEM 102 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Hannah Karmin 17694 Nancy Pollak


Writing across Cultures: The Rhetoric of “Post-Racial” America

In this course, you will explore the discourse on the post-racial America that the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency supposedly created. We will read fiction and opeds, screen documentaries and films, and analyze texts by scholars and public intellectuals to explore categories of race, post-racialism, and race-blindness, and their intersection with media and new media. As you examine these written and visual texts, you will acquire writing skills and rhetorical strategies that will strengthen your own writing. Writing assignments will clarify and build upon the reading and include reflection papers, responses, summaries, analytical, and argumentative essays. By the end of the semester, you will 1-recognize and use the conventions of expository and argumentative discourse, 2-compose structurally-sound papers, with attention to thesis and argument; and 3-express yourself with linguistic accuracy, fluency, and diction appropriate to a specific environment.

SEM 103 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Naminata Diabate 17695


Comparative Arts: Transformative Terrains—Coming of Age on the American Landscape

The story of growing up–or, ”coming of age“–is fundamental to the human experience of the world; but to what extent is the story of ”coming of age“ also a story of coming to terms with the shape– or, landscape–of the world around us? In what ways do different landscapes interact with, and shape, stories of growing up–particularly in the American tradition? Considering such questions, we will examine the ways in which writers, poets, graphic novelists, lyricists, painters, and filmmakers navigate the intersections between different American landscapes and ”growing up.“ In so doing, we will learn to structure sharp, coherent essay-responses, using different styles of writing: expository, evaluative, comparative and argumentative. We will potentially consider works by Craig Thompson, John Steinbeck, and Bruce Springsteen, amongst others.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Kholoud Hussein 17670 Nancy Pollak


Comparative Arts: Poetic Cinema

Film, a complicated and multi-layered art form, does not merely tell fascinating stories. Sometimes, we are also enticed by some “poetic fragments” in films. How could this happen? Are poems adaptable for screen? What is the poetic texture of cinema? In this seminar, we will explore the possible intersections between poetry and film. Students will learn to describe and analyze images and sounds in written words with increasing knowledge of poetics of cinema. Students are also encouraged to interpret and evaluate experimental works across art forms. We will read relevant literature by both literary and film scholars. The filmography may include works by Man Ray, Rene Claire, Maya Deren, Jean-Luc Godard, Yasujirō Ozu, and Andrei Tarkovsky.

SEM 102 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Junting Huang 17671 Jonathan Monroe


Living in the Shadows: Informality and Illegality in Everyday Life

The concept of “the shadows” has been used to understand a range of informal and illegal processes, from informal economies, illegal housing settlements, undocumented migration, and life in war zones, to name but a few. At the same time, informality may provide spaces of possibility and alternative socio-economic relationships. This course asks, what does it mean to live “in the shadows”? How have such spaces been constructed, and who occupies them? In what ways are the shadows regulated, governed, and transformed? In this class, we explore the notion of “the shadows” from its conceptual foundations to its lived experiences, highlighting the inextricable relationship between formality and informality, legality and illegality, and the licit and illicit. Drawing on a variety of sources from scholarly analyses to popular media, the course aims to both foster critical analysis and to help students write convincingly and confidently.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Sara Keene 17677


Twenty-First-Century Utopias and Dystopias

Can you imagine the world in the year 2100? What will be the climate of the future? Who will shape it or be shaped by it? And how might visions of a better future be realized? Questions such as these have a long history of associated utopian and dystopian narratives in literature, political philosophy, and the social sciences. These narratives signal contemporary hopes and fears, they inspire collective action or apathy, and at times, they affect people’s lives and life chances. In this course, we will explore ecotopian and dystopian imaginings and real world social experiments as they pertain to climate change, its causes, potential effects, and the various strategies for mitigating and adapting to ecological crises. Students will develop skills to write for both scholarly and popular audiences and will learn to combine scholarly arguments and creative writing.

SEM 102 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Ian Bailey 17678 Philip McMichael


Writing and Sexual Politics: Who Cares?

Empathy, we’re told, will make us better friends, better at our jobs, and even better readers. But what does empathy really entail? And what gives it such cultural and emotional clout? We’ll begin this course with Walt Whitman, Leslie Jamison, and other writers who ask us to empathize, and we’ll end by studying empathy’s less appealing twin, apathy. Who gets to experience empathy, and who apathy? Is empathy gendered? Is apathy a coming of age experience, even an act of social resistance? Or as James Baldwin suggests, is there something “wicked” about deciding not to care? As a writing community, we’ll draft, workshop, and revise frequent creative and critical essays, exploring who cares, who doesn’t care—and the personal and political implications of emotional engagement.

SEM 101 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Liza Flum 17680 Kate McCullough


Writing and Sexual Politics: Rethinking Race and Gender

In this course, we will try to explore what Toni Morrison has called “turning away from the white gaze” as a critical writing and reading practice. What does it mean to think about race outside of the white gaze? What does it mean to think about gender outside of the strict categories of “woman” and “man”? What tools do we have to write about the meeting point of race and gender? Through the work of Toni Morrison, Judith Butler, Lee Edelman, Dionne Brande, and Saidya Hartman, we will investigate the philosophical and literary traditions that give us a language to speak about histories that have been otherwise erased. And we will put these discoveries into practice as we, in turn, write about novels, theoretical texts, and poetry.

SEM 102 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Nasrin Olla 17681 Kate McCullough


Writing and Sexual Politics: Queer Cinema

This class will track how queer cinema intervenes into public debates around issues of gender and sexuality.

Reading feminist and queer theorists, we will discuss the stakes of seeing and being seen: how looking can be gendered, and how visual fetishism and scopophilia can structure sexual relations. In class, we will always keep one eye on the politics of queerness and the other on queer erotics. We will watchBrokeback Mountain, Paris is Burning, Vertigo, Blade Runner, and many more. By studying queer cinema, you will become aware that you write from a particular body, and that your arguments change if you shift this voice. You will use the essays you write to put into practice the multiple voices queer cinema promises to provide.

SEM 103 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Zachary Price 17682 Kate McCullough


Writing and Sexual Politics: Erotics of Confession

The purpose of confession, as we all understand well, is to overcome guilt and shame in the name of truth. But some critics have suggested that the more you confess, the more guilt you produce. In this course, we will look at a range of confessional works, from Rousseau to confessional poetry, that reveals the confession of a shameful act to be a potential site of seduction and pleasure. We will analyze these confessional utterances to understand how they encode desires: the desire to be exposed, or to submit to authority, or to rebel in order to be forgiven again. Students will be asked to write six argumentative essays, as well as their own confessions (real or fictional) as a creative exercise.

SEM 104 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Ben Tam 17683 Kate McCullough


Writing and Sexual Politics: Madwomen, Bad Girls, and Spinsters

In this course, we will look at how popular culture has been an uncertain terrain for women. On the one hand, women’s popular culture provides a space in which female voices can be heard and through which women can seek forms of community. On the other hand, popular cultural materials have created unrealizable goals and

exaggerated standards of morality and beauty; and various forms of media are critiqued for presenting young women with hyper-sexualized and potentially hazardous forms of representation. We will study literature and other forms of popular media to consider questions of racial and economic belonging and exclusion, representation and performance, and sexuality and gender. A series of written engagements with texts—literary, visual, and historical—will help to advance students’ analytical, compositional, and critical thinking skills.

SEM 105 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Verdie Culbreath 17684 Kate McCullough


Writing and Sexual Politics: Girls on the Move

What happens to stories of migration, exile, and flight when they are narrated by girls? This seminar examines the provocative connections in contemporary world fiction between narratives of political unrest and the voices and representations of girls on the move. Girl characters highlight and sometimes transform the questions of agency, vulnerability, and representation that are characteristic of migration narratives. In this seminar, we will consider how one girl can affect our imagination of the global landscape. Texts include Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, Yanique’s Land of Love and Drowning, and Edwidge Danticat’s Krik?Krak! Writing assignments range from complex analyses of how girls are written and read to creative explorations of style and language. We aim for sensitive, generous readings, and bold and careful writing.

SEM 106 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Nicolette Lee 17685 Kate McCullough


Writing and Sexual Politics: Women’s Work

We all know that “a woman’s work is never done,” but what exactly is that work? Tracing a literary history of women’s work and women workers, this course takes a circuitous route from the kitchen to the office, and from the tragedy of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” to the capitalist double-entendre of Britney’s “Work B**tch.” Along the way, we’ll think about many other forms of feminine labor, both organized and not. Readings may include texts by Karl Marx, Betty Friedan, Muriel Rukeyser, Michelle Tea, and Sara Ahmed. Writing assignments will include the collection and transcription of oral histories and personal narratives, as well as multi-draft critical essays, all designed to hone close reading skills and encourage the development of complex theses and cohesive arguments.

SEM 107 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Elizabeth Blake 17686 Kate McCullough


Writing and Sexual Politics: Lesbian Coming Out Stories

Is the coming out story just another coming of age story or is it a literary manifestation of feminist and queer rights movements of the latter part of the twentieth century? Reading novels and stories that link the politics of queer identity to the claiming of queer desire, we will explore the cultural and political impact of the lesbian coming out narrative. How does the form of the story change over time? What roles do race, ethnicity, religion, and regional identity play in the narrating of identity and desire? And what insights can this literature offer us into the condition of contemporary queer culture? This course assumes a knowledge of basic writing skills, concentrating instead on developing your writer’s voice while honing your analytic skills.

SEM 108 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Kate McCullough 17687


Writing and Sexual Politics: Women and the Novel

How have women writers helped create the modern novel? And how has women’s writing changed the way we read? In this course, we will explore novels by and about women, from the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century to our own time. We will discuss these works’ stories of independence, equality, liberty, hierarchy, and slavery. And in approaching each novel, we will also read and evaluate a critical essay to help us create our own approach to larger questions about the “female imagination,” the social status of women, the role of independence in female creativity, and the relation between gender and race. The readings will include novels by Charlotte Brontë, Virginia Woolf, and Toni Morrison.

SEM 109 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Laura Brown 17691


Writing Across Cultures: Telling Stories About Children

This course will explore the invention of the child and will think about how that category has served various political goals. We will begin with stories about children written in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and conclude with stories about children held in immigrant detention centers today. In between, we will focus on literature written for children in which the protagonists are children of color. Our study will tack between visual representations of children of color in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, the emergence of child protection laws, and the manner in which racialization affects the experiences of childhood as well as its portrayal. Authors studied may include Sandra Cisneros, Jacqueline Woodson, Cynthia Kadohata, and Christopher Paul Curtis.

SEM 101 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Mary Pat Brady 17699


Writing Across Cultures: Dictators and Dictatorships

This course explores the characteristics and features of non-democratic regimes and tyrannies: how and why they come about, what sustains them, why some resist them and others do not, and how/why they fall. Analyzing films, novels, and articles left in the wake of dictatorships such as those of Trujilo, Stalin, and Kim Jung Il, we will investigate the effects of absolute authority, how ordinary people react to repression, and the shaky transition from despotism to freedom. We will consider a diverse range of writers including Xenophon and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and also filmmakers like Charlie Chaplin. Assignments will include critical essays, a film review, and a final independent project.

SEM 102 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Valer Popa 17700 Joanie Mackowski


Writing Across Cultures: Native Ghosts

Native ghosts occur with astonishing frequency in American literary works by Euroamericans and Native people alike. In this course, we will ask why Native characters appear so often in literature as specters, and explore the implications of rendering people as ghosts in narratives of US nation-building. From classics of the American literary canon to contemporary works by Native authors, our examination will take us from the haunted short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne to works of horror from the likes of Stephen King, and to contemporary memoir and poetry by Native writers Alison Hedge Coke and Adrian C. Louis. Along the way we will explore the changing character of the Native ghost, and how those changes reflect or challenge the colonial narratives of the United States.

SEM 103 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Lauren Harmon 17701 Joanie Mackowski


Writing Across Cultures: A Place Beyond Time

Is time as uniform as we imagine it to be when we ask, “Do you have the time?” Perhaps we should ask, as we will in this course, whose time do you have? Are you on city or country time? Island or continental time? Do you live your life “on the clock,” or by your connection to the land around you? This course will look at how authors from eclectic sources write about time and the places in which we live. We may consult works by Stanley Kubrick, Toni Morrison, Vine Deloria Jr., Haruki Murakami, Leslie Marmon-Silko, Jorge Louis Borges, dg nanouk okpik, Homer, and Derek Walcott. Along the way you will learn to write six formal and creative essays––in a timely fashion––that critically examine place, time, and culture in literature.

SEM 104 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Richard LaRose 17702 Joanie Mackowski


Writing Across Cultures: Reading Machines

Computers “write” and “read” files, but is that more than just a metaphor? Could a machine ever read and write in the way that a human being does? In this course, we'll explore how literature has represented social anxieties and hopes about machines. We'll also experiment with reading literature through machine-aided textual analysis. Writing assignments will employ—and reflect upon—this type of analysis. We will also think and write about the ways in which literature “analyzes” machines. Texts will include Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and contemporary reworkings of her story, William Burroughs's The Ticket that Exploded, and Vaclav Havel's The Memorandum as well as scholarly work on the relationship between technology and the humanities.

SEM 105 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Bernadette Guthrie 17703 Joanie Mackowski


Writing Across Cultures: Planning My Escape

We’ve all wanted to get away from something. Perhaps we’ve constructed a plan. Perhaps we’ve followed it through. But meticulous planning doesn’t guarantee success. In the case of the escape plan, we can’t always break away clean or at all. In this course, we will encounter multi-genre texts by Zadie Smith, Zora Neale-Hurston, and more that ask: What does it take to escape? And can the journey to a failed escape teach you how to stay and live? Through analytical and creative essays, we’ll discover methods for getting from pre-writing to the final draft. We will craft plans for actualizing our college-level writing goals, emphasizing what the process can teach us about how to get a composition to its clear, cogent destination.

SEM 106 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Renia White 17705 Joanie Mackowski


Writing Across Cultures: Beyond the Selfie

When we write directly about ourselves, we begin with the “I.” So much depends on this “I”: We write in the first person to appeal to others, to narrate our own experiences, and to convey our most personal fears and desires. What constitutes a compelling, honest first-person voice? In this course, we will explore this question by examining a variety of media—essays, memoirs, podcasts, journals—expressed exclusively in the first person. From the

self-abnegating diaries of Franz Kafka, the standup comedy of Richard Pryor, the childhood reimaginings of William Maxwell, we will study how other writers embody the “I” to communicate and investigate their miseries, their psyches, their memories. Writing assignments will include both critical and personal essays.

SEM 107 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Ling Ma 17706 Joanie Mackowski


Writing Across Cultures: The Culture of the Raj

Judging from the recent spate of popular novels and movies dealing with the British rule in India, the “Raj” was a time of pageantry and color, adventure and romance. But to what extent is this image historically accurate? How did people live their lives, and how did the colonial rule affect not only Indian society and culture but also contemporary Britain? The Raj did invent many of the modern forms of spectacle and public ceremonial display, but is there anything else that survives to the present day? What do we know about “race” and nationalism, for instance, or literature and imperial ideology, and the various “cultural” ways we understand ourselves—then as much as now? Readings will draw on both literary and historical texts, and include some current films and popular fiction.

SEM 108 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Satya Mohanty 17707


Writing Across Cultures: Revenge!

Revenge: everyone wants it, but what are the costs and consequences of getting it? This class will examine the methods and motives of vengeance in order to understand its historical and cultural significance in literature and film. In the process, we will attempt to answer the question of why these narratives not only endure but also enjoy such a prominent place in the canon. We will look for revenge everywhere: from Shakespeare, to Bollywood films, to American Westerns. Working independently and in class, students will gain experience in interpretative reading and analysis, as well as innovative writing and editing.

SEM 109 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Mary-Margaret Stevens 17708 Joanie Mackowski


True Stories

When students write personal essays for college applications, they often discover just how challenging writing about and presenting themselves to the public can be. In this course, we’ll examine how well-known authors such as Maxine Hong Kingston, Alison Bechdel, Tim O’Brien, and others construct their public, written selves. We’ll consider how an author’s self-presentation affects how readers interpret the experiences, insights, and knowledge presented in each text; we’ll also consider how the style of writing affects how readers understand an author’s personality and motives. Readings will include short essays, possibly some poems, and a few longer works. Together, and writing frequent essays, we’ll explore why and how people write about themselves—for self-exploration, political or social change, purely to practice a form of art, or for other reasons—and we’ll investigate how writing shapes lived experience.


Common Ground: Education Beyond the Ivory Tower (Boynton Middle School)

This course offers you a chance to become a more engaged member of the Ithaca community as part of your first-year writing experience. For two afternoons a week, Cornell students will engage with Ithaca middle school students as mentors and tutors outside of class. Writing assignments will help you reflect on the tutoring experience and the role of education and responsible citizenship in a democratic society. Readings will include Savage Inequalities by Kozol, Life and Death of the Great American School System by Ravitch and essays by Barber, Freire, and King. Our ultimate goal will be to broaden students' perspectives on our public educational system and the role of universities in their communities. x-listed w/ Writ 1400 & AmSt 1140. Please select Writ 1400.101 to enroll in this seminar.

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Darlene Evans 18401

Student schedules must accommodate TR trips (3-5 PM) to Boynton Middle School. x-listed w/ Writ 1400 & AmSt 1140. Please select Writ 1400.101 to enroll in this seminar.


Common Ground: Education Beyond the Ivory Tower (New Roots)

Become a more engaged member of the Ithaca community! This course offers students a meaningful civic interaction as part of their writing experience. Specifically, Cornell students will meet at regular intervals (during the normal class time) with a class of seniors at Ithaca’s New Roots Charter School where we will engage in critical discussions about our community and social values. Considering the role of education in constituting community, we will engage such texts as those by Orwell, Barber, Freire, Ravitch, and King. Writing assignments and projects relating to local issues will draw on experiences of both classes. Ideally, students will broaden their perspectives about what constitutes community while developing a greater comprehension of textual material, as well as verbal and written skill in considering that material rhetorically. x-listed w/Writ 1400 & AmSt 1140. Please select Writ 1400.102 to enroll in this class.

SEM 102 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Darlene Evans 18402

Student schedules must accommodate extended class time on Friday (8:30-10:10) for travel to and from New Roots. x-listed w/Writ 1400 & AmSt 1140. Please select Writ 1400.102 to enroll in this class.


The Mystery in the Story

What makes a story, and what makes it a mystery story? In this course, we'll study and write about the nature of narratives, taking the classic mystery tale written by such writers as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Raymond Chandler as typical of intricately plotted stories of suspense and disclosure that have been written and filmed in many genres: Greek tragedy, horror tales by Poe and Shirley Jackson, psychological thrillers by Ruth Rendell and Patricia Highsmith, neo-noir films such as Memento and Fight Club, and postmodern mystery parodies such as those of Paul Auster and Jorge Luis Borges. We'll look at the way they hold together, the desire and fear that drive them, and the secrets they tell—or try to keep hidden.


American Voices: Apocalypse and Hell

This class will explore recent fictional portrayals of American history that have used the language and imagery of Biblically-proportioned death, destruction, and judgment. We will ask why a language of hell-on-earth and the apocalypse would have seeped into American fiction during an era of American prosperity. Although the end of World War II had catapulted the United States into a position of global dominance, the terror of the Cold War and political ferment in the late sixties caused many Americans to question the role of the American empire internationally and the prosperity that, from its very domestic origins, was built upon violence and subjugation. Each of the readings will provide students with a starting point to critique/confront serious problems in the world and at home, the consequences of which are quite relevant today.

SEM 102 MW 07:30–08:45 p.m. David Cosca 17736 Mary Pat Brady


American Voices: African American Comedy

Chris Rock has described comedy as “the blues for people who can’t sing,” implying a personal and social importance to humor. This course will investigate the public and political significance of African American humor and satire from the 19th century to the present, with a focus on the 21st century. Why is humor useful for social commentary? What happens when, as Dave Chappelle puts it, “keeping it real goes wrong”? This course will utilize written texts as well as music, film, television, and visual art. Writing assignments will include textual analysis, reader response, and some creative writing opportunities. Authors and performers may include Charles W. Chesnutt, Ishmael Reed, Baratunde Thurston, Percival Everett, Lynn Nottage, Whoopi Goldberg, Aaron McGruder, Spike Lee, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle.

SEM 103 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Danielle Morgan 17737 Mary Pat Brady


Great New Books

Would you be able to identify the Shakespeare or Austen of your time? What are the best books being written today and how do we know they are great? What role do critics, prizes, book clubs, and movie adaptations play in establishing the appeal and prestige of new literature? Are there some books that are great in their moment and others that will be considered great for generations to come? These are some of the questions we'll explore as we read, discuss, and write critical essays about several of the most acclaimed books published in the last twenty years. Our readings will include works in a range of genres, from novels and memoirs to poetry and graphic novels.


Cultural Studies: Text(ing) in the Age of Digital Media

Have you ever wondered if Romeo and Juliet would work on Twitter? Ever worry that technology will render obsolete our favorite dog-eared books? Or whether tweeting and texting will destroy the English language with slang and emoji? This course considers such looming questions by exploring the evolution of textual and literary production. We will study how authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle changed the outcome of stories based on audience feedback (Sherlock Holmes was supposed to stay dead!). We will also investigate what happens when a medieval text like Dante’s Divine Comedy is translated into a video game. Using a range of digital platforms, lively discussions, and multi-draft essays, we will develop and refine personal writing styles while cultivating critical thinking and close reading skills.

SEM 101 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Kaylin O’Dell 17761 Jane Juffer


Cultural Studies: Iron Man

Metal exoskeletons, soulless machines, robot suits, Alien tech, future cyborgs, and impenetrable flesh. Does any of this suggest the middle ages? This course will examine the enduring image of a man covered in metal, whether six centuries ago or one hundred years from now. Alongside contemporary movies and comics, we will read medieval texts such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Degare, and Sir Gowther. By placing the Terminator, Robocop, and Ironman next to Gawain and King Arthur, we will theorize about artificial masculinity, reading the iron man as its ultimate symbol. Students will learn to read closely for a text’s implicit construction of gender, and will develop theses about the ways each text produces or subverts our ideas of the masculine.

SEM 102 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Matthew McConnell 17762 Jane Juffer


Cultural Studies: The Making of Monsters

What shapes do our greatest fears take and why? Better yet, how do we conquer them? Don your head-lamp for this seminar and keep your silver talisman close: we’re going to face some of literature and pop-culture’s worst monsters. This course explores the relationship between the human imagination and the physical forms we assign our terrors with writing and discussion as our primary tools. In addition to completing craft and revision-related assignments, students write six linked papers to create an encyclopedia (or “bestiary”) of the monsters we examine. Our survey of material takes us from Beowulf to futuristic A.I. and through a variety of mediums, including the novel (Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation), film (Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke), and graphic narrative (Alan Moore’s Watchmen).

SEM 103 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Cody Klippenstein 17763 Jane Juffer


Cultural Studies: Science as Literature

This course will explore texts (1800 to the present) that are about science or scientists, or that take a literary approach to doing scientific work. These will range from first-hand accounts of Victorian expeditions to recent histories of medicine and works of science fiction. Discussion will cover the scientist as hero-figure, the literary treatment of experimental subjects, the conflict between education and entertainment, and the evaluation of writing as science and as literature. Writing assignments will involve exploring these topics through argumentation, interdisciplinary research, non-textual media, and creative approaches. Readings for this course will likely include selections from Darwin and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), as well as more recent authors such as Susan Sontag, Atul Gawande, and Connie Willis.

SEM 104 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Claire Whitenack 17764 Jane Juffer


Cultural Studies: Reimagining Reality TV

Why do we love to hate reality TV? Is it worthwhile, or just silly trash? This class will explore reality TV and its predecessors to answer these and other questions. We will look at documentary film, literature, and artifacts to find a genealogy of reality TV. Students will learn how to think critically about their relationships with and understanding of popular culture (and its supposedly more sophisticated counterparts) through writing assignments that challenge assumptions about trash TV. We will strive to question an uncomplicated understanding of reality and how it’s produced. Materials may include Nanook of the North, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Eggers’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, The Bachelor, River Monsters, Wycherley’s The Country Wife, The Real World, and The Real Housewives.

SEM 105 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Katherine Waller 17766 Jane Juffer


Cultural Studies: Podcasts—Audio Narratives, Sound Poetics

We’ll break down the techniques of popular podcast and radio storytelling like NPR’s radiolab or Serial, writing about their function as a national discourse before producing our own interview-collaged segments. We’ll engage with archival recordings of American poems, stories, and essays. And we’ll consider how literary audio has been repurposed in art installations or commercial media. With the traditional means of literary analysis, we’ll discuss the content, context and artistry of these writings, comparing our experience as readers to our experience as listeners. We’ll write, revise, and record our own creative works. For each of the three major units in this course, students will first write analytical essays on course materials, then design, plan, and create original audio projects, based on what we’ve studied.

SEM 106 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Emily Oliver 17767 Jane Juffer


Cultural Studies: Digital Literature and New Media

Could a Twitter feed be literature? How about a video game? Is the computer coding underlying both a kind of poetry? In class, we will address these questions and many more, in an effort to understand and write about emerging digital forms and their relation to “Art” and “Literature." In the past 30 years, computer technology has enabled new forms of art to be possible and visible. We will read, watch, and play a plethora of these works. We will also read recent scholarly work on digital literature and new media. And we will become better writers and thinkers as we articulate this still-new world of potential literature.

SEM 107 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Travis Duprey 17768 Jane Juffer


Cultural Studies: Consumption and Waste from Gulliver's Travels to Wall-E

How do our necessary bodily functions affect others? Taking our cue from Enlightenment thinkers who radically reinterpreted the body’s purpose, role, and effects on its environment, we will examine how the mundane and material operate as the nexus of moral and cultural change both in the eighteenth century and today. From Swift’sGulliver’s Travels to Pixar’s Wall-E, we will focus on depictions of eating and the waste it generates. The question of how to differentiate between what is necessary and what is waste will direct our discussions of writing as well. Writing assignments will range from aesthetic analyses of your personal waste in the style of Swift, to comparisons of the texts, films, and art objects we will study.

SEM 108 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Christina Black 17769 Jane Juffer


Cultural Studies: Posthuman Perspectives

What comes after the human being? In this class, we will address this question by considering a range of topics, including animal cognition, bio-enhancement, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. In order to adopt a posthuman perspective, we’ll analyze how writers and artists challenge us to think beyond the human and see the world in an entirely new way. We will examine popular films (Memento and Captain America), television shows (Fringe), literature (Shakespeare’s Hamlet), as well as video games and interactive fiction. Students will strive to adopt posthuman perspectives in their own essays, which will analyze this topic in its aesthetic, philosophical, and cultural dimensions.

SEM 109 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Matthew Kibbee 17770 Jane Juffer


Short Stories

What is the difference between an anecdote and a short story or a memoir and a short story? How does the short story separate itself from the prose poem, the myth, or the parable? What can a short story do that no other art form can do, including cinematic narrative? This course will focus on the reading and analysis of short stories derived from a range of cultures and time periods, with some emphasis on English-language stories, particularly those from the North American continent. Writers may include but not be limited to: Tobias Wolff, Alice Munro, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Willa Cather, Edgar Allan Poe, Nikolai Gogol, Eudora Welty, Louise Erdrich, Haruki Murakami, Denis Johnson, Margaret Atwood, Donald Barthelme, Flannery O'Connor, Edith Wharton, Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, and Anton Chekhov. There will be a research component and some workshop discussion of student work.


Word and Image

Writers and artists from Homer to Raymond Pettibon have been fascinated by the relationship between words and images, a relationship that is sometimes imagined as a competition, sometimes as a collaboration. What are the differences between literary and visual media? What can the juxtaposition of word and image teach us about the nature of representation? What other goals do artists and writers hope to achieve by coupling words with images? To explore these questions, we will consult works drawn from a range of periods and genres (graphic novels, medieval manuscripts, contemporary art and new media, emblem books, film, literary gaming, fiction, and poetry). The course is structured around a progressive set of writing assignments and will include both informal exercises as well as formal essays.


British Literature: Art and Politics in the Modernist Era

What is political about writing a story of a person’s day while they prepare to throw a party? Is that less political than fighting World War One? Less political than administrating a government’s bureaucracy? This class will examine the role of texts that struggled to re-imagine the way power was organized in their society. From manifestos of revolutionaries to fictional trials never intended for publication, these writers saw their own artistic action as continuous with the action of politicians, military leaders, and others who seemed to be the ostensibly “real” executives of power—or even as actions that could break from such powers. We will examine questions of violence, economics, colonialism, gender, race through the processes offered in aesthetic creations

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Abram Coetsee 17792 Gregory Londe/ Amanda Goldstein


British Literature: Here to Utopia

Dystopias are all the rage, but what about its neglected counterpart, the utopia? This class will examine utopias in literature and film including, but not limited to, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Percy Shelley’s Queen Mab, John Lenon’s “Imagine,” and James Cameron’s Avatar. We will ask why utopias are so seductive and whether there remains any political efficacy to utopian thinking. Writing assignments will include expository essays, creative essays, and in-class assignments. Students will learn to make analytical arguments and critically evaluate the arguments of others.

SEM 102 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Ruoji Tang 17793 Gregory Londe/ Amanda Goldstein


British Literature: Oscar Wilde

“My existence is a scandal,” Oscar Wilde once wrote. With his legendary wit, his exuberant style of perversity and paradox, and his audacious sexual transgressions, his scandals continue to fascinate and delight. Through different approaches to interpretive writing, we will explore his work in a variety of genres, including his brilliant comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, his banned drama Salomé, and his Decadent novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.

SEM 103 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Ellis Hanson 17794


British Literature: Shakespeare in Conversation

“Go rot!”—that’s a quote from Shakespeare, believe it or not. Passionate, disjointed, disruptive, provocative conversation—both in and about Shakespeare’s plays—has kept Shakespeare alive for us for four hundred years after his death. Conversation about Shakespeare can take many forms, and so will your writing for this class on ”Shakespeare in Conversation.“ In one essay, you will weigh in on a debate scholars have had about Shakespeare. You will also, however, interview others outside the class about Shakespeare, then write up the results; read fiction written in response to Shakespeare and then write your own; and study how Shakespeare appears on social media sites like tumblr and twitter and talk about Shakespeare on twitter and tumblr yourselves.

SEM 104 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Molly Katz 17795 Gregory Londe/ Amanda Goldstein


British Literature: Reading Terror

What if the monster at the end of the Gothic novel is none other than the reader herself? In this course, we will pay close attention to dangerously passionate responses in and to eighteenth-century Gothic novels. We will consider how Gothic novels sometimes aim to arouse the reader, even as they claim to be fashioning proper moral subjects. And we will ask why sublime experience and sympathetic emotion are often presented in Gothic novels as incompatible responses to a provocative image or text. Are these incompatible responses? And if not, why does the Gothic novel present them this way? Students will respond to authors such as Edmund Burke, Horace Walpole, William Beckford, Matthew Lewis, and Anne Radcliffe not only in lively class discussion, but also in formal writing assignments ranging from close analytical readings to creative pieces.

SEM 105 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. David Aichenbaum 17796 Gregory Londe/ Amanda Goldstein


British Literature: Personal Spaces

How we see the physical world says a lot about how we see ourselves both as individuals and as a society. In this course, we'll examine the ways in which writers and artists have represented the external world from the Middle Ages to the present and what these representations tell us about changing understandings of the interior world of the self. We'll also explore how our own writing, both academic and personal, can be a space that both represents the world and reshapes it. Texts in the course will include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Tempest, and Heart of Darkness as well as scholarly considerations of changing representations of the world.

SEM 106 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Bernadette Guthrie 17797 Gregory Londe/ Amanda Goldstein


Writing About Literature: All Our Favorite Books

In this course, you will suggest and select the books we shall read with the idea of analyzing the category of like, love, or favorite. We shall be interested in aesthetics and taste in literature. What is your favorite book and why? Why are some books called guilty pleasures and others literary reads? To truly love a book, understanding it through analysis is the best expression of that love. In this course, we shall move forward with the understanding that critical analysis does not kill one’s love for a book, it enhances it.

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Mukoma Wa Ngugi 17800


Fables of Capitalism

Why is it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism? What prevents us from joining oppositions to capitalism after the 2008–09 economic crisis? Have all utopias died with state socialism? How does advertising sell the current dystopia as “cool capitalism”? And what roles do race and gender play? This seminar examines fictions (written and cinematic) that maintain but also contest global capitalism as the dominant social, economic, and political order. With Marx’s and later Marxist writings, we consider such “fables” as Roland Barthes, Mythologies; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; David Fincher, Fight Club; and Lizzie Borden, Born in Flames. Analyzing these texts and constructing arguments about them will hone our analytical reading and critical writing skills.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Jette Gindner 17666 Ekaterina Pirozhenko


German Lyric Poetry

Friedrich Holderlin, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Paul Celan are arguably the most influential lyric poets to have written in German. Although each responded to events of his day (the French Revolution, First World War, and Second World War, respectively), they all aspired to transcend their immediate contexts. Their success is indicated by the interest prominent philosophers have taken in their work and the many musical settings their poetry has inspired. This seminar will address concerns common to all three writers: individual and collective memory, the (dis)enchantment of the world, the materiality and musicality of language, and the encounter with the foreign. Writing assignments are designed to help you articulate critical argumentation. No knowledge of German required.

SEM 101 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Klas Molde 17667 Ekaterina Pirozhenko


Serial Storytelling

The popularity of serial storytelling is evident today in the proliferation of serial television, films, popular literature, and podcasts, but the history of the serial reaches back to nineteenth-century literature (Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle) and beyond (The Arabian Nights). Why does serial storytelling remain such a dominant form and continue to resonate for twenty-first-century audiences? This course explores seriality in literature and popular culture (television, film, new media) and examines the strategies of suspense, entertainment, and anticipation that connect installments or episodes into novels, seasons, series, and franchises. Essay assignments will draw on textual and cultural analysis as well as critical discussions of series (both literary and popular) to practice effective academic writing.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Leigh York 17669 Ekaterina Pirozhenko


Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

A basic understanding of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud is a prerequisite for participating in critical debates in the humanities and social sciences. Our seminar will explore key terms in the revolutionary models of critical analysis these thinkers pioneered: historical materialism, post-metaphysical philosophy, and psychoanalysis. This will mean articulating points of contrast as well as convergence. Discussions and writing exercises will focus on texts that created the discursive framework for critiquing society and culture today. Our method will proceed from the premise that critical reading, thinking, and writing are inseparable moments in the same operation of critique. The question that guides that method will be: Do alternative ways of thinking exist in opposition to the ones we view as natural, inevitable, or universal?

SEM 101 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Jonathan Davenport 17673 Ekaterina Pirozhenko

SEM 102   MW 07:30–08:45 p.m. Clifford Roberts         17674 Ekaterina Pirozhenko


Power and Politics: Protest and Political Participation in Authoritarian Regimes

Despite major obstacles, citizens in authoritarian regimes often choose to participate in politics by contacting their governments, by protesting, and even by voting in elections they know to be rigged. How does such participation parallel similar participation in democratic countries, and how does it differ? Why do some citizens participate in politics, and what can their participation tell us about the (in)stability of authoritarian regimes? By reading and critiquing academic literature, policy documents, and journalistic reports, this course aims to understand what political participation looks like in authoritarian regimes, and the effects it can have on politics in nondemocratic countries. Students will critically engage with these topics through a series of writing assignments that will culminate in an original research paper on a topic of their choice.

SEM 101 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Natalie Letsa 17688 Valerie Bunce


Power and Politics: From Talk to Walk—Designing and Implementing Social Policy

From the think tank that puts forth initial ideas about how to attack a social problem to the agency that provides actual services, a variety of organizations are key to creating and implementing social policy in the United States. Using examples such as the Brookings Institution, the Gates Foundation, and Community Action Agencies, we will examine how different types of organizations interact with public policy to shape and implement it. Readings combine academic sources with news and policy reports, such as the State of the Union address and Joel Fleishman’s The Foundation. Writing assignments will include policy briefs and analyses, program proposals, and a multi-level policy analysis.

SEM 102 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Delphia Shanks-Booth 17689 Suzanne Mettler


Power and Politics: Politics in Whoville—U.S. Politics in Children’s Literature

Throughout history, children’s literature has played a prominent role in shaping notions of citizenship and ideology. This course will examine how children’s literature shaped and responded to major shifts in American political history in the twentieth century, including industrialization, New Deal legislation, and the Civil Rights, Anti-War, Feminist, and Environmental movements. Students will explore the relationship between these political shifts and the themes outlined by corresponding children’s literature. Readings will include children’s literary classics ranging from The Little Engine that Could to works by Dr. Seuss and corresponding academic sources pulled from diverse fields including political science, sociology, history, and literary criticism. Writing assignments will require students to explore the relationship between literary themes and shifts in political culture culminating in a final project.

SEM 103 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod 17690 Isaac Kramnick


Power and Politics: Political Participation and Representation

The idea that citizens select their own government and hold it accountable is at the heart of the democratic ideal. But not everyone engages in that process to the same extent or in the same way. In this course we will explore patterns of participation in modern democracies and how they shape political outcomes. Paying special attention to social movements and political parties in the process, we will look at questions like: Why do citizens join activist groups? Which groups in society get their preferences turned into policies? And how do political institutions, like electoral systems, affect these processes? To illuminate these questions we will draw on examples, including the 2016 presidential elections, and readings, ranging from journalistic accounts to political philosophy and scientific studies.

SEM 104 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Steffen Blings 18381


Restoring Centrality: China’s Rise in Historical Context

What do we mean by “the rise of China”? How is it rising, and from what? In this course, we will explore key episodes in China’s twentieth-century experience for answers to these central questions. We will pay particular attention to the international dimensions of “China’s rise” by examining the ways in which Chinese traditions have mixed with ideas from abroad to shape China’s contingent path to the present. For insights and literary inspiration, our readings will include the work of such influential figures as Hu Shih (Cornell ‘14), Jonathan Spence, Mao Zedong, and Fang Lizhi, among others. Writing assignments will help you to develop and express your own cogent arguments about the nature and significance of “China’s rise” in historical and global context.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Jason Kelly 17692 Jian Chen


The Vietnam War in Film

The American experience in the Vietnam War resulted in the production of a large body of film dealing with the conflict, often in controversial terms and encompassing some of the most iconic films of American cinema, including Apocalypse Now (1979) and Platoon (1986). This course examines the cultural history of the Vietnam War through visual representation in commercial and documentary films. We will explore how these films inform popular understandings of the conflict, as well as discuss issues of race and gender as they emerged at the crosshairs of history and popular culture. Students will learn to think critically about film as a visual medium and, through writing assignments, how to move beyond mere description to analyze the content and meaning of the films.

SEM 101 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Rebecca Townsend 17697 Tamara Loos


Other People Are Impossible: Empathy in Art, Science, and History

It's impossible to actually enter another person's mind, but living in a shared world requires us to constantly engage with what others are thinking or feeling. In this course, we look at this quandary in historical and contemporary context, considering how writers, artists, philosophers, and scientists have articulated this interpersonal gap and sought to overcome it. We will investigate concepts of solipsism and empathy and see how thinkers have used them in formulating systems of ethics and moral philosophy. We will consider the evolution of psychology, of how scientists have sought to pierce the veil of the mind. And we will think through how the situation changes depending on our unique historical position. Students will develop skills in close reading and analysis of a wide array of texts. Possible authors include Sigmund Freud, David Foster Wallace, Leslie Jamison, Karl Marx, and Emmanuel Levinas.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Jacob Krell 17698 Camille Robcis


Citizen and City-State: The Origins of Political Thought

Ancient Greece was home to the world’s first direct democracies. In classical Athens, popular participation also went hand in hand with war and imperialism: citizens came together to constitute the state and decide on matters of power, legitimacy, and justice. Two and a half millennia later, modern political thought still traces its intellectual roots to these debates. This class explores the origins and development of political thought in ancient Greece, in authors such as Homer, Aeschylus, Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristophanes, Demosthenes, Plato, and Aristotle. We will read portions of their work, in translation, and discuss the historical background. Topics will include: political duty, citizenship, and leadership; Athenian democracy and political dissent; theories of the state. Writing assignments will include analyzing primary texts and crafting historical arguments.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Tim Sorg 17704 Barry Strauss


Post-World War II America: Crisis and Continuity

Why are the years following World War II considered so remarkable in the landscape of American history?

Several critical events and debates that rocked the nation from the 1940s onward reverberate today, such as involvement in wars, civil rights, women’s rights, concerns about teenagers, and crises in American cities. Enriched by a variety of primary sources, including films and TV shows, this course analyzes the central events, people, and forces that transformed American society and culture from the years after World War II to the present. The course aims to help students learn how to write persuasively about scholarship and primary sources, while gaining a deeper appreciation for the lasting influence of the major events, crises, and interpretations of post-World War II American history.

SEM 101 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Kelly King-O’Brien 17709


Language, Thought, and Reality: Words and Pictures

This class explores the collaboration of language and image in creating meanings at multiple levels. We will discuss and write about popular culture—caricatures, comics, graphic novels, and advertising—along with high culture artifacts such as paintings and illuminated manuscripts, examining the interplay and analogies between understanding language and interpreting images. We will discuss phenomena that cut across words and pictures: both may represent reality. A sentence may be true or false—can the same be said of a picture? Both language and visual representation are governed by conventions, and would be impossible without them. Information may be foregrounded and backgrounded in both channels, and can be ambiguous, contradictory, nonsensical, or self-referential.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Dorit Abusch 17710


Language, Thought, and Reality: Language and the Law

How do language and the law intersect? This course will explore basic linguistic theory relating to speech acts, linguistic fuzziness, and bilingualism, and connect it to legal issues involving language. Topics include language-related power asymmetries in court, the problems of vague and ambiguous language in legal interpretation, laws about language, and the distinction between lying and perjury. We will read important court cases related to language rights, problems, and crimes, as well as excerpts from books such asWordcrime: Solving Crime Through Forensic Linguistics (Olsson 2009). Most importantly, students will learn to write essays in which they construct an argument and then defend it using both readings assigned for the course and relevant outside readings the students find on their own.

SEM 102 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Sarah D’Antonio 17711 John Whitman


Language, Thought, and Reality: Metaphors We Live By

We typically think of metaphor as a purely literary phenomenon, a rarefied figurative device. This course aims to uncover the pervasive “hidden metaphors” we use in everyday speech and what they reveal about the way we conceptualize ideas, perceptions, emotions, and other abstract categories. Assignments for this course will include linguistic analyses of texts on politics, society, and popular culture, evaluation of the role metaphor plays in historical language change, and exploration of non-linguistic metaphor in gestures, advertising, and cartoons. We will read and write about selections from the work of linguists, philosophers, and psychologists.

SEM 103 MWF 02:30–03:20 p.m. Andrea Hummel 17712 John Whitman


Language, Thought, and Reality: Language and Gender

A significant number of our daily interactions are accomplished through language and experienced through the lens of gender. Through readings, discussion, and critical writing assignments, we will examine the connection between language and gender. How does gender shape our communications, how our words are perceived, and how we perceive the language used by others? What type of language do we use to talk about gender? To consider these questions, we will draw on the academic literatures of both gender studies and linguistics, as well as primary sources from the media for examples of “talking about gender.” We will also examine the psychological literature on the results of experiments on gender and language use and cognition.

SEM 104 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Jennifer (Mia) Wiegand 17713 John Whitman


Language, Thought, and Reality: Language—Translation and Writing

Translating seems on the surface like a pretty simple process if one knows how to speak a foreign language, but what is really needed to be able to translate a text or interpret at an international summit? How good does one have to be in a language to be able to translate into it? Is Linguistics knowledge all that is needed to do translations? In this class, we will explore issues in translation processes, ranging from the deep linguistic knowledge needed and issues involving factors beyond Linguistics like technical and cultural knowledge.

SEM 105 MWF 03:35–04:25 p.m. Shohini Bhattasali 17714 John Whitman


Language, Thought, and Reality—Myths and Controversies

Some say, “English is from Latin” others, “English is from German.” Both are not true: English is from Old English. As for the present state of the language, regretful comments such as “Young people are ruining the language,” or “French is more logical,” are by no means uncommon. Is there any more merit to these complaints than to the above statements on the origins of English? This course addresses common linguistic misconceptions, and provides students with a basis for evaluating assertions concerning language in the popular press. Writing assignments will take the form of short reaction pieces, critique, and research papers. Special attention will be devoted to developing ideas, effective organization, and phrasing. No formal linguistic analysis is involved.

SEM 106 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Alex Turner 17715 John Whitman


Aspects of Medieval Culture: Icons and Idolatry, from Rome to the Reformation

How does one depict divinity in art? Searching for suitable answers to this question produced some of the most exquisite art of the Middle Ages, but also vehement disagreements and controversies about its appropriateness. This course will ask students to critically engage with both medieval visual and textual sources in a series of case studies, ranging from the age of Constantine the Great in the fourth century to that of Martin Luther in the sixteenth, in order to investigate the tensions surrounding the manufacture and veneration of religious images. Students will develop their writing and argumentation skills through a range of assignments, including short reaction and response pieces, close-readings of medieval sources, and critical essays.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Samuel Barber 17721 Eric Rebillard


Aspects of Medieval Culture: Reading, 'Riting, and Ribaldry—The Old French Fabliaux

When you imagine the Middle Ages, do you imagine a street performer telling fart jokes to guffaws and applause? Perhaps you should–medieval people liked to laugh just as we do. In this course, we will examine medieval culture through the lens of the fabliaux: funny stories in verse that are often sexual, scatological, or blasphemous. We will consider what the fabliaux are doing and why: who tells them and who listens? What do they subvert and what do they uphold? Do they still make us laugh? We will also read the fabliaux in comparison with modern comedy: stand-up, political satire, screwball, slapstick, and the French gouaille tradition. Students will practice their writing skills through close reading, textual analysis, and creative assignments.

SEM 102 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Amanda Lowell 17722 Andrew Galloway


Aspects of Medieval Culture: Superheroes and Semiotics

If you think about it, superheroes are ridiculous. Yet comic books have produced some of the most durable and resonant symbols in American culture. Understanding how this works is more difficult than it seems at first sight. In their unique blend of word and picture, comics do something that no other medium does, and to explain this we need tools from a field called semiotics-—the study of symbols and how they work. To use its tools, we will read theorists from Plato to the present, including key medieval thinkers in the “realist” and “nominalist” debates and modern theorists like Saussure and Derrida, alongside Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-man, and Wolverine. Assignments will include short response papers, persuasive essays, and one optional creative writing project.

SEM 103 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Danielle Reid 17723 Tom Hill


Aspects of Medieval Culture: Magic in Arthurian Legends

From the earliest courtly romances to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Arthur’s court still captivates our cultural imagination. Magic is integral to the continuing appeal of these tales as a source of explanation, justification, testing, and conflict. In this course, students will write analytically about the role of magical objects, creatures, and people in a variety of Arthurian literature. They will compare value arguments made about magic in these tales. What is magic’s role in upholding or questioning the values of Arthur’s court? What kind of events or policies can magic justify? Which kinds of magic are within bounds and which are transgressive? Assignments will include short responses, critical analyses of these questions as well as others, and a creative writing piece.

SEM 104 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Abigail Sprenkle 17724 Oren Falk


Legend, Fantasy, and Vision: Otherworlds of Medieval Literature

What do we imagine past the margins of our world, and how do we draw those borders? This course will explore literary representations of medieval Otherworlds, ranging from islands of the dead and eerie realms under hills to preposterous foreign lands where enormous Christian armies wait to turn the course of history. Course readings will draw from disparate genres: chronicles, hagiographies, travel narratives, tales of King Arthur, lais, and ballads. At the end of the semester we will touch on recent adaptations of medieval Otherworlds. We will consider the political, religious, and nation-building agendas behind these ostensibly distant or imaginary lands, as well as modern echoes in fiction, news, and cyberspace. Assignments will include written responses to the readings, structured close readings, and formal essays building on classroom discussions.

SEM 101   MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m.   Anna Waymack   17730   Masha Raskolnikov


Fantasy from the Medieval to the Modern

From Tolkien to Game of Thrones, fantasy has become increasingly popular in recent years. This course will examine ways in which authors and audiences interact with imaginary worlds. We will examine several works of fantastic medieval literature before moving on to look at the development of fantasy in the twentieth century. In this process we will learn to appreciate the genre. This course will use fantasy literature as a starting point for academic writing and will learn research using the facilities available through Cornell’s library system.

SEM 102 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Russell Stepp 18399 Masha Raskolnikov

MUSIC 1701

Sound, Sense, and Ideas: From Zen to J-pop \(^o^)/! Listening to Japanese Society through Music

What do a thirteenth-century Zen Buddhist chanter and holographic pop superstar Hatsune Miku have in common? They both come from Japan, a complex society that this course explores through its music. Our reading and listening assignments span from ancient times to the present. Considering notions of Japanese society from multiple angles, we will read historical texts alongside manga comics, and listen to traditional music alongside contemporary popular and underground styles. Through writing assignments that emphasize critical thinking, creativity, and links between musicality and writing style, this class aims to develop your voice in formal academic writing, while encouraging you to listen to music as a reflection of societal issues in Japan and beyond.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Jillian Marshall 17731 Alejandro Madrid

MUSIC 1701

Sound, Sense, and Ideas: Music in the Caribbean

The class is a survey of folk, popular, and classical musical traditions and cultures from the Hispanic, English, and French Caribbean (salsa, reggae, calypso, merengue, reggaeton, zouk, cumbia, etc.). It focuses on the commonalities and differences among these musics by taking into consideration the particular local cultures they have developed in, their place within a larger Afro-diasporic culture, and the different ways in which they have informed popular musical cultures in the United States and other parts of the world. These musics will be an excuse to explore larger intellectual discussions such as national identity, cosmopolitan belonging, social constructions of race, etc.

SEM 102 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Alejandro Madrid 17732

MUSIC 1701

Sound, Sense, and Ideas: Sounding Together—Music, Diplomacy, and Imagemaking

Bob Geldof’s “Live Aid” and Bono’s ONE Campaign, J- and K-pop, military ads, the emergence and modern reputation of the classical symphony orchestra, jazz and hip-hop diplomacy, the CIA-backed avant-garde: these are a few of the case studies in which we will encounter music as it has been deployed in the arena of international relations. Engaging with a vast array of texts, including audio and audiovisual materials, we will examine the significant yet shaky relationship music has maintained with Joseph Nye’s concept of “soft power.” Through our explorations, we will aim to develop confidence in writing tight, musical prose, guided by sustained, nuanced argumentation, and effective use of evidence. Listen well, but don’t trust everything you hear.

SEM 103 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Andrew Zhou 17733


Philosophy in Practice: Biology, Gender, and Objectivity

Darwin’s insight that female mate choice is an important evolutionary mechanism was dismissed by many of his contemporaries because they assumed females were passive. Are preconceptions about gender a distorting influence in contemporary biology? If so, how—and how does or should science avoid such bias? This course will equip students to engage what biologists and philosophers of science have had to say on these questions. No background in biology or philosophy will be assumed. Readings will be drawn from both scientists and philosophers and may include selections from E. O. Wilson, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Evelyn Fox Keller, and more. Students will develop the ability to concisely and fairly describe a contentious issue and formulate a coherent argument for their own position on the topic.

SEM 101 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Brandon Conley 17734 Tad Brennan


Philosophical Problems: Philosophy of Science

What separates science from pseudoscience? How can we come to know that a scientific theory is correct? And what do scientific theories tell us about the nature of the world? In this course, we will examine how one can confront these and other questions about science using philosophical methods. In doing so, we will look at the answers offered by famous figures, such as David Hume and Karl Popper, and by contemporary philosophers. You should come away from the course with a better understanding of how to interpret, analyze, and create your own arguments and with a better idea of how to clearly communicate this understanding in your writing.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. David Fielding 17747 Tad Brennan


Philosophical Problems: Questions about Ethics

Some think that we are obligated to help the less fortunate; others claim that killing is (in all cases) impermissible; and still others believe that we all must observe the Sabbath. But what does it mean to say that an act is obligatory, impermissible, or mandatory? Are there objective facts about this, or is it just a matter of personal preference or convention? And why should we care what morality requires? In this course, we'll survey a number of different answers to these questions. The aim is to teach students to critically evaluate (often very complex and abstract) arguments, as well as how to write about those arguments in a clear, well-organized, and persuasive manner. Students will be required to write a number of short essays, as well as a longer final paper in several drafts.

SEM 102 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Eric Rowe 17748 Tad Brennan


Philosophical Problems: Ethics

What is best for you? What is best for others? What ought you do? What ought you eat? Do we have obligations to future generations? What does it mean to be morally responsible for your actions? Where do morals come from? The purpose of this class is to cultivate your ability to articulate rationally persuasive arguments in support of answers to these ethical questions. We'll be reading classic works from Plato, John Stuart Mill, and David Hume, as well as contemporary works from Derek Parfit, Peter Singer, Philippa Foot, and Peter Strawson. The class is designed first and foremost to help students develop the ability to (i) explain the complex ideas and arguments presented in the texts, (ii) formulate arguments defending their own conclusions, and (iii) accomplish both of the aforementioned through prose that is clear, concise, and rationally persuasive.

SEM 103 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Austin Duggan 17749 Tad Brennan


Philosophical Problems: Minds, Bodies, and Persons

What are you, fundamentally? Are you an animal or biological organism? Or are you perhaps something more mental or psychological, such as a mind? And what is a mind? Is it just part of the body, such as the brain? Or is a mind something fundamentally different from anything physical, such as an immaterial soul? In this writing-intensive course, we will investigate these kinds of questions about the fundamental nature of human persons and their mental lives. Through explaining and evaluating arguments of philosophers, we will develop skills in writing clearly and persuasively.

SEM 104 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Daniel Murphy 17750 Tad Brennan


Philosophical Problems: Business Ethics

Does the use of cheap labor disrespect humanity or benefit people in need of employment? What do CEOs owe their investors? What about their communities? What happens when these responsibilities conflict? These are just some of the questions that students will think critically about in this course. Reading assignments will be drawn from a variety of sources, from philosophical journals to The New York Times, and class work will include both essays and in-class activities. Coursework will be designed to teach students the fundamentals of philosophical writing: understanding writing that describes and argues for the views of others; thinking critically about and arguing for one’s own views; and explaining one’s own reasoning and the reasoning of others clearly in writing.

SEM 105 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Catherine Mathie Smith 17751 Tad Brennan


Philosophical Problems: Puzzles in Ancient Ethics

Are actions good because God approves of them, or does God approve of them because they are good? Why should I behave morally? Can a life without pleasure be happy? Can self-interested people have true friends?

Ancient Greek philosophers debated these ethical questions, among others. Students will use these philosophers’ works as springboards to examine these issues. Reading assignments will come from the works of Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and the Stoics. Students will also read modern expansions on these philosophers’ ideas, which have been applied to contemporary moral issues such as warfare, economic justice, and friendship. Writing assignments will focus on developing three skills: explaining others’ arguments, formulating criticisms of others’ arguments, and formulating one’s own arguments.

SEM 106 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Ian Hensley 17752 Tad Brennan


Philosophical Conversations: Philosophy and Death

In this course, we will explore metaphysical and ethical issues around death and killing in philosophy. What is death? The simple answer would be “the end of life.” If there is no afterlife, is death really bad for the person who dies? Is it rational to fear death? If immortal life is possible, is living forever without death desirable? Are all deaths misfortunes? If you want to say no, then is every type of killing morally impermissible? What about euthanasia? Or, abortion? Can suicide ever be a rational choice? Through reading and discussing philosophical texts dealing with these questions and several writing assignments, students will develop their philosophical writing as well as analytical skills.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Yuna Won 17760 Tad Brennan


Let Me Entertain You: Musicals and the People Who Love Them

“The hills are alive with” ... Most of us can, whether we like it or not, sing the remainder of that lyric. From The Sound of Music to Chicago, the Musical has had an undeniable presence in pop culture. Yet only recently have scholars begun to consider that musicals can offer insight into contemporary culture precisely because of their mass appeal. This course examines the texts and recordings of Broadway shows such as Wicked and Gypsy, alongside recent scholarship such as A Place for us and How to be Gay to consider: Why does the musical have such a strong appeal to particular communities? What formal qualities appeal to these communities? What does this strong attachment to musicals tell us about these communities? With an emphasis on in-class discussion and peer editing, this course helps students develop the particular skills required to write about performance while fostering the ability to produce coherent, concise, persuasive prose in the form of critical arguments.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Stephen Low 17765 David Feldshuh


Southern Stages: Theatre of the U.S. South

What is the South? What is the global South? What does it mean to be from or in the South? How have playwrights—in particular, women and playwrights of color—imagined the South and its inhabitants? This course will explore the South as it emerges in theatre, with an emphasis on plays as both dramatic texts and live performances. Students will analyze examples of performance through the lenses of critical texts drawn from the fields of performance studies, theatre studies, gender and sexuality studies, and Black studies and critical race theory. With an emphasis on in-class discussion and peer editing, this class will foster and enhance each student's ability to produce coherent, concise, persuasive prose in the form of critical arguments.

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Erin Stoneking 17771 David Feldshuh


New Media Art and Technology

New media art lies at the intersection of contemporary art and new technologies. This course explores that exciting intersection through an examination of digital art, virtual reality, performance art, computer animation, information art, robotics, internet art, biotechnology, video games, and interactive art. Students will learn about the theory and practice of various forms of new media art to explore and examine the relationship between art and technology. The goal of the course is to introduce the student to an understanding of the convergence of aesthetics and new technologies and to use this understanding to strengthen critical, analytical, and creative writing and thinking skills.

SEM 101 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Ozum Hatipoglu 18149 David Feldshuh


The Prison Plays: Crime, Punishment, and Western Dramatic Literature

Right now the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in history, and is culturally saturated with narratives of penality, from Prison Break to Orange is the New Black. Yet even a cursory look at theatre history reveals that crime and punishment are nearly ubiquitous preoccupations in Euro-American cultures. In this time-traveling course, students will examine the history of prison drama to try and understand why we remain so fixated on the “criminal element” today. At the same time, students will develop their critical, creative, and persuasive writing skills through peer and instructor review and a multi-draft essay process. Dramatists covered include: Aeschylus, Euripides, Shakespeare, Galsworthy, Brecht, Williams, Wallace, Puig, and Parks.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Nick Fesette 17772 David Feldshuh


Television in the Digital Era

If you love television, you probably already write about it: live-tweeting the newest episodes of your favorite show; having heated debates on Facebook about the brilliance of a TV classic; or publishing juicy fan fiction under a pseudonym. The digital era offers myriad possibilities to turn your passion for TV and your eagerness to share your thoughts into writing. In this course, you can tap into that passion, and, by familiarizing yourself with academic standards and traditions, become a more critically-engaged viewer, reader, and writer. Looking at recent television programming, we will explore how we can analyze audiovisual materials attentively, with particular attention to conducting research and producing academic writing in an age when the vast majority of primary and secondary sources are digital.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Kriszta Pozsonyi 17773 David Feldshuh


Eastern European Film

Eastern Europe has contributed 17,849 unique films to the global cinema. In this class, students will watch, discuss, and write about a variety of films—thrillers and comedies, Oscar winners as well as lesser-known films—from Poland, Russia, Bosnia, and Turkey. In addition to learning basic terminology, students will have the opportunity to become acquainted with the cultures, history, and geography of Eastern Europe. Students will write film reviews, analytic, and personal essays. All films are subtitled.

SEM 101   TR 10:10–11:25 a.m.   Ewa Bachminska   17779


Apply the Basics: An Exploration of Cognition and Perception

Understanding pathology requires knowledge about the cognitive and perceptual systems that underlie behavior, and how these systems are implemented in the brain. Oliver Sacks’ collection of case studies in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat will illustrate numerous neurological disorders and exemplify the applied research mindset. Empirical articles written by basic science researchers will complement Sacks’ writings and provide a foundation for understanding the disorders depicted therein. In order to learn how theory-driven science can inform clinical practice and how clinical populations can provide insights into the link between brain and behavior, we will critically evaluate and synthesize both basic and applied perspectives through class discussion and a variety of writing assignments.

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Ethan Jost 17781 Morten Christiansen


Perception Cognition Development: Understanding Events—The Special Case of Visual Narratives

Visual narratives are integral to our lives. With visual media surrounding us, do any of us take time to consider what makes visual narratives so engaging, so complex and yet easily comprehensible at the same time? This seminar will provide an introduction to understanding how people perceive visual events. We will read, discuss, and write about the cognitive mechanisms behind the comprehension of everyday actions, perception of film, and other visual narratives. The main goal of this seminar is to stimulate in-depth critical thinking and to develop efficient academic writing skills that students would use to form well-written, coherent, and elaborate essays. The requirements will involve weekly writing assignments, short and long essays, as well as in-class writing exercises and discussion.

SEM 102 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Ayse Candan 17782 James Cutting


Perception Cognition Development: Great Debates in Psychology

What is the self? Is personality partly genetic, or are experiences what truly matter? Questions such as these have been at the heart of controversies in psychology for over a century. Together, we'll look at some of the great debates in the history of psychology, focusing on the “big picture” ideas. We'll be studying writing by (and about) psychologists at the heart of these great debates, ranging from Freud and Jung to Skinner and Chomsky, looking at why these individuals were so effective as writers. Writing activities and assignments will allow you to take a position—or perhaps even create a unique synthesis of ideas—on the psychological controversies discussed in the course. Together, we'll improve our skills as writers and learn how to create well-crafted arguments.

SEM 103   MW 02:55–04:10 p.m.   Stewart McCauley    17783 Morten Christiansen


The Craft of Storytelling: Narrating the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939 started as a domestic conflict that soon became an international event as the first confrontation between democracy and fascism. The support of the right-wing military uprising by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and support of the left-wing Republican Government by the Soviet Union and international volunteers, turned the struggle into a rehearsal and prologue to the Second World War. In this class, we will explore the literary, photographic, and cinematic representations of the war from its outbreak to the present, paying particular attention to its rich international intellectual legacy. Authors may include Hemingway, Neruda, and del Toro, among others. Students will develop their critical thinking and analytical writing skills through oral presentations, reading responses, and essays.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Itziar Rodriguez de Rivera 17787


Cultural Identities, Cultural Differences: Women Writing the Mediterranean

In this course, we examine how women writers from the Mediterranean bring out their identity and their relationship to their language(s) and origins. We see how they deal with the present and the past. Several of the works we'll read explore the theme of women amidst war and civil conflict, and ask how to articulate one's self against the background of the turbulent historical events and social movements that are still shaping the Mediterranean in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Women writers studied in the seminar come from Italy, France, Algeria, Israel, Croatia, Syria, and Greece. The course includes two film screenings.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. K.E. von Wittelsbach 17738


Thinking and Thought: Thinking (at) the End of the World

“This is the end” is a sentence we don’t get tired of hearing even though countless films and novels repeat it. Why are we so attracted to stories about a burning world? What does it mean to narrate the end of everything? Can this scenario reveal something about our understanding of the present moment? Our seminar will explore these questions with narratives ranging from apocalyptic stories to proclamations of a returning Messiah. We will analyze films such as Mad Max, Apocalypse Now, and La Jetée, and literary texts by Cormac McCarthy, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Roberto Bolaño. Through written analyses and comparisons of these materials we will focus on how the end of the world can help us understand and critique society and social culture today.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Gustavo Quintero 17790 Kathleen Long



What allows us to make assumptions about people based on the way they speak or dress? How can we understand the deeper meaning of a fairy tale or an episode of The Simpsons? What does macaroni and cheese mean, and why is it not on the menu at most upscale Manhattan eateries? This seminar introduces semiotics, the study of signs and the meaning-bearing sign systems they form; sign systems that include not only human language but also literature, painting, sculpture, film, music, dance, and also such aspects of popular culture as advertising, fashion, food, and television, to name just a few. The diversity of semiotic systems provides many possibilities for thinking and writing critically about the world we live in.

SEM 101 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Ti Alkire 17791


Gender and Science

Why do so many women and minority students drop out of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematic) fields? Is this true at Cornell, the alma mater of so many top-ranked scientists (including Nobelist Barbara McClintock)? This course seeks to investigate this topic with a variety of projects and writing assignments that build from class descriptions and analyses of majors to the final research paper, possibly using Cornell’s own university archives.

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Margaret Rossiter 17739


Science and Society: Witches, Exorcists, and Scientists

A seminar for the discerning student of science, religion, witchcraft, and wizardry. This class is about Europe in the 1500s and 1600s, and the way people from this era thought about “science,” God, and “magic.” We will also think about what it means for us to make these distinctions in our own analyses of the past. This seminar will teach you how to write about ideas and academic arguments. For inspiration you will read some of the most compelling texts ever written about the world, God, and the limits of nature by thinkers like Johannes Kepler and James I/VI. Through reading responses and papers you will begin to answer questions such as: “Why did Europeans try people for witchcraft?” and “Was Newton a magician?”

SEM 101 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Jessica Price 17745 Suman Seth


Science and Society: Making the Scientific Subject—An Intersectional Feminist Approach

Science is a creative process. Indeed, this statement alone is enough to spark controversy. Still, the claim becomes even more powerful when we come to understand more precisely what or whom certain sciences are creating while striving towards progress. In this course, students will examine historical and contemporary examples of how the power of sciences, both “natural” and “social,” have aided in the creation of particular political subjects and norms in relation to sex, gender, race, and nature. Students will engage in writing activities tailored to cultivate strong arguments with an authorial voice that will allow them to address controversial material with precision. Compelling writers, such as Hugh Raffles and Adriana Petryna, will help guide students in the pursuit of making their writing exact and expressive.

SEM 102 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Lisa Avron 17746 Sara Pritchard


An Introduction to Writing in the University

This writing seminar is designed for first- and second-year students who need more focused attention in order to master the expectations of academic writing. The course emphasizes the analytic and argumentative writing and critical reading essential for university-level work. With small classes and with weekly student/teacher conferences, each section is shaped to respond to the needs of individual students.

By permission only. This course is appropriate for students who struggled in their fall FWS. If you think you will benefit from intensive work on academic writing, contact Tracy Hamler Carrick (thc33@cornell.edu) or come to 174 Rockefeller Hall to to discuss your writing and enrolling in the WRIT 1380. “S/U” grades only.


Common Ground: Education Beyond the Ivory Tower (Boynton Middle School)

This course offers you a chance to become a more engaged member of the Ithaca community as part of your first-year writing experience. For two afternoons a week, Cornell students will engage with Ithaca middle school students as mentors and tutors outside of class. Writing assignments will help you reflect on the tutoring experience and the role of education and responsible citizenship in a democratic society. Readings will include Savage Inequalities by Kozol, Life and Death of the Great American School System by Ravitch and essays by Barber, Freire, and King. Our ultimate goal will be to broaden students' perspectives on our public educational system and the role of universities in their communities.

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Darlene Evans 18091

Student schedules must accommodate TR trips (3-5 PM) to Boynton Middle School.