WSC 002 - Composition
Semester Hours: 3
Fall, Spring, Summer
Continued instruction in expository writing, and an introduction to writing in the disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Reading and writing assignments are organized around a central theme.
Current Special Topics
Health, Illness, Disease, and Somewhere In-Between
What contributes to health? What causes illness and disease? And how and why do we waiver in-between? We will research immunological issues regarding our bodies and minds; we will address these findings through discussion and writing, considering how best to promote health and well-being for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
Our discussions will evaluate the cross-disciplinary literature we read in class based on questions such as: What were the prevalent social attitudes during the period in which the literature was written? How did families, political leaders, writers, artists, scientists, and other individuals, live, dress, eat, and think during this period? What were the political and cultural views that influenced the author’s work? These perspectives will dominate class conversations as we examine the theme of “Dangerous Reproductions.” These issues will circulate around the major influential novel of nineteenth-century England written by Mary Shelley in 1818, Frankenstein, Or the Mode, Or the Modern Prometheus.
Sleep and Dreams: An Inter-disciplinary Investigation
Sleep. All living things require it in some form or another. By rough estimate, human beings spend 1/3 of their lives doing it. Next to love, but more than money, we crave it most. You’d probably rather be doing it now than reading this, yes? So, to meet you halfway, this semester our course theme is “Sleep and Dreams: An Inter-disciplinary Investigation.” Readings for our course will consist of texts in the Natural Sciences (Biology, Neurology), Social Sciences (Anthropology, Psychology), and Humanities (Literature). We will engage with these texts through reading responses, class discussions, and composition. The composition portion of our course will focus on students’ continued practice in developing thesis and argument, through each stage of the composition process; discovery, organization, drafting, and revision. All major assignments are designed to give students a proper grounding in the kinds of academic writing with which they will be engaged during their Hofstra careers.
Travel and Community in American Life
From the wagons of the western frontier to the building of the railways and highways, travel in America has taken many forms. In WSC 002, we will explore the theme of travel in American life and how to travel for purposes such as recreation, business, education or social escape affects individuals, communities, and the natural world. Through reading the work of various authors, we will discuss, question, and write about travel as an integral aspect of American life and identity
Parameters of the Mind
Our thematic focus will be on the human desire to discover the many dimensions of the human mind, its imaginative voyages, and its hidden potential. To that end, we will begin by reading, discussing, and writing about the “fantastic,” first as it appears in fairy tales. Next, we will examine the “findings” in the field of parapsychology. Finally, we will look at the mind’s attempt to envision where science will lead us in the future. You will be reading and writing evaluations of essays by psychiatrists, anthropologists, linguists, medical doctors, and novelists. Perhaps you will come to some conclusion about what humans want to believe, what they should believe, and what they may decide to disbelieve.
Pop People, Words and Music
The goal of this course is to assess critically the American popular culture of the past 50 years. We will focus on lifestyles, technology, music, film, television, and visual art, with the goal of commenting on the direction pop culture is, will be, and/or should be taking. Students will write three (3) papers (in a way, one large paper in three parts) showing some logical progression/evolution/devolution of pop culture: a genesis, a turning point, and the current state of affairs.
Through a Glass Darkly: Viewing America Through Its Movies
If art reflects life, it does so with special mirrors. – Bertrolt Brecht, poet, and playwright
The cinema uses the language of dreams. - Federico Fellini, film director.
We would be foolish to think movies offer us a realistic picture of our lives. In real life, folks can’t fly, heroes don’t banish evil-doers, and few of us find true love with sea monsters. And yet, would movies really hold such a fascination for us if they did not speak to our real lives in some meaningful way? In this course, we will view the movies as projections of our own cultural anxieties, values, beliefs, and ideals. Like a psychoanalyst interprets dreams (the “movies” we create in our sleep), we will examine how Hollywood films transform our fears, hopes, and desires into stories, images, and emotions that speak to us on levels we may not always be aware of. Through close film study, secondary texts, class discussions, and presentations, we will examine the complex relationship between our movies and ourselves, and consider how these powerful cultural products reflect, shape, and distort the social, political, and psychological realities of our lives.
Silence Is A Deafening Sound
The Inspiration for the theme of this course, Les Miserables, a work of art that has transcended multiples, disciplines, and forms, reminds us of an important power that silence has: “When the beating of your heart”/Echoes the beating of the drums,”/”There is a life about to start”/When tomorrow comes?” The first is a sound that remains largely unheard unless we seek it, and the second is a sound that is difficult to ignore. However, “Do You Hear The People Sing?” places the same amount of weight on both of them. Silence, in both its implied and literal forms, is a concept with the power to inspire and transform literature, awaken society, and symbolize both the beauty and sadness found in the natural world. In this course, we will examine the concept of silence in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
Social Justice and Diversity
Multicultural perspectives on advocacy for social justice and an affinity to identify the appreciative value of diversity are still imbued within marginalized ethnic, racial, and gender differences. This course examines how written discourse in the Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Humanities has contributed morally, legally, financially, politically, and scientifically either to exacerbate or to preclude bias; it explores how individuals can empower themselves as conduits of civility, civil liberty, and civil rights.
Dust, Depression, Drama – the 1930s
Edward Abbey’s 1956 comment about what was then Arches National Monument, Utah, is simple: “This is the most beautiful place on earth.” In 1971, Arches became one of 59 national parks out of 417 sites the US National Parks Service maintains throughout the United States. This semester we’ll visit some of the parks found in Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. These Western locations are culturally alive, rich in literature, and have become the natural backdrops for many artists, photographers, and filmmakers. As we take in the landscape, we’ll observe the physical history of these constantly changing rock formations. We’ll also discuss the influences that led people to build their dwellings in the red sandstone canyon walls, making these deserts and canyons their homes. So this semester, let’s take a trip out west to learn as we discover.
Why Pop Music Matters
We will study the various ways popular music has contributed to social and cultural constructs in American society. Students will examine several genres and their relationship to shifts in societal attitudes. Students will analyze music’s role as social commentary and its impact on changing the status quo. The course delves far beyond mainstream hooks and catchy beats, instead, students begin to rigorously frame popular music in a global and sociological context. This class requires students to independently research and write about many aspects of popular music
In this course, students will explore the broad genre known as Gothic by defining the term. Students will investigate the Gothic genre, critiquing and adapting their approaches and theories through writing. Students will view classic thriller films, read short stories by writers such as Angela Carter, and read articles on the psychology of fear.
Writing from Both Sides of the Brain
This composition class will examine the role of creative thinking in a robust society. Stanislavsky’s “method” parallels Freud; Meisner’s work mirrors Autism research. The Arts tap into our collective unconscious. The Arts can reflect our society’s unfolding narrative, help us metabolize rapid changes, restore the community, and help us decide what it all means. Readings will include Carl Jung’s “Man and His Symbols,” Joshua Foer’s “Moonwalking with Einstein,” and Kim Addonizo’s “Ordinary Genius.”
The Business of Sports
The influence that sports have on world culture is the strongest it has ever been. Over the last 100 years, the world of sports has transformed from simple athletic competitions to a multi-billion-dollar industry. From the clothes and shoes children wear to the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, the sports industry impacts people personally and globally. The Business of Sports will examine how athletes have gone from semi-professional individual to purveyors of a global brand, and how industries have been created or modified to accommodate this new business world. Behind every sports hero, every winner, and every loser, is an army of people wrestling over dollars and television coverage. This section of WSC 002 will study and write about the sports world through interdisciplinary texts, media, and discussion of the industries that thrive behind the veneer of the sports world.
The Truth Behind The Facade
WSC2 is a theme-based course that includes readings in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The class will concentrate on critical reading and critical thinking as well as focus on instruction in expository writing. Specifically, the class will focus on the interaction of children and the choices children make. This will include the intricacies of human nature and the difficulty in making ethical decisions. Through close analysis, critical thinking, discussion, and writing, the anomaly of the human conscience will be explored.
Sue Coe writing about the horrors of the slaughterhouse, Fly writing about the people living on the margins, squatting in abandoned buildings, Hubert Selby Jr. writing about the illusion of the American dream, Timothy “Speed” Levitch writing about the dark side of capitalism —all these writers are known as non-conformists and are often labeled outlaws for daring to write about the truth. These courageous writers, as well as many others, using ink and fire, challenge the reader to remove the cataracts of conformity from their eyes, and really see the truth. In this course, we will read some non-conformist writers and discuss why truth-telling is important in a land where, as Alan Watts so bluntly put it, “it’s taboo to really know yourself.” And at the same time, we will attempt to write our non-conformist essays. #truthtellers #non-conformity
Cultural Myths and Realities: An Exploration in Personal and Social Identity
What is identity? What directs who you are and the choices you make? Is our environment or our internal “make-up” what directs us to make the choices we do? In this course, we will look at the historical, scientific, philosophical, and cultural factors that might determine our thinking about who we are and what develops our ideology. We will examine the cultural myths and realities that shape these decisions and questions whether some of these factors are our decisions at all. We will also investigate how social stereotyping can often lead to the misuse and abuse of power, how beliefs about culture, language, race, gender, and genetics play into our personal and social identities. Through a variety of texts, we will examine varied intersections culturally and physically that define who we are through reading responses, class discussion, and composition. The composition portion of the course will focus on students’ continued practice and developing thesis and argument through each stage of the writing process – discovery, organization, drafting, and revision – to give students the proper grounding in academic writing, critical analysis, and argumentation.
Hacking the Climate: Geoengineering and the Coming Climate Crisis
With carbon emissions continuing unabated, even after repeated efforts to reach a global consensus on reducing them, scientists, economists, business leaders, environmentalists, and others are taking a hard look at methods of intervening in natural processes on a global scale to avert what many see as an impending ecological disaster. Call it hacking the planet, playing God, tuning the weather, fixing the sky, or simply madness, the debate over its viability has begun. This course weighs the legal, ethical, economic, political, and scientific arguments being made for and against geoengineering for their implicit assumptions, values, and rhetorical methods. Although the course addresses the scientific bases for various geoengineering proposals, its focus is on scrutinizing the logic and rhetoric of the arguments for and against geoengineering and on writing in response to these arguments.
Love, Marriage, and Friendship
Love, marriage, and friendship: which of these ideals is most important to us as human beings? Can love for one’s partner be compatible with deep friendship with one’s friends? Does marriage require love? What historical, scientific, philosophical, and cultural factors might determine our thinking about these ideals? To answer these questions (and many more), our course takes an interdisciplinary approach towards examining the varied intersections and tensions among love, marriage, and friendship.
Wicked Problems: Solving Social Challenges Through Science and Stories
This section of WSC 2 seeks to improve students’ writing abilities through the analysis of “Wicked Problems.” This term refers to social ills that are so tangled and complicated that they defy our attempts to solve them. A few examples include Poverty, Inequality, Crime, Addiction, Family Dysfunction, Historical Trauma, and Housing Insecurity. Our class will examine how scientists, artists, and leaders use writing, rhetoric, and argumentation as they wrestle with these and other problems. Ultimately, students will gain exposure to different writing forms across the disciplines, and cultivate their own abilities in writing and analysis.
WSC 001 . May not be taken on a Pass/D+/D/Fail basis. The Writing Proficiency Exam is given as part of the course.
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