EWP131-V : (Re)definition/(Re)classification
When we see something new, we ask, “What is it?” When we hear someone is having a baby, we ask, “Is it a boy or a girl?” We define and classify to makes sense of the world, and of ourselves. Some have even gone as far as to say that by naming things, we make them real. By knowing where everything fits, we know how to act, and how to react. However, we can all think of times when names and labels are more constricting than comforting, more harmful than helpful. This is where the title of the course comes in, and the moment where I try to convince you that this is not just a lowly writing class, but your chance to remake reality. It’s a little bit like playing god. The possibilities are endless: just as the United States has redefined citizenship and personhood, just as Beyoncé has redefined feminism, just as new categories of gender and sexuality break us out of binaries (male/female; gay/straight), we too can create new systems of meaning and understanding. Through writing, we hold the power to remake the world.
Now, some of you might be thinking, “Playing god sounds great, but are you still going to make us write academic essays? God definitely never had to write a 5-paragraph essay.” The answer is, yes and no. You will write in this class. A lot. And the skills you learn will serve you in your academic career. But the writing probably won’t look like what you imagine academic writing to look like, and the skills will take you far beyond the English classroom, and even the classroom, period. We will read and write across genres, from satire to lyric essays to speeches, learning to think critically and to understand the different possibilities inherent in different forms. And we’ll take what we like from those forms to find new voices, influence opinions, and even create new worlds. Now let’s play.
Link to Syllabus