This course has two primary and equally important goals: to hone your skills in rhetorical and analytical awareness and to cultivate understanding in writing and research. This particular course will achieve this from the perspective of understanding and thinking critically about how urban space operates in the social imagination. We will read and analyze a variety of texts including film, sociology, literature, art installations, and more. Our discussions of these texts will be oriented around questions such as: how do we discuss, describe, and represent urban space in the United States? To what extent do dominant rhetorics of urban space function as a means to contain, control, and manage race, class, gender, and sexual differences? And, how do writers, artists, and performers use urban space to speak back to narratives that seek to contain, oppress, and control marginalized populations and spaces?
Alongside engaging closely with these issues, we will also be entering into a dialogue with each other; this course is necessarily interactive and self-reflective, meaning that we will approach our own writing and that of our peers with the same analytical frame of mind. As such, drafting, revising and reflecting on your rhetorical choices will comprise a significant part of the class as well. Your assignments are shaped around this aim, providing you with ample opportunity to explore writing as a process rather than a verdict. Further, while no course can build in absolutely everything you need to know to write successfully, developing the analytical and compositional skills required to articulate your thinking will benefit you in many of the writing and reading situations you encounter in the future, both inside and outside of school.
THIS COURSE ASSUMES that students have previous experiences in college-level writing (such as ENGL 109/110, 111, 121, or 131 or equivalent), as we will be building on those skills and techniques begun in those introductory courses. With that in mind, this class also takes as a basic assumption that writing is a skill and that, like any skill, it can always be furthered and improved through guided practice and experimentation. We will work to develop, challenge, and enhance the writing skills students already possess into the skills and intuitions necessary for successful writing.