English 297C: Art, Politics, and Power
Xavier Viramontes, Boycott Grapes, Support the United Farmworkers Union, 1973, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Instructor: Emily George
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 1-2, or by appointment
Guiding Principles and Values for the Class
Adapted, with thanks, from statements by Dr. Anna Wager and Dr. Alex Smith.
Welcome to English 297 C! I want to begin by acknowledging that we are all doing the work of this class in challenging circumstances. We are experiencing a global health crisis that impacts our social, economic, physical, and mental health. We are also—in Seattle, in the United States, and internationally—reckoning with systems of racial oppression, violence, and inequality, a reckoning that has been both continuous and long overdue. These two intersecting forces will impact our lives and our learning this quarter, sometimes in ways we can anticipate and plan for, and sometimes in ways we cannot foresee. I have done my best to structure the course with this understanding.
I am excited for us to form an online classroom community that fosters intellectual engagement and collaboration as we focus on approaches to research and composition. These are the guiding principles that will inform my teaching this quarter and that I hope you will use as learners, colleagues, and members of the UW community:
- Compassion for yourself and others. Treat each other as full humans, with complex experiences, beliefs, feelings, and knowledge. Try to assume others have good intentions, and give each other the benefit of the doubt. We all have a responsibility toward one another in making this class a learning environment that is challenging and enriching. Remember, too, that you are a full human with a complex life, and this class is just one part of that.
- Flexibility. We are all arriving in this class with different sets of needs, hopes, limitations, and developing circumstances. While this is true every quarter, it is particularly important to remember this now, when some of us may be in different time zones, have different family obligations than we usually do, have different work obligations than we usually do, and may be experiencing new forms of stress, anxiety, and/or depression. Some of us might also get sick this quarter or have to care for a sick family member. I am hopeful that the labor-based grading contract I’ve designed as our assessment strategy will help with the unpredictability of our current moment.
- Prioritizing intellectual nourishment, social connection, and learning as a process that takes labor and time. Our course goals are important to this class and to any future kinds of research or composition you do in the future, and I have tried to design assignments that directly advance them. However, what matters most is that we learn new and interesting things together, share our ideas, reflect on our intellectual growth, and apply what we’ve learned within relevant contexts.
This writing course focuses on historical and contemporary intersections of art and power. We will explore questions such as:
- How has art responded to, critiqued, or contributed to political and cultural power structures?
- How have ideological movements been inspired by--or misappropriated--art?
- How have contemporary artists used and transformed historical art?
Using these and related questions as a guide, the class will practice composition in a variety of contexts, considering the relationships between genre, mode, and audience. This may include assignments such as academic writing in the field of art history, public-facing cultural criticism, and wall labels for a real or imagined exhibit. Students will work on individual and collaborative composition, with an emphasis on drafting, feedback, and revision.
English 297 C is a writing-intensive course linked to Art History 200 A: Art in the Modern Imagination: Athena to Lady Gaga. Students must be enrolled in Art H 200 A to be enrolled in English 297 C. English 297 C will be evaluated This writing seminar is a stand-alone class and you will be evaluated separately.
In this course, you will:
- Practice composition as a process. The labor you do for this course will involve approaching composition, in its many forms, as a process of questioning, researching, discussing and developing your ideas, planning, drafting, getting feedback, revising, and reflecting. The purpose of this goal is twofold. First, while there is no way to become an expert in all forms of writing in the ten weeks of this course, this process-based approach will better prepare you to do new kinds of writing in different fields and contexts. Second, practicing this process means practicing ways of thinking that will be useful to you in any course and beyond academia: asking questions, using analysis, recognizing nuance, changing and developing your arguments as you learn more about a topic, and reflecting on your own assumptions.
- Practice good research and argument habits. You will develop lines of inquiry—genuine, complex questions you want to explore—to guide your research. You will also practice finding effective, flexible approaches to finding sources, and practice assessing the reliability and relevance of those sources. Finally, you will practice putting your sources into conversation (intertextuality) and synthesizing them in order to come to conclusions and form arguments that develop from what you have discovered through research and use appropriate citations to credit those sources. The purposes of this goal include learning effective ways to begin researching a topic, learning how to persevere or adapt when you encounter difficulties or barriers in research, learning how to make judgments about whether and how to trust a source, and learning how to form arguments that emerge from discovery.
- Practice thinking about the context of what you read and write. You will study a variety of texts and consider things like the text’s purpose, its audience, and the constraints and affordances of its genre and mode. You will also practice considering the context of your own work: what is your purpose? Who is your audience? What genre and mode are you working in? What are the expectations of working in that genre/mode? How can you write most effectively for your purpose, to reach your audience? How might you take advantage of the genre and mode you’re working in? The purpose of this goal is to help you practice being adaptable—to be able to assess a situation and decide how you can communicate most effectively in that situation. This will be useful in future classes where you are given new types of assignments and beyond coursework, when you’re faced with different kinds of composition tasks (forming a website for a business, writing a research project in a new subject, emailing clients, writing a personal essay).
All readings will be posted to Canvas. You will need reliable access to Canvas.
- Microsoft Office. You will be asked to use Microsoft Word to write and submit your essays in order to standardize formatting and length. You can access Microsoft Office as a UW student by going here.
In this course, we are using a grade contract system so that grading is transparent and values your labor and learning rather than emphasizing meeting a particular “standard.” You can find the grade contract obligations here. We will discuss this as a class and you will routinely keep track of your grade through your labor log, so you should know precisely what your grade is in the course at any given time. If you ever have questions about the grade contract, please let me know!
If you submit your assignments on time, it is easier for me to get them back to you in a timely manner, and it is also easier for you to move on to the next assignment having gained skills and experience from the previous assignment. Therefore, I hope you will make your best effort to submit all assignments on time. However, I also understand that this isn’t always possible for a wide variety of reasons. Therefore:
- You may use a 48-hour extension for any assignments (see exceptions in the next bullet) that you are not able to complete on time. To use this extension and ensure your assignment will not be marked late, you can email me any time before the assignment is due to let me know you are using an extension. As long as you’ve done this, your assignment will not be marked late.
- Exceptions: Because our course includes many opportunities for peer review, and students receive credit for performing peer reviews for each other, your classmates will be relying on you to complete assignments labeled rough drafts and the final project on time. Therefore, the 48-hour extension does not apply to rough drafts or the final project. If you have extenuating circumstances, please contact me so we can find a solution. Otherwise, these two types of assignments will be exempt from the blanket extension policy.
- If you are unable to complete an assignment within the 48-hour extension window, please email me to set up a Zoom meeting to meet with me so we can work together on a plan to help you catch up on your coursework. This meeting is required for extensions beyond 48 hours.
- If you are having trouble with Canvas or if you are worried that your assignment didn’t attach, you can always email me your assignment in addition to submitting it on Canvas in order to avoid submitting your assignment late.
Class Expectations and Guidelines for Discussion
You will be working within small groups, peer review pairings, and the whole class throughout the quarter. Disagreement can be productive, and scholars in all fields depend on disagreement to strengthen their arguments, discover errors, and challenge their own thinking. You may find that some of the topics and discussions in this class will cause you discomfort. This is normal, expected, and, in fact, crucial to your learning. Engaging with complexity--through history, art, literature, politics, cultural studies, your own research and writing--is a difficult labor, and difficult labor is often uncomfortable.
However, in order for conflict to be productive, it must be respectful. Personal attacks, disrespectful language, and disrespectful behavior have no place in the class, and will not be tolerated. If debates or discussions get intense or heated, remember that it is difficult to know the backgrounds, experiences, emotions, and beliefs of others in the room, and be sensitive to that. Be generous with others and try to assume good intentions. Keep your responses specific to the topic under discussion. You are expected to use language and action that shows respect for gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, and ability in order to create a safe and welcoming class.
Guidelines for Class and Small Group Discussion
- Listen carefully to others, and do not attempt to respond before they’ve finished what they have to say.
- When someone else is talking, try not to focus on how you disagree or the way you want to reply. Instead, focus completely on what they’re trying to communicate until they finish.
- Stay on topic and connect what you have to say with the readings and/or with what others have said.
- Write down your thoughts so you can return to them.
- Ask follow-up questions of others, and try to repeat your understanding of what they’ve said as part of that follow up.
- Speak up with a willingness to discover you're wrong.
- Try not to dominate conversations. Make sure everyone in your group is included, and invite others to speak.
Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing--as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.
Note from Emily—If you are confused or unsure about whether or not something you want to do would be considered plagiarism, please talk to me about it! I won’t penalize you for not knowing. Sometimes plagiarism is something obvious, like copying someone else’s essay, but sometimes it can get trickier, like paraphrasing, citing information/ideas and not just quotes, etc. Likewise, if you are feeling so much pressure or confusion that you’re thinking about plagiarizing, talk to me. Plagiarizing can have huge consequences for your grade and your academic future, and we can come up with a solution that’s better than taking that risk.
Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations-policy/. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form: https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request.
The IWP and Antiracist Pedagogy
The Interdisciplinary Writing Program (IWP) is committed to engaging with anti-racist pedagogies. These pedagogies may take various forms, such as curricular attention to voices, communities, and perspectives that have been historically marginalized inside and beyond academic disciplines; inclusive classroom practices; discussions of racism; and consideration of other forms of prejudice and exclusion. We believe that countering the cultures and practices of racism in an academic institution is fundamental to developing a vibrant intellectual community. The IWP is happy to talk with you about your questions as well as to support student-led initiatives around anti-racist work, and we invite you to contact IWP faculty member Rush Daniel at email@example.com or IWP Program Director Carrie Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in how teachers of English as a professional community have taken up anti-racist work, check out the National Council of Teachers of English Statement on Anti-Racism to Support Teaching and Learning at http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/antiracisminteaching
Zoom, Canvas, Class Privacy and Recording Policies
This course will make use of Zoom and Canvas. It is essential you have access to these resources. If you are struggling to navigate or use these resources, please reach out to me as soon as possible. We can email or speak on the phone—whatever is most helpful.
Privacy: I understand that many of you will not be in your usual school environments this term, and that you may be sharing space with family, roommates, and/or children. If at all possible, please find as private a space as possible or use headphones when you are participating in Zoom class sessions, watching recorded lectures, or viewing course films and video clips. This course is designed for adults, and we may have discussions that could be disturbing for young children. I also want everyone in class to feel free to express their ideas in the spirit of shared learning without worrying about who may be overhearing what they say.
Recording Policy: Zoom meetings of this course may be recorded. I will also periodically share brief lecture videos with you for you to watch asynchronously. Any recordings will only be available to students registered for this class. Recordings may not be reproduced, shared with those not in the class, or uploaded to other online environments.
- You can change your name in Zoom by going to your Zoom profile and clicking "edit" next to your name. Feel free to change your name to accurately reflect the name you want to be called. You can also add your pronouns in parentheses after your last name. For example, my Zoom name as it appears during Zoom sessions is Alex Smith (she/her).
- You can add or change your Zoom avatar/picture (the image that appears when you turn off your Zoom video) by going to your Zoom profile and clicking "change" under the blank photo box next to your name.
- At the beginning of every Zoom session, after entering the meeting and saying hello to confirm that your microphone is working, it's helpful if you mute your microphone (using the far left button) to eliminate extra background noise, especially if there are sounds in your environment that could be distracting for the class. You can find out more about attendee controls here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/200941109-Attendee-Controls-in-a-Meeting
- During our meetings, you can raise your hand by clicking on "Participants" in the control bar (see image above) and then clicking "Raise Hand." This is especially useful when I’m sharing my screen and can’t see you as well.
- If you have a question or comment during class that you don’t want to say out loud, you can use the chat function in Zoom to send your question/comment to the whole class or just to me. We'll experiment as a class with different ways to use the chat function and decide as a group which features are useful and which are too distracting.
- You can change your name in Canvas by clicking on your profile picture at the top of the far left menu in Canvas. Click “Edit Profile.” You will then be able to change your name and add your pronouns if you would like.
- You can change your profile picture/avatar in Canvas in the same place. When you’re editing your profile, hover over your picture and click the pencil icon. You can then upload a new picture.
- To send a message to a member of the class (including me), first click on your Canvas inbox in the far left menu. Then click the “compose a new message” button on the top right of the screen. Choose our course and then choose either “Teachers” (if you want to send a message to me) or “Students” (if you want to send a message to one or more students in our class). You will then be given the option to select specific recipients.
- Use Modules to navigate our course. The first module contains course information and resources. All of the other modules are organized by weeks. Always start with the “Overview” page for each week, which lists all reading, viewing, and writing assignments and includes an overview of the material we will cover that week.
The first thing you should complete is the module for "Week 0," that is, September 30-October 2nd. This will provide an overview of the course, link you to valuable resources, provide information about how grades will work in the class, and ask you to complete an intro survey, post to the discussion board, and practice other aspects of virtual learning. Many of you will find aspects of this familiar, since you have done online courses in the past, but Week 0 is required so that we are all prepared for the rest of the course.
This class is divided into three units:
- Visual Analysis in Academic Writing. The Major Writing Assignment for Unit 1 will be due Monday, October 26th.
- Writing About Art Beyond Academia. The Major Writing Assignment for Unit 2 will be due Monday, November 16th.
- Final Project Sequence. The Major Writing Assignment for the final project sequence will be due Monday, December 7th.