Friday, December 29, 2006

So Sayeth Stan Lee

New quarter's composition class...

Against my better judgment, I have reinvented my composition class for this upcoming winter quarter. Well, to be fair, it's not a total reinvention of the wheel. I have cobbled together a bunch of things from various courses I've taught in the past. I have to write new assignments, but the rest is lifted from my comp classes at the University of Maryland and the classes I taught last year at UW.

I've changed up a few things: added more short assignments, cut one of the major papers, and scaled back the readings. I want to get back to a slew of 2-page response papers (claim precis type stuff) that help the students practice the one skill they always have trouble with: generating complex arguments. Then lead up to a slightly longer major paper (6-8 pages rather than 5-7) that requires a bit more outside research. It should be a rolling class, and I get to use many more examples from stories, advertising, television, websites, and film.

ENGL111M: Everyday Media: Reading, Writing, and Critiquing

A central requirement for this class is a well-developed curiosity about the world, about the culture we live in, and about the cultural productions we imagine, produce, and consume. Here the definition of literature is expanded to include more than just written texts. In addition to writing, photographs, advertising, television, websites, and film will be our artifacts, our texts of study and meditation and analysis. We are surrounded by, bombarded with, and often uncritical participants in “everyday media” and their concomitant technologies. This class, in broad strokes, will investigate and interrogate and make visible the ideological, material, and cultural manifestations of “everyday media,” primarily in the US, through the lenses of cultural studies, visual literacy, and writing. Lister and Wells, authors of “Seeing Beyond Belief,” argue for a curiosity, a methodology for unpacking cultural productions; they say, “Cultural Studies allows the analyst to attend to the many moments within the cycle of production, circulation and consumption of [a text] through which meanings accumulate, slip and shift.” They argue that our understandings of identities, meanings, and power, as well as the intersections of cultural and social locations like race, gender, class, and sexuality, can be excavated through the analysis of the texts we create and consume. This class will spend the quarter reading, thinking, writing about “everyday media” and how and what these texts argue, reveal, narrate, hide, perpetuate, and complicate the world we live in.