University Writing Course Descriptions – Spring 2014
Students scheduled to take University Writing in the Spring 2014 semester must register themselves for the course. There are theme-based options from which to choose, as well as 50 sections of the standard University Writing course. The themed-based options are English C1011 (Readings in American Studies), English C1012 (Readings in Gender and Sexuality), English C1013 (Readings in Sustainable Development) and English C1014 (Readings in Human Rights). Finally, there are also two sections of University Writing open exclusively to international students – English C1020. To express your interest in registering for the international section (intended chiefly for non-native speakers of English), please email Advising Dean Justin Snider (firstname.lastname@example.org), as you won’t be able to register for it directly.
Note: there are also University Writing courses listed in the Directory of Classes under F1010, F1011, F1012, F1013, F1014 and F1020, but these are open only to General Studies students and you should not sign up for them.
University Writing: Readings in American Studies (C1011)
This class is designed to help undergraduates cultivate their scholarly voices as they enter the university and begin to engage in the academic conversations that form our intellectual community. Frequent assignments will ask students to produce clear, powerful prose with strong, persuasive claims. We will give special attention to the practices of close reading, rhetorical analysis, effective research, and substantive revision. Students will learn that writing is a process of continual refinement of ideas and their expression. Rather than approaching writing as an innate talent, this course will teach writing as a unique, learned skill that can be practiced and developed.
Students will learn to craft fresh, lucid, and engaging prose by working with readings in American Studies—a field marked by its diverse approaches to exploring the culture, history, politics, and ideas that make up American identity and the idea of America itself. American Studies is an interdisciplinary pursuit, engaging with texts not only from literary, historical, and legal fields but also from the visual arts, music, film, and more. In this class, we will not attempt to discover a stable definition of America; rather, we will wrestle with core questions that have important implications for life in America and beyond.
University Writing: Readings in Gender and Sexuality (C1012)
University Writing teaches both foundational skills and habits of mind integral to the intellectual life of this university. In this section of University Writing, you will develop as a reader and writer by engaging with contemporary texts that investigate and challenge cultural ideas about gender. Gender seems at once familiar and invisible, omnipresent and inescapable. The intersection of gender and power informs how we approach topics in law, politics, history, education, athletics, arts and pop culture, economics, science, and health. Drawing from the expansive, interdisciplinary field of gender studies—including work written by faculty affiliated with the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia University—you will have the opportunity to consider the ways that gender structures human experience.
Emphasizing critical analysis, revision, collaboration, and research, this course delves into a field of study marked by an ever-evolving terminology, diverse methodologies, and philosophical and ethical investigations. What is the relationship between sex, gender, and sexuality? How does gender connect with race, class, disability, and other forms of identity? At what moments do our expressions of our body, gender, and sexuality become a mode of resistance? Engaging with questions like these, you will read and discuss scholarly and popular texts, complete regular informal reading and writing exercises, write several longer essays, and undertake a research-based project of your own design.
University Writing: Readings in Sustainable Development (C1013)
University Writing introduces students to the reading and writing practices that allow you to take part in the scholarly conversations taking place at Columbia University and beyond. This section, University Writing: Readings in Sustainable Development, features readings on the theme of sustainable development. The term is admittedly broad: the United Nations’ “Brundtland Report,” credited with concretizing the concept, defines it as “development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition, evolving and contested, invites inquiry from a broad range of academic disciplines. Indeed, at Columbia’s Earth Institute, faculty and students study everything from climate change to poverty to urban planning.
Above all, the course’s goal is to help students develop as writers and readers. In the process, the class will focus on some of the most exciting questions being posed at the Earth Institute and beyond. Together, students will study how scholars from different disciplines make and support their arguments. Readings will include academic essays and book chapters, as well as other scholarly and popular texts, some of which are authored by Columbia faculty. In the process of writing academic essays, the class will practice the same kind of critical analysis, revision, collaboration, and research skills that these scholars use in their work every day. The main goal for this course is for students to emerge as more confident readers and writers, capable of writing clear, persuasive prose.
University Writing: Readings in Human Rights (C1014)
University Writing is designed to help undergraduates read and write essays in order to participate in the academic conversations that form our intellectual community. We will give special attention to the practices of close reading, rhetorical analysis, research, collaboration, and substantive revision. Students will learn that writing is a process of continual refinement of ideas and their expression. Rather than approaching writing as an innate talent, this course will teach writing as a unique, learned skill that can be practiced and developed. Over the course of the semester, you will read and discuss texts from a number of fields, complete regular informal reading and writing exercises, write several longer essays, and prepare an editorial for a public audience.
In this new section of University Writing, we will investigate the meanings and practices of human rights in both global and local contexts. Questions about human rights are urgent and wide-ranging; they ask us to think through the fundamental ethics of belonging to a human community. At this complex juncture in the history of claiming, granting, and defining human rights, we will consider issues of personhood, identity, representation, and action. In the tension between universal ideals and culturally specific situations, how are current human rights issues being negotiated? How do questions of human rights intersect with other issues of identity and representation? And how can we understand our own positions as thinkers and writers entering this field? In this course, you will write essays that respond to a variety of texts from this interdisciplinary field, including texts by faculty affiliated with the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. Your essays will provide you with an opportunity to consider how the terms of human rights are defined and contested, and to make your own contributions to these conversations and debates.
University Writing: International (C1020)
University Writing seeks to facilitate students’ entry into the intellectual life of the university by helping you to become more capable and independent academic readers and writers. Emphasizing critical analysis, revision, collaboration, and research, this course teaches specific skills and fosters general habits of mind important to your academic success. This section of the course, open only to international students and geared toward English Language Learners (i.e., non-native speakers of English), will focus on making the successful transition to American academic writing cultures. In the process, you will examine cultural conventions underpinning your own, and others’, arguments. Over the course of the semester, you will read and discuss texts from a number of fields, complete regular informal reading and writing exercises, write several longer essays, and undertake a research-based project of your own design. This section will be taught by a specially trained instructor, who will provide extra support and instruction on sentence-level issues, and highlight common expectations of American academic writing, including the use of sources, paragraph length and structural organization. The section will otherwise be identical to the typical University Writing section. To express your interest in registering for the international section, please email Advising Dean Justin Snider (email@example.com), as you won’t be able to register for this section directly.