Jennifer W Atkinson
B CUSP 135
Strengthens performance of college-level argumentative writing and scholarly research, critical reading and thinking, and the critique and the creation of print and new media texts. Prerequisite: either B CUSP 101, B CUSP 114, or B CUSP 134. Offered: AWSp.
This course will help you further develop argumentative writing, scholarly research and critical thinking skills. In the first half of the quarter you will complete a series of reading and mini-research assignments that will gradually build the depth and breadth of your knowledge on a common course topic. This work will culminate in a research project which requires you to submit a proposal, bibliography and 8-10 page research essay for your final grade. You will also present your work to the class at the quarter’s end.
Our theme this quarter is “Agri/cultures: Problems in Surplus, Scarcity & Sustainability.” Readings and conversations will help students develop an integrated understanding of some of the major crises in contemporary agriculture; meanwhile, student research will be undertaken with the goal of contributing new insights to discussions in this field. The topic will take us into multiple facets of daily life, beyond the obviousness of the meals we eat each day and the cotton clothes we wear; in exploring the past, present and future of agriculture, we will also investigate ways that farming has become a primary contributor to environmental degradation while endangering local, idiosyncratic cultivation practices.
Student research projects may focus on any area of interest in this general field, including (but not limited to): industrial versus alternative agriculture, the ecological impacts of historical and contemporary farming, labor exploitation & class struggle, the political power interests involved in our globalized food production system, the paradox of rising obesity in the developed world alongside continued hunger in developing regions, food security, the rise of sustainable cultivation practice & alternative food economies, and the ethics of eating.
Student learning goals
CRITICAL THINKING: generate compelling research questions; extend and complicate initial insights into fully developed arguments with clearly defined stakes.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: find evidence from multiple sources and demonstrate why and how it is relevant to your research project; put multiple sources in critical conversation with each other; include creative and convincing explanations for how your evidence sheds light on your central questions.
ARGUMENTATION: present complex ideas and arguments in clear, coherent prose (this means you will develop a sensitivity to how rhetorical elements like word choice, sentence structure, and general organization shape the reception of your writing); employ a variety of argumentative strategies appropriate to the objectives, audience and genre of your writing project.
REVISION: approach writing as a process, and understand revision as a necessary component of your work. Students will be asked to work, mold, think over, reconsider, proportion, recast, and enhance all significant writing assignments during the quarter.
COLLABORATION & PRESENTATION: generate a cooperative spirit as a community of student-researchers and mutually support one another through research collaboration, writing workshops and peer editing. Remain open to peer feedback, and reciprocate the help you receive by suggesting new directions and resources for fellow student-researchers. Approach writing and knowledge production as a public act by presenting final projects to your classmates.
General method of instruction
Some lectures, seminar-style discussion of readings, in-class writing exercises and a good number of peer-evaluation workshops. You will also complete several research-training sessions in the campus library during class hours.
Either B CUSP 101, B CUSP 114, or B CUSP 134.
Class assignments and grading
Research and reading journal, in-class writing workshops, two midterm papers (5 pages each), and a final research project which includes proposal, bibliography, research essay (8-10 pages) and a class presentation.