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.
For SPRING 2011: Course Title: What Are the Stakes? Writing Social, Cultural, and Political Worlds
In his essay "Inventing the University," David Bartholomae describes how students try to "speak as a person of status or privilege"--in other words, to "sound smart"--in their academic writing. To adopt successfully a scholarly voice is to use what Bartholomae calls "the privileged language of university discourse." For Bartholomae, to fail to adopt this voice means that a student "is not so much trapped in a private language as…shut out from one of the privileged languages of public life, a language [the student] is aware of but cannot control." Bartholomae's discussion of academic writing provides the starting point for our study of academic writing. We will think not only about what is going on for a student when he or she succeeds or fails to "write like a scholar," but also about the "privileged language of university discourse" itself. Why is it privileged? What kinds of knowledge and experience does the privileged discourse welcome, and what does it marginalize or exclude? What are the broader social, cultural, and political contexts that shape the experience of writing, and in particular, what it means to write in an academically legible language? What are the limitations around what counts as good academic writing, and what would it look like to put pressure on these limitations while still producing meaningful, well-written scholarly work?
In order to engage these questions fully, we will begin our inquiry by reading and responding to pieces written by authors from diverse backgrounds. We will critically examine what the stakes of writing are for them--that is, why and how the act of writing holds meaning in their worlds. We will use these texts as an occasion both for our exploration of "the privileged language of university discourse," and for the development of specific key skills that you will draw on in your research paper, including writing a summary, performing a close reading, identifying an academic writer's interlocutors and joining that group through what you write in response, formulating research questions, searching for primary and secondary texts to help you investigate your research questions, and creating an original scholarly argument. For your major research paper, you will be required to select a topic that addresses the broad theme of our course, "What Are the Stakes? Writing Social, Cultural, and Political Worlds." You will produce an 8-10 page scholarly essay that provides an original, thoroughly researched, carefully written argument on your chosen topic.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
This class will make extensive use of class discussion and writing workshops (in pairs or small groups). There will be occasional lectures as necessary on contextual material or writing techniques.
Class assignments and grading
Several short papers, research proposals, a longer 8-10 page research paper, daily assignments, and a central collegial involvement (participation) component.