Examples of First-year writing courses

Art and Art History

Art and Culture: A thematic introduction to the subjects of Western art history often covered in popular films and television as a means of learning the language and methods used in the discipline of art history. Students investigate the relationship of form and content as well as the rise of the status of the artist from the late Renaissance until the mid-twentieth century. This course focuses on works of art as expressions of social, intellectual, religious, or aesthetic values and is recommended for prospective art and art history majors. (Humanities, Writing Requirement) PENN-GOETSCH

Biology

Investigations: Although you may not realize it, you take drugs everyday. This course will give you a glimpse into basic pharmacology, or the study of drugs. Some questions that we will consider include: What is and what is not a drug? Where are drugs found, and how are drugs developed? Are there new drugs yet to be developed? Where will they come from? Why can't I take this drug on an empty stomach? What are an ED50 and an LD50, and how are these determined (and why should I care)? Why should antibiotics not be prescribed for a cold? What is the difference between an OTC and a prescribed drug; how is this determined? Does marketing affect how a physician prescribes drugs? And, what does 1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6(3H,7H)-dione have to do with Starbucks? (Science, Writing Requirement) CHRISTIE-POPE

Classical and Modern Languages

Topic: Big Screen Rome. Although ancient Rome has become the focus of the recent Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator and the HBO series Rome, Hollywood has had a long interest in using ancient Rome as a lens for understanding contemporary America. Earlier Hollywood films, for example, have explored the rich and famous (Antony and Cleopatra), slave revolts (Spartacus), gladiatorial games (Ben Hur), raucous parties (Fellini's Satyricon), the rise of Christianity (Quo Vadis), and the fall of empires (The Fall of the Roman Empire). This course will explore Roman history and culture through the words, stories, plays, and histories of eyewitnesses and other ancient authors and then, in viewing five to six films, will ask why the Romans continue to command such interest in the popular imagination and film. (Humanities, Writing Requirement) GRUBER-MILLER

Computer Science

Computing Practice and Perspectives: Reading, discussion, and writing on legal, ethical, and societal issues related to computing. Topics include first amendment issues, like filtering of on-line content; intellectual property issues, like "file sharing" and fair use exclusions to copyright; and fourth amendment issues including a detailed examination of the nature of our "right" to "privacy." Given these issues, classroom discussions often follow the format of group debates, both formal and informal. Throughout the course, there is an emphasis on building skills in locating, evaluating, and citing electronic-based information, including Internet and library resources. The lab portion of this course is project-oriented and introduces a variety of software including web page authoring and presentation software. Labs feature group work and emphasize learning how to learn software. (Writing Requirement) DELAUBENFELS

Economics and Business

Microeconomics: Basic microeconomic analysis of consumer choice, the business firm, and resource markets in labor, capital, and land. Analysis and critique of government policy in problem areas such as monopoly power and government regulations and expenditures. Prerequisite: two years of algebra in high school. (Writing Requirement, Social Science) HEJEEBU

English (all English writing courses are offered under ENG111)

Topic: After Hamlet: Hamlet, the second most written-about text in Western literature after the Bible, is an elusive entity. Based on an older Scandinavian myth and perhaps a lost play, it has come down to us in no less than three seventeenth-century texts that present today's editors, readers, and theatre professionals with a host of interpretive questions. This introductory writing class begins by investigating some of the major interpretive puzzles and possibilities through a reading of Shakespeare's "basic" texts. We then study several film and theatre adaptations of Shakespeare's play and the interpretive choices of their creative teams. Finally, we will discuss other writers' creative adaptations, which re-interpret the characters and conflicts in Hamlet in daring and imaginative ways. Through discussion and daily writing assignments, you will develop your analytical and research skills and acquire some of the fundamental vocabulary for literary analysis. A research assignment will introduce you to the library resources and to research techniques in the field of literary studies. To perfect your writing skills and master the art of revision, you will keep a writer's journal, use it to draft and revise three formal papers, and generate a final project based on two of these papers. Not open to students who have previously completed ENG 111. (Humanities, Writing Requirement) STAVREVA

Topic: Bob Dylan and the Language of Protest. Bob Dylan was one of the most radical and influential voices of the 20th century. This class will use his words and his music as a lens to explore the idea of social protest. We will be reading and analyzing his work through aesthetic, historical, political, and cultural lenses. We will position him in the different movements from which he emerged: the Beats, the folk scene, the civil rights movement, the psychedelic movement, etc. We will also read him in the context of some of his influences: Rimbaud, Ginsberg, Kerouac. This course is an introduction to college writing; we will focus on critical reading skills, and you will be developing and revising several longer argument and research papers. Not open to students who have previously completed ENG 111. (Humanities, Writing Requirement) G. FREEMAN

Topic: Introduction to Film Analysis: Citizen Kane and more. This course provides an introduction to college writing and film analysis through an intense engagement with a few revered films of the 20th century, including Orson Welles' iconic film, Citizen Kane, Maya Deren's avant-garde films, a Hitchcock film and others. A film textbook will provide a solid foundation. Throughout the course, students will draft and redraft writings, from in-class writing to critical essays to research-informed critical projects. Students will learn how to search for film scholarship, using library resources such as search engines and data bases. Challenging writing assignments will help develop critical thinking and critical writing skills. Not open to students who have previously completed ENG 111. (Humanities, Writing Requirement) HANKINS

Topic: Responses to War. Walt Whitman said of the Civil War that the "real war will never get in the books." What versions of war, then, do get in books? This course will expose students to different artistic responses to war and the critical skills necessary to analyze them. Course discussions will consider the limitations of representation and documentation, the intersections of public and private life, and the uses of art. We will ask such questions as: how can trauma be documented? how do authors represent the unspeakable? what is the purpose of a personal account versus a documentary about the "whole" war? Students will hone their skills in analyzing both primary and secondary sources. They will engage in several different types of academic writing and will conduct their own research projects. Because this is a writing course, significant course time will be spent on the writing process, with a focus on revision. Not open to students who have previously completed ENG 111. (Humanities, Writing Requirement) ENTEL

Geology

Investigations in Geology:
Want to know how the dynamic Earth works? Want to interpret the landscape and natural processes you see happening around you? Want to understand the effects of consumer culture on the environment? This course is designed to show how you can use your own observations and experimental data to interpret the Earth around you.

This course is also linked with Sociology 101 offered in Term 1. Both social and economic life, as we know it, are dependent on continued consumer practices; however, these practices also have negative social and environmental consequences, such as climate change and global inequality. The combination of sociology and geology provides a unique viewpoint on the cause and effects of our consumer society. Sociological perspectives allow us to examine the changing meaning, practices, and social implications of consumption, while geology provides scientific insight into the physical processes and environmental implications of consumption. These linked courses provide a grounded illustration of how different disciplines approach the common topic of consumer culture, and together they fulfill the writing requirement. (Laboratory Science, Writing Requirement) WALSH

History

Introductory Seminar: Abraham Lincoln (HIS119): An examination of Abraham Lincoln's political career and his accomplishments as president. Topics covered will include Lincoln's rise to prominence, his handling of the slavery issues, and his role as commander in chief during the Civil War. Prerequisite: junior standing. Not available to students who have taken HIS 353. (Humanities) LUCAS