FALL 2016 FWIS 100 Course Descriptions

As a prerequisite for FWIS, FWIS 100 uses engaging topics to introduce students to an academic field of inquiry. The course descriptions below are designed to give you an idea of the texts you will encounter and the subject matter you will explore as you develop the reading, writing, and presentation skills necessary to participate in an academic conversation.

Immigration Stories

Cummins-Munoz, Elizabeth
From politicians calling for border walls to young, undocumented “DREAMers” fighting for legal status, immigration across the US-Mexico border has long been a flashpoint of political and personal passions in the US. In the midst of these extremes, what happens when we put aside the statistics and political rhetoric and experience the “issue” of immigration through personal stories? How do fictional and non-fictional accounts of border crossings change the nature of the debate, and in what ways do the form and the medium of the narratives shape the message? In this course, students will explore these questions as they learn to read the stories and the debate surrounding them with a critical eye. As we reflect on these texts, we will use writing, discussion, and presentation as tools to ask new questions and to add our own voice to the conversation.

FWIS 100 001・MWF 9:00 – 9:50
FWIS 100 002・MWF 10:00 – 10:50
FWIS 100 003・MWF 1:00 – 1:50

Racism, Colorblindness, and the Prison Industrial Complex

Adkins, Alexander
The term “prison-industrial complex” describes how mass incarceration in the US has become a source of profit for private enterprise. But how and why did this institution arise? Is it related to the War on Drugs? And what do race and class have to do with any of this? These are some of the central, interrelated questions we’ll ask in this section of FWIS 100. Together and individually, we will explore these questions by turning to the recent work of Michelle Alexander—a cutting-edge lawyer and civil-rights advocate. We will also study several documentaries about modern-day imprisonment, gathering enough written and visual experience with the subject to contribute to the conversation together and independently. To that end, we will explore these hot-button issues by reading, writing, and speaking in a variety of genres, ultimately building our own skills as college-level writers, speakers, and thinkers.

FWIS 100 006・TR 9:25 – 10:40
FWIS 100 007・TR 10:50 – 12:05


FWIS 100   Kung Fu Pandas: China in the Western Imagination

Hargrave, Jennifer
A ninja flies across red-tiled roofs. A Giant Panda saunters through a bamboo forest. Hundreds of school children with red scarves gather to sing the national anthem in their nation’s capital. For many people, these images are synonymous with China. Where do these images originate? This course will examine the history of Western representations of China. How has China been described within Western literature, art, and film? Through multiple genres–including travelogues, maps, and TV programs—we will examine not simply the accuracy of each text’s depictions of China but rather the role that textual representations of the East play in issues of nationalism, imperialism, religion, economics, and education. We will develop an understanding of how Western representations influenced, and continue to influence, East-West relations. Through numerous written and oral exercises, this class will develop your ability to communicate effectively and persuasively within different academic situations and to different audiences.

FWIS 100 004・MWF 2:00 – 2:50

FWIS 100   The Myths and Realities of Expertise

Nixon, Burke
Is 10,000 the “magic number” of hours for success? Is lecture-based learning “oppressive”? What constitutes expertise in politics, in sports, in the arts, in scholarly debates? These are some of the central questions we’ll be exploring in this section of FWIS 100. We’ll consider arguments by best-selling authors like Malcolm Gladwell while also looking at scholarly research that scrutinizes such arguments; we’ll read the work of Paulo Freire and debate his critique of the “banking concept” of education; and we’ll also consider our own areas of expertise and what it means to develop academic expertise at the college level. Most importantly, we’ll examine and respond to all these topics by writing in a variety of genres, as well as creating presentations and videos, ultimately building our own expertise as writers, speakers, and digital communicators.

FWIS 100 005・MWF 3:00 – 3:50

FWIS 100  The Ordinarily Extraordinary Nature of Modern Children’s Literature

Neill, Heather
Children’s literature is often characterized as simplistic and unsophisticated, lacking true literary depth. Appearances, however, can be deceptive. In this class, we will example several samples from modern British and American children’s literature as we investigate questions like

  • How does children’s literature work to appeal to dual audiences of children and adults?
  • How do these texts define children (yet simultaneously encourage children to break free from those definitions)?
  • How does children’s literature balance its simultaneous goals to educate and entertain?

Over the course of the semester, we will talk, write, and present extensively about these questions, as we learn to read children’s literature both for pleasure and for a new understanding of our own assumptions about children and their books.

FWIS 100 008・TR 4:00 – 5:15