FALL 2017 FWIS 100 Course Descriptions

*Fall 2018 Course Descriptions TBA*

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 narrative accounts of experiences with immigration influence 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.


Gender and Sexuality

Boffone, Trevor
This course explores gender and sexuality with special attention to multiethnic communities in the United States. By prioritizing writing and communication skill development, this course examines issues of gender and sexuality through lectures, discussions, and fieldwork in Houston, bringing to life struggles over identity and experience by female and queer people specifically. Through critical analyses of gender and sexuality, students will investigate topics such as identity, race, ethnicity, politics, feminist and queer movements, and U.S. pop culture. This course will explore the relationship between gender, sexuality, social change, and social structure, focusing on the ways in which we encounter and shape everyday life and how people and socially constructed institutions have responded to them. We will look at how and why experiences, social roles, identity formations, and experiences vary according to time, place, and positionality. Course texts will include texts by women of color feminist writers such as bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldúa, Audre Lorde, and Cherríe Moraga. As we reflect on these themes, students will use writing, discussion, and presentations as tools to engage with gender and sexuality, adding their own voices to the conversation.


Interrogating Success

Nixon, Burke
Is there a “magic number” of hours required to achieve extraordinary success in music or sports or computer science? Do elite colleges (and elite college students) focus too much on narrow, materialistic notions of success? Can students of all ages truly succeed in lecture-based learning, or is such learning actually “oppressive”? These are some of the questions we’ll be confronting in this section of FWIS 100. We’ll explore the notion of success from a variety of angles, scrutinizing and responding to arguments from writers in a number of genres, from popular nonfiction and fiction to philosophy and scholarly research. In the process, students will interrogate their own notions of success, and, more importantly, hone and develop the fundamental skills of successful academic readers, writers, speakers, and critical thinkers.



Dystopia and the Literature of Technology

Henry, Brittany
Technological advancement has skyrocketed over the past century, precipitating a growing cultural preoccupation with the dire consequences technology may have on humanity’s future. This course will explore dystopian speculations and anxieties about the (mis)use of technology in nonfiction, fiction, television, and film. As we read and watch, we will consider the implications of these texts on our lives in the digital age by asking the following questions: How might our increasing reliance on technology affect our relationships with family and friends? Create or reinforce social inequality? Limit our appreciation of art or nature? Distort our concept of reality? Alter our understanding of what it means to be human? As we work to answer these questions and pose questions of our own, we will build critical reading and writing skills through discussion, presentations, and reflective and analytical writing.



Building Horror: Setting and Place in Gothic Fiction

Ellis-Etchison, John
Horror makes us question what we know and takes our imaginations on a wild ride. It twists that which is familiar into something unrecognizable, terrifying, and threatening. This is why a simple change in setting transforms a home that is perfectly lovely in the daytime into a haunted house that provokes nightmares after the sun goes down, and why we even signal the beginning of scary stories with, “It was a dark and stormy night...” No one creates suspense better than writers like Horace Walpole, Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, and Angela Carter, who invent and reimagine many of the conventions we might consider clichés of modern horror. In this course, we will examine how writers of gothic horror build suspense and frighten us with their words, while also using their writing to practice our skills as critical readers and develop the ways we think, talk, and write about what we read. Throughout this semester, students will learn to: recognize and evaluate arguments; anchor their ideas in textual evidence; examine a wide variety of texts including literary pieces, articles, and websites; refine their writing and editing abilities; and leverage all these skills in the production of an engaging and thought-provoking informative presentation.



Media Aesthetics

Saikin, Anna
What is the role of the media in our era of “fake news” and “truthiness”? Are we living in a golden age of news-making or has modern communication lost its moral compass? Or, to paraphrase Lewis Carroll’s Alice, should we Tweet what we mean and mean what we Tweet? In this course, students will learn how to interpret, analyze, and evaluate the media we consume on a daily basis. Our texts will provide us with historical, critical, and, yes, political contexts as we practice rhetorical techniques and strategies to help us communicate with each other in a media-rich environment. FWIS 100 is designed to help prepare you for required First-Year Writing Intensive Seminar courses. This course will provide you with an introduction to the expectations of academic readers as well as practice the rhetorical and linguistic structures common to academic writing. Students will review grammatical points relevant to the course material and assignments and will learn to self-edit their own work. Our discussions, writings, and presentations will guide us as we navigate the past, present, and possibilities created by the 21st century media landscape.



The Great Fairytale Tradition

Durian, Erica
Part of what makes our American society wonderful is that we are the “melting pot” and have a wide variety of individuals from different cultures existing together. One great example of the fusion, blending, and borrowing from one culture to another at a global level can be seen in “the great fairytale tradition.” But does this mean that similar tales are retellings of the same original story? Or is this just a coincidence due to shared values across cultures? We will explore the significance of fairy and folk tales by reading and discussing stories from different cultures and time periods, as well as scholarly and popular secondary sources that analyze these stories, in order to learn and strengthen writing and other communication skills. We will view writing as a process so that larger projects can be broken down into a series of smaller steps that build toward the final product.