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WRI 101 & WRI 102 Course Descriptions

WRI 101: Writing Studio

Offered Every Semester

Prerequisite : Placement

Writing Studio offers writing support for FSP First Seminar and WRI 102 Academic Writing. A two-credit studio course, Writing Studio must be taken concurrently with FSP or with WRI 102. May be repeated.

WRI 102: Academic Writing

Spring 2020

1 Course Unit

Offered Annually

Academic Writing is a four-credit course that offers students the opportunity to develop, advance, and practice skills in the production of academic prose. Within a framework of sophisticated readings, highly coordinated writing workshops, and instructor feedback, students practice rhetorical approaches to the writing necessary to succeed in college. Students read critically, cultivate habits of effective and ethical research, practice conventions of documentation, and use information technologies. Topical readings vary among sections. May be repeated.

The Argument of Contagion
WRI 102-01, MW 5:30-6:50PM
Madeline Anthes
This course will look at various depictions of contagious diseases and examine how they are portrayed in history, fiction, and film. We will discuss how certain ideas are just as infectious and dangerous as a virus. Among the questions this class will consider: what provokes the spread of ideas? How does the spread of disease mirror societal fears? Why do so many fictional stories depict the spread of diseases? How have humans tried to control contagions, and what have we learned from past attempts? We will read short stories, watch a film, and read several historical texts to get a well-rounded view of the topic.

The Superheroic Construct: Avengers Assemble!
WRI 102-02/03, TF 2:00-3:20PM & TF 3:30-4:50PM
Samantha Atzeni
This course will focus on the super-heroic social constructs that define the mythos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including their humble origins within the pages of sequential art. Together, we will deconstruct the role of the Avengers and how their ambition and drive to be “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” determine the epic narrative known as the Infinity Saga. Assignments and readings will focus on film theory and sequential art theory, as well as issues of cultural identity through gender, race, and class. Throughout the semester, we will focus on each Avenger’s struggle with personal responsibility, trauma, terrorism in a post 9/11 world, and how the roles of good and evil are modified throughout the films. We will explore how authority and chaos are important ingredients for a successful superhero story – and why this recipe works so well for creating a superhero blockbuster. Using academic journals and articles, graphic novels, pages from various comic books, visual texts, we will investigate the current comics’ culture and how superheroes offer us a representation of ourselves.

This Land is Your Land: The National Parks and Our American Identity
WRI 102-04, TR 5:30-6:50PM
Nicole Beagin
The national park, where anyone is welcome to witness and enjoy the wonders of the natural world, is a symbol of our American identity. What is it about the parks that allowed them to flourish over the past century and still attracts millions of visitors each year? Can the “essence” of our national parks be in any way traced to our American history? What does our current administration’s unorthodox treatment of the park system say about conflicting views of the natural world and the values they impart? In this class, we will use the National Parks as an impetus for discussion about how the natural world has shaped our American identity.
I am considering such topics as transcendentalist writings, public policy, and the current administration’s treatment of the parks, among others.

Creativity & Rhetoric
WRI 102-05/06, MR 9:30-10:50AM & MR 11:00-12:20PM
Jordan Blum
In this section, we will explore a variety of different artistic outlets, such as fiction, poetry, film, visual art, television, and music, to see how creative minds use their medium for rhetorical purposes. Rather than simply entertain us, these artists ask us to consider complex, sometimes controversial ideas while reflecting on the world around us. For example, the novel ‘Fight Club’ explores issues of masculinity, consumerism, materialism, sexuality, psychology, and cultism, while The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ acts as a musical sibling to Green Day’s ‘American Idiot,’ as both concept albums house statements about disenfranchised, rebellious male youths. We will examine materialism, conformity, causes of violence, sexuality, and racism, through the works of many iconic figures–some of whom may include Langston Hughes, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’ Connor, The Who, Pink Floyd, Ben Folds, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Lee, Norman Lear, and Alan Ball–to see how these creative minds express social commentary through stimulating (and sometimes entertaining) forms.

Reading and Writing Pop Culture
WRI 102-07/08, MR 12:30-1:50PM & MR 2:00-3:50PM
Paige Costantino
This course will focus on a semiotic approach to analyzing several different aspects of popular culture. Through the study of academic articles, television shows, and film, the course will allow students to examine how a collective, cultural consciousness is developed by the ways we read and interact with media and pop culture. The class will include a variety of semiotic analyses applied to individual units including Advertising, Television, Print Media/News, Film, and Social Media. Each unit will include readings that analyze and evaluate individual mediums of popular culture, and students will then apply these ideas to real-life examples. Each unit will culminate with a student essay that synthesizes academic analysis with the everyday examples that surround us in the 21st century.

Change Agents in Dystopian Fiction: Arguing for a Better Future
WRI 102-09/10, MR 12:30-1:50PM & MR 2:00-3:50PM
Karen Deaver
Using the American tradition of utopian thought as historical framework, in this course we will explore a variety of dystopian narratives including short stories, novels, television, and film to probe the tensions between systems of oppression and agents of change. Within these made dystopian worlds we will analyze methods of tyranny and debate strategies of resistance as well as the effectiveness of protagonists to construct better futures. We will also interrogate fictional forms themselves as tools wielded by writers to reflect society in order, perhaps, to unsettle and activate readers to become their own agents of change.

Activism: Past and Present
WRI 102-11, TR 5:30-6:50PM
Dionne Hallback
This course examines the role of activism in our society. We will explore various approaches, attitudes, beliefs and outcomes of activism, some topics may include athletics/Kapernick, Mass Incarceration, the Black Lives Matter movement, MeToo movement, and the Parkland Florida School shooting, among others. We will investigate activism as a way to illustrate the diversity of methods and outcomes.

Box Office Bomb: Why Movies Fail
WRI 102-12, MR 3:30-4:50PM
Laura Hargreaves
In this course, we will study the history and aftermath of notable failures in the movie business. What makes a movie fail? Together, the class will analyze historical, sociological, and economic reasons that a film that seems like a guaranteed success could turn into a box office bomb. Further, we will determine what takes a failed movie that could have forever been forgotten to the legendary status films such as Battlefield Earth have attained.

Celebrities and Society
WRI 102-13, MW 5:30-6:50PM
Rachel Hendrickson
Students will examine the effects of celebrity on our society – particularly the ways in which celebrities influence societal norms and values – through the examination of articles, visual media, and advertisements. We will discuss the roles celebrities have on youth and individuals’ self-perceptions, as well as the ways in which media dictates trends in behavior and aesthetics. In addition, we will closely examine celebrities’ roles (both active and passive) in shaping and changing society’s views on various social issues.

Food, Glorious Food
WRI 102-14/15, MR 9:30-10:50AM & MR 11:00-12:20PM
Janet Hubbard
Everyone needs to eat to live. Many of us have complicated relationships with food, yet many of us are also unaware of what goes into our food and the land and animals it comes from. This section uses common and individual resources, including readings, movies, and websites, to learn about the history of agriculture, and explore and argue about various aspects of the food industry as it exists today. You will cook one of your favorite foods and report to the class, as well as make a specific recommendation to improve some aspect of this important industry.

Issues in Health Care
WRI 102-16/17, MW 5:30-6:50PM & MW 7:00-8:20PM
Asmaa Kabel
This course will examine topics of general interest within the health care system and the health profession, as well as concerns and trends relevant to consumer health decisions. We will explore issues in women’s health, environmental health, and emotional health. Students will engage in readings and scholarly essays highlighting current events related to issues in health care. We will utilize rhetorical claim approaches such as definition, ethical, and proposal, as a way in to writing about these issues.

People and Plants: Food, Medicine, Nature, & Wilderness
WRI 102-18/19, MW 5:30-6:50PM & MW 7:00-8:20PM
Lindsay Knapp
Although we live in a built environment of technology and concrete, humans rely on the natural world for the most basic of needs. As people, we interact with the natural world for food, medicine, beauty, and fulfillment. In this course, we will evaluate articles, visual media, and concepts that help us examine our relationship and dependence on plants and nature. We will discuss questions like: where does our food come from and is the system sustainable? How do big businesses capitalize on humans’ dependence on plants? What is the human fascination with wilderness? Why are we so drawn to and reliant on nature? How does our current environmental crisis jeopardize our ability to rely on nature?

Masculinity and American Culture
WRI 102-20, TR 5:30-6:50PM
Shawn Layton
What does it mean to be a “man” of the 21st century? How do we define manliness in our world? How have the definitions of masculinity changed from previous centuries? What roles do class, race, sexuality, and religion play in the creation of masculine identity? In this course, we will address these questions and the complex issue of masculine identity through our study of writings by Ernest Hemingway, and films such as Superbad and Moonlight, and selected readings on college hookups, and INCELS.

Voices of the Marginalized
WRI 102-21, TR 5:30-6:50PM
Kristen Luettchau
Social revolutions like the #MeToo movement and #BlackLivesMatter have been dominating our newsfeeds for the past several years, but what are the origins of these movements and others? What role does social media play in sparking a movement? In this course, students will learn writing strategies and techniques that will help them throughout their time at TCNJ while studying social revolutions in the United States and around the world. Students can expect to personalize their learning by studying the “voices of the marginalized” that appeal to their interests in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and more.

“We’re Off to See (and Read) the Wonderful Wizard of Oz”
WRI 102-22, W 5:30-8:20PM
Stefanie Marchetti
In this course we will examine and read L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as well as view the infamous 1939 MGM creation, The Wizard of Oz. Since the original printing in 1900, this novel has been remade in various films, cartoons, movies, novels, short stories, televisions series. For this reason, we will also read and view supplemental pieces based on the classic novel. We also answer questions such as: Why did an intended children’s novel become so popular? What was the actual color of Dorothy’s shoes? What mistake did Baum make when writing his novel? Is the story really a historical commentary? What makes this wizard so wonderful?

Dilemmas of the Digital Domain
WRI 102-23/24, MR 11:00-12:20PM & MR 12:30-1:50PM
Janet Mazur
Is there any area of our lives that has NOT been touched by digital technology? From how we shop, access our class assignments, listen to music, learn what’s happening in the world, and talk to friends and families – texting is now THE number one way that teens communicate – digital technology is profoundly shaping us. How is this affecting our social skills, the quality of our interpersonal relationships and our very sense of identity? Through a selection of timely readings, documentaries and class discussions, we will examine the impact of the digital domain in our lives – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Science Fiction & Creative Possibility
WRI 102-25, TF 8:00-9:20AM
Susan O’Connor
“To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before” — Captain Kirk, Star Trek “The best Science Fiction supposes an imaginary invention or discovery, probably something quite extraordinary, and speculates about what might happen. It, then, anticipates the impact of that scientific discovery upon humankind.” — James O. Bailey, Pilgrims Through Space and Time (New York, 1947) Come stretch your imagination and explore some of these creative possibilities! How have the creation of constructs such as robots and warp drive given rise to such powerful philosophic statements as the Three Laws of Robotics and The Prime Directive? How have these constructs fostered scientific invention? Through the lens of various novels, short stories, flash fiction pieces, podcasts, television series, films, and artistic images, we will examine how the science and the art of this genre come together to create stories that not only interpret life, but can drive culture and creativity. Ultimately, we will grapple with what it truly means to be human.

War and Peace
WRI 102-26/27, MW 5:30-6:50PM & MW 7:00-8:20PM
Donna Raskin
In this class we explore many aspects of both “war” and “peace,” including issues around gender, money, diplomacy, veterans, and torture. We read one novel about war, and see a few films, while the majority of reading is non-fiction. We do not look at the history of warfare, but instead examine contemporary conflicts, including those in Hong Kong and Afghanistan.

Sports issues and arguments
WRI 102-28, MR 9:30-10:50AM
Lisa Roe
It has been said that sports and politics don’t mix. However, recent events may cause us to think otherwise. In this section, we will look at issues surrounding sports, both past and present, including issues of race, class, and gender and tackle issues from youth, collegiate and professional sports. Through critical reading of academic and popular literature, thoughtful viewing of visual materials, classroom discussion and structured papers, we will develop arguments that reflect on the broader political contexts of sports.

How to Disappear: Escape & Reinvention
WRI 102-29/30, TF 9:30-10:50AM & TF 11:00-12:20PM
Randy Schmidt
We all like to think it’s easy to start over, but what challenges do we face when we decide to escape? Some choose to lose themselves in the forest. Some decide to shed their identities and create new ones. And for some, a simple weekend outing is enough to “escape” their lives. In this section, we will examine this topic in literature, film, and television: Is it possible to ever fully escape our past and change who we are?

Exploring Gender and Sexuality in Film
WRI 102-31/32, TF 11:00-12:20PM & MR 11:00-12:20PM
Ryan Segura
This course aims to look at how gender and sexuality is defined in cinema. During the semester we will look at a number of films that approach this topic and what contributes to their representations in film. Additionally, we will look at what are the political and historical movements that allow certain representations in cinema and compare how the definition and representations have changed over the decades.

Rebuilding a City
WRI 102-33/34, MR 8:00-9:20AM & MR 3:30-4:50PM
Tiffany Youngblood
In this course we will examine the issues inner-city youth have to deal with on a daily basis. The failing school system, the impact of drugs, and lack of parental involvement are some of the issues we will analyze. We will study historical patterns and follow current news to explore the issues, with the expectation of finding solutions for those communities. Some of the questions this class will consider are: Is the school system failing the youth or are the youth just not taking advantage of valuable opportunities? What decisions are the youth faced with when drugs and school are involved? What, if anything, can the community do to tackle these issues?

The Argument of Film
WRI 102-35, TF 9:30-10:50AM
Nina Ringer
In analyzing particular narrative films, we will explore how screenplay, camera angles and shots, editing, acting, and direction help form story and particularly our response to it. How we engage with a film shows us the impact of the argument the filmmaker is making. What ingredients make a film compelling? How can an audience’s response to a film make a difference in the world? Focusing on the implicit visual arguments that films make will allow us to create our own explicit written and visual arguments about these films. We will view three films together, make a five-minute small group film, and each student will create a longer researched essay on a film of the student’s choosing.

Higher Education Behind the Wall
WRI 102-36/37, MW 5:30-6:50PM & TR 5:30-6:50PM
Amanda Simpson
Disadvantaged groups remain the focus of conversation in higher education. Often these groups are identified within certain social constructs including race and ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Incarceration has been another topic of conversation. In this course, we will use selected articles and various media forms to discuss opportunities for postsecondary education for incarcerated individuals with a focus on access. We will review arguments around providing access to college study for students incarcerated or behind the wall.

Young Adult Romantic Fiction
WRI 102-38/39, TF 2:00-3:20PM & TF 3:30-4:20PM
Laura Kranzler
In this course we will be reading traditional young adult romantic fiction by writers such as John Green and Sarah Dessen, as well as by more diverse writers of color and from the LGTBQ community. In addition, we will be watching TV shows such as Riverdale and The Vampire Diaries, as well as movies such as The Fault in Our Stars. We will be exploring what these various texts suggest about conventional masculinity, femininity, and sexuality, as well as how these themes are subverted, challenged, and undermined. We will look at how romance is defined and represented in these texts, and what they indicate about real-world romance in all of its complexity.

Income Inequality in the 21st Century
WRI 102-40 TR 5:30-6:50PM 
Penelope Gardner
Income inequality is a growing and seemingly insurmountable problem in the United States today. Large corporations are experiencing some of the biggest economic gains in our nation’s history, and the top 1% of American earners averages 40 times more income than the rest of the workforce. Meanwhile, 25% of American workers live below the poverty line, healthcare premiums and costs of living are skyrocketing, and student loan debt is crushing America’s newest college graduates. In this course we will examine the roots of income inequality in the United States, as well as the connections between inequality and interrelated issues such as systemic racism, the achievement gap, the gender pay gap, and the role of automation in our changing workforce. Lastly, we will evaluate potential 21st century solutions to income inequality, such as establishing universal healthcare and childcare, abolishing student loan debt, and implementing a universal basic income.

Life is One Big Lesson
WRI 102-41, MR 12:30-1:50PM 
Paula Rainey
How do we handle lessons that life teaches us every day?  How do some people manage to turn hardship into a triumph?   How do we define success and failure?  These are just some of the questions that we will answer in this course through essays and other writing forms.  We will study how people overcome difficulty situations.  As a class, we will define and discuss adversity.  We will examine how each of us handle adversity. Watching films, such as The Pursuit of Happyness and The Blind Side, and reading stories, we will analyze ways people have triumphed over unfortunate circumstances and persevered.  We will define our personal meaning of success, as well as what society dictates is a successful individual. We will discuss powerful lessons each of us our given.  We will examine our decision-making processes, particularly how we can avoid costly mistakes in life. 

Fairy Tales & Their Adaptations
WRI 102-42, TF 11:00-12:20AM
Jordan Virgil
In this course, we will examining classic fairy tales and their contemporary adaptations, represented in literary, film, art, theatre, and media retellings. Using Julie Sanders’ Adaptation and Appropriation as a guiding theoretical text, Sanders writes: “Texts feed off each other and create other texts, and other critical studies; literature creates other literature. Part of the sheer pleasure of the reading experience must be the tension between the familiar and the new” (14). Contemporary writers of fairy tale adaptations play an essential part in navigating “the tension[s] between the familiar and the new” as they revisit and retell some of the most beloved fairy tales. What are the “tension[s]” between fairy tale adaptations and their classic counterparts? What new meanings are created or offered from these “tension[s]”, and how do these meanings reframe our understandings of specific archetypes and narratives? How are gender, sexuality, social class, race, and the environment reexamined and reshaped in fairy tale adaptations? Why do we read fairy tales now? Do we read them in the same way and for the same reasons as we read them in the past? What cultural expectations do we have now of fairy tales that may differ, oppose, or align with previous historical and cultural readings?How do we handle lessons that life teaches us every day?  How do some people manage to turn hardship into a triumph? 

Flora and Fauna: Reading the Natural World
WRI 102-43/44, MW 5:30-6:50PM & MW 7:00-8:20PM
Deborah Morkun
Humans share the planet with roughly 8 million other species. Currently, 16,306 of these species are considered endangered, threatened with extinction. Furthermore, in 2015, the Oxford Children’s Dictionary dropped 50 words related to nature, such as fern and willow, to replace them with words like broadband and cut-and-paste. In this class, we will consider the ramifications of shrinking wildernesses, and the shortage of wildlife. We will read stories, poems, and watch films that draw upon nature as inspiration, as well as ones that speculate a future without it.

Head to Pen- Writing from the inside and investigating your career goals
WRI 102-45/46, TF 2:00-3:20PM & TF 3:30-4:50PM
Yolanda Whidbee
“When the head, heart, mind and soul intertwine, what will you allow your pen to capture? During this course, students will learn how to write from their “inner- core,” the place where truth dwells. These sessions will be designed for students to view writing through the lens of their own personal development and self-discovery process. We will focus on choice of major, intention in choosing that major, and the undeclared major. These interactive class discussions and mapping exercises will encourage students to take a closer look at career possibilities and goals.

Along the journey, the students will gain essential concepts on writing with intention, trusting the process and the art of pausing and thinking, through readings, journaling, blogging, You-tube videos, and podcasts.”

All the Single Ladies
WRI 102-47, MR 3:30-4:50AM
Tina Tormey
This course will explore social and political perceptions of single women. Students will use different styles of argument to analyze short works, including both essays and videos, that address what it means to be a single woman. Class discussions will examine how women are valued or perceived according to their relationship status, but also how modern women may struggle more than prior generations to find fulfilling relationships. Content will include words by Beyonce, Rebecca Traister, Lizzo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Kate Bolick.

Queer Tales: The LGBTQ+ Community through Pop Culture
WRI 102-48/49, MW 5:30-6:50PM & MW 7:00-8:50PM
Zach Gall
This course will explore the portrayal of queer (both explicit and implied) characters in media and the social issues that surround them. Using both factual and fictional examples, we will examine stories of the LGBTGQIA community, its struggle for visibility, and how pop culture/media can subvert traditional ideas. “Readings” will include pop culture elements such as RuPaul’s Drag Race and Love, Simon and histories such as Tinderbox.

Four Hundred Years of Slavery
WRI 102-50, MR 9:30-10:50AM
Robert Anderson
Based on the NY Times Reports on 400 years of Slavery and the 2019 Summer Reading book, No Ashes in the Fire, we will write about the impact of slavery in the development of American institutions and social structures and its continuing effects to this very day.

Engaging in Current Issues
WRI 102-51/52, MW 3:30-4:50PM & MW 5:30-6:50
Melanie Francis
The course will engage students in modern political issues such as income disparities, food availability, and corporate responsibilities. Students will explore journalistic and academic writings and learn to become thoughtful consumers of modern political discourse.

Myths and Realities of Poverty in America
WRI 102-53, TF 2:00-3:20PM
Antonino Scarpati
This course examines: 1) the various ways to define poverty in America, 2) its multiple causes and effects, and 3) the myriad approaches by governments, communities and other agencies to ameliorate or eliminate its symptoms. Sources of inquiry include texts, articles, video, and documentary films examining the lived experiences of the poor, historically and currently. Coursework also draws upon theory and research from the fields of sociology, social work, public health, education, and political economy, among others.

Impact of Social Media in Personal and Political Spheres
WRI 102-54/56, MR 12:30-1:50PM & MR 11:00-12:20
Michael Boldizar
In this course we will seek to identify, acknowledge, and thoroughly examine the impact that social media has had in both our personal lives and in our greater identity as globalized individuals. This includes the effects of social media on our political climate and inter-social identities. Additionally, we will spend some time analyzing the large tech conglomerates, such as Google and Facebook, and how they shape and alter these identities.

Prose and D’ohs!  Investigating the American Family through Short Prose and The Simpsons
WRI 102-55, MW 5:30-6:50PM
Stephen Tomkiel
On April 19, 1987, America was introduced to Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and little Maggie Simpson. Over the course of 30 years and more than 600 episodes, The Simpsons have gone on to become the most instantly recognizable family in our nation’s cultural conscious.  But what does it mean to be America’s most famous family?  The Simpsons was created with the intention of both representing and satirizing the American lived experience, but has it ultimately succeeded in either or both of these endeavors?  What can a cartoon family’s engagement with issues such as gender dynamics, xenophobia, and socioeconomic strife tell us about those same issues as they exist in our world today?  Finally, if we accept The Simpsons family as truly universal and representative, what other American identities and experiences are rendered invisible in this exchange?

Throughout this course we will place The Simpsons into conversation with short prose from authors both classical and contemporary.  In juxtaposing Matt Groening’s most successful creation with the works of authors such as John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Charles Baxter and Junot Díaz, we will conduct a broad investigation into how the American family has been conceived and perceived throughout our cultural history.