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The epistolary is often regarded as an eighteenth-century phenomenon. Rachael Scarborough King recently argued that letters function as what she calls a “bridge genre,” creating connections between forms, as well as functioning as a nascent genre from which others grew. Novels, poetry, newspaper articles, pamphlets all were composed in the letter form. Ordinary people wrote to each other about history and nature, business and religion, personal triumph and tragedy, love and politics. With literacy and global expansionism on the rise, more and more of the population in Britain and around the world began to participate in a culture of epistolary exchange that spread ideas spanning mountain ranges and oceans. The eighteenth century was an age of letters as communication, as well as of lettered people. This course will explore eighteenth-century epistolarity through its many genres: fictional, actual, poetic, political, and cultural. Engaging with eighteenth-century letter texts, students will analyze and discuss the methods by which letters were exchanged, how fiction explored epistolary culture, where letters served as devices to promote conversation, how letter-writing permeated eighteenth-century society, how ideas about consciousness and the self could be portrayed through letters, and how letter writing persists in twenty-first century communication, even if we do not realize it. Using the Writing and Communication Program’s WOVEN curriculum, students will analyze and replicate letters in the projects they complete for the course, which may consist of textual annotation and analysis, video design and creation, map-making, and blog post composition. These projects will require individual or collaborative work, depending on the assignment, and students can expect to present their ideas to the class, both formally and informally.
In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf suggests that women writers should lay flowers on the grave of Aphra Behn, in tribute to Behn’s position as the trailblazing woman who supported herself by her writing. Since Woolf’s acknowledgement of Behn’s contributions opening up the intellectual, financial, and literary worlds to women, many other women writers of the eighteenth century have been touted as putting cracks in the canon: Anne Finch, Frances Burney, Charlotte Smith, Elizabeth Montagu, Mary Wortley Montagu, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Mary Shelley are only a few of the women whose writing changed their world and the world of literature in the period. This course will explore eighteenth-century writing by women in conjunction with the texts these women inspired, reacted to, and revised, placing examples of the period’s literature in conversation with each other. Though we will be reading texts by and about men, women, and non-binary individuals, our focus will be on how women writers negotiated their place within the culture of the long eighteenth-century. Using the Writing and Communication Program’s WOVEN curriculum, we will explore multiple genres of communication including drama, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, editing, and discussion. Students will analyze and replicate these styles of communication in the projects they complete for the course, which may consist of textual annotation and analysis, video design and creation, map-making, and blog post composition. These projects will require individual or collaborative work, depending on the assignment, and students can expect to present their ideas to the class, both formally and informally.
In Samuel Richardson’s 1740 novel Pamela, a character mentions needing a “birthday suit,” by which he means a new suit of clothing to wear when attending events celebrating the King’s birthday. Yet, in today’s parlance, the term has come to signify nakedness, the human body in its natural form, thus suggesting the idea of bodily materiality encompasses a multifaceted landscape. Using our WOVENText curriculum, we will consider how eighteenth-century models have been transformed – or not – leading to the ways bodies are presented and represented in the twenty-first century. How do modern image texts, including videos, cartoons, ads, and photographs, provoke similar questions about size, shape, costume, attitude, class, gender, and race as eighteenth-century understandings of bodily materiality? How do scenes from television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy resemble dissection theatres in the eighteenth-century? How do today’s clinical trials for medical treatments compare to rhetorical and empirical methods that were developing during the 1700s? Why do publications such as The Spectator comment on dress and gender performance like modern periodicals do? What techniques do writers such as Jonathan Swift share with cultural critics today? The class will also include a visit to the Bodies Exhibit in Atlantic Station, in addition to challenging students to produce various multimodal artifacts that explore historical trends in the scientific study of the body, gender performance, and visual portrayal of bodies in literature, nonfiction texts, and print culture.
What does it mean to convey information between people: between individuals, between the masses, between nations? In an age when a message can be sent with the push of a button, when we can communicate via emojis, and we can block access for those whom we chose, the notion that news could days, weeks, months, or years to arrive at its destination – or maybe never arrive at all – is occasionally hard to fathom. This course will examine the ways in which letters, the postal service, newssheets, periodicals, and pamphlets gave rise to email, tweets, video chats, and websites as means of disseminating information, both personal and public, over the last two centuries. Using multimodality and the WOVEN curriculum (Written, Oral, Visual, Electronic, and Nonverbal), we will consider how twenty-first-century means of communication have been shaped by those of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. How did ideas, social norms, public policies, and scientific advancements spread before the internet – when a pen and ink was the only way to communicate over distances? Why and how was the promulgation of print and visual culture intertwined, and why do we still read the letters of ordinary people who lived in the eighteenth century? What can the method by which information was conveyed show us about the modes through which we communicate today? How can twenty-first-century technologies of communication teach us about our relationships with our friends, families, communities, and the world? We will discuss these topics and others in this ENGL 1102 course.
This course is designed to familiarize graduate students in the sciences and engineering with various genres of academic writing and communication. By conducting rhetorical analyses of example materials across genres, students will understand the conventions by which each of these genres is produced and how to assess the rhetorical situations surrounding them. Students will work to improve their existing writing and communication skills in these genres, utilizing the writing process through multiple stages (including revision and peer review), as well as improve their abilities to collaborate with colleagues. We will discuss principles of rhetoric and why these are important for communicating in the scientific and engineering communities, both for the university setting and academic writing for a broader audience.
Though we often believe that we, as individuals, are separate entities from the things in our lives, everyday objects – books, computers, phones, silverware, clothing – are integrated parts of our lives and existences. In this course, we’ll consider how J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, a cultural phenomenon that has affected a wide audience in the twenty years since it was first published, transcending age, gender, race, and class barriers, portrays objects and the interactions between objects and characters in Rowling’s novels. Materiality functions much differently in the fictional Wizarding World than in reality, so that a book or a broomstick might engage with a character independently of their wishes, and things (with a few exceptions) can be created, erased, or transformed with a thought. We’ll be reading the novels and exploring some theories of human/object interactions, as well as learning new ways to think about the material world and communicating those idea through multiple modes, both digital and analog. Students will design and create their own material objects, present them to an audience, and analyze how objects and humans’ interactions with them can reveal meaning and significance in both fictional worlds and the world which we inhabit. Things are everywhere – how are we connected to our things, and how are they becoming part of our selves?
Utilizing texts that question, challenge, and document changes in biomedicine and the ethical considerations of such innovation since the 1950s, students will hone their skills in rhetorical practices across multiple modes of communication. This class will seek to emphasize the importance of communication skills in the dissemination of information about these new and exciting technologies. These will include written projects, visual essay design, journal blog posts, presentations with visual components, and a group research project culminating in a podcast episode. Innovations in biomedicine seem to appear almost daily on the evening news, on radio broadcasts, across our newsfeeds, and in fictional narratives. From gene therapy to designer babies, therapeutic uses of blood doping to scandals in cycling, the effects of scientific advancement and their engagements with existence as we know it permeate facets of our lives, some of which we might not even realize. As we consider what drives these developments and what are the underlying ethical implications of pushing the boundaries of the human, students will design, create, and communicate their ideas on the subject through various modes and media.