Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 9

Kubler 1 John Kubler Dr.

Kellenberger English 600B 5 December 2013 ENGL 114B Objective Outcomes and Overall Course Design My 114B Approaches to University Writing class next semester will address the same broad theme as my 114A class this semester, namely, A More Perfect Union: Re-examining Human Rights and Social Relationships. The challenge of creating a more perfect union not only applies to the broader sphere of civic government and public policy, but also applies to the more private sphere of interpersonal romance, sexual expression, and gender relationships. However, included in the task of re-examining human rights and relationships is the task of first re-examining identity itself which is the cornerstone of my 114B semesterdiscovering the social values and choices that define ourselves both as individuals and as a group. In our 114B projects, the students will examine how our use of both physical space, including our gendered appearances and behavioral expressions of sexuality within that space, and the virtual spaces of our wired lifestyles on the Internet, dynamically reflect and shape our identities. It is my hope that when they discover the plethora of choices available to them for defining their gendered and civic spaces, they will become aware of the flexible, anti-essentialist nature of identity itself and how each person has the capacity to write, and then re-write again and again, the performative text of their own existence. This task of discovering the varied nature of potential identities made available to individuals might well be the most urgent challenge facing our society today, compelling the students to envision a more enlightened means in which these various gendered and cultural identities can live peacefully together in mutual respect and tolerance. I hope the design of my 114B course will encourage the students to embark upon this challenge.

Kubler 2 Richard Fulkerson, who has conducted scholarly studies of the wide variety of approaches to teaching college composition, would certainly place my course design into the category of Critical/Cultural Studies Approaches in which the central task is one of interpretation and critique of important social issues; he refers to these courses as the new emancipatory movements in composition for the 21st century (Fulkerson 659). Fulkerson also observes that these courses, similar to pop culture, feminist, postcolonial, and queer studies approaches, more aptly describe valuable cross-disciplinary, consciousness-raising, stand-alone courses in their own right that would not necessarily need to be in English departments (661). Although the secret to my 114B course design is now out-of-the-bag and I hope, because of its stand-alone nature, not to be thrown out of our English department , I nevertheless believe my approach can also help teach academic essay writing! The further theoretical support for this socio-political course design comes from Bruce McComiskey when he states I prefer to focus my students rhetorical attention through social-process rhetorical inquiry on the discourses and institutions that most profoundly impact their own lives, institutions like school work, media, and government [emphasis added] (McComiskey 56). Another theoretical inspiration comes from Graff, Birkenstein, and Durst who write in their book They Say/I Say that schools and colleges need to invite students into the conversations and debates that surround them in their immediate society (xx). And finally, Mike Roses famously mandates that we, as composition teachers, ought to teach critical literacy as well as textual literacy (Rose 1989, 194). I believe my 114A/B classroom discussions and debates on these relevant contemporary issues will encourage my students to develop intellectual curiosity and help motivate them to writeproviding them with useful topics for their class essays. As you can see from my current syllabus posted earlier this semester here on Moodle, the overarching thematic process of socio-political inquiry that the students will be discussing and writing about throughout both semesters will deal with matters of how societies grapple with the

Kubler 3 age-old problem of balancing individual rights with larger group rights and concerns. For 114A in the fall semester, Progression 1 focused on the topic of cultural diversity and international conflicts, Progression 2 focused on love, romance, and the power dynamics between normatively gendered persons (men and women), and Progression 3 focused on economic sustainability and the debt crisis (student loans and government spending). Continuing with this overall course philosophy, I want my 114B class to be discussionbased, where the students will critically think and write about important socially-relevant issues, and have fun forming small groups and creating their own political manifestos for their ideal societiesthe culminating final essay that each group will write collaboratively. This manifesto will require writing input from all the members in each group (however they want to divide up responsibilities) in which they will state their opinions and arguments for solving the hot-topic issues covered in both our 114A coursesuch as how best to deal with clashes of culture and internal socio-political dissent, and how best to balance individual rights with group needs (affirmative action in college admissions, NSA spying on private correspondence, plural polyamorous marriages, abortion rights, the student loan debt crisis)plus the new topics we will cover in our 114B course, relating to improving problematic uses of civic spaces, solving issues related to immigration reform, the death penalty in the prison system, gun control and school security, addressing what is considered both taboo and acceptable expressions of sexuality in appearance and behavior, addressing the issues relating to LGBTIQ rights and marriagespartnerships, and also addressing both the negative and positive effects of the Internet on human attitudes and behaviors. I will expect that my returning 114A students will help brief the new class members in their small groups on what ideas were discussed in our class this semester. Whew! Thats a big plateful to dish out, at least for one course! Well, reflecting upon my assessment of the capabilities of the CSUN students in my class this semester, I certainly perceive the key dilemma perhaps all of us instructors face when attempting to raise our students socio-

Kubler 4 political critical awarenessthe disheartening realization that many of these first year writing students are not as charged-up about discussing our courses incredibly intellectually stimulating and earth-shaking social issues as we are! Hence, I will tweak my plans for 114B to somehow allow for more student choices of specific topics to write about in their essays, as long as these individualized topics somehow fit within the broader, overarching Project topic, since from their feedback I have learned that these students are more motivated to write about topics that they have a personal interest in. I will establish a balance between my topic interests and their topic interests, first giving them the general topic area, such as the task of writing about problematic public spaces in Project Space, and then letting them come up with a specific issue regarding a specific space that they can personally relate to as the topic of their ethnographic essay investigation of it. I may try to give the students the task of writing an I Search type of written assignment for their two individual essays (one for Project Space and one for Project Text), in which they observe a particular problem, then proceed to come up with information about it and solutions to the problem. The argumentative portions of their essays will follow the evidence-based academic argument model, advocated by such educators as CSUNs Irene Clark, Anne Ruggles Gere from the University of Michigans writing center program, and our very own Rolando Rubalcava from our current TA cohort. Evidence-based argument structure is also based on the They Say/ I Say rhetorical strategies from my 114A semester, and the Everythings an Argument teachings of Lunsford & Ruszkiewicz which I will use as the handbook text this coming semester in 114B. Hence, borrowing the strategy from Steve Jobs rhetorical pitch of the iPhone at the Macworld Expo in 2007, I envision my 114A and B courses as being, in a sense, three types of courses all combined into one: (1) a socio-political class where students will discuss relevant hot topic issues that impact our society and affect interpersonal relationships, (2) a practical handson communication class where students will learn valuable habits of mind and academic writing skills for a successful collegiate career, and (3) an art appreciation class where students will view,

Kubler 5 listen, and write about both still and live-action images, in order to develop their visual literacy skills and understand how these images persuade us. Furthermore, since I believe all texts are inherently visual (words themselves conjure up images in our minds), the topic of visual rhetoric has also influenced my choices for the literary texts used in both semesterstwo graphic novels (Persepolis, Book I in the 114A semester and Persepolis, Book II in the upcoming 114B semester), and three full length films (Crazy Stupid Love, Jerry Maguire in 114A, and the gay cinema film, KaBoom in our upcoming 114B). Theoretical support for my courses continued attention to visual rhetoric comes from the theorist W. J. T. Mitchell, Professor of English at the University of Chicago, who argues that the last three decades of the 20th century has seen a new pictorial turn in Communication and the Humanitiesa post-linguistic transformation emerging not from verbal text-based language per se, but from the study of visuality and the complex practices of observation and spectatorship (Mitchell 16). Having grown up with new technology which is immersed in visual images, my first year students are fully indoctrinated into this cultural pictorial turn, and selected writing assignments will be based upon rhetorical appeals using visual images. Also, to mirror the courses connection to visual rhetoric and to appeal to my students visual learning skills, I continued to design my 114B syllabus to be visually stimulating, similar to the format I used for my 114A syllabusthat of a graphic informational brochure. Also, my syllabus will serve as a model of one of the tasks I will assign my students to create in their Project Web section, that of creating both a graphic newsletter and brochure. Precisely how this will be worked out, and which articles I will use to introduce the topics is something I will work out over Christmas break. Regarding tentative choices for 114B reading assignments, I know I will start with Project Space, since that is the more easily accessible unit for returning students, since it is focused primarily on responses to visual stimuli and gets the students out into fieldwork early, observing and writing up a quasi-ethnographic essay on how to improve

Kubler 6 urban or residential spaces. I will heavily rely on teaching with video clips that I have collected during my two semesters of teaching Project Space in the SI sections of 113B classes. We will also discuss our prison system of punishment and debate the use of the death penalty, plus consider aspects of domestic security (gun controls) and school shootings and security. Next, we will follow up with Project Text in which I will have the students read excerpts from Judith Butlers essay, Performative Acts and Gender Constitution that supports a queer perspective on an individuals freedom of choice in expressing their gendered identity and sexual orientation. We will watch documentaries addressing issues related to Redefining He and She discovering that many individuals are born biologically intersexual, or choose to re-author their gendered texts by becoming transgendered identities. The students will respond to the funny and provocative film, KaBoom, from the gay cinema writer/producer, Greg Araki that explores a more tolerant view of sexual expressions and behaviors. In a more serious bent, to raise critical consciousness, we will also show clips from the film, A Girl Like Me, that portrays the tragic 2002 murder of Gwen Araujo, a transgendered teenager from Newark, CA. We will also read about the so-called gender similarities hypothesis that several social psychologists advocate, in which we consider how the various genders are more alike than different, and also the research evidence of the evolutionary biologist, Joan Roughgarden (who is a highly regarded transgendered scholar) regarding unexpected sexual behaviors in the animal kingdom that challenge our traditional assumptions about gender and biology. Also in regard to freedoms of sexual expression, the students will read and discuss the debatable issues related to the age-old debate on sexual objectification of the observed subject vs. gendered empowerment (i.e., between 2nd wave feminists such as Laura Mulveys male gaze arguments, and the third-wave feminist writers such as Camille Paglia, who are advocates of the sex-positivity images of female empowerment portrayed by performers like Madonna, Lady Gaga, and now Miley Cyrus famous gyrations at awards ceremonies). We also will debate the hot topic of gay marriage rights.

Kubler 7 Finally, Project Web is equally ambitious; students will be responsible for creating their own Weebly web sites, in which they will upload their essays and Portfolios, and establishing their own personal blogs related to some pressing social issue touched upon in class that interests them. Class members will be responsible for posting blog entries each week, plus responding to other members blogs. Then, students will be responsible for using their online resources to create a graphic, rich-text newsletter and brochure on any relatable class topic. Finally, they will be responsible for writing a report that evaluates their use of information from various online resources. Ending the semester will be the small group collaborative essay, mentioned earlier, in which the students will address their opinions and arguments regarding a number of socio-political topics weve covered in both 114A and 114B. Structurally, the course is discussion based; the students will be assigned into 5 groups of four, which may hopefully stay intact over the course of the semester (returning 114A students will be evenly dispersed into each of the 5 groups). A few pop quizzes will be given to assess the students awareness of the main points in the reading assignments before class discussion, and various Moodle post reflections will assess the students learning after class, in which they can respond to questions raised in either class discussions, or the reading texts (which is why I believe BOTH quizzes and Moodle posts are justifiedthe quizzes to encourage adequate preparation before coming to class, and the Moodle posts to show learning from others afterwards). Throughout the course, each of the Project exercise writing assignments will be given credit/no credit scoring; I have reduced the exercises to only two for each of the first two Projects (Space and Text). However, the pop quizzes, Moodle responses, and Project essays (2 individual, one collaborative), along with the Final Portfolio, WILL be graded (with numerical scores for quizzes and Moodle posts, and letter grades for the essays and Portfolio). The students will also be required to schedule two office visits with me; I am considering that at these visitsone when I return back their graded Project Space essays, and the second when they get back their Project

Kubler 8 Text essaysI will give them face-to-face comments on my feedback to their writing. Finally, students will receive extra credit for visiting the LRC seeking help on their writing. Mike Roses statements on setting high expectations for students is well known, and has inspired my ideas for my courses. He states Students will float to the mark you set in his book Lives on the Boundary (26). Although my attempts to have the students investigate political philosophy and the sophisticated theories of Mulveys and Butler's might seem like a task for upper division students, I believe these ideas can be unpacked for the students, with the proper encouragement and guidance from the instructor. I dont want my class to be the kind of fussbudget course that Rose hates (138), but one that he advocates as being a course about thought itselfthe critical literacy skills that are needed by students today (requiring critical thinking tasks such as summarizing, classifying, comparing, and analyzing). I want my course to be about relevant social and political issues that are still problems that impact all of us today in defining our identities. These will help students learn the habits of mind that successful college students engage in, that Rose also mentions in his Remediation at a Crossroads article (2011). As always, there will be a never ending battle to adapt the topics in ways that will secure engaged student interests. I will give my best shot at it and continue to experiment and try new things throughout my teaching career.

Kubler 9 Works Cited Barnett, Rosalind C., and Caryl Rivers. Biology, Destiny, and Bad Science. Dissent (Summer 2005): 70-75. Sage. Web. 15 November 2013. Bauer, Dale M. The Other F Word: The Feminist in the Classroom. College English 52.4 (Apr. 1990): 385-396. JSTOR. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. Fulkerson, Richard. Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century. College Composition and Communication 56.4 (June 2005): 654-87. Jstor. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. George, Diana. From Analysis to Design: Visual Communication in the Teaching of Writing. College Composition & Communication 54.1 (Sept. 2002): 11-39. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. Graff, Gerald, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. 2nd Ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. Print. Hyde, Janet S. The Gender Similarities Hypothesis. American Psychologist 60.6 (Sept. 2005): 581-92. Sage. Web. 10 September 2013. Lundsford, Andrea A. and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Everythings an Argument. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2013. McComiskey, Bruce. Teaching Composition as a Social Process. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2000. Print. Mitchell, W. J. Thomas. Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Print. Rose, Mike. Lives on the Boundary. New York: Penguin Books, 1989. ---. Remediation at a Crossroads. (April 21, 2011). Course Handout