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Water: Science and Politics (Fall 2013)

The management of global water resources presents a major challenge for the 21st century. Water defines the boundaries of the livable world. It's crucial for drinking, energy, travel, irrigation and food. But water can also transmit disease, flood homes, and spread contamination. Students in this course will hone their science-writing skills while exploring contemporary problems related to water. They will focus on presenting scientific data, reasoning, and controversies in accurate but lively language, while learning and writing about the politics surrounding water use. Sources will include scientific research papers, government reports, newspaper articles, and op-ed pieces.
Instructor: Naila Moreira

The Politics of Language (Fall 2013, Spring 2014)

Reading, thinking, and writing about the forces that govern and shape language. A series of analytical essays will focus on issues such as political correctness, obscenity, gender bias in language, and censorship. Nonnative speakers are strongly encouraged to enroll in these sections which are specifically designed to meet their needs.
Instructor: Holly Davis

The Space in Our Identity: Writing About Home (Fall 2013, Spring 2014)

Home is more than the physical structure we reside in. Home is where we live in every sense: the physical sense, yes, but also the spiritual, romantic, ideal, and maybe even mythical. All of these aspects of home, hometown, home country, or adopted home serve to shape our identities. In this course, we will explore the importance of these spaces, be they physical or metaphysical, to the construction of “home” and how these terms, whether we accept them wholly, shun them entirely, or experience them via travel, dictate to us and others a sense of self and identity.
Instructor: Alejandro Cuellar

The Documentary Impulse (Fall 2013, Spring 2014)

We rely on dominant media culture to formulate objective representations of our social reality. Yet surely the truths we learn from newspaper, magazines, radio, and television journalism are not all the truths, nor is the traditional way information gets presented always the most representative of the story being told. In this class, students will respond to alternative modes and structures of documentary writing, investigate the range of subjects oftentimes overlooked by conventional journalism, and explore the creative possibilities of expressing the world around us in their own writing.
Instructor: Luke Bloomfield

No, Seriously What's So Funny? Writing About Humor (Fall 2013, Spring 2014)

Nietzsche called maturity the rediscovered seriousness of a child at play. What is the meaning of comedy, in light of this “seriousness of the child at play”? Why do we laugh, at what, and in what way? How do we distinguish silly comedy from serious comedy? This course will examine such questions on comic platforms including film, music, videos, short stories, cartoons, and more. We will explore the “structure” of the comic moment as viewer or listener encounters surprise, transgression, or enchantment, especially in twentieth-century comedy, and the affectivity of the comic encounter from pure “clowning” to savage social commentary.
Instructor: Peter Sapira

To Hell and Back: Trauma and Transformation (Fall 2013)

How does trauma force us to grow? Why does it seem that in order to undergo a transformation, we must first "go through hell" of one kind of another. Readings will focus on various explorations of trauma and how the experiences shaped the authors.
Instructor: Peter Sapira

All the World's a Stage (Fall 2013, Spring 2014)

We live in a world where everybody seems to be performing. We see this in the political arena and on reality TV shows. We see it on websites like You Tube and on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In this class, we will look at how our lives have grown more performative in the advent of new concepts like "reality," "sincerity," "self," and "friend," and what that means for us as individuals and as a society.
Instructor: Roger Pinches

Consumer Culture (Fall 2013)

Reading and writing analytical essays about the pervasive effects of consumerism in American culture. Topics will include analysis of advertisements, consideration of the impoverished in a consumer society, the use of advertising in schools, the marketing of fast food in American culture, and the meaning of consumer goods in our daily lives.
Instructor: Sara Eddy



What's for Dinner? Writing about Food (Spring 2014)

Michael Pollan writes in Omnivore's Dilemma that the U.S. suffers from a "national eating disorder"--that essentially, we don't know what to eat. This course examines that confusion, considering which of the many diets available to us--vegan, slow food, locavore--is truly healthy; what roles ethnicity, gender, and class play in our choices; and how pervasive hunger is in the US. Students read from the spectrum of food writing, and hone their own writing in a variety of genres ranging from academic essays to restaurant reviews. Prerequisite: One WI course or permission of the instructor.
Instructor: Sara Eddy



Students learn to use literary techniques to write factual, engaging narratives that read like fiction. Based on research, interviews, and personal experience, creative nonfiction encompasses a wide range of genres, including memoir, travel writing, nature writing, science writing, food writing, and biography. Prerequisites: 1 WI course. Enrollment in each section limited to 15. Course may be repeated once on a different topic.

Writing about Place and Travel (Spring 2014)

Writing and reading assignments in this creative non-fiction course will draw from the linked themes of place and travel. You don’t have to be a seasoned traveler to join the course: you can write about any place at all, including home. We’ll also use the Smith campus and Northampton to create travel narratives, and will often work with images and creative walking exercises (“performance writing”) in our assignments. You should be prepared to write frequently in class and out, read well, participate in class discussion, and be ready to explore your world with new eyes.
Instructor: Pamela Petro

Writing about the Arts (Spring 2014)

Students will write true, fact-based stories that focus on artists and art, including visual and performing arts, music, theater and film. They will research their topics through conversations with artists and curators, observation and on-line and library research. They will write on a regular basis with the goal of developing the skills, the art and the discipline for nonfiction narrative writing.
Instructor: Nancy Even Cohen





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