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Indiana University Bloomington

Course Descriptions

W131 Elementary Composition (3 Cr.)

W131 is a course in academic writing that attempts to integrate critical reading, thinking, and writing about phenomena and issues in our culture. Rather than practicing a set of discrete skills or often unrelated modes of discourse, the course aims to build sequentially on students’ ability to read both written and cultural texts closely and critically and to analyze those texts in ways that also engage and problematize students' own experience, the perspectives of "experts," and the world they live in.

W131 aims to show students how the use of sources, agreement/disagreement, and personal response can be made to serve independent, purposeful, and well-supported analytical writing.

In summary, the course offers instruction and practice in the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills required in college. Emphasis is on written assignments that require synthesis, analysis, and argument based on sources.

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W131 Elementary Composition - Basic Writing

The Composition program offers several sections of W131-Basic Writing (BW) each semester as well. In most important respects, the BW version of W131 is no different from other versions of W131: like other versions, the BW sections provide instruction and practice in the fundamental reading and writing skills required in college, emphasizing written assignments that require synthesis, analysis, and argument based on sources. In other respects, however, the BW version of W131 offers eligible students several advantages. For one, BW sections are considerably smaller than other W131 sections to allow for greater interaction between instructor and student. To this end, all BW sections are taught by experienced instructors who are committed to working closely with students. Eligibility to enroll in the Basic Writing sections of W131 is dependent on the student’s reported ACT English or SAT Verbal scores. Most eligible students have been identified by UDIV advising and have already been authorized, however, students who suspect they should be placed into a Basic Writing section of W131 but are blocked from enrollment should contact their advisor to determine eligibility and submit a request via our online permission form for consent to register. For more information, students may also contact:

Kristal Arsenault
Composition Program Secretary
(812) 855-1430
Department of English; Ballantine Hall 446

Eligibility is based on the following guidelines:

ACT ENGLISH 1-21 or SAT Critical Reading 200-460

ACT ENGLISH 22 or SAT Critical Reading 470-480
Basic Writing Recommended

Note: The Basic Writing section fulfills the English composition requirement. There is nothing that appears on a student’s transcript to indicate that a BW section was taken rather than some other version of W131.

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W131 Elementary Composition - Multilingual

ENG W131ML is designed for those students whose core educational backgrounds occurred in languages other than English. Like other sections of ENG W131, this course offers rigorous instruction in understanding college-level writing and research as a multivocal process. It bears the same amount of credit, requires the same amount of writing, and places the same emphasis on critical thinking, analytical writing, and synthesis as does ENG W131; but it encourages students to gain lexical knowledge in a particular issue or topic area, equips them to become more independent writers of English, and provides them with the opportunity to focus on specific linguistic concerns.

ENG W131ML also offers students a smaller class size and a setting that gives extra attention to learning the conventions related to academic writing in western traditions, as well as opportunities to consider how those conventions function cross-culturally.

Most international students will be immediately eligible to enroll in this course based on a combination of factors, including prior language instruction and TOEFL or IELTS scores. However, if you are not immediately eligible and are seeking permission to enroll, then please consult the Directed Self-Placement Guide and submit a request via our online permission form for consent to register.

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W143 Interdisciplinary Study of Expository Writing (1 cr.)

The study of writing in conjunction with a discipline outside English language and literature. Credit for this course will be available to students who enroll in special sections of non-English introductory courses that include a writing component. May be repeated once for credit.

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W170 Projects in Reading and Writing (3 cr.)

W170 represents an alternative to W131, satisfying the freshman composition requirement but designed to offer more intensive writing and reading instruction around some theme or question. Open to all freshmen, it typically attracts those who are slightly more serious about reading and writing and more comfortable assuming a greater responsibility for their own learning.

As a reading and writing course, W170 has essentially the same goals as W131. Both courses assume that students will write analytical, argumentative, and investigative academic essays based on sources and that they will take their papers through a full cycle of drafting and revising.

At the same time, while W131 and W170 share goals, there are some differences of emphasis between the two courses:

In W131, the focus is on academic writing in response to various cultural issues and phenomena. Thus, much of the course is organized around strategies of analysis and argument, with readings on various topics serving as material for observation, thinking, and writing.

In W170, the focus is on sustained inquiry (i.e., reading, writing, and critical thinking) concerning a single problem or topic that lasts throughout the semester. Thus, the course is organized around a broad question or problem and various strategies for analysis, argument, and research are taught when they are relevant for the conduct of the inquiry.

Fall 2012 Topic Descriptions

TOPIC: Prize Pets, Scary Beasts, Fresh Meat: How We Think About Animals

28821 MWF 8:00a - 8:50a AC C107
28823 MWF 9:05a - 9:55a AC C107

Whether we're emphatic carnivores, vehement vegetarians, or apathetic omnivores—outdoorsy environmentalists or indoor fans of Animal Planet—dog people or cat people—we all have some sense of what animals are, even if we don't stop to think about it. While some would even say, simply, that humans are animals, our treatment of other species often seems to assume some difference between the two categories. Using texts ranging from films, fiction, and photographs to food writing and critical essays, we'll consider how and why we draw the line between animals and us, and we'll think about the practical and ethical consequences of drawing that line. Along the way, we'll also get to know plenty of animals—from the tiny, inscrutable tick to the loyal dog, from the territorial grizzly bear on up to the enormous, and enormously fascinating whale!

This course fulfills the Composition Requirement. As such, our explorations of the animal/human divide will sharpen critical reading and analytical skills that you'll use throughout your college career.

TOPIC: 'Murder Most Foul': Cultural Engagements with the Serial Killer
INSTRUCTOR: Katherine Anderson

21771 MWF 9:05a - 9:55a WH 109

Warning: This course incorporates mature themes. We will look at and discuss images of graphic violence and sexuality. Please be sure you are comfortable investigating this kind of material.

From Charles Manson's mad visions of Helter Skelter, to Jigsaw's twisted manipulation of justice in Saw, to the monstrocized cultural depictions of Aileen Wuornos, to the devilishly charming Dexter, our culture appropriates and (re) produces images of sadistic killers and their gruesome crimes. While these stories, whether "real" or fictional, both frighten and intrigue us, they also repeatedly emphasize the centrality of horrific violence in American culture. What is it that makes the figure of the serial killer so compelling? We seek out ghoulish images of serial killers and their trophies and participate in the material culture of murderabilia by buying comic books, T-shirts, shower curtains, and even coloring books centered on the figure of the serial killer. Using a variety of media, this course will examine the figure of the serial killer in a multiplicity of cultural contexts including space, race, gender, sexuality, class and religion. Some of the questions we will consider include: Why do we single out the serial killer from other forms of murder and violence? How do we distinguish what is "safe" from what is "dangerous? " How do we determine the difference between "right" and "wrong? " What is the difference between judgment and justice, both in cultural texts and in our own reactions? Why does the serial killer both fascinate and frighten us? What are the fears and desires that we embody in the serial killer, and how do representations of the serial killer transform in response to changing cultural demands? Ultimately, what does the serial killer teach us about ourselves?

This course fulfills the English Composition requirement, and, as such, it is primarily a writing course with a strong focus on critical reading and analytical writing skills.

TOPIC: All the Single Ladies: Representations of Single Women from Spinster to Sex Kitten
INSTRUCTOR: Allison Speicher

17539 MWF 12:20p - 1:10p SY 001

The old maid, the crazy cat lady, the plain Jane, the mousy librarian, the schoolmarm, the maiden aunt, the "working girl, " the workaholic, the shopaholic, the single mom, the closeted lesbian, the crone, the hag, the prude, the nun, the free spirit, the women's libber, the spinster, the sex kitten: the American single woman has inspired a diverse array of stereotypes that are neither complimentary nor complementary. But the myths of lonely narcissistic work addicts who die alone after their eggs dry up because they failed to snag Mr. Right do not tell the whole story. Through literature, film, television, women's magazines, and personal narratives, this course will seek to challenge myths and stereotypes and broaden our understanding of all the single ladies: women who are single by choice or by circumstance, women who are casually dating, women who are divorced or widowed, women of different ages, races, sexual orientations, classes, religions, and walks of life. Examining images of single women from Sister Carrie to Carrie Bradshaw, from the nineteenth-century spinster to the twenty-first century sex kitten, in this course we will think about the complexity and diversity of the representations and experiences of single women—and even if you've never hoarded cats or shoes, sipped a cocktail at a Manhattan hot spot or spent your days holed up in the library stacks, the story of all the single ladies has implications for the way you, and all of us, male or female, single or taken, experience love and life.

This course fulfills the English Composition requirement, and, as such, it is primarily a writing course with a strong focus on critical reading and analytical writing skills.

TOPIC: Men in Motion: Surfers, Bikers, Body Builders and Masculinity in 1960s America
INSTRUCTOR: Chris Koester and Jon Booth

17540 MWF 12:20p - 1:10p GY 447 (Koester)
28824 MWF 1:25p - 2:15p SY 002 (Booth)

Hey, man! Are you ready to theorize masculinity? Use of the word "man" as a mode of address referring to a universalized and nonspecific masculine subject—for instance, in this opening address—is often affiliated with the American 1960s. This W170 course seeks to identify who that "man" is, specifically as he pertains to the 60s subcultures of surfing, biking, and body building. What does a participant in IU's gym culture—man or woman—owe to a body builder like Arnold Schwarzenegger? How do surfers of the 1960s continue to influence the attitudes of Bloomington hipsters, what with the reemergence of surf rock as an indie genre? What do campus fraternities and sororities that participate in the Little 500 have in common with biker gangs? By analyzing representations of surfers, bikers, and body builders in various magazines and films from the 1960s, this course will theorize masculinity as a cultural construct that includes and goes beyond immediate codes of conduct—things like dress and speech—to arrive at machines and the body's posture toward them. How do machines in these instances act as extensions of a man's body? How do men from these 60s subcultures use machinery to construct a unique temporal identity? The biker guns it. The body builder endures. The surfer hangs ten. How does each of these temporal modes support the formation of a different masculine identity? Through readings by queer scholars (Judith Halberstam), postmodern theorists of the body (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), as well as more historically-oriented writers on masculinity (Michael Kimmel), we will exchange men, masculine women, and transgendered peoples, whose gender affiliations dissolve such binaries altogether. More than defining masculinity, this W170 course seeks to redefine masculinity by positioning it both historically and culturally within writing, all while fulfilling the English Composition requirement.

TOPIC: Live Freaks!: Strange Bodies and the Spectacle of Otherness
INSTRUCTOR: Eric Hultgren and Jessica Waggoner

28825 MWF 1:25p - 2:15p BH 015 (Hultgren)
21774 MW 4:00p - 5:15p AC C107 (Waggoner)
31773 MW 5:45p - 7:00p WH 114 (Waggoner)

Note: This course requires students to engage with graphic material in visual and textual form. If you are uncomfortable with strong language and violent or sexual themes, this course may not be the best fit for you.

Come one! Come all, to this once in a lifetime viewing of the most abnormal, horrifying, and shocking spectacle of a class offered at IU! Join us as we travel through the world of strange bodies put on display for viewing pleasures, beginning with the first freak shows of the 19th century through the freaks of the here-and-now. Using the diverse mediums of fiction, non-fiction, photography, and film we will explore the rhetorical processes involved in transforming anatomy into social and political identities. We will look to how the spectacle of extraordinary bodies simultaneously dictates and troubles the bounds of the normal, all the while inquiring into how the concept of the freak has expanded far beyond the traditional sideshow and into our everyday imaginings of our own bodies and the bodies of others. Freaks and normals are all encouraged to enroll.

This course fulfills the English Composition requirement. The formal writing will emphasize analytical argumentation and the situating of this analysis with respect to broader cultural and critical frameworks. The course also aims to help students develop the critical reading, thinking, and research skills fundamental for future college work. Students will be challenged to read complex texts and write a research paper on a topic of their own choosing.

TOPIC: Dirt: A Cultural History of Uncleanliness
INSTRUCTOR: Carina Saxon

17541 MWF 3:35p - 4:25p BH 337
33401 MWF 4:40p - 5:30p BH 016

What does it mean to call a person trash? Is dirty sex the same thing as sexy dirt? This course uses transnational multimedia objects to explore discourses of dirt and impurity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, looking at how categories of dirt create social structures and hierarchies. From the "one drop rule" that enforced American race prejudice to racist anti-Irish caricatures and "white trash, " from Victorian dirt fetishism to the use of filth as sexual shorthand in contemporary music videos, from lynch law to S&M, we'll trace the role of dirt discourse in creating, perpetuating, and subverting social stigma.

This course fulfills the English Composition requirement, and, as such, it is primarily a writing course with a strong focus on critical reading and analytical writing skills.

TOPIC: Detectives: Through the Magnifying Glass
INSTRUCTOR: Amanda Henrichs

17542 TR 11:15a - 12:30p PY 111

The detective: what springs to mind? Whether it's Sherlock Holmes, frighteningly intelligent but emotionally stunted; Miss Marple, a little old lady whose knitting bag is as big as her talent for discovering murderers; Sam Spade, a private eye with an ambivalent relationship to the law; or perhaps Temperance Brennan, the beautiful and brilliant forensic anthropologist at the heart of the Fox series Bones; the detective has been a prominent figure in popular entertainment of the past 150 years. Some critics claim that detectives are fit only for pulp paperback fictions: this course asks if this is true, or if detectives play a more important cultural role than we give them credit for. Taking a multimedia approach, one that includes novels, short stories, scholarly essays, collections at the Lilly Library, television, and film, we will use the detectives' own investigative practices to hone our analytical reading, writing, and thinking skills. Through deep engagement with cultural manifestations across various forms, continents, and even centuries, this course will attempt to understand the enduring fascination with the complicated, difficult, and frequently problematic figure that is the detective.

This course fulfills the English Composition requirement, and, as such, it is primarily a writing course with a strong focus on critical reading and analytical writing skills.

TOPIC: The Game of Life: Body, Competition, and Cultures of Play
INSTRUCTORS: Rachel Seiler

21369 TR 4:00p - 5:15p AC C107

"Pick a car, hop in and take a spin! Will you land a great job with a big salary? Will you and your spouse have a house full of kids? Will you retire in style? " Sounds like you're ready to play the Game of Life! Among the most popular board games, The Game of Life and Monopoly share more than brand names: both attempt to train their players in strategies that enact and capture various cultural fantasies.

But what can child's play tell us about what happens when we put our bodies on the line in the actual game of life? Does moving your token around spaces on the board actually give you any insight into how humans strategically interact? The basic tenet of game theory claims that, no matter what constitutes the interaction, humans are always at "play"—rehearsing and maneuvering around the strategies given them by both survival "instincts" and cultural constructions of competition. This course will ask students to consider how cultural players must maneuver the complex political intersections between gender, race, and class for survival. We will begin by documenting our own play of actual board games, and move to analyzing the implications of "survival of the fittest" in reality television games like Survivor. We will end with reflective analyses on the recent dystopian critique of dangerous play: Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games.

As a writing course, this W170 satisfies the composition requirement at Indiana University. By combining analytical writing tools with the logic of gaming, this course will encourage students to learn more about the strategy behind not only play, but also representation and the structure of argumentation in critical writing.

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W202 English Grammar Review (1 cr.)

This 1 credit, eight-week course will provide a basic understanding of grammatical terms and principles sufficient to enable students to edit their own prose with confidence. Despite the course title, no prior knowledge of grammar will be assumed or required. No authorization is required for this course. Does not count in the major or minor.

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W231 Professional Writing Skills (3 cr.)

This course is designed to help students, in any field, develop writing and research skills which will be useful in the professional world and any future writing project. This course concentrates on the writing of concise, informative prose, and emphasizes the importance of writing with a clearly defined purpose and audience.

Assignments will be based on general principles of communication but will usually take the form of writing done in the world of work: letters, memos, summaries, and abstracts, reports, proposals, etc.

Students will often be able to write on subjects related to their field of study. The course requires constant, careful attention to writing and rewriting, and many classes will be conducted as workshops, with writing exercises and detailed discussion of the work of class members.


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W240 Community Service Writing (3 cr.)

Integrates service with learning to develop research and writing skills requisite for most academic and professional activities. Students volunteer at a community service agency, write an assignment for public use by the agency, and perform course work culminating in a research paper on a related social issue.


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W270 Argumentative Writing (3 cr.)

Offers instruction and practice in writing argumentative essays about complicated and controversial issues. The course focuses on strategies for identifying issues, assessing claims, locating evidence, deciding on a position, and writing papers with clear assertions and convincing arguments.


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W280 Literary Editing and Publishing (3 cr.)

Principles of editing and publishing literary writing. Kinds of journals, varieties of formats (including print and e-zine), introduction to editing and production processes. Possible focus on genre publishing (fiction, poetry, non-fiction prose), grant writing, Web publishing, etc. May not be repeated for credit.


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W321 Advanced Technical Writing: Visual Literacy and Document Design (3 cr.)

This course investigates the rhetorical principles that inform the composition and design of effective professional writing.


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W350 Advanced Expository Writing (3 cr.)

Advanced writing course focuses on the interconnected activities of writing and reading, especially the kinds of responding, analyzing, and evaluating that characterize work in many fields in the university. Topics vary from semester to semester.


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