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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 2014 Topic Descriptions

TOPIC: "Representations of the Chosen One in Science Fiction and Fantasy"
Andrea Whitacre and Elizabeth Maffetone

16681 9:05a-9:55a MWF
16683 1:25p-2:15p MWF

Neo. Ender Wiggin. Frodo Baggins. Anakin Skywalker. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ash Ketchum. Avatar Aang. King Arthur. Harry Potter. The most common heroic type in science fiction and fantasy (SF), especially in the young adult genre, is The Chosen One. They are the ones spoken of in prophecy, or the last of their kind, or the secret heirs to unique powers--in short, the only one who can save the day. Who is the Chosen One? For what are they chosen, and by whom are they chosen? What obstacles do they encounter on their way to their destiny? We will consider these questions and others through SF texts, primarily Harry Potter, Pan's Labyrinth, and The Matrix. This course will investigate the cultural uses of the Chosen One story and how it might support or subvert various cultural fears and desires regarding heroism and monstrosity. We will discuss new levels of meaning in some of the best-known works of popular culture.

The course will fulfill the English Composition requirement through a focus on critical reading and thinking, textual and filmic analysis, and modes of academic writing.

TOPIC: "So Scary, It's Funny: The Cultural Expressions of Horror and Humor"
Mary Mitchell and Tracey Hutchings-Goetz

11512 1:25p-2:15p MWF
8238 11:15a-12:30p TR

Popular cultural phenomena like The Addams Family, The Evil Dead film series, Sweeney Todd, and Rocky Horror Picture Show unite the frightening and the funny, and are examples of the enduring popularity of humor and horror in modern films. Although familiar from recent comedy-horror movies like The Cabin in the Woods (2011) and Warm Bodies (2012) the conventions of humor and horror have been combined in cultural objects as disparate as medieval manuscript marginalia, eighteenth-century political satires, popular Victorian ghost stories, and the figure of the evil clown. This class will explore the ways in which the popular conventions of horror and humor permeate well beyond the niche and hybrid genre of the horror-comedy film into a diverse array of cultural objects. Using a variety of films, television shows, essays, poems, and short stories this course will teach students the skills of analytical reading and writing necessary to discuss the complex ways in which horror and humor are often deployed together.

The 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.

Warning: This course features some representations of graphic violence and sexuality.

TOPIC: "Sympathy for the Devil: A Cultural Analysis of Villainy"
Christopher Thomas and Jeffrey Kessler

11841 4:00p – 5:15p MW
11840 5:45p – 7:00p MW
18552 2:30p- 3:45p TR

Why is it that the character we should hate most often becomes the one we are most interested in? As the title suggests, we will examine the cultural fascination with villains and the ways in which we forge emotional connections with them that are often surprising given their supposed “evil” status. From Milton’s Satan to Breaking Bad’s Walter White, our culture has had a long-standing and complicated relationship with those we identify as villains. This course will examine a broad range of texts depicting and discussing the figure of the villain in popular culture, including critical essays from several disciplines, literary fiction, film, television, and music. This course will question many cultural assumptions: what it means to be a villain? Can we feel sympathetic for someone who is patently evil? How do our cultural assumptions shape the ways we understand evil and villainy? Students will interrogate these issues through a wide range of writing assignments to explore these ideas. Their work will culminate in a final paper driven by their own case study in villainy.

The 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 spy Who Loved Me? Sex, Gender, and the Culture of James Bond"
Kelly Hanson

20043 11:15a-12:30p TR
18552 1:00p-2:15p TR

“The name is Bond. James Bond.” --James Bond

Bond is back, as you’ve never seen him before: as the topic of your writing class. This class begins with the premise that most of us know who James Bond is. Even if we’re not fans, we have a vague image of a handsome gentleman in a tuxedo who kills for queen and country, right? Wrong--or at least, not the whole story.

Six different men have played 007 since the film franchise began in the 1960s, and each has offered audiences a different Bond, ranging from suave and sexy, to campy and absurd, to dark and brooding. Using films from the last 50 years, the famous Bond theme songs, a sampling of Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories, and one of the many James Bond video game adaptations, we will ask how different James Bonds construct and value gender and sexuality in different ways. Sure, there are Bond girls and a handsome spy. But what else is going on with Bond? Why does Bond always get the girl? And why, as Jennifer Lawrence noted at Oscars this year, is the music of James Bond “as irresistible as 007 himself?” Why, in short, is sexiness so central to Bond? By looking at the sex-gender system of the fictive world of Bond, we’ll think about how this answer changes from the Cold War to the Iraq War, from Connery to Craig. Our readings of Bond will focus on questions of gender, including masculinity, femininity, sexuality, desire, and sexual violence.

This course will draw on a range of James Bond-themed cultural objects, including films, novels, music, and video games. Beginning with the iconic Bond film Goldfinger, we will sample films from all 6 Bonds over the last 50 years, ending with Daniel Craig’s most recent contribution, Skyfall. Students will read essays and pop culture accounts of James Bond, film reviews, film theory, and critical essays on gender and sexuality studies. Students should be prepared to have their notions of Bond changed in this course, and to approach the material independent of their own feelings or ideas about Bond.

As this course fulfills the composition requirement, it will privilege writing as its primary method of inquiry with the ultimate goal of helping students develop the ability to write at a college level.

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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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