Course Catalog Spring 2014 Community College of Allegheny County
SEMINARS IN DEVELOPMENTAL WRITING (English 100: Basic Principles of Comp) War of the Worlds: Exploring Identity in an Era of Cultural Conflict Instructor: Katherine Lang Sections: ENG 100 SCO7; ENG 100 SC08; ENG 100 SC09
This is a course that plunges into history and traces the conflicts that have transpired as a result of colliding cultural values, beliefs, and judgments. We will look at these factors through the lens of fictional and non-fiction texts with a special focus on graphic novel. Specifically, we will navigate our way through World War II, Vietnam, and the Islamic Revolution. Through writing, discussions, blogging, and film analysis, we will strive to respond to the questions these works inspire. Selected readings may include Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Marjorie Persepolis and Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
SEMINARS IN EXPOSITORY WRITING (English 101: English Composition 1) In Love with Pittsburgh Instructor: Elizabeth Claytor Sections: ENG 101 NC 03 To understand Pittsburghers, one needs to look at the city’s national image. As a collective group, the city’s natives have very low self-esteem. For years, we have battled the image of being a dirty, ugly city with an uneducated, uncultured populace. Many people in other parts of the country still think that Pittsburghers are born, live and die under smoky, blackened skies that soil white shirts and stain faces before noon each day. They believe that there is no culture or refinement among Pittsburgh’s citizens. They believe that there is no culture or refinement in Pittsburgh. The city is no more than a "shot and a beer" town. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Nevertheless, we Pittsburghers have heard the mythology about Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers for so long that I think many of us believe it. Readings and discussion for this seminar will focus on examining myths about Pittsburgh.
The steel industry lured many workers from the Deep South to migrate to Pittsburgh and other northern cities. Historians have labeled the movement to the North by AfricanAmericans during the 1920s as the Great Migration. Suddenly, it dawned on me that my parents were a part of this historical movement. Some readings will explore the role of African Americans in the development of Pittsburgh as an industrial center. Core readings all have a Pittsburgh connection: Out of This Furnace by Thomas Bell and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson. Other short essays, poems, and historical documents will round out the reading list. In addition, other art forms that have a Pittsburgh connection will include the visual arts genius of Romare Bearden, a tour of Henry Clay Frick’s mansion, Clayton, the Steel Workers Museum in Homestead, and the films Kennywood Memories and Mrs. Soffel about the Pittsburgh prison warden’s wife who helps her lover escape from the jail. She jeopardizes her marriage and her life.
Rewriting Food: How Cuisine Shapes Culture, Society, and Consumption Instructor: Katherine Lang Sections: ENG 101 SC 09 This is a course that examines food and its implications in a cultural and global context. We will explore theories behind how cuisine has been culturally constructed and research the evolution of gastronomy. In addition to these subjects, other topics for discussion include how food has developed nutritionally in America as well as in other continents, how the media influences our food decisions, global perceptions of food,
agricultural trends, and diseases linked to food consumption. The course will culminate in a research-based project designed by students with the guidance of the instructor. Selected readings may include authors such as Michael Pollen and Carole Counihan as well as selections from Gastronomy: The Journal of Food and Culture and The New Yorker.
Writing and Democracy in the Digital Age Instructor: Jack N. Morales Sections: ENG 101 AC03; ENG 101 AIN5 (Online) Farmer and writer Wendell Berry famously took the position in 1987 that he would not purchase a computer on the grounds that many of the arguments in favor of its use are exaggerated claims about its utility in the act of writing. These claims, he argues, are not only false but also part of a much larger system of ecological degradation related to our ever-increasing consumption of energy. This writing seminar will explore the uses of technology for writers in the 21st century in light of this position that I argue has given rise to the work of writers such as Mark Bauerlein (The Dumbest Generation) and Nicholas Carr (“Is Google Making Us Stupid?”). We’ll write and discuss what it might mean for us to live in a society where technology mediates almost every aspect of our lives as well as explore the implications of such developments for our democracy. We’ll also consider what it might mean to get an education in the context of a highly networked and increasingly digital culture. Because this is a writing class, students will be asked to write several essays over the course of the semester that respond in some way to the ideas presented in the readings and in class discussions. Students will also learn how to write with the internet and with the ideas of others with the goal of creating an online portfolio of your writing. Essay assignments will include: “a print-based essay”, two “multimedia essays”, and a final video essay.
Reading and Writing about Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Instructor: Emily Rodgers Sections: ENG 101 AC 05 In this course, we will read narratives related to both mental illness and substance abuse. We will begin by focusing on both contemporary and historical understandings of mental illness, and will later broaden our focus to include narratives on substance abuse. We will explore these topics by reading both memoir and literary journalism. The course will culminate in a research project of each student's choosing. The final project will include both library research and, if applicable, personal narrative and first person interviews.
SEMINARS IN RESEARCH WRITING (English 102: English Composition 2) America’s Love Affair with Violence Instructor: Angela Gaito-Lagnese Sections: ENG 102 AC 02; ENG 102 AC04; ENG 102 AC 07 Through exploration of multiple genres (exposition, short fiction, poetry, music, and cinema), we will examine our society’s preoccupation, adoration, and intrigue of true and fictional people and events that are of a violent nature. Why, for example, do we revere such infamous anti-heroes such as Scarface, Tupac, or Billy the Kid? What intrigues us so about the Jeffrey Dahmers of the world, or the Ted Bundys, or the Charles Mansons? What do we make of the events in Jonestown or Abu Ghraib? Why does it take a George Zimmerman to fuel our outrage about injustice? We can point fingers at sources of media, the social-economic decline, the breakdown of the nuclear family, the fallout from years of oppression; and indeed we probably will. But in the end, the news, movies, books, and music of the day is giving us what sells—what we ask for, pay for, and ultimately want. In this research course, we will analyze many (true and fictional) violent occurrences that have proliferated in our American consciousness for over a hundred years. Through the process, we will attempt to dig more deeply and examine the possibility that such tragedies, and (perhaps,
more importantly) the telling, selling, and consuming of these events, may serve as a starting point for a bit of social self- reflection. Navigating Culture and Community Instructor: Katherine Lang Sections: ENG 102 SC04; ENG 102 SIN2 (Online) This course navigates the complexities of culture through researching and writing ethnography. The goal of our course is to study and analyze cultures that exist within our community and, through field research, interviews, film analysis, reading, and book discussion groups, find a way to translate our findings into a publishable ethnography. We will work to improve our critical thinking skills, understand of the principles of academic and expository writing, and strengthen our ability to navigate, analyze, and synthesize research in writing. The course will result in a final ethnographic portfolio, a product students can use for prospective professional and academic opportunities.
American Attitudes about Work in the 21st Century Instructor: Mike Bennett Sections: ENG 102 AC 11; ENG 102 AC 12 This course invites students to examine attitudes about work of all kinds as a way to impart and practice critical research and writing skills. Course readings take a broad overview of such diverse topics as paid vs unpaid work, workersâ€™ feelings about their jobs, the blue/white collar divide, academic work of all kinds, organized labor, gender, race, immigration, and many others. Throughout the semester, students work toward a research project on a topic of their
choice (as long as it relates to the general course topic), and will have the opportunity to present it to the campus community in an academic poster session and/or presentation. Vietnam through the Lens of Narrative: Metafiction, Memoirs, Oral Histories, and Historiographic Essays Instructor: Carmen Livingston Sections: ENG 102 SC 10 H (Web Enhanced) Through analyzing the power of narrative, this research-based writing course will focus on shaping an understanding of the Vietnam War. Students will read and discuss CCAC's Big Read 2013-2014 selection, The Things They Carried, a work of metafiction that blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction narrative as a means to target the "truths" and "myths" associated with the conflict. This exploration will become the basis from which students engage in real research on the war, analyzing memoirs, oral histories and scholarly historiography as a way to address varied perspectives. Students will read excerpts of Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War, Michael Herr's Dispatches, an anthology, Soldier Talk: The Vietnam War in Oral Narrative, and a host of essays from revisionist experts as well as emerging researchers. From these readings, students will sculpt and report on their evolving understanding and how that informs their views on America's role in current geopolitical situations. Essay drafts will serve as ways to engage in thoughtful dialogue about history, current events, and political views. A blog-oriented website will be formed to showcase such discussion and polished writings. An opportunity to record oral histories of local Vietnam War veterans will also be offered as a contribution to the Big Read project.
The Rhetoric of AIDS Education Instructor: Jack N. Morales Sections: ENG 102 AC73 For the last few years Psychologist Seth Kalichman has been working to trace the history of what he calls â€œAIDS denialismâ€? to a group of dissident scientists who dispute the well-established causal link between HIV and AIDS. Long after the international scientific community has accepted this connection, Kalichman describes how these contrarian scientists have successfully convinced many infected with the virus to end their drug therapy, in many cases resulting in their
death. This research writing seminar begins with two questions: how is it possible for such an argument to persist in the “information age”; and secondly, what role can lay communities play in their encounters with knowledge about health and disease? In his well-known A Rhetoric of Motives (1969), for instance, 20th Century philosopher Kenneth Burke defines rhetoric as “the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols”. This semester we will explore how language works to “induce cooperation” by studying the role “public” health messages about HIV/AIDS have played in the development of various theories about sexuality, drug use, epidemiology, healthcare, and poverty. We will study how the use of language not only reinforces cultural attitudes about disease but also how such uses help to create what John Trimbur calls “monopolies of expertise” as physicians, scientists, and public health workers struggle to assert their expertise in the public sphere. On a more practical end, we will consider what a community-based AIDS education project might look like. Students will work in small teams to develop such a research and communitybased education project that will address an aspect of HIV/AIDS education to a local audience.
Suburbia and the American Imagination Instructor: Elizabeth Throesch Sections: ENG 102 NC 03; ENG 102 NC 31 Through much of the 20th century, the “American Dream” was defined by life in the suburbs. However, in the 21st century, this ideal seems to be subject to revision. The first decade of this century has seen major American suburban areas become home to the country’s largest and fastest growing poor population. Television shows such as Weeds, Desperate Housewives, and Suburbgatory have questioned the suburban utopian ideal. The band Arcade Fire even went as far as creating a themed album, The Suburbs, in 2010. Clearly, the suburbs are not just spaces occupied by many Americans;
they are also spaces which occupy the imaginations of many Americans. In this course, we will explore the changing nature of the suburbs in the American imagination. We will examine a variety of texts, including short stories, popular film and television, music, sociological reports, and historical archives. Students will be encouraged to consider the role the suburbs have played in shaping the way Americans experience race, gender, the environment, and economics. In addition to assigned readings and discussions, students will develop research, composition, and analytical skills.