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CUNY ENG 2100 - Critical Thought Skills in the Modern World

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Growing Up in a Changing WorldThe Idea of America: Exploring Versions of the American DreamSPRING 2012 BARUCH ENGLISH DEPARTMENT THEMES2100/2100T/2150/2150TAs of October 17, 2011ENG 2100 GMWARUSSELL, CATHERINEHow to Think Better: Critical Thought Skills in the Modern World One of the most valuable tools you need is college is the ability to think critically. This course will develop your critical thought skills and help you to become a more articulate, thoughtful and opinionated thinker and writer. Each student will be required to: • write a weekly summary and response to a current newspaper or magazine article and then present it to the class;• read any novel he/she chooses and then discuss it with me in an individual conference;• write a series of essays at home and in class, including a biographical narrative, an analytical description, a well formulated argument on a controversial topic, a gender-based comparison/contrast essay exploring some of the social, physical and intellectual differences between the sexes, and an interview with a professional in the field of business the student hopes to pursue;• as a research assignment, choose a prominent business figure and write a biography analyzing the factors contributing to his/her success;• work on proofreading, editing and improving all written work Expect heated discussion and lots of class participation; thinking critically should be engaging and fun! Readings may include passages from the following:Justice by Michael J. SandelPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyAmericans Talk About Love by John BoweWorking by Studs TerkelENG 2100 GTRAREILLY, PATRICKDisease and DestinyPlague has been plaguing us for millennia. Virtually every book in the Old Testament offers a plague story. Plagues play a pivotal narrative role in Homer’s Iliad, and the great classical Greek dramatist Sophocles places plague at the heart of his tragedy Oedipus Rex, itself a response to the Plague of Athens during the Peloponnesian War, which was famously chronicled by Thucydides. More recently, the AIDS plague, which has claimed thirty million people worldwide in the thirty years since its discovery in New York City, has generated a vital literary response in the arts and sciences.In plague texts ancient and modern, the fact of disease is repeatedly being at once confronted and aesthetically reconstructed, commonly in terms of destiny. Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year (1722) stands today as a classic study of plague both as fact and as construct. Our study of this early modern plague text will focus on its presumption as a journalist’s eyewitness account to record scientifically the earthly progress of the pestilence in London without discounting its heavenly origin. For in Defoe as in Thucydides, human destiny is still linked to the stars. In the course of the enlightened eighteenth century, though, begins a shift in the relationship between man and destiny, as destiny becomes less a product of divine will than it is a process evolving out of human resolve. To what degree, then, is man himself responsible for a destiny circumscribed by the pestilential horrors of plague? How does one rationalize the fact of a phenomenon that defies human comprehension, if not human imagination? To what effect do constructs of destiny control or contain plague? Placing such questions in scientific and philosophical, social and cultural contexts, we will cross several centuries from Defoe’s Journal to Albert Camus’s The Plague to Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, plague agitprop at its most powerful. We will watch the video of Angels in America, probablythe mostly widely viewed representation of the AIDS epidemic in New York City’s mid 1980s. We will consider the scientific and political implications ofdisease as destiny in extracts from nonfiction texts like Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors and Phil Alcabes’s Dread as well as in print journalism (op-ed pieces, articles from the New York Times science pages, essays in the New Yorker). Our aim will be to develop the students’ critical reading skills and thereby lend substance to their own exercises in prose composition.This is a writing-intensive course, and writing is a process, which we will explore from the formulation of a thesis through outlining and drafting and revising to a completed essay and, finally, a research paper. Our exercises inrhetorical methods will start small and expand as we progress: from sentence to paragraph, from one paragraph to two, from two to a page,from one page to two, and so on. There will also be some low-stakes writing exercises in class. In addition to short papers and the research paper (theme and topics to be discussed beforehand) there will be a mid-term and final examination. Get a notebook (pocket-size, cheap)—observe things—take notes!ENG 2100 HMWA TOWNS, SAUNDRAEngagement The course aims to introduce student writers to the conventions of academic writing and to develop those critical reading and thinking skills that will be called for in academic, civic, and professional life. Primary attention is given to writing as a process, from formulating a thesis, to outlining, drafting, and revision, to writing the research paper. Essays by both contemporary and "classic" writers will be read and analyzed as they speak to both rhetorical and cultural issues of concern.ENG 2100 HTRA TOWNS, SAUNDRAEngagement The course aims to introduce student writers to the conventions of academic writing and to develop those critical reading and thinking skills that will be called for in academic, civic, and professional life. Primary attention is given to writing as a process, from formulating a thesis, to outlining, drafting, and revision, to writing the research paper. Essays by both contemporary and "classic" writers will be read and analyzed as they speak to both rhetorical and cultural issues of concern.ENG 2100 HWFAGEMPP, BRIANReadings in Rule and RebellionThroughout history the rebel has been a figure both vilified and celebrated. From its beginnings, American culture can be conceived as structured around the complex interplay of rule and rebellion. This dynamic is evident in America’s early colonial and religious conflicts, in the rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence, in Anglo-European attempts to legislatively contain indigenous, African and now, Latino peoples, and even in the recent and highly-charged language of the Tea Party. This


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