Winter 2018/19 Term 2

Instructor: Diane Burgess

Sections: 02M, 04M, 05P

With their hashtags, newsfeeds, and status updates, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become ubiquitous in our daily lives, blurring the boundaries between personal and professional networks and impacting how we gather and disseminate information. At the same time, micro-blogging has altered the public sphere, challenging journalistic norms and influencing potential forms of political engagement. By definition, social media are both networking technologies and information conduits. Drawing examples from media studies, psychology, journalism and political science, this section of WRDS 150 explores how scholars approach the qualities of social networks, their uses and their users.

Instructor: Judith Scholes

Sections: 02N, 03P

In this section of WRDS 150, we will encounter and investigate forms of Resistance—including digital activism, civil disobedience, mass protest, or everyday resistance—particularly in struggles for social justice. Our readings (from Resistance Studies, Urban Studies, American Studies, Education, Cultural Studies, and Archival Science) will touch on social pressures and political upheavals from the last several decades, while addressing forms of resistance arising from current social justice concerns and movements, such as climate change and pipeline protests, Occupy Wall Street, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights, and the 2017 Woman’s March. In our reading, we will ask, how do scholars from different disciplines approach the study of resistance? Alongside these scholars, we will also ask, who are the subjects of resistance? How does resistance fight power, injustice, and oppression; or how might it entrench those forces of oppression? What ways of being and knowing are at play within, or challenged by, resistance? How might resistance inform scholarly practice?

Instructor: Susan Blake

Sections: 02P, 03M, 04N

In this section of WRDS 150, students explore the types of questions pursued by language researchers in Anthropology, English, First Nations Studies, Linguistics and Psychology. Through readings, writing-intensive exercises, discussions and critical response, students have a framework in which to develop their own questions about language, and learn about the research and writing practices of language researchers across the disciplines. Students identify and discuss the formal properties of scholarly writing and further develop their own academic writing strategies while exploring issues related to global linguistic diversity and their own languages of heritage.

Instructor: Mike Borkent

Sections: 03N, 05N, 06M, 07N

Comics, which communicate with images, words and layouts, have become an increasingly popular form of visual communication and storytelling in various forms (print and online), genres (non-fiction and fiction), and for various audiences. Comics now frequent bestselling book lists and garner literary awards (usually in the guise of graphic novels), while remaining in newspapers (as comic strips and political cartoons), in comic book shops, on gum wrappers (see Dubble Bubble gum), and on smart phones and computers (as webcomics). As a popular and common form of communication, comics have become an increasingly popular academic topic. In this course we will read a range of academic articles about comics from a variety of disciplines, including art and literary studies, history, linguistics, and medicine. Through these readings, we will examine how academics develop knowledge about their research area and specifically how they communicate this to others as part of a scholarly conversation in their discipline. We will consider how an interdisciplinary perspective on comics helps us isolate the questions and values behind different approaches to research and the features of how they communicate this. Students will engage in a series of interconnected assignments and a research project about comics. In so doing, they will develop their skills as scholarly communicators by employing key features of academic style across a variety of genres, while refining their critical engagements with multimodal artifacts that use visual, verbal, and spatial cues to build meaning.

Instructor: Laila Ferreira

Sections: 04P, 05Q, 07P, 08M

What are the definitions of a disabled body and mind? How were these definitions established and how have they impacted the ways in which we structure our society, from the design of our buildings and city streets to our education system and employment practices? In this class, we will grapple with these questions and more through the analysis of six scholarly articles on the topic of disability. More specifically, we will look at how each discipline’s methods of research and style of writing reflect their definitions of disability and the kinds of knowledge they produce on the topic.

Instructor: Tom Bittner

Sections: 05M

One interesting fact about human behaviour is that a person can know that it is best for her to do something and yet be unable to get herself to do it. This fact has been investigated in a variety of ways by scholars in psychology, philosophy, and sociology. We will examine the different approaches that are taken to the study of this phenomenon. What kinds of questions are interesting to researchers in these different disciplines? How do their research methods serve the production of knowledge in the scholarly tradition? Students will use what they learn about this tradition of inquiry to conduct their own research on a topic related to self-control.

Instructor: Katja Thieme

Sections: 05R, 06R

In this section we will study what oral history is, and how the humanities and the social sciences use it. Spoken history can be found in any setting: we form a sense of our personal histories by hearing stories about our families, our cities, and regions; we also tell historical narratives about ourselves to authorities in schools, court houses, and government offices. In addition to this everyday oral history, Indigenous communities have formalized ways of maintaining their cultural systems through storytelling protocols.Looking at examples of both these types of oral history, this course will investigate: How do oral histories and traditions shape the communities in which they occur? How do research disciplines such as social history, anthropology, and health studies use oral stories and traditions? As we explore these questions, you will learn to identify and use different research methods, types of data and evidence, and elements of style in research writing.

Instructor: Mary Ann Saunders

Sections: 06N, 07M, 08N

We will focus on transgender studies, a multidisciplinary research field which investigates the increasing visibility and importance of transgender people in contemporary culture. A fundamental premise of trans studies is that ethical research in this area must be attentive to and prioritize the voices and knowledge which trans people have about themselves and their experience. We will, therefore, cultivate such an attentiveness in our course. By studying trans research representing several academic disciplines you will develop a sense of how different disciplines approach this research area, and then apply this knowledge to research and writing projects of your own. What do trans people say about themselves and their lives? How can you, as apprentice researchers, ethically translate that lived experience into research scholarship of your own?

Instructor: Jonathan Otto

Sections: 06P, 09M

Designed to introduce you to the world of academic research and writing, this section of WRDS 150 will do so with a focus on sustainable development. Inter-governmental organizations, governments, and non-governmental actors have defined “sustainable development” as a means for addressing economic marginalization while ensuring environmental well-being for future generations.  One inter-governmental organization, the United Nations (UN), has played an important role in popularizing the idea of “sustainable development” and has committed vast resources to the implementation of “sustainable development” projects.  In 1992, for instance, the UN hosted the Conference on Environment and Development where the notion of “sustainability” gained broad international exposure.  Twenty-three years later, the UN created the “Sustainable Development Goals,” consisting of a broad set of principles aimed at guiding the sustainable development efforts of member countries.  In this course, we will begin to participate in the scholarly community of UBC by analyzing “sustainable development” from the perspective of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  We will read the work of scholars in economics, geography and other social sciences and humanities disciplines who analyze “sustainable development” as a political and ideological concept and as a set of material social practices.  As we engage with this scholarly work, we will identify the distinct analytical tools and modes of framing common to each disciplinary approach.  We will then employ these analytical tools in our own research on and writing about the topic.

Instructor: Jennifer Cowe

Sections: 06Q, 12P

This course will aim to explore how different academic disciplines engage with the concept of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a word, or more usually a feeling, that most people have used or felt; however, very few understand its constant presence in everyday life. We will study nostalgia from its earliest appearance in academia as a form of mental illness in the seventeenth century and follow its growing influence over, and manipulation of, contemporary ideas of national identity, consumerism, class, lifestyle choices and LGBTQ histories. Through the study of academic journal articles from a variety of fields (psychology, history, marketing, politics, media) we will examine the research and writing techniques used by different disciplines to understand such an esoteric concept.

Instructor: Mi-Young Kim

Sections: 07Q, 08P

The Atkins diet, K-pop, fidget spinner, Pokémon Go, virtual reality games, mindfulness, body modification, and media hype of certain news… what do these have in common? They were (or are) once a fad. When does a fad become a fashion and finally settle as a “fit”? (or does it?) Which one of these has informational social influence or normative social influence? How does this particular type of social influence affect us as producers, distributors, and/or consumers? In this section of WRDS150, we will address some of these questions and explore how a fad shapes and forms our identities and values. We will also become familiar with the conventions of academic writing and the basic premise of research,  as well as participate in academic conversations through our own research on the topic of “fad, fashion, or fit”.

A selection of unabridged, peer-reviewed scholarly articles on the topic from several disciplinary perspectives including but not limited to media studies, socioeconomics, science, and psychology will help us see how scholarly texts with various research methods and writing styles can produce different types of knowledge and understanding of this particular type of social influence.

Instructor: Michael Schandorf

Sections: 11M, 14M

The idea of competition is so fundamental to Western culture that we often take it for granted as a natural good. Nearly every aspect of our lives involves competition: we compete in school and for jobs, we compete both socially and at work, we compete in games for fun, and when we’re not competing ourselves we spend much of our time enjoying watching others compete. But our obsession with competition has complications. For example, a world divided into winners and losers is an inherently inequitable world: there will always be more “losers” than “winners”. Competition also has interesting relationships with our need for social cohesion. Attempting to disentangle cooperation from competition, in fact, can undermine both: a lack of either can lead to unproductive stasis, and worse, but a complete integration of cooperation and competition can lead to us-versus-them thinking and even war (which American rhetorical scholar Kenneth Burke called “the ultimate disease of cooperation”). This seminar will explore some of the ways that competition has been investigated in recent scholarship, and students will design and produce a research project of their own contributing to that scholarly conversation.

Instructor: Linda Kaastra

Sections: 11N, 12M

This section will explore “Collaborative Thinking, With and Through Technology.” We begin with a reading on coordination and signaling in face to face interaction. Using the ideas of this and a companion article, we compare two scholarly research perspectives on social coordination at Starbucks. Then we shift and broaden our focus to look at online social interaction, exploring themes related to learning, privacy, and ethics in text-based social interaction online. Our readings span the disciplines of Discourse Studies, Cognitive Science, Instructional Science, and Archival Studies.

Student research projects will explore the role of writing at one of three levels: writing as thinkingwriting as participation in social activity, and writing as participation in scholarly activity. With our course authors we will ask questions like, how is grounding established in written communications? How are layers of meaning negotiated in social interactions online? What is the responsibility of authors to present ideas with authenticity? How do readers trace the genealogy of ideas online? What kinds of thought processes are supported by Internet technologies? What can the Internet teach us about thinking in groups? How does culture manifest itself online? What role does the internet play in creating a sense of identity? Where do we draw boundaries in interpersonal interaction online?

Instructor: Loren Gaudet

Sections: 12N

This course introduces students to, and invites them to participate in, scholarly conversations about pharmaceuticals and their advertisements. Together, we will read journal articles from a variety of fields (cultural studies, rhetoric, history, and more) and ask: how does pharmaceutical marketing affect the production of disorders? How are we persuaded to understand ourselves as healthy, or not? We will also think about the production of knowledge itself: how are disciplinary boundaries maintained and/or challenged, and how are knowledges shaped by these boundaries? By the end of this course, students will have developed an understanding of the generic features of academic articles in a diverse range of areas, honed reading, writing, and presentation skills, and built a lens through which to assess more critically health/medical information available through professional, public, and social media.

Instructor: Diana Wegner

Sections: 14N, 15N

This course invites students to join the scholarly conversation on “homelessness.” Students will become apprentice researchers as they explore the various perspectives that different academic disciplines take on the issue of homelessness, and then complete a related research paper. We will read scholarly articles that will introduce students to new and exotic styles of language. These styles of language (very different from everyday language) will vary depending on the subject area (e.g. criminology, social work, city planning, addiction, social justice, socio-economics, psychology, sociology, discourse studies).

Instructor: Meredith Beales

Sections: 14P, 15M

In The Lion King, on the BBC, on stages and classrooms around the world—the work of William Shakespeare is often encountered as a classroom text, theatre, or film.  But Shakespeare is now also used as inspiration for academic research ranging from history and film studies to archeology, mathematics, and cognitive science.  In this class, we will examine how this one sixteenth-century English playwright has galvanized research in a variety of disciplines beyond the traditional starting point of English literature.  We will ask why this particular writer has such a large impact on academic study, and whether, in research on, for example, supernovae or twenty-first century Afghan politics, Shakespeare has much to do with the research at all.  Does simply adding the name Shakespeare make it more likely to be taken seriously?  Does it matter that the motivation for an archeological dig comes from trying to prove Shakespeare wrong?  What, if anything, does Shakespeare have to do with the research done in his name?

No prior knowledge of Shakespeare is expected, nor will we be reading his literature (the plays or poems themselves) in WRDS 150.

Instructor: Sang Yin Wu

Sections: 16M

This course introduces students to academic reading and writing through analysis of scholarly discourses in the humanities and social sciences. We will focus our attention on the contemporary question of the human which, some forty years after the literary theorist Ihab Hassan urged us “to understand that five hundred years of humanism may be coming to an end, as humanism transforms itself into something that we must helplessly call posthumanism,” has come to be comprehended and contested in terms of the posthuman. From biotechnology to artificial intelligence, bioethics to animal rights, clones to cyborgs, the posthuman represents a challenge to the Western tradition’s most cherished ideals and assumptions about what it means to be human, the nature of the self and its place in the world, the sense of how we as humans have always been and are continually progressing toward something better. How do scholars from fields as diverse as philosophy, psychology, anthropology, theology, literary criticism, and film studies, grapple with the concept of the posthuman? Is “posthumanism” a more or less useful term than other -isms such as postmodernism, poststructuralism, transhumanism, ahumanism, for marking a gradual evolution of or a radical break from humanism? Do political philosophers and social anthropologists confront similar ethical dilemmas by overturning human exceptionalism in favour of relativistic, relational models of power and ontology despite their differing approaches and methodologies? Are external scientific advances in genetically modified foods and prosthetic devices what make us newly posthuman, or is the very incarnation of the human perpetually calling itself into question from within, the human always already posthuman? Do animals and aliens, dogs and pod people, share the same capacity for, or pose the same threat of, destabilizing the position of the human subject in the face of objects and others? How is our understanding of human being, with all its implications for not only the survival of other species and things but the sustainability of the earth as a whole, shaped by our discourses of human becoming?