Winter 2019/20 Term 1

WRDS 150 Arts Courses:

Instructor: Connor Byrne

Sections: 01A, 02B, 04B

This course examines the city as an object of scholarly investigation in order to introduce students to the rigours of academic writing and research. By reading publications from a range of disciplines, we will become familiar with the conventions and goals of academic criticism.
 
Guiding this work will be questions about urban space and experience. What kinds of thinking, action, and community give rise to cities? What social, cultural, political, technological, and economic forces impact the lives of city dwellers? How have cities changed throughout history and in what important ways do cities differ? How should cities be organized—both spatially and politically? What role to city dwellers play in impacting and/or remedying the problems of the modern world, a world marked by unprecedented changes, from the rise of industry and capitalism, to the forces of colonialism and globalization, to the trauma of war and the threat of ecological collapse, to the emergence of new forms of identity that trouble conventional notions of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc.? In response to course material and discussion, students will reflect on their own evolving positions as modern city dwellers.

Instructor: Katie Fitzpatrick

Sections: 02A, 07B

Today, we often hear that “privacy is dead.” Some blame growing surveillance by governments and by Silicon Valley tech companies, while others blame an increasingly confessional culture, characterized by constant “over-sharing” on social media and on reality television. But today’s post mortems for a lost privacy follow in a long tradition; lawyers, activists, and philosophers have declared the death of privacy over and over again – in the 1890s, the 1960s, the 1990s, and likely every decade in between. In this course, we will read and analyze scholarly research from across the disciplines in order to better understand what privacy is, whether we are losing it, and why it might be worth protecting. Students will be introduced to the scholarly discourse on privacy in fields like history, law, anthropology, and sociology, and will write a research essay considering one aspect of contemporary surveillance or confessional culture.

Instructor: M. Gillian Carrabré

Sections: 02C, 03C

Artists have long struggled with their mental health. Among them, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, Van Gogh and Michael Jackson. The theme of this section of WRDS 150 is mental health and self-expression in the arts. We will examine articles from a range of disciplines, including musicology, theory, art, literature, music therapy. How do scholars consider the topic of mental health across these diverse fields of artistic discourse? How do musicians navigate the creation of art while dealing with mental illness? And how do we write about these issues as budding academics? Through the artistic work of William Shakespeare, Hector Berlioz, Avicii, Edvard Munch, Chuck Palahniuk, Linkin Park, Oscar Wilde and others, students will develop an understanding of the effects of mental health on the output of art and vice versa. Using the lens provided by our theme, students will learn to apply modern research techniques, think critically, and compose relevant academic papers in Chicago Style, the primary writing style in musical discourse. The classroom will embrace an inclusive mentality, cultivate respect among colleagues, and allow space for creativity.

Instructor: Diane Burgess

Sections: 03A, 04C, 06B

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: Mike Borkent

Sections: 03B, 04A, 06A

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: Kirby Mania

Sections: 06C

The study of the environment encompasses multiple disciplines across the humanities and sciences. In this course we will pay particular attention to the discourse surrounding environmental justice, considering perspectives from critical race theory, ecofeminism, history, sociology, political ecology, and economics. Emerging as a movement in the early 1980s in the US, environmental justice – now considered a global movement and a matter of global concern – recognizes the “unequal impacts of environmental pollution on different social classes and racial/ethnic groups” (Mohai et al., 2009, p.405). Studies have shown that placement of toxic waste facilities and exposure to environmental pollutants disproportionately affect vulnerable social groups (such as people of colour, indigenous peoples, immigrants, women, minority and low-income communities as well as developing countries). Environmental justice studies emerged as a way in which to research, track, and monitor cases of environmental injustice. Research in this field considers the role that grassroots activists play in raising awareness and their means of enacting meaningful environmental and social change. Scholars also study and evaluate policy decisions that either improve or exacerbate existing conditions affecting at-risk communities. The environmental justice paradigm (EJP) attempts to “link environmental principles with historical and contemporary social and economic justice struggles … hold corporations accountable and to participate in the policy making process” (Taylor, 1997, p.53). In this course, we will be tracing a number of scholarly conversations about the Environmental Justice Movement, looking at literature from the US, but also from Canada and other parts of the world, discussing terms like environmental racism, environmental inequality, intersectionality, slow violence, and the environmentalism of the poor.

This multi-discourse approach to the provided topic provides a foundation for engaging thoughtfully with scholarly conversations and published research across a range of disciplinary perspectives. The course will entail writing about these research perspectives as well as producing research of your own.

Instructor: Michael Schandorf

Sections: 03E

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: Nazih El-Bezre

Sections: 05A, 07C

This section of WRDS 150 focuses on the relationship among globalization, identity formation, and the literacy practices needed in the 21st century. In today’s technologically-interconnected world, people, ideologies, food habits, fashion, and movies flow easily through borders with a speed unforeseen in the recorded human history. Due to the shrinkage of our world—which has been called a global village—we are faced with questions concerning the knowledges or literacies required to succeed in a highly competitive world, and the impact of these knowledges on our own identities. The focus on the 21st century literacies operates in conjunction with crucial life literacies, such as health literacy, ecoliteracy, second/additional language literacies, religious literacy, financial literacies, and even food literacy studies. As a result of these multiliteracies, individuals in the 21st century are now required to possess and use a variety of literacy competencies that span across various academic disciplines. Individuals’ literacies are thus multiple, dynamic, adaptable, and multidimensional. Due to the significance of these literacies on identity formation, researchers, including novice university students, explore literacies to improve knowledge transmission at every stage of individuals’ lives.

Instructor: Tom Bittner

Sections: 05B

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: Jennifer Cowe

Sections: 05C, 07A, 08A

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: Jade Standing

Sections: 11A, 14B

The classical term bugonia means the spontaneous generation of bees from the carcass of an ox.

In this course, we consider the ancient bee-generating art of bugonia as a trope with modern applicability. We study how bees are seen and often used as icons of regeneration, hope and new life, and we also think through wider issues of environmental degradation and restoration projects. We read part of a farming manual by Virgil, we look at histories, mythologies, and different cultural uses of bees and their products, and we explore ecological and economic issues affecting apiculture today. The pollination services offered by bees to their local environments epitomize the concept of ‘buying local’ and its ethos of sustainability and care for the planet. We close the course with a study of the influences behind buying local and examine different application models. This multi-discourse approach to a topic provides a foundation for engaging thoughtfully with scholarly conversations and published research from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including writing about these research perspectives and producing research of your own.

Instructor: Simon Rolston

Sections: 11B, 12A

In this course, students will learn academic reading and writing skills by exploring different aspects of criminality. We will read critical work from a variety of disciplines, including criminology, cultural studies, sociology, and history, that address such diverse topics as the nature and causes of criminal behaviour; the role of the police and the judiciary, especially in relation to minority communities; and the cultural meaning of crime and deviance, particularly in American culture, where debates around crime have become especially heated in recent years.

Instructor: Mary-Ann Saunders

Sections: 12B, 14A, 15A

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: EC1, EC2, EC3, EC4

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.

 

WRDS 150 Non-Arts Courses:

Instructor: Mi-Young Kim

Sections: 611, 623, 631, 651

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: Susan Blake

Sections: 612, 621

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: Tom Andrews

Sections: 613, 624, 642

This section of WRDS150 is focused on Critical Thinking in the Digital Era. These modules cover issues including social networking behavior and privacy, climate change denial and hyper-critical thinking, and ‘slacktivism’ and bandwagon political engagement in the 21st century.  We will read articles from scholarly and non-scholarly sources from social science, political science, and humanities backgrounds as well as watching interviews, Ted Talks, and discussion panels.  In doing so, we will endeavor to answer such questions as: does the internet still offer users a place to share and consume information honestly?  Do the harms caused by social media use outweigh its many advantages in contemporary society?  How have internet communication platforms changed political engagement and awareness?  What biases or fallacies are perpetuated by an online world?

Instructor: Jennifer Cowe

Sections: 632

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: David Newman

Sections: 633, 663

In a world where innovation has become highly sought after, creativity is the often-hidden engine necessary for innovation to take place. Creativity is now listed as one of the key skills required for employment in the 21stcentury. But what is creativity, and how is it understood?

Creativity crosses discipline boundaries and can be viewed and understood through multiple lenses (such as business, engineering, and neuroscience). Using scholarship on Creativity as a vehicle, this course will introduce you to different genres and forms of academic writing. You will learn to conduct a literature review, write summaries, develop a research proposal, and then write (and rewrite) a research essay.

Instructor: Janet Fu

Sections: 641, 653

How to conduct research in engineering, science, and business  settings? How to write a research paper? What are the essential components in  communication that students need to acquire? This section of ASRW 150 will answer those questions. This course is designed for students who are not in Arts field. By reading and examining scholars’ works,  and intensive writing practice, students will be able to identify the goals, research methods, citation practices, different genres, and discursive practices; and will be also able to develop their own research proposal, and research paper. Through engaging various activities, students will  leverage their communication skills and research and writing capabilities.

Instructor: William Green

Sections: 643, 672, 681

Time seems basic, or at least fundamental­—it structures our lives, orders our histories, and subdivides our experience of events. But asking what time is, and how we measure it, generates a vast number of questions: why do we have time zones? how is a second defined? what relationship does human time have with the physical structure of the universe? As an attempt to answer the last question might reveal, the concept of time exists at the intersection of human experience and the nature of reality. In this course, we will read a range of papers concerning the calculation of time from a variety of academic disciplines concerning contemporary and historical calculations of time.

Instructor: Nazih El-Bezre

Sections: 652

This section of WRDS 150 focuses on the relationship among globalization, identity formation, and the literacy practices needed in the 21st century. In today’s technologically-interconnected world, people, ideologies, food habits, fashion, and movies flow easily through borders with a speed unforeseen in the recorded human history. Due to the shrinkage of our world—which has been called a global village—we are faced with questions concerning the knowledges or literacies required to succeed in a highly competitive world, and the impact of these knowledges on our own identities. The focus on the 21st century literacies operates in conjunction with crucial life literacies, such as health literacy, ecoliteracy, second/additional language literacies, religious literacy, financial literacies, and even food literacy studies. As a result of these multiliteracies, individuals in the 21st century are now required to possess and use a variety of literacy competencies that span across various academic disciplines. Individuals’ literacies are thus multiple, dynamic, adaptable, and multidimensional. Due to the significance of these literacies on identity formation, researchers, including novice university students, explore literacies to improve knowledge transmission at every stage of individuals’ lives.

Instructor: Andrew Connolly

Sections: 671, 751

“I don’t believe it.” That was Donald Trump’s response to a report on climate change prepared by more than 300 leading climate scientists. Trump is hardly the only person in the contemporary world to reject scientific findings. People dismiss evolution, the health benefits of vaccines, even that the earth is a sphere. This rejection of science can seem perplexing, especially for those who understand the rigorous process of producing scientific knowledge and theories. So why is it that some people simply do not believe in science?
This course looks at the ways scholars from various departments seek to answer that question. Some of the scholars develop wide ranging theories about why people believe what they believe. Others focus on specific people and the complexity of their belief systems. Some scholars even raise their own doubts about science and scientific methods. The differences in the approaches each scholar takes to this question sometimes relates to the discipline they are from. These scholars come from Political Science, Sociology, Philosophy, and English departments. Each of these disciplines has its own methods and conventions. In other words, a particular discipline influences what scholars ask questions about, how they phrase the questions, how they answer the questions, and how they present their findings. As a result, this course will not only introduce you to the academic study of science, politics, and belief. It will also introduce you to the various disciplinary approaches to research and writing.

Instructor: Sang Wu

Sections: 712, 721

This course introduces students to academic reading and writing through analysis of scholarly discourses in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. We will focus our investigation on climate change and other global crises, and issues of responsibility concerning them, in the era of the Anthropocene. Coined at the turn of the 21st century, the word is compounded from the Greek anthropos (“human”) and kainos (“new”). The Anthropocene is the new epoch of humans: one in which planetary conditions are shaped by human activity rather than vice versa, humankind as a force of geological agency has overtaken physical geography and natural history, and the familiar distinction between man and nature no longer holds. A closer look at the scientific and semantic implications of the term, however, reveals it to be less straightforward than initially appears. Currently not officially recognized as part of the Geologic Time Scale, what should be understood or measured as the basis for the Anthropocene means different things to different disciplines. How do scholars from fields as diverse as geology, climatology, sociology, history, anthropology, and psychology, engage with the common idea of the Anthropocene? Do studies of pre-industrial greenhouse gas emissions, critiques of environmentally unsustainable trends of industrial, socioeconomic, and technological acceleration in an age of world capitalism, and theories of the end of human history at the limits of human “meaning” and modernity, ask similar research questions despite starkly contrastive methodologies? How are the discursive challenges posed by referring to singular abstractions (e.g., humans as a “species,” the sense of a “universal” history or geostory, the “Anthropocene”) represented across multiple disciplines, reflective of the conceptual difficulties which arise in accessing or preserving a nature no longer distinguishable from the human interventions that create and destroy it? How is our sense of what it means to be natural objects or human subjects, and what it means not to be, informed by how our discourses produce meaning?

Instructor: Dylan Cree

Sections: 713, 722, 732

The main objective of the course WRDS 150 is to introduce you to various forms of academic research and writing. Accordingly, you will learn to write a summary, a research proposal, and a research paper, all of which will provide you with the kinds of writing skills you will use throughout your academic career.In this particular offering of the course our topic will be approaches in media studies and media criticism. Learning from different schools of thought, concepts and theories related to media and culture you will study the relationships between formal, aesthetic, representational and sensory elements of media texts and their surrounding discourses. Throughout the course, some of our guiding questions will be: how are media and cultural texts made?; how do we critique and analyse media and cultural texts?; and, how is an audience constituted?

Instructor: Loren Gaudet

Sections: 711, 731

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: Meredith Beales

Sections: 741

Living in the modern world means being immersed in a sea of textual and internet-based media: we are constantly reading and responding to the infinite variations of electronic texts, videos, images, and memes.  But how do the different media in which we encounter these messages change the way we respond to them?  And how do our brains and our societies interact under the impact of these new media? In this section of WRDS 150 we will explore how different societies  responded to new forms of communication, now and in the past.  We will explore, as well, how our brains respond to these same challenges, and how the rise of electronic communication has altered (or not) the ways we respond to it and to each other.