Winter 2018/19 Term 1

Instructor: Susan Blake

Sections: 01A, 02B

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: Diane Burgess

Sections: 02A, 03A, 05C

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: Linda Kaastra

Sections: 02C, 03C

This section of WRDS 150 takes a discourse studies approach to discovering a role for writing in the activities of music making. The theme for this section is “Engaging Performance.” For this course, “performance” will be broadly understood as musical activity for the purposes of study, analysis, creation, preparation, and production of musical works. Our writing about performance aims to bridge the gap between practice and research, cultivating an awareness of the various kinds of knowledge making that take place through applied and scholarly approaches to musical activity. Readings will be selected from scholarly articles on reflective practice, performance science, music theory, and critical theory. While the readings for this course are largely based in topics related to Western Art Music, students are encouraged to explore musical genres, styles, and cultural practices that intersect with their musical interests. Some experience performing is helpful, but not necessary.

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: Sang Yin Wu

Sections: 03D, 11B

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?

Instructor: Loren Gaudet

Sections: 03E

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: Jennifer Cowe

Sections: 04B, 06B, 07A

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: Judith Scholes

Sections: 04C, 06C, 08B

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: Nazih El-Bezre

Sections: 05A

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, 07C

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: Meredith Beales

Sections: 07B, 08A, 12B

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: Mi-Young Kim

Sections: 10A, 11C, 14B

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: William Green

Sections: 11A, 15A

WRDS 150 prepares you to understand, and participate in, the discourse practices employed by the university community in disseminating the results of research activities. Research writing exhibits a number of characteristics which are shared across disciplinary boundaries, constituting a distinct genre. This course will provide you with experience in recognizing the genre conventions and expectations of research writing through reading published professional scholarship in a range of fields, and in practicing deploying the rhetorical features of research writing through creating communications which detail the results of your own research project. This section of WRDS 150 focuses on the calculation of time. We will read a range of papers concerning the calculation of time from a variety of fields. Over the course of the term, you will complete a series of assignments, each building upon the next, to complete a research project dealing with the language and rhetoric of papers in a discipline of your choosing.

Instructor: Diana Wegner

Sections: 12A

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: Kirby Manià

Sections: 13A, 16A

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: Mary Ann Saunders

Sections: 14A

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-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.