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First-Year Writing Seminar Course Descriptions

LinC 101: First-Year Writing Seminar

First-Year Writing Seminar (FYWS) introduces students to academic literacy practices central to success in any discipline at Moravian University. The course is designed to help students transition to college expectations, generate research questions, find and evaluate sources, and make informed decisions about how best to achieve their purposes in various writing situations. The subject area focus of each section of First-Year Writing Seminar varies, but all sections are similar in their approach: students develop the skills of critical reading, research, argumentation, revision, and reflection; and students work collaboratively with classmates, the professor, and the Writing Fellow to improve writing, build community, and explore available campus resources to achieve academic and personal success during their time at Moravian. Meets F1 LinC requirement.

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First-Year Writing Seminar Sections for Fall 2023:

(Click on course titles to read more details.)

Music is part of our daily lives, and what we choose to listen to is mood dependent. We turn to music to share in emotions and experiences and to find a way to communicate our innermost thoughts and emotions. This course will examine the ways in which women communicate through popular music, and how women’s musical voices have changed over time. By listening, analyzing, and reading about women’s work in pop music, students will explore the ways in which women’s voices — and means of expression and communication — fit into, or worked against societal expectations. Weekly student-curated playlists and writing assignments will encourage students to broaden their listening horizons from Ma Rainey to Lizzo, and consider the ways in which women have used music to communicate and perform in ways that challenged societal norms. Students will explore the intersections of popular music and society through assignments such as weekly reflections, rhetorical analysis, and a research project.

Professor: Sarah Baer

What is bone divination, and where was it practiced? Who reads tea leaves and how are they supposed to work? What is the relation between astrology and astronomy and what is a “fashion horoscope”? In this class we will examine practices of divination and ideas surrounding them across different cultures and time periods. We will also consider the place of divination within the popular imagination through beloved figures such as Professor Trelawney and Walter Mercado, and the social media niche of witchTok, to analyze how we think about divination in our current historical moment. Students will develop skills in primary source reading and learn to think historically and critically about divination and its recent popularity in North America. Collaborative and individual research and writing will be at the center of this class as we navigate how to talk about divination both today and in the past.

Professor: Brigidda Bell

Maps bring people together by conveying information about places and people in a visual way that’s often more accessible than facts and figures alone. Maps give important context to the interplay of environment and society. They inspire action and are often the basis for decision making. Students will explore the possibilities of using maps, images and text to create visual narratives related to environmental justice (the fair and meaningful involvement of all people in environmental decision-making) as they develop reading and writing skills through a variety of projects and activities in reading, critical analysis, discussion, and research writing.

Professor: Catherine Brandes

Art Matters, a Foundational Literacies pilot course, engages students in an exploration of the role art plays in numerous facets of our lives. From cave paintings to graffiti, people have been using art to communicate with diverse audiences about events, natural wonders, and issues of social justice. Many forms of art have been used to convey health messages, share stories about community, and impart cultural wisdom. In this course, students will examine different art forms in the classroom, in local galleries, and at public art installations. By viewing art and engaging with different writing genres, students will develop a greater understanding of why art matters. Throughout the semester, students will strengthen rhetorical reading skills that will enable them to delve deeply into texts across a variety of genres. Creative and academic writing skills will be strengthened through assignments designed to communicate students’ understanding of art and its impact on the individual and society.

Professor: Cathy Coyne

LinC 101D is a First-Year Paired Course. As such, all students in LinC 101D will also be taking ART 119: Art Processes and Structures, in which they will create their own artwork, gaining an understanding of art materials and the process of creation inspired by historical and contemporary artists. In the LinC 101D classroom, students will reflect upon and write about the art they have created, sharing not only their thoughts about the artwork, but also the experience of creation; in the ART 119 classroom students will create art related to the LincC 101D topics and readings. ART 119 is a LinC M6 designated course.

This course will focus on and closely examine the politics and labor of crafting an online persona through the case study of Minh-Ha T. Pham’s book Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet. In the course of our semester, we’ll touch upon the concepts of visual rhetoric, body language, and how we clothe ourselves to indicate details of status, gender, racial identity and aspiration. (Even though the “audience” for our online selves is often seen as global, the exploration of style and ‘policing of cool’ still remains mostly a U.S. phenomenon.) We will delve into the recent dominance of Asian pop culture trends inside the U.S., as well as touching on the history of Asian immigration into this country and significant periods throughout this group’s history here (including the present moment, sometimes referred to as a time of “grappling with increased visibility”). We will explore standards of beauty inside and outside of Asia (and the history-saddled reasons for these standards). Students will engage in multimodal research, including interviews and creating a social media artifact, reflections and responses to events and short films, and reflect throughout the semester inside of private digital journals. Our culminating research project will explore their own questions of identity and visibility as they transition into college.

Professor: Liz Gray

The preeminent environmental activist and writer Bill McKibben recently called climate change “the greatest crisis humans have yet faced.” In readings, documentaries, videos, and interactive graphics, we examine the evidence of this global phenomenon and consider the current and future effects on both the planet and its inhabitants. Since forecasts of an ever-warming planet can verge on the apocalyptic, we step back and survey a range of strategies that countries, states, organizations and individuals have adopted to address this greatest of crises. We join their efforts by researching and crafting climate change action plans for the places we call home.

Professor: Mark Harris

No matter where you go, someone’s always ready to sell you something. From the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to schools we attend, you’ve been persuaded to make a purchase. In this class, we’ll learn about the ways advertising creeps into our lives through our televisions, on our roads, and over our phones, and how we’re being persuaded every single day – even if we don’t think about it. We’ll use rhetorical theory to analyze advertising and learn how to use the techniques we find in advertisements in our own writing. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to craft arguments you find meaningful about the ways advertisers contribute to our society to our benefit and our detriment. As we analyze, compose, draft, and argue about the ways advertising affects our lives, students will leave the class with a clearer understanding of the ways persuasion acts in the real world.

Professor: Christopher Luis Shosted

What is it about your favorite songs that makes them so meaningful to you? Music holds a fascination for most people. It can change people’s moods, attract attention to a product, communicate to others how we feel, or help groups of people rally together in celebration or in protest. In this course, we will discuss music in its pure form (instrumentals) and in relation to lyrics, focusing on how music is used to change minds in others and in ourselves. We will critically read research in fields like psychology, neuroscience, sociology, and history to learn about how music impacts people, how our brains process it, how it is integrated in our society, and how it has been used at key moments in time to impel people to action or bring them together. You will explore a range of writing genres, as well as multimedia communication, including personal reflections, song analysis, and integration of research sources in an area of particular interest to you.

Professor: Sarah Johnson

This First-Year Writing Seminar investigates the body. We think we know bodies because we have one. We think we know how they move, run, walk, jump, and get tired. We think we know how they consume food and drink, how they shiver and sweat, how they desire rest, and how they get sick. Yet, over the course of history, the body has changed. Knowledge of bodies has changed. The spaces bodies occupy have changed. In this course I invite you to explore how and why these changes happened. We explore sports. We look into medicine and human health. We investigate sex and sexuality. We discuss the ways people dressed, followed or ignored fashion. We engage these themes through readings, discussions, analysis of images, films, and writing.

Professor: Heikki Lempa

Crime and deviance are popular and compelling topics in our media landscape - television shows, movies, podcasts, documentaries, news media and more. But how accurate are these narratives? And what do they tell us about the nature of crime and offending? How do they influence our feelings towards those who commit deviant and criminal acts and those who are victimized? What do they say about who is criminal and dangerous and who is not? In this course, we will critically examine the narratives being presented about crime and deviance in popular mainstream media. Using research and a variety of writing modalities, we will explore how personal and social opinions have been informed and developed by the ways in which narratives around crime and deviance are presented in the media.

Professor: Rebecca Malinski

We often think of ourselves as separate from the ecosystems that make up the natural world, separate from the rest of the animal kingdom. Yet this view does not reflect reality. In this class, we will take a multidisciplinary approach to analyzing the interdependence of the health of our planet, human health, and animal health. This class will also aim to help us better understand how focusing on improvements to the environment can improve human and animal well-being. We will rhetorically analyze pieces from different genres to learn how different forms of writing can serve different purposes and communicate with different audiences. This rhetorical awareness can support the development of research and writing projects relevant to us. We will use these experiences to create new pieces of writing designed to inform and inspire others.

Professor: Sara McClelland

Before there were words, there were pictures. These pictures helped us tell stories, from the mundane (“What did you do today?”) to the cosmic (“What happens when I die?”) in ways that connected people at our earliest moments. Pictures are still used to tell stories, from pop culture favorites to critically-acclaimed historical works to personal reflections meant for an audience of one. These works, popularized as comic books and graphic novels, are an important and overlooked part of our cultural history. In a variety of reading and writing projects we will analyze and respond to many different works to see how comics use sequential storytelling to encompass every genre of writing to engage us in ways other mediums do not.

Professor: Jeff McClelland

Some may think scientists don’t use rhetoric, associating that practice with politicians and con artists. A more positive notion of rhetoric defines it as the power of discovering the available means of persuasion and using them effectively. Science found in textbooks today is mostly exposition, i.e., explanations of what is now known about the natural world. However, before that information became knowledge, there were arguments about how the natural world actually worked. Using a variety of readings from various genres, this course will examine winning and losing arguments about such big questions as the structure of the atom, the origin and shape of the universe, the descent of humans from earlier beings, and the impact humans are having on the planet by critically reading and responding to influential science texts from ancient times to today. Students will be exposed to a mixture of stimulating academic assignments grounded in research, information and digital literacies to produce analyses and multimodal compositions designed to evaluate the arguments for and against key scientific models.

Professor: Tim McGee

Eighteenth-century Pennsylvania can seem like a distant and inaccessible world, but in many ways it resembles the conflicts and opportunities that characterize our communities today. It was an incredibly diverse colony with people of many races, ethnicities, and religious preferences all hoping to carve out a unique and potentially expansive space for themselves. To capture this energy more tangibly, this course will often be conducted at historic sites. We will prepare for these visits by reading scholarly articles, and we will aim to apply the same critical eye that we bring to texts to reading historical architecture and landscapes. Having honed our critical reading skills, we will also devote significant attention to translating the information and interpretations that we have studied into clear and effective writing. We will focus on writing as a process of thinking and communicating, taking particular care to understand how our writing strategies change with our audience. In addition to our regularly scheduled class time, we will take three Saturday field trips. There is a $50 course fee to cover the price of admission and travel expenses.

Professor: Sharon Muhlfeld

Indigenous cultures and scientists tell different stories about how people arrived in the Americas. While some Native Americans trace their origins to a woman who fell from the sky, many scientists contend that the first Americans migrated from Siberia over the Bering Land Bridge. Can both be true? Students will read broadly in several disciplines, including archaeology, genetics, and chemistry, as well as Indigenous oral traditions to critically evaluate theories about how and when people arrived in the Americas, the causes and consequences of megafaunal extinction. The class will engage in ethical debates about who owns the past and whether scientists should de-extinct the mammoth. This class will treat writing as a process. Students will write a research paper in stages, engage in peer-review, and present their work in written form as well as a museum exhibit for a public audience. Paleolithic America is also a hands-on course in which students will knap flint, make cordage, and create cave paintings to gain insights into the lives of Paleolithic people.

Professor: Jamie Paxton

The Internet has connected humanity in ways that were previously unimaginable. In the loosely regulated online space of social media, false information often proliferates unchecked. The consumption of fake news has spread to such a degree that it has begun to threaten democratic government: how can a free society weed out fake news while still protecting Americans’ First Amendment rights? In this first-year-writing seminar, students will be challenged to understand and identify solutions to the fake news crisis by exploring political science and communication research as well as investigative journalism, documentaries, and historical accounts of how fake news has influenced Americans over time. Students will learn to develop media literacy skills as they engage in a writing process designed around problem-based research: if Americans cannot agree on the basic facts relating to current events, how can a government of the people, for the people and by the people endure?

Professor: Samuel Rhodes

American society today is mired by what many contend to be the dawn of an unprecedented surge in inter-generational animus between an aging-yet-still-dominant Baby Boomer cohort (born 1946 through 1964) and an emergent Generation Z (born 1997 through 2012). This course is geared toward an examination of these circumstances through a series of writing and research projects. We will explore and theorize the nature of this lingering generational hostility by parlaying both personal observations and professional perspectives into multiple opportunities for written and oral expression.

Professor: Joel Nathan Rosen

Isaac Asimov may have been the most prolific writer the English language has ever seen; he authored more than 400 books during his lifetime. We will read both his science fiction (including I, Robot) and his science essays, and pay close attention to the arguments in his writing—whether they are his own explanations of scientific phenomena or his characters’ reasoning as they try to solve mysteries or predict the behavior of robots. By examining how a master laid out written arguments, we will work to improve our abilities to make arguments in our own writing.

Professor: Carl Salter

We work with numbers and math every day - and in ways we may not even realize! From sports, to baking, to gaming and more, numbers permeate our lives and help us make sense of the world around us. In this course, we'll reflect on some of the practical applications of numbers in our lives through readings, reflections, and hands-on exercises, making technically sound arguments both written and verbal. No particular mathematics background is needed and examples of technical writing in other fields will also be discussed.

Professor: Jeffrey McClelland

Have you noticed a horror movie renaissance occurring over the past few years? It seems suddenly podcasts, documentaries, and social media are all abuzz with meaningful discussions about horror films of the past, present, and future, leading to the popularization of the term “post-horror”. What was once considered “sleaze” is now being discussed intellectually and critically. In this course, we will view and discuss several horror movies including Suspiria (1977), Friday the 13th (1980), Jennifer’s Body (2009), and more. Through a variety of critical and multimodal writing exercises, we will read and analyze the discourse surrounding these films, paying special attention to how the cultural context of each affected their initial and present-day reception. Come to class prepared to be scared! Course Content Warning: The films viewed in this course will include depictions of violence, death, and gore. More specific content and trigger warnings will be given in advance of each viewing.

Professor: Kailey Tedesco

We live in the age of scientific progress and have come far in our understanding of the natural world and the universe. Decades of basic research have helped us harness natural energy, understand causes of many diseases and develop life-saving treatments and cures. But some scientific endeavors also led to deadly outcomes, multiplying violence and providing justification for the forces of injustice. In this Foundational Literacies pilot course, we will explore the role of science in the development of nuclear weapons, racism, climate change, inequality and poverty. Students will investigate how scientific discoveries and world views have contributed to problems we still face today. We will explore the impact of cultural violence embedded in science and also ask whether increased science literacy can expand possibilities for peacebuilding in our world. Students will read and write across a variety of genres, including children’s books, infographics, and academic writing to effectively communicate science to different audiences.

Professor: Anastasia Thévenin

LinC 101U is a First-Year Paired Course. As such, all students in LinC 101U will also be taking REL/IDIS165: Introduction to Peace and Justice studies, where students will be introduced to theories of peace and justice. In both courses, students will explore and ethically deliberate issues related to the development of nuclear weapons, racism, climate change, inequality and poverty from two complementary perspectives: peace and justice vs. science history and literacy. As part of a shared project, students will apply peace and justice theories to the development of science literacy materials to be presented to the general public.

All medical professionals swear an oath: First, do no harm. However, extreme circumstances can test the limits of even the simplest duties. In Five Days at Memorial the real stories of how staff were pushed to their limits in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina unfold. This course explores the morals, ethics, and values of healthcare in the context of emergency and disaster. Perspective is given to both the award-winning book and TV Drama developed by Apple. Students are challenged to not only explore the dilemmas faced by doctors, nurses, and others involved in evacuating the hospital following hurricane Katrina, but also differences between text and film. Students will aim to develop their writing and critical thinking skills by responding to key issues raised by the book and drama and consider their own moral, ethical and value structures applicable to careers in and beyond healthcare.

Professor: Colin Tomes

This course will approach the study of language in its full social complexity and richness. Through interview practice and the collection of language from various social media platforms, you will have an opportunity to get hands-on experience in using the tools and theories of semiotics, discourse, and conversation analysis. A series of writing projects will serve to connect these practices to various writing tasks associated with college-level composition.

Professor: Joon-Beom Chu