Skip to main content
Moravian University
Writing at Moravian

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

First-Year Writing Seminar Sections for Fall 2021:

(Click on course titles to read more details.)

Food is part of our daily life and our culture. It is essential to our existence and health; nevertheless in our current society food is frequently seen just as fuel to keep going. Through a variety of readings and writing projects, we will study how food and foodways have changed throughout history and across cultures. We will explore basic staples like corn and wheat, the meaning of food for different societies, and what cooking and eating practices can tell us about race, class, gender, power, colonialism, and identity. Due to the relevance of food in our lives, this class will also entail a reflection upon our own eating habits and looking at our family history from the perspective of food.

Professor: Sandra Aguilar-Rodriguez

Music is part of our daily lives. We choose to listen because we are elated or dismayed, because we are bored or excited. 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 to, 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. Assignments will include weekly reflections, rhetorical analysis, and a long-form research paper exploring the intersections of popular music and society.

Professor: Sarah Baer

Research shows that yoga and mindfulness practices support our well-being. By gently bringing our awareness back to the here-and-now, these practices can help us dissolve repetitive (and often negative and critical) “mind chatter,” cultivate authenticity, and improve concentration and cognitive functions. Readings for this class focus on research surrounding the benefits of yoga and mindfulness practices in K-12 schools. Some of the writing assignments include keeping field notes regarding your own personal yoga and mindfulness practices during our class; writing a series of analyses where students critically evaluate scholarly and non-scholarly sources; participating in written discussion boards online; and writing reflections about extracurricular activities. Culminating writing projects include collaborations with community partners. This class includes simple, weekly yoga and mindfulness classes with modifications to meet the abilities of individual students. Therefore, students of all abilities are welcome. No prior yoga experience is necessary. Students are required to have a yoga mat for this course.

Professor: Kristin Baxter

From Rhianna and Chris Brown to TV shows like Big Little Lies, popular culture presents us with many examples of unhealthy and violent relationships—both fictional and real. In this course, we will explore unhealthy romantic relationships in popular culture and the messages these examples send about gender, power, and social expectations. We will examine what society reinforces through the media when it comes to representing these dynamics. Using insights from sociology and anthropology, students in this course will analyze this topic through a variety of mediums—from Twitter to mainstream news—and write about their findings using several techniques geared towards different audiences. Students will gain not only valuable information and skills, but opportunities for personal reflection and societal critique.

Professor: Allison Bloom

Stories are as old as humanity. They bring people together by stirring emotions, but also give context to facts and information about the environment. Stories help bridge gaps in society by allowing tellers and listeners the chance to mull over the world and their place in it. Narratives can inspire action—something data alone rarely achieves. Through a variety of reading, discussion, and writing projects, students will explore the possibilities of pairing facts with stories and narratives in writing and art to advance environmental justice (the fair and meaningful involvement of all people in environmental decision-making).

Professor: Catherine Brandes

How do you communicate with your friends, family, and colleagues? Where do you get your news? In this course, we will first look at multimodal means of communication with a special emphasis on social media and then around the time of Gutenberg’s development of the movable-type press (mid-15th century). Through a series of research-based assignments, we will compare, contrast, and analyze dynamic communication methods during two significant periods of technological advancement: the digital revolution and the founding of the printing press. Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to examine some of the pieces in the Moravian Reeves Library Rare Books and Special Collections. This hands-on experience will give students the chance to compare digitally-curated materials with the physical, and to connect to Moravian University’s unique history. Through these analyses and explorations, we will begin to assess what makes a dynamic or a static text, and how writers use available technology to engage their readers. If circumstances allow, we will take a field trip to New York City to view collections housed in the Morgan Library, including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

Professor: Jenifer Branton-Desris

It is generally accepted that public policies in the United States are designed to establish justice and to enable citizens to succeed and prosper. Yet, have all people in the United States benefitted equitably from laws and policies passed in various levels of government? Examination of housing policies provides examples of how this has not occurred. Many argue that federal policies and jurisprudence have done the opposite; they have created structural systems of segregation and discrimination. These systems have resulted in significant enduring disparities in wealth and opportunity between White and Black individuals in the United States. Through readings, writing projects, and discussions, students will examine the role of government policies and redlining in producing disparities that continue to divide the country into the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, distinctively characterized by race.

Professor: Cathy Coyne

What can we do? In “Living on Earth: Topics in Sustainability," we consider the pressing challenge of the 21st century to create sustainable modes of living and working in a global environment that is increasingly at risk. Through a variety of readings, discussions, and writing assignments, students in this course will examine how threats to the natural environment are influencing our ways of living, and how communities are working to create more balanced lifestyles, social structures, and economies. This seminar introduces first-year college students to a liberal arts education that emphasizes critical thinking, effective writing, and civic engagement.  

Professor: Theresa Dougal 

In this course we will compare and contrast our own phenomenological (lived experience) journey in health to that of 21 st century children living in developing countries. Global health and the Sustainable Development Goals will provide a backdrop for our discovery and understanding while we read, critically think, discuss, research, and develop skills in writing and communication. We will investigate the measures of child health along with the many issues affecting these numbers. This exploration will begin with understanding the health of the mother and context of birth, and children-related illness that affect negative health outcomes such as malnutrition, diarrheal disease, and vaccine-preventable illness. Current events, cultural and environmental contexts, and other social determinants of health will provide additional insights into child health in developing countries. On Global Children’s Health Day our learning community will participate in civic engagement through service connected to our Moravian University partnership with a local non-governmental organization that impacts the health and well-being of children in Honduras, Central America.

Professor: Beth Gotwals

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 

Cycling to a better world From serving as a vehicle for human health, to playing a role in women’s liberation, to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, bicycles have played an important role in shaping contemporary culture. In this course, we will use bicycles as a lens to explore issues including but not limited to climate change, body stigma, social justice, gentrification, transportation infrastructure, and more. Our investigation into these topics will involve engaging with bike activists, reading popular media and scholarly articles, and, of course, writing about bicycle-related issues. As a first-year writing seminar, you will use our topic of focus to develop research skills and to practice writing to varied audiences across genres.

Professor: Dietlinde Heilmayr

Hrishikesh Hirway describes his Song Exploder podcast as one “where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.” All of us learn—from our families, from our educational experiences, and especially from the media we consume—to accept certain stories about our histories and our identities. Two quick examples: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 eliminated racism and its effects in the U.S. Incarcerated people are hardened criminals who deserve to be locked away and excluded from society. In this course, we will begin by sharing our own stories, and then, through participating in community-based story exchanges and through reading and discussing work by writers and filmmakers (such as Audre Lorde, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robin Wall Kimmerer, J. Drew Lanham, Tommy Orange, Nandini Sikand, Ava DuVernay, and more), we will “take apart” some of the stories we’ve inherited and examine “how they were made.” We will also create written and multimodal work designed to bring new stories, and new ways of understanding our histories and identities, to a variety of audiences.

Professor: Joyce Hinnefeld

The representations of disability that we see in the media both shape and are shaped by the values and understanding we have of people with disabilities. This writing seminar will explore these representations historically and contemporarily in film, plays, television, and other forms of media. We will use an interdisciplinary framework of Disability Studies to delve into how we create meaning around the phenomenon of disability in the United States, highlighting the experiences and perspectives of people with disabilities themselves. Through media representation in various modalities (such as documentaries, art exhibitions, mainstream fictional movies, television commercials, TV comedies, and dramas, etc.) we will gain an understanding of the concept of disability in educational, health, legal, and economic systems while analyzing how ableism intersects with racism, sexism, homophobia, and other systems of power. This course is designed to engage undergraduate students with knowledge and understanding of disability to support their development as scholars, professionals, and citizens.

Professor: Laurie Kahn 

Audre Lorde notes that we live in a world often oriented around corporate business interests rather than authentic human needs. How can - and do - people develop ways of being in the world that Refuse such dynamics and seek authenticity, health, and justice? Working with Audre Lorde's writing - including The Cancer Journals and "The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action," as well as other writings and multimedia work - we will explore how identities are not simply individual matters. As cultural critic Stuart Hall notes, they relate to how we are positioned by history, and how we position ourselves in relation to history. In this seminar, we will reflect critically on identities (of ourselves and others) in relation to health and justice.

Professor: Carol Moeller

Today, we impulsively carry instantaneous and virtually connected cameras to document and communicate the most minute details in our lives. In a world where almost everyone photographs, what sets certain images apart from the rest? We live in a society inundated with imagery, but how can we harness the photograph’s power and translate its potency? This course invites active looking, engagement with, and the production of photographs as a means to cultivate skills in writing, reading, and research. Drawing from the art world, popular culture, personal experience, careful observation, and shooting assignments, students will explore the ways photographs inform and reflect an experience of being in our imaged world. Students will generate reflective writings, evaluate scholarly and popular texts, and critically analyze photographs across genres. This course will celebrate photography while establishing strategies for an active photographic practice, critical thinking, and visual literacy. Students without any previous photographic or artistic experience are welcome!

Professor: Susan Morelock

What is “the good life?” Is it having money, success, fame, or power? What is “good,” anyway? Does goodness consist in being just or truthful, in partaking in acts of kindness and beauty? Or is goodness simply what is pleasurable? What if it were argued that the good we all seek is, of course, happiness. This then begs the question: what is happiness? Is being happy always good, and does goodness necessarily involve happiness? This course explores two interrelated questions: “What makes for a good life?” and “What is happiness?” The course overall conceives of goodness and happiness – whatever those terms might mean – as first and foremost a matter of self-exploration and self-realization. That is, goodness and happiness are both ideals and states to be realized and achieved. Students will read, critically interpret, and write about a wide range of philosophers who have something to say about the nature of a good life and happiness – philosophers including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Seneca, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer. In the course of engaging the writings of these philosophers students will have the opportunity to develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills.

Professor: Leon Niemoczynski

As a naturalist, I am mesmerized by the beautiful, and sometimes mysterious, life forms that I encounter during field expeditions. From our own backyard to some of the most inhospitable places on Earth, the estimated 8.7 million species living on Earth today have been shaped by 4.5 billion years of evolution. However, global climate change, habitat loss, and unsustainable use of natural resources threaten much of Earth’s biodiversity. As we search for ways to conserve Earth’s biodiversity, we must consider that human communities are part of the very ecological systems that we aim to protect. In this course, we will explore the value of biodiversity and factors that threaten it, reflect on the connection between people and place, and investigate success stories related to conservation of biodiversity and protection of natural habitats. To strengthen their written and oral communication skills, students will examine a variety of resources and explore ways to effectively communicate scientific ideas to general audiences.

Professor: Daniel Proud

Sport films are among commercial cinema’s most recognizable and lucrative genres. In the American context, such productions are meant to represent the entirety of the American experience as life is often depicted in a Horatio Alger-styled reminder that victory is the birthright of the pure of heart in a world depicted as wholesome and forthright even when the line between good and evil is not so easily understood. As a means to both introduce and reinforce college-level writing skills, this course will trace American sport-related motion pictures from the middle to the end of the twentieth century. Throughout, we will examine the social, historical, and ideological significance of such representations of sport, paying particular attention to the role of nostalgia as a means to otherwise reinforce the longstanding notion that sport underscores the meaning of American life.

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

Mathematics is not just about numbers, solving equations, circling an answer, or getting the answer correct. Mathematics is understanding questions of why and how. In mathematics, we focus on truth with a keen eye for detail, precision, abstraction, and brevity. In this course, we will learn how to use the writing process for technical writing through a mathematical perspective. This includes exercises, problems, proofs, reports, and other technical pieces. We will learn how to effectively communicate sound technical arguments, explore the beauty and aesthetic qualities of mathematics, and develop our abstract thinking skills. No particular mathematics background is needed and examples of technical writing in other sciences will also be discussed.

Professor: Nathan Shank

Does your hometown have a local legend? Do ghosts haunt a certain stretch of road near your high school? Or, perhaps, the Jersey Devil has spoiled your milk before? In this course, we will examine the ways in which folklore and legends influence belief, culture, and moral codes within society. We will explore written and oral accounts of legends across the country and analyze the variations in these narratives as they are communicated across time. We will also seek to analyze the rhetoric of storytelling and mythmaking. We will write about legends, lore, and cryptozoology through a variety of genres including researched essays, short fiction, and more.

Professor: Kailey Tedesco

Did you know that the three Mexican-born directors Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu have been the recipients of the most important Oscars in the American Academy Awards and beyond? Their role as directors and screenwriters includes productions as varied as Hellboy (2004), Babel (2006), Children of Men(2006), Gravity (2013), Pacific Rim (2013), The Hobbit (2014), Roma (2018), Birdman (2014); The Revenant (2015), and The Shape of Water (2017) to name only a few. Before their popularity in Hollywood, these three friends were doing exciting work in their native country Mexico, that shaped and arguably contributed to their spectacular success on the other side of the border. Through a variety of films, discussions, and writing assignments, students will learn to appreciate the work of these film directors and cultivate a long-term interest in film and visual culture. Overall, this seminar introduces first-year college students to a liberal arts education that emphasizes critical thinking, academic writing, and the enjoyment of life though the appreciation of art and culture.

Professor: Claudia Mesa