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Writing Across the Curriculum

GRW Course Descriptions

Fall 2015

The Fall 2015 Global Perspectives Seminar (GRW-101) offerings are almost finalized. Below is the list of known sections that will take place this fall. Updated 3/19/2015

GRW 101-10 From Geishas to Gaga

Professor Susanne Cole - MWF 08:30 a.m. - 09:20 a.m.

A fifteen-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl targeted by Taliban
gunmen; Japanese officials reexamine an apology for WWII comfort women; passage of anti-gay laws in Russia and throughout Africa, fill news reports of recent years. It seems a pivotal moment in world history for people marginalized due to their gender and sexuality. With today’s headlines as our guide, the goal of this course is improve our global citizenship by giving historical context to current events. Researching the history of women, men, and sexuality around the globe will help us more fully understand what is happening today, how we feel about it, and what we would like policy makers to do about it. Your research project will take you wherever in the world you would like to go, and result in a written historical investigation and presentation of a current global gender and sexuality issue.

GRW 101-11 Comic Women

Professor James Hall - MW 08:30 a.m. - 09:45 a.m.

On a recent episode of 30 Rock, written by and starring Tina Fey, Jenna and Liz set out to prove that women can be funnier than trained monkeys. The result: a send-up of the centuries-old argument that only men can incite a laugh. Indeed, when David Kelly wrote an article for the New York Times about the funniest novels of all time, none of the authors were women (and all were white). This course traces how women have first been portrayed as comic objects and then how women have directed comedy outward from the female body in order to voice the world, to subvert it, and to reshape it. We begin with Lysistrata and work our way to Lena Dunham’s hilarious, heartbreaking Girls. Along the way, possible stops might include drama like The Country Wife, Trifles, and Katori Hall’s Saturday Night/Sunday Morning; poems such as the Wife of Bath’s tale and selections from a recent anthology; newspaper columns by Fanny Fern and Dear Abby; and tv series that might include I Love Lucy, Absolutely Fabulous, and Girls; fiction by Flannery O’Connor and Jane Austen and Lorrie Moore; and standup comic acts by Phyllis Diller, Margaret Cho, and Wanda Sykes. We supplement our reading with criticism from Helene Cixous, Virginia Woolf, Joanna Russ, Rebecca Walker, and Laura Mulvey. Assignments include short responses, an annotated bibliography, a research paper, and a presentation.


GRW 101-12 The Science of Reality TV

Professor Rebecca Fox – MWF 09:30 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.

This class will investigate the science and resource management behind some of the popular Discovery and History Channel reality television shows such as Deadliest Catch, Gold Rush, and Ax Men. These shows follow individuals who are making a living from the extraction or harvest of natural resources both in the U.S. and throughout the World.  These resources are limited, and management regulations exist to minimize environmental harm and degradation.  Ideally, these regulations are based on sound scientific research.  Throughout this course, the students will delve into and discuss the science and regulations behind the resources featured in these shows, and they will critically assess whether the regulations are reasonable.  Additionally, these shows will provide a platform for comparing the management of natural resources globally.


GRW 101-13 Religious Freedom

Professor Joseph Prud’homme – MWF 10:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.

The protection of religious liberty is enshrined in both American constitutional and international law. This course explores the theological, philosophical, political, and geo-political questions surrounding religious freedom. Attention will be paid to primary domestic and international legal texts and court cases; the sacred books of many of the world’s great religions; and contemporary reports on the global state of religious liberty.  Special co-curricular trips will be arranged to prominent organizations in Washington, D.C. addressing religious freedom.

GRW 101-14 The Science Behind Our Food

Professor Betsy Moyer-Taylor – MWF 10:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.

Just what is gluten anyway?  Will the Rawfoods and Caveman diets keep you healthier?  Why would you ever need to carbo-load?  And what, really, are those unpronounceable ingredients listed on the labels of processed food?  Global societies are becoming increasingly obsessed with discussing healthy food options.  But as the health food revolution continues to grow, so does the number of questions we have about what to eat, not to mention our waistlines.  As this debate becomes more complex, perhaps it’s time to get to know our food better.  In this course, we will investigate the science behind our global menus.  We will examine the basic chemical components that comprise a typical meal.  We will collect data to understand what happens when our food is cooked, cooled, blended, preserved, genetically altered and combined with other ingredients.  This data will be used to draw conclusions about the nature of food and unlock the mysteries of the food label.  We will use our scientific knowledge to examine how cultural diets and manufacturing processes impact the health of different societies around the world.  Research, writing, and presentation skills will be honed by doing innovative projects about what draws us to the dinner table every day.


GRW 101-15 Bunraku & Bowie/Kabuki & Kiss

Professor Dale Daigle – MWF 11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.

The traditional performing arts of Asia have had a profound and ubiquitous influence on contemporary art and culture. It is difficult to find any form of expression anywhere in the world that does not borrow from these traditions in some way. From Steven Spielberg, David Bowie, and Lion King director Julie Taymor, to Kiss, Stomp and Cirque de Soleil, the influences are direct and acknowledged. The course will survey a variety of these traditions and look at the effect they have had on contemporary art and culture.

GRW 101-16 A New China Thru Literature

Professor David Hull - MWF 11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.

Manchu (Qing) dynasty could not long survive under the dual threats of internal rot and external aggression, many Chinese people saw not the imminent collapse of one single dynasty, but a danger of the utter elimination of the Chinese state or perhaps even the Chinese race.  And yet there might be a way to save China: if western science and technology could be imported and domesticated could they be used to defend China? What then becomes of the old China? Must the Chinese people and society be reformed in a “western” mold in order to take advantage of the new tools? Does China need to become less Chinese in order to avoid destruction?

This course will explore these problems through Chinese literature of the period as well as works of western social theory that the Chinese intellectuals hoped could be used to save China. Students will develop reading, communication, research, writing, and editing/revision skills through multiple written assignments, presentations and student-led discussions. All class material will be presented in English. No foreign language ability is required.

GRW 101-17 The War Over Wolves

Professor Andrew Case – MWF 12:30 p.m. - 01:20 p.m.

The goal of this course is not to figure out which side is right or wrong, but rather to use the war over wolves as a way to better understand the conflicted role of wildlife––and wild nature in general––in our modern lives. After exploring the history that shaped attitudes and actions towards wolves and ultimately their near eradication in the lower 48 states, we will explore wolf reintroduction and the changing fates of large predators on an increasingly crowded globe. Along the way, we will explore the “lenses” through which ranchers, ecologists, ethicists, and political leaders have viewed wolves and debate our own values in the process. Students will tackle critical questions while also developing their research, writing, and rhetorical skills.
Our exploration of wolves will be placed in a global perspective by comparing the animal’s North American story with places like Scandinavia, Russia, Iran, and Japan. We will study inadvertent as well as intentional efforts at “rewilding” in Western Europe and ask whether the wolf can have a place in the countryside in our times. In addition, we will explore developments in “carnivore coexistence” in places across the global South as a means of understanding the strategies that societies and cultures have developed for living with predator species.
The course will feature a number of guests who will discuss varying perspectives on wolves and wildlife and students will conduct a number of in-class debates to develop the skill of developing an argument and presenting evidence. A field trip may be part of the course if circumstances permit.

GRW 101-18 Business of Organized Crime

Professor Michael Harvey – TTH 01:30 p.m. - 02:20 p.m.

Did you know that al-Qaeda fighters submit expense reports and earn vacation days? This course introduces the suprisingly businesslike world of organized criminal enterprises. Examples include the Mafia (in Italy as well as the United States), al Qaeda, Latin American drug cartels, pirates, and gangs. The study of organized crime, drawing on diverse materials (first-person accounts, interviews, sociological research, criminal investigation, journalism, fiction, as well as documentaries, movies, and TV shows), can help us recognize and understand the core challenges that all organizations face: the division of labor, external competition, internal power struggles, culture, structure, innovation, and sustainability. Student work will consist primarily of research papers, but will also include blogs and other kinds of informal online posting, game-playing, movie and TV-show viewing, and perhaps a field trip to a penitentiary.

GRW 101-19 Lighting Things on Fire

Professor Andrew Case – MWF 10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Flick the light switch. Tap the thermostat. Fire up the engine. Charge your batteries. Crank up the music. Nearly every part of daily life is shaped by the consumption of energy. Behind that clean and quiet flow of electrons rests a long history—and lots of natural resources—that we rarely think about. The central premise of this class is that figuring out how to get more heat, light, and work out of the things we “light on fire” has been central to the development of human societies. Likewise, one of the fundamental challenges of our own time will be figuring out how more people can have the benefits of cheap and abundant energy, while minimizing the costs of “lighting things on fire” to both people and the planet. This class will explore energy production and consumption in the past and present. From personal energy use to the geopolitics of energy around the globe to the unintended consequences of energy production, we will think about how energy shapes lives and landscapes both near and far. The seminar will help students grasp critical questions about energy and the environment while also providing an opportunity to develop their research, writing, and rhetorical skills.

GRW 101-21 The Body Toxic

Professor Mindy Reynolds – TTH 08:30 a.m. - 09:45 a.m.

Have you ever wondered about how the chemicals in everyday products such as shampoo, nail polish, or plastics may be affecting your body? Are we predisposed to the development of cancer, or are there environmental effects that make us more susceptible to disease? Are the pesticides being sprayed in the fields around the world bad for our health? Is early onset of puberty due to genetics or environmental exposure? This course is designed to help students become better and more engaged global citizens by understanding the biological effects
of common products. We will examine current and historical cases of exposure to chemicals from around the world and their long term implications on human health and the environment. These case studies will be supplemented by exploring the social, ethical, and economic implications of these products - both in the United States and abroad. Required readings will include scientific research articles, historical films and novels, and current news articles. In addition to a research paper and presentation of a case study, assignments will include short reaction papers, debates, a current events journal, and the production of a public broadcast video to educate the general public on current hazardous chemicals.


GRW 101-22 Speeding through Time

Professor Badri Shyam  – TTH 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

What does ‘instant’ really mean? In the 1600s, immediate news was something that you could get within a month. Today, your Instagram pictures from lunch are already stale. Urbanization and technological development have transformed the patterns of everyday life by allowing us to do more in less time. Advances in modern technology have allowed us to fragment time into smaller and smaller intervals, changing how we perceive and value time. Let’s explore how the concept of time is understood in different societies, both ancient and modern. We will see how speeding through time is changing beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors around the world. We will also encounter various ways of thinking about time, from geological and biological time to linear and psychological time. In so doing, we will learn how scientists grapple with these time scales from measurement to interpretation. Students will solidify their understanding of the research process through written assignments and refine their presentation skills over topics of their interest. The course will encourage students to think broadly and critically about the world that they inhabit, persuading them to see their contemporary concerns through the lens of long-standing discourses around time.

GRW 101-24 Global Sounds: Music and Identity

Professor Jonathan McCollum – TTH 01:00 p.m. -02:15 p.m.

This course explores music as an aspect of human culture by focusing on selected styles from throughout the globe. We will examine broad historical, cultural, and social contexts of music. Students will study a variety of global aesthetics of music and become familiar with traditional, religious, folk, art, and popular musical styles from select areas of the world. In addition, students will examine the roles of the media, politics, religion, gender, and popular trends on expressive culture, and explore the interdisciplinary nature of music and the connections between the arts and cultural values. Students will hone their writing skills through a series of short ethnographic paper assignments and will give oral presentations based on original ethnographic research.

GRW 101-25 Making Place: Searching for Somewhere in an Age of Anywhere

Professor Adam Goodheart – TTH 02:30 p.m. - 03:45 p.m.

In this course, we will explore the concept of “place.” What makes a geographical location a particular place to which people are attached? How might a certain place define who we are? How might it expand our humanity? How might it limit our opportunities? How might it become a character in the story of our lives? Is a meaningful sense of place still possible in a global era when people shop at the same stores, eat at the same restaurants, and watch the same TV shows in Bangkok as in Baltimore? Can too much attachment to place become problematic - even dangerous? And how can a writer, scholar, or artist capture a place’s essential qualities and communicate them to others?

On group and solo expeditions beyond the classroom, students will act as explorers, delving deeply into natural and human landscape of the complicated place that surrounds us: Chestertown. Along the way, they will develop ethnographic and archival research skills to capture contemporary and historical narratives of place, as well as polishing their craft as writers to convey their findings vividly and authoritatively.

GRW 101-27 Voices From the Grave: Uncovering Family Secrets

Professor Heather Calloway – TTH 10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Where are you from? Famous celebrities have been featured in popular television specials where they learn of their fascinating family histories. But, what about you? Using archives, historical newspapers, online resources and other clues, students will learn how to use primary documents, oral histories and technology to find out about their own past. This course will explore global issues such as immigration, migration and colonization in the context of finding students own past and story. The course will also explore the roles that historic documents play in tracing one’s past. Through assigned readings, classroom discussion, and independent research, we will work together to develop written essays and presentations to tell our family histories. Students will engage in creating a personal family tree, complete an original research project and make an oral presentation. We will also visit cultural repositories to examine places to discover and access unique resources for research.