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Writing 160 Multimodal Composition

These courses emphasize an individualized approach to writing in a small seminar setting with frequent student-teacher conferences. They are designed to give you practice communicating in a variety of social situations and media; you will have opportunities to explore your own interests and ambitions as a writer. These courses will prepare you to adjust to new communication challenges you’ll encounter in your college courses, work, and life. In Writing 160 courses, you’ll address key features of college writing, including developing major compositions through multiple stages (planning, drafting, and revising); analyzing and composing a range of texts in more than one medium (papers, podcasts, videos, etc.); conducting research and integrating it into your compositions; and learning to use your own languages (multilingualism, varieties of English, and dialects) as valuable resources in your compositions. You will improve your ability to read critically and compose in a variety of media. At the end of the term, you will submit a portfolio of your compositions, prefaced by a reflection on your development as a writer.

Writing 160.001 - Deconstructing Travel

What does it mean to travel? Is a traveler the same as a tourist? Is a migrant, immigrant, or refugee a  “traveler”? Is study abroad “travel”? Is it responsible to travel in the face of a global pandemic, climate change, and increasing economic inequity? Do the benefits of travel outweigh its negative impacts?  

The benefits of travel are often framed in terms of personal enrichment, but travel can also have positive  impacts on destination communities. Travel can bring financial incentives in the form of job formation,  increase travelers’ awareness of global inequity, and promote understanding, education, and  collaboration between cultures. However, overtourism can have severe negative consequences on travel  destinations. Citizens of Barcelona have long lashed out at increasing tourism in their city, complaining of  overcrowding, vast amounts of waste, and high noise levels, among other concerns. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, national parks in the US were overrun with record levels of visitors, leading to damage to natural landmarks and overflowing garbage receptacles. Those who chose to travel internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic put citizens of their destinations and hospitality industry employees at increased risk of illness.

In an increasingly globalized and digital world, physical travel is becoming less necessary for commerce, education, and communication. Is there still value in travel despite issues of sustainability and harm done  to destination communities? Students in this section of Writing 160 will develop their college writing skills by exploring the definition of travel, the benefits and negative impacts of travel on the world, the inequities  inherent in travel, and the ways travelers seek to mitigate those impacts. They will also inquire whether travel can be undertaken responsibly in the modern age. 

Writing 160.002 - DIY Cultures

What do Detroit activists, riot grrls, anarchist gardeners, and "outlaw" bicyclists (among other groups) have in common? These are communities that often exercise do-it-yourself (DIY) values, like sustainability, community, self-expression, critiquing consumer culture, and fighting oppression. Another critical part of DIY culture is creating multimodal compositions, including music, performance art, experimental film, fashion, and zines. 

This course takes an anti-racist approach to the materials we study and the compositions you will produce, meaning we will discuss how racism exists and is resisted in DIY spaces and the university where we learn; read/view/listen to texts created by people that occupy multiple identities; collaboratively create a zine convention built upon anti-racist principles; and more. 

In this course, you will analyze and compose a zine, research and write about a DIY topic of your choosing, and create a multimodal project (e.g., comic, video, audio essay, etc.) presenting your research findings. You will also get to know your class colleagues through in-class group activities and peer review workshops, you will meet with me regularly for individual meetings about your work and ideas, and you will explore the campus and Ann Arbor community through field trips.

Writing 160.003 - Translation and Adaptation

What happens when texts, stories, or ideas traverse languages or time? When they reach new audiences? When they appear in new genres or media? Most importantly, what can translation and adaptation teach us about communicating for different purposes and contexts, including but not limited to academic ones?

We will explore these questions (and more!) by critically examining a range of cultural products – some selected by me, others contributed by you. Meanwhile, you will be invited to write across or combine varied languages, media, and modes in your own compositions. Throughout, we will strive to remix our ideas about writing in order to challenge assumptions about language and literacy, especially at the university, through an intersectional, anti-racist lens.

Major writing assignments will likely include: an academic essay or two; an adaptation of an academic composition for a new rhetorical situation like digital or social media; and a final project that invites you to adapt and/or translate a text, tradition, or cultural product of your choosing into any genre or medium.