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Prospectus

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Academic Writing

Course
2012-2013

Tag(s)

AS

Admission requirements

N/A

Description

This course targets the improvement and refinement of students’ academic writing skills in English, the language of instruction at LUC The Hague. Over fourteen intense, interactive writing seminars, the course covers the stages of composition of an academic argument, including close reading of sources, summary, citation and reference, identifying critical aspects in a text and/or flaws in reasoning, developing a thesis, finding and using textual evidence, organizing ideas with clarity, “signposting” an essay, and finally, strategies for revision. Addressing questions of register, structure, clarity, coherence, and cohesion through workshop discussions, students can expect to develop their own voice and style in academic writing, as well as learn to examine and evaluate their peers’ writing habits and provide constructive feedback.
Based on their interests, students will select one section of Academic Writing from the following:

Politics of Friendship, instructor Dr. Corina Stan (groups A, B)
Natural Resource Conservation or Preservation, instructor Dr. Sarah E. Hinman (groups C, D)
Writing Culture, instructor Dr. Anthony Shenoda (groups E)
Women, War, and Peace instructor Dr. Ann Marie Wilson (groups F)
Renewable Energy, instructor Dr. Brid Walsh (groups G, H)

Politics of Friendship, Dr. Stan

In this section we will delve into some of the canonical texts on friendship and community, from Aristotle to Montaigne, Emerson, Nietzsche and Freud. Do friends have to be equal in status, or can a king be friends with a beggar, provided they share an interest in – say – chess? Is some distance a necessary ingredient for the preservation of an enduring relationship? Is similarity a condition of friendship? If it is, how do we imagine a community of friends that does not exclude or marginalize those who are different? Other aspects we will ponder in the second part of the semester, when we will read contemporary thinkers like Foucault, Giddens, Putnam, Bernstein, and Baym, are the boundaries between intimacy, the private and the public in the contemporary world; the ways digital networks influence our social life; the factors that shape our personal, social and political bonds and our engagement in various community projects.

Natural Resource Conservation or Preservation, Dr. Hinman

In an effort to utilize resources, humans unintentionally, although occasionally with intent, impact the natural world. When and how we choose to preserve natural resources or set them aside for the benefit of future generations often has dramatic and lasting social and economic effects. The debates to conserve (use judiciously) or preserve (set aside completely) resources have a long history and are prevalent in the scholarly and popular science literature. Three common topics in these debates will form the foundation of our reading for the semester: the role of dams (particularly in the American West), wildfire, and the creation of protected lands (ie. parks, national or otherwise). Among the authors we’ll be reading are John McPhee, Marc Reisner, Stephen Pyne, Larry Dilsaver, Terrance Young.

Writing Culture, Dr. Shenoda

Anthropologists do ethnography and write ethnography. This section will focus on the writing aspect of the discipline. How does one write about and analyze culture? What does it mean to do so and how do debates around the topic shape the very prose that anthropologists write? Should an anthropologist include herself in writing ethnography? What is revealed and what concealed in the process of writing ethnography? How does the position of the anthropologist (ethnic, socioeconomic, etc.) shape the very writing of ethnographic accounts? What, in the final analysis, does it mean to write ethnographically? These are among the questions this section poses as we delve into ethnographic literature and the debates about the very process of writing ethnography. From the outset we will recognize that ethnographic writing is not innocent and is always enmeshed in politics of one sort or another. We will engage debates about what constitutes ethnographic writing and how one ought to do it by reading a variety of ethnographic accounts and theoretical discussions on the topic.

Women, War, and Peace, Dr. Wilson

In this section, we will explore the fascinating historical connections linking women’s movements worldwide with international campaigns for peace. Scholars and activists alike have frequently argued that women tend to experience war differently than men—as wives, mothers, and caretakers of “the home front”—and that the particularity of this experience gives women a unique perspective on strategies for building peace. Together we will examine a range of theoretical texts and historical case studies in order to evaluate the plausibility of this claim—and to understand how different groups have put it to political use. In the first half of the semester, we will focus at least in part on the famous international gathering of women peace activists that took place in The Hague in 1915. In the second half of the course, students will have an opportunity to do research on women’s roles in conflicts or peace campaigns that they select themselves—either from the past or the present day. Our class will also take a field trip to Amsterdam’s Aletta Institute for Women’s History, a wonderful historical archive and library.

Renewable energy: towards a sustainable future, Dr. Walsh

Concerns over security of energy supply and climate impacts of fossil fuels represent significant driving forces for implementation of renewable energies such as wind, ocean, and solar energy. To date, hydroelectricity and wind energy lead the way in terms of worldwide renewable power capacity. At local level, social acceptance of renewable implementation, in particular wind energy development, represents a complex challenge that is shaped by a myriad of factors, including landscape impacts, trust, and extent of local participation in project development processes. During the course of the semester, students will read a selection of texts that illuminate key aspects of the renewable energy discourse.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • master close-reading skills (identify the trajectory/structure of a text, understanding the author’s rhetorical moves) and develop the reflex to summarize the main argument of a text in a concise and nuanced manner;

  • write a clear and cohesive academic essay with a strong central argument based on evidence;

  • give useful peer feedback and offer constructive criticism, become their own critical readers

  • conduct library research, gather and assess academic sources, and acknowledge academic work done by others by referencing sources in accordance with recognised academic citation protocol.

Timetable

Group A Politics of Friendship (Dr. Stan) Mon 15:00 – 16:50
Group B Politics of Friendship (Dr. Stan) Thu 11:00 – 12:50
Group C Natural Resource Conservation or Preservation (Dr. Hinman) Mon 15:00 – 16:50
Group D Natural Resource Conservation or Preservation (Dr. Hinman) Thu 11:00 – 12:50 Group
E Writing Culture (Dr. Shenoda) Thu 11:00 – 12:50
Group F Women, War and Peace (Dr. Wilson) Mon 15:00 – 16:50
Group G Renewable Energy (Dr. Walsh) Mon 15:00 – 16:50
Group H Renewable Energy (Dr. Walsh) Thu 11:00 – 12:50

Mode of Instruction

Close-reading, discussion and analysis of texts, as well as interactive writing workshops form the main body of this course, with one 2-hour session per week from Weeks 1 to 14. Students will write weekly short assignments, building up progressively toward three major essays: essay one will offer an original interpretation of a primary source (weeks 1-3), essay two will incorporate secondary sources designated by the instructor and discussed in class (weeks 4-7), essay three will be based on individual research done by course participants (weeks 8-14). All students will be involved in offering feedback to their peers, both in class-workshops and in conversation with the instructor. Additionally, we will discuss the differences between oral and written expression, rhetorical moves, strategies for revision, and other writing-related topics. Two aspects are central to the pedagogy of the course: that students arrive at every session prepared to engage with one another’s ideas and written work; they understand that writing is a recursive process, take seriously the feedback offered by their course instructor and peers and revise their writing accordingly.

Assessment

The course consists of three learning units, each with its own set of reading and writing assignments culminating in the composition and revision of an essay. The essays are progressively more complex, but they all involve short preparatory assignments to be completed every week. A grade for an essay can only be awarded if all the weekly assignments leading to that essay have been submitted.

Assessment: In-class participation, timely completion of weekly assignments
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 14

Assessment: Essay one (1000 words)
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Week 3

Assessment: Essay two (2200 words)
Percentage: 25%
Deadline: Week 8

Assessment: Final research essay (3000 words)
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Week 15

Literature

All course participants will have to own a copy of Gordon Harvey’s Writing with Sources, 2nd ed., of which we’ll read and discuss a few chapters in class.

Contact Information

Dr. Corina Stan: corina@lucresearch.nl
sehinman@gmail.com
ashenoda@mac.com
a.m.wilson@luc.leidenuniv.nl
Brid@2Bwriting.com

Weekly Overview

Weeks 1-3 Essay one
Weeks 4-7 Essay two
Weeks 8-14 Essay three