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What do teachers teach? English 2 Course Descriptions

Every instructor chooses specific topics for discussion in English 2; scroll down and discover what topics teachers teach.

Not all instructors teach every semester. Check the "Schedule of Classes" to identify who is teaching that semester, and then read the course description here.

Alancraig M.- "Issues in the Biological Sciences"

In this class, you’ll explore cutting-edge research on whales, primates and elephants and the human brain as you think critically about the study of biology and other sciences.  Do whales have a language and culture?  Can elephants communicate over distances?  Do emotions have a cellular component?  What qualities and ethics are required to succeed as a scientist today?  In addition to being inter-disciplinary, this class is experiential and hands-on; we will attempt put into practice some of the current findings on the neuroscience of learning.  Be prepared to act as a teacher as well as a student: you’ll be instructing classmates about some of our readings and will make presentations on your research.  Of course, since this is a writing class, much of your responses to the assigned readings and class activities will be through the written word.  You’ll be asked to examine new ideas, looking for hidden assumptions, subtexts, and inferences in what we read.

Bachman E.- "Visuality and Writing"

This course is required for all students who intend to transfer to a four-year university. It follows English 1A and assumes that you are already familiar with writing research papers and using MLA methods of citing sources and preparing Works Cited pages. You will be engaged in a variety of learning techniques, small group presentations and discussions, journaling activities, and four formal papers that demonstrate your ability to write focused thesis-driven essays. In this course we will look closely at works of non-fiction prose that offer a variety of perspectives on visuality and visual culture.

Bañales V.- "Composition and Critical Thinking"- Multi-Cultural Section

The United States is the world’s leader in prisons, and according to recent statistics, approximately 2.3 million people in the U.S. are incarcerated today.  In fact, our incarceration rates exceed those of China or Russia (Alexander 6), and since 1975, there has been a 500% increase in prisons (“The Sentencing Project”).  Some say the prison increase is due to higher crime rates in the U.S.; however, others see the prison boom as lucrative business and/or as a highly strategized racist and classist political maneuver to maintain social control and lock away “undesirables.” 

In this class we will critically think, read, and write essays that deal with our prison system and other relevant issues pertaining to criminal justice.  Students will read and analyze historical, sociological, and theoretical essays written by experts in the field.  In addition, we will read real-life testimonials by current and/or former prisoners whose narratives tell of the events that lead up to their incarceration, their navigation through the labyrinthine legal system, their experiences behind bars, and sometimes their surprising stories of freedom and redemption.  To conclude, we will read a full-length text—based on a true story—chronicling a writer’s experiences working with high-risk youth offenders at a Southern California juvenile detention center and featuring creative writings by the youth.


Chaffin C.- "The Writer as Thinker"

This course is on the writer as thinker. That means both the published writers we will read as well as each student as a burgeoning writer, thinker, critic! In the first part of the course we will study forms of argumentation and rhetorical analysis. You will have a choice of two articles from which to choose for your first rhetorical analysis paper. Second, we examine autobiographical essays in Readings for Writers: Critical Thought, Ethics, and Autobiography (custom course reader), focusing on how the writer uses narrative as a mode of critical thinking. We’ll observe the linkages between creative and critical thinking, and analyze how writers build convincing, thoughtful, rational, even poetic (metaphorical), arguments in their work. Third, students will read Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi’s autobiographical Survival in Auschwitz. In his account, authored in 1946 and successfully published in 1958, the author examines what it means to be human given the existence of and his experience in the World War II German death and labor camps of the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Monowitz camp compounds. As the course concludes, student writers will complete a final thematic paper and short exam.

Christianson J.- "Close Critical Reading and Thinking"

This class features material that demands close critical reading, is both challenging and accessible, with intended pleasure in the experience as well. A variety of literary genres will be offered—fiction, autobiography, poetry, and scholarly essays. The goal will be to strengthen and hone appreciation of a given source, the depth and complexity of what it can yield, and thereby sharpen critical thinking skills in the process. This operation will run concurrent with the Writing phase of the course: various short response papers, and several primary essays distributed through the term. Students will be asked to show command of logical, persuasive argument; precise, deferential fluency to what the authors themselves are saying; and develop sound interpretive slants of their own, supported by reasoned inquiry grounded in textual “evidence”—with Elements of Style, the basic “mechanics” and refinements of good prose, also prioritized.

Fague A.- "The Beauty in Argument"

How do we approach a conflict, the crux of any rich, engaging essay? Do we follow the classical tradition whose remnants we undoubtedly have encountered time and time again if we’ve made our way through the U.S. educational system? Do we explore deeply our own values and beliefs and look for ways to connect with our audience? Or do we focus on conflict resolution – what works best for the stated needs of all involved? Maybe we ponder forgiveness and the new possibilities it can engender in oppressor and oppressed alike. Through the works of Paulo Freire, Annie Dillard, Plato, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Richard Rodriguez, and others, along with a look at a short story collection called St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by young phenom writer Karen Russell, we’ll understand the subtlety and beauty latent in any argument and how language can grant us access.

Founds K.- "Civil Liberties in America:  It Gets Better . . . or Does it?"

In this class, we will critically examine the state of civil liberties in our society. Have we reached the promised land of racial justice? Are we living at the end of the gender equality rainbow?  In Unit I, the documentary Eyes on the Prize will illuminate this historical African-American freedom struggle. The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness will challenge our nation’s narrative of racial progress.  In Unit II, students will read Latino literature banned in Tucson schools and analyze why the books were perceived as a threat. In Unit III, students will read The Laramie Project and conduct interviews to determine the likelihood of hate crime within their own communities. In Unit IV, the PBS documentary Makers will introduce students to the history of feminism. Students will develop a definition of feminism, then interview a local feminist.


Lau D.- "Politics and Aesthetics"

In this “critical thinking” class, we will explore some classic debates on the status of human nature, as well as the power and political consequences of modern industrial development.  We will also consider the roll of artistic representation in this unfolding story of the modern political world—specifically the forms of poetry and cinema.  To this end we will write and revise 4 distinct papers, emphasizing interpretative techniques including argumentative analysis, explication of quotations as evidence, and broad synthetic interpretation of poetry and film respectively—we will take one midterm examination and one final examination.

Leal J.-"Rethinking the Semiotics of Globalization"

This course emphasizes the application of critical thinking and writing skills to the study of semiotics in contemporary culture.  In this course, students read short essays, poetry, song lyrics, and view visual texts (such as DVDs, graphic art, Youtube clips, and film) as a means to deconstruct the complex representations of life.  What is “reality” v. “the representation of reality?”  And what’s at stake when we unthinkingly accept images and propaganda that is infused with power?  What do images say about our world when read them as symbol, myth, or metaphor?  As students examine the popular and intellectual social frameworks that produce the complex articulations of culture, we will pay special attention to the language and writing strategy of individual authors.  This will in turn allow us to formulate a critique of advertisings in commercial culture and the complex representations they engender.  Students are encouraged to rethink dominate paradigms of race, gender, class, sex, religion, neoliberal economics, and globalization in both writing assignments and in-class discussions.  This course is designed specifically for students interested in building a community of writers and thinkers.   At the end of the semester, students will be asked to show total competence in college level research and writing abilities.  Welcome!

Marshall T.--"Critical Thinking about Films with Historical Perspective"

This course will strengthen your skills for critical thinking and the presentation of it in college and beyond. We will achieve this through reading intellectually respectable texts like Russell Banks’ Dreaming Up America, viewing films and discussing them, doing research on historical topics related to those texts and films as a basis for oral presentations. You will then write academic-style essays on topics that combine the presentation material with critical thinking about it and the films. We use Rules for Writers to supplement this work with study of logic and research as well as documentation and style.


Dr. Omosupe E.--Multicultural Section--“Emphasis on Race, Class, Gender & Sexuality”

English 2MC Critical Thinking: Race, Class, Gender in the United States” interrogates the categories of race, class, sex, gender, and sexual orientation.  Through our analyses we will begin to understand more clearly the historical relationships between race, class, sexual orientation, and gender. We will begin to see and understand how discrimination is hiding in plain sight because it is codified in law, reified in national myths; institutionalized and organizational. We will review literature and video that offers both subjective and more comprehensive (objective) perspectives on the historical, political and interpersonal experiences of Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, disabled, the working class, gays, transgender, and bisexual people. 

Putnam D.-"Consipacy Theories"

From UFOs to JFK, Americans love a conspiracy. In this class, students will examine critical thinking strategies employed by conspiracy theorists and skeptics alike, particularly in government and corporate contexts. Students will read about specific cases (federally-sponsored medical conspiracies and financial-sector manipulations) in various texts, including two books: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Smartest Guys in the Room. Students will write analysis papers on these topics and a research essay about an American conspiracy of their choice.

Raney B.-"Everything's an Argument"

Everything in English 2 relates to the title of the textbook, Everything’s an Argument. The class is divided into various units of related readings and writing.  We begin reading and discussing 700 years of ideas about a utopia and end that unit with the dystopian novel, Brave New World. The next unit is based on romantic and classicist perspectives. We end reading various pieces about social responsibility including the novel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In essay writing, we practice various types of support for an argument, various kinds of types of arguments, logic, and various types of sources. The over-arching assignment running throughout the semester is a position paper in which the student argues his/her position on a topic of his/her own choosing.

Sander B.-“Let’s Think Now”

What do you think?  Why do you think that?  What errors might you make in thinking? Let’s explore our minds while we develop our writing. This course in analytical reading and expository writing will help you develop skills in critical thinking and composition.  You will learn to advocate your own ideas and to analyze and evaluate the arguments of others.  You will be asked to write 5 essays which demonstrate your ability to produce clear, coherent, and effective arguments.  This class will provide you with various opportunities to work not only independently but also collaboratively to explore various analytical tasks through assigned readings and class exercises. 

Schessler S.-“Assessing Content and Structure”

Our class explores the elements of argument and critical reading and writing. We’ll work on critical thinking skills – a necessary first step – by examining a range of essays and examples in our textbook, with occasional outside material. You’ll work individually, in small groups, and as a class to analyze and interpret the arguments we read. You’ll write a number of short (2-page) essays based on the readings, and one longer (12-15 page) essay on a topic of your choice, involving research. The goal is to approach any reading or argument and assess it on both its content and structure, and be able to write successfully with both of those elements in mind.


Rushworth S.-“Critical Thinking, with Focus on Indigenous Thought and Issues”

The great psychologist Carl Jung said he never understood the thinking of his culture until he stepped outside of it. From that vantage point, he was able to discern how his culture had formed his thought processes, and he then felt free to form his own mind. This course focuses on Indigenous writers and thinkers as they interweave their lives and values with American culture. In the hope that this process affords all of us the same possibility Jung speaks of. In a manner of thinking, reading Indigenous perspectives and experience allows for an "outside" perspective from which we can gain insight on thought, culture, history, the issues of our time, and how we move forward from here with sound and engaged critical thinking.

To this effect, we focus on writing with effective organization of thoughts and expression, thorough understanding of writing prompts at a university level, and efficient reading and analytical strategies. It is my goal to contribute to each individual student's success in higher education.


Woolsey K.-“English 2: Do Robots Have Rights?”

The idea of creating artificial “people” goes back thousands of years – to Jewish folklore, to Greek mythology, to ancient China.  In movies and stories these artificial humans live among us, doing our work.  We made them, we depend on them, but much of our art reflects a deep fear that they will turn on us.  In this class we’ll look at fiction and film that expresses that ambivalent relationship between humans and artificial life forms, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to RoboCop.  Do artificial life forms have rights?  Why do they make us so uncomfortable?  How do we treat the “people” we’ve created to do our dirty work?  How do we define “human,” anyhow?  We’ll look at these texts and questions through a critical-thinking lens, using this extended case study as a means to focus in, to pick apart our texts, and to strengthen our writing and argumentation.  No prior experience with robots required.




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