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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater

Third Year Writing Course Descriptions, Spring & Summer 2016

SPRING 2016

Dr. Wyeth Burgess (Sections 1, 18, 83): Crossroads, Crises & Causes: Change in Self and Society. Through film, literature and a practical guide, How to Write Anything, we explore a dynamic multi-disciplinary theme: the revolving essence of change alongside human nature. From microscope to cosmos, from personal epiphany to sweeping revolution, how do certain decisions, periods or people alter their times and the future? Inspired by such events and figures as the first printing press, Elizabeth I, George Washington, Edward Jenner, Florence Nightingale, Charles Lindbergh, the Russian Revolution, Babe Didrikson, Gandhi, Buddy Holly, Watergate, and Nelson Mandella, students design a research project relevant to their college programs and may include personal heroes and influences. Students draft, organize, and edit assignments in reporting, analysis, persuasion, reflection, and argument. Our readings, Orwell’s Animal Farm and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, highlight issues of leadership and transfer of power. We will also turn down the lights and let such films as Doctor Zhivago, The Crossing, The Miracle Worker, Good Night and Good Luck, The Killing Fields, Iron Lady and The Hundred Foot Journey challenge us to assess the role of the individual in the process of change. 

Victoria Doner (Sections 5, 20, 25): Finding Your Place in the World. Through the fun and magic of words we will have daring and exhilarating adventures—wing walking with Ormer Locklear, jumping, jiving, an’ wailing under the stars at Gatsby’s parties, singing with Ella Fitzgerald, climbing a “monster” tree,  debating with a film director,  and enjoying the sweet friendship between a spider and a pig.   We will meet people—Shel Silverstein, Arnold Spirit and his wonderful grandmother, Steve Jobs, Nick Carraway, Bessie Coleman, Marina Keegan, Wilbur and Charlotte—who will help us discover how we want to live our lives.  They will challenge us to see ourselves and our world in new and different ways.  We will learn how to make our writing come alive—alive with ideas and alive with our own voices.

Dr. Marcia McDonald (Section 6):  The New Yorker in Nashville. In this course, your essential text will be this spring's upcoming issues of the New Yorker magazine, the most prominent literary magazine published in the United States. Since it began in 1925, the New Yorker has been celebrated as a lively multi-genre journal known for its fact-checking, research, and style. We’ll be reading the New Yorker as writers who draft and revise our pieces with an aim to imitate the New Yorker's purpose, process, and format. Working in small groups, we will analyze, compose, and revise in genres such as profiles, reporter-at-large (or multi-method research) pieces, cartoons, reviews, satires, and more. Each small group, acting as an editorial board, will compile, design, edit, and produce its own magazine, and we will celebrate our collective work as a class near the end of the semester. Throughout the semester, our main focus will always be on the concepts and processes of composition and critical thinking as the course is designed both to demonstrate how writing functions as a means of critical inquiry and to stress the centrality of writing to intellectual life.  If you choose to enroll in this course, please go ahead and subscribe to the print version New Yorker at least through the end of May; many alumni of this course report that they enjoy reading the New Yorker long after the course ends, so you might decide to go ahead and subscribe for a year. (You may also subscribe to the online version, but you must have the magazine in print for our class.)

Dr. Joel Overall (Sections 7, 8):  Composing Experience, Creating Experience. Noted rhetorical scholar Gregory Clark claims, “ideas and arguments bind people together or push them apart, but aesthetic experience does that as well and perhaps to greater effect.” For this course, we will investigate Clark’s description of aesthetic experience by reading about how writers represent their own experiences or use words, sounds, rhetorical forms, and images to create experiences for their audience. To do so, we’ll read works by A.J. Jacobs (My Life as an Experiment) and José Saramago (Blindness), listen to audio stories from This American Life, and interact with digital stories presented on Pitchfork and at the Sundance Film Festival. While the majority of assignments for this course will be written, one assignment will ask students to integrate written text with other modes of meaning such as sound, image, music, or video to emphasize audience experience of writing.

Dr. Susan Finch (Sections 9, 17):  Dr. Finch’s sections of Third Year Writing are focused on the intersection of technology, nature, and American culture, and how changes in social communication have impacted the ways we connect, learn, live, and experience the outdoors. We will discuss everything from robots to automation to Instagraming. During the semester, students will write one research-based paper, one technology narrative, one annotated bibliography project, a research proposal, a group presentation, and several responses to assigned readings and films. In order to help students grow as writers, assignments will range from informal responses to discussion questions, summaries, explications, and the proper citation of sources.

Dr. Carla McDonough (Sections 10, 15, 16, 31):  Writing that Matters. What makes writing matter? What pieces of writing matter to you? How can/does writing make a difference? How can you use writing to accomplish specific ends? To inform?  To persuade?  To affect change? How do you know if something you read is true or if its supporting evidence is valid? What difference does it make if an argument is based on faulty logic or questionable data? And how can a writer or reader tell? First from a personal and then from a professional perspective, we will be investigating these questions in order to arrive at an understanding of how to identify and create writing that matters in your personal and, most importantly, your professional life.

Kim Balding (Sections 13, 19, 23):  In English 3010, we will read and write on an advanced level with the following unifying theme: An Interdisciplinary Look at Ireland.  We will read stories and factual accounts related to Ireland.  We will also read what many of Ireland’s writers have to say about Ireland. Other mediums of discussion will revolve around film, art, and music.  Readings, topics, and discussion will include the Celtic people, the myth and legend of Ireland and her people, An Gorta Mor/The Great Famine, The Easter Rebellion of 1916, and The Troubles. That said, we will spend a great deal of time writing about such both reflectively and purposely. 

Dr. Jason Lovvorn (Section 21S *Service-Learning):  This section of Third Year Writing will explore three broadly connected themes: service, poverty, and literacy. As part of our process, we will examine academic research and narrative accounts that expand our understanding of these key concepts. In addition, throughout the semester, we will engage in a service relationship with a Nashville community partner. This work will enable us to approach course themes from an embodied, experiential perspective and will inform the course's reflective writing components. In addition to reflective writing, the course involves writing in an academic mode, including the completion of an annotated bibliography and a research project. Here, students will be encouraged to pursue research connected to a major or minor field of study or to another personal interest. For all writing efforts, the course will consistently stress ways to make prose clear and graceful through drafting, reviewing, and revising.  If you have questions about the class or the service involved, feel free to contact Dr. Lovvorn at jason.lovvorn@belmont.edu

Dr. Andrea Stover (Section 29): The New Yorker in Nashville. In this course, your essential text will be this fall’s upcoming issues of the New Yorker magazine, the most prominent literary magazine published in the United States. Since it began in 1925, the New Yorker has been celebrated as a lively multi-genre journal known for its fact-checking, research, and style. We’ll be reading the New Yorker as writers who draft and revise our pieces with an aim to imitate the New Yorker's purpose, process, and format. Working in small groups, we will analyze, compose, and revise in genres such as profiles, reporter-at-large (or multi-method research) pieces, cartoons, reviews, satires, and more. Each small group, acting as an editorial board, will compile, design, edit, and produce its own magazine, and we will celebrate our collective work as a class near the end of the semester. Throughout the semester, our main focus will always be on the concepts and processes of composition and critical thinking as the course is designed both to demonstrate how writing functions as a means of critical inquiry and to stress the centrality of writing to intellectual life.  If you choose to enroll in this course, please go ahead and subscribe to the print version New Yorker at least through the end of December; many alumni of this course report that they enjoy reading the New Yorker long after the course ends, so you might decide to go ahead and subscribe for a year. (You may also subscribe to the online version, but you must have the magazine in print for our class). If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Stover @ andrea.stover@belmont.edu

Dr. Charmion Gustke (Sections 36, 37): Voices of the Harlem Renaissance. This course focuses on the emergence, growth and institutionalization of Harlem's Golden Age.  Exploring the art, culture and politics of Harlem in the 1920's, this course seeks to understand the immense impact of artists such as Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Zora Neal Hurston on the narrative of race in the United States from the margin to the center. Students will read novels, biographies, poetry, and social commentary as the means through which to develop a writing style that is ordered, creative, analytical and purposeful, with detailed attention to argument and rhetoric.

Dr. Douglas Murray (Sections 38, 39, both sections online only):   A study of the cultures of fandom, using techniques of primary and secondary research.  Text:   Neal, Lynn.  Romancing God:  Evangelical Woman and Devotional Fiction.   

Dr. Robbie Pinter (Section 41, Belmont East only): You must be in New York to take this class!  My primary personal goal for you in this class is that you improve your critical thinking and writing skills. To that end, I have asked you to do many kinds of writing about gathered under a loose topic of “place.”  We will read from many different theorists about what constitutes a place, but that would be dry and meaningless without your own special understanding of place.  I am asking for you to include that perspective in many ways in many kinds of writing.  The loose theme is to give the class structure and organization around similar readings and writings so that it is more coherent.  “Place” as a theme is because you are in one of the most exciting places on earth, and I want you to be able to spend some time fully dwelling in that place, as well as reflecting on what makes it what it is. Give the course some time, thought, and preparation, but know that being there is a big part of your research, the experiential part.

SUMMER 2016

Sue Trout (Section 1):  This course will take a thematic and cross-disciplinary approach to analyzing popular culture—students will learn to read popular culture through the lenses of Marxist, feminist, and psychoanalytical theory.  We will then use these approaches to analyze advertisements, television, and fiction. The primary focus for students in ENG 3010 is to produce an extended research paper that connects the theme of the course to each student’s academic interest and expertise.

Dr. Gary McDowell (Section 2): Misdirection: The Magic of Writing. What is magic? Is it, “Pick a card, any card”? Yes. But there are nine other categories of effects we magicians use to baffle, confuse, contradict, and entertain.  They are: production, transformation, vanish, restoration, teleportation, escape, levitation, penetration, and prediction.  We float across the stage on a hover board, we walk through The Wall of China, we make elephants and jumbo jets disappear, sure, but we also predict a card chosen at random, we also transform a dollar bill into a blank piece of paper, we also know what you’re thinking before you’re thinking it.  But how? Oh come on, do you really think I’m going to tell you?  Nope. Not now.  But come fall, all bets are off. We will learn here, in ENG 3010: Misdirection: The Magic of Writing, that magic can teach us about how we communicate, how we manipulate our worlds and truths and opinions, how we can best approach our audiences so we can be heard. It turns out that performing a magic trick and writing about our topsy-turvy lives aren’t that different. There’s plenty of magic in our everyday lives; miracles happen every day. You will learn sleight-of-hand; you will write about your experiences with magic (both the everyday and illusionary kinds); and you will learn to see the world, through readings/viewings (TBD, though will certainly be several books, articles, a couple films, etc) and experiments and experiences, one step ahead of your audience.