Fall 2017 CAT 1 Courses

CAT 1 courses (fall quarter, four units) teach critical reading and drafting by examining how culture, art, and technology have intersected in the past. Please note that in order to enroll in CAT 1, you must have either completed the Entry Level Writing Requirement or be concurrently enrolled in AWP 1 during the fall quarter.


CAT 1A: Origins

Guillermo Algaze

Professor, Anthropology

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 9:00-9:50 a.m. CSB 001


CAT 1: Origins focuses on a key question: "How did human beings come to have culture, art, and technology in the first place?" The course is centered on the human capacity for symbolic representation, artistic expression, and technological innovation.  More specifically, it presents a historical overview of how changes in these capacities allowed Homo sapiens to spread across the globe. Additionally, the course examines in detail the demographic, health, economic, and cultural consequences of the onset of food production and early village life across the world following the end of the last glaciation, 12,000 or so years ago.

CAT 1B: A Hollywood History: Filming America from Boxing Cats to Jaws

Phoebe Bronstein

Assistant Teaching Professor, CAT

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10:00-10:50 a.m. PCYNH 109


This writing and communication course will focus on the history of American film from early one-shot shorts like Edison’s Boxing Cats to the first summer blockbuster, Jaws. As film became a mass medium in the early part of the twentieth century, so too did Hollywood shape and react to social and political forces. Understanding the history of Hollywood will help us better understand, critique, and appreciate today’s popular culture landscape. Thus, as we learn to read film and read about film history, we will use a close analysis of Hollywood productions to consider topics in American culture from racism to sex (and Hollywood scandals!), violence, and humor. Potential films we will watch include (but are not limited to) Scarface (1933), Modern Times (1936), Gilda (1946), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Bonnie and Clyde (1968), and Shaft (1971). As we read across a variety of genres—from films to academic articles and popular press pieces—we will develop critical reading and writing skills that will prepare you for the writing-intensive CAT 2 and to read college-level material across your other courses.

CAT 1C: Hearing History

David Borgo

Professor, Music

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 2:00-2:50 p.m. PCYNH 109


Humans have undergone and effected an enormous amount of change in the past 70,000 years. We have developed new ways to think, imagine, communicate, and live together. Yet we tend to learn about this history through vision, by looking at old artifacts and reading old manuscripts hoping to interpret what they might mean. The world, however, was never a quiet place. What can an auditory history offer? What role has sound, music, and oral culture played in our abilities to imagine, communicate, and feel together? This course offers a sweeping, multi-disciplinary history of Homo sapiens that adds sound, music, and listening to the mix.

CAT 1D: Sacred Space Formation

Jennifer Pantoja

Lecturer, CAT

Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m. PCYNH 109


Why do certain locations hold more significance than others? How come people behave differently inside a synagogue, church, or mosque than at a sporting event? What is the difference between sacred and profane space? Are there specific criteria a location must meet in order to be considered sacred space? How does a patch of earth become a “magnet” of sacred revelation?

This course will explore the construction of sacred space in one city, Jerusalem, over three millennia, primarily as the symbolic focus of three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. When was this location recognized as wholly different than the space around it? How did this city evolve into a place of pilgrimage for so many religious traditions? Emphasis will be placed on the intersection of religion and culture as well as religion and interpretation. While exploring the city’s origins and cultural development, present-day news coverage associated with this particular sacred space will also be highlighted.


CAT 1E: Visual Experience: A User's Guide to the History of Art and Architecture

Bill Tronzo

Teaching Professor, Visual Arts

Tuesday/Thursday 12:30-1:50 p.m. CENTR 113


“It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” -John Berger, Ways of Seeing

Images are inescapable; some say that they are fundamental to the way in which our world is formed. We easily absorb images, but unlike words, we have not been schooled in a methodology that would allow us to approach them critically. This introductory writing and communication cours, sets out to teach students to approach visual texts with a critical eye. Its subject in a chronological sense is the western tradition in art and architecture from antiquity to the present, which will introduce students to the main periods and stylesAncient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern. In a conceptual sense, however, the course will provide a critical vocabulary for the analysis of visual experience and to familiarize students with major categories and forms of artistic achievement across the board.


CAT 1F: From Hillbilly Music to Hip-Hop:  U.S. Culture and Popular Music

Joe Bigham

Lecturer, CAT

Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-4:50 p.m. PCYNH 109


This course examines United States musical history as a lens into how we understand, interpret, and engage with our collective pasts. What have musicians, music critics, and fans said about the music they listen to, and by extension themselves and others? As the introduction to the CAT writing sequence, we will focus on the interpretation and understanding of past music and musical writing. Musical examples may include (but aren’t limited to) Appalachian folk music, 1940s jazz, 1980s heavy metal, and 1990s hip-hop. Our readings will range from fan-based writing to scholarly articles from musicology and ethnomusicology. We will hear and see how music shaped a sense of both individual and collective identity within US cultural movements. Writing in short blog posts and longer essay forms, we will develop the ability to summarize, write about, and engage with musical culture and history.