Winter 2019 CAT 2 Courses

CAT 2 courses (winter quarter, six units) are writing intensive, foregrounding argumentation, revision, and writing as process by examining case studies of culture, art, and technology interacting in the present moment. Please note that in order to enroll in CAT 2, you must have passed CAT 1.


CAT 2A: Asian Diasporas in Film and Media

Hoang Nguyen

Professor, Literature

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

Asians are everywhere. On college and university campuses, in high-tech companies and ethnic restaurants, from the west and east coats to the flyover states in between. On the one hand, Asians have been described as the threatening yellow peril and as robotic workers taking over America. On the other, Asians are loved and envied for their popular culture, (anime, K-pop and dramas) and their cuisines (General Tso's chicken, pad thai, pho). Asians are considered forever foreigners ("Where are you really from?") but also as model minorities.

This course examines the ubiquitous presence of Asians in the United States and around the world through film and visual media. It will consider the reasons why Asians venture far from Asia: to seek asylum from war-torn countries, to seek a good education and well-paying jobs, to search for and reunite with family, to look for love, to find a home. The Asian diasporic figures we will look at will include the refugee, the migrant worker, the transnational adoptee, the international student, and the Internet bride. In addition to Asians in the US, we will look at the dispersion of Asians globally: Filipinos in Hong Kong, Koreans in Japan, and Taiwanese Americans in Singapore. Films may include Flower Drum Song, The Joy Luck Club, AKA Don Bonus, First Person Plural, Sunday Beauty Queen, and Crazy Rich Asians.

Students will develop and hone skills in film and media analysis, critical thinking, and writing and argumentation that can be applied to close readings of diverse visual and written texts.


CAT 2B: Society of the Spectacle

Charles Thorpe

Professor, Sociology

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 11:00-11:50 a.m.

In consumer capitalism, we are surrounded and bombarded by images from the media and advertising. Commodities take the form of brand images. Celebrities are human brands. Politics is highly mediated by advertising and the boundaries between news and entertainment media have eroded. Propaganda is central to the operations of government and the control of populations, especially through the mobilization of public support for war. With social media, we construct virtual representations of ourselves. Contemporary society can therefore be understood as a "society of the spectacle." In his path-breaking book of this title, Guy Debord argued that in advanced capitalist societies "all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation."

In the course, we will read Debord's text and other analyses of capitalism, consumerism, and media, as well as reading science fiction literature, and we will view documentary and fiction film. The course aims to provide a space in which we can gain analytical distance from the spectacle and develop a critical understanding of how it shapes our everyday lives.


CAT 2C: Fiction into Film: Adaptation as Argument

Liz Gumm

Lecturer, CAT

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

We love film adaptations—The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings. Film adaptations are incredibly popular and generate lots of buzz—particularly regarding their faithfulness to literary sources. But adaptations, in their "faithfullness" and deviations, can teach us a great deal about how narratives make arguments. In this class, we will explore the relationship between literary texts and their film adaptations. We will examine what those relationships can teach us about contemporary social arguments regarding gender, race, sexuality, and even education and literacy. A few of the questions that will guide this writing and communication course are: How does literature make arguments? How does film make arguments? What is at stake in a film adaptation? What determines the value of a film adaptation? What do film adaptations suggest about our relationship to reading and books? What do film adaptations suggest about our narrative literacy? Visual literacy? Cultural literacy?


CAT 2D: Mapping America: Televising the Frontier, the City, and the Suburbs

Phoebe Bronstein

Assistant Teaching Professor, CAT

Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:50 a.m.

This writing and communication course will focus on how we imagine place, nation, and America—from country to city and suburb and even outer space—as imagined in American culture for and through television. As we hone our communication and critical thinking skills, we will explore the construction and evolution of American landscapes. We will approach this process of inquiry from a feminist and critical race studies perspective, wherein we imagine social geographies as raced and gendered. We will begin with discussions of how the American frontier is mobilized both historically and on television (via shows like Have Gun, Will Travel; Gunsmoke; and The Walking Dead). Then, we will consider American cities (from New York to Los Angeles), white flight and the suburbs past and present, ending with a case study of San Diego, as it has been imagined by film and TV (i.e. we will probably watch Anchorman). We will read a combination of academic and popular press articles and watch a lot of television and hopefully these texts will serve as inspiration and models for your course projects, which might include essays, short reading/screening annotations, and a video essay.


CAT 2E: The Process of Music: A Study of Listening, Composing, and Performing

Joe Bigham

Lecturer, CAT

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 3:00-3:50 p.m.

This course examines how we actively negotiate music as listeners and musicians by examining music's layers of process and procedure. We will consider how music is learned, performed, composed, recorded, and heard in examples including jazz (Miles Davis' Bitches Brew), hip-hop (J-Dilla's Donuts), rock (The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields" and Radiohead's In Rainbows), and art-music (Terry Riley's In C). We will give special attention to the technologies that have transformed musical processes, ranging from Auto-Tune to YouTube. Section work will draw parallels between musical processes and rhetorical composition. You will describe the layers and procedures of musical activity through written and graphical descriptions. You will also document your own learning experience, by learning a simple instrument, song, or instrumental technique using online media. A final essay project will argue for or against one of the processes we examine in the course. Our goals in the course are multifaceted: developing the skills to document process, evaluating and critiquing process, and considering music as linked activities rather than a fixed product.