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Fall 2019 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 completed the Entry Level Writing Requirement.

CAT 1 Course Goals

Critical Reading and Writing

  • Find and summarize academic arguments.
  • Use reading and writing for thinking, inquiry, learning, and communicating.
  • Identify and explicate a text's purpose and argument.

Genre and Rhetorical Knowledge

  • Understand how genres shape reading and writing.
  • Read critically across several genres and modes (from written to visual to digital).
  • Identify and use genre conventions ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics appropriate to the rhetorical situation.
  • Control surface features such as syntax, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Practice appropriate means of documenting work.


  • Develop strategies for generating, editing, revising, and proofreading.

CAT 1A: The Transformation of Cities

Stanley Chodorow

Emeritus Professor, History

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

This course will investigate instances when governments made major changes in the physical organization of large cities. We will study Rome in the fourth and fifteenth centuries, Paris in the nineteenth century, and New York in the twentieth century. In each case, we will look at how the cities were reorganized or changed, why the governments carried out the changes, and what difference the changes made in the way the cities functioned and represented both their political communities and their cultures. We will look carefully at the topography of these cities, at their geographical place in their countries or empires, at their political roles before and after the transformations, and at their social and economic characteristics.

CAT 1B: Origins

Guillermo Algaze

Professor, Anthropology

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

This CAT 1 course 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 technological innovation and symbolic representation. It presents a global historical overview of the general principles and patterns of past human development, and focuses particular attention on the interrelationships between demographic, cultural, and technological changes in the last 50,000 or so years of the human career.

CAT 1C: From Hillbilly Music to Hip-Hop: US Culture and Popular Music

Joe Bigham

Lecturer, CAT

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 1:00-1:50 p.m.

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, 1970s soul music, 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.

CAT 1D: The History of Painting: A User's Guide

William Tronzo

Teaching Professor, Visual Arts

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

"It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but word 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 is what the present course sets out to do. Its subject in a chronological sense is the western tradition in art and architecture from antiquity to the present, which will introduce the student to the main periods and styles—ancient, medieval, renaissance, baroque, and modern. In a conceptual sense, however, it will be to provide a critical vocabulary for the analysis of visual experience and to familiarize the student with major categories and forms of artistic achievement across the board.

CAT 1E: Hidden Bodies: Representations of Muslim Women in History and Media

Yasmine Kasem

Lecturer, CAT

Tuesday/Thursday 2:00-3:20 p.m.

From 24 to American Sniper, representations of Islam broadly and Muslim women specifically have featured prominently in post-9/11 western and American media. In this course, we will ask how stereotypic representations of identity—specifically Muslim women—impact sociological, political, and economic policies and sentiments. Portrayed as mysterious, oppressed, and backward, these representations tap into and reinforce Islamophobic sentiments and stereotypes about Muslim women. "Hidden bodies" refers to the lack of visible diversity that encompasses identities associated with Muslim women in western media. In this CAT 1, we will examine how histories of colonialism and orientalism have constructed and maintained particular feminine identities, while erasing more diverse representations. We will trace this history from as early as eighteenth-century imperial campaigns from Europe to Hollywood films and the current music industry. Considering how misrepresentations REINFORCE social and political inequality, we will also look at how the change of representation over time can tokenize a diverse group of people and turn them into a monolith.