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CAT 1 courses (four units, fall quarter) teach critical reading and drafting by examining how culture, art, and technology have intersected in the past. Students must have completed the Entry Level Writing Requirement in order to enroll in 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.

Fall 2020 Courses

CAT 1: The Transformation of Cities

Stanley Chodorow

Emeritus Professor, History

Synchronous lectures held 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 1: From Hillbilly Music to Hip-Hop: US Culture and Popular Music

Joe Bigham

Lecturer, CAT

Asynchronous lectures

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 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 United States 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 1: A Hollywood History: Filming America from "Boxing Cats" to Jaws

Phoebe Bronstein

Assistant Teaching Professor, CAT

Asynchronous lectures

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 cultural 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, violence, and humor. Potential films we will watch include (but are not limited to) Modern Times, South Pacific, and Enter the Dragon. 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 1: Origins

Guillermo Algaze

Professor, Anthropology

Synchronous lectures held 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.