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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.

Learning Objectives

In CAT 1, you will:

  • Understand writing as a process that includes brainstorming, drafting, peer review, revision, and reflection.

  • Develop metacognitive and critical thinking skills.

  • Learn how to ask constructive questions.

  • Practice writing as a learning strategy (this entails developing the ability to critically read, summarize, and respond to arguments).

  • Learn how to read critically across a variety of genres and identify disciplinary discourse.

Core Concepts

By the end of CAT 1, students should be able to understand and define the following terms and ideas:

  • Ideology.

  • Culture, art, and technology.

  • History as narrative.

  • Writing as process.

  • Discipline (i.e. academically speaking, discourse).

Common Readings

All CAT 1 students will read:

  • Robin Kimmerer: "Skywoman Falling."

  • bell hooks: "Critical Thinking."

Fall 2021 Courses

CAT 1: Origins

Guillermo Algaze

Professor, Anthropology
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 12:00-12:50 p.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 1: Un/Natural Spaces: American Media and Histories of Environmental Representation

Phoebe Bronstein

Assistant Teaching Professor, CAT
Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

From the notion of wilderness to the construction of park spaces (and even the open spaces at the UC San Diego campus), this CAT 1 course will explore the stories that we tell and that American popular media has told about the environment, and people's relationships to the "natural world." To do this, we will watch movies like Waterworld and When the Levees Broke and read literature like Robin Kimmerer's "Skywoman Falling" from (Braiding Sweetgrass) and excerpts from Walden. These texts will help historize American environmental narratives, and make visible the politics underlying and propelling those narratives. In what ways can we come to see and understand how histories of environmental representation shape our daily lives and assumptions about nature/natural spaces along lines of race, class, gender, ability, and sexuality? Using the past to think towards our collective futures and the effect of climate change, the texts we read and watch in this course are meant to promote reflection and conversation on our own assumptions, politics, and engagement with environmental representations, who we are, and where we (including the planet) are going.

CAT 1: Histories of Literary Creatures

Liz Gumm

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

This CAT 1 course will examine our human need to tell stories and the special significance that animals and other nonhuman entities play in those stories. From stories of creation, like those of Indigenous American oral tradition, to allegories of mental stability, like Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, literary creatures provide insight into how humans define themselves, their communities, and their histories. At the intersection of folk/fantasy literature and animal studies, this course invites you to develop your critical reading skills and develop a personal writing practice by engaging in questions of humanity, monstrosity, and imagination.

CAT 1: The Transformation of Cities

Stanley Chodorow

Emeritus Professor, History
Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:50 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.