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CAT 125 Courses

CAT 125 courses (four units, every quarter) are upper-division writing and communication classes in which students focus on translating skills developed in lower-division writing courses into writing after college and public rhetoric. CAT 125R is the online version of CAT 125. Please note that students must only take one of these two courses to fulfill their upper-division writing requirement. Students must have completed the lower-division writing sequence—CAT 1, CAT 2, and CAT 3—before taking CAT 125 or CAT 125R.

CAT 125 Course Goals

Professional Preparation

  • Develop increased experience and proficiency in public presentation, documentation, and curation.
  • Direct written, spoken, or digital compositions to multiple audiences.
  • Examine their own authority as writers and understand how different genres and citation conventions are appropriate for establishing credibility in different contexts.

Summer Session I 2020

CAT 125R: To Tell Your Story: Power, Media, and Public Rhetoric

Phoebe Bronstein

Assistant Teaching Professor, CAT

In this public rhetoric and practical communication course, we will use media narratives from stand-up to documentary film and TV episodes to explore how we tell our personal, professional, and political stories. The narratives we'll engage with, from Nanette to Homecoming and Chef's Table, will situate personal stories, research, and expertise within broader histories and geopolitics, mobilizing rhetorical devices from humor and emotion to lighting and costuming. The texts we watch will serve as (fun, hopefully) springboards to discuss different topics and rhetorical strategies and how to use those same strategies in our own self-presentation. This course will be part lecture, part discussion, and part workshop, driving towards helping you think through your future plans from graduation to life after college, from graduate school to getting a job you want and like. Part of this will entail using reflective strategies (in writing), developing strategic plans, turning our goals into actions, and discussing and developing a work-life balance. Exercises and assignments are loosely structured so as to allow you to compose texts that will support your present and/or future-life hopes and goals, while also meeting course goals.

Summer Session II 2020

CAT 125R: Stories of Ourselves: Public Rhetorics of Identity

Jennifer Marchisotto

Lecturer, CAT

In this course, we will focus on storytelling as a foundation for public rhetoric and practical communication. Whether you are preparing for graduate school, or plan to enter the workforce following graduation, you will be presenting yourself to new audiences through written and spoken words. Job applications, personal statements, even e-mails all tell stories about who we are. In this course we will think about how rhetorical choices shape written presentations of the self, and critically reflect on how those choices contribute to our public identities as we move within and between larger communities. We will discuss how different choices (for example humor, emotion, visual framing, etc.) shape the impact of narratives. Drawing on popular written and visual texts as models, we will discuss how to apply these choices in your own writing. We will engage works by Roxane Gay, Zadie Smith, Neil Gaiman, and others to better understand how identity shapes, and is shaped through, writing.

Ultimately this class should give you practical skills to help navigate your personal and professional lives post-college. This course will be a combination of lecture, discussion, and workshops all meant to help you hone your writing skills so you can more effectively wield them in myriad future contexts.

Fall 2020

CAT 125R: Mindful Rhetoric

Liz Gumm

Lecturer, CAT

In this public rhetoric and practical communication course, we will explore the intersection between attention and expression. In particular, we will examine how the quality of our attention impacts the quality of our expression, a practice in mindfulness. Mindfulness, broadly speaking, is "the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we're doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what's going on around us" (Kabat-Zinn). Mindfulness and other contemplative practices are often not taught in the classroom, but they are key components to making a fulfilling life path, whether towards a professional career, graduate school, or an unconventional journey. Some key questions considered are: What kind of attention have you paid to your presentation of self? How is opportunity impacted by your attention and self-expression? How might you develop a flexible self-narrative that allows you to blossom in a variety of spaces—from the classroom, to the hourly-wage job, to the corporate boardroom, to the community forum? In this course, you will use the strategies of mindfulness to inform your rhetorical practices of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Exercises and assignments are loosely structured so as to allow you to mindfully compose texts that will support your present and/or future life intentions.

Fall 2020

CAT 125R: Public Rhetoric and Practical Communication

Joe Bigham

Lecturer, CAT

This course in public rhetoric and practical communication in digital environments covers a wide range of potential genres, media, and audiences. We will study everything from Facebook profiles to video sharing-sites as rhetorical spaces for public persuasion, commemoration, and comment. Students will do most of their graded writing to prepare for communication to public audiences beyond their undergraduate careers, which will include a personal statement, oral presentation with timed slides, online video essay, and undergraduate research portfolio demonstrating expertise.

Because we want our students to pursue unique experiential opportunities off-campus, including internships and study abroad, Sixth College is offering the first fully online course approved by the UCSD senate, which satisfies the upper-division writing requirement also fulfilled by CAT 125. CAT 125R has been developed with funds from the Innovative Learning Technology Initiative (ILTI) by a team of distinguished rhetoric and composition research faculty. The ILTI CAT 125R course is modeled on a highly successful course created by the Culture, Art, and Technology program for face-to-face teaching. CAT 125R is unique in using instructional learning technologies to invite students to think critically about how those technologies are changing (and challenging) the ways people communicate with one another.  Additionally, the course provides practical skill and strategies for writing and communicating in diverse digital environments and with digital tools, such as shared documents and social media platforms. It is uniquely suited for online instruction, given the compelling connection between form and content when teaching students how to better establish their credibility, authority, and expertise in digital environments. Students will continue to do popular CAT 125 assignments to develop their communication skills orally, digitally, and in print, for success in genres such as the personal statement or the demo speech. The use of multimedia resources also creates an opportunity to showcase the work of renowned UC researchers. Working with the Qualcomm Center, the open access readings for the course are supplemented with short videos featuring UC faculty who are internationally-known experts in a variety of relevant fields topics such as social networks (James Fowler), big data (Christine Borgman), user-centered design (Don Norman and Scott Klemmer), online communities (Mimi Ito), privacy (Paul Dourish), interdisciplinary research (Geof Bowker), and online identity (Tom Boellstorff).