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Spring 2020 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. In these classes, students learn to:

  • 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.

CAT 125A: Demonstrating Expertise Through Digital Media

Instructor: Joe Bigham

CAT 125 Ano

This course in public rhetoric and practical communication examines the use of digital media as a demonstration of expertise, and gives students opportunities to create their own expertise-related materials. Challenging the notion of expertise as a body of knowledge, we will consider expertise as a type of performance. This performance may be inscribed into a recorded form, such as a blog text or a YouTube video. It may also be performed for a live audience, as in a presentation. We will examine expertise demonstrations, how media affect the performance of expertise, and how individuals have created media-specific identities. Students will reflect on their own expertise, and learn how to efficiently demonstrate their authority through digital media..


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

Instructor: Jennifer Marchisotto

CAT 125 Marchisotto

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, Alison Bechdel, 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 that you can more effectively wield them in myriad future contexts.


CAT 125R: Public Rhetoric and Practical Communication Online

Instructor: Kevin Zhang

CAT 125R Zhang

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).