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CAT 2 courses (six units, winter quarter) are writing-intensive, foregrounding argumentation, revision, and writing as process by examining case studies of culture, art, and technology interacting in the present moment. Students must have passed CAT 1 in order to enroll in CAT 2.

Learning Objectives

Building off the teachings of CAT 1, CAT 2 aims to help students learn the following:

  • Practice clear prose that advances the rhetorical purpose and choose a tone that is appropriate to the subject and audience.

  • Craft and organize a compelling argument and support it with relevant and carefully-evaluated evidence.

  • Synthesize a variety of sources and points of view on a single topic (i.e. in service of an argument).

  • Practice proper citation and documentation of sources, including in multimodal assignments.

  • Develop an individual writing voice, using revision to hone arguments and reflect on the writing practice.

Writing Skills

CAT 2 fosters the following skills:

  • Thesis statements.

  • Recognition and deployment of parts of an argument.

  • Synthesis of differing viewpoints.

  • The ability to compare and contrast.

  • Analysis.

  • Revision.

Core Concepts

By the end of CAT 2, students should be able to understand and define the below terms and ideas:

  • Genre and medium/mode.

  • Interdisciplinarity.

  • Form and content.

  • Parts of an argument.

Common Readings

All CAT 2 students will read these texts:

  • Stuart Hall: "Encoding/Decoding"

  • Marshall McLuhan: "Medium is the Message"

Winter 2023 Courses

Cities and States

Guillermo Algaze

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

Our section of CAT 2 focuses on the cultural and technical transformations that made early cities, states, and civilizations across the world possible. Specifically, the course focuses on the emergence of the city and the state as new technologies of spatial and social organization, respectively, in human societies. Along the way we explore the emergence of writing systems, organized religion, the role of warfare on social evolution, the emergence of ideologies of kinship associated with cities and states, and how socially-stratified urban societies are used to legitimize the new emerging order.

Media-Made America: America's Small-Screen Geographies

Phoebe Bronstein

Associate Teaching Professor, CAT
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10:00-10:50 a.m.

This CAT 2 course will focus on how we imagine place, nation, and America—from country to city and suburb and even outer-space—as imagined in past and contemporary American culture for and through television. As we hone our communication and critical thinking skills, we will explore the construction and evolution of American landscapes. We will approach this process of inquiry from a feminist and critical race studies perspective, wherein we imagine social geographies as raced and gendered. We will begin with discussions of how the American frontier is mobilized both historically and on contemporary television (via shows like Have Gun, WIll Travel, Gunsmoke, and Westworld). Then, we will consider American cities, white flight, and the suburbs past and present, ending with a case study of Southern California and San Diego, as it has been imagined by film and television (i.e. we might watch Veronica Mars and/or Anchorman). We will read a combination of academic and popular press articles and critically engage with a lot of television.

Disability Rhetoric

Jennifer Marchisotto

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

From "lame" to "insane," the language of disability is consistently tied to negative opinions, often without thought. Much of popular culture's depiction of disability is underpinned by ableist assumptions; however, in recent years we have seen increased critical attention to the way popular media talks about disability. In this class, we will analyze the different ways popular culture invokes disability as a way of reinforcing or challenging ableist histories of representation. We will read and discuss work from contemporary disability scholars and use those ideas as a framework through which to understand the multifaceted way disability appears in popular culture. In keeping with the goals of CAT 2, we will read and watch creative texts that draw on the language of disability for entertainment purposes to think critically about the relationship between public media and cultural understandings of ability. Students will be required to complete both formal and informal writing assignments throughout the quarter to better hone their skills as critical thinkers and develop their own analytical voice. Possible authors and texts include Catherine Prendergast, Nirmala Erevelles, Melanie Yergeau, Roxane Gay, Rivers Solomon, Ellen Forney, Glee, Crip Camp, and Game of Thrones.

Asian Diasporas in Film and Media

Hoang Nguyen

Associate Professor, Literature
Tuesday/Thursday 12:30-1:50 p.m.

Asians are everywhere: on college and university campuses, in high-tech companies and ethnic restaurants, from the west and east coasts to the flyover states in between. This course examines the ubiquitous presence of Asians in the United States and around the world through film and visual media. Asians are considered forever foreigners ("Where are you really from?") but also model minorities. On the one hand, Asians have been described as the threatening yellow peril and as robotic workers taking over America. On the other, Asians are loved and envied for their popular cultures (anime, K-pop, and dramas, for example) and their cuisines (for example, General Tso's chicken, pad thai, and phở). The course considers the reasons why Asians venture far from Asia: to seek asylum from war-torn countries, to seek a good education and well-paying jobs, to search for family, to look for love, to find a new home. We will also consider the reasons why diasporic Asians want to return to their countries of origin: to reunite with family, to find themselves, to seek closure.

The Asian diasporic figures we will examine include the immigrant, the refugee, the migrant worker, the adoptee, the restaurateur, and the Internet bride. We will consider the following questions: How does diaspora challenge, and reinforce, national identity? How does it disrupt gender and sexual norms? What intimate relationships does diaspora make possible and disallow? How does it interrogate notions of ethnic, racial, and cultural authenticity? In what ways does it trouble, and reinvest in, the idea of an originary homeland?

The films we will study may include Flower Drum Song (1961), The Way of the Dragon (1972), Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989), First Person Plural (2000), Seeking Asian Female (2012), and Crazy Rich Asians (2018). Students will develop and hone skills in film and media analysis, critical thinking, and writing and argumentation that can be applied to close readings of diverse visual and written texts.

Writing Support

There are a variety of writing resources around campus for students to take advantage of. In addition to CAT TAs' office hours, students may visit the Writing Hub in the the Teaching and Learning Commons for help with their writing assignments. The Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS) also offers a variety of tutoring programs, including the Language Arts Tutorial Services (LATS).