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Spring 2020 CAT 3 Courses

CAT 3 courses (spring quarter, six units) are writing and research intensive, focusing on collaboration, research, and art-making by speculating on how the relationships between culture, art, and technology will be transformed in the future. Please note that in order to enroll in CAT 3, you must have passed CAT 2.

CAT 3 Course Goals

Writing and Argumentation

  • Develop an ability to read, understand, critique, write, and make your own arguments and assumptions in texts in diverse genres including multimodal texts (such as film, television, posters, photography, and digital genres).
  • Organize and support an argument effectively with useful evidence and clear analysis.
  • Use the revision process consistently and effectively by clearly progressing from draft to draft and assignment to assignment.


  • Understand and evaluate relevant sources.
  • Cite texts and arguments fairly and effectively.
  • Use sources effectively by drawing key examples from research to support arguments, creativity, and art-making.
  • Develop an independent research project and understand key components of research such as literature review (and annotated bibliography), proposal process, and revision.

Collaboration and Art-Making

  • Develop effective ways to collaborate with groups of peers.
  • Use digital methods to enhance collaboration.

CAT 3: Surviving or Thriving: Narratives of Apocalypse and the Aftermath

Liz Gumm

Lecturer, CAT

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 8:00-8:50 a.m.

This CAT 3 course will ask you to consider the ways that our future has been imagined, specifically in narrative and rhetorical strategies. From climate crisis to religious prophecies, we will look at how authors compose stories about the end of humanity and then imagine any life that persists post-apocalypse. Through an examination of the rhetorical and narrative choices of fiction, journalism, activism, etc., you will develop your own stories of apocalypse and the aftermath. In particular, you will conduct research on threats to human life or civilization and then produce your own narrative arguments about surviving or thriving beyond such threats. While much of our discussion will examine catastrophic rhetoric, we will also explore more nuanced rhetoric and evaluate the efficacy of such choices in argumentation. By the end of this course, you will be able to break down narratives of disaster, threat, and humanity—not to dismiss risks, but to better evaluate and respond to such risks and imagine the future.

CAT 3: From the Tower of Babel to Google Translate: Lost and Found in Translation

Amelia Glaser

Assistant Professor, Literature

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

How have humans, from the ancient world to the present, made themselves understood across languages? What methods have proved the most effective and under what circumstances? This course seeks to answer these questions by examining innovations in translation from the Rosetta Stone to biblical translation to web-based language technology. You will read essays and articles exploring the possibilities and impossibilities of translating jokes, slang, and terms of endearment. We will discuss how translators, the "work horses of literature," have sought to render poetry into different languages. We will test new technologies that are changing the way we approach foreign texts. In-class exercises will allow you to try your hand at a variety of translation techniques. You do not need to know a foreign language for this class, but if you do you might have a chance to use it.

CAT 3: Futures Through Music Making: Videos, Virtuality, and the Bop Gun

Joe Bigham

Lecturer, CAT

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 12:00-12:50 p.m.

As an intersection of technology and social interaction, music-making and sound design can be effective tools for imagining potential futures. Science fiction has often used examples of music performance to make the future audible, such as Max Rebo's bar band in Star Wars or Diva Plavalaguna's operatic singing from The Fifth Element. Musicians have also engaged "sounding" the future by placing their music in futuristic contexts, as in Funkadelic's "Bop Gun: Endangered Species" and Janelle Monae's Dirty Computer. Sonification of data allow us to hear the change across multiple domains and imagine where that change might evolve toward. This course synthesizes contemporary musical practices and sound design practices with futurist and speculative perspectives. As a writing course, we will research, analyze, and critique short essays about cutting edge and futurist musical perspectives. Our materials will include chapters in the fields of Sound Studies and Ecomusicology, examples of virtual reality and music-making (Jarrod Lanier's work), and other futurist music-making examples. The ideas we develop from our writing will then form the basis of a collaborative sound project aimed at representing a future world. Through our own music- and sound-making experiences, we will perform and critique where we are in the present moment and where we might go.

CAT 3: Environmental Futures: Media, Technology, and the Future of the Planet

Phoebe Bronstein

Assistant Teaching Professor, CAT

Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:50 a.m.

This CAT 3 course will examine how popular culture—magazine/newspaper articles, literature, film, and television—has and continues to imagine the future of the environment and the climate crisis. From contemporary films like Okja and Weathering with You to documentaries like March of the Penguins and Hollywood's The Day After Tomorrow, we will examine how mass media promotes, questions, and reinforces environmental politics. How can these future worlds help us understand and engage with our past, current, and future relationship to the environment? How do these films shape our own relationship with the planet? How do these visions sooth or exacerbate anxieties about topics like global warming? Potential topics we will cover include (but are not limited to) the climate crisis; capitalism and the environment; race, gender, and the environment; technology and the environment; and the politics of food. This course is driven by research, collaboration, and creativity—using film/literature/television texts to help us question and engage with ideas about the future of the planet. The texts we read, watch, and discuss will thus serve as models and inspiration for your own research projects. While there will be some assigned reading, much of what you read for this course will be articles of your own choosing, which will provide grounding for your original and collaborative final research projects: crafting a short television episode or film (fiction or documentary) that engages with questions and topics we've covered in class.