Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}


Writing 160 Multimodal Composition

These courses emphasize an individualized approach to writing in a small seminar setting with frequent student-teacher conferences. They are designed to give you practice communicating in a variety of social situations and media; you will have opportunities to explore your own interests and ambitions as a writer. These courses will prepare you to adjust to new communication challenges you’ll encounter in your college courses, work, and life. In Writing 160 courses, you’ll address key features of college writing, including developing major compositions through multiple stages (planning, drafting, and revising); analyzing and composing a range of texts in more than one medium (papers, podcasts, videos, etc.); conducting research and integrating it into your compositions; and learning to use your own languages (multilingualism, varieties of English, and dialects) as valuable resources in your compositions. You will improve your ability to read critically and compose in a variety of media. At the end of the term, you will submit a portfolio of your compositions, prefaced by a reflection on your development as a writer.

Writing 160.001 - When Science Is Propaganda

In 2023, it's hard to get through a day without confronting some kind of scientific data or technical conclusion. We casually consume the work of scientists in weather reports, consumer data, economic trends, and poll forecasting, just as people getting through a day. But for manufacturers and corporations, science isn't just a convenience or passing interest; companies need a solid understanding of the science relevant to their industries if they're going to market good products and remain profitable. But what happens when the science doesn't go your way? Well, how about lying?

In this section of WRITING 160, we'll take a look at examples of scientific propaganda pushed by companies who needed alternative facts to continue marketing bad products. Much of this class will be drawn from the book Merchants of Doubt by historians Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes, which discusses the manufactured controversy around cigarettes and cancer, pesticides and cancer, and other episodes of health data getting in the way of big industry. Part of what made these ill-intentioned efforts successful was their complete communications strategy; propagandists entered our homes through newspaper, television, and radio, and knocked on the doors of all of our senses.

The phrase "multimodal composition" describes communications that make use of more than one method of conveying information, for example via the combination of images and spoken word in a TV newscast. We will study the complexities of multimodal composition by reading, analyzing, and creating with images, sounds, video, and text. This section of the course is directed at any student looking to fulfill their first-year writing requirement (FYWR) and looking for a flexible, adventurous, and self-directed atmosphere for composition. Our section will also specifically address the themes of the Arts & Resistance theme semester by examining some ways in which science has been used as a tool to perpetuate environmental destruction and systemic racism in the name of corporate profit.

Writing 160.002 - Picture Resistance

Photographs have a long history of showing the unseen, making human experience visible, changing minds, stirring resistance, and ultimately, challenging power. From worker conditions to war atrocities, poverty to police violence, the power of the camera to frame, capture, and show remains a vital form of communication -- especially in a world where images can so easily be manipulated and convey untruths. In this multimodal composition class, we will study, learn from, and make our own pictures. In our three projects, we will explore and write about photographs from the vantage of resistance, and we will take our own photographs and think about the ways our work can reveal, inspire, and change the ways we think by exposing truths, communicating story, and showing us what is happening.

Writing 160.003 - Little Big World of Zines

Our course will focus on the role zines can play in individual expression and political resistance and revolution, both in the collective and by the individual.  Zines are noncommercial publications, and usually unconventional too. Zine-makers tend to value hands-on making (DIY culture), social justice and the underground vs the mainstream. To get to know zines, we will explore perzines, Riot Grrrl zines and Black Lives Matter zines, as well as LGBTQ+ and anti-racist zine archives. We will deconstruct and analyze zines and then experiment with making our own, using photographs, personal narratives, creative nonfiction, interviewing, drawing, text, collages and design. The final project will be making zines of your own design and contributing to a class zine. Our class will focus on process and reflection, worklabs, and lots of feedback and revision, as we work toward self-publishing our own class’ zines.

Writing 160.004 - Small Wonders

This is a making-centered class where we will explore the “bug world” as a framework from which you will respond to and create multimodal compositions. We will investigate these small wonders as both embodied material beings and as rich symbolic figures, in an abundance of different mediums and modes, like memes, TikToks, webcomics, zines, and more! We will approach composition from the persona of a curious tinkerer as we approach different kinds of texts and try our hands at composing our own. You will regularly be sharing your work-in-progress with your peers, and you can also expect consistent personalized writing instruction in 1-1 meetings with me. Our course section is linked to the Arts & Resistance theme semester initiative, so we will participate in events connected to it. This course is designed with an antiracist focus: one aspect of that focus is that we will consider our positionality and biases as well as larger systems and institutions by interrogating the human/nonhuman hierarchy, and links between racism and speciesism.

Writing 160.005 - Deconstructing Travel

What does it mean to travel? Is a traveler the same as a tourist? Is a migrant, immigrant, or refugee a  “traveler”? Is study abroad “travel”? Is it responsible to travel in the face of a global pandemic, climate change, and increasing economic inequity? Do the benefits of travel outweigh its negative impacts?  

The benefits of travel are often framed in terms of personal enrichment, but travel can also have positive  impacts on destination communities. Travel can bring financial incentives in the form of job formation,  increase travelers’ awareness of global inequity, and promote understanding, education, and  collaboration between cultures. However, overtourism can have severe negative consequences on travel  destinations. Citizens of Barcelona have long lashed out at increasing tourism in their city, complaining of  overcrowding, vast amounts of waste, and high noise levels, among other concerns. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, national parks in the US were overrun with record levels of visitors, leading to damage to natural landmarks and overflowing garbage receptacles. Those who chose to travel internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic put citizens of their destinations and hospitality industry employees at increased risk of illness.

In an increasingly globalized and digital world, physical travel is becoming less necessary for commerce, education, and communication. Is there still value in travel despite issues of sustainability and harm done  to destination communities? Students in this section of Writing 160 will develop their college writing skills by exploring the definition of travel, the benefits and negative impacts of travel on the world, the inequities  inherent in travel, and the ways travelers seek to mitigate those impacts. They will also inquire whether travel can be undertaken responsibly in the modern age. 

Writing 160.006 - DIY Culture and Discourse

What do Detroit activists, riot grrls, anarchist gardeners, and "outlaw" bicyclists (among other groups) have in common? These are communities that often exercise do-it-yourself (DIY) values, like sustainability, community, self-expression, critiquing consumer culture, and fighting oppression. Another critical part of DIY culture is creating multimodal compositions, including music, performance art, experimental film, fashion, and zines.

Writing 160 fulfills the first-year writing requirement. It provides opportunities to practice composing in a variety of modes that will serve you well in college and beyond in your writing and critical thinking. In this section of the course, we will explore DIY culture and its discourse (i.e., communication) as a framework from which you will respond and create your own multimodal compositions. This semester, our course section is also linked to the "Arts & Resistance" initiative across campus, so we will participate in events connected to this initiative.

This course takes an anti-racist approach to the materials we study and the compositions you will produce, meaning we will discuss how racism exists and is resisted in DIY spaces and the university where we learn; read/view/listen to texts created by people that occupy multiple identities; collaboratively create a zine convention built upon anti-racist principles; and more. In this course, you will analyze and compose a zine, research and write about a DIY topic of your choosing, and create a multimodal project (e.g., comic, video, audio essay, etc.) presenting your research findings. You will also get to know your class colleagues through in-class group activities and peer review workshops, and you will meet with me regularly for individual meetings about your work and ideas.

Writing 160.007 - Artful Politics

What do Beyoncé, Titus Kaphar, Shepard Fairey, and Octavia Butler all have in common? They bring together art and politics to hone their message and get their audience thinking. Is all art at some level political? Does politics need art? How do artists organize for social justice? Is there an art to political engagement? And what about our own artistic production or political action? These are some of the questions we will ask in this section of Writing 160 as we participate in the 2023 LSA Theme Semester on “Arts & Resistance.”

Writing 160 fulfills the first-year writing requirement. It provides opportunities to practice composing in a variety of modes that will serve you well in college and beyond in your writing and critical thinking. In this section, we will look at the art of politics and the politics of art – through attending a UMS performance, visiting the Labadie collection of political art at Hatcher Library, and participating in a UM Museum of Art Curriculum Collection. We will also engage contemporary music, political speeches and posters, social justice manifestos, and more, as we tease out the complex interactions of politics and art.
This course takes an anti-racist, intersectional approach to the materials we will study and the compositions you will produce, inviting you to bring all of the dimensions of your artistic and/or political commitments into our class. You will learn to analyze political art, compose a manifesto, research and write about a political topic of your choosing, and create a multimodal/multimedia final project to present what you have learned. You will also get to know your class colleagues well in group labs and workshops, and you will meet with me regularly for individual meetings about your work and ideas.

Writing 160.008 - Food for Thought

Claire Saffitz is on a quest to make the best desserts on the planet. Binging With Babish has cracked the Krabby Patty formula. The Bear takes a surreal dive into Chicagoland kitchens. Food-related content is in a golden age, often being about more than cuisine. Does a loved one’s memory live on through a recipe? How do our families, friends, cultures, and languages celebrate nourishment?

This section of Writing 160 will grant you opportunities to write and make digital works surrounding food—preparing it, eating it, and gathering around it. We’ll focus on multimodal composition, meaning we’ll study and express ourselves through a variety of different art forms. You can expect to watch TikToks about New York City bodegas, read poems about food sensitivity and essays about the Filet-O-Fish, or discuss comedy sketches where the customer is never right. We’ll break bread, crafting creativity and arguments that will prepare us for the rest of college and outside of it.