WRTG 3020: Writing about the Body
Spring 2008
Sec 006:9:00-9:50 ATLS 104
Sec 015: 10:00-10:50 ATLS 104
Office Hours: MW 11-12:30
Prof. Kupetz
Ext. 5-4674
Difference is what we all have in common.
Lennard J. Davis
The “essay”—which should be understood as the assay or test by which,
in the game of truth, one undergoes changes, and not as a simplistic
appropriation of others for the purpose of communication—is the living
substance of philosophy...an exercise of one’s self in the activity of
Michel Foucault, “Forms of Problematization”
Writing about the Body (a GT-CO3 course) problematizes dominant representations, interpretations, and
assumptions about the human body (and bodily difference). As critical readers and writers, we will
consider texts (including visual texts) from multiple genres, including reportage, memoir, short fiction,
poetry, and theory. By reading memoir, fiction, poetry, and reportage, we will identify generic
conventions and determine how (and why) certain representations signify. Our approach to theory will be
interdisciplinary, including texts from sociology (Erving Goffman’s Stigma), anthropology (Mary Douglas’s
Purity and Danger), and disability studies (including multiple texts from Rosemarie Garland Thomson and
Lennard J. Davis), and we will use theory to disrupt dominant strategies for interpreting and commenting
upon representations of the body and to develop new ones for considering future texts. By articulating a
cluster of theoretical texts and applying them to well-established genres, we will begin to reveal how
representations translate into beliefs and actions; in short, we will reveal how representation is political,
governmental (in that they impose regulations and limits on subjects).
As writers, we will engage the academic discussion about the body to further the critical discourse on the
body, on normativity, and on subjectivity (the self’s sense of identity as self). We will participate in this
discussion through our in-class discussion on texts that we have read closely, but also through our written
assignments throughout the semester. While close reading is indispensable to better writing, we will
focus on writing as a process that helps develop critical thinking. For each major writing assignment, you
will utilize a customized process that will include generative and organizational pre-writing, drafting (yes,
you will, in fact, write more than one draft!), peer- and self-revision, proofreading (yes, proofreading is, in
fact, different from revision!), and preparing a final draft. In addition, while you work on your research
paper you will develop your abilities to define research needs; set research strategies; evaluate sources
for relevance, credibility, and bias; and accurately document research with in-text (MLA-style) citations.
Non-research based writing assignments will ask you to respond to texts, analyze them rhetorically, and
craft your writing to specific audiences for specific purposes.
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Required Texts
Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies (EB). (Also available as an e-Book through Norlin
Library > Chinook Catalog.)
Goffman, Erving. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (Goffman).
Useful Links
The Owl at Purdue. 1 Jan 2007. Purdue University. 27 Aug 2007. <http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/>.
OWL (or Online Writing Lab) can be used as a grammar and usage text, as well as a guide to MLA
Grading Requirements
Attendance & Participation
Sudden Essay
Short Essays (2, 20% each)
Research Essay
The Essays: In this course, you will write two short essays (500-750 words); one longer, research-based
essay (1250-1750 words); and one sudden essay (250-400 words). Each essay you write, regardless of
word count, will undergo a guided process of invention, organization, drafting, revision, and final
preparation. For short essays, you will choose specific topics based upon general prompts derived from
the reading that we will complete in class. When you reference in-class readings in your sudden essays,
you must cite your sources and include a works cited page.
Short Essays: Each short essay will demonstrate your ability to articulate two (or more, if you choose)
texts from different genres and to use theory as a tool with which you unpack meaning. Short Essay #1
will focus on an analysis of fictional representations of the body, while Short Essay #2 will focus on an
analysis of non-fictional representations of the body found in contemporary reportage. By working on a
smaller scale in these assignments, you will refine your ability to work simultaneously with different
genres, to posit an argument that articulates those texts, and to deploy an effective argument using
theory as a tool (or, as I will often say in class, as a lens through which you read and comprehend). These
essays will prepare you for the longer, sustained, and self-directed work in your argumentative research
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Argumentative Research Paper: You will write a 1250 to 1750 -word research paper that explores a selfdirected topic concerning textual representations of the body. Your purpose is to inform the reader about
a particular issue, to present multiple viewpoints on the issue, and to argue a particular point of view in
order to achieve a particular objective (to make the reader think differently, to make the reader take
action, etc.). To accomplish this, you will write a proposal, conduct academic research, prepare an
annotated bibliography, and compose a series of drafts that culminate in your final product.
In the past, students have written research papers on equine-assisted therapy, representations of bodily
difference in comic books, and representations of the body in pre-colonial Peruvian pottery (an
anthropology major, the student parlayed her interest in the subject into a fully-funded six-week summer
research opportunity to further study these artifacts).
Sudden Essay: Your sudden essay (I have appropriated the adjective “sudden” from the genre commonly
called “sudden fiction,” alternately known as “flash fiction” because of its brevity and impact) will respond
to one text we have discussed in class. Your final written assignment of the semester, the sudden essay
will display your ability to write persuasively with a minimum of words, evidencing your increased
aptitude for organization, rhetorical awareness, and explicitness.
Miscellaneous Writing Assignments: Any additional, brief writing assignments will be evaluated as
homework and counted toward the Attendance & Participation grade.
General Document Guidelines: Unless otherwise noted, hard copies of all written assignments are due in
class on the assigned dates at the assigned times. No late papers. Additionally, all written assignments are
to be typed or word-processed, double-spaced, and single-sided with one-inch margins and page
numbers. The first page should include the word count in the header. Paperclip or staple the pages
together. Do not use title pages; they are both wasteful and ugly. Do not use fancy fonts (Arial, Helvetica,
and Verdana are standard) or inflated font size (12 pt is the norm, but 10 pt is also acceptable). Do not use
increased margins; do not two-and-a-half or triple space—the assignments are based upon word count, so
this does not solve any problems.
N.B. When submitting assignments electronically, you must follow the naming convention (if specified) on
the assignment. For example, you may be instructed to save your paper as “lastname_essay1_final.doc.”
Argumentative Research Presentation: At the end of the semester, you will prepare and present a fiveminute (no longer; practice your timing) presentation based on your argumentative-research paper. Your
presentation will focus on your argument and include any necessary background information or
supporting evidence to bolster your claim for a general audience, and you will be required to supplement
your presentation with a brief PowerPoint slideshow.
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Reading Quizzes (Open Book): Each major reading assignment has a corresponding quiz posted on CU
Learn; these quizzes are indicated on the syllabus schedule. Once the window has closed for the online
quiz, it will not be reopened. Readings with quizzes are marked with a Q in the schedule above.
Attendance: Your regular attendance is expected. Accruing more than three absences will result in
failure of the Attendance requirement; accruing more than six absences will result in failure for the
course. Each absence on a workshop day will count as two absences in the grade book. It is your
responsibility to contact me about work you might have missed during any absence, excused or
Active Participation: The course relies upon discussion to make meaning. Your role is to come to class
prepared, having read the text(s) completely and completed all assignments (including assignments that
might not appear on the syllabus but have been disseminated in class), and then engage in daily, active
participation. You are expected to speak; you cannot earn an “A” without in-class participation.
Peer Review: Peer review is an indispensable aid to the development of critical thinking and reading, as
well as your editing and writing skills. By thoroughly examining another’s work, a writer further develops
his or her craft. We will conduct workshops of various styles and formats, which I will outline for you as
we prepare to conduct them, and you are responsible for knowing the specific criteria for any given day’s
workshop, as well as mechanical/logistical issues (i.e. how many copies of your essay you need to
distribute and when, etc.
N. B.: Sometimes we may utilize CU Learn to post essay drafts for individual download instead of
distributing hard copies of each draft in class. In this case, it is your responsibility to print out all papers
(single-sided, double-spaced), mark them thoroughly (see handout on Proofreading), and have them
available for use during workshops. (It goes without saying that if you show up with drafts sans written
comments, you will be docked in your A&P grade). Print. The. Drafts. Mark. Them. Up.
Classroom Decorum: Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate
learning environment. Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to
individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation,
gender, gender variance, and nationalities. In addition, set all mobile phones to OFF, not Vibrate. If I see
you use a cell phone for any reason during class, you will be marked as absent for that day. I reserve the
right to put an end to any distracting eating or drinking. If you must ask a course-related question to a
colleague, please do so as quietly and unobtrusively as possible. Further rules on decorum may be added
as warranted.
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If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability please submit a letter to me from Disability
Services in a timely manner (during the first three weeks of the semester, except for unusual
circumstances) so that your needs may be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations
based on documented disabilities (303-492-8671, Willard 322, www.colorado.edu/disabilityservices).
All students of the University of Colorado at Boulder are responsible for knowing and adhering to the
academic integrity policy of this institution. Violations of this policy may include: cheating, plagiarism, aid
of academic dishonesty, fabrication, lying, bribery, and threatening behavior. All incidents of academic
misconduct shall be reported to the Honor Code Council and those students who are found to be in
violation of the academic integrity policy will be subject to both academic sanctions from the faculty
member involved and non-academic sanctions given by the Honor Code Council (including but not limited
to university probation, suspension, or expulsion).
In this course, any instance of academic dishonesty (including but not limited to plagiarism) will result
in an F for the course and referral to the Honor Code Committee.
Please refer to www.colorado.edu/honorcode to view the specific guidelines. If you have any questions
related to this policy, please contact the Honor Code Council at honor@colorado.edu.
Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to reasonably and
fairly deal with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams,
assignments or required attendance. In this class, please inform me of all conflicts at least one week in
advance so we can make reasonable accommodations. See full details at
Your professor reserves the right to amend this syllabus during the semester and apprise you of such
changes in a timely manner.
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Daily Plan; Work Due.
Aug 25
Introduction to the Course; Syllabus; Active Reading.
Aug 27
The Writing Process; Modes of Writing.
Aug 29
In-Class Writing: Rhetorical Analysis.
Sept 1
Labor Day (No Class).
Sept 3
Stigma, Goffman.
Sept 5
Stigma, Goffman; Q.
Sept 8
“Disability, Identity, and Representation: An Introduction,” (EB 5-18) Q;
Ralston, Aron. Selections from Between a Rock and a Hard Place. (CU Learn).
Sept 10
Ralston, Aron. Selections from Between a Rock and a Hard Place. (CU Learn).
Sept 12
Aron Ralston In-Class Visit
Sept 15
In-Class Writing Assignment;
Workshop: Paragraph Assignment.
Sept 17
Tremain, Shelley. “Foucault, Governmentality, and Critical Disability Theory” (CU Learn);
Foucault, Michel. Selections from The Archaeology of Knowledge (CU Learn, e-Reserve). Q
Sept 19
Carver, “Fat” (CU Learn).
Sept 22
Due: Paragraph Assignment (CU Learn).
Carver, “Fat” (CU Learn);
Dubus, “The Fat Girl” (CU Learn).
Sept 24
Receive: Assignment for Short Essay #1.
Dubus, “The Fat Girl” (CU Learn).
Sept 26
Small-group Thesis Conferences, Short Essay #1 (Bring Copies to Class).
Sept 29
Due: E-mail Drafts to Group (Using CU Learn Group E-mail) by 2 pm, Sept 28, 2008.
Writing Lab: Essay #1.
Oct 1
Short Essay #1 Peer Review Group Conferences.
Oct 3
Short Essay #1 Peer Review Group Conferences.
Oct 6
“Constructing Normalcy,” Davis (CU Learn, e-Reserve). Q
Due: Short Essay #1 Finals (Submit via CU Learn by 5 pm).
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Oct 7
“Theorizing Disability,” (EB 19-54). Q
Oct 9
Sachs, Oliver. “Phantoms” (CU Learn, e-Reserve).
Oct 13
Douglas, Mary. Chapter 2 from Purity and Danger (CU Learn).
Oct 15
Douglas, Mary. Additional selections from Purity and Danger (CU Learn) Q;
Oct 17
Secondary Reading: LaCom, Cindy. “Filthy Bodies, Porous Boundaries: The Politics of Shit in
Disability Studies” (CU Learn).
Researching, Evaluating Sources, Research Proposals.
Oct 20
Receive: Essay #2 Assignment.
Idea Generation; Research Lab.
Oct 22
Research Lab
Oct 24
Due: Research Proposal.
Eric Westover (Founder and Publisher of UpperEx) In-Class Visit.
Oct 27
Due: E-mail Draft of Short Essay #2 (Using CU Learn Group E-mail Feature) to Group by 5 p.m.
Short Essay #2 Workshop.
Oct 29
Annotated Bibliography Workshop (Bring Copies to Class).
Oct 31
Writing the Research Paper.
Nov 3
Generative Exercises.
Nov 5
Due: Short Essay #2 (CU Learn).
Organizational Exercises.
Nov 7
Due: Annotated Bibliography Final.
Workshop: Research Paper Intro & Outlines (Bring to Class).
Nov 10
Due: E-mail (CU Learn Group E-Mail) Full Drafts of Research Paper Drafts by Thurs, Apr 3, 5 p.m.
Workshop: Research Paper Full Drafts.
Nov 12
Individual Conferences (Bring Revised Draft to Conference).
Nov 14
Individual Conferences (Bring Revised Draft to Conference).
Nov 17
Workshop: Research Paper Final Draft.
Nov 19
Research Paper Post Mortem;
Presentation Workshop.
Nov 21
Due: Research Paper (CU Learn Assignments).
“The Cultural Work of American Freak Shows,” (EB 55-80);
Garland Thomson, Rosemarie. “Introduction: From Wonder to Error—A Genealogy of Freak
Discourse in Modernity” (CU Learn);
Bogdan, Robert. “The Social Construction of Freaks” (CU Learn). Q
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Nov 24-28
Thanksgiving Break.
Dec 1
Film: Murderball.
Dec 3
Film: Murderball.
Dec 5
Jason Regier (U.S. Paralympian) In-Class Visit.
Dec 8
Dec 10
Due: Sudden Essay.
Dec 12
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