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UWP 11 - Popular Science and Technology Writing

This course does NOT satisfy the lower division composition requirement.

1.   Catalog Description

UWP 11. Popular Science and Technology Writing (4) Lecture-3 hours; discussion-1 hour. The positioning of science and technology in society as reflected and constructed in popular texts. Topics include genre theory, demarcation, rhetorical figures, forms of qualitative reasoning, and the epistemic role of popularization in science. -II. (II.)

2.   Summary of Course Contents

This inquiry-based course will use a genre theory approach to analyzing writing about science and technology.

Genre theory focuses analysis on what kind of social structures are both reflected and constructed in texts; therefore, the readings, writing assignments, and course discussions will be designed to help students analyze texts by asking and answering questions such as:

·         According to a given text, what is science, or what is technology?
·         According to this text, what distinguishes science and technology from one another?
·         What distinguishes each from other knowledge-making endeavors?
·         What is the role of science in society?
·         What is the role of society in relation to science?

The tools of rhetorical analysis will be used to identify how popular texts about science and technology answer these questions, both implicitly and explicitly.

3.   Illustrative Reading

Most readings will be primary texts written both by professionals working in science and technology and by science and technology writers. Possible primary texts include: (1) excerpts from books about science and technology, such as Deborah M. Gordon’s Ants at Work: How an Insect Society is Organized and Arno Karlen’s Biography of a Germ, (2) articles and essays from sources such as The Best American Science Writing anthologies and Science News in the New York Times, (3) transcripts from multimedia sources such as NPR’s Science Friday broadcasts, and (4) other interpretive material about science and technology (e.g. text from science museum exhibits). Supplemental readings will address rhetorical issues and will be drawn from secondary texts such as: (1) books about rhetorical aspects of science such as Charles Bazerman’s Shaping Written Knowledge: The Genre and Activity of the Experimental Article in Science, and (2) books about writing on science topics such as Victor Cohn and Lewis Cope’s News and Numbers: A Guide to Reporting Statistical Claims and Controversies in Health and Other Fields.

4.   General Education Justification

Writing Experience: Grades will be based in part on the student’s performance on in- and out-of-class writing assignments. Assignments and sequencing vary from instructor to instructor, but in general students will write a minimum of 3000 words during this course, and guidance will be provided on successive, refined submissions of assignments.
Topical Breadth (Arts and Humanities): Students will use rhetorical methods to analyze the role of texts in the development of science and technology as significant intellectual traditions, cultural achievements, and historical processes.

11/1/10


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