See information below:

 

Since receiving his Ph.D. from Syracuse University in 1996, David Weed has been a faculty member in the Department of English at Washburn University. He teaches composition courses, Critical Reading and Writing, and Literature of the American West. His research interests include gender studies, critical theory, and eighteenth-century literature and culture. He is the English Department's Library Representative and since 2005 has been a member of the Editorial Board for the Bob Woodley Memorial Press.



Links to Information About Selected Publications

 

-- “Cultural Daddy-ism and Male Hysteria in Robert Bly’s Iron John.”

-- “Meaning Is Cool: Political Engagement and the Student Writer.”

-- “Sentimental Misogyny and Medicine in Humphry Clinker.”

-- “Fitting Fanny: Cleland’s Memoirs and the Politics of Male Pleasure.”


The primary goal of this course is to improve your ability to make and to communicate meaning in a formal (especially in a formal academic) setting. As the English Department notes in the Freshman Composition Program Mission Statement, reaching that goal involves developing your use of language, improving your skill at critical thinking, and learning to read more effectively. In general, we will approach Freshman Composition as a course in Cultural Studies, focusing particularly on current popular culture, in order to elucidate, to examine, and to expand upon the knowledge that you already possess. As you investigate the way that cultural myths profoundly influence individuals, you will be asked to consider your own positions and assumptions in relation to the works that we read and analyze.

 

This section of Advanced Composition derives class discussions, class presentations, and writing assignments from a set of readings in order to sharpen your ability to express complex ideas in the context of an academic writing community. To an extent, you will be evaluated on the basis of your ability to participate in the course eagerly and perceptively: I am most interested in your willingness to practice thinking: the consideration and rehearsal of ideas are necessary steps in the development of good ideas. The course stresses critical thinking (analysis) in order to help you learn ways to develop and to focus your ideas, which will make your writing stronger and more effective. We will work on defining analysis (and we will confront some misconceptions about it) as we discuss Writing Analytically. We will also develop a set of good practices for reading and writing texts. Finally, we will devote class periods to student presentations, practicing analysis by investigating a variety of subjects surrounding the issues raised by Dan P. McAdams in his cross-disciplinary examination of American culture, The Redemptive Self. More important than the particular topic is the general sharpening of your analytical skills because, as the authors of Writing Analytically rightly recognize, analysis involves having and developing ideas “in an academic setting and beyond.”

 

This online section of Advanced Composition consists of discussions and writing assignments derived from a set of readings. The primary goal is to sharpen your ability to express complex ideas in the context of an academic writing community. To an extent, you will be evaluated on the basis of your ability to participate in the course eagerly and perceptively. I am most interested in your willingness to practice thinking. Rehearsing and considering ideas is a necessary step in the development of good ideas. Ideas don’t just happen: they’re made. The course stresses critical thinking (analysis) as you develop ideas in written class discussions and in formal writing assignments. We will work on defining analysis (and we will confront some misconceptions about it) as we discuss Writing Analytically. At the same time, we will examine an analytical work (Seeing Through Clothes) and practice analysis in our readings of art, fiction, and film. More important than the particular topic is the general sharpening of your analytical skills because, as the authors of Writing Analytically rightly recognize, analysis involves having and developing ideas “in an academic setting and beyond.”As I note above, part of the coursework will focus on discussions and assignments designed to help you build a deeper understanding of analytic writing. The other part of the coursework will involve examining a particular issue that is discussed in various ways across disciplines in the university. The issue will provide a subject of analysis that we may use for practice at thinking and writing. Our subject of analysis this semester will be the human body: the ways that we will investigate it include readings about and allusions to the body in art, history, science, and film. You will need to become familiar with the particulars of this issue as quickly as possible, especially the terms on which and the language in which it is currently being discussed, so that you can make informed and thoughtful contributions to our conversation.

 

The course provides an introduction to the history and current state of critical approaches to literature. We will briefly survey the tradition of literary criticism in Western culture, but we will focus much more closely on the recent past, especially the explosion of critical theory that marked the last quarter of the twentieth century and that continues to shape English and other disciplines. The world of theory can be at first a bewildering array of concepts and terminology: we will work to sort through and to become familiar with several theoretical schools, including structuralism, Marxist criticism, deconstruction, psychoanalytic theory, feminism, gender studies, cultural studies, and postcolonial theory. We will work to understand individual theoretical approaches and to construct a kind of genealogy in order to see the connections between them. Twice late in the semester we will pause from pursuing significant primary theoretical texts in order to examine literary texts in the context of the various theoretical approaches. If you to struggle to assimilate these complex texts and ideas, know that the process is normal and that an introductory course can only provide you with something like a basic map. Though you cannot become fully versed at any particular theory in such a short time, you can gain a working knowledge of theories that shape current discourse in the university and that have effects beyond it.

 

This course provides a historical and theoretical context for understanding the literature of the American West and its place in the American imagination. We will be interested in defining the American West and in distinguishing the realities of the region from the multiplicity of images about it. In addition, we will investigate some of the changes in the image of the West as the depictions of it, which once focused largely on white men, have become more heterogeneous. We will investigate a range of materials, focusing on fictional accounts of the West through novels, short stories, poems, and films, but we will also consider essays, autobiographies, and artworks. Because this is an English course rather than a history course, we will emphasize reading, understanding, and discussing the literature. Beyond the subject of the course, our wider goals involve improving your ability to read closely and to write effectively about the texts.

 

 

For additional information, contact David M. Weed


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