Teacher Resources

By Course and Instructor

WRT 105

Instructor: Rachel Burgess
Student: Renee Gross
Title of Piece: Smoke Clouds of Societal Clashing
Teacher’s Commentary: The Social Uses of Photography assignment asked students to critically analyze two photographs, opposite in nature, by placing them in a historical, social, or political context that would then be the fodder for students' analysis and rhetorical comment. Renee Gross' "Smoke Clouds of Societal Clashing" does an excellent job of creating genuine dialogue between an affluent upper class character and an extremely lower class, almost classless, one. The homeless character challenges the Red Lady to question her position in society. Though in no way does he assuage her desire and her right to perpetuate the stark disparity between the "haves and the have nots," Gross' text illustrates that the Red Lady is left feeling defeated by someone for whom she had no respect.

Themes: symbolism, narrative, culture, clashing ideologies, class, morality

Instructor: Paul Butler
Student: Meghan Stevenson
Title of Piece: My Own Prison: Lawrinson Hall
Teacher’s Commentary:
In this Writing 109 studio assignment on urban space, I asked students to analyze a building on campus or in the community using some of our course readings that looked at cities as complex systems and emergent environments. In her essay, “My Own Prison: Lawrinson Hall,” Megan Stevenson works with some of the structural binaries identified by nineteenth-century architect Le Corbusier—for example, the tensions between curve and straight line, paralysis and circulation, feeling and reason—to analyze her campus dormitory, Lawrinson Hall. She identifies an important dichotomy between the restrictive, isolating construction of Lawrinson, which she says is reminiscent of a penal institution, and the many ways in which she and other residents subvert and reappropriate the dorm’s disciplinary power structure in order to create small communities of interaction.
Themes: Syracuse University housing, humor, structuralism, symbolism, architecture, analogy

Instructor: Vivian Rice
Student: Caitlin Fischer
Title of Piece: A Journey of Faith: The Evolution of Religious Belief in the Music of U2
Teacher’s Commentary:
This assignment required the students to consider the power of language: how it positions us, how it defines us, and how it limits us. They were to write a researched essay, using a perspective that would take up their subject from a "new" direction. Caitlin chose to write about the band U2, describing, through the lens of two theorists, how changes in the lyrics reveal changes in Bono's faith, his growth, his struggles, and the ways he identifies himself with respect to his faith.
Themes: music, evolution, analysis, faith, symbolism, U2, religion, lyrics

Instructor: Jeff Simmons
Student: Mlungisi C. Mabele
Title of Piece: Linguistic Identity
Teacher’s Commentary: My WRT 105 class was assigned a research-based argument essay related to language. MC’s essay was certainly well researched, but also integrated his personal experience into the dialogue in a very powerful way. I think student writers tend to avoid conflicted emotions, especially in argument essays; MC mines these ambiguities deeply and honestly.
Themes: culture, language barriers, history of Africa, ethnic conflict, self-reflection, cultural conformity, diversity

Instructor: Jeff Simmons
Student: Hui Lee
Title of Piece: A Picture that Foretells the Future
Teacher’s Commentary: I asked my students to analyze a family photograph, locating it in a broader historical or political context. I was deeply moved by Hui’s description of her father’s journey between two cultures. “Uncompromising” is something of a cliché when speaking of writers, but it is the word that comes to my mind when I think of Hui. She always has a clear vision of what she wants to say or do in a piece of writing, and she refuses to compromise that vision just because she is writing in English. She has a great mind and a great heart.
Themes: ESL writing, cultural ideologies, social reflection, self reflection, gender issues, communication, cultural conformity, diversity


WRT 205

Instructor: Amy Robillard
Student: Kevin Cato
Title of Piece: "Nigger": Language, History, and Modern Day Discourse
Teacher’s Commentary:
In my Spring 2002 WRT 205 course, which I titled “Connecting the Public and the Private: Research as Critical Inquiry,” I asked students to study a controversial disciplinary issue in their fields of study and to present that controversy to an audience of their peers: students in the class, many of whom did not share the same disciplinary background. Kevin Cato chose to study the arguments surrounding the use and so-called reclaiming of the word nigger in some African-American communities. Using Randall Kennedy’s book Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word as his jumping-off point, Cato presents the controversy passionately and authoritatively, inserting himself into the conversation as a successful researcher and simultaneously keeping the lines of inquiry open.
Themes: controversy, race, analysis, interpretation, society, pop culture, diversity, slang, terminology, ethnic slurs

Instructor: Janna Viles
Student: Megan Guidone
Title of Piece: The Research Process: Sentiments of the Vietnam War
Themes: research, outline, drafting process, literary and film sources for information on Vietnam, research reflection, Vietnam veterans


WRT 209

Instructor: Henry Jankiewicz
Student: April Putney
Title of Piece: Humanitarian Intervention: A Community, Its Debate, and My Critique
Teacher’s Commentary: My section of Studio 2 Honors was designed as an extended exercise for writers to use rhetorical analysis, argument, and critical research to study and assess a controversy of their choosing and work out positions of their own. April chose the problem of humanitarian intervention, a point of debate in international relations, and worked out a wonderfully nuanced analysis of the views of each philosophical camp toward the claims and values of the others. Little could she have known, a year later, as the U.S. flouts international law to intervene in Iraq, our country as a whole would be taking up the issue, but not in as studied a manner as this.
Themes: History, genocide, research, debate, international law, freedom, morality, humanitarian intervention, legalist, moralist, realist, United Nations, states’ rights, individual rights, compare/contrast

Instructor: Henry Jankiewicz
Student: Sarah Young
Title of Piece: The Debate Over Public and Private Service
Teacher’s Commentary:
In Studio 2 Honors, we used principles of rhetoric and argumentation to examine controversies in three academic communities, then students selected a controversy to research and write about during the rest of the semester. Sarah decided, in an almost reflective research piece, to weigh the pros and cons of two modalities for the delivery of social services. She speaks authoritatively of her field and models the process of using fair and balanced deliberation to arrive at an informed preference.
Themes: analysis, compare/contrast, social issues, research, debate, law, morality, public service, private service