All Courses

CW R4B - Reading, Composition, and Research

Spring 2019

This writing seminar satisfies the second half (Part B) of the Reading & Composition Requirement. It offers students structured, sustained, and highly articulated practice in the recursive processes entailed in reading and composing, as well as critical analysis. The seminar affords students guided practice through the stages involved in creating a research paper. Students read five thematically related book-length texts, or the equivalent, drawn from a range of genres, in addition to various non-print sources. In response to these materials, students craft several short pieces leading up to two longer essays—works of exposition and/or argumentation. Students also draft a research paper, developing a research question, gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing information from texts and other sources. Elements of the research process, such as proposals, annotated bibliographies, abstracts, "works cited" lists, and the like, are submitted, along with the final report, in a research portfolio. Students write a minimum of 32 pages of expository prose during the semester.

Note: Specialized sections are available for multilingual student writers.  These sections are marked (MSW) below.

Available in 
Fall, Summer, and Spring
Satisfaction of the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement and the first half (Part A) of the Reading & Composition Requirement
Units and Format 
4 units – Three hours of seminar/discussion per week
Grading Option 
Must be taken for a letter grade for R&C credit
Reading & Composition: 2nd half (Part B)





Class Number: 21916
Meeting time @ place:
MWF 10:00am - 11:00am @ 285 Cory Hall
Section Theme: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in African American Writings
Instructor: Aparajita Nanda
Section Description:

In this course we will study writings by African American authors. The focus of this course will primarily be on developing your critical thinking, reading and writing skills.  Basic rhetorical tools such as description, analysis, explanation, narration, speculation and argument will be used to share your experiences, information and views with others. The emphasis will be on provocative theses, strategies of argument and competent analysis of evidence. It will also introduce you to research techniques that would involve evaluation and synthesis of primary and secondary source material into your argument. 

Book List:

Author: Barak Obama, Title: Dreams from my Father, ISBN: 1400082773

Author: Gloria Naylor Title: Mama Day, ISBN: 0679721819

Author: Zora Neale Hurston, Title: Their Eyes Were Watching God, ISBN : 0-06-083867-1

Class Number: 21917
Meeting time @ place:
MWF 11:00am - 12:00pm @ 54 Barrows Hall
Section Theme: Ecological Apocalypse
Instructor: Mary Grover
Section Description:

Environmental scientists and climatologists continue to marshal evidence of ongoing and impending ecological catastrophe. Novels and filmmakers, on their part, have portrayed the consequence of our impact on global and local ecosystems in apocalyptic terms.  What is the strength and impact of such arguments? How should the public engage with them? This course gives you the opportunity to develop your well-informed response to propositions about environmental crisis; in the process you will advance your academic research skills—assimilating information presented through a variety of genres, developing and pursuing an angle of inquiry, evaluating and synthesizing arguments, drawing upon a variety of sources to incorporate into your own illuminating take on the subject at hand. 

Book List:
Class Number: 21918
Meeting time @ place:
MWF 12:00pm - 1:00pm @ 54 Barrows Hall
Section Theme: The Meme and the Human: Digital Literacies
Section Description:

odd flex, Keyboard Cat, doge, Rickrolling, Tell Me More, Success Kid, Grumpy Cat, Be Like Bill, Honey Badger Don’t Care, LOLCats, Nyan Cat, and others form the vernacular memetic language of the Internet. They merit study for many reasons, one of which is their powerful remixing quality that spreads like, well, Snapchat’s Dancing Hotdog. Irreverent, playful, ambivalent, nonsensical, and political, Internet memes are global social (multimodal) phenomena. In print and online texts, film, TED Talks, and other sources, we will analyze motivations for communicating in memes, memes as a Web 2.0 language in which Gen Zers are often fluent, creative techniques, meme creators and sharers, and memes’ appealing polysemous nature that invites diverse audiences to interpret them differently and that leaves many “memefounded.” To become more savvy digital citizens, we will look at the techno-social features of memes, their function in phatic communities, their genres, the (unwritten) rules of meme-related conduct, and whether the connections memes create are more important than their content. We will also explore best research practices and the myriad ways that Berkeley’s libraries and librarians empower these. Throughout the semester you will focus on a key issue, topic, or question of your choice and engage in process-based research to build an articulate, sound portfolio of inquiry that includes an abstract, annotated bibliography, research paper, and research presentation.

Book List:

3 Required Texts:

Lynch, Michael P. The Internet of Us (New York, NY: Liveright/Norton Publishing, 2016) 

McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium Is the Massage (Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press, 2001)

Shifman, Limor. Memes in Digital Culture (MIT Press, 2014)

Course Reader (available free online)

Booth, Wayne C., et al. Craft of Research, 4th ed. (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Access Craft free:

Class Number: 21919
Meeting time @ place:
MWF 1:00pm - 2:00pm @ 263 Dwinelle Hall
Section Theme: What is Knowledge?
Instructor: Tara Hottman
Section Description:

We will read a number of interdisciplinary texts that seek to answer the following questions related to the title of the course: what is knowledge? How do different disciplines define knowledge? How do we acquire knowledge? How has our conception of knowledge changed in the digital age? Is knowledge grounded in personal experience or the objective accumulation of facts? Is it synonymous with truth or information? Can we really know other people and cultures? How do we best communicate our knowledge? The readings we discuss in class will also help us to think critically about the ultimate goal of this course: the production and communication of knowledge in the form of students’ independent research projects.

Book List:
Class Number: 21920
Meeting time @ place:
MWF 2:00pm - 3:00pm @ 262 Dwinelle Hall
Section Theme: Immigration and Refugees: Stories of Individuals, Families, and Cultures on the move.
Instructor: Jordan Ruyle
Section Description:

The United States is a nation of immigrants. As a nation, we celebrate and welcome diversity and inclusiveness. Nevertheless, throughout our history there have been difficulties with this model that continue to challenge us. Recent events and national conversations have highlighted this, prompting many to reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to immigration. In this class, we'll look at current and past stories of immigrants' experiences, weighing in on current issues as we deepen our understanding of immigration, assimilation, and culture, celebrating immigration as something that enriches all of our lives.

Expect to read a lot, write a lot, and revise a lot. We'll read a novel and short stories in addition to a longer non-fiction text and material on developing a robust writing practice. You will be challenged, but you will also be rewarded by becoming a stronger writer and thinker.

Book List:

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman, 2012

The Craft of Research, Booth et al., 2014

Other books and other materials TBA

Class Number: 21921
Meeting time @ place:
MWF 3:00pm - 4:00pm @ 262 Dwinelle Hall
Section Theme: Our World Today: Global Issues, Local Contexts
Instructor: Ben Spanbock
Section Description:

With a focus on current events at both global and local levels, this class teaches students how to be rigorous and effective investigators. To better frame the concept of “our world,” we will begin with a brief history of place, taking UC Berkeley as a case study and discussing the role that the university and its research has played and continues to play in public life. This history will be complimented by close examinations of primary sources and discussions on finding and utilizing primary sources effectively. Tracking this history to the present moment, we will then map our conversations onto current events for a larger discussion on writing research papers using primary and secondary sources. Some of the issues that we will cover in our readings and discussions will include: how and where we find our information, what types of information and what sources of information we find valuable, and what we do with the information we have access to. Over the course of the semester, students will embark on a process of discovery related to a key issue within their chosen topic, to determine where, how, and why their research holds particular relevance to our world today.

Book List:

Course Reader (available online)

The Craft of Research, 4th edition (Booth, Wayne C.)

Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era (Levitan, Daniel J.)

Class Number: 21922
Meeting time @ place:
TUTH 9:30am - 11:00am @ 80 Barrows Hall
Section Theme: The Machine Starts: Technology and its (Dis)contents
Instructor: Michael Larkin
Section Description:

Many of us spend hours upon hours every day at our computers and smart phones connecting to the world and to each other through the rapidly proliferating "apps" of technology, from the "old school" Web 1.0 of email to the ever-evolving world of social networking, e-commerce, and data collection. In these fractious times, what does the increased use of these tools mean for the ways we communicate with one another, the ways we read and write and learn, the ways we define what it means to be an individual, what it means to be human? And who has power in these spaces? Where does all of our data go, and how does it get used? In this course, you will engage with texts that consider these and other related questions; you will work on reading and writing skills by writing a series of essays about those texts (and those questions); and you'll learn the rudiments of academic research as you craft a research project centered on a subject of your own choosing that fits within our course theme. And who knows—maybe we'll answer some of those questions too.

Book List:

"The Machine Stops" (E.M. Forster); Weapons of Math Destruction:  How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy (Cathy O'Neil); Deep Lab book and video talks; The Craft of Research, 4th edition (Booth, et al.); Digital course reader, including works by Safiya Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression:  How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

Class Number: 21923
Meeting time @ place:
TUTH 2:00pm - 3:30pm @ 206 Dwinelle Hall
Section Theme: Images of History
Instructor: Pat Steenland
Section Description:

Images of History: The Japanese American Internment and its Legacy

How do we come to understand the past? Once an event recedes, we are left with an unfiltered mix of sources and perspectives, each reflecting a partial truth. In this class we will explore a major historical event of the twentieth century, the Japanese American internment, the largest violation of constitutional rights in our nation’s history.  We will begin with the following texts as our starting points: Mine Okubo's pictorial memoir of the Japanese American internment, "Citizen 13660" and a novel, Julie Otsuka’s "When The Emperor Was Divine"(part of which is set in Berkeley--you may recognize some landmarks.)  We will also look at other representations of this event in different genres, such as films, essays, oral histories, diaries, and standard history textbooks, to explore differences in genre and perspective. For the final research project, students will choose their own topic to explore from the Japanese American internment and work with primary materials found both online and at the Bancroft Library, including the Densho Digital Archive, an immensely rich collection of materials on this subject.
The Internment has been increasingly invoked as a historical parallel to issues our country faces now.  This current relevance makes it all the more important to understand the event itself and its historical context.

Book List:

Julie Otsuka, When The Emperor Was Divine

Mine Okubo, Citizen 13660

Richard Reeves, Infamy

Yoshiko Uchida, Journey to Topaz

Class Number: 21924
Meeting time @ place:
TUTH 9:30am - 11:00am @ 50 Barrows Hall
Section Theme: Music and Social Movements
Instructor: Kaya Oakes
Section Description:

The connections between music and social movements stretch back to the first days when workers chanted and sung. In this section of R4B, we'll look at more contemporary examples: the links between feminism and music, civil rights and music, LGBTQ rights and music, and the changing nature of our relationship to music as consumers. We'll learn rhetorical strategies for building written arguments about the relationships between music and social change, and we'll work with the UC Berkeley library to build research skills for your final project.

Book List:

Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

The Song Machine, John Seabrook

The Craft of Research, Booth, Colomb and Williams

Various supplementary articles, online


Class Number: 21925
Meeting time @ place:
TUTH 12:30pm - 2:00pm @ 89 Dwinelle Hall
Section Theme: Strange Days: Technology and our Complex Identities
Instructor: Ryan Sloan
Section Description:

Who are we? How do our tools filter how we see the world -- and shape what are we becoming? We’ll examine surreal, funny, strange, heartbreaking work that grapples with the complexities of society’s relationship with technology.

We’ll read multimedia longform journalism on our inhumanity toward robots and the desire to revive our dead friends; the history of trolls, memes and tumblr teens; post-apocalyptic humor as theatre of the absurd; satirical short works on consumer trends run amok; darkly hilarious animated television with surprising depth; creative nonfiction, short fiction, graphic novel excerpts, and academic writing that explore the boundaries of the playful, the thoughtful, and the grotesque.

You’ll work with a number of digital platforms, have rich discussions with your peers, develop stronger analytical skills, and conduct research on a sustained project of your own choosing: the complexity of internet shaming / social media / music / memory / mortality / immigration / travel / gender / gentrification / dating / education / [insert your passion here!].  

Book List:

Texts: Craft of Research available at University Press Bookstore [2430 Bancroft Way] and the Cal student bookstore, but if you find used or digital versions, please feel free to get those! Nearly all of our reading will be free, smaller, digital excerpts and articles collected by me in the Digital Course Reader on bCourses.

Craft of Research (Booth) -- EAN 9780226239736

Digital Course Reader (free, accessible on our class bCourses site)

Films & Video: clips from Get Out, Bojack Horseman, Rick & Morty, Black Mirror, Westworld, Wall-E