2021W WRDS 150A Topics – Term 1

WRDS 150A is offered in a wide variety of topics from departments and instructors across UBC.

Course topics and descriptions are subject to change depending on the instructor and their availability. Below is the schedule for the upcoming 2021-2022 Term 1 winter session.

Mon, Wed, Fri Course Schedule

Course Topics Descriptions

Below are course descriptions for each topic, as well as instructor and scheduling information.

Instructor: Dylan Cree

Sections: 142

The main objective of the course WRDS 150 is to introduce you to various forms of academic research and writing. Accordingly, you will learn to write a summary, a research proposal, and a research paper, all of which will provide you with the kinds of writing skills you will use throughout your academic career.In this particular offering of the course our topic will be approaches in media studies and media criticism. Learning from different schools of thought, concepts and theories related to media and culture you will study the relationships between formal, aesthetic, representational and sensory elements of media texts and their surrounding discourses. Throughout the course, some of our guiding questions will be: how are media and cultural texts made?; how do we critique and analyse media and cultural texts?; and, how is an audience constituted?

Instructor:  David Newman

Sections: 191

In a world where innovation has become highly sought after, creativity is the often-hidden engine necessary for innovation to take place. Creativity is now listed as one of the key skills required for employment in the 21stcentury. But what is creativity, how is it understood, and what is the creative process?

Creativity crosses discipline boundaries and can be viewed and understood through multiple lenses. Using scholarship on Creativity as a vehicle, this course will introduce you to different genres and forms of academic writing. Your learning journey will include development of a literature review, followed by a research proposal and onto the writing and rewriting of a research paper. There is a high degree of group work in this section, and the research and writing of your research paper will be a collaborative effort. You will also learn and experience a number of creativity tools over the term.

Instructor:  Stephen Dadugblor

Sections: 121

The proliferation of digital technologies has enabled the generation, storage, and processing of data on unprecedented scales, with implications for our social and political lives. In this course, we will focus on social networking sites as an example of such technologies to examine how they shape citizens’ participation in politics and democratic processes. We will discuss key concerns regarding the practice of politics and democracy today: digital activism, fake news, misinformation/disinformation, and demagoguery, among others. We will read research by scholars across multiple disciplines who study the connection between social networking sites and political participation across cultures. As we discuss these scholarly articles, we will gain familiarity with knowledge-making in the disciplines, learn scholarly conventions of academic discourse communities, and participate effectively as apprentice members.

Instructor:  Louis Maraj

Sections: 114

How does who we are shape the knowledge we produce and engage in the world? In what ways do institutions, cultures, and media give us ideas about how we should and shouldn’t think of ourselves and those around us? And what roles do language and communication play in developing our perceptions of who can make scholarly knowledge? In this course, participants will survey a variety of artifacts that engage ideas about identity and identity formation drawn from a number of strains of thought—including rhetorical studies, gender and sexuality studies, sociology, poetics, and cultural studies. We will think deeply about the politics of representation in how these artifacts communicate for scholarly audiences, while developing projects that actively acknowledge, address, and apply our own identity positions in research.

Instructor:  Tara Lee

Sections: EC1, *EC5
*Reserved for BIE STT students.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed significant disparities across the globe when it comes to health care access, production autonomy, and economic stability. It has also highlighted the interconnectedness of countries, and the potential, both positive and negative, for change to be enacted on a world-wide scale. This course examines research by scholars in a variety of disciplines who theorize questions surrounding global inequity and strategies for mitigating and combating disparities connected to the speed of economic development, international trade dynamics, and even the repercussions from certain types of resource extraction and labour use. As you examine and discuss relevant scholarly articles, you will become acquainted with the conventions of scholarly discourse, disciplinarity, as well as the production of new research knowledge within a field. Ultimately, the goal is for you to increase your critical engagement with the global world around you, in addition to cultivating your skills and confidence as an academic writer and researcher.

Instructor:  Alexis McGee

Sections: 111

This course investigates the importance of voice as it is composed through a variety of forms. What does it mean to read voice within texts? How do we listen to voices? How can we craft voice when we write? In addition to seeking answers to these questions, this course builds working definitions for the features defining voice, loosely, by engaging with scholarly conversations across discourses (sociolinguistics, writing studies, postcolonialism, etc.). By the end of this course, students should be able to identify, develop, and understand of how voice can be used rhetorically

Instructor: Gillian Carrabré

Sections: *113, *123, 141
*Some seats reserved for BMUS students

The theme of this section of WRDS 150A is mental health and self-expression in the arts. We will examine articles from a range of disciplines, including musicology, art history, philosophy, psychology, popular music studies, and more. How do scholars consider the topic of mental health across these diverse fields of artistic discourse? How do artists navigate the creation of their work while dealing with mental illness? And how do we write about these issues as budding academics? Through the artistic works of Sergei Rachmaninoff, Robert Schumann, Vincent Van Gogh, William Shakespeare, Hector Berlioz, Avicii, Edvard Munch, Chuck Palahniuk, Linkin Park, Oscar Wilde and others, we (as colleagues) will develop an understanding of the effects of mental health on the output of art and vice versa. Using the lens provided by our class theme, we will build comprehension, research and writing skills in academic genres, and learn to apply modern research techniques, think critically, and compose relevant academic papers in Chicago Style, the primary writing style in musical discourse. The classroom will embrace an inclusive mentality, cultivate respect among colleagues, and allow space for creativity. As a researcher of rave culture and its ideologies, I have adopted the famous Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect mantra as my classroom motto. I would like for WRDS 150 to embrace the concept of PLUR in both classroom and online interactions whenever possible.

Instructor: Adrian Lou

Sections: 122, 153, 162

Traditionally, metaphor has been understood as a stylistic device that poetically decorates language. Metaphorical expressions (e.g. my love is a rose) are thus thought to be statements that do not reside in the realm of everyday speech. However, contemporary research in cognitive linguistics has shown that many conventional expressions are inescapably metaphorical. Consider, for instance, how we rely on metaphors to talk about abstract concepts, such as love (e.g. you’re breaking my heart), illness (e.g. the patients are battling cancer), and time (e.g. we’re running out of time). In this course, we will read academic articles that evaluate the use of metaphors in biology, healthcare, psychology, Indigenous studies and politics in order to have a better understanding of how metaphors shape the way we think about the world around us. Ultimately, students in WRDS 150 will learn how to read academic papers in a critical way, identify the rhetorical strategies used in academic writing, and write an original research paper that draws upon ideas and concepts from the course.

Instructor: Jennifer Cowe

Sections: 133, 143, 161, 171

This course will aim to explore how different academic disciplines engage with the concept of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a word, or more usually a feeling, that most people have used or felt; however, very few understand its constant presence in everyday life. We will study nostalgia from its earliest appearance in academia as a form of mental illness in the seventeenth century and follow its growing influence over, and manipulation of, contemporary ideas of national identity, consumerism, class, lifestyle choices and LGBTQ histories. Through the study of academic journal articles from a variety of fields (psychology, history, marketing, politics, media) we will examine the research and writing techniques used by different disciplines to understand such an esoteric concept.

Instructor:  Katie Fitzpatrick

Sections: 101, 112
Taught online - details on the bottom of the web page.

Today, we often hear that “privacy is dead.” Some blame growing surveillance by governments and by Silicon Valley tech companies, while others blame an increasingly confessional culture, characterized by constant “over-sharing” on social media or on reality television. In this course, we will read scholarly articles from disciplines like law, anthropology, and psychology in order to gain a wider perspective on contemporary privacy. We will consider, for example, the privacy rights of poor mothers, RCMP surveillance of Indigenous movements, and the privacy implications of COVID tracing. In addition to reading and analyzing these articles, students will join the scholarly conversation by producing their own original research on privacy and surveillance.

Instructor:  Tom Bittner

Sections: 132

One interesting fact about human behaviour is that a person can know that it is best for her to do something and yet be unable to get herself to do it. This fact has been investigated in a variety of ways by scholars in psychology, philosophy, and sociology. We will examine the different approaches that are taken to the study of this phenomenon. What kinds of questions are interesting to researchers in these different disciplines? How do their research methods serve the production of knowledge in the scholarly tradition? Students will use what they learn about this tradition of inquiry to conduct their own research on a topic related to self-control.

Instructor: Diane Burgess

Sections: 124, 131, 151

From hashtag activism to meme communities to micro-celebrity influencers, social media networks have transformed our daily interactions, impacting how we gather and disseminate information. By definition, social media are both information conduits and networking technologies. Social media platforms (e.g.: Twitter, Instagram, WeChat, TikTok) facilitate content sharing — fostering connections, community formation, and virtual patterns of influence. At the same time, social media have altered the public sphere, challenging journalistic norms and impacting potential forms of political engagement. Drawing examples from media studies, marketing, journalism, and political science, this section of WRDS 150 explores how scholars approach the qualities of social media networks, their uses and their users.

Instructor: Connor Byrne

Sections: 152

For this course, the city will be our main object of scholarly investigation, and in order to introduce you to the rigours of academic writing and research, we will read academic research articles from a range of disciplines in order to familiarize you with the conventions and goals of academic criticism: novel, evidence-based research; critical dialogue; argumentation and analysis. As engaged readers and writers, and through a series of scaffolded assignments and workshops, you will become adept at the genre of research-driven writing: summary and citation, literature review, research proposals, conference papers, peer review, and the research paper.

Guiding this work will be investigations of the city—of urban phenomena and experience—carried out by the six research articles that model the kind of research (mainly qualitative, not quantitative) and writing for which this course serves as an apprenticeship. These articles provide a sampling of academic criticism from a range of disciplines—for example, sociology, history, urban design, art history, cultural studies, anthropology, etc.

In response to course material and discussion, you will reflect on your own evolving positions as modern city dwellers and ultimately develop a novel qualitative research project that contributes to scholarly conversations about the city.

Tues, Thurs Course Schedule

Course Topics Descriptions

Below are course descriptions for each topic, as well as instructor and scheduling information.

Instructor: Rebecca Carruthers den Hoed

Sections: 222

Together, we will explore the concept of food citizenship and how it is debated across different academic disciplines (e.g., anthropology, geography, indigenous studies, nutrition/health, political science, sociology). Citing a global food system dominated by ‘faceless’ transnational corporations, exploitative agricultural practices, a proliferation of calorie-dense nutrient-poor foods, growing health disparities, and a pathological obsession with eating (too much, too little, only ‘clean’ foods), scholars have begun to pay attention to the problem of cultivating good food citizens: how can we empower people to improve or radically overhaul the modern-day food system, to make it more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable and just? Is eating local the answer? Does community gardening help? What about adopting a plant-based diet? And how can we decolonize the food system and challenge the elitism (racism, classism, sexism) inherent in some food citizenship ideals? In response to readings, lectures, and class discussion, students will reflect on what it means to be a good food citizen and develop a research project that contributes to current scholarly conversations about food citizenship.

Instructor:  Nazih El-Bezre

Sections: 201*, 211, 221, 231
*Section 201 will be taught online - details on the bottom of the web page.

This section of WRDS 150 focuses on the relationship among globalization, identity formation, and the literacy practices needed in the 21st century. In today’s technologically-interconnected world, people, ideologies, food habits, fashion, and movies flow easily through borders with a speed unforeseen in the recorded human history. Due to the shrinkage of our world—which has been called a global village—we are faced with questions concerning the knowledges or literacies required to succeed in a highly competitive world, and the impact of these knowledges on our own identities. The focus on the 21st century literacies operates in conjunction with crucial life literacies, such as health literacy, ecoliteracy, second/additional language literacies, religious literacy, financial literacies, and even food literacy studies. As a result of these multiliteracies, individuals in the 21st century are now required to possess and use a variety of literacy competencies that span across various academic disciplines. Individuals’ literacies are thus multiple, dynamic, adaptable, and multidimensional. Due to the significance of these literacies on identity formation, researchers, including novice university students, explore literacies to improve knowledge transmission at every stage of individuals’ lives.

Instructor: Meredith Beales

Sections: 232, 241, 251

In The Lion King, on the BBC, on stages and classrooms around the world—the work of William Shakespeare is often encountered as a classroom text, theatre, or film.  But Shakespeare is now also used as inspiration for academic research ranging from history and film studies to archeology, mathematics, and cognitive science.  In this class, we will examine how this one sixteenth-century English playwright has galvanized research in a variety of disciplines beyond the traditional starting point of English literature.  We will ask why this particular writer has such a large impact on academic study, and whether, in research on, for example, supernovae or twenty-first century Afghan politics, Shakespeare has much to do with the research at all.  Does simply adding the name Shakespeare make it more likely to be taken seriously?  Does it matter that the motivation for an archeological dig comes from trying to prove Shakespeare wrong?  What, if anything, does Shakespeare have to do with the research done in his name?

No prior knowledge of Shakespeare is expected, nor will we be reading his literature (the plays or poems themselves) in WRDS 150.

Online Course Schedule – Term 1

The WRDS 150A sections below will be taught online with synchronous and asynchronous components.    Classes will include a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous activities (such as watching recorded lectures, posting to discussion boards, or completing quizzes).  Attendance to online classes are required as per the instructors’ directions.

Privacy Katie Fitzpatrick 101




Creativity David Newman 191 Wed 6:00-9:00PM
Globalization, Identity and Literacy
for the 21st Century
Nazih El-Bezre 201 T/TH 8:00-9:30AM
The Shakespeare Phenomenon Meredith Beales 251 T/TH 6:30-8:00PM
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