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ENGL 2634: Writing and Social Justice

This class will grapple with the intersection of writing, broadly defined, and social justice. Although social justice movements happen around the world in various contexts, our class will look at these movements from within and against a U.S. context, uncovering the ways citizens, artists, celebrities, and political figures have shaped notions of social and cultural issues through writing. We will seek to uncover through discussion and analysis how hashtags, such as #SayHerName, #Icantbreathe, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #Equality, #Feminism, become ways to channel information to audiences and disrupt perceptions via social media. We will look at how writers use essays, poems, articles, manifestos, and other “traditional” forms of writing to express personal experiences and critique society. We will immerse ourselves in sounds and visuals to uncover the rhetorical effects these modes of communication have toward building community and promoting equity. Students will have opportunities to apply their rhetorical, analytical, and creative skills through designing writings that seek to communicate a central message around a social justice movement of their choosing, and students will work as a community to create a showcase of final projects.

Why take it?

With the continued systemic issues of police brutality, sexual and gender discrimination, economic inequity, and countless others, the moment for action is now, and many people have accepted this call in a myriad of ways. These messages are not isolated to specific groups or individuals; they are not isolated at all--they are public. From critical personal essays to viral videos to social media hashtags to the 24-hour news cycle to advertisements to murals on city streets, activists are WRITING social justice movements within public spaces. This class offers students a chance to immerse themselves in the art, rhetoric, and issues of pertinent social justice movements within the U.S., and no time is more Kairotic than now to engage through discussion and creation with the ideas of our time. Taking this course can help students interested in developing a deeper social and cultural engagement, as well as help students already doing this important work to build a broader perspective that could illuminate new avenues to communicate their messages.

ENGL 2634 fulfills an elective in the following Pathways minors:


Prerequisite: ENGL 1106 or COMM 1016.

This course fulfills Pathways requirements in Advanced Discourse, Critical Analysis of Identity and Equity in the United States, and Ethical Reasoning.