HC444H/431H: Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing: The United States in the 1860s

Professor: Timothy Williams

4.00 credits

• CRN 32849: Thursday, 2:00-4:50pm @ CHA 102

Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing are advanced-level, writing-intensive courses that engage students in a review of areas of special interest. These seminars emphasize public writing—the ability to translate complex arguments and professional jargon to a broad audience— which is a central feature of a liberal arts education. These seminars will have a collaborative format, with students writing frequently and rewriting their work in response to comments by their professors and input from classmates. You have learned how to write for college, now learn how to write for life.

More than 150 years after Union victory heralded “a new birth of freedom,” American life seems to echo the 1860s’ ideological, political, and racial discord. White nationalism, violence, electoral suppression, and mistrust of the press, have disrupted civic life in alarmingly resonant ways. Debates about Civil War monuments, Confederate flags, and partisan gerrymandering have compelled historians to explain this complicated history in public forums such as newspapers and social media. In this seminar, we will join our voices to the public conversation. We will study scholarship about the Civil War and Reconstruction and examine popular film depictions of the era. As we do, students will create a public writing portfolio comprising book, film, and lecture reviews, and Op-Eds.These regular writing assignments are both intensive and collaborative. Students will work together, alternately, as authors and editors. Whereas lower-division social science courses have trained you to write rigorous academic prose, this seminar in public writing will train you to write with equal rigor but for the wider public.

Graduation Requirement:  This class will fulfill a Social Science Colloquium and the US: Difference, Inequality, Agency (US) cultural literacy requirement.  If the student has already taken a Social Science Colloquium, this class will fulfill both of the following requirements: an Elective Colloquium and the US: Difference, Inequality, Agency (US) cultural literacy requirement.