Fall 2012

Writing Ourselves into Existence: Politics, Culture, and Rhetoric

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-120


Kiara M. Vigil (Section 01)


Using the process of writing to uncover the relationship between literary study and history, and as a means for self-discovery, students will read a variety of texts, such as: Meridian by Alice Walker, Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. They will then write and revise their responses to these readings through a series of weekly writing assignments, peer-workshops, and informal presentations. Additionally, our discussions and writing assignments will be driven by three essential questions: First, how do we uncover and reveal ourselves through the act of writing? Second, how might we also conceal something about ourselves through our rhetorical choices? And third, how might research and non-fiction academic writing relate to the construction of fictional narratives? These questions, among others related to the study of genre, narrative, and language, will be generated and examined in this seminar in an attempt to bring craft (form) into conversation with research (content).

This is a Writing Intensive course and also discussion based. We will focus on the creation of complex, analytic, well-supported arguments that matter in academic contexts. Students will work closely with their peers, the instructor, and the Writing Center at Amherst, to develop their written prose. Also, because our approaches to writing will be driven by methodologies used by American Studies scholars, primary and secondary readings will be drawn from a wide-variety of genres and academic disciplines including English and History, as well as Ethnic Studies.

Limited to 12 students.  Fall and Spring semesters.  Professor Vigil.


Writing Intensive


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013