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PWR 1SMC: Beyond the Boundary: The Rhetoric of Maps, Borders, and Networks

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Catalog Number: PWR 1SMC

Instructor: Sangeeta Mediratta

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP)

Prerequisite: None

Course Feature: WR-1 requirement


When we think of the term borders, the most frequent image that comes to mind is the jagged line dividing one nation from another or one region from another. However, we also encounter and cross more metaphorical and fuzzy borders each day whether we are aware of them or not: borders that connect and divide us from one another in terms of gender, sexuality, race, class, religion, nationality, and even species.

Analyzing the rhetorical frameworks of geographical frontiers and the maps that represent them will be part of our preoccupation in this class, but we will also step away from geographical borders into those more figurative ones (gender, sexuality, race, class, and so on). We will take this approach to borders even in how we engage with texts in class together, whether we are analyzing the rhetorical use of maps in official (anti-) Brexit campaigns, exploring how the Game of Thrones series traverses the borders of fantasy and reality to offer a critique of race, class, and gender relations, or even examining texts you will bring to class from your own lives and interests. In each case, we will be reading texts rhetorically—examining HOW authors present their arguments, rather than simply analyzing WHAT the author/text is saying. Reading in this way will deepen our understanding of texts as well as making us more attentive, persuasive writers.

Major Assignments

Rhetorical Analysis

(1500-1800 words; 5-6 pages) For your first assignment, you will choose a text about borders that resonates with you (related to geography, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion), such as a movie trailer for Persepolis, a film about a young girl’s journey from revolutionary Iran to the United States or a National Geographic article about famous conservationist Jane Goodall’s encounters with chimpanzees in Tanzania.

Texts in Conversation

(1800-2400 words; 6-8 pages) To prepare for your research-based argument, you will develop a research question and analyze the major issues surrounding a specific topic related to maps, physical and metaphorical borders, and networks: the sources of conflict, the disagreements over fact and value, the competing interests of various stakeholders in the issue. For instance, if you are researching how maps, space, and modernity intersected in the construction of the London Underground or the visual and digital rhetoric of #metoo posters, you would bring texts into conversation with one another that have significant rhetorical differences, points of view, and emphases.

Research-Based Argument

(3600-4500 words; 12-15 pages) In this essay, you will make a unique argument based on the research you conducted and the insights you have continued to develop in response to the research question from your TiC. In developing your stance, you will be encouraged to draw on a spectrum of sources, including books, scholarly articles, films, television shows, websites, and newspapers.