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PWR 2TD: The Rhetoric of Global Health

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Catalog Number: PWR 2TD

Instructor: Tara Diener

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP) 

Prerequisite: PWR 1, ESF, ITALIC 95W, or equivalent

Course Feature: WR-2 requirement

Stories of distant Others in pain are the beating heart of most humanitarian projects. Images of emaciated children and their desperate parents can produce both empathy and compassion fatigue. Narratives of innocent suffering can justify both medical altruism and military intervention - often two sides of the same geopolitical coin. This course asks us to think about the kinds of borders we erect when we speak of the Third World or the Global South. What are the implications of well-meaning efforts to help “those people over there” by offering clinical, material, or financial help? How do stories circulate and configure relationships between international non-governmental agencies - such as the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders - and the people they serve? Whose values are expressed in these stories, casting villains and heroes and informing the distribution of international aid?

In this course we will critically examine narratives – past and present – that have shaped the thing we call Global Health. We will rhetorically analyze privileged points of view and consider the perspectives they obscure. If, as historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot claims “...any historical narrative is a particular bundle of silences,” how might amplifying silenced voices inflect the policies these narratives produce? 

Research projects might focus on issues such as healthcare for refugees or undocumented immigrants, cosmetic surgery and the Kardashian effect, climate change and emerging infectious diseases, child marriage and maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, or human rights and international surrogacy. All will do so with a focus on storytelling as both an invaluable skill with potential to improve written, oral, and multimodal communication and a social practice with tremendous potential to (de)construct institutional power. 

PWR 2 Assignment Sequence

Research Proposal 

(5-minute live oral presentation; written text of 900-1200 words; reflective memo of 250 words): Each student will prepare an individual written and oral proposal for a research project related to the course theme, establishing the significance and scope of the project, framing research questions and expected research methods, and presenting preliminary information about relevant sources. Students share their research proposal with their class in a graded oral presentation that has a draft and revised version. Students will formally reflect on the proposal presentation as part of their PWR2 Process Journal.

Written Research-Based Argument 

(3000-3600 words; 10-12 pages; reflective memo of 250 words): Students will develop a substantial academic argument synthesizing a range of sources. These may include library and internet sources; social and popular media; visual, documentary, and journalistic sources; and ethnographic field research in some pre-approved cases. The PWR 2 RBA builds on the PWR 1 RBA, asking students to engage with a range of perspectives and conduct research in a manner appropriate to their university and disciplinary writing experience as sophomores. Students will produce a draft and a revision and formally reflect on the Written RBA as part of their PWR2 Process Journal.

Presentation of Research

(10-minute live oral presentation with appropriate multimedia support; reflective memo of 250 words): Students will translate their research-based argument into a live oral presentation with multimedia support. The completed Oral Delivery of Research includes a draft and a revision. Students will submit a reflection on this assignment as part of their PWR2 Process Journal. The reflection should focus on how students translated the written research-based argument into a live delivery of research as well as their experience in delivering and presenting their final oral presentation.

Genre/Modes Assignment

This translation assignment can be either monomodal (one mode--text, audio, video, graphic) or multimodal (using more than one mode).  The assignment can be a story told live (in the style of a Moth Story Slam) or can explore other modalities or genres (graphic novel, photo essay, mini-podcast, short film, etc.). As with the other assignments, this assignment concludes with a reflection in the PWR2 Process Journal.