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English 2367.06: Composing Disability in the U.S.
Disability in Mainstream Popular Culture 

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Course Description 

In this three-hour, second-level writing course for which English 1110 is a prerequisite, you will continue to develop and refine the skills in analysis, research, and composition that you practiced in English 1110. This course emphasizes persuasive and researched writing, revision, and composing in various forms and media. In addition, you will build upon and improve your mastery of academic writing with and from sources; refine your ability to synthesize information; create arguments about a variety of discursive, visual, and/or cultural artifacts; and become more proficient with and sophisticated in your research strategies and employment of the conventions of standard academic discourses.

At nearly 57 million, individuals with disabilities make up the largest minority in America. However, that number—while perhaps shocking to some—and similar statistics don’t help us articulate how we’re defining “disability,” how those definitions impact an individual’s identity, their everyday life, their civil rights, and how the rest of the world is encouraged to see them. It’s this last question that we’ll be focusing on in this class, examining how disability is represented in mainstream popular culture and the impact that this representation has on our outlook towards the people with disabilities or disabled people. Students will apply rhetorical analysis and develop original researched arguments to a wide variety of media artifacts, examining how narrative, characterization, metaphors, tropes, visual framing, terminology, historical context, and our preconceived notions about disability—among other rhetorical features—all impact how we interpret various texts. As a part of our media landscape and as stories that we often hold dear, popular culture has a great deal of power over how we view both ourselves and those around us. Articulating how popular culture represents disability will likewise give us a more critical look into how disability functions in our own lives. 

Goals and Objectives for the GE in Second-Level Writing and Diversity at OSU

As a second-level writing course at OSU, English 2367 fulfills the GE categories in Level Two Writing and Communications and Diversity. 

Writing and Communication

Goals: Students are skilled in written communication and expression, reading, critical thinking, oral expression and visual expression. 

Expected Learning Outcomes 

  1. Rhetorical Knowledge

  2. Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing

  3. Knowledge of Composing Processes

  4. Collaboration

  5. Knowledge of Conventions

  6. Composing in Electronic Environments

Minimum Course Requirements: By the end of their second writing course, students will have written 


  1. A variety of texts, including at least one researched essay, with opportunities for response and revision 

  2. A minimum of 5000 total words (roughly 20 total pages of written work). Electronic or other projects of equivalent rigor and substance may be included, but the primary focus of the course must be the composing of written work. 

Level Two Writing (2367):

  1. Through critical analysis, discussion, and writing, students demonstrate the ability to read carefully and express ideas effectively. 

  2. Students apply written, oral, and visual communication skills and conventions of academic discourse to the challenges of a specific discipline. 

  3. Students access and use information critically and analytically. 


Goals: Students understand the pluralistic nature of institutions, society, and culture in the United States and across the world in order to become educated, productive, and principled citizens. 

Expected Learning Outcomes

Social Diversity in the United States: 

  1. Students describe and evaluate the roles of such categories as race, gender and sexuality, disability, class, ethnicity, and religion in the pluralistic institutions and cultures of the United States. 

  2. Students recognize the role of social diversity in shaping their own attitudes and values regarding appreciation, tolerance, and equality of others. 

Required Materials 

Holdstein, Deborah and Danielle Aquilline. Who Says?: The Writer’s Research. Oxford University 
Press, 2016 

Additional readings and viewings provided through Carman

Course Assignments and Requirements 

Brief descriptions of the assignments you will complete for English 2367.06 are provided below.  Full-length prompts will be distributed through Carmen when the assignments are introduced in class.


Students will complete several short assignments (blog posts), a formal analysis, a final paper, and a class presentation over the course of the semester, with each assignment building on the one that came before it to hone each student’s writing and research skills. Students will theorize about their primary sources in colloquial blog posts to help generate ideas and practice analysis, submit and revise drafts with their peer groups, and write up an annotated bibliography in preparation for their final paper. All of this work will be supplemented by in-class workshops. Regular attendance and participation are expected.  Grades will be determined as follows:

Reflective Blog Posts (7 total, 350+ words each): 15%
Analytical Paper Draft/Peer Review: 10% 
Analytical Paper (5-7 pages): 15%  
Presentation: 15%
Final Paper Annotated Bibliography: 10% 
Final Paper Draft/Peer Review: 10% 
Final Paper: (10-12 pages): 15%  

Attendance and Participation: 10%

This class requires that you remain an engaged, critical participant in our discussions throughout the course of the semester. However, I am well aware that for some of you speaking aloud in class can be a daunting task. Therefore, participation may also be shown through: attending class regularly/promptly, showing me that you are engaged (not browsing on your computer, using your cell phone, falling asleep, etc.), commenting on students’ blog posts to generate conversation (see below), coming into office hours for discussion/assistance, and sending me thoughts on our readings or class discussions over email. If you have other thoughts about how you can demonstrate participation I am also open to suggestions.

15% – Short Writing Assignments 

Short writing assignments include weekly blog posts that will help you reflect on disability rhetoric and provide you with a space to generate ideas that can later be revised into more formal pieces of writing (i.e. the analytical paper, research paper, and presentation). 

15% – Analysis of Disability Artifact(s) (Formal Essay, 5-7 pages)
    10% - Analytical Paper Draft and Peer Review

For this assignment, students will turn their attention to primary sources outside of what has been discussed in class in order to analyze the strategies employed by writers, illustrators, performers, and other artists in representing disability. Students will provide a close reading analysis of one to three artifacts, focusing on developing claims, articulating stances, and supporting their arguments with evidence. Time will be provided in class for revision and workshopping with peers. More specific guidelines will be provided on Carmen and in class. 

15% - Presentations 

Towards the end of the semester each student will deliver one, five-minute presentation examining a disability artifact or issue that is somehow central to their final research paper. This presentation must be accompanied by a visual aid (poster, PowerPoint, or Prezi) or some other form of non-print presentation (such as audio or video). As the audience, you are expected to pay careful attention and ask questions of the presenter. 

15% – Final Research Paper (Formal Researched Essay, 10-12 pages)
    10% - Final Paper Draft and Peer Review
    10% - Final Paper Annotated Bibliography 

The final research paper will synthesize what you’ve learned through the blog posts, analytical paper, research exercises, and peer workshopping to articulate a critical stance regarding one disability artifact, drawing from scholarly research in order to support your work. You will use the strategies employed by scholars and researchers to craft a targeted, persuasive argument about the artifact of your choice and how that artifact situates itself within disability rhetoric. More specific guidelines will be provided on Carmen and in class. 

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