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GSTR 210

GSTR 210

Writing Seminar II - Identity & Diversity in the U.S.

This course is designed to develop and build upon the reasoning, writing, research, and learning emphases of GSTR 110 while engaging all students on issues close to the historic mission of the College—race, gender, Appalachia, and class. Each section initially explores the story of Berea, including as it relates to the unifying themes of GSTR 210. Each section of the course involves explicit, continuing attention to writing, reasoning, research, and reflective engagement with various texts, including instruction in the processes of producing a research paper.

Learning Outcomes

Successful students will:

  • write competently at the college-level, using a multi-stage process approach to writing, including formation of a supportable, narrow topic, drafting, revision, and editing;
  • be proficient in properly documenting sources and recognizing and avoiding plagiarism;
  • be adept at using a wide variety of sources for research and seeing how different types of source work together;
  • demonstrate thoughtful engagement with ideas, experiences, issues, and texts in various types of writing, including sustain an argument in a research paper;
  • be able to demonstrate enhanced oral communication skills;
  • employ reasonably well basic critical thinking concepts describing, analyzing, and synthesizing materials;
  • understand issues related to race, gender, class and Appalachia in a national context.

Section Descriptions

Below are section descriptions for all instructors who regularly teach GSTR 210. Not all of these instructors listed here teach the course each term. Please refer to the schedule of classes for the term in question to see which instructors will be offering the course.

GSTR 210- Anderson, Broughton: The Archaeology of Berea: The Archaeology of Us. Does our stuff define who we are – as humans, as Americans, as Bereans, as distinct individuals? Often defined as fixed or static, identity is, however, mutable, a social construction we impose on ourselves, each other, and the world around us.  Using archaeology as a lens of inquiry, this class will explore our material culture as a means to understanding identity and issues of race, class, and gender. This class will explore the ever-changing relationships we have with each other and with things, leading us to inevitably ask how we influence Berea’s identity as it influences ours.

GSTR 210- Arms Almengor, Rochelle: Culture, Identity and Conflict. First and foremost, this course will build on your learning in GSTR 110 – its main goal is to support your research and writing skills. I will spend significant time on helping you formulate a solid research paper about a topic that moves you. Secondly, as we work to hone your research and writing skills, we will explore the ways in which culture and identity frame our individual and collective understandings of social conflict. While sometimes, cultures and identities rest invisibly under the surface of a person or group, they often take center stage in times of conflict. Anthropologist and conflict studies scholar, Kevin Avruch tells us that “the mere existence of cultural differences is usually not the primary cause of conflict between groups…however, culture is always the lens through which differences are refracted and conflict pursued.” This class will examine the ways in which our respective cultures and identities shape our theories-in-use about how to do (or not do) conflict and with whom to do (or not do) conflict. To guide our understanding, we will draw on works from multiple disciplines such as peace and conflict studies, anthropology, psychology, and education, but keep in range of the cultures, identities and conflicts (local or national) that are at the heart of the Berea story. In your participation and writing, I will ask you to connect the relevant ideas of scholars, activists, and practitioners to your own lived experiences whether here at Berea or elsewhere in your life. Our goal will be to make sense of the roles that culture and identity play in conflict and in its transformation.

GSTR 210- Barton, Adanma: What You See is What You Get? Unfortunately we live in a world where pictorial stereotypes in the media are prevalent. In this course we will examine stereotypes pertaining to ethnicity, gender, age, etc.  Through research we will attempt to discover a common ground and map out hopes for the future.  Materials covered include A Day without a MexicanTrue Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachia, and Images That Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media. Students should be prepared to engage in intelligent discussions, write researched essays, and conclude with a final research paper.

GSTR 210- Broadhead, Edwin: The Berea Story in a national Context. This section of GSTR 210 explores the Berea story throughout the semester in order to analyze issues of race, gender, Appalachia, class, and education within both a local and a national context. The reasoning, research, and writing skills addressed in GSTR 110 are reviewed and developed in this course. Each student is expected to demonstrate these skills in a research paper that develops one of the central themes of the course.

GSTR 210- Brown, Jarrod: Identity and Knowledge. Berea College’s historical mission has been dedicated to education of four “classes” of people: Appalachians, African Americans, women, and those with economic need. All four of these identities, however, are often depicted in the popular media and popular imagination as uneducated, backwards, irrational or ignorant, from minstrel show depictions of African Americans to contemporary portrayals of Appalachians like Wrong Turn. In exploring the intersection of identity and our status as knowers, and through the history of Berea College as an educational institution, we will examine the making of stereotypes, reflect on how they impact us, and how we as knowers can respond and challenge such stereotypes. Using the lens of feminist epistemology, we scrutinize a variety of mediums including television programs, movies, historical documents, and academic works to understand how identity is created from without as well as from within, to understand the historical construction of these identities in America, and how these constructions relate to stereotypes of classes of people as epistemic agents, as knowers and sources of knowledge.

GSTR 210- Burnside, Jackie: Being Different, Becoming Distinctive. When Berea reopened after the Civil War ended, black and white males and females were enrolled on an equal status as students in Kentucky’s first interracial and coeducational institution of education. In this course, we will examine the trials, tribulations, and celebrations of the Berea saga from the 19th century into the 21st as we ponder the challenges and opportunities for the College in being different, and becoming distinctive. In addition to the final research paper, students will be expected to participate in class discussions, make short oral presentations in teams, and engage in writing several reflective exercises based on our work with various texts.

GSTR 210- Crachiolo, Beth: American Identities: How do you know? This section will explore the definitions of “American,” beginning with the assumption that there are multiple definitions. What makes an American?  What are the negotiations, tensions, and constructions that we use to forge our identities? We will be focused particularly on gender, race, and class, especially as they relate to and/or define various categories of Americans: the privileged; the oppressed; the immigrant; the educated; the differently abled; the urban/rural American. Since GSTR 210 has a research paper at its center, we will be working on yours all semester, step by step. Whether you are American or not, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, as well as about this country.

GSTR 210- Dickerson, Jacob: Media & Appalachian Identity. This course explores the ways in which media content both reflects and constructs group identity with a particular focus on Appalachian regional identity. Students will explore the question: How does the media represent Appalachians and how does that affect how they see themselves as well as how others perceive them?

GSTR 210- Drewek, Douglas: My Music, My Identity… People often have strong views regarding how the music they like identifies them as an individual; however, they often know little about its history. In this class, we will explore the roots of American popular music in the twentieth century and how the variety of musical styles today stem from diverse, yet similar, sources. To support the idea that “music does not exist in a vacuum,” we will study how the cultural history of the United States has influenced its musical genres. We will also develop a greater awareness of the structure and aesthetics of music through listening and research.

GSTR 210- Edelman, Adam: Writing About Visual Art and Community. We often look at visual art as individuals, focusing on how it makes us feel, or whether we “like” an artwork or not. But art also has the important role of connecting us to others through a feeling of shared experience. Unlike written language, visual art can be understood and appreciated by people from various cultures and backgrounds without having to be translated or explained. In this course, students read a variety of current articles, essays, and opinion pieces that discuss how works of visual art and communities intersect, interact, and for what purposes. Students enter the public discussion by writing about specific movements in visual art or specific artworks in order to explain how their features build a sense of common experience among individuals. The course culminates in a research paper on a topic of students’ choice that address some aspect of a need for community building and how visual art has responded to this need, or how it can better respond in the future.

GSTR 210- Elkins, Ansel: The Literature of Place. “If you don’t know where you are you don’t know who you are,” wrote Wallace Stegner. In this section of GSTR 210, we will explore poems, fiction, and memoirs that center on our relationships with place. We will ask questions like: How does where we’re from shape us? How do writers explore an intimacy with place and landscape? How can that intimacy create a sense of belonging? How does place convey culture? How do poets and writers explore climate change and the human and environmental devastation in the wake of a force of nature like a hurricane? How do writers wrestle with feelings of being isolated from community and place? We will read a wide variety of works such as bell hooks’ Bone Black, Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, Jaquira Díaz’s Ordinary Girls, the poems of Wendell Berry, and Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler, which centers on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. This course involves a substantial amount of reading. Students will keep weekly notebooks about paying attention to plants, animals, weather, and place, and the course will culminate in each student focusing on a work of literature or an author to explore and write about in-depth.

GSTR 210- Feagan, Beth: In our own words: exploring identity. How do you write a long research paper? At the last minute? Under great stress? With much anxiety? This class will give you the tools you need to break up big, overwhelming research projects into bite-sized chunks. In this class, we’ll explore issues of identity and diversity by reading, discussing, and writing about peoples’ accounts of their lives. Personal essays and memoirs are more popular than ever in America because we are hungry for true stories. We’ll look for the ways race, class, gender, sexuality, and regional identity intersect in these works. In a culture that alienates and marginalizes entire groups of people, preserving these voices is an act of resistance. By the end of the semester, you will have written short contemplative pieces on your life and on the narratives and memoirs. Most importantly, you will have learned how to write a longer, more sustained research paper in a systematic, thoughtful way.

GSTR 210- Feifer, Megan: Coming to Voice: Making Sense of Self and Place. In Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood, feminist scholar and cultural critic bell hooks intimately discusses "the struggle to create self and identity distinct from and yet inclusive of the world around me" as a black girl-child growing up in the Appalachian South. Through her autobiographical account, hooks explores how intersecting forms of oppression, including race, class, gender, sexuality, and regionalism, function in her life. Through close readings of her text, we will work toward a better understanding of how place and intersectional experiences influence the process of self-creation, identity, and community. Together, we will sharpen our awareness of the process through which writers come to voice, reflect on the importance of positionality, and respond to systemic oppression.

GSTR 210- Heyrman, John: America Imprisoned. Well over two million Americans are in federal or state prisons or county jails in the Unites States. This section will take that fact as its starting point and consider the course themes of race, sex, class, and Appalachia as they intersect with the criminal justice system in the U.S. The course will consider both causes and effects of the vast number of American in jail, including issues such as the war on drugs to the disenfranchisement of ex-felons. The class as a whole will pick a few specific topics among these broad issues to research and debate.

GSTR 210- Hill-Zuganelli, Dee: Kinship, Solidarity, and Social Change. This section will expand our understanding of “kinship” in the family sciences to consider how families and communities bond with each other in working toward social change. This entails rethinking kinship as a series of fundamental themes: love, need, obligation, struggle, and sacrifice. The establishment of Berea College, the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, and the recovery of opportunity in the Appalachian region serve as historical markers for developing these themes and their significance. Students should be prepared to read selections from the course reader alongside primary source material, write responses, and organize a research project around a kinship theme of their choice.

GSTR 210- Howard, Jason: Exile in American Literature. Exile is a significant part of the human experience, cutting across lines of race, class, gender, geography, sexuality, and religion. In many ways, we are all exiles, compelled or forced to leave our homes for a variety of reasons. People in exile have fled from political and religious persecution, from war and famine. Many are misfits in their families or communities—artists or scholars who have never quite fit in with the culture in which they were born. Some have found themselves separated from their families on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or political views. Others have been shunned based on their race, class, and/or gender. In this course, students will analyze the experience of exile and displacement in American literature, considering the many ways in which one can be an exile; how our art, religion, politics, and culture are so often rooted in exile; and what we can learn from this condition. As this is a literature-focused course, students should expect a significant amount of reading, including essays, memoirs, stories, and novels by writers including Dorothy Allison, James Baldwin, Sarah Broom, bell hooks, Silas House, Neela Vaswani, and others.

GSTR 210- Mack, Felicia: Help or hinderance?: Exploring historical and present themes of coal’s impact on Appalachia. This course is designed to build upon the reasoning, writing, research, and learning emphasis of GSTR 110 or college transfer equivalent. GSTR 210 involves explicit, continuing attention to writing, reasoning, research, and reflective engagement with various forms of primary and secondary texts. Students will brainstorm and select a research topic after viewing Blood on the Mountain (2016). The primary focus in this section is instruction in the writing process resulting in the production of a research paper and presentation.

GSTR 210- McKee, Lauren: Dolly Parton’s America: Exploring Appalachian “Dolitics” in Contemporary America. The hit 2019 podcast Dolly Parton’s America from WNYC Radio told many listeners outside Appalachia what most Appalachians already knew: that in this intensely divided moment in America, we can all still agree on one thing, and that is Dolly Parton.

We will use the 10 episodes of this podcast to dive into some of the most pressing and divisive issues of the day, including race, gender, and economic inequality. We will explore these topics using a wide, national lens, but also think about them from an Appalachian perspective; that is, how do the myriad problems we must deal with in the U.S. present in Appalachia, and what are possible solutions?

GSTR 210- McKiernan Gonzalez, Eileen: Art and Identity in America. The complex history of race and gender in post-colonial United States has had a deep effect on the visual arts. Representation of others, representation of the self has complex histories related to identity, whether it be racial, ethnic, cultural, regional, class, or gender. We will begin by looking at representation of peoples of non-European ancestry in the 19thcentury, barriers to the academy, and abolitionist art. We will move to consider in particular the art of those who are outside of the “mainstream” of American art, in particular African American artists, and also Native American, Latinx, and Asian American artists. We will consider how these artists interact with Eurocentric models and seek sources in the Global South.

GSTR 210- Mishra, Amrita: Where are you “really” from? Migration, Borders, and Belonging. In his 2017 Man Booker Prize short-listed novel, Exit West, British Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid muses, “and when she went out it seemed to her that she too had migrated, that everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same houses our whole lives, because we can’t help it.  We are all migrants through time.” In light of an international refugee crisis, increased border militarization and incarceration, and sustained white supremacy in this nation, who experiences the precarity and of being seen as a migrant? Who has the privilege of feeling like they “belong”? What histories and memories of settlement and displacement do we carry—within our families, communities, and collectively—and whose stories do we forget? In this course we will grapple with the question of belonging, racial identity, and dispossession in the United States through the broad optic of migration. To get at these issues we’ll turn to Hamid’s Exit West alongside a range of articles and op-eds that chart central debates around colonialism, refugees, and racism. In addition to thinking about these issues at a global level, we’ll map these questions onto the history of Berea College and migration into and out of Appalachia: What stories are preserved and commemorated in institutional memory? What stories and histories might be forgotten? Who, historically, has had the privilege of belonging here?  What about now?

Our readings are designed to help you think about a range of issues to choose a particular issue around race, gender, class, or Appalachia to focus on for a final research paper. As we progress through the semester, many smaller assignments are designed to help you explore a topic, find reliable and rigorous sources, and determine a particular argument that you want to build. In addition to using secondary sources, this course will provide you with an opportunity to engage with primary research materials at the College’s archives.

GSTR 210- Montgomery, Jesse: I’m Set Free: Popular Music and American Culture. In this course, we explore the polyphonic nature of American identity through a comparative study of popular music. From country to the blues to hip hop, punk, rock and roll, American music has helped define both national and world culture. This course aims to use music to study the complex interactions between tradition and disruption, politics and place, individual and community identities, and our understanding of this idea of “the popular.” It also places a particular emphasis on how race, gender, and class have influenced the production, performance, and consumption of music in America, as well as how that music shapes our sense of self. The semester builds toward writing a substantial research paper. As such, a significant amount of class time will be devoted to the fundamentals of writing, research, and revision.

GSTR 210- Nerenberg, Daniel: Resist! A funny thing happens when governments, corporations, or other powerholders neglect or oppress communities – those communities tend to rise up. This course will be a deep dive into the ways that marginalized identity groups – be that along class, gender, race lines, or beyond – resist unjust policies and practices. We’ll briefly explore social movement literature and the rich history of civil resistance in the US, then home in on the lesser known, but no less deep, history of protest movements in Appalachia. Finally, we’ll dig into the College’s archives to see how Berea College students from different identity groups have engaged in civil resistance on campus and beyond. Throughout our research, we’ll learn how to craft a clear and effective research paper step-by-step, discovering how to uncover a research question, formulate a thesis, and draft a compelling argument backed by thorough research.

GSTR 210- Nichols, Amy McCleese: “Bad Grammar”: Language Diversity and Discrimination in the Academy. Berea College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” sets the bold goal of achieving unity in diversity. And yet, diversity of race, class, region, and gender appears not only in our physical interactions and perceptions but is also embedded in language use; what words are “formal” and “informal,” and who gets to decide what is preferred in what context? This class will explore the rich heritage of language variety in the United States with a specific focus on Standard English’s tumultuous academic relationship with African American Language and Appalachian English, but World Englishes, bilingualism, and the intersections among each of those varieties will also make appearances. Because this is GSTR210, the course will also focus on providing targeted instruction on research, reading, drafting, and revising to help you produce a final 10-15 page, well-sourced argumentative research paper on a language issue of your choosing.

GSTR 210- Ortquist-Ahrens, Leslie: Great Migrations. In this section, we’ll look at two massive 20th-century movements of people that profoundly shaped U.S. cultural, social, and political history, the “Great Migration” of African Americans from the South and the “Outmigration” of people from Appalachia. We’ll consider what these events had and have to do with the course’s broad themes of identity and diversity in the U.S. We’ll also explore what the transition of moving can mean for an individual’s sense of identity, how migrations can affect communities, and how people relate in powerful ways to place. In addition to learning about the migrations through fiction, films, scholarly work, oral histories and more, students will practice generating productive questions, engaging in research, sharing what they learn with each other first in class, and, finally, in a documented research paper and a presentation.

GSTR 210- patrick, dp: Abolition Now! In the wake of the 2020 rebellions and uprisings sparked by the state murder of George Floyd, abolition has once again entered mainstream discourse through, for example, demands to defund the police, to end cash bail, and to cease immigration detention and deportation. While a focus on ending police and prisons are central aspects of present-day abolitionist organizing and scholarship, the longstanding critical hope and radical practice of abolition cuts to the core of the conditions that produce violence, scarcity, and punishment. As activist scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore has argued: “Abolition requires that we change one thing: everything.”

This course challenges both caricatures and misunderstandings of abolitionist movements while considering Berea’s own historical relationship to abolition. We will engage a range of abolitionist voices and materials, including: the course reader, institutional and activist archives, contemporary abolitionist media, art, literature, and scholarly research. Some of the core questions we will explore are: What does it mean to (re)activate Berea College’s abolitionist history in and for the present moment? What role can and should an institution founded on abolitionist principles play in contemporary movements to eliminate racist and colonial violence and the conditions that perpetuate this violence? How might (re)claiming this radical political legacy right now change everyday and institutional life at––and, indeed, beyond––Berea? Throughout the semester, we will develop activist research projects that draw on generations of thinkers and organizers to honor, to question, and, crucially, to activate Berea’s legacy of abolition here and n­­ow.

GSTR 210- Sergent, Tyler: Everybody likes a good story. And Appalachia is full of good stories, told and retold through generations. This includes our own Berea story. The theme for our section is Oral Culture: oral history, storytelling, speeches, lyrics, and other possible forms of spoken word that relate directly to Berea’s history and identity, Appalachian culture, and our foci on race, class, and gender. We will study the transmission and preservation of regional, institutional, and personal oral culture, and apply critical thinking skills in accessing, listening to, transcribing, and analyzing oral sources in order to understand better their significance for Berea College, Appalachian culture, society, and activism.

GSTR 210- Seroka, Laura: Destination Berea. Both Berea College and the larger town are committed to sustainability and conservation efforts drawing many “ecotourists” to the area each year, earning designations from the Arbor Day Foundation, and drawing donor/grant support, yet there are many interpretations of what “sustainability” and “conservation” look like. This course explores Berea and the history of conservation, sustainability, ecotourism, public outreach, and marketing as an “environmental destination”. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on their own identification with the environment and ways in which race, age, class, and gender may alter their views about the environment. In addition, students will learn valuable skills in finding helpful and credible sources, analyzing texts, critically thinking about conflicting viewpoints, and applying those skills to investigate environmental policies, laws, and marketing related to our local community. Students will conduct interviews, analyze the responses, and tie the findings back into research related to their topic.

GSTR 210- Sirianni, Lucy: Education as Liberation? In this course, we'll explore the ways in which education has both empowered and oppressed people with marginalized identities. How have educational systems and practices both advanced and worked against the cause of justice? Together, we'll explore the stories of enslaved, Indigenous, and disabled individuals, among others, each of whom fought to attain an education within systems built to demean and dehumanize them—and each of whom went on to both proclaim the liberating value of education and decry its profound inequities. We'll also think about Berea's history as an institution premised on the link between learning and equity—and about how you as present-day Bereans can use the education you're receiving to help work toward a more just world.

GSTR 210- Sowers, Nancy: Living the American Dream—Understanding how the past shapes the future and our fortunes. The right to attain the American Dream with hard work and persistence has almost become a part of our DNA in America. Waves of immigrants flooded our borders in the last 200 years with little more than the clothes on their backs, and within a generation, were succeeding here. Is this promise still accessible or are the opportunities and prizes that go with them more ephemeral than ever before? In a campaign speech in 1928, Herbert Hoover promised citizens “a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage.” A year later the economy found itself in the midst of the Great Depression. The tensions between Wall Street and Main Street following the most recent economic crisis in 2008 underlie many of the challenges that young people face today as they seek fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. In this class, we will use Berea College’s heritage of economic justice and history to explore the ways that race, gender, class, and Appalachian perspectives may impact the pursuit of the American Dream. Through a research project, students will explore how background interacts with opportunity to influence the future, with an eye to navigating towards that dream.

GSTR 210- Strange, Jason: This course is about two things: how to write a research essay, and understanding inequality in the United States. Luckily, these two tasks are related. Inequality in the US is extreme and damaging, but it is also subtle – it cannot be understood without reading some of the best research-based writing available. For example, many people think that class is not important in the US. Careful research shows that this common idea is wrong. Many people think that humans come in distinct biological races. Again, research shows that this is untrue. Another common myth is that struggles for justice have been led by famous heroes, like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mohandas Gandhi. Researchers have found that these struggles have been created mostly by ordinary people – and that these people arm themselves for that struggle by learning how to write well, speak in public, and do research. Writing a research paper might be boring, it might keep you up all night, it might make you sweat – but it will also change your life.

GSTR 210- Webb, Althea: Emerging Adulthood and the College Experience. This course provides and in-depth study of the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional growth of the emerging adult during the transition period of the college years. We will examine the college experience across a number of dimensions, including culture, ethnicity/race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. We will also explore the contexts of the higher education institutional environment (e.g., community college, private, public, and/or elite institution) that influence development. Throughout the course, we will relate theory and research to practical concerns and current events. We will connect academic research on emerging adults to the lived experiences of young people today. Students will link the theoretical to the practical by conducting an interview with an individual who attended college in order to write a research paper on a selected topic related to course content. Students will need to interpret the interview responses based on research articles and explain how the responses are/are not supported by the research articles.