CELC-UTown Writing Programme

NUS has launched an innovative model of learning and teaching for the University Town's residential colleges. Part of this initiative is the five-module University Town curriculum that includes the Ideas and Exposition Modules. The modules are designed and constructed by staff members from the Centre for English Language Communication (CELC).

Ideas and Exposition Modules

CELC contributes two sets of modules to the U-Town curriculum—Ideas and Exposition I (I&E I) for first year college residents and Ideas and Exposition II (I&E II) for second year college residents. Both sets of modules are:

Content Specific

Each I&E module focuses on a particular topic, with readings selected to be accessible to undergraduates. Although each topic reflects the concerns of a particular discipline, all modules introduce students to principles and strategies that will help them write throughout their academic careers.

Rhetorically intensive

Argumentation is the heart of academic expository writing; therefore each I&E module focuses on how to best construct evidence-based arguments that show readers why it is reasonable to problematize a previous analysis and resolve the problem in a particular way.

The I&E I modules help students to produce expository writing that readers will recognize as increasing their understanding of a given topic while the I&E II modules will help students learn and apply five core strategies that underlie successful scholarly research and writing.

I&E I and II classes are capped at 12 students each. Within this small group environment, students collaboratively negotiate alternative responses to problems they raise.

Pre-requisites

I&E I Modules

Students must have passed/been exempted from the NUS Qualifying English Test (QET) or have passed CELC English for Academic Purposes modules.

I&E II Modules

IEM1201% or UTW1001%

Preclusions

I&E I Modules

IEM1201%, UTW1001% or ES1501%

I&E II Modules

IEM2201% or UTW2001%

Module Offerings

I&E I Module Offerings

Common Objectives

All I&E modules help students to produce expository writing that readers will recognize as increasing their understanding of a given topic. These modules develop five sets of core strategies that underlie successful scholarly writing in the arts, humanities, social sciences, life sciences, physical sciences, and mathematics:

  • Analyzing how authors problematize what other authors say and how they argue their responses to these problems,
  • Entering the conversations between these authors by problematizing their arguments and arguing why one's problem and response are reasonable with available evidence,
  • Organizing and wording ideas to help readers understand a line of reasoning,
  • Documenting sources so readers can check one's use of other scholars' ideas, and
  • Revising the content, wording, and organization of a paper, as well as surface features such as spelling, punctuation, etc.

Paper Assignments

Students write three papers in every I&E module.

Writing Assignment 1: 600-word Reflective Summary

This writing assignment asks students to (1) summarize an assigned/chosen reading and (2) reflect on ideas in the text that strike them as new and interesting.  The summary should provide the following information:

  • Identify the reading's topic,
  • Show how the reading uses its main claims/points to reach its conclusion(s), and
  • Identify intended readers and the role that the reading's author hopes readers will play if they accept the conclusion(s).

Writing Assignment 2: 800-word Comparative Paper

This writing assignment asks students to reflect on ideas in a given body of literature that strike them as new and interesting. Students will choose two readings from the course pack, discuss how the information in the articles relates to each other, how they reinforce or call into question ideas or assertions, and how they suggest new ways of viewing the topic.:

Writing Assignment 3: 1,500-word Expository Paper

This writing assignment asks students to (1) formulate an as-yet unresolved research problem on a chosen/assigned topic, (2) draw conclusions about the problem from their analysis of collected/given data, and (3) argue the contestable aspects of these conclusions. Students will need to focus their research problems so that they are able to fully explicate their arguments within the 1,500-word limit. Students should use both primary sources (sources of data to be analyzed to resolve the problem) and secondary sources (other studies used to show the research problem has not been raised but provide insights into how/if the problem might be resolved). The paper does not need to offer a final resolution, but it should advance the intended readers' understanding of the problem as described by the secondary sources.

Topical Overview

Ideas and Exposition I / Faculty Synopses

UTW1001H: Eating Right(s): The Politics of Food

Dr. Ramanujan, Anuradha

Do you know where your last meal came from? Have you ever wondered how your dietary choices affect communities, species and landscapes worldwide? This interdisciplinary writing course examines some human and ecological impacts of contemporary food-related practices and interactions. Readings from different perspectives focus critical attention on industrial agriculture, factory farming, packaging/distribution networks and international trade agreements in relation to issues of hunger, obesity, food security and environmental sustainability. In small collaborative classes, you will examine the strategies used by individual authors to construct persuasive arguments and learn to incorporate these rhetorical skills into your own writing about food.

UTW1001K: Photography and Society

Dr. Wade, Walter Patrick

Photography is a powerful force in contemporary society. Photographs can be found in advertisements, newspapers, photo albums, museums, archives, websites, and more. In this course, you will learn to think and write critically about such photographs. Are they objective copies or artistic transformations of the world? Is photography a democratic art, accessible to all, or is it an instrument of surveillance and social control? What other social purposes does photography serve? We will address these questions and more by discussing the work of photography critics and by examining documentary, advertising, fashion, art, archival, and amateur photography.

UTW1001M : Sport and competition

Dr. Mark Brooke

In professional, competitive sport, there appear to be fundamentally distinct ideas concerning human endeavour and the nature of competition that are worthy of critical examination.. Is winning everything? Should participation or self-defining achievement be more valued? Is sport becoming too elitist? Does the obsession to win create the need for performance-enhancing drugs? Should we legalize doping or tighten control measures? Should we change the nature of professional competitive sport? Students will explore these questions through close analysis of viewpoints expressed in both scholarly literature and popular media, ultimately developing their own positions in written arguments.

UTW1001N : Public Persona and Self-presentation

Dr. Ma. Luisa C. Sadorra

Public persona is a fundamental yet unarticulated aspect of persuasion in spoken discourse. In this course, students will explore and examine speakers’ public persona with a focus on interactional and social roles in performed presentations before a public audience. What does it mean to perform a public persona? How is public persona shaped, strengthened, or attenuated? Is there such a thing as an “authentic” public persona? In seminar-type classes and, subsequently, in writing assignments, students will analyse verbal and nonverbal performance of a speaker or speakers in mediated and/or non-mediated contexts, and develop informed views of their public persona.

UTW1001S: Women in Film

Dr. Lynette Tan Yuen Ling

This module explores the representation of women in film as a site of ideological struggle. Students will investigate the multi-facetted images of women that appear in selected films and engage in critical debates about the messages that these images convey, as well as the extent to which they are influenced by history and culture. With an understanding of film analysis and the concept of ideology, students will examine how diverse viewpoints are expressed in key scholarly readings and contemporary articles, and develop writing skills that enunciate their own position within the debates.

UTW1001V: Exploring Blogs as a Form of Communication

Dr. Lalitha Velautham

Blogs have become an important part of modern life. Short for weblog, blogs originated as a medium through which authors of personal websites expressed their views on a range of issues. Today, a variety of organizations from universities, the media, business, personal and professional networking sites use blogs to communicate with their target audience. Are institutional and personal blogs performing strategic communication goals such as promoting particular ideologies? Are these blog representations authentic? What other social purposes do blogs serve? In this module, we examine the role of blogs through a critical engagement with the literature and an analysis of blogs from different organizations.

UTW1001W: The Online Politician: The Use of Social Media in Political Communication

Ms Nazerene Ibrahim

Using social media as a political battleground during the 2011 General Election changed Singapore's political landscape indelibly. It exemplified an emerging trend: the increasing use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat by politicians to gain greater political support and popularity. In fact, using social media for political communication has gone viral in Singapore, Asia-Pacific and beyond. This module explores the dynamics of social media in political communication, with a focus on Singapore, as well as the United States as case studies. Students will analyse the impact of conventional means of political communication as opposed to those using social media.

UTW1001X: Exploring Changing Tourist Destinations

Mr Julian Azfar

How has globalization transformed the nature of tourism? Why have abandoned sites, like derelict historical buildings and now-defunct prisons, become places of attraction today? This module examines the reasons for the emergence of ‘new’ tourist destinations, and the implications of these trends on local development and the environment. Using postcolonialism as a lens of analysis, students will explore the changing paradigms of tourist destinations and the resultant conflicts that evolve between different stakeholders, such as human rights organizations, indigenous communities, tourism operators, and tourists themselves. Topics covered include ethnic tourism, heritage tourism, danger (adventure) tourism, and dark tourism.


I&E II Module Offerings

Common Objectives

Ideas and Exposition 2 modules are the second in a sequence (following Ideas & Exposition 1). Similar to I&E1 modules, I&E2 modules help students improve their academic writing by investigating diverse scholarly perspectives on a specific course topic. The goal of the course is to use research-based writing on that topic as a tool to develop students' rhetorical awareness, habits of inquiry, and writing competencies.

I&E II modules provide students with the opportunity to learn and apply five core strategies that underlie successful scholarly research and writing:

  • Assessing the relevance and reliability of multiple sources,
  • Understanding how theory and method inform and produce knowledge,
  • Identifying and articulating exigent research questions,
  • Synthesizing multiple sources to construct and support hypotheses,
  • Revising one's own thesis, methodological orientation, evidence, and argumentation.

These strategies will be applied as students produce research-based writing.

This course guides students through 3 inter-related units. Each unit scaffolds materials and skills that culminate with an original research project in the third unit. Please note that individual courses will reflect specific topical content. The unit breakdown here describes features to be incorporated into all I&E II modules.

Paper Assignments

Unit 1

In unit 1 students will compile an annotated bibliography to record and organize their sources in the early stages of the research process. The purpose of this assignment is to help students review existing literature on a given topic in order to determine a line of inquiry/research problem.

Unit 2

Drawing on the resources they have developed in the first unit, students will write a brief research proposal describing the topic and scope of their proposed research project

Unit 3

At this point in the semester, students have completed their annotated bibliography and literature review. Building from these previous assignments, they will now undertake their own research project. The research project will ask them to formulate a research problem based on the findings of their two previous assignments. For this unit, students will need to develop a thesis statement that they can support with their own, primary sources. They will use their analysis of these primary sources to converse with the ongoing academic discourse surrounding their top.

Topical Overview

Ideas and Exposition II / Faculty Synopses

UTW2001J: Blood, Death and Desire, Interpreting the Vampire

Ms Coleen Angrove

Vampire literature has undergone a twenty-first Century resuscitation, evident in novels such as Twilight and television series including The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. But how similar are these vampires to the traditional vampire in Western and other cultures? In this module you will explore different explanations for the role/function of the Vampire and have the opportunity to research manifestations of the Vampire across cultures, genres and historical periods. You will review different research methodologies, and compile a list of terms and ideas that enable you to participate in the conversation to understand the ongoing fascination with the Vampire.

UTW2001P: Science Fiction and Empire

Dr. Jason Banta

Science fiction is less about the future than it is about the present. Many science fiction narratives critique contemporary social issues, particularly imperialism and colonialism. This course will introduce students to the theories of colonialism and their importance in a modern context. Armed with this knowledge, students will engage with classic and contemporary science fiction texts in order to understand, as well as question, how such narratives describe and proscribe ways of ordering the world. In developing their original research projects, students will explore how this intersection between popular narrative and ideology influences many of the ways we think about culture today.

UTW2001Q : ‘What’s in a word?’ Meaning across cultures

Dr. Wong Jock Onn

It is often assumed that there is a common understanding of what specific words mean. However, can one assume a common understanding across cultures of words describing colour, such as ‘red’ or ‘maroon,’ or emotion, such as ‘happiness,’ ‘pleasure,’ or ‘disgust’? Are forms of address, such as nicknames, or interjections, such as ‘damn’ or the ‘F’ word, used in similar ways across cultures? Are there differences between the ways that speakers of different varieties of English understand the meanings of such words? This module explores how meaning is culture-bound, and helps students understand cultural differences in the choice and use of words.

UTW2001R: Discourse, Citizenship, and Society

Dr. Navera, Gene Segara

Citizens participate in society through discourse -- talk and texts. How citizens speak and write about social issues in face-to-face and online platforms therefore warrant careful reflection. This course aims to enable students to examine how individuals enact their citizenship through language and other symbols. Students will investigate how citizens mobilize language, voice, body and other resources to deal with issues pertaining to social differences, processes of exclusion, and participation in local, regional and global contexts, among others. By the end of the module, the students should be able to develop critical awareness of how civic discourse shapes public issues.

UTW2001T : Nobodiness: The Self as Story

Dr. Andrew Yerkes

The sense of having a self pervades everyday experience as well as the stories we encounter in fiction, film, television, and video games. On the other hand, the self has been called into question from various scientific, religious, and philosophical perspectives. This module examines the concept of selfhood, considering the possibility that it may be a fabrication, and examines the positive and negative aspects of positing the existence of selfhood. The module culminates in student research projects that apply critiques of the self from cognitive psychology, Eastern religion, and/or continental and analytic philosophy to a text of their choosing.