COMP 362
Stories We Tell
Last Offered Spring 2022
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed SOC 362
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

From The Moth to StoryCorps to Williams College’s own Storytime, stories are ubiquitous in contemporary society. Indeed, sociologists have argued that social life is itself “storied”–that we locate ourselves within familiar narrative structures, using them to “construct” identities and “tell” our lives. Stories, in this view, are not only the stuff of literature, but also the very fabric of social life: the foundation for individual and collective identities. This course grapples with the role of stories and storytelling in modern social life. What role do stories play in constituting personal identity? What cultural templates structure the stories we tell? Why are memoirs so popular, and how can we explain the more recent resurgence of interest in oral forms of storytelling? What role does storytelling play in politics and social movements? Specific topics will include confessional culture, podcasts, memoir, politics, and social change. Along the way, we will pay explicit attention to medium, and consider how sociologists might learn from journalists, documentarians, and memoirists to convey stories from their own research.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3955
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: 5-page paper every other week; written comments on a partner's paper in alternate weeks
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: if overenrolled, students will be asked to submit a short statement of interest
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
SOC 362 Division II COMP 362 Division II
WS Notes: As a tutorial, this course includes consistent opportunities to develop skills in writing and argumentation. Partners will alternate between receiving detailed written feedback (from both the instructor and a peer) and offering constructive comments. At the end of the semester, students will have the opportunity to revise one of their essays, implementing and solidifying what they have learned.

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