Jump to:

I. Course Overview
II. Texts and Assignments
III. Course Policies and Resources
IV. Resources
V. Weekly Schedule

I. Course Overview

WR 100 and WR 150 make up a two-semester sequence of writing courses required of most Boston University undergraduates. They are designed to help all students acquire skills and habits of mind essential both to their academic success and to their future personal, professional, and civic lives. WR 100 and WR 150 are taught as small, topic-based seminars. Different sections of these courses address a range of different topics. The topic of this section of WR 100 is “Literatures of Civil War.”

Readers often categorize literature by nation: American literature, French literature, Nigerian literature. But what happens when a nation splits apart—or nearly so? With most wars in the past fifty years taking place not between nations but within them, this course approaches the long history of civil war literature as archive and laboratory. What might old and new works of literature teach us about civil war, then and now? How do the experience and effects of civil war complicate the way stories get told? We will present our findings online (through weekly contributions to our course website) and through major writing assignments (including three course papers and a final portfolio). Course readings will include drama, poetry, and a good deal of fiction, with a focus on works by Sophocles, William Faulkner, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Gene Luen Yang.

Although they vary in topic, all sections of WR 100 and WR 150 have certain goals in common. In WR 100, you will develop your abilities to:

  • craft substantive, motivated, balanced academic arguments
  • write clear, correct, coherent prose
  • read with understanding and engagement
  • plan, draft, and revise efficiently and effectively
  • evaluate and improve your own reading and writing processes
  • respond productively to the writing of others
  • express yourself verbally and converse thoughtfully about complex ideas.

In WR 150, you will continue developing all of these abilities while working intensively on prose style and learning to conduct college-level research.

As a writing seminar, WR 100 requires both a good deal of reading and writing, sa well as active involvement in a variety of class activities. Specific course requirements are:

  • an introductory self-assessment essay
  • additional exercises as assigned, including weekly blog posts
  • three major papers, with drafts
  • a group presentation
  • a final portfolio
  • one conference with your instructor
  • regular attendance and participation

II. Texts and Assignments

Required Texts
You are responsible for ordering hard (print) copies of the following books. They are all available at the BU Barnes & Noble store, which offers used or rental copies when available. You may also be able to find good deals online, for example through a site like Better World Books. Whatever the source, check the editor/translator and ISBN number to be sure that you have the right edition.

  • Turabian, Kate L., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. Student’s Guide to Writing College Papers. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2010. ISBN: 9780226816319. Approx. $11.67.
  • Sophocles, The Burial at Thebes: A Version of Sophocles’ Antigone. Translated by Seamus Heaney. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. ISBN: 9780374530075. Approx. $10.76.
  • William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage, 1990. ISBN: 9780679732181. Approx. $11.24.
  • Muriel Rukeyser, Savage Coast. Edited by Rowena Kennedy-Epstein. New York: CUNY Feminist Press, 2013. ISBN: 9781558618206. Approx. $14.47.
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun. New York: Anchor, 2007. ISBN: 9781400095209. Approx. $9.49.
  • Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints: Boxed Set. New York: First Second Press, 2013. ISBN: 9781596439245. Approx. $24.25 for both volumes.

Additional readings and resources will be posted online or distributed in class.

Course Books

Required Books


Major Assignments
We will concentrate on writing throughout the semester, treating it as an ongoing and collaborative project that requires various forms of research and discussion. You will write and turn in preliminary drafts for each of your three major papers (one draft for Paper 1, two drafts for Papers 2 and 3). Group workshops, revision exercises, and comments and meetings with me will help you revise these drafts into polished final papers. At the end of the semester, you will document and reflect on this process by creating a final portfolio of your work. One of the pieces you will include in that portfolio is a self-assessment essay, which you will complete during the first week of class in order to take stock of your experience and habits as a writer and to set goals for the semester ahead. Finally, you will be assigned various weekly activities to generate and refine material for the major papers, including posts and comments/annotations on the course website and revision exercises. Like with the drafts, these weekly activities will not receive a letter grade; rather, you will receive credit for completing them fully and on time.

Major Assignments

Major Assignments

III. Course Policies 

[see print syllabus]


IV. Resources

[see print syllabus]


V. Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Introduction – Syria

  • Mazen Maarouf, “A Stray Bullet” (2014)
  • Turabian, “Introduction: Why Research?,” pp. 1-5


Additional Sources:

Week 2: Thebes


  • Begin Sophocles, Antigone, trans. Seamus Heaney (c. 441 BCE), pp. 5-38
  • Turabian, ch. 1: “What Researchers Do and How They Think About It,” pp. 11-25
  • DUE: Self-Assessment


  • Continue Antigone, pp. 39-55
  • Hegel on Antigone (handout)
  • DUE: Group A Blog Posts (Close Reading or Source Summary)


  • Finish Antigone, pp. 56-74
  • Turabian, ch. 7: “Planning a First Draft,” pp. 75-82
  • DUE: Group B Blog Posts (Close Reading or Source Summary)

Additional Sources:

  • Seamus Heaney, endnote on adapting the play in English verse, pp. 75-79
  • Sophia Smith Galer, “Syrian Stories in Beirut” (rev. of Antigone in Syria [2014], Arab Review)
  • Video clips on the “Antigone in Syria” project
  • Consult Turabian, ch. 1: “What Researchers Do and How They Think About It,” pp. 11-25

[To Be Continued]