In this first year writing course, students will think, read, and write about ethical questions concerning the use of technology, and how different cultures in the past have thought about these questions. Grumbling about new technology is nothing new; we see its prototype in Greek myth, when Prometheus gets punished for stealing fire from Zeus to give to mortals. (In some versions of the myth, he teaches writing to humanity. In some, he even creates the first humans.) Why was he punished? Some people think that we have every right to acquire whatever technology we wish to use, while others think our existence on earth requires some humility. We will consider various Prometheus figures in literature and film, including Goethe's “Prometheus” poem, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Ridley Scott's Prometheus movie; we will also reflect on journalistic writing that takes different stands on technology.
Students will practice several types of writing through short and long writing assignments, both at home and in-class. The tasks presented will become progressively more complex; students will first summarize, later analyze, and finally respond to the reading materials. Some class-time will be reserved for students to give one another feedback.