Saturday, April 21, 2007


“He who has seen Rome has seen everything” --Goethe

Prof. Shawn Wong
Prof. Erin Malone
UW Rome Center, Apartment 6
Phone #: 06.6830.8695
Cell #: 333.560.4254


The writing portion of our class, “Power and Privilege,” will link the idea of creative thinking and the mechanics of writing effective and creative prose. The work we do for this class will focus on poems, essays and stories that consider how journeys shape our lives, and how they take shape on the page. Dramatic scenery, the art of conversation, the idea of pilgrimage: How does the physical act of traveling influence a person? In short, we hope to explore the difference between simply recording your observations and communicating through a series of images.

If I asked you in class if you are readers, nearly everyone would raise their hands. If I asked how many of you consider yourself writers, probably only a few, if any, would raise your hands. Why is that? By the end of this five-week class, I’d like everyone to think of themselves as writers, just as I hope you will think of yourselves not as student tourists in Rome, but as travelers and that you didn’t just go on a study abroad class and had a lot of fun, but that you lived in Rome for five weeks.

In this class we will write everyday—even on Sunday when there is no class. The assignments are not meant to be long. Your first drafts might be long, but I expect you to make what you have on the page work harder with fewer words, thus making your writing more compact and more effective.

Part of your responsibility in this class is not only doing the writing, but also helping to edit the writing of your classmates/roommates. Find an editing partner or partners such as your apartment roommates. How do you make effective critical comments about someone else’s writing (without offending them)? Rather than say something that isn’t helpful, such as, “I like it, especially the part about the ruins,” try posing your editing remarks in the form of a question, such as, “When I read your piece on the Pantheon, were you trying to connect your observations to the theme of ________?” You can ask me to review anything you’ve written at any time.


• Write everyday. Use your journal when visiting sites (or while sipping espresso at a café), then work from your journal notes to write a more complete draft of your work on the class blog.

• There is no minimum or maximum word count for most of the assignments, so you have to ask yourself or ask your editing partner if you have communicated what you set out to communicate in the writing exercise. If not, figure out what needs to be added or revised. You may want to record in your journals how you revised your writing assignments. Effective writing is all about revision more than it is about sudden inspiration. You can also quote the work of your classmates.

• Everyone must contribute to the class daily diary at least once. I will not censor what you write, but remember, family, UW staff, faculty, and administrators might be reading your diary entries.

• By UW standards, the required reading for this course is very light and not very difficult, therefore the emphasis is on the writing and taking advantage of a city as “text.” Rather than have you read a lot of books, I’m asking you to “read” Rome. Your journal is the best place to record how you read the city as text.

• Proofread. Proofread. Proofread your writing for typos.


Journal 35%
All other writing assignments 35%
Editing other student work 10%
Attendance & daily writing 20%


Please try to complete all the readings prior to the beginning of the class session or by the first week (hey, it’s a long plane ride so you might as well read). Even though many of the writing assignments listed below don’t reference specific readings, we will be discussing much of the material in these books while on our field trips.

Bloom’s Literary Guide to Rome by Brett Foster and Hal Marcovitz (Checkmark Books, 2007)

Dante in Love by Harriett Rubin (Simon & Schuster, 2004)

Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles by Francine Prose (Harper Collins, 2005)
Selected photocopied poetry, fiction and essays.

**Plus photocopied reader (made available in Rome)