For most doe-eyed freshmen, their first writing seminar class is an entirely new experience. Far from the easy-going English classes of high school, Writing Seminars act as a boot camp for blossoming writers, teaching the secrets to writing papers in just a few months.
Writing Seminars are also a way for students to explore their interests, which can range from fashion to prison reform. The wide variety of topics makes it easy for students to find something they’re interested in.
Starting in the fall of the 2017-2018 school year, the University began offering a new Writing Seminar with a unique topic: LEGOs. “LEGO Worlds” is taught by Associate Director of the Writing Center Genevieve Creedon, who is interested in studying the interactions of literature and culture.
Despite the seemingly random topic, Creedon had been thinking long and hard about a course based around LEGOs. She noted that this was “in large part because most students have some experience playing with LEGO, and it’s a very versatile, multidisciplinary topic.”
Other contributing factors include the relative lack of scholarship surrounding LEGOs, and how unique LEGOs are when compared to other similar toys such as K'NEX. “What sets LEGO apart is both how widespread its use is and how broadly it's been used in different forms of media,” explained Creedon.
Despite not being commonly associated with scholarship, LEGOs play an important role when it comes to visualizations and ways of thinking in subjects ranging from chemistry to philosophy.
“The use of LEGOs across disciplines is both interesting to me and makes LEGOs a good grounding for teaching writing and analytical thinking to students who are coming from all backgrounds in the University,” Creedon said. This encourages thinking both within and between disciplines.
Beyond just multi- and inter- disciplinary thinking, “LEGO Worlds” also aims to “teach students tools for engaging in scholarly writing through defining an interesting problem or question, figuring out what kinds of evidence they need to address that question, analyzing that evidence, and articulating a compelling argument,” said Creedon.
The fact that most of the issues around LEGOs have yet to be explored allows students to really be creative, to be curious, and to try new things. Creedon explained that “people who like LEGOs and exhibit many of the qualities that LEGOs encourage also have the qualities that can make them successful scholars.”
Beyond just studying LEGOs, Creedon hopes her students will expand their interests into other franchises, and even topics like Disney or robotics. From her own study of theme parks, she explained she has found joy and fascination through the study of multimedia phenomenon.
Besides teaching, Creedon finds joy in building LEGOs in her downtime, and hopes that you will too. If she were a student, Creedon said that she would “like to write about the varied ways in which LEGOs are used in scholarship across fields as thinking tools and models, even when they’re not the object of study. That’s part of why I’m teaching this course.”