Do Not be Afraid! An Emotional Approach to Critical Thinking and Critical Writing

Department: History 

Instructors: Felicitas Hartung
Instructors' Emails: 
Prerequisites: None

Course Description

Emotions are hiding everywhere. You can find them not only in our everyday language, but also in literature and photography, on posters and in advertisements, and even in newspapers. This course will help you detect hidden emotions and determine their purposes. Not only will we explore our understanding of certain emotions like fear and anxiety and their usage in media and politics, we will also reflect on the relationship between academic writing and objectivity and thereby learn how to evaluate arguments. The goal of this course is to make you a critical thinker and improve your style of writing.

Course Goals / Learning Objectives

  • Reflection on Language: How Words Shape our Understanding of the World.
  • Understanding of how Emotions May Affect our Behavior.
  • Developing Strategies for Coping with Fear and Anxiety.
  • Reflection on Different Media Types: How Emotions can be Utilized for Political or Economic Purposes.
  • Application: Critical Thinking in Everyday Life.
  • Developing an Objective and Persuasive Style of Writing.

Topical Outline

  • Fear, Anxiety, and Threat Perception. An Introduction 
    • Introduction to taxonomy
    • Definitions and concepts of emotion
    • Biological and psychological aspects
    • Threat perception
    • Coping strategies
  • Critical Thinking. Utilizing Emotions for Rhetorical and Political Purposes. 
    • Social and political aspect of emotions
    • Emotional expression in literature
    • Emotional propaganda
    • Advertising emotions
  • Critical Writing. Get Emotions Out of Here!
    • Critical writing and objectivity
    • How to prevent emotions from sneaking in
    • Developing an argument
    • Emotions in thinking and writing


*Courses vary by experience and exposure to content. Instructors have the ability to change content and pace to serve the needs of students.


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