Dr. Alex E. Blazer Course Site Assignments Description
Materials Assignments Policies Schedule


"Disappear Here": Rereading American Myths

English 101-26: Introduction to College Writing

Fall 2005, MWF: 1:00-1:50PM, Davidson Hall 202


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Office: Bingham Humanities Bldg 335A
Mailbox: Bingham Humanities Bldg 315 Office Hours: MW 2:00-3:30PM
Email: alex.blazer@louisville.edu Office Phone: 852-2185
Web: www.louisville.edu/~a0blaz01/ Departmental Phone: 852-6801


Course Description


I turn the radio up, loud. The streets are totally empty and I drive fast. I come to a red light, tempted to go through it, then stop once I see a billboard that I don’t remember seeing and I look up at it. All it says is "Disappear Here" and even though it’s probably an ad for some resort, it still freaks me out a little and I step on the gas really hard and the car screeches as I leave the light.

—Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero


This introductory college writing course focuses on the analytical process in thinking and in writing. To that end we will commence the course by looking critically at various myths of the American scene. We will analyze (take apart and break down into basic components) such mythic ideals as individuality, education, and opportunity, not to destroy them but rather to understand the underlying values of the American system. We will put numerous assumptions of the American worldview—notably opportunity and class, family and gender—to rigorous critique using Rereading America as our touchstone. We will then see how these myths are used and abused in film (Todd Solondz's Happiness) and literature (Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero). As we evaluate the American worldview in essays, film, and literature, we will develop our analytical writing skills by discussing and practicing thesis statements, outlining, introductions, body paragraphs, conclusions, peer review, quoting and citing, and the research process. Assignments include informal writing, peer response, an annotated bibliography, and three formal papers. The dual aims of the class are to 1) practice analysis and 2) articulation of argument. Note that this course fulfills a General Education Writing (WC) requirement.


Course Materials


required (UofL Bookstore)

Colombo, Cullen, and Lisle, eds., Rereading America, 6th ed.

Ellis, Less Than Zero

Lunsford, The St. Martin's Handbook, 5th ed.

various articles (online)


Assignments and Grade Distribution


Informal Writing and Peer Response, 15%

Throughout the semester, you will write brief informal responses to essays in our textbook that encourage you to practice parts of the formal writing process. You will also respond to the first drafts of peers' formal papers in order to help them write better drafts and to help yourself become a better writer.

Paper 1, 15%

In 3-4 pages, you will define and interpret a myth or ideal in American culture.

Paper 2, 25%

In 4-5 pages, you will describe the superficial appearance of a phenomenon in American culture and then analyze the reality of the phenomenon.

Annotated Bibliography, 10%

You will research and annotate 8 sources that you might use in Paper 3.

Paper 3, 35%

In 5-6 pages, you will research and analyze a topic of your choice that is related to questions posed by our course.


Course Policies


Class Participation

We will all benefit from sharing our questions and ideas about American culture. If I feel that the majority of the class isn't participating because the students are not keeping up with the reading, I will give a pop quiz, which will factor into the informal writing grade.

Office Hours and Instructor Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course, literature, or life. I'm happy to answer small questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. I do not regularly check my email on weekends, and I do not use Blackboard's messages feature.

Blackboard and Student Email

We will be using Blackboard for assignment submission and retrieval, and Netmail for class communication. It is your responsibility to update your passwords so you can use Blackboard and check your email in case you receive course related messages. I suggest that you forward your university email to your private email account (or vice versa) and review my Blackboard Basics handout.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond six days. Therefore, missing seven class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing ten classes will result in automatic failure of the course. I do not excuse any class missed beyond the six days, even if you are ill or participating in extracurricular activities. Therefore, I suggest you use your six days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies or consistently leaving class early will be treated as absences.

Late Assignments

There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day, not class period, for any assignment that is turned in late. I sparingly give short extensions if you request one for a valid need; however you must make the request at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. I neither read nor grade assignments that are turned in more than five days late for whatever reason, be it extension or computer error. Failing to submit (or resubmit) an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within five days, not class periods, of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit (or resubmit) a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.

MLA Style

Since this English 101 course is designed for those learning the standards of college composition, formal assignments should adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Informal writing and peer review may be informally formatted. However, formal papers and require MLA style. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper for problems in each of the following three categories: 1) heading, running header, and margins, 2) font and line-spacing, and 3) in-text quoting, block quoting, and citing sources. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by referring to my FAQ on papers and using the checklist on the MLA style handout.


Do not do it. Using someone else's words, ideas, or work without proper citation and representing it as your own is the most serious of academic offenses. See the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Sections 5 and 6 on page 17 of the 2004-2006 Undergraduate Catalog for further information. Proven plagiarism can result in a failing grade for the assignment or the course and will be reported to the College of Arts & Sciences for further action, which can include notice in the permanent record, dismissal, or expulsion. Last year, I caught four plagiarists: all four failed their respective courses, two did not graduate with their class, and one no longer attends UofL. Do not plagiarize.

Failure of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: 1) failing to regularly attend class, 2) plagiarizing, 3) failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness.

Disabilities Resource Center

If you have any specific needs or concerns, please feel free to discuss the issue with me outside of class. Contact the Disabilities Resource Center (Robbins Hall, 852-6938) for information and auxiliary aid.

Writing Center

The Writing Center (Ekstrom Library Room 312, writing@louisville.edu, 852-2173) provides drop-in assistance for planning, drafting, revising, and editing papers.

Grievance Procedure

If you have a problem with the course, discuss the situation with me. If after talking with me you feel that the problem has not been corrected, you can go to the Director of Composition, Bronwyn Williams (Bingham Humanities Bldg 321, 852-6896, bronwyn.williams@louisville.edu) or the Chair of the English Department, Susan M. Griffin (Bingham Humanities Bldg 315B, 852-0507, smgrif01@louisville.edu).


Course Schedule


This schedule is subject to change, so listen in class and check online for possible revisions. Selections from Rereading America are abbreviated RA; selections from the St. Martin's Handbook are abbreviated SM.


Week 1
M, 8-22

First Day Questionnaire

W, 8-24

The Myth of the American Family (RA 17-21)

Reading: "Thinking Critically, Challenging Cultural Myths" (RA 1-15)

Rockwell, A Family Tree, etc. (RA 21-5)

Coontz, "What We Really Miss about the 1950s" (RA 31-47)

F, 8-26

Reading: Crittenden, "About Marriage" (RA 48-54)

Reading Images of American Families (RA 84-90)

Gamson, "Talking Freaks" (RA 91-108)

Writing: Writing Center Presentation

Informal Writing vs Formal Writing

Week 2
M, 8-29

Myths of Gender (RA 412-6)

Reading: de Tocqueville, "How the Americans Understand the Equality of the Sexes" (RA 417-20)

Devor, "Becoming Members of Society: Learning the Social Meanings of Gender" (RA 424-32)

W, 8-31

Reading: Reading Images of Gender (RA 451-54)

Kilbourne, "'Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt': Advertising and Violence" (RA 455-76)

Faludi, "Girls Have All the Power: What's Troubling Troubled Boys" (RA 508-23)

Informal Writing 1 Due

F, 9-2

Writing: Topics vs Theses

Week 3
M, 9-5

No Class: Labor Day

W, 9-7

Reading: Sommers, "Save the Males" (RA 524-38)

Morgan, from "Fly-Girls to Bitches and Hos" (RA 539-45)

F, 9-9

Writing: Outlining

Paper 1 Prompt

Informal Writing 2 Due

Week 4
M, 9-12

The Myth of Education and Empowerment (RA 135-41)

Reading: Mann, from Report of the Massachusetts Board of Education, 1848 (RA 142-53)

Anyon, from "Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work" (RA 194-210)

Reading Images of Education and Empowerment (RA 211-3)

W, 9-14

Reading: Gatto, "The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher" (RA 173-81)

Malcolm X, "Learning to Read" (RA 243-52)

F, 9-16

Writing: Peer Response

Paper 1, Draft 1 Due

Week 5
M, 9-19

Paper 1 Peer Response Due: Groups 1 and 2

W, 9-21
Paper 1 Peer Response Due: Groups 3 and 4
F, 9-23
Paper 1 Peer Response Due: Group 5

Week 6

M, 9-26

Reading: Edmundson, "On the Uses of a Liberal Education" (online)

Barber, "The Educated Student: Global Citizen or Global Consumer?" (RA 283-292)

W, 9-28

The Myth of Individual Opportunity (RA 293-6)

Reading: Alger, from Ragged Dick (RA 297-302)

Dalton, "Horatio Alger" (RA 303-9)

F, 9-30

Writing: Introductory Paragraphs

Paper 1, Draft 2 Due

Week 7
M, 10-3

Reading: Ehrenreich, "Serving in Florida" (RA 317-30)

Mantsios, "Class in America: Myths and Realities (2000)" (RA 331-47)

Reading Images of Individual Opportunity (RA 375-80)

W, 10-5

Reading: Turkel, "Stephen Cruz" (RA 348-52)

Kasser, from "The High Price of Materialism" (RA 364-74)

F, 10-7

Writing: Quoting and Citing

Lunsford, "Integrating Sources into Your Writing" (SM 380-92)

MLA Style Handout

Informal Writing 3 Due

Week 8
M, 10-10
No Class: Mid-term Break
W, 10-12

Writing: Body Paragraphs

F, 10-14

Television Screening: Frontline, "The Merchants of Cool"

Paper 2, Draft 1 Due

Week 9
M, 10-17

Frontline, "The Merchants of Cool" discussion

W, 10-19

American Mythology in a "New World Order" (RA 703-8)

Reading: D'Souza, "America the Beautiful: What We're Fighting For" (RA 716-27)

Hertsgaard, "The Oblivious Empire" (RA 728-40)

F, 10-21
Paper 2 Peer Response: All Groups
Week 10
M, 10-24

Reading: Reading Images of America's Meaning in a "New World Order" (RA 763-68)

Medved, "That's Entertainment? Hollywood's Contribution to Anti-Americanism Abroad" (RA 769-81)

Gitlin, "Under the Sign of Mickey Mouse & Co." (RA 782)

W, 10-26

Writing: The Research Process

Lunsford, "Preparing for a Research Project" (SM 302-17)

"Conducting Research" (SM 302-57)

***meet in Ekstrom Library 117 (CLC)

F, 10-28

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 11
M, 10-31

Writing: The Research Process: Computer Laboratory Day

Lunsford, "Evaluating Source and Taking Notes" (SM 358-80)

"MLA Documentation" (SM 415-64)

Paper 2, Draft 2 Due

***meet in Ekstrom Library 117 (CLC)

W, 11-2

Reading: Williams, "By Any Means Necessary" (RA (794-7)

Spence, "Easy in the Harness: The Tyranny of Freedom" (RA 805-13)

F, 11-4

Writing: Counterargument

Informal Writing 4 Due

Week 12
M, 11-7

Reading: Beveridge, "The March of the Flag" (RA 709-15)

Andreas, "The War on Terrorism" (741-51)

W, 11-9

Myths on Screen, Stage, and in Print

Film Screening: Happiness (Solondz, 1998)

F, 11-11
Film Screening, continued
Week 13
M, 11-14
Film Screening, concluded
W, 11-16

Happiness discussion

Note: You are required to attend A Doll House (Ibsen, 1879), which will be performed 11-16 through 11-20 at the UofL Playhouse. You can purchase tickets in advance for $5 from the box office (M-F 10:00-3:00, 852-6814).

F, 11-18

Writing: Concluding Paragraphs

Annotated Bibliography Due

Week 14
M, 11-21

Ibsen, A Doll House discussion

Informal Writing 5 Due

W, 11-23
No Class: Thanksgiving Break
F, 11-25
No Class: Thanksgiving Break
Week 15
M, 11-28

Ellis, Less Than Zero

Informal Writing 6 (Paper 3 Outline) Due

W, 11-30

Ellis, continued

Paper 3 Outline Peer Response

F, 12-2
Ellis, concluded
Week 16
M, 12-5
No Class: Reading Day
Week 17
T, 12-13
Paper 3 Due