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


Consuming (Pop) Culture

English 102-49: Intermediate College Writing

Spring 2004, TR 2:30-3:45PM, Bingham Humanities Bldg 106


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Office: Bingham Humanities Bldg 336B
Mailbox: Bingham Humanities Bldg 315 Office Hours: TR: 6:00-6:50PM
Email: alex.blazer@louisville.edu Office Phone: 852-1722
Web: www.louisville.edu/~a0blaz01/ Departmental Phone: 852-6801


Course Description


This intermediate 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 issues on the American scene, the realm of popular culture. We will put numerous assumptions of this worldview—consumerism, advertising, media—to rigorous critique using the textbook Signs of Life in the U.S.A. We will conclude the course by looking at a fictionalized effect of consumer culture in the novel White Noise by Don DeLillo. The course continues the writing process begun in English 101: Introduction to College Writing (it is assumed that you have practiced thesis statements, organization, and argument in English 101 or the equivalent); however, it introduces and emphasizes the use of research in the writing process. You will learn to summarize, debate, and incorporate others' arguments into your own analytical and critical writing on popular culture. Assignments include informal writing, multiple drafts of formal papers, an annotated bibliography and research paper, and peer response. Note that this course fulfills a General Education Writing (WC) requirement and is graded on a plus and minus scale.


Course Materials



DeLillo, Don, White Noise (bookstore, purchase Text and Criticism edition only)

Eds. Maasik and Solomon, Signs of Life in the USA, 4th ed. (bookstore)


Assignments and Grade Distribution


Informal Writing and Peer Response, 15%

Throughout the semester, you'll write brief informal responses to essays in our textbook and programs in the popular culture. 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, 20%

You will write a 4-5 page (1000-1250 words) formal paper that rigorously responds to an article we've read in class.

Paper 2, 25%

You will write a 4-5 pages (1000-1250 words) formal paper that analyzes the media, for instance a specific television or news program, or a type of television or news program, using one or two articles from outside of class.

Annotated Bibliography, 10%

Annotations of 8 research material sources that you will use to support your analysis in Paper 3.

Paper 3, 30%

Your final assignment will be a 6-8 page (1500-2000 word) formal research paper that investigates an issue, instance, or phenomenon within the popular culture.


Course Policies


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. I don't check my email on weekends.

Class Participation

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


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every unexcused absence beyond four days. Missing seven or more days of class, excused or not, will result in failure of the course. Arriving to class late constitutes a tardy; two tardies equals one absence. Arriving to class more than 15 minutes late or leaving more than 15 minutes early constitutes an absence. Athletic competition, jury duty, illness, and so forth will be excused provided that you bring an official note within one week of your return to class.

Late Assignments

There will be a one-letter grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. If you must turn in an assignment late, please do so via email attachment, in MS Word or WordPerfect for Windows only, to alex.blazer@louisville.edu.


Don't 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 in the Undergraduate Catalog. Any proven plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the assignment in question and will be reported to the Committee on Student Discipline for further action, which can include notice in the permanent record, dismissal, or expulsion.

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, 852-2173) provides drop-in assistance for planning, drafting, revising, and editing papers.


Course Schedule


This schedule is subject to change, so listen in class and check online for possible revisions.


Week 1
T, 1-13


R, 1-15

Unit 1: Consuming / Advertising

Maasik and Solomon, "Popular Signs, Or, Everything You Always Knew about American Culture (But Nobody Asked)" (1-24)

Maasik and Solomon, "Consuming Passions: The Culture of American Consumption" (47-56)

Shames, "The More Factor" (56-63)

Norton, "The Signs of Shopping" (63-70)

Informal Writing 1 Due

Week 2
T, 1-20

De Graaf, Wann, and Naylor, "The Addictive Virus" (71-6)

Goewey, "'Careful, You May Run Out of Planet': SUVs and the Exploitation of the American Myth" (112-22)

Maasik and Solomon, "Writing about Popular Culture" (25-44)

R, 1-22

Cave, "The Spam Spoils of War" (122-26)

Barber, "Jihad vs. McWorld" (126-31)

Informal Writing 2 Due

Week 3
T, 1-27

Friedman, "Revolution Is U.S." (132-41)

Marchand, "The Parable of the Democracy of Goods" (150-59)

R, 1-29

Maasik and Solomon, "Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising" (141-50)

Solomon, "Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising" (160-70)

Informal Writing 3 Due

Week 4
T, 2-3

Steinem, "Sex, Lies, and Advertising" (186-205)

Twitchell, "What We Are to Advertisers" (205-10)

R, 2-5

Calfee, "How Advertising Informs to Our Benefit" (210-17)

Lasn, "Hype" (217-23)

Paper 1 Prompt

Week 5
T, 2-10

Gladwell, "The Science of Shopping" (403-10)

McCarthy, "Brand Identity at NikeTown" (410-5)

R, 2-12

Unit 2: On the Media / Omnimedia

Douglas, "Signs of Intelligent Life on TV" (250-5)

Fazzone, "Boob Tube" (255-8)

Informal Writing #5 and #6 Sign-Up Sheet

Paper 1, Draft 1 Due

Week 6

T, 2-17

***Due to peer response group meetings, regular class will not be held this week. You are only responsible for coming to your group meeting time.

Group 1: 2:30-3:15

Group 2: 2:45-3:30

Group 3: 3:00-3:45

Paper 1 Peer Response Due

R, 2-19

Group 4: 2:30-3:15

Group 5: 2:45-3:30

Paper 1 Peer Response, continued

Week 7
T, 2-24

Davis, "The West Wing in American Culture" (238-242)

Stark, "The Oprah Winfrey Show and the Talk-Show Furor" (243-50)

Paper 1, Draft 2 Due

R, 2-26

No Class: 20th-Century Literature Conference

***I encourage you to attend a panel or two.

Week 8
T, 3-2

Research Methods (Library Day)

***meet in LIC (Room 254) of Ekstrom Library

R, 3-4

Bissell, "Nazis, Nuremberg, and Gold-Digging Women" (online)

Shales, "Resisting the False Security of TV" (285-8)

Carroll, "American Television in Europe" (288-99)

Informal Writing 4 Due

Week 9
T, 3-9

Boorstin, "From News Gathering to News Making: A Flood of Pseudo-Events" (online)

Rapping, "Local News: Reality as Soap Opera" (online)

Paper 2 Prompt

Informal Writing 5 Due

R, 3-11

Bordo, "Braveheart, Babe, and the Contemporary Body" (333-43)

Sobchack, "The Postmorbid Condition" (377-83)

Week 10
T, 3-16
No Class: Spring Break
R, 3-18
No Class: Spring Break
Week 11
T, 3-23

Unit 3: In a World . . .

film: American Psycho

R, 3-25

American Psycho, continued

Paper 2, Draft 1 Due

Week 12
T, 3-30

American Psycho discussion

Annotated Bibliography and Paper 3 Prompts

Informal Writing 6 Due

R, 4-1

***All peer groups will meet during the regular class period.

Paper 2, Peer Response Due

Week 13
T, 4-6

DeLillo, White Noise, Part I: Waves and Radition (1-106)

Informal Writing 7 Due

R, 4-8

DeLillo, White Noise, Part II: The Airborne Toxic Event (107-164)

Paper 2, Draft 2 Due

Week 14
T, 4-13

DeLillo, White Noise, Part III: Dylarama (165-326)

R, 4-15

No Class: Individual Conferences

Week 15
T, 4-20

Informal Writing 8 Due

Annotated Bibliography and Thesis in Progress Due

Roundtable of Final Research Paper Topics

R, 4-22

Roundtable of Final Research Paper Topics, concluded


Week 16
T, 4-27
No Class: Reading Day
R, 4-29
No Class: Reading Day
W, 5-5
Paper 3 Due