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


Consuming (Pop) Culture

English 102-27: Intermediate College Writing

Spring 2005, MW: 2:00-3:15PM, Bingham Humanities Bldg LL 15


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Office: Bingham Humanities Bldg 335A
Mailbox: Bingham Humanities Bldg 315 Office Hours: MW 3:30-5:00PM
Email: alex.blazer@louisville.edu Office Phone: 852-2185
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 analysis 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); and 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, White Noise (bookstore, purchase Text and Criticism edition only)

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

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 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%

In the first formal paper, of 3-4 pages, you will the rigorously respond to an article that we have read in class.

Paper 2, 25%

In the second formal paper, of 4-5 pages, you will analyze the media, for instance a specific television or news program, or a type of television or news program, using one article that we have read in class and one article that we have not.

Annotated Bibliography, 10%

In the annotated bibliography, you will search for and summarize 8 research material sources that may be of use in the third formal paper.

Paper 3, 30%

In the third formal paper, of 5-7 pages, you will investigate an issue, instance, or phenomenon within popular culture.


Course Policies


Class Participation

We will all benefit from sharing our questions and ideas about popular 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 don't regularly check my university email on weekends, and I do not use Blackboard's messages feature.

Blackboard and University Email

We will be using Blackboard and Netmail for class communication and assignments. Have your university email forwarded to your private email or vice versa. You can review the Blackboard student manual and student login instructions for Blackboard and Netmail at Blackboard @ UofL as well as my Blackboard Basics.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond four days. Therefore, missing five class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing eight classes will result in automatic failure of the course. Habitual tardies and 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. Failing to turn in 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.


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 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.

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, 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
M, 1-10


W, 1-12

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
M, 1-17

No Class: Martin Luther King Day

W, 1-19

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)

Week 3
M, 1-24

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

Frontline, "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?" (watch the program or read the transcript)

In Class Activity: Wal-Mart Debate

Informal Writing 2 Due

W, 1-26

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

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

Week 4
M, 1-31

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)

Paper 1 Prompt

Informal Writing 3 Due

W, 2-2

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

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

In Class Activity: Advertising Debate and Using MLA Style

Week 5
M, 2-7

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

Lasn, "Hype" (217-23)

W, 2-9

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

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

Informal Writing #5 and #6 Sign-Up Sheet

Paper 1, Draft 1 Due

Week 6

M, 2-14

***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: 2:00-2:45

Group 2: 2:15-3:00

Group 3: 2:30-3:15

Paper 1 Peer Response Due

W, 2-16

Group 4: 2:00-2:45

Group 5: 2:15-3:00

Paper 1 Peer Response, continued

Week 7
M, 2-21

Unit 2: On the Media / Omnimedia

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

Fazzone, "Boob Tube" (255-8)

In Class Activity: Television Stereotypes

Paper 1, Draft 2 Due

W, 2-23

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

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

Week 8
M, 2-28

Research Methods for the Composition Class

In Class Activity: Library Research

W, 3-2

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

Jagodzinski, "The Perversity of (Real)ity TV: A Symptom of Our Times" (online)

In Class Activity: Reading Scholarly Articles

Informal Writing 4 Due

Week 9
M, 3-7

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

W, 3-9

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

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

In Class Activity: Composing Theses

Week 10
M, 3-14
No Class: Spring Break
W, 3-16
No Class: Spring Break
Week 11
M, 3-21

Unit 3: In a World . . .

film screening: American Psycho (Dir. by Mary Harron)

W, 3-23

film screening, continued

Paper 2, Draft 1 Due

Week 12
M, 3-28

film discussion

Annotated Bibliography and Paper 3 Prompts

Individual Conference Signup

Informal Writing 6 Due

W, 3-30

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

Paper 2, Peer Response Due

Week 13
M, 4-4

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

In Class Activity: Analyzing Literature

Informal Writing 7 Due

W, 4-6

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

Paper 2, Draft 2 Due

Week 14
M, 4-11

No Class: Individual Conferences

W, 4-13

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

DeLillo, criticism

Informal Writing 8 Due

Week 15
M, 4-18

Annotated Bibliography Due

Roundtable of Final Research Paper Topics

W, 4-20

Roundtable of Final Research Paper Topics, concluded

In Class Activity: Research Paper Outline


M, 4-25
No Class: Reading Day
W, 4-27
Paper 3 Due by 2:30PM