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


Popular Culture

English 102-28: Intermediate College Writing

Spring 2006, MW: 2:00-3:15PM, Bingham Humanities Bldg 221 / 104


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, research, and 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 advertising, television, and music to rigorous analysis using an array of essays and articles from the course textbook, Common Culture. We will also look at the fictionalized effect of consumer culture in Douglas Carter Beane's play As Bees in Honey Drown, David Fincher's film Fight Club, and Alex Shakar's novel The Savage Girl. 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 its 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 the plus/minus scale. I want you to do well in this class. I will guide class discussion, present concepts and modes of analysis, and assess assignments. I expect you to read and study the material, attend and participate in class regularly, turn assignments in on time, and approach assignments with intellectual curiosity, educational investment, and academic honesty.


Course Materials



Shakar, The Savage Girl (UofL bookstore)

Petracca and Sorapure, eds. Common Culture, 4th ed. (UofL 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 program or a type of television 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 Professor 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 Student Email

We will be using Blackboard for some assignments and Netmail for class communication. It is your responsibility to update your passwords so you can use Blackboard and check your email for possible 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 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. I do not excuse any class missed beyond the four days, even if you are ill or participating in extracurricular activities. Therefore, I suggest you use your four 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 course is designed for English majors or those learning the standards of college composition, formal assignments should adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Assignments such as in-class exams, discussion board responses, informal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted. However, formal papers and take-home exams require MLA style. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper for problems in each of the following four categories: 1) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, and line-spacing, 3) quotation format, and 4) works cited format. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by 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. 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. I have recently caught seven plagiarists: six failed their respective courses, three 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 questions or concerns about grades, the class, or an assignment, I encourage you to see me as soon as possible.  If you are not satisfied with our discussion, you may see an Assistant Director of Composition, Bingham Humanities Bldg 319F, 852-5919.


Course Schedule


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


Week 1
M, 1-9


W, 1-11

Petracca and Sorapure, "Reading and Writing about American Popular Culture" (1-46)

Miller, "Getting Dirty" (129-37)

Week 2
M, 1-16
No Class: Martin Luther King Day
W, 1-18

Advertising (47-50)

Lasn, "The Cult You're In" (51-6)

Fox, "Salespeak" (56-78)

In Class Activity: Cult-Speak

Informal Writing 1 Due

Week 3
M, 1-23

Fowles, "Advertising's Fifteen Basic Appeals" (78-97)

Calfee, "How Advertising Informs to Our Benefit" (97-109)

W, 1-25

Pozner, "You're Soaking in It" (119-29)

Steinem, "Sex, Lies and Advertising" (137-54)

Informal Writing 2 Due

Week 4
M, 1-30

Television (158-9)

Ehrenreich, "Spudding Out" (160-63)

Waters, "Life According to TV" (172-82)

MLA Paper Style

Paper 1 Prompt

W, 2-1

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 3 Due

Week 5
M, 2-6

Gardyn, "The Tribe Has Spoken" (189-199)

Samuels, "Keeping It Real: Why We Like to Watch Reality Dating Television Shows" (200-7)

W, 2-8

Cantor, "The Simpsons: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family" (208-25)

Frank, "The Evolution of the Seven Deadly Sins: From God to the Simpsons" (226-38)

Paper 1 Draft 1 Due

Week 6

M, 2-13

**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 (Groups 1-3)

W, 2-15

Group 4: 2:00-2:45

Group 5: 2:15-3:00

Paper 1 Peer Response Due (Groups 4-5)

Week 7
M, 2-20

Television Screening: Frontline, "The Merchants of Cool"

W, 2-22

Frontline discussion

Paper 1 Draft 2 Due

Week 8
M, 2-27

Paper 2 Prompt

Library Research

In Class Activity: Library Research

W, 3-1

Popular Music (242-3)

Campbell, "I'm Just a Louisiana Girl: The Southern World of Britney Spears" (244-57)

Burns, "Marilyn Manson and the Apt Pupils of Littleton" (278-84)

MLA Citation Format

In Class Activity: MLA Citation Style

Note: You are required to attend As Bees in Honey Drown (Beane, 1997), which will be performed 3-1 through 3-5 at the UofL Playhouse. You can purchase tickets in advance for $5 for the Wednesday through Friday performances from the box office by providing your student id or number (M-F 10:00-3:00, 852-6814).

Week 9
M, 3-6

Beane, As Bees in Honey Drown discussion

Informal Writing 4 Due

W, 3-8

Slinger and Hillman, "Napster: Catalyst for a New Industry or Just Another Dot.com?" (258-77)

Pattacini, "Deadheads Yesterday and Today: An Audience Study" 285-299)

Paper 2 Draft 1 Due

Week 10
M, 3-13
No Class: Spring Break
W, 3-15
No Class: Spring Break
Week 11
M, 3-20

No Class: Professor Out of Town

W, 3-22

Frontline, "The Way the Music Died" (watch the program online or read the transcript)

Paper 2 Peer Response (All Groups)

Week 12
M, 3-27

August, et al, "Hip-Hop Nation: There's More to Rap than Just Rhythms and Rhymes" (300-12)

Jamilah, "The Miseducation of Hip-Hop" (313-21)

In Class Activity: Rap and Hip-Hop Debate

W, 3-29

Film Screening, Fight Club (Fincher, 1999)

Paper 2 Draft 2 Due

Week 13
M, 4-3
Film Screening, continued
W, 4-5

Fight Club discussion

Week 14
M, 4-10

Shakar, The Savage Girl (1-95)

In Class Activity: Alex Shakar, The Savage Girl (Day One)

Informal Writing 5 Due

W, 4-12

Shakar, continued (96-193)

In Class Activity: Alex Shakar, The Savage Girl (Day Two)

Annotated Bibliography Due

Week 15
M, 4-17

Shakar, continued (194-275)

Informal Writing 6 (Paper 3 Outline) Due

W, 4-19
Paper 3 Outline Peer Response
M, 4-24
No Class: Extended Office Hours 4:30-7:30
W, 4-26

Paper 3 Due