Writing About Consumer Culture
English 102
Professor: Josh Roiland

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.”
—Joan Didion

“What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships, or fears.” —Alice Walker

Ted Lardner & Todd Lundberg, eds., Exchanges: Reading and Writing About Consumer Culture
Rob Walker, Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are
Gerald Graff & Cathy Birkenstein, They Say, I Say
Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual, 5th Ed.

Course Description
Rhetoric I focuses on the development of a writing process. Students learn various strategies for exploring and focusing their thinking. Students practice choosing a rhetorical strategy and communicating clearly, correctly, and effectively. The course involves frequent student writing, evaluation, and revision; conferences.

Course Objective
This course is designed to introduce students to a variety of essay forms and strategies and to guide them through the process of writing developed essays that demonstrate a sophistication of argument, organization, and style appropriate to the college level. Students will practice the stages of a writing process, including brainstorming, drafting an argument, outlining, and developing strategies for developing the argument and organizing evidence. This course will provide practice in developing arguments based in personal experience, close analysis of texts, and library research. It will explore the features of effective prose as students read sophisticated works in a range of disciplines centered in a topic of study (for us: consumer culture) that offers the opportunity for sustained inquiry into important questions. The course will therefore not only practice and develop students’ critical reading and writing skills but will also ask them to engage with subject matter that may well inform and be informed by other courses in the general education curriculum. While several essay assignments will ask students to draw from experience, students will also summarize and respond to another author’s argument in their own essays and, for one essay, to conduct limited library research. The course focuses on several skills that underlie effective writing and reading at the college level and that will help students as they prepare any writing assignment at this level:

     *practicing the stages of the writing process, including peer review
     *determining a significant argument through the writing process
     *framing personal experience for a public audience
     *supporting an argument with relevant evidence in formal essays
     *understanding and practicing effective essay structure and paragraph development
     *considering audience in making decisions about writing
     *identifying and analyzing arguments in readings, peer essays, and one’s own essays
     *responding responsibly to the arguments of others
     *integrating the words and ideas of others into one’s own writing
     *using research materials to develop one’s own arguments
     *understanding and using the conventions of scholarly research, including citation
     *developing arguments in a variety of ways outside the formal essays
     *writing clear, error-free sentences
     *revising for style, grammar, and essay organization

Students who do not invest adequate time in the course will not see development in these skills and therefore will not be as likely to improve their writing overall as students who engage fully in the course.

Course Requirements
Daily reading & writing
Group Discussion
Writing Workshop
5 Reading Reflections
3 Essays (3 drafts each)

Course Evaluation
Paper 1: 4 pgs. — 10%
Paper 2: 7 pgs. — 25%
Paper 3: 10 pgs. — 35%
Reading Reflections — 15%
Class Participation —15%

                              Reading and Writing Schedule

                              Week 1

                              Week 2
Joan Didion, “Why I Write”*
George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”*

No Class—Labor Day

                              Week 3
“Life in a Consumer Culture” 3-11
“Reading and Writing” 12-20
They Say, I Say 1-47

Gladwell, “The Science of Shopping” 63-76
Uchitelle, “Keeping Up With the Gates” 77-80
David & Meyer, from Blur 85-88
Reading Reflection 1 DUE

                              Week 4
Guterson, “Enclosed. Encyclopedic. Endured. One Week at M.O.A.” 91-101
Boxer, “I Shop, Ergo I Am: The Mall As Society’s Mirror” 102-105
Evans, “Let Us Entertain You” 126-130

President Bush’s Speech, September 20, 2001*
They Say, I Say 51-97
Reading Reflection 2 DUE

                              Week 5
Harris, “Out of the Closet, and Into Never-Never Land” 137-139
Hacker, “Dividing American Society” 140-148
Suro, “Children of the Future” 159-164
They Say, I Say 101-132

Sheehan, “Ain’t No Middle Class” 177-185
Chavez, “An Emerging Middle Class” 186-189
Ehrenreich, “The Yuppie Strategy” 191-197
Reading Reflection 3 DUE

                              Week 6
Paper 1.1 DUE

Fowles, “The Surface of the Advertisement: Composed and Consumed” 212-223
Ewen, “Shadows on the Wall” 237-242
Paper 1.2 DUE

                              Week 7
No Class—Paper 1 Conferences

No Class—Academic Study Day

                              Week 8
Jones, “Kids as Education Consumers” 382-387
Paper 1.3 DUE

Edmundson, “On the Uses of a Liberal Education” 387-399
Tompkins, “The Cloister and the Heart” 400-409

                              Week 9
Hedegaard, “The Undergraduate” 426-432
Traub, “Drive-Thru U” 433-440
Reading Reflection 4 DUE

Paper 2.1 DUE

                              Week 10
Shor, “Is Education the Great Equalizer?” 460-465
Paper 2.2 DUE

No Class—Paper 2 Conferences

                              Week 11
Buying In, Ch.1-3

Buying In, Ch.4
Paper 2.3 DUE

                              Week 12
Buying In, Ch.5-7

Buying In, Ch.8-9
Reading Reflection 5 DUE

                              Week 13
Buying In, Ch. 10-11

Paper 3.1 DUE

                              Week 14
Buying In, Ch. 12-13

Buying In, Ch. 14
Paper 3.2 DUE

                              Week 15
No Class-Paper 3 Conferences

No Class-Thanksgiving

                              Week 16
Last Class

Tuesday: Final Paper DUE

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