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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Megan J Kelly
ENGL 131
Seattle Campus

Composition: Exposition

Study and practice of good writing: topics derived from a variety of personal, academic, and public subjects. Cannot be taken if student has already received a grade of 2.0 or higher in either ENGL 111, ENGL 121, or ENGL 131.

Class description

Talkin' Trash: The Rhetoric of Waste and Consumption

In this course, our main goal is to practice the strategies and habits of writers when communicating with different audiences for different purposes. Over the quarter, we will write in a variety of genres to audiences both within and outside the university, using the course outcomes as our guide. Some assignments will be individual efforts; others will be collaborative. To prepare for these writing assignments, we will read a wide range of texts—from academic essays and newspaper articles to documentary films and physical spaces (yes, spaces are texts as well)--focusing specifically on the ideas the texts address (i.e., the claims they make), how these ideas are articulated, and why these ideas matter. We will also research the ideas of other writers to support claims of our own. By engaging with the processes of writing, reading, and researching, we will thus consider how we access, evaluate, and use information to create meaning, solve problems, and make sense of the world around us. Ultimately, this course requires asking questions about the world in thoughtful and creative ways, and acting on the world by making informed, purposeful choices when communicating with others.

Our focus for this course will be on the way people talk about "trash"—as literal garbage and as a metaphor for the discarded of society. Some of the questions providing the framework for this course include: How do texts--not only verbal texts, but also visual, aural, and spatial texts--influence our understanding and experiences of consumption and waste? How do these texts use language differently to communicate ideas about trash? How do larger social structures regulate this language? What effect does this language have on our perceptions of and attitude towards trash? What other perceptions and attitudes can we imagine?

Possible texts for this course include: the photography of Chris Jordan, John Ferrell's Empire of Scrounge, Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's Metaphors We Live By, and Don Mitchell's "The Annihilation of Space by Law: The Roots and Implications of Anti-Homeless Laws in the United States" ... although these are subject to change.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Megan J Kelly
Date: 05/28/2009