English 101, Fall 2012, Emory University

CULTURE BODY VISION: The Rhetoric of Advertising

Instructor: Amy E. Elkins

TTh 8:30-9:45AM

Callaway Center N203


Office Hours: Th 10-11AM, and by appointment

Callaway Center N207-A

Culture, Body, Vision: The Rhetoric of Advertising is a writing intensive course that will introduce practical exercises in critical analysis, research methods, and argumentation.  We will begin our investigation in the mid-nineteenth century, reading our way to the present day.  We will ask questions about what is being sold, how, and to whom in order to hone our own skills in persuasive argumentation, analysis, and composition.  In addition to becoming better writers, we will become better readers of literature and visual culture as we think about the interaction between culture, text, vision, and desire.

Course themes include shopping and consumerism, reading markets and literary consumption, humor, beauty and the body, political advertisements, and environmental sustainability.  We will read works by Christina Rossetti, Emile Zola, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, Roland Barthes, Andy Warhol, Charles Bernstein, and Jamaica Kincaid.  We will also explore book covers, advertisements, and periodicals contained in Emory’s Manuscript, Archive, Rare Book Library (MARBL), in addition to thinking critically about the advertising rhetoric circulating in television shows such as Mad Men, numerous commercials, and contemporary documentaries.

Required Texts

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein

The Little Seagull Handbook by Richard Bullock and Francine Weinbert

English 101 Course Packet (CP)

Other readings will be available on Blackboard: (  Films and clips will be made available on reserve at the Music and Medial Library in the Woodruff Library or posted to the class website.  Your course packet (CP) will contain readings on composition principles with additional assignments from They Say/I Say and The Little Seagull Handbook.

Course Website

In addition to hosting the syllabus, the course website will house paper prompts, a selected bibliography, and digital media to be used in class.  You can demonstrate participation in the course by emailing images, commercials, and/or online articles that contribute to our discussions, and I will post them to the website.

Course Particulars

Attendance: Attendance is mandatory.  You are allowed two absences no questions asked, but I strongly suggest you do not miss class unless absolutely necessary.  We will be covering important writing principles all semester, so it is to your benefit to keep up with the developments in composition instruction and practice.  Absences beyond the second will result in a 1/3 letter grade reduction for each absence (a B will become a B-, a C+ will drop to a C, etc.).  Excessive tardies will be marked as absences.

Technology: Cellular phones and other electronic devices are not allowed in the classroom.  Laptops are also prohibited unless you make special arrangements with the instructor.  Plug into class and help create a dynamic, interactive environment for exploration, inquiry, and discussion.


˜ Writing Exercises (1-2 pages)

˜ Leading Class Discussion (10 minutes)

˜ Paper #1: Literary/Visual Analysis (3-4 pages)

˜ Paper #2: Compare and Contrast Paper (5-6 pages)

˜ Paper #3: Research Paper (7-9 pages)

˜ Final Presentation


Please Note: No late work is accepted.  If you are having trouble completing an assignment, please see me before the deadline to make arrangements.

Participation and Preparedness: Please come to every class prepared—be mentally present and ready to talk to your peers about your work for that day, and always bring the readings and books for that session in hard copy.  You can also demonstrate active participation by meeting with me outside of class and brining in questions for the group.  You will also pick one day to lead class discussion on one of our readings, and you will give a final presentation that reflects creatively on an aspect of the course or your final paper.

Grading Percentages

Response Papers                                    20%

Paper 1                                                       15%

Paper 2                                                       20%

Paper 3                                                       25%

Participation & Presentations                20%

Campus Policies and Resources

Honor Code: Students are expected to adhere to the principles of intellectual honesty and integrity outlined in the Emory Honor Code and will be held responsible for any and all breaches in this agreement.  Plagiarism is a serious academic offense, and one that I take very seriously.  If you are ever tempted to copy something from the internet or are facing problems completing an assignment, please opt to talk with me rather than plagiarize.  All students should familiarize themselves with the Emory Honor Code:

Writing Center: The Writing Center is located at Callaway N212.  It is an excellent resource for writers of all levels.  It offers help on all aspects of writing, including but not limited to brainstorming, organization, thesis formation, and revision.  You can make appointments for tutoring sessions and find more information about the Writing Center on their website:

International Student Academic Center:If you are an international student working with English as a your second language, I encourage you to take advantage of the helpful resources that Emory makes available at the International Student Academic Center, located at SAAC 310 on the Clairmont Campus.  Tutoring, workshops, and groups to practice English conversation and other skills are available.  Contact Jane O’Connor ( or Denise Alvarez ( Their website is: and select “ESL.”

The Office of Disability Services: located in the Administration Building, Suite #110.  Their website is at, and their phone number is (404) 727-9877.

Emory Counseling Services: Free and confidential counseling services and support are available from the Emory Counseling Center (404) 727-7450.


30 August     Introductions; overview of course and policies; self-assessment, Accessing online course materials

4 September     “Introduction: Meaning and Ideology”from Decoding Advertisements / “Kenyon Commencement Speech” by David Foster Wallace

6 September      Little Seagull pp. 90-92 and pp. 6-41 / CP Getting Started / Writing Exercise 1 Due

11 September     “Rentafoil” and “Death by Advertising” by Emile Zola / “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti / CP 2 Quoting, Quotations, and MLA / Little Seagull pp. 93-135

13 September     Trip to MARBL / CP 3 Style and Concision / Little Seagull pp. 230-311 / CP 4 Visual Rhetoric and Analysis

18 September     “Mrs. Dalloway on Bond Street” by Virginia Woolf   / Advertising Fictions by Jennifer Wicke pp. 1-9 / CP 5 Developing Your Topic / Little Seagull pp. 68-90 / Writing Exercise 2 Due

20 September     “Street Haunting” by Virginia Woolf / CP 6 Close Reading / Little Seagull  pp. 50-53

25 September     “Objects” by Gertrude Stein / “A Test of Poetry” by Charles Bernstein / Paper 1 Due

27 September     “The World of Wrestling,” “Soap Powders and Detergents,” “Toys,” “Plastic” from Mythologies by Roland Barthes / Ways of Seeing by John Berger Ch. 7 pp. 129-154

2 October     The Philosophy of Andy Warhol pp. 91-103 / CP 7 Making Your Claim/ CP 8 Evaluating Logic and Argument / Writing Exercise 3 Due

4 October     Thesis Statement Workshop

9 October     CP 9 Structure, Organization, and Flow / CP 10 Peer Review and Revision / Writing Exercise 4 Due

11 October     Mid Term Conferences

16 October     FALL BREAK; NO CLASS

18 October     Killing Us Softly Documentary / “Sex, Lies, and Advertising” by Gloria Steinem pp. 249-269 / They Say / I Say Introduction pp. 1-15 / They Say / I Say Ch. 11 pp. 141-144

23 October      Writing Exercise 5 Due / Ways of Seeing by John Berger Ch. 2 and 3 pp. 36-64


30 October    The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan pp. 16-37 / They Say / I Say Ch. 1-3 pp. 19-51 / Essay 2 First Draft Due

1 November     Mad Men Season 1 Ep. 1 / “A Gentleman and a Consumer” from Putting on Appearances: Gender and Advertising p. 169-184 / They Say / I Say Ch. 4-7, pp. 55-101 / CP 11 Research Methods

6 November     A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid pp. 3-37 / Ways of Seeing by John Berger Ch. 6 pp. 114-127

8 November     A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid pp. 41-81 / NPR’s This American Life: “Vacation”

13 November     They Say / I Say Ch. 8-10, pp. 105-138 / Paper 2 Final Draft Due

15 November     Silent Spring by Rachel Carson pp. 1-3, 85-100

20 November     An Inconvenient Truth Documentary / The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from The Union of Concerned Scientists Ch. 2pp. 19-42


27 November     Heifer International (in-class) / 12 Stones Documentary / Paper 3 First Draft Due

29 November     Heifer International, Skype Class / Writing Exercise 6 Due

4 December     Final Peer Review / PRESENTATIONS

6 December     PRESENTATIONS

11 December     PRESENTATIONS / Paper 3 Final Draft Due


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