All writing is good for something, but sometimes what it’s good for is wrapping up dead fish or
rolling cigarettes. The plan for this course is to understand writing, your own and that of others,
as economy--a system of gains and losses. Writing to please one audience will simultaneously
alienate another audience. Rather than asking “what does it mean?” when we approach a text,
we’ll ask, “how does it work?” This involves attention to the function and limits of writing, from
genre all the way down to word choice.
The focus of this course that will structure our reading and writing is objects. This could be
individual objects (your skull, for instance) or categories of objects (skulls in general.) This
could mean the toilet in your dormitory versus the toilet in your Marseilles hotel. This could
mean a book, a plant, a camera, a hat. Of course, objects exist in contexts—the laboratory, the
factory, the stage, the grocery—and these contexts may also be addressed along the way. What
do we imply when we understand objects as themselves versus understanding them in their
environments? How do objects come to have legal standing? In other words, how do we read
objects, and how do we write them?
The focus of the course is objects, but that focus exists primarily as a vehicle to help you more
easily reach four specific outcomes for your writing. These outcomes are outlined in detail
below but they can be understood broadly in the following terms: diverse strategies for diverse
contexts; analysis and synthesis of texts; production of arguments that matter in an academic
context; and, revision.