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Contemporary Topics and Multidisciplinary Writing


Anthropologist Mary Douglas famously said that dirt is “matter out of place.” The things we
regard as trash, as something we excise from the place we occupy, reveal much about the
kaleidoscopic ways we decide what no longer belongs in our space.  

In this course, we will approach contemporary conversations about trash in a multidisciplinary
and multimodal manner. By multidisciplinary, I mean that we will fruitfully examine trash across
the arts, humanities, social sciences, and STEMs. By multimodal, I mean we will approach our
topic by examining myriad artifacts across different mediums, from scientific journal articles to
webcomics to podcasts to infographics and more! We will carefully consider not just our
personal involvement in waste systems, but how we are implicated institutionally and structurally
in those systems. In other words, this course synthesizes and analyzes the rhetorical structures
and disciplinary conventions by which we communicate, by examining them through the filter of

Class Format: This course is discussion-based. You will be encouraged to heavily lean into your
(inter)disciplinary interests while remaining curious and invested in how other disciplines may
inform and nuance your own commitments. You can expect to compose across multiple
mediums, to write in both formal and informal registers, as well as individually and