English 40-3 - Fall, 2021

Introductory Topics in Literature

Topic: Literatures of Waste

Class Information

Instructor: Sarpong, Ashley
CRN: 32190
Time: MWF 11:00-11:50
Location: 1120 Hart
GE Areas: Writing Experience


Look around you, and you'll see either trash or items that will become trash in the not-so-distant future. In this way, our everyday life is mediated by an ecology of waste; this ecology of waste also points to practices of consumption, production, and processing. In this course, we will explore how literary texts--from the Renaissance to our current era-- depict these ecologies of waste. As we read across time, nations, and genres, we will investigate the ways authors wrestle with waste as a noun (items of matter), an adjective (markers of value or worthlessness), and as a verb (a practice of discarding). By the end of this quarter, we will learn about how waste operates as a useful tool for understanding human ecological and political practices that underwrite the ways societies protect or discard people, places, and things.


Online discussion forums=30%
Short paper 1 (3-4pgs)= 15%
Short paper 2 (3-4pgs)= 15%
Short paper 3 (3-4pgs)= 15%
Final group project=25%


Hamlet, William Shakespeare
The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche