writing an essay about an aspect of popular culture and or new media

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine an aspect of popular culture and/or new media that you think needs examination. One reason for this assignment is so that we can make current connections to our ongoing study of our literature through the lens of popular culture and/or new media forms.

Method: Choose one medium for your analysis ranging from television, film, music and/or music video, toys, video games, websites, etc. After you have chosen your field of examination, go ahead and then identify an aspect or problem that you think needs examination. That will become your topic for analysis. One suggestion would be to approach the paper using themes such as identity and/or community (such as race, ethnicity, class, age, sexuality, etc.) to examine your subject. Having said that, you don’t have to do that approach; there are many themes that you will find to choose from depending on what you pick. For example, if you choose to focus on a popular film, there may be themes like family, happiness, friendship, etc. You will be “reading” your subject in terms of the rhetoric of visual representation as well as elements of traditional narrative. In other words, you can explore dialogue, description, action, etc., that takes place within your chosen subject matter as “evidence” to support your thesis as well as elements of visual discourse. You are not doing social media like twitter or reddit or Instagram.

Research: You are doing no outside research. The research you are doing is to find what you want to write about. You will need to watch it or view it — however the streaming or downloading enables you to pause to be able to pull out quotes. For example, if you are writing about a comedy television series, like Friends or Modern Family or Blackish, you can write about one particular episode or a range or episodes. If you are examining a music video(s), those are easy to access from youtube. As usual, in your introduction, just tell the reader what you are doing.

Topic: Again, you have complete freedom to choose your own topic. You might look at depictions of Latinx characters on mainstream daytime soaps versus telanovelas, or you might want to examine friendship and love in the film Crazy Rich Asians or in the television show The Big Bang Theory. You might choose to offer an analysis of how violence against women is being represented via a “real” crime show like Snapped, or a fictionalized one like Law and Order SVU. You might decide to examine a video game, such as from the Grand Theft Auto series, that you previously enjoyed playing but may now be seeing with new eyes. You might look at masculinity in a certain film, or examine how gender and race are intertwined in music videos. You might look at representations of African American heroines in a television series like Scandal or How to Get Away With Murder. These are just suggestions, and they are not meant to be limiting for your range of differing approaches or topics for analysis.

Reminder: Remember, you do not have to have a thesis where the “critique” is a negative one. Feel free to examine a popular cultural representation that you find positive or important within the context of the assignment.

Format: Please type your paper with the usual double-space and one-inch margins. The essay should be 2-3 pages in length


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