Digital Essay Assignment
To compliment your research paper, I would like for you to select one “media artifact” (this can be a commercial, advertisement, photograph of a billboard, etc.) to investigate at great length. You want to make sure to pick an “artifact” that you think influences how you (or viewers/consumers in general) think. For your “digital essay,” you will stage a re-visioning of this artifact. What I mean by this is, for example, if you’ve selected an ad for eyelash lengthener cream that appears in many subway cars, your digital essay might stage the downsides of this cream that is not obvious from the ad.
A few questions to keep in mind:
What role does media play in our society? How do the images and words that surround us at all times influence the way we think and the decisions we make? Is this ethical? Should companies profit from the vulnerability of consumers?
What is a “digital essay”?
A digital essay (in the context of this course) is a piece of work that uses audio, video, text, and/or images. Your goal for this project should be to create a short film that essentially illustrates the thesis of your research paper visually. Your digital essay should be three to six minutes long.
Please see the “Media” page on our course site for specific examples.
How do I do this? I don’t have a camera! I don’t have the right software!
Video Cameras: You may borrow a Hitachi camcorder from the Newman Library. All you need to do is go to the Circulation Desk on the 2nd Floor and request one. You are permitted to borrow it for three days, with the possibility of renewal.
1. As you know, a movie is a short video or film that includes actors and has some semblance of a narrative or plot. To do this successfully you might want to ask some friends to help you out and draft a “script” or choreograph what will happen when and where.
2. Select the tools you will you use create, edit, and share your project. We will review these tools in class. The tools that are available are all free and user friendly, so do not worry if this is your first digital project!
3. You will post your “digital essay” on our blog. I’ve created a youtube group to make this easiest.
You will need to login and post your video (if you do not have a youtube account/or gmail address, you’ll need to register for one).
DUE DATE: Thursday, November 18, 2010
(This means that all projects must be posted to the blog before class meets that morning! NO EXCUSES!)
PAPER #2: The Research Paper
William Greider, “Work Rules”
Malcolm Gladwell, “The Power of Context”
Susan Faludi, “The Naked Citadel”
Jean Twenge, “An Army of One: Me”
As we discovered in the last unit of readings, our world today is full of outside stimuli that affect how and what we learn and think. Many of you wrote papers about how most of your education has been done outside the classroom, through experiences you’ve had or things you’ve seen. Many of you wrote papers about whether or not we really consider the “value” of the objects we purchase or the story behind how and where these items are made.
For this paper, instead of thinking about our own interactions with products and external stimuli, you will need to pay close attention to the way the media affects society on a daily basis, placing particular emphasis on marketing and product placement. How do the various forms of media we encounter each day shape what we think and what we know?
In William Greider’s “Work Rules,” we are asked to think carefully about the “top-heavy structure of command and control” that compels most Americans to commit to full-time jobs and to lust after material possessions and wealth (253). Malcolm Gladwell explores the rise and fall of crime in New York City, paying close attention to the ways that “a certain kind of behavior is not coming from a certain kind of person but from a feature of the environment” (238). “The Naked Citadel” is Susan Faludi’s retelling and interpretation of “the woman who had challenged the school’s hundred-and-fifty-year-old all-male policy by omitting reference to her sex from her application and winning acceptance…acceptance that was rescinded once the administrators discovered their error” (134). And, Jean Twenge investigates the “self-esteem curriculum” that appears to be omnipresent today, infusing children with “feelings that are actually a lot closer to narcissism” (763).
Each of these readings focuses on an issue prevalent in today’s society that is consistently in the media—self-esteem/self-image, crime and punishment, or women’s rights.
Your assignment is to pick an issue that you feel is omnipresent in the media, so widespread that you think the media actually dictates how you form opinions on this issue.
Suggested “issues” might be:
- The Gentrification of New York City (i.e. the looming construction of a 2nd Avenue Subway)
- Violence in Movies, Television, and Video Games (i.e. Halo 3)
- Body Image (i.e. Barbie, models, fad diets like Jenny Craig)
Once you’ve selected your topic you will need to figure out your stance on the issue and use this as the basis for your thesis. Because this is a longer, research paper, you will need to use quotes from at least one of the texts we’ve discussed in class, along with evidence from at least 3 outside sources.
You need to really analyze what your opinion of this issue is and whether or not you think the media has influenced this. Is media influence positive or negative? When using sources, I encourage you to present examples of false representation, overly persuasive writing, as well as writing that appears factual. Your goal is to expose how you think media works (successfully or unsuccessfully) in its influence on the larger public.
ROUGH DRAFT #1 (“Shitty First Draft”) DUE: Thursday, November 4
(7-10 pages typed, bring 3 copies to class)
ROUGH DRAFT #2 DUE: Tuesday, November 16 (7-10 pages typed, bring 2 copies to class)
FINAL DRAFT DUE: Tuesday, November 23
(7-10 pages typed, Works Cited page, & make sure to give your paper an interesting title!)
Working Towards the Research Paper
(please note changes to syllabus!!)
Preparation #1 (Artifact and Research Proposal)
Last week we spent some time working in the library, learning how to locate and use source material. Considering what you learned about the kinds of sources available to you, and ways to incorporate them into your papers, take some time to brainstorm what you think a good research topic would be.
Write a one-page research paper proposal. This proposal can take the form of either an outline or a summary of what you hope to achieve in your paper.
Important items that you must include are:
- what you would like your topic to be and why you envision this to be a successful topic to write on
- what you imagine your thesis statement to be
- examples of three sources you plan to use
- an imagining of the trajectory you think your paper will take (what you plan to address in it, what you will cover over 7-10 pages that will develop and prove your thesis)
Locate a “media artifact” that is interesting to you and relates to the topic of your research paper. This can be a commercial, advertisement, photograph of a billboard, etc.). An example of a successful pairing (artifact + paper topic) might be: a paper on the way the media lowers the self-esteem of teenage girls, and an artifact that is a commercial for Victoria’s Secret Angel Collection—depicting models who appear ethereal, stunning, and emaciated. You need to include this image with your research proposal.
DUE: Tuesday, October 26 (hand in hard copy); make sure to post both your proposal and your artifact on the class blog by midnight on October 24. Please make sure that these posts are tagged with the category “ResearchProposal.”
Preparation #2 (Reflective Annotated Bibliography, 2-3 Sources)
A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) one has used or is considering using in order to research a specific topic.
An annotation is a summary or evaluation.
Therefore, your annotated bibliography must include the following:
1. Complete bibliographic information about each source (cited correctly following MLA format).
2. A summary of the source. (What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say?)
3. Your thoughts on the source. (Did you find this reference to be helpful? What intrigued you about it? Will you use it? If so, what information will you continue to think about?)
1. All annotated bibliographies should be typed, single-spaced.
2. Bibliographic information should follow MLA format. Please bold the bibliographic information as well.
3. Your summary of the source should be no longer than two paragraphs.
4. Please italicize your thoughts (or response) on the source. This segment of the bibliography should be no longer than one full paragraph.
Kozol, Jonathan. “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society.” Lead, Follow, or Move Out
of the Way! Eds. Monique Ferrell and Julian Williams. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt
Publishing Company, 2006. 562-569. Print.
Jonathan Kozol begins his essay by clarifying that “the number of illiterate adults exceeds by 16 million the entire vote cast for the winner in the 1980 presidential contest” (562). He then goes on to share a personal dream he has about what it must be like to be illiterate. This portrait of illiteracy is then followed up by a litany of illiteracies, delineated in a list that repeats the following format: “illiterates cannot…” The essay then continues to go into more and more detail with each example of the seemingly normal daily routines that illiterates cannot partake in. Finally, Kozol arrives at the idea that, “this is the nation that we live in. This is a society that most of us did not create but which our President and other leaders have been willing to sustain by virtue of malign neglect” (569). The collage of quotes and statements of the effects of illiteracy build tension until they reach this final moment of awareness of the governing responsibilities of the state.
I am slightly confused by Kozol’s essay because it seems as though he is blaming the government entirely for illiteracy. Doesn’t some of the responsibility fall on the individual? I think that this piece is certainly quite powerful, Kozol uses details and quotes so well—I almost feel as though I am witnessing the moments of not knowing and dismay that he describes. I think that this essay might be useful to me in considering an individual’s responsibility over his or her own life situations and life choices. Could I use Kozol to help me to devise a counterargument?
DUE: Thursday, October 28
Preparation #3 (Blog Post)
Last week we were lucky enough to have Dr. Luke Waltzer visit our class to talk about creating digital essays. Please post or comment some kind response to the assignment (i.e. What are you thinking about in terms of the digital essay? What questions do you have?). Update your classmates on the work you’ve begun to do.
I’d suggest that you make use of our blog more and more as we near the close of the semester. Any questions or problems you have, your colleagues will probably have as well! Help each other!
DUE: Please post to the blog no later than noon on Monday, November 1.
Preparation #4 (Rough Draft #1—Shitty First Draft!)
For this rough draft you should try to fill five pages with all the various thoughts and ideas you have about the final paper. Do not worry about the form of the paper—just fill the pages with notes, ideas, quotes, etc. Please do not hand in anything less than 7 pages! Bring 3 copies to class.
DUE: Thursday, November 4
Preparation #5 (Rough Draft #2)
For Rough Draft #2, please write a letter, addressed to your readers, in which you answer the following questions and address any other concerns that you have. Think of your draft letter as an opportunity to request exactly the kind of feedback you need. All cover letters should be typed and about one page long.
- What have you done to improve, shape, and/or expand your paper?
- What are the biggest problems you are having at this point in the writing process?
- What’s the number one question about your essay—its thesis, structure, use of evidence, persuasiveness, style, etc.—that you’d like your readers to answer for you?
- What do you envision your final step towards revision for the Final Draft to look like?
DUE: Tuesday, November 16 (7-10 pages typed, please bring 2 copies to class)
Final Draft #2
Please bring in your final draft (5-7 pages with a Works Cited page). It must be stapled with your final draft cover letter attached to the front. Also, please include your previous 2 drafts and cover letters. Submit the entire packet bound with a paperclip.
Paper #2–Final Draft Cover Letter
For your Paper #2 Final Draft, please write a letter, addressed to your readers, in which you answer the following questions and address any other concerns that you have. Think of your draft letter as an opportunity to share how you feel you have improved your paper. All cover letters should be typed and about one page long.
- What is your thesis? What are you hoping to achieve in this paper?
- What are some problems you faced when writing and how did you try to or succeed in resolving them?
- What idea or point do you feel you’ve made the most successfully? Least successfully?
- Do you consider this draft to really be your “Final Draft?” Why? Did you do anything while revising that could be described as a “re-seeing” of the paper?
- What grade do you think you deserve on this paper and why?
- How do you imagine this paper connects to and enhances your digital essay?
Due: Tuesday, November 23 (7-10 pages with a Works Cited page)