The final major assignment

The final major assignment for this course is an essay that critically engages a media artifact of your choice, such as a movie, TV show, song, video game, book, art piece. You will identify the contribution that the piece makes to its cultural moment through identification of specific moments in the composition and analyze them using readings or viewings from the course as well as additional sources from your own research.

Point value and length requirements: This essay is worth 75 points and should be 1,000-1,500 words long.

Sources: You will need to have at least five academic sources for this paper. The textbook as well as one other assigned reading or viewing from the class will be two of the sources. This may include any materials we watched or read in class as well as those assigned for reading at home. An APA style citation of your artifact will be your third source. Two additional sources should be found using Google Scholar or the BGSU library and should be used to expand on the topics you use from class. Sources from blogs, social media, etc. will be counted as additional sources, not toward the minimum of five. All sources need to be listed in an APA style references page and cited in the main text of your paper. The sources requirement of your paper will be worth 10 points, evaluated as 1 point for correct formatting in the references page, and 1 point for correct in text citation.

Your paper should include the following, with headings for each of the sections below:

Description: Describe your chosen artifact: who, how long, how prominent, what topics? If it is a movie, for example, you will include information about the running time, the date it was released, what platform it was released on, how many main characters it has, how popular the movie is/was, and the general plot, important quotes or scenes, whether the movie was nominated for or won awards, along with other important descriptors. I should be able to understand your artifact from your description paragraph without having viewed, listened to, experienced, or read it myself. This section is worth 15 points.

Analysis & Interpretation: Make connections from your artifact to the broader culture it is a part of. This might include which definition of culture your artifact fits into, whether it refers to specific pop culture moments or participates in trends. This would also include what genre your artifact fits into and whether it defies the norms of its genre at any point. If your artifact has an important contribution to society, explain that as well. This section will likely need specific citations from your artifact as you discuss how or why it influences and is influenced by society. This is also likely the section where you will bring in the majority of your academic sources. Discuss response to your artifact. What did people have to say about your artifact? Is it beloved or controversial? Make sure to include all important perspectives in this section. This section is worth 20 points.

Evaluation & Engagement: Why did you choose this artifact? Does it have personal significance to you in any way? In your opinion, is it good, bad, or somewhere in between? What qualifies as good or bad in this situation? Are there agreed upon criteria or exemplars? Use specific examples from your artifact (lyrics, melodies, colors, sound, scenes, seasons, etc.), to support your perspective. This section is worth 20 points.

The remaining 10 points will be used to evaluate the grammar, spelling, and formatting of your paper. I suggest using the free version of Grammarly to check your paper for spelling and grammar mistakes before submitting. I also suggest bringing this assignment sheet and a draft of your paper to the Learning Commons in the BGSU library. If you would like me to review a rough draft of your paper, I must receive it via email by 11:59pm on April 21.

APA style: I do expect your paper to follow APA style for in-text citations and the references page. You do not need to include a title page, abstract running head, or be concerned about formatting headings, etc. in accordance with APA style.

Connecting Sources

The purpose of the final paper is to take the 5-step critical literacy process that we’ve practiced throughout the semester and apply it to a piece of media that you personally enjoy in order to deconstruct the way it contributes to culture as you experience it.

For the purpose of your individual paper and its thesis, in general it will be a statement of how your artifact impacts culture. For some it might be more specifically that your artifact impacts culture by going against cultural norms, for others the argument might be that their artifact created a discussion about a certain topic, or that it’s a perfect example of a certain type of cultural indicator (for example the perfect example of an episode of a family sitcom). Think about why your artifact is important to broader culture. This is going to be something a bit deeper and more specific than “it’s funny.”


When it comes to texts from our class, in the prompt for the paper, I talk about identifying which definition of culture your artifact fits into – this is an easy tie into the textbook as it talks about that in chapter 1. There are also chapters in the textbook that I didn’t assign on topics including movies, video games, and television, and you could see if there’s anything to connect to there. I also think the first reading from Klosterman will be helpful in many cases as it discusses personal preference with regard to determining the “best” cultural artifacts of our time, as well as the reading from Adorno about the cultural industry. For some, an analysis of news coverage might include connections to some of our readings about journalism as well.

To being thinking about outside academic sources: think about your artifact, and write down the key topics when you think about how that artifact might contribute to culture or social discussion. This gives you some keywords to search for (ex: gender norms + Disney movies or racial diversity + country music). The paper prompt also ask you to talk about response to your artifact, where it might be appropriate to bring in newspaper articles about it. I recommend searching your resulting keywords in the communication and mass media complete database on EBSCO (