Short Essay (1500 words; 19%)
For this paper you will have two options:
A) Formulate an argument that shows unexpected continuities or discontinuities between two texts. This will require that you demonstrate a close and accurate understanding of the texts in question, erectile and be able to detect and demonstrate clearly what the texts you choose either have in common or else where they diverge. The key here is that what you show should be unexpected – it should not be obvious or intuitive. If a later theorist says outright that he or she is breaking with an earlier theorist, stuff then it is not very challenging to show how he or she is doing just that. You will be marked on the accuracy of your understanding of the texts, as well as on the incisiveness of the argument you make about them.
B) Take one of the works we have studied and use it to read a cultural text. “Text” is, in this case, to be very broadly construed – it may include a television show, a commercial or series of commercials, a fashion trend, an event (political, social, cultural, musical, etc.), a comic book (or their popularity), a magazine, novel, poem, play, essay, film, game, etc. The key here is to avoid the obvious; what you write must be both interesting and true; for it simply to be true is not enough. Your study should lay out the particulars of the “text” you are using and of the theory you are using to analyze it. It should demonstrate an excellent understanding of the theory and show a strong ability to use it to illuminate aspects of the text that are not otherwise apparent. Your paper must be above all argumentative. The very best of these papers will furnish an explanation of why the kind of analysis you have done is important, as well; that is, they will anticipate and answer the question: so what?