This semester, you will write two papers in which you identify a problem in the representation of a particular group in media (related to gender for paper 2, and race for paper 3) and describe what you think would be a more positive or healthy portrayal. For example, you might identify a TV show that reinforces stereotypes about women as unintelligent and passive, and describe how the show could be revised to challenge this stereotype.
This paper involves a five step process: 1) identification of the cultural artifact; 2) discussion of applied concepts; 3) critique of ideologies; 4) de/reconstruction of the popular cultural artifact so that ideologies in original popular cultural artifact are subverted; and 5) interpretation of and reasoning behind reconstruction.
Alternatively, you can also do this assignment via a recorded presentation, podcast episode, or website rather than a written paper. If you do this, your presentation will need to cover the questions with the same depth as a written assignment. You must also provide APA formatted citations as “show notes” or a written note that you submit with your project. If you choose this option, you must also explain who your target audience. However, you can speak in a way that is appropriate for your audience if you choose this option (including slang).
Template for Media Literacy Paper 1 (gender):
- Identify the artifact. It must have a problematic message about gender that you will describe and revise.
- What type of media is it? (News article, book, TV show, etc)
- Premise? Basic “thing” the show is about?
- Applied concepts
- Concepts from the course that are relevant to part 3 of your paper: define them (For example: objectification, hegemonic masculinity, “superwoman ideal,” etc)
- Remember: use in-text APA citations for the readings, as well as a reference list at the end of the paper.
- You MUST cite at least one paper from this course (for example, the “Doing Gender” piece may be useful for you). You can cite papers from outside of this course as well. Your citation must be relevant to your argument.
- Critique of the ideologies
- One paragraph per claim you make
- Topic sentence: something like “Star Trek portrays many of the female characters as sex objects.”
- Evidence: “Seven of Nine wears a tight-fitting catsuit.”
- Reasoning: “This outfit was designed specifically to emphasize her body shape as much as possible. In fact, it was so tight that the actress, Jeri Ryan, fainted during filming [APA STYLE CITATION HERE]. Further, there is no practical explanation for why she would wear this costume instead of a Star Fleet uniform or more loose-fitting clothing. In this way, the show presents Seven of Nine in a way that focuses on her sex appeal, in a way that is decontextualized from anything her personality or job duties.”
- Additional evidence to support the claim (can be in new paragraph if needed): “Similarly, Deana Troi’s costumes were designed to emphasize her beauty and body shape.”
- Reasoning for the evidence you described in “e”
- What changes do you propose? Be as specific as possible. Explain exactly what changes you would make, so there’s no ambiguity, confusion, or unanswered questions
- Remember: your changes should reverse the ideology being described above. So, I might describe how I would have Seven of Nine dress instead and whatever other changes I would propose to avoid portraying Trek characters as sex objects
- Interpretation / reasoning:
- How does this subvert the original ideology?
- What is the new message that you are sending?
APA format is required
Do not use informal language (slang, vulgar language)
Do not quote. Instead, put it in your own words
Do not refer to yourself in this paper. No “In my opinion” or “I think”
Common errors made by students
- Quoting from the readings instead of putting things in their own words
- Not articulating the ideology of gender conveyed in the piece
- Picking a piece that you think has no unhealthy messages about gender
- Missing the ideology revision section
- Assuming that because a character in a movie says something sexist, that means the movie itself is sexist (for example
- Picking more than one media piece (for example, picking three unrelated TV shows to discuss)
A range: You make claims about the ideology of your media example that are well-supported with evidence, and you lay out your reasoning very clearly and explicitly. You explicitly and thoroughly describe the concept from the reading in your own words. You use the concept from the reading to help explain what is happening in the media piece. Your writing is very specific and is detailed enough that I can tell you know what you’re talking about. There are no unanswered questions or unclear terms, and everything makes sense.
B range: You make claims that are clearly supported by evidence and describe how you would subvert the original message in a way that is clear and specific. However, there may be some gaps in your reasoning, or your description of the ideology may be superficial. You cite and define a concept from the reading, but it may not really fit with your analysis (just “name checking” a term from the course instead of using that term to help analyze the piece). Writing conventions may be weaker than in the A range.
Example of a superficial description of ideology: “The show sends the message that women are less than” when it would be more specific to say “The show sends the message that women belong in domestic spaces but not the workplace.”
C range: Similar to B range, but one of the sections is excessively brief, vague, or confusing, and some of your terms may go undefined.
Below C range: If you do not follow directions or if your paper does not meet the standard for C-range work, you will be given the opportunity to meet with me to discuss.
Points possible: 100
Extra credit: 5 points if you create something to demonstrate your revised version of the media piece (for example, if you say that you would change the message about gender by changing the costumes, you could draw an image of the revised costumes).