Project 3: Research Paper
An Argumentative Research Paper on Popular Culture & Social Issues
For this paper, choose one form of popular culture for analysis. When you choose a type, or genre, be sure that it is a coherent genre; not ?popular music? but, say, ?sentimental love songs of the 1950s? or ?goth rock of early 1980s?; not ?comic books? but ?Disney comics? or ?monster comics? or ?superhero-type comics.? Be sure to select a specific kind of popular culture. Huge genres such as “rap music” or “hip hop” are simply too large for this project. Even more importantly, be sure to select a form of popular culture that you find interesting to begin with. You can choose a topic from a wide variety of material?from comic books and horror movies to TV shows and bumper stickers and magazines, from Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys to 50 Shades of Grey, from plays by Neil Simon and Sam Shepard, to Hayao Miyazaki?s animated films and Haruki Murakami?s novels.
Your objective will be to explore the relationship between your chosen piece of popular culture and some social issue such as age, race, gender, class, religion, immigration, etc. You will be forming an argument about this relationship, a central thesis that will be supported by your evidence. Evidence for your argument will come from analysis or descriptions of the popular culture as well as from credible research sources you select. One requirement of the paper is that you use at least five research sources; at least three of those sources have to be peer-reviewed academic texts (typically, articles from scholarly journals or books published by university or academic presses).
Please keep in mind that you are not writing a report. You are writing an argumentative paper that includes research and adds to a broader conversation about your chosen topic. You are to add to this conversation by making a claim about your chosen topic. Focus on the development of ideas rather than on the accumulation of quotes.
How to Find Topics
Read reputable news media (websites such as NPR, BBC, ABC, Time Magazine, The Guardian, NYTimes)
Think about how the popular culture (film, music, literature, radio, video games, etc.) you consume engages in some social issues.
Do some preliminary research to narrow down your topic to a particular piece of popular culture and a particular social issue.
Sample Research Questions
Do Breaking Bad and similar television crime dramas make people afraid of Latin American immigrants?
Are female rappers of the 2020s?for instance, Cardi B. and her associates?modern-day feminists, or just pornographers?
Do military-themed video games portray Middle Eastern people fairly?
Do “white trash” reality shows slander Americans who live in rural parts of the country?
1960s comic books and civil rights
Video games and climate anxiety
Horror film and gender issues
TV shows’ depiction of LGBTQ+ experience
Celebrity culture in America
K-Pop and social issues
Your essay should include:
A well-researched, academic argument that adds a new perspective to the existing conversation about your topic
A clear thesis statement that advances a specific, substantial, arguable point
Strong supporting evidence from your secondary research
In-text citation of at least five different secondary sources (at least three academic sources)
A careful evaluation of relevant counterpoints
A coherent organizational structure that enhances the argument and effectively portrays the research
A strong sense of audience
A clear ethos
4-6 double-spaced pages (1,000-1,500 words)
Works Cited (MLA)
Meticulous proofreading and proper MLA formatting