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Before you start gathering secondary sources, you need to have a fairly solid idea of what you’ll be investigating, why you’re investigating it, and the type of argument you’ll present about it in your paper. CQ Researcher or even Wikipedia, as well as online and print media, might be good places to brainstorm and to gather initial background information before you decide on your topic. Once you have chosen your topic and your own position on it, you will begin to gather sources that both back up and oppose your position. You may have to modify your initial hypothesis about your topic as you uncover more information, but you need to start with some idea in mind so you can narrow down your sources. That’s why you’ll write a research proposal, due July 29, that will show you’ve chosen a topic and thought about the kind of questions your research—and thus your paper—will answer. You will also write an annotated bibliography, to be submitted with your proposal that will give both you and me an idea of the sources that you will find useful to support your argument.
Remember that your paper should be an argument, not a report. Your goal is to convince your audience that your thesis is worth considering because it’s interesting, well planned, and well researched. You should thus design your entire essay to support your thesis through strategic use of your research and thorough effective rhetorical choices. In addition, remember that this is your argument; don’t use your sources to make your argument for you, but rather to back up your own points and claims.
You are certainly not limited to these options, but if you’re stuck and need a few ideas for your topic, use those listed below for brainstorming. These topics are intentionally left broad; if you choose one of them, you will need to narrow it down significantly.
Sexual harassment (street harassment, workplace harassment)
Paid parental leave policies
Beauty standards (Photoshopping in media, body image, etc.)
Rape culture (in media, on college campuses)
Racial and/or gender diversity in the media (on or off screen)
Media representations of gender roles (masculinity, femininity)
Gender-based professional stereotypes
(Dis)ability in the workplace
Illness and gender