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Write a five page essay (12-point font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins) responding to one of the prompts below. It will be evaluated on the basis of your argumentation, use of supporting materials, and clarity and organization. Write as if for a general audience. You will be expected to perform research by consulting appropriate sources (trade, popular, academic publications, and/or other applicable material). In addition to these, you should also draw upon readings and lecture. Rely on lecture, however, only for ideas not discussed in the readings. Wikipedia and other general reference sources may be useful as you initially look into the background of your topic, but they are not sufficient resources from which to cite and build your argument.
Think of the essay—complete with an introduction, thesis, and conclusion—as a research project. Include in-text citations and an alphabetized bibliography of all sources you cite (including those from class). Use a recognizable scholarly format (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). Remember that failure to properly cite ideas or exact wording from other texts constitutes plagiarism, which is a major academic violation. This essay accounts for 20% of your course grade.
Any paper turned in after the beginning of class will be penalized at the rate of 10% of the total assignment grade per day. You will submit your paper as a .docx, .pages, or .pdf. Label the file name “firstname_lastname_ms10essay1”
Choose an essay prompt
Decoding Controversial Media: Apply Hall’s encoding/decoding model to a media text widely argued to be controversial. What is the media producers’ preferred meaning? What is one popular negotiated or oppositional reading? Use mainstream reviews and criticism, news pieces, fan pages, and/or other sources to illustrate the decoding position. Ultimately, what does your research reveal about the balance of power between producers and audiences in determining meaning?
The Adaptation: Analyze a text adapted from one medium to another. What were the economic motivations behind its adaptation, and what challenges did producers face? How specifically did the mediamakers “squeeze” or “stretch” the adaptation, and why? How did fans of the adapted text respond to the adaptation, especially regarding its squeezing or stretching? Ultimately, what does your case study show about the benefits and challenges behind adaptations?
Ideology in Reality TV: Choose a reality TV series and argue that it’s consciously constructed to deliver a hegemonic or counter-hegemonic message reinforcing or undermining the dominant ideology. How is this message demonstrated through its casting and narratives? (Also, location and/or editing, if applicable.) Ultimately, what does your case study demonstrate about how reality TV can be simultaneously unscripted and designed to spread a specific ideology?
An “A” paper fulfills all the requirements of the assignment with exceptional quality. It will have consulted numerous sources appropriate to the topic and will use evidence from that research to make thorough and well-reasoned arguments. The essay will be free of spelling and grammatical errors and be organized in a way that allows claims to build on one another. Most importantly, it goes beyond the essentials of the assignment in its insight and originality, displaying effective and precise thought and composition.
A “B” paper fulfills all the requirements of the assignment with good quality. It will respond to every part of the prompt, adequately consulting several appropriate sources. The essay will be reasonably free of spelling or grammar mistakes, and all the requirements on the prompt will be met. The essay will convey an argument and be well executed on the whole, but it might be improved by more specific details and examples, a wider variety of sources, better organization, or greater argumentative nuance.
A “C” paper fulfills some to most of the requirements of the assignment with fair quality. It will adequately describe the topic, but fall short of using the research to forward a clear argument. Sources consulted will be relevant, but may be sparse and/or unreliable. The paper may provide a good deal of interesting information, but may lack the organization needed to provide purpose and direction. It may also fail to address parts of the prompt, and it may contain significant spelling, grammatical, or factual errors.
A “D” paper does not fulfill most of the requirements of the assignment. The writing is generally poor, with little clarity, precision, organization, or interest. It may also suffer from significant issues of grammar and spelling. Too few sources will have been consulted, and obvious avenues of research will have been ignored. The essay may lack an organizational structure, with citations and/or bibliographies missing or incomplete.