Essay 4: A Cultural Analysis

Write a three-page essay (700-900 words / 5-6 paragraphs) that informs your audience about a specific work of contemporary culture.

Focus on one specific work of culture (a book, a movie, a TV show, an album, a video game, and so on).

Your rhetorical task is to arouse your readers’ curiosity by posing an interesting question about the work and then responding to it with information that is new to your audience. Imagine readers who hold a conventional or limited view about your work; your purpose is to give them a new, surprising view. Your essay should help your reader to understand the work in a deeper and richer way.

Give your essay a thesis and a clear, logical organization. Your introductory paragraph should engage the reader’s interest, provide any needed context and background, present an interesting question about the work, and end with a clear thesis statement. Your thesis should follow this model:

Many people believe X (common view), but I am going to show Y (new, surprising view).

Then, in paragraph two, briefly explain the common, overly narrow view about the work. In the next two or three paragraphs, present your new, surprising view of the work supported with information from personal experience and research. In your final paragraph, summarize your surprising view of the work. Begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence.

Your essay should present both your own observations and library research. Include at least THREE sources documented in proper MLA format, with in-text, parenthetical references and a list of Works Cited. You will have one primary source (the work itself) and at least two secondary sources. Make sure your secondary sources are directly relevant to your analysis. The secondary sources could provide information on who made the work, or on some relevant cultural context for work, or on reactions to the work. (Please note: encyclopedias—including on-line encyclopedias like Wikipedia—do not count as sources for this assignment.)

Throughout your essay, remember to distinguish your own points about the work from the ideas and language of your sources with attributive tags, quotation marks for any quoted passages, and MLA documentation.

Write your essay in classic prose style: clear and concise, specific and engaging.

Make every word count.

Essay Due: April 26
(Bring THREE copies of your essay to class.)

Page Last Updated: 19 August 2011