The paper should be written in proper essay format, including complete sentences and paragraphs, a clear introduction laying out the argument and thesis, a conclusion, and a carefully explained and organized argument. References should follow an accepted style, and be consistent. Essays should use proper grammar and should be carefully spell-checked. Include your TA’s name and tutorial number on the title page, and make sure to staple the essay (no binders or folders). Keep a backup of the essay, rough work and notes.
Late penalty: 2%/day (unless accompanied by appropriate documentation)
Essays should draw on the following: 1. two course readings; 2. one academic source from outside the course that you find through library research (either a scholarly book [NOT a textbook] or academic journal article); 3. and one or more credible non-academic sources (NOT Wikipedia). For research help, see the ‘Spark’ pages on the York Library website. This is the minimum number of sources required; you can use more sources when warranted.
The outside research will be especially useful in helping you develop the case study. The non-academic online source will generally be a text that you will analyze using the academic concepts from the course and your academic research. For example, if you are doing a study of ‘ideology’ (topic 1), you may choose to analyze the ideology(ies) of a newspaper article, movie, TV program, or other media text.
Note on case studies
Each of the topics below asks you to develop a ‘case study.’ What this means is that you should find a media example or case that illustrates and helps you explore a specific concept or approach. Frequently used case studies in lectures in this way. For example, in the first lecture you spent some time on the case study of Ferguson and the killing of Michael Brown to help explain communication studies approaches. What case study you select is up to you. It can be something that you’ve discovered in your research, or can come from ideas in the course readings.
Develop an essay that addresses one of the following topics. Make sure to address all of the issues being used. Make use of the ideas and approaches developed in the course, including any relevant ones from other weeks in the course. Theoretical approaches or concepts are especially useful in this respect.
1. Explain what is meant by the term ‘ideology’ and its significance for media and communication studies. Develop a specific case study showing an ideology at work in the media, and discuss the extent to which alternatives to this ideology exist. In selecting a case study, keep in mind the various ideologies we have looked at, in particular (but not only) deeply rooted ideologies of gender, race, nation/nationalism, capitalism, or religion.
2. Communication studies approaches to ‘popular culture’ tend to argue that audiences are active participants in using or consuming media. Develop a specific case study through which to explore the role of the audience in popular culture. To what extent does this case study confirm the view that the audience is ‘active’?
3. Feminist communication research argues that media is shaped in many different ways by gendered social relations and inequalities. Select a case study of the gendered nature of media through which to explore one or more feminist approaches to media studies. In developing your argument, address one or more of the following aspects of the media in relation to gender: as an industry; who works in media; media representations; the use of media (ie. audiences).
4. Advertising is crucial to the functioning of a market system, but many analysts also argue that it gives rise to problems, including a) the creation of ‘false needs,’ b) over consumption, and c) the propagation of dominant ideologies. Through the analysis of a specific case study, explore each of these critiques of advertising.
5. (alternate advertising question) Market segmentation is central to the way in which audiences are targeted as consumers. Through the exploration of one ad or advertising campaign, analyze how this market segmentation works in practice. The essay should include: a) a semiotic analysis of one advertisement; b) a discussion of the ideology or ideologies at work in the advertisement or campaign.
Understanding of the course material and ability to explain and use the sources effectively; selection of relevant outside sources.
Clarity of presentation (see ‘essay format’ above). Especially important is a clear overall argument, supported by evidence, and taking into consideration the different and often competing arguments offered by the authors.
Effective application of relevant course concepts to your case study.
Originality of thinking.