Pop Culture Research

Your third essay will be a five-page argumentative research paper about a pop culture topic of your choice. The final draft is due Saturday, 8/1; rough drafts will be due the prior week. This essay requires five sources (details below). Because this essay is due on the last day of class, any plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, will warrant a grade of zero and the essay cannot be revised because the course will be over. Please review the academic integrity page before your begin.

Our work this semester has focused on popular culture. In Essay #1, we discussed how advertising often points to something significant happening in our society. In Essay #2, we analyzed digital and social media and the cultural consequences of the pervasiveness of this media in our lives.

In your last essay, you’ll continue your work in pop culture by writing a research paper on a pop culture topic of your choice. Here is a sample research paper that was very successful and earned an “A”; I suggest reviewing it thoroughly before you begin! Pay close attention to the thesis statement, topic sentences, and correct/effective use of textual evidence from multiple sources.

five pages long (papers shorter than five pages will earn a D or an F depending on the quality of the paper)
five credible sources
one of the five sources must be from a peer reviewed journal
two of the five sources must be from books (e-books are ok)
you can use as many sources as you’d like from Signs of Life (there are lots of great articles we didn’t read!)
however, only one source from Signs of Life will count toward your five sources, and it will NOT count as your book source
a correct works cited page
correct MLA format
correctly introduced textual evidence and correct in-text citations throughout the paper
The only requirement is that your topic is focused appropriately for five pages and that it relates to an aspect of pop culture. If you need a reminder about what pop culture is and why we study it, please review the introduction to your Signs of Life in the USA textbook (pages 1-19). You can also review this PowerPoint we looked at earlier in the semester.

While the topics for a pop culture paper are almost limitless, here are a few topics that have been highly successful for previous students:

Successful Topics
Netflix and binge-watching
Celebrity worship
Cyber security
Batman as anti-hero
Advertising and body image
Disney princesses
Effects of social media on the environment
Representations of certain groups in certain movies or movie genres
Toddler and Tiaras
Keeping up with the Kardashians
13 Reasons Why
The Bachelor
And more and more! The list is really limitless. Please choose something that interests you; the most successful papers are ones in which the writer cares deeply about the topic and is knowledgeable about it.
Not So Successful Topics
Gun control, abortion, or some other controversial topic.
This is not a “controversial topic” paper that makes an argument about a political issue. This is a pop culture paper, so “how mainstream media bias influences the public’s opinions on gun control” is a GREAT topic for this course because it focuses on an aspect of pop culture. Whether or not gun control is “good” or “bad” doesn’t work for this paper.
The “all about some topic” paper.
This is the paper in which the student chooses something they’re interested in such as sports and then writes a paper with a bunch of information about that sport. This is an ARGUMENTATIVE research paper, so it needs a clear argument. You are not simply providing information.
The too broad topic.
This is very common and leads to serious problems in a five page paper. For instance, a student may decide to write about the negative effects of social media. An entire BOOK could be written on this topic. “The mental health effects of social media” is slightly more focused, but still too broad for only five pages. “How social media increases anxiety in adolescent girls” is likely focused enough.

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