Composition Project 1: Themes in Popular Culture
This movie will break your heart and give you aspirations and
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makes you think thank goodness that Peter Parker is everywhere.
– Avi Arad, on Spiderman 2
In examining the words of the authors we’ve read so far, we find that the timelessness of the themes they discuss is revealed in many examples of films, music, advertisements, cultural rituals and other texts. In this first project, you will choose one (or more) of the readings thus far and offer an analysis of where you see that reading’s theme manifested in an artifact of popular culture (film, TV, other works of literature, news, drama, language, fashion, music). You will compare and contrast the rhetorical purpose of that theme in the text and in the pop culture artifact, and you will construct an argument about how and for what purpose that theme is adapted in the cultural artifact that you’ve selected. This project contributes to the course goals of close reading, critical thinking, writing analytically, and integrating your ideas with those of others.
As you work through the process of composing this project, these guiding questions may help:
1. What are the themes that we have read about so far?
2. Where do you hear the echoes of one (or more) of these themes in artifacts of popular culture?
3. Where do you see the theme surfacing in the cultural artifact you’ve chosen? For example, if you choose a piece of music that utilizes a theme similar to one found in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, be sure to analyze that piece line by line as you illustrate where Fitzgerald’s theme surfaces.
4. Remember that in analyzing themes, we do not stop at the “what.”
a. How is the theme manifested in the text? In the artifact you’ve chosen?
b. Why do you think that theme is important to that cultural artifact?
c. Is it similar or different from the purpose it holds in the text?
Certainly, your audience for this project is you, your classmates, and me. But consider even more specifically the fan base of the cultural artifact you’ve chosen; consider, too, those who are not or would not be fans. Are you writing to them, as well? Having a clear understanding of your audience will help you to craft your analysis and your argument effectively.
Length, Form, Documentation
•Length: 1200 words
•Form: Academic essay, editorial, blog, journal or magazine article, newspaper article, etc.
•Documentation: sources (including images) must be cited appropriately (if you are citing music, be
sure to cite line numbers, as you would a poem)