FINAL PROJECT: Proposal
(100 points; 10%)
Due: Thursday, November 1
First, please do look at the overall description of the Final Project assignment already given to you. In particular, please keep in mind that the core of the Final Project is your analysis of a media text of your choice in relation to either its social context or its industrial context. The goal of this assignment is to practice using key critical approaches and methods developed for media studies in order to develop a degree of mastery in one or more of these approaches and methods. See the overall description for a list of these approaches and methods that you can use. Finally, please remember that your Final Project has two parts: A 7-9 page Research Paper and a Creative Project.
The Proposal is essential to a successful Final Project. A proposal is, emphatically, not a wish list of things you will find out. It is a concrete action plan. It is intended to make you think in detail about what you are writing about, how you will your conduct research, how you will analyze your findings, and how you will express your argument in a creative manner as well as in a formal research paper. That is, your proposal lays out exactly what you will do as you actually carry out your Final Project. Therefore, it is—naturally—based on substantial research on your topic and thus builds on the research you did for your One-Pager Research Question. An effective proposal is one that lays out your action plan in such precise detail that you could hand it off to someone else and they would be able to carry out your research project. So, one way of thinking about the proposal is as a set of instructions. The proposal will be as long as it needs to be, but you should be able to answer the questions below in no more than 4 pages [excluding the bibliography]. Keeping the above in mind, your Proposal should do the following:
- Simply, and clearly, state your specific topic and justify your choice of topic (why is it an interesting or worthwhile topic?)
- Clearly identify your research question
- Present a clear preliminary thesis statement for the Research Paper and a statement of purpose for the Creative Project.
- Give some relevant background information on your topic (social context + reviews of your program). Identify the most important aspects of your topic. Then, in a concise manner, introduce your reader to any background information (history, development, key issues) that will help them understand exactly what you’re studying and why it matters.
- Provide an initial description of the specific critical approach and method that you will use for the Research Paper. This description should include a clear explanation of the reasoning behind your choice of approach and method (i.e. why is this approach, and not a different one, the best choice for your project?)
- Provide an initial description of the content and format of your Creative Project. This description should include a clear explanation of how the Creative Project builds upon and complements your Research Paper. The only requirement for the Creative Project is that it demonstrate your active and critical engagement with the concepts, histories, theories, analytic lenses, and methods that you have used for your Research Paper. One idea [borrowed from Jennifer Proctor] that allows you the greatest flexibility is a “virtual gallery” where you create a blog, tumblr, website (whatever works best) that displays your curated collection of visual and aural material, clips, news stories along with accompanying text written by you that contextualizes and frames the exhibits in the gallery. Other options include a brief script or script outline, a video essay, a podcast, a social media campaign, a vision statement for a media company, a video mashup…or, anything else you can think of!
- Provide a plan for conducting research, i.e. how you will actually gather and use sources, including a list of three kinds of evidence you will need to support your claim. This plan should be specific and detailed: Which databases will you use and why? What are the exact boundaries of your “media text”? (e.g. season 1 of The Walking Dead) What sources will you consult in order to form an initial understanding of the industrial or social context? (e.g (For example, all articles about the popularity of zombie films, about post-apocalyptic scenarios and about “preppers” in major national newspapers and magazines—NYTimes, LATimes, USA Today, Washington Post, Time, People, Rolling Stone etc—for the five years leading up to the show)
- Include a bibliography formatted in APA style of at least 10 sources of which at least 5 must be scholarly sources. All ten sources should be of direct relevance to your topic. However, keep in mind that the scholarly sources (academic books and articles) that will be most helpful may be contextual: for example, if I’m studying The Walking Dead, a scholarly essay on the film 28 Days Later could be very useful as could an essay about Mad Men that discusses AMC’s move into original programming.
Your research must draw upon popular (newspapers, magazines, popular books), trade (specialized publications such as Broadcasting & Cable, Variety, Mediaweek, Advertising Age, Adweek, Electronic Media, and Hollywood Reporter), and scholarly (academic journals and monographs) sources. You must also use both primary and secondary sources in doing your research. Primary sources are popular or trade articles on your topic that are from the same time period. For example, if you are writing about the sitcom All in the Family, your primary sources will be from the 1970s. Secondary sources are scholarly articles (they may also sometimes be popular or trade articles) that are written later about a particular topic and provide a history, analysis, or other kind of reflection on that topic.
A number of excellent online databases that you can use to do your research are listed under “TV & Radio” on the Brooklyn College Library’s “Research guides” page.
LexisNexis (for newspapers and magazines), Communication and Mass Media Complete (for scholarly sources), and Academic Search Complete are probably the three most useful databases. I would also strongly encourage you to browse through the stacks—you often come across useful material that you didn’t know you were looking for—and to draw upon the knowledge of the reference librarians.
Using web sources
An internet search—of Wikipedia for example—is a fine place to start your search. However, I expect you to use only reliable and verified sources for any factual information that you use in your paper. Google Scholar is another excellent resource for getting a quick sense of academic writing on a topic. However, Google Scholar is not comprehensive, does not provide full text for most essays, and does not distinguish between academic essays published in reliable journals and commercial writing or student papers. Popular television criticism and commentary has increasingly moved from print to online publications. Online publications and blogs such as Salon, HuffingtonPost, Jezebel, Vulture, Colorlines, and The Root frequently feature writing on television that is both well-informed and influential. In addition, websites such as deadline.com, indiewire.com, and tvbythenumbers.com all provide industry news that is reliable. I encourage you to visit these sites and to look to academic blogs (see our course website for a list) as you conduct research for your paper. However (cautionary note ahead), unlike print publications, there is no easy rule for assessing the reliability, significance, or quality of online sources. Therefore, you must be especially mindful of how you treat online sources and we will further discuss how to evaluate these sources in class. Finally, you are expected to do the bulk of your research using the library databases. A web search complements library research; it cannot replace library research.
For all assignments: Please write your name, the name of the course, the title of your paper, and the date at the top of the first page. Going a line or two over or under the specified length is fine. Use a 12-point font with standard (1-inch) margins and double-space the text. Remember to number your pages and to STAPLE your paper. Bibliographies do not count towards page length.
Always cite the source for any quotes or ideas taken from your readings. Use APA style for citations and for your bibliography. See the Online Writing Lab (linked from the website) for guidelines on how to cite any kind of source material (e.g. an article from a journal, an episode of a television series, a chapter in a book etc.).
Proofread your paper. Numerous typos or grammatical errors will result in a lower grade.
All components of this final paper assignment will be marked down by one grade (e.g. from B+ to B) for each day they are late. Remember, you can revise any assignment that you hand in on time.
** Keep all the graded copies of your assignments (topic ideas, one-pager, proposal, theory paper etc.) with my comments on them. You will be required to hand them in with each successive assignment. **
Review the information about academic dishonesty outlined on your syllabus. Do not cut and paste sections (no matter how brief) of other published or unpublished sources or papers. Do not turn in another person’s work as your own. Do not falsify sources or citations. Any assignment that does of any of the above, or otherwise violates the University’s guidelines about academic misconduct will receive a failing grade, with no possibility of makeup. In addition, further action may be taken at the College level.
Assessment Rubric for the Proposal
Proposal – Grading (50 points; 5%)
|Introduce your topic:||4|
|Research question and thesis||6|