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MDSA01 – Critical Essay Assignment Guide – Fall 2021

Synopsis: For this assignment, you will select ONE mass mediated text/artifact (i.e., a film, television show/episode, advertisement, video game, song, literary work, story, poem, magazine or news article, etc.), review it through a critical-academic lens, and write a 1,000 word critical analysis (approximately 4 pages) of the text that utilizes one of the 12 theoretical perspectives explored in class (Marxist, organizational, pragmatic, rhetorical, cultural, psychoanalytic, feminist, queer, reception, sociological, erotic, or ecological). Your chosen media artifact should be no more than 2 years old (i.e., no earlier than 2019). Note that there are sample student essays of this sort in the Appendix of your textbook, Critical Media Studies, many of which I’ve assigned as readings, so please do review to these, if you need inspiration. In terms of structure and general content, your paper should include, at a minimum:

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1. A paper that begins by being accurately formatted in accordance with APA 7 guidelines, including a proper cover page. A resource for this style guide can be found here: https://owl.excelsior.edu/citation-and-documentation/apa-style/

2. A one-paragraph introduction in which you: o Introduce your media text o Comment upon its significance as an object of study o Formulate a clear, concise, and assertive thesis statement (i.e., identify what your text is doing

and how it is doing it) ▪ For more information on writing advice, please see the following website with handouts

from Writing Support at UTSC: https://utsc.utoronto.ca/twc/writing-process o Preview your argumentation and its rationale

A successful introduction will orient your reader to the theory/form of analysis you will be using, offer a claim to be supported and suggest why that claim matters, and briefly explain how your chosen theory will support that claim.

3. A development paragraph that orients your reader to your chosen media text. Do not assume your

reader is familiar with the media you have chosen. Offer a brief synopsis and related background information to ensure your reader understands what media you have chosen and why it is relevant.

Note that this kind of paragraph usually follows the introduction, taking a “step back” to describe or “show” your reader the media object before you begin analyzing it. Write as if your reader has never seen/heard/read/played/etc. the media object you are engaging.

4. Body paragraphs that offer an analysis of your media object, using relevant principles, terms, and

theories discussed in class and course texts. The goal of this section is to combine scholarly theory and astute critical observations effectively, applying ideas to a concrete example. This is the body of your paper and should constitute the largest portion of the essay.

The body should be a series of paragraphs that are organized around major themes or claims that support the larger thesis you ar4e supporting. Note that your essay need not be a “5-paragraph” essay; rather, your essay should have as many, or as few, paragraphs as needed to address the major points of your claim. Each paragraph should be constructed around some specific aspect of your argument, theory, and/or media artifact. Your paragraphs should have a logical flow, and youhttps://owl.excelsior.edu/citation-and-documentation/apa-style/https://utsc.utoronto.ca/twc/writing-process

are not encouraged to use “hard breaks”, like sub-headings, to organize your essay. Use transitions and a logical flow of ideas to create a smooth reading experience for your audience.

5. A critical conclusion in which you briefly reflect on the implications of your analysis. This might include

speculating about the role your object of analysis plays in political affairs, processes of socialization, or North American culture more generally. Note: An effective conclusion does more than merely summarize or list what has been said in the essay, or simply repeat the introduction. Rather, it should be used as a place to emphasize the points that have been argued in a way that shows the reader why those points and that argument are important. Ask yourself, “What is at stake in this analysis? Why does this matter? Why should my reader care about this issue?” Then reflect on your answers to those questions as you form your conclusion.

6. In-text citations and a separate bibliography formatted in accordance with APA 7 standards. Your bibliography should contain no fewer than three academic sources (e.g. sources from scholarly publishing houses or peer-reviewed journals) in addition to the course textbook, as well as proper citation for your media artifact and any other resources used in constructing your essay. Your academic sources can focus on the media text you’ve chosen (e.g., many popular films, television shows, and entertainment genres have been written about in scholarly journals); they can focus on the theoretical lens you have chosen; or, they can focus on both of these. If you are unclear on what constitutes an academic source, you are encouraged to speak to a librarian in the campus library, who can help guide your research.

Grading Rubric: The critical essay will be assessed on the following criteria:

• Comprehension of chosen media theory (25%)

• Application of theory to a media object (30%)

• Use of scholarly resources (25%)

• Correct citation in APA 7 format (10%)

• Essay formatting that conforms to APA 7 guidelines (5%)

• Overall quality of writing (5%) Length: 1000 words of text in the essay, plus a separate title page and bibliography. Note that the title page, bibliography, and other formatting details do not count toward the essay’s word count. Format: Please follow APA 7 citation and style guidelines. A comprehensive guide to this format can be found here: https://owl.excelsior.edu/citation-and-documentation/apa-style/. Incorrect formatting and citation will result in a point deduction of up to one full letter grade (10 points). Saving and Submitting Your Essay: Please upload your essay (file name format: LastName, FirstInitial, StudentNumber, CourseCode, EssayTitle) in one of the following formats: .doc, .docx, or .pdf. No other file formats will be accepted. Submissions in other file formats may be subject to a late penalty, as we await submission of an appropriate file format from the student. Due Date: November 9, 2021, 11:59pm. Submit on Quercus. All submissions must be run through “Ouriginal” plagiarism detection, which is built into the Quercus submission tool. Details on “Ouriginal”, including conditions for refusal, are in the course syllabus.https://owl.excelsior.edu/citation-and-documentation/apa-style/

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