Popular Cultural Analysis Assignment Sheet

Assignment 3 – Popular Cultural Analysis

English 101 M-W/T-Th  Fall 2015

Dawn S. Davies

 “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

Lloyd Dobler – Say Anything

 Popular Cultural Analysis

Because we are so immersed in popular culture, we absorb it freely, and don’t often stop to consider the effects it has on us and on society. And although popular culture may seem merely superficial, or something to simply do for fun or enjoyment, it is often far more than that. Popular culture often attempts to affect mass audiences by showing us lifestyles we want to lead or offering a view of society that reflects our fears and concerns.  In this unit we will explore how aspects of pop culture work through our analysis of a popular culture text. Before choosing your topic, we will brainstorm popular culture themes, but know that pop culture texts include advertisements, popular fiction, graphic novels, television, film, popular music, magazines, video games, fashion, social media, viral videos, celebrity blogs, popular Twitter feeds, and online culture, as well as many other topics.

Your Task:

This assignment requires you to select, engage critically, and analyze one or more popular works in order to dig beneath the surface of frivolity and find those underlying issues that affect society. This should be a 3 to 4 page paper.

Paper Structure:

The introduction should identify the topic and its relevant historical and cultural contest, the text(s) you analyze, and your thesis – an analytical claim that explains how your popular cultural text works (what strategies it uses), and why it works that way (what underlying cultural issues or concerns the text reveals). Your claim generally follos the pattern of arguing that the text is written, filmed, photographed, recorded, or otherwise produced in a particular way in order to achieve some goal, such as to critique, celebrate, or change society’s views about power, gender roles, marriage, sex, family, social class, race, work success, religion, conformity, beauty, youth, age, violence, technology, government, medicine, science, etc.  In your introduction answer the question: How does the way your popular culture text represent it its subject attempt to critique, celebrate, or change some aspect of the society in which it appears?

If you have a particularly long text, such as a film, or if your introduction has not already provided a short summary, the next paragraph may briefly summarize the text and incorporate evidence in the form of quotes or descriptions of visual evidence to support your summary.

The body of the paper (several body paragraphs) should develop the specifically analytical ( and perhaps comparative) argument offered in your claim, including careful evidence to support the various parts of your claim.

Given the way a typical analytical claim works, you will have a few body paragraphs that support your argument about the way the text represents its subject ( how it is filmed, written recorded, etc.), then you will have one or two body paragraphs supporting your argument that the effect of that approach is what you claimed in the introduction. Let your thesis statement be the guide to organizing your paper.

Your primary sources include the text(s) you are analyzing, and any secondary sources you choose to use that will offer evidence that enhances your argument.

Finally, given the careful detail and specific, supported analysis of your essay, you have earned the right to offer conjecture, make more general claims, offer some evaluations, and/or suggest what the broader implications of your analysis might be.  Do this in your conclusion.

Audience: This essay should be written for actual and implied academic audiences, both your peers and your professor, as well as an imagined audience.

  • Bridging the Difference: A Guide to Academic Writing
  • Class handouts
  • Assigned reading links


A grade of “A” is difficult, but not impossible to receive. A “B” grade indicates that you have submitted work that is above average but not exemplary in quality. Receiving a “C” suggests that you have met the requirements of the assignments but have not gone further than average. Your effort was adequate but not remarkable. A “D” means that you have written a below-average essay because you have not met some of the assignment requirements, have careless grammatical, mechanical, or punctuation errors, or have presented unclear, disorganized writing. If you receive an F, your essay doesn’t meet the assignment requirements, doesn’t answer the written assignment question, or includes a horrifying number of errors.

As usual, all papers should be typed in MLA format and in Times New Roman 12 point font. Black ink. Please make sure to staple multiple pages together. Use only original work created for this class. Label your paper correctly. Cite sources properly.


Due Dates:

  • Draft for peer review due Monday 10/19 for MW students, Tuesday 10/20 for T-TH students. Bring 2 copies of typed draft to class that day.
  • Final Revision due:Monday, 11/2 for MW students, Tuesday 11/3 for T-TTH students.


Don’t freak out. Let’s have fun with this, and practice our increasingly strong analytical skills.

In your service,

Dawn S. Davies