Directions: For this assignment, you are to select a cultural artifact (defined below) or artist and show how it (or he/she) is transformative, innovative, or even disruptive of the field. I want you to choose an area of pop culture that you are interested in but, keep in mind that because you like a show or an artist may not mean it is being innovative. 

For example, Uber disrupts both transportation (away from traditional modes of transportation) and labor (the rise of the “gig” economy). Or e-sports has disrupted what we define as “sports” to the point that the Olympics is considering including it ( Or Netflix has altered the way we consume media and has affected the movie theater and production business. 

You can also look at specific television shows, movies, celebrities, or musical artists that you identify as transformative, innovative, or disruptive to the medium and the culture. For example, Donald Glover’s Atlanta has been argued to “break the rules” ( or how Beyonce has changed the way pop music is released or promoted ( or how Game of Thrones changed television series where popular characters might be bumped off to serve the narrative. 

Some definitions to help you along but you are welcome to question them. 

Artifact: the cultural object or person that you are studying. You will probably not use this word in your essay but I wanted to make sure you understood it as you read this assignment. 

Transformative, innovative, or disruptive: An artifact is transformative, innovative, or disruptive if it takes what has been done traditionally and changes it. All three of these terms have slightly different meanings (for instance, “disruptive” means things are being destroyed whereas “innovative” implies improving current practices. For example, Cher innovated Auto-tune and now it’s commonplace). You will need to do research what is traditional rather than relying on what you perceive as traditional because it may not be. Search for cultural critics who are writing about this. Remember – just because you really like an artist or television show may not make them innovative or disruptive to the medium. They may be copying what people have been doing in the past (and may be doing it very well – that’s also a valid position to take. You could argue that an artist seems innovative but really she isn’t; she just does the medium well.) 

Medium: the mode in which your artifact is performing. For example: music, advertising, television series, social media, etc. 

Genre: is the category within the medium which can be divided even further into subgenres. For example, country music, billboards, television dramas, Instagram, etc). 

*NOTE* This is an argumentative essay which is a thesis-driven essay that attempts to persuade the reader of the author’s point of view by using carefully presented and logically utilized information. One cannot write an argumentative essay without an element of debate. Thus your thesis cannot be “to discuss the history of television.” There is nothing to debate there. Nor is there anything to be persuaded of in the statement “reality TV is stupid”—this is an opinion. You may not merely

“discuss the differences” of your topic; you must actually argue a point. Picking a topic/issue in which you’re interested makes the process easier and more enjoyable for you (and usually results in better research and writing). 

Avoid essays where you try to prove something as “cool” or interesting. You are really arguing for what the pop culture artifact says about our society. 

Purpose: To write an informed, thoughtful, organized, and original argument. To find, analyze, and synthesize appropriate and varied research into an argumentative essay. To articulate and develop an original claim. To demonstrate an understanding and adequate use of logic and rhetorical choices.

Audience: A reasonable, general, informed audience (like your instructor and peers).

Message: To add your informed opinion in an already ongoing conversation about your subject. 

Format: Essays must be 7-9 pages and must conform to MLA formatting guidelines (12 pt., Times New Roman, 1” margins, double spaced, proper heading, etc.). A minimum of seven sources is required for this essay. Information gathered from outside sources should be cited in MLA format. Reference books (such as encyclopedias and dictionaries) can be used, but they do not count as one of the seven required sources. You are encouraged to find the best sources for your paper. You should find academic sources (from databases) whenever possible. These are the best sources.  

One of your seven sources must be an essay from our textbook. 

Assessment: 100 points possible, 25% of final grade. 

Homework points
Plagiarism quiz: 7 points
Research question and annotated bibliography (of 3 sources): 10 points
Conference: 5 points
Rough draft: 10 points

The timed essay, which is related to your research paper, is a major grade and is worth 10% of your final grade. It is not included in the research paper grade. 

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