ENGL 101.009/.011
-- Paper # 1 Assignment --

Dr. Nick Melczarek | anmelczarek@salisbury.edu | 410-546-6203 (66203)

Contents (click to jump to the following sections)
Paper 1 Assignment (read all the way through -- there are helpful tips throughout):

»» Cultural analysis: Based on ideas gathered from this section's essays (on shopping, advertising/packaging, manipulation, and social control), write an essay of 1,500 to 2,000 words taking only one side or the other of the following topics:

Advertising/packaging/entertainment does or does not create its own customer/patron. (you'll of course explain how this does/does not happen)

"Consumer" and "citizen" are or are not equivalent in the U.S.A. (helps if you define what you mean by "citizen" and "consumer")

Advertising/packaging/entertainment does or does not influence our values in the U.S.A. (you'll have to qualify "influence" here)

If your chosen topic gives you options, specify which combination you discuss. You can refer to the essays we read in Signs of Life for inspiration or good quotations, but pick your own examples from the world around you to support your argument. Use no fewer than three (3) specific and distinct examples in your discussion, and give each example its own ¶ or ¶s.
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  • Rationale: Think in terms of some of the key lines from each essay that we discussed in class:
    Norton: "These seemingly public spaces [malls] conceal a pervasive private authority" (SoL 63)

    Hine: "Packaging is the temptation" (SoL 71)
    "Packages serve as symbols both of their contents and of a way of life" (SoL 73)

    Scanlon: "[S]ocial expectations, even more than physical changes, shape gender roles" (SoL 473)
    "These forms of popular culture [teen magazines and games], rather than an escape from limitations, provide clear and limited definitions of what it means to be a girl" (SoL 475)
    "Players have very limited choices" (SoL 477)

    Willis: "Nothing is left to the imagination or the unforseen" (SoL 744)
    "Amusement is the commodified negation of play" (SoL 745)
    "Conformity with the park's program upholds the Disney value system" (SoL 747)
    "Families at Disney World present themselves as families" (SoL 748)
    "At Disney World, even memories are commodities" (SoL 749)

    Each essay we read shared a set of themes: image/"packaging", illusion, nostalgia, simulacra. Even many recent films share these themes (The Matrix, Minority Report, Memento, Clueless, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Wag the Dog, etc.). In either case, since advertising, packaging, and entertainment occupy such important social, physical and economic places in the U.S.A., it's important to critically ask how much "society" creates the advertising, packaging, and entertainment we see, and vice versa. (Also, remember that "consume," "packaging," and other terms can have more than one meaning.) Ours is a consumer culture, so let's investigate how "consumer" and "culture" inlfluence each other.

  • Caveats/cautions:
    -- Why work this hard on a paper worth only 10% of your grade? Because it and Paper #2 are practice for papers 3 & 4, which count 20% each. Wouldn't you rather have most of the learnig curve in the 10% range?
    -- By "1,500-2,000 words" I mean 1,500-2,000 words. (Enlarging the font size, or enlarging the margins, does not change the number of words.) This is not an invitation to pad you paper with needless material; rather, this is an opportunity for you to fully explain your ideas and illustrate those ideas with examples. If you're padding, waffling, or tangenting, I'll know it -- and it'll count against you.
    -- Use examples from the essays we've read only as inspiration or starting points: come up with your own examples.

  • Thesis note: Be sure that you state clearly and directly your thesis -- i.e. the point of your paper, your argument. Try not to phrase your thesis as "In this paper I will show that ..." -- your reader already works from the assumption that you're going to show her something. Instead, early in your paper simply present your paper's thesis, including your topic/subject matter, how you will treat that matter, and what your assertion or argument is.

  • Need a little help with your thesis? Before you start writing, have a look at "timesaver #3 (a)," "timesaver #3(b) and "timesaver #4" on the writing tips site -- these items will help you AND save you oodles of time!!!
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    »» What I'll look for in this paper: (Papers 2, 3 and 4 will have additional requirements)


    Writing mechanics & technical guidelines:

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    »» DUE DATES AND ACTIVITY DATES: (see updated course schedules) (back to Contents)
    »» Troubleshooting & therapy: If you have questions about the assignment or your paper that we don't address in class or during conference times, (back to Contents)