Assignment 4: Term Paper

I’m studying for my Communications class and need an explanation.

Weight: 35% of your final grade
Length: 3,500–4,500 words


For your term paper, you may choose one of the suggested topics below, or you may develop your own topic in consultation with your tutor.

Academic writing is a specialized form of essay writing, and reviewing the expectations for academic writing will go a long way toward ensuring your success. See AU’s Write Site’s Academic Writing Resources (see the left-hand column), and Purdue Online Writing Lab’s (OWL) General Writing Resourcesfor more information about academic writing. Contact your tutor for any clarification that you need.

Your term paper should integrate the themes and concepts from the course. It must refer to course materials and course readings, but you are also expected to do further research. Use relevant journal articles and books in making your critical analysis. Make use of at least 3 to 4 course readings, and 2 to 3 external sources (that is, critical, peer-reviewed academic articles or books). You may also use other sources such as websites, news and current-affairs sources, blogs, and so on.

A good starting point for this assignment is a review of the works listed in the bibliographies of the assigned readings for this course. As well, the bibliographies at the end of each unit may prove useful in your task.

Include a works cited, references, or bibliography page at the end of your essay. Throughout your essay, use a standard citation style such as APA, MLA, or Chicago consistently and correctly. For information on citing, see AU Library’s Citing and Referencing and Purdue OWL’s Research and Citation Resources.

Proofread your essay carefully before submitting it. When you have completed your essay, submit it to your tutor for marking and feedback, using this assignment drop box.

Note that you can submit an essay assignment to the AU Write Site to receive feedback about the writing component—organization, mechanics, grammar, and style—of an assignment before you submit it to your tutor for marking. The Write Site does not provide comments on the factual accuracy or general academic content of your essay.

Before you begin this assignment, please review the AU Write Site’s information on Plagiarism.

Suggested Topics

  1. In The Image, Daniel Boorstin argues that our contemporary media environment is riddled with pseudo-events. Monitor the news to identify a pseudo-event—an event with the specific purpose of generating attention. A pseudo-event can take many forms, but generally has four characteristics: event, coverage, rationale, reaction. Explain, and use these four factors to organize your paper.
  2. Critics have argued that information in industrial societies is used principally for purposes of control, both technological and social. Explain, with reference to writers on information technology, providing examples and illustrations both from your research and your own observation.
  3. Examine gender or cultural differences in the use of a particular technology (for example, women and the telephone). How do your findings accord with theories of diffusion of technology?
  4. Social historians claim that the newspaper was one of the great democratizing forces of the nineteenth century. What was the relationship between newspaper publishing and mass literacy in that context? Examine the role(s) played by the newspaper today. What has remained the same, and what has changed in the contemporary technological context?
  5. Movies and movie palaces of the early twentieth century profoundly affected such things as class boundaries, concepts of art and authenticity, storytelling, and notions of consumerism. What effect have changes to technologies of film-making and the sociology of film consumption made to the role of the movie in contemporary culture?
  6. Can Neil Postman be right? Postman’s ideas gained new prominence among commentators on the 2016 American presidential elections. Are we amusing ourselves to death? What evidence do you find in current events or popular culture?

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