Major Essay #1
GEW 101 – Hall – Spring 2015
Here’s the scoop: We have begun our exploration into the multitude of arguments constantly
being thrown at us. Everywhere we look, we are surrounded by messages that seek to persuade
or convince us, each one arguing that it is the best or the most right. We have also begun talking
about ways that appeals can be made to our sense of emotion, our sense of integrity, and our
sense of reason. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we constantly negotiate space for
ourselves in the midst of the messages, by challenging external definition and seeking
clarification and validation. Now, we can demonstrate our skills by analyzing and interpreting
texts for ourselves, if we so choose.
Here’s what I expect of you:
1. Choose a pop culture artifact that relays a message to you about our theme for the semester,
heroes and villains. Some examples might be a magazine ad, a movie poster, a comic strip,
the lyrics of a song, or even an iconic person. The text can use words to convey its message,
but it doesn’t have to—keep in mind that pictures can make some pretty powerful arguments.
My chosen text is: ______________________________________________________________
2. Record your detailed observations about what you see or hear. What is the denotative/explicit
3. Research how this text came to be. Who created it? Who published/produced it? What
company or larger organization does it represent? What motivation might they have for
creating it? What is the purpose of the message?
4. Analyze the text. What is the connotative/implicit message? How successfully does it deliver
its message? THIS MEANING WILL BE AT THE HEART OF YOUR THESIS CLAIM.
5. Support your analysis with specific observations about the text. Show me how you came to
your conclusions. How is the message being conveyed? Which appeals are being used?
6. Consider your text’s audience. Who was the intended audience for this message? How do you
know? How might this text affect its readers’ ideas regarding heroes and/or villains? For
example, how might a Subway ad featuring Michael Phelps shape someone’s perception of
7. Examine the context of the message. Does it perpetuate any stereotypes? What do other
people (“experts”) think about this subject? How popular is this message?
* Please DO NOT think of the above directions as a prioritized things-to-do list. Your analysis
may not follow this order, and that’s okay—do what makes sense to you. You may not answer
all of these questions, and that is perfectly alright. You may have things to say beyond the
answers to these questions, and that’s probably alright, too, as long as it sticks to your thesis.
Here’s how to do it right:
Receive Mea’s approval on your text.
Formulate a strong, clear, specific thesis.
Demonstrate original and insightful thought.
Follow a logical pattern of organization, i.e. each paragraph will centrifuge around a single
idea and will be arranged according to a discernible order.
Participate actively in peer review.
Write as much as you need to in order to argue your thesis effectively. It’s doubtful that you
could accomplish this task in under 8 pages.
Follow proper MLA format, including a Works Cited page.
Cite and correctly document at least 3 scholarly sources. (Hint: textbooks count!)
Use Times New Roman 12-pt font and maintain consistent double-spacing.
Submit final draft via Cougar Courses; bring assignment prompt and GEW rubric to class
with you on due date.
Extra-credit will be awarded for any prewriting activities that you turn in with your
assignment, as long as it is evident that your final project benefitted from it.
This assignment is subject to the following due dates:
Mandatory library session with required prep work: ____________________________________
10 research cards (quotations + “translations”): _______________________________________
1st draft: ______________________________________________________________________
2nd draft: _____________________________________________________________________
Final draft: ____________________________________________________________________
Here’s the point:
You will practice interpreting not just words, but also images and contexts.
You will gain experience discerning meaning for yourself.
You will observe the significance of pop culture texts in determining our ideologies.
You will formulate your own judgments and opinions and discover ways to support them.
You will move toward an understanding of your own significance in the world.
“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.”
—Joseph Joubert (1754-1824): He lived during the time of Napoleon and wrote extensively on
issues of moral philosophy, although none of his work was published until after his death.