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Project Four

Page history last edited by Sue Muecke 13 years, 8 months ago

Project Four:

Cultural Analysis






Our final project for the semester will be a cultural analysis.  This project will require you to use all the writing tools and techniques you've mastered this semester: rhetorical analysis, definition arguments, evaluation arguments, and perhaps even proposals.


A cultural analysis is exactly what it sounds like - you'll be analyzing American culture.  Culture is defined as a group's shared body of beliefs, histories, and experiences; this includes knowledge, attitudes, arts, morals, laws, customs, and language.  Project Four will consist of two main elements:

  • You will first choose a cultural phenomenon such as an event, movie, individual, television show, consumer object, etc.
  • You will then analyze this phenomenon, exploring how it provides insight into some aspect of American culture.


***Ultimately, your thesis will make some kind of claim not about the phenomenon itself, but rather about America, Americans, or American culture as manifested in that phenomenon.***





You'll need to gather information about your subject.  Try to remain open-minded as you gather this information - consider your phenomenon's parts; pay attention to details; compare a variety of examples where possible; consider contrasts.  Questions to think about include:

  • What aspects of American mythology and culture do you see reflected in the phenomenon? Think about America's:
    • History
    • Beliefs
    • Values (moral/ethical, political, economic, etc.)
    • Politics and current events
  • What do most people seem to think about this phenomenon?
  • Ultimately, what does the phenomenon tell you about America, Americans, and American culture?
    • You might think of the phenomenon as a microcosm of some aspect of American culture, something that highlights an underlying trend or characteristic.
      • For example, you could argue that a trend towards more complex TV dramas shows how the average American is becoming smarter (as Steven Johnson does in Everything Bad is Good For You).
    • Or, you could think of the phenomenon as a product of American culture and its values/practices/etc.  Just as you can study a person and get an idea of what that person's parents were like, so too can you study a cultural phenomenon and draw conclusions about the culture that produced that phenomenon.
      • For example, you could argue that Iranian interest in soccer is born out of, and ultimately linked with, a movement towards Iranian secular nationalism (as Franklin Foer does in How Soccer Explains the World).





As you develop your argument, start with the questions you personally have about the phenomenon.  Decide how your responses to these questions could be organized around a single claim and the type(s) of support you might need to support that claim.  Remember, your claim should not focus on the phenomenon itself, but rather on what the phenomenon can teach us about American culture.



The Basics

  • 8-10 pages
  • MLA format and style (one-inch margins, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, proper first page presentation, page headers)
  • Minimum of five sources
    • No Wikipedia, About.com, quote lists / databases, dictionary or encyclopedia sources allowed
    • At least two of these sources must be either a scholarly peer-reviewed journal or a book 
    • If you have questions about the acceptability of a source, please ask me.
  • Works Cited page (in MLA format)


Project Four Rubric

Project Four Peer Review Form 



Project Four Due Dates


Monday, November 22: Outline Workshop

(Bring 5 hard copies of your Project Four outline to class.)


Monday, November 29: Rough Draft Workshop

(Submit your Project Four rough draft by uploading the document to the wiki, then linking it on your Roster page.)


Friday, December 17: Final Draft of Project Four due by 11:59pm Friday night

(Submit your final draft by uploading the document to the wiki, then linking it to your name on the Goodbye page.  Email your SafeAssign reports to me at s.muecke@wayne.edu.  You can either email me the URL to the report itself (there is a button on the report page that allows you to do this) or else copy and paste the text of the report into a Word document and email that.)



Project Four Examples



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