Why Am I Writing This?

Quick Run-Down:


The first part of this class was a case study on how one could go about doing a “deeper” reading of a piece of media, looking at the many ways viewers and critics can take something in mainstream popular culture and connect it to relevant social and political issues.

Now, you will choose a song, music video, album, TV series, movie, or other popular culture item that you think is socially or politically relevant: you are not restricted by time, language, or genre — though it would certainly be helpful if we could hear/see/access your choice. You are going to make a case for the social or political relevance of this pop culture item: this means that it most likely has a conversation occurring around it already, or has stirred up some controversy in its reception. Thus, you should provide some background information on the piece (when did it appear? How popular was it?), but should also (where possible) give your audience insight into the conversation around your chosen item. You will want to include at least two works that provide additional information, background theory, or introduce critical responses (see the student paper on the series Jessica Jones for a model project).

Basically, tell us: “so, what?” Justify why the work you chose is relevant, and explain why we — as consumers of popular culture — should engage with the piece in a particular way. You will be making your case to classmates, who may choose to read your paper and watch/listen/engage with your selected piece of popular culture.







Clearly and convincingly conveys the work’s social or political relevance

Does not state why we should care about the work; or, the importance of the work is not convincing


Has a clear understanding of audience and purpose

Writes in a vacuum; does not convey awareness of audience or purpose of project

Introduction & Conclusion

Has an introduction (clearly stating the chosen piece and a roadmap), and a conclusion paragraph

Has an introduction and a conclusion, but one might be under-developed

Lacking an introduction or conclusion; or chosen piece is not stated in introduction

Identifying item

Clearly identifies the form of the selected pop culture item, and the year(s) it was originally published/aired, etc.

Gives no identifying for item; or provides inaccurate information

Source Selection

Uses legitimate sources that engage with the pop culture item in a critical and academic way

One of the two selected sources engage with the media in a critical and academic way

Sources are encyclopedia-type summaries; sources are not relevant to the media; sources are not legitimate and do not engage in a critical or academic way

Presence & Relevance of Evidence

Excellent use of at least 4 pieces of textual evidence from selected readings; effectively provides relevant examples, evidence, and appropriate quotes; understands original context of quotes

Uneven use of evidence and examples; evidence not always directly relevant; over-reliance on a single part of the text (i.e., just the scene at hand); understands original context of quotes

Lack of evidence and examples; evidence, if provided, not related to overall argument; limited reference to textual materials; cherry-picks quotes without showing a fuller understanding of the original context; quotes are cherry-picked or misrepresented and taken out of context

Unpacking Evidence & Sandwich Quotations

Student introduces quotes with a phrase and integrates them into the sentence; “unpacks” quotes  at length and explains why evidence supports his/her argument; does not use whole paragraphs for quoting

Student introduces quotes but fails to “unpack” them; significance of quotes not readily apparent; uses lengthy or block quotes without breaking them down

Student slaps quotations down into his/her paper without an introductory phrase (i.e., the quote is a “stand alone” sentence); student does not explain or unpack quotes at all

Integration of Quotations

All quotations are seamlessly integrated into sentence; sentences with quotes work in terms of grammar and mechanics

Most of the quotations are seamlessly integrated into sentence; most sentences with quotes work in terms of grammar and mechanics

The majority of quotes are awkwardly forced into sentences; most of the sentences with quotes don’t work grammatically or in terms of mechanics; or no sandwich quotations are present

Organization & Clarity

Clear, well-organized paper; claims build on each other; paragraphs are well-developed and use PIE logic; paper flows logically; reader doesn’t get lost

Generally sound organization; some topic sentences strong, others weak; some paragraphs not fully developed; reader occasionally confused by awkward organization, unclear sentences, fuzzy ideas

Poor organization, lacks clarity; paper not organized around coherent paragraphs; prose is hard to follow and understand


Flawless paper, or an occasional minor error

Distractions due to spelling, punctuation, grammar errors; writer seems a bit careless

Seriously marred by mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation; lack of editing

Manuscript Form

Paper is double-spaced; has title; follows MLA format for both in-text citations and for the Works Cited

Paper is missing one of the necessary form elements (double-spaced, title, correct MLA for in-text citations, and/or correct MLA for bibliography)

Paper is missing more than one of the necessary form elements (double-spaced, title, correct MLA)

Word Count

Meets the word count requirement of 1200 words

Is less than one hundred words away from the minimum word count

Paper is over one hundred words away from the minimum word count

1 - Pop Culture Project  / ENG 101 / Professor Holmstrom