Paper instructions:

Please submit a short (5-7 pages double-spaced) paper connecting one of the topics we explore in the course (be sure to reference the materials from that week in your paper) to a contemporary related issue present in the media that centers Blackness is some way.

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Note: For the first Critical Media Paper, you will select a topic from the first half of the quarter (Weeks 2-5). For the second Critical Media Paper, you will select a topic from the second half of the quarter (Weeks 6-9).

To be successful in your papers, you must:

SET THE STAGE: State clearly your interest in the topic you have selected. What draws you to the topic? What do the materials tell us about the topic? What is left to be explored? How will your paper explore this?
MAKE CONNECTIONS TO A CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL PROBLEM IN THE MEDIA: As you know, we can no longer hide from our racial realities, especially in the midst of twin pandemics. We have to confront hard conversations about race head on. There is so much in the media and news regarding Blackness. Point to some examples from outside sources to support your topic.

Topic Example

If you are interested in exploring the intersections of race, class, sexuality and gender from Part 1 of the quarter, you might choose to write a paper that focuses on the portrayal of Black actresses in contemporary television and film. For instance, you could juxtapose Tracee Ellis Ross’ character in “Black-Ish” and “Mixed-Ish” with Viola Davis’ character in “How to Get Away With Murder” to examine how these women are characterized and portrayed on television (i.e. the professional, family woman vs. ‘the angry Black woman’). You are welcome to make relevant connections to other week’s material, like discussing the film “Ethnic Notions” which traces stereotypes from the historical ‘Mammy’ image to present-day to discuss how popular media has shaped images of Black womanhood and femininity. In addition, you should incorporate some outside source material on colorism, such as light-skinned privilege in the television and movie industries and how this affects the legitimization of Black actresses, particularly those with darker skin.

Recommended Paper Structure to Follow:

1-2 pages: Highlight your interest in the topic and explain what the social problem you are exploring is and why it is significant. Ex: “I chose to explore x (topic) because the material from week x did a good job discussing y (objectives of the week) but not z (what’s missing?). Therefore, this paper will examine z because it….”
2-3 pages: Weave in some examples from the media to support your topic. Ex: “My exploration of z has been largely discussed in the news and media alike. For instance, [insert source material] states…”
2 pages: State the impact this topic will have on improving how we think about Blackness, particularly what Blackness is/what it does in society. Ex: “My emphasis on z is timely because it has policy implications for a, b, c…

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