MS 152 — Television Authorship
Assignment #2: Term Paper
Your term paper assignment asks you to write a 12-page, polished, well-researched, thoughtful, critically astute, and above all interesting analytical research paper on the topic of your choice. This paper should make a focused, insightful, well-elaborated, well-supported, and non-obvious argument about the television series you select to work with, carefully using the theoretical material we have covered in exploring some issue surrounding the series’ authorship. You may write about one of the series that we have studied this semester, or you may apply the issues that we have discussed to another series. In addition to using the critical and theoretical texts we have read together this semester, you must conduct your own research into the issues you’re studying and use the results of that research to support your argument.
This assignment has several stages designed to guide you toward producing your term paper:
1. Preliminary Proposal — due Wednesday, October 14
Each of you should post to the blog a coherent, thoughtful paragraph describing the project you plan to undertake, and your expectations for the direction this project will take you. Nothing in this proposal is cast in stone — you can change the scene or the method as you work — but it is instead designed to get you some early feedback as you start working. What series has been brought to mind for you as you’ve done the readings and participated in the discussions so far? What concepts might you be interested in exploring further?
This one-paragraph blog post is in addition to the blog comments due for Wednesday. Please title the post something that identifies it as your paper proposal, and use the “proposal” category.
2. Annotated Bibliography — due Wednesday, October 28
Based upon your preliminary proposal, do some initial research; run a few searches in the library’s databases (the MLA International Bibliography and Academic Search Premier will be of particular use) to see whether there are articles related to your prospective topic. Check the library catalog for any related books. Search around and see what’s out there that seems like it might be useful. Using the results obtained from this research, post to the blog an annotated bibliography detailing the extent of the work you’ve done so far. This bibliography must contain at least seven separate secondary texts (books, articles, etc.); each entry must also contain a note from you (hence the “annotated” part) about the text, explaining what this text is, what its basic argument is, and how this item will benefit your investigation. Note that you will not be required to cite all of the works you list in your paper, but this range of texts should help you find secondary texts that genuinely illuminate your argument, rather than simply fulfilling the research requirement. Again, title the post something appropriate, and use the “bibliography” category.
3. Draft — due Monday, November 16
The first draft of your paper — a full and complete draft — should be turned in to your Sakai drop box by 5 pm. You will also exchange drafts with a partner in your discussion group who will be responsible for giving you feedback on the draft. I will comment on your drafts as well, but with 33 of you in the class, the depth of my comments will of necessity be limited.
For this reason, you must take this peer-review process seriously, both for your own paper and for that of your peer-review partner. More information in the next stage.
4. Peer review — due Monday, November 23
Each of you should both have your draft reviewed by a partner in your group and serve as the reviewer of your partner’s paper. (In groups with odd numbers, you can rotate papers — A reviews B, B reviews C, C reviews A. You’re also free to exchange papers with all members of your group, if you so choose.) You’ll be turning in a copy of your peer-reviewed paper, with your partner’s comments, with your final draft, and the quality of your comments on their paper will form part of your group work grade for this semester, so take this seriously.
In reviewing your partner’s paper, focus on ways that they can clarify their overall argument, as well as specific points where their analysis might be deepened or strengthened. Restate the paper’s central thesis for the author — it’s often a surprise to the author to find out that a reader doesn’t take from the paper exactly the meaning that had been intended. Indicate specific places where transitions can be improved or where ideas can be clarified. Overall, you should focus on helping the author make the paper as interesting and clear as it can be.
I would ideally like all of you to make these comments in electronic form, using the comments function in Microsoft Word; this way the commented version can be uploaded to Sakai with the final draft. Along which lines…
5. Final draft — due Wednesday, December 2
Your final, revised draft should be uploaded to your Sakai drop box (along with the commented, peer-reviewed version of your draft) no later than 5 pm on December 2. This final version should be flawless, both in terms of its analysis and in terms of its presentation. Any and all typos, misspellings, and grammatical problems should have been dealt with in the review process. Papers whose meaning is obscured by such errors will be returned ungraded, and will be considered late until corrected.
The paper should be at least 12 pages (but no more than 14), double-spaced, in a 12-point serif font (i.e., Times New Roman or its equivalent), with 1-inch margins. All quotations and borrowings must be appropriately documented and cited.
If you have any questions about this assignment, at any stage, please come see me.