This assignment is the basis of your term paper and is your opportunity to propose the general idea of your project. This works two-fold: it allows for you to already start sketching out what American culture means to you both personally and academically while also getting you on the journey to conceptualize a broader project that can address these ideas. These projects should be of interest to you so that it’s something you enjoy completing. There are minimal limits on this project, the only being that it needs to fit within the conceptual scope of the course (and must be social scientific in nature). To that end, you’re welcome to think of American culture in many ways though you should consider the Week 1 and 2 readings as guidance on how to articulate what qualifies as culture, though you can also look ahead a bit and see if those weeks offer you some inspiration as well. For example, we have a week where we are discussing issues of TV in America and maybe you want to talk about music or food; that’s great! Maybe you want to discuss something like the changes in religiosity in America, that also works but don’t just think of it as changing demographics about American religious participation, you need to make sure that you will subsequently connect into cultural shifts in the US (i.e. keep you mind on the interpretative aspect or why/why it matters). (cue Ron Popeil voice) “and so much more!” Basically, your term paper is about an aspect of American culture that you want to know more about including some aspects of how it came to be and a clear articulation of how/why it matters. Make sure it is Times New Roman, size 12, with 1-inch margins, double-spaced. I’m not entirely concerned about specific length (aim for about a page, but you can go longer) but you should take as much space as necessary to address each required element in a sufficient manner (i.e. I should understand fully your thinking and reasoning behind each). Acceptable file types: .doc, .docx, .pdf (I have set Canvas to only accept these types so if you can’t upload, make sure that you’ve saved it as a correct file type). Your proposal must contain the following elements Topic: The broad topic in which you’re interested. Also, why are you interested in this topic/area of study? Research Question: Make this the actual question you want to answer, such as “In what ways is American popular culture still influenced by minstrels?,” “How have changes in American culture influenced religious participation?,” or “How has American cuisine been influenced by changes in immigration patterns? Discuss your thoughts behind this question, why this research question exactly? Give some pre-emptive insight into your thoughts: what do you think the answer to this question is (and why)? Population: It’s always good to make sure your particular population of interest is discussed. So, while we are discussing American culture writ large, there are various groups/populations you may want to focus on. In my own research on the cultural bases of pricing, I focus specifically on self-employed craftspeople. This section is to make sure you’re articulating your topic proposal in a manner that lets us know you’ve considered begun considering the important facets of your topic. Who does your topic and research question apply to? Why this population? Who does it not apply to? Does this create any difficulties in understanding it, or is it a strength? 3 academic, peer-reviewed sources that help to explain and address your paper’s topic with two to three sentences explaining how each connects to your topic.
So, if I was writing about how fashions in computer brands is connected to issues of e-waste, I’d want to start looking for articles talking about changing dynamics of computer consumption as well as articles that address the topic of e-waste and its changing dynamics 1 non-academic (but trustworthy!) source that gives descriptive information to motivate the project with two to three sentences explaining how each connects to your topic. So, keeping with the prior topic, I’d want to get find a trustworthy source that tells me something like how many computers are produced each year, how many computers are recycled each year, how many computers are thrown away each year, or even (as a recent news report found) how certain companies contractually require all recycling centers to destroy everything so it’s melted down in its constituent parts for reuse rather than allow for parts to be salvaged and used while repairing peoples computers. Finally, a list of the search terms you used and which databases you used to find these articles.
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