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Formal Essay: Position Paper

Select and research a topic that is related to new media and culture. You may draw from the assigned readings and discussions we've had in class, or you may explore a new topic that interests you. Choose a topic that requires you to take a position and defend it. Your position should be something original (not something already known and generally agreed upon). The topic should afford you the opportunity for original thinking.

After stating your position near the beginning of the paper, the first part of your paper should define the technical aspects of your topic, and briefly explain the cultural implications of your topic.

The second part of your paper should restate your position and argue it based on researched examples and logic. Don't just say what you think is true, convince me that it is true by explaining why and giving examples, facts, and testimonials that prove your point. Consider opposing arguments and address them.

Use the text editor of your choice to write your paper. The paper should follow this general format:
a. introduce your topic and state your position
b. explain the history of the topic and its current state
c. support your position with arguments and examples
d. summarize your position


  1. Include some historical and technical information, but the paper is NOT to be simply a history of the new media topic you have chosen, but rather an analysis of its impact on culture and a logical defense of your proposed position.
  2. The paper should be as long as necessary to explain the relationship between your chosen new media topic and contemporary culture, and to convince the reader of your position. Five paragraphs won't be enough. Ten pages may be too long.
  3. Don't just tell me what you think, explain WHY and convince me with EXAMPLES.
  4. Credit your sources via footnotes (according to the MLA style). You don't have to footnote your own position or argument, but you do have to footnote historical facts, quotations, and examples that support your argument.
  5. Have a breadth of sources, not just one or two. We want to see that several people support your position, not just one or two. Choose sources that are relevant and valuable to your position.
  6. Avoid arguing "future facts" (there is no such thing as a future fact). You may speculate about the future, but your entire position should not be based on a hypothetical, unprovable future scenario.

Ways to do Original, Creative Research:

  1. Radically undermine the generally received understanding of things. (This rarely happens at the undergraduate level.)
  2. Perform a nuanced and original analysis of something. (This often includes original field research.)
  3. Make nuanced connections heretofore unseen. Don't just assert that two things are connected; explain how and why they are connected, and the implications of this connection. (This may be your best bet.)

Grading criteria:

  1. Knowledge and Scope of Topic: evidences a clear understanding of the media, its cultural implications, and the contemporary dialogue surrounding it. scope of topic is not overly broad or overly narrow.
  2. Convincing Position: original, clearly stated, sensibly reasoned, well supported, appropriately researched, correctly documented.
  3. well written: includes specific details, dynamic introduction and conclusion, continuity of critique, correct grammar/spelling, appropriate academic tone.

Failure to complete this assignment will automatically result in an F for the entire course.

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