Research Paper/Semester Project

FALL | 2016


For this paper you should do the following things:

  • Pick an issue or topic related in some way to anything we’ve talked about so far in class, especially something you don’t feel is covered sufficiently by mainstream media. Think especially about what has connected most strongly to you personally. I strongly encourage you to go through the blog so far, Heffernan’s Magic and Loss, and On the Media and look at the class’s posts for ideas.
  • Explore through extensive research how this topic is covered through both mainstream and non-mainstream convergent media, making sure to thoroughly cover as many of the media forms as possible, i.e., print, audio, video, digital, and as many combinations thereof you can find. For many – if not most – of your research papers, you will draw mostly on primary sources, because you will be researching ideas and topics that perhaps haven’t yet been thoroughly excavated intellectually.
  • Draw some conclusions about media coverage of your topic, especially in the realm of class discussions and readings. Can it only be represented by divergent voices? Do you see it as part of the mainstream?
  • Document all of your sources, including all links, in MLA format.
  • Turn in your final draft in Print (paper) form, but have a digital copy prepared for possible archiving (I’ll explain this further in class).

This assignment should be approximately 3,000-3,500 words.


We’ve talked for the past few weeks about different messages and kinds of divergent voices, and how they are seen and heard through convergent media. As you get into your work for your research paper it will be time to start finding and expressing your own divergent voice, or at least one of them.

We’ve spent some time in the weeks so far reading and discussing Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art and podcasts like On the Media99% InvisibleRadiolab, and Reply All that have hopefully given you some ideas for some projects you may wish to develop. In addition, here is a loose collection of guidelines for your semester project:

  • You should choose which media you’ll work within for your project (podcast, blog, video, mixed media) based on your own strengths and predilections. Remember, this is a seminar, not a technical writing or production course, so don’t choose a medium that you will need technical instruction on. (You may choose a medium you are not totally familiar with, but only if you foresee achieving proficiency through this project.) If you choose anything which needs equipment, you are responsible for stating your equipment needs in your project proposal. You might be able to check out equipment from the CAM department, but equipment is limited.
  • This is may be an individual project, but I encourage you to do it with a partner. If you choose to do the project with a partner, both of you must show me the scope of the work and each of your tasks within that scope. I am much more likely to approve a team project in which each person works in a different technical medium (e.g., one person does the writing, one does the video production), as this would be right in line with the convergent element of the media.
  • BE UNIQUE! Try to do something you’re interested in, something you feel needs to be said or done in the media that has not already been done in the way you want to do it. Think if an issue you’d like to address, a point of view you’d like to represent, a cause you’d like to take up, a thing you’d like to create. Look for examples of like-minded voices and projects online and ask yourself how your project might dovetail with these.
  • I find that many students choose research topics and semester projects that are related in some way, but this is not a requirement. Like the Research Paper, if you’re having trouble generating ideas for your Semester Project you might want to go back in the blog and research some past students’ work on theirs.
  • Submit a written proposal for your project to me anytime before Thursday, 10/27 either in class or via email, including a summary of the project and the steps you’ll take in doing it from 10/27-12/1.
  • Every week after October 27 I expect a weekly update on your progress on your project, including what you’ve done that week, what the next steps are, and any questions you may have as you go along. You should do this via the blog, and we’ll also use Thursdays as workshops.

Keep in mind that while the guidelines are loose, the attention and direction you put to the project should be rigorous. Also keep in mind that your project might end up something different than it started, which is completely in line with the purpose of the project. You are expanding your knowledge and boundaries as you go.


Thursday, 10/13 – Have your research topic approved by me

Monday, 10/17 & Thursday, 10/20 – This week is a good time to work out ideas for Semester Projects before submitting them to me as proposals. Have 2 or 3 ideas ready to talk about.

Thursday, 10/27 – Have your semester project proposal approved by me. This means you should send your proposal to me well before this date, so you can begin work on the project upon approval.

Thursday, 11/3 – Have a working bibliography for your research paper prepared for class.

11/3, 11/10 & 11/17 – Critical Background Presentations – for these you’ll present, in roughly 10-15 minutes, the background research you’re doing for your Research Paper and Semester Project. This should include examples of similar voices you’ve found, academic or popular analysis of the type of work you’re doing, and correspondence you’ve had with other people about the type of work you’re doing. We’ll talk more about this in class over the next few weeks, as you develop your respective Research Papers and Semester Projects.

Thursday, 11/24 – RESEARCH PAPERS DUE

Monday, 12/5 & Thursday, 12/8 – SEMESTER PROJECT SHOWCASE


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