EMAC 6372 “Viral Media” Spring 2012 Research Paper Assignment

Research Paper Assignment Sheet

EMAC 6372: Viral Media

Spring 2012


  • To analyze the role of viral media in our media ecology.

  • To synthesize the varied course materials and topics into a deeper understanding of viral media.

  • To utilize the existing research and publications of media studies.


The final project for EMAC 6372 is the culmination of our fifteen week sequence of readings, discussions, presentations, and blog posts. The goal is to engage in an in-depth analysis of an object or topic. Your project should be centered on a thesis. In other words, you should use rhetorical strategies and carefully present evidence to support an argument. Be sure to address any likely counter arguments. The subject of your project should be sufficiently narrow to allow you to analyze it in-depth. At the same time, you should attempt to address the wider implications of your topic, the “so what?” question.

The Specs:

  • An 8 – 10 page critical paper, taking one of the following thesis-centered approaches:

      • A topic-based analysis that addresses one of the larger topics of viral media (the role of viral media in relation to convergence culture, identity, sociability, different social and cultural factors, etc.)

      • Use one or more case studies, grouped by genre, as the basis to make an argument about the role of viral media in our media ecology. Genres might include entertainment, education, politics, representations of viral media, etc.

      • Use one or more case studies, grouped by topic, as the basis for an argument about the role of viral media in our media ecology. Topics could include race, gender, social issues, etc.

      • Other ideas must be cleared with Kim prior to the project proposal due date.

    • The paper should be uploaded (not copied and pasted) into the course wiki or another publicly accessible site (like google docs). Put a link to the uploaded document on your course participant page.

    • Choose a documentation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) and stick with it.

    • Cite at least four secondary sources (at least two of which should be from outside the syllabus).

  • Topic Proposal, minimum 300 words

    • The proposal should give an overview of your topic, identify why it is important (the “so what?”), and list three potential questions for exploration.

    • The proposal should also include a working bibliography that lists the relevant course readings as well as the outside sources you will read for your annotated bibliography (see below).

    • The proposal should be copied and pasted into your course participant page.

  • Annotated Bibliography, minimum 500 words of annotated material.

    • This is a research paper. You should utilize secondary sources as evidence.

    • To find and evaluate your outside source, you are responsible for completing an annotated bibliography. In the bibliography you should examine at least five potential sources not on our syllabus.

      • An annotated bibliography is a works cited or reference list that includes annotations that summarize, assess, and reflect upon each work.

      • Each annotation should be a minimum of 100 words.

    • The annotated bibliography should be copied and pasted into your course participant page on the wiki.


  • For assistance with topic ideas, look at blog posts, the class tweet stream, or visit Kim during office hours.

  • For assistance with research, see the library’s guide to New and Emerging Media resources: http://libguides.utdallas.edu/media For further assistance, use the “Ask a Librarian” feature or contact Matt Makowka. He is the Media Studies subject librarian and is there to help you.

  • For assistance with writing your paper, consider visiting the UTD GEMS Writing Center. They are available to help you with: finding a topic for a paper; organizing ideas and clarifying thoughts; drafting and revising papers; documenting sources; preparing for essay exams.

  • For more information about annotated bibliographies, visit the Purdue OWL website. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/01/

  • Kim will examine and give feedback on drafts of papers received no later than May 1, 2012. You must make an appointment (drop in hours or via tungle) to receive the feedback.


The research paper is worth 20% of your final grade.

You will be graded on the following criteria:

  • A thought-provoking and well-argued thesis that gestures toward the larger implications of your topic

  • Quality of the annotated bibliography and effective use of outside sources.

  • Quality of writing, including organization, paragraph structure, grammar, spelling, etc. on all components of the assignment.

The following will detract from your grade:

  • Late work or failure to complete any of the project components.

  • Failure to fulfill the requirements of the assignment, including minimum length, number of sources, etc.

Timeline and Due Dates:

  • March 27 – Topic proposal due in the course wiki before class starts.

  • April 24 – Annotated bibliography due in the course wiki before class starts.

  • May 11 – Research paper should be uploaded to the wiki and linked on your participant page no later than 11:59 pm.

Late Work:

  • Late submission of proposals and bibliographies will result in a loss of 1/3 of a grade on the paper for each late item.
  • Research papers will be marked down one letter grade for each day (or fraction thereof) that they are late.

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