University of Wisconsin–Madison

Spring 2017 Assignment: Keywords and Popular Culture Blog Posts

Post #1 must be completed by Friday, February 17th
Post #2 must be completed by Friday, April 28th

This is a course in which literary studies and cultural studies merge. Over the course of the semester, we’ll make important connections between our assigned readings and popular culture past and present. I encourage you to make your own connections to popular culture throughout the semester, from your own encounters with things related to American Girls and American Girlhood in popular culture and their potential connection to our class’ readings and discussions.

This informal writing assignment asks you write a blog post in which you use your understanding of any single term from the Keywords for Children’s Literature assigned readings in order to compare some aspect of American Girlhood in any of our other course readings (i.e., the fictional stories we’re reading, whether American Girl books, short stories, or novels) to some “Cool Thing” (a video clip, an image, a news story, a song, an advertisement, whatever) from popular culture today.

During lecture and section discussions, we’ll discuss our keywords readings and we’ll make use of our shared understanding of these terms as we discuss our other course readings. I’ll also provide some examples of how one might put contemporary Cool Things into conversation with our other course readings.

You will write two blog posts for this course. You must choose a different keyword for each post, and you must choose a different course reading and Cool Thing to compare for each post. While you must complete one blog post by the midway point of the semester and your second by the end of the semester, (see exact dates above), please feel free to post earlier than this, whenever you find a Cool Thing that merits comparison with our keywords and one of our course readings. This will allow class members to comment on blog posts throughout the semester, as well.

Your analysis should include a thesis statement that expresses your main point of comparison (e.g., “In Text A, the idea of “keyword” is represented as doing X, while in Cool Thing B, “keyword” is represented as doing Y” or “Both Text A and Text B focus on representations of “keyword” in a way that shows XYZ.” You don’t have to follow these formulas exactly, but your post should contain these elements.) *See Professor Fielder’s example posts for reference on what posts might look like.

Each blog post should be about a paragraph long, or ½ a single-spaced typewritten page.

* For extra credit, during both the first and second half of the semester, you may comment on your classmates’ blog posts, adding to the conversations they’ve started. (Comments will be worth one point each, up to 5 extra points on the midterm and final exam, respectively). Comments can be brief, even just one or two sentences, but these should be substantive. That is, they should make their own specific argument or addition to the conversation, beyond mere agreement or disagreement with the original post. Your professor and teaching assistant will provide some examples of comments, as well.

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