Part 1: Identifying a Text from Popular Culture

Each student will need to compose a 900+ word essay that:

  • Identifies a text (broadly construed) from popular culture that will be discussed and analyzed
  • Briefly (no more than 300 words) summarizes the text
  • Provides a justification for the relevance of this text to understanding the human condition

This assignment will be graded for completion. Completion here is defined as meeting the word count requirement and being a "best effort" toward formal, academic writing.

Part 2: Preparation Worksheet

Each student will need to complete the "Final Essay Preparation Worksheet" and submit it to the appropriate D2L Dropbox by 11:59pm on the day of Session 24. The worksheet itself is available as a Word file on D2L.

This assignment will be evaluated as follows:

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Part 3: Presentation

So that students may learn from each other’s ideas, at the end of the semester, each student will present information about their final essay. Students should plan to speak for approximately 5 minutes.

  • For face-to-face sessions/sections: 

    • All students should be prepared to present at the beginning of the scheduled presentation times. The instructor will determine the order of presentations from there.
    • Students should speak from prepared notes, and Power Point presentations are optional.
  • For online sessions/sections:

    • Students will post videos of their presentations to the relevant discussion forum.
    • Each student’s video may be a recording of the student (speaking from notes) or a screen recording of the student speaking through a power point presentation (the student should not simply read the power point however).
    • The recorded presentations will function like discussion leadership (so everyone is a discussion leader), and everyone should also respond to other people's presentations with the usual 2 participation posts.

This assignment will be evaluated as follows:


Part 4: Final Essay

By 11:59pm on the day of our Finals Week meeting time, each student should submit to the appropriate D2L Dropbox a final essay that responds to one or more of the following focal questions from our course:

  • What does it means to be human?
  • What makes humans unique?
  • In what condition do humans find themselves today?
  • How is the way that humans view themselves today impacted by how humans have viewed themselves in the past?

 The essay requirements are as follows…

Mechanical requirements:

  • at least 2000+ words in length, which is approximately 6-7 pages of double spaced text (Students should clearly indicate the essay word count—which does not include headers & bibliographic information—on the last page of the document.)
  •  include a clear thesis statement in an introductory paragraph (a claim that will be argued)
  •  be written in formal academic style with logical organization and proper grammar
  •  include a bibliography with at least 4 sources (3 from class + 1 from outside class)— Any essay that makes use of less than 4 sources or does not include a bibliography will receive a 0.

 Content requirements:

  • analysis of 3 texts from class (no more than 2 of which can be films) with at least one quote from each
  •  analysis of 1 outside “popular culture text” with at least one quote — here “popular culture text” means a book, film, music video or song lyrics, commercial, etc. that you would not normally understand as an “academic” text

 "Higher Level Thinking" requirements:

  •  show the ability to recognize ways that enduring ideas and values were formed in historical contexts and how those ideas/values still shape our world
  •  demonstrate knowledge of diverse traditions/cultures and/or knowledge of divergent perspectives on a topic or text
  •  include critical self-reflection regarding the student’s own personal views and values
  •  be coherent and cohesive— meaning that the 4 texts discussed must relate to (support or challenge, etc.) the student’s personal views and values

 Please note that additional resources and tips for success are available on D2L and should be reviewed.

This assignment will not be accepted late for any reason.

This assignment will be evaluated as follows:

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Extra Credit Opportunities

Opportunity #1: By 11:59pm on the day of Session 1, each student may post a video introducing yourself to your classmates in the "It's lovely to meet you..." discussion forum. This video is worth up to 10 bonus points.

Opportunity #2: By 11:59pm on the day of Session1, each student may complete a quiz covering the content of the syllabus. This quiz is worth up to 20 bonus points.

Opportunity #3: Students may attend a university sponsored academic event and write a 300 word response to it. The response should include: 1) a very brief summary of the event, 2) a reflection on what was learned (bonus knowledge!), and 3) some thoughts on how the event connects to a reading or theme from our course. This essay should be submitted to the appropriate D2L Dropbox by the Friday before finals week, and it is worth up to 30 bonus points.